Waiting for today...: 2015

Monday, December 28

Fear of Flying

"Well some say life will beat you down... Break your heart, steal your crown..." 
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers





I guess it’s official.  My mood has lifted.  But it’s odd though.  I don’t know how I feel about it yet.  I’m happy… of course!  I’m doing better at work.  I’m getting organized at home to the point of being able to have someone come in and give everything a good scrubbing.  And although scared shitless about taking my certification exam for a second time, I’m also hopeful that I can pass if I study on my days off.  Which I have been doing.  Consistently.


But then again I’m skeptical.  It’s a feeling I’ve felt before.  In the past it kept me paralyzed with fear.  I got past it, eventually.  This time?  Nah.  There’s no fear, just reality.  The reality that the end of a low mood swing is just the beginning of a different type of fight.   And that I can’t allow this upswing to give me false hope or make me complacent.  Nor can I risk falling back into the pit by holding myself to expectations that, while reasonable in a world where I’m not at the mercy of my mental illness, are completely unattainable otherwise: cleaning my apartment from top to bottom, spot cleaning daily to keep it from chaos, continuing my study of Matthew on days off, reading a devotional every day, praying twice a day, calling loved ones most days of the week,  having a least one lunch date per week...  


Yeah.  I’ve been here before.  Had the same conversations in my head at the end of a low.  No matter how good the pep-talk or how crystal clear the forecast,  I ended up in the same place: doing too much… pushing myself too hard… forgetting that depression doesn’t go away it just lets go for awhile… always lurking... waiting for me to forget and then BAM!  I am afraid.  I’m afraid to spread my wings; fearful that I’ll never leave the ground.  Or if I do, I’ll simply fall again.  Fail, again.  That thought in itself knocks my mood down a few notches.  So I think to myself, “why try?”.


But I'm so tired of dancing with Sabotage.  I’m over it.  So what’s my strategy this time.  What’s there left to try.  I guess to take it one day at a time.  Don’t think I’ve tried that yet.  For a dreamer that’s hard to do.  What about a free-spirit?  Something I would love to be.  They don’t allow the circumstances that surround them bring them down or change them.   How the hell would I manage to do that?  I’ve become a natural control freak; a personality flaw that is difficult to undo.  So, it’s one day at a time then.  Be easy on myself.  And non-judgemental.  But keep moving forward.


One day at a time.


Be easy on myself.


Nonjudgemental.


Keep moving forward.

One day at a time...

Monday, December 7

Friday the 6th: Lower


I’ve had the worse anxiety lately.

Hasn’t been as bad since right before my diagnosis… I think.  It started on my birthday and continued into the following weekend.  Of course it had to be a work weekend.   The day started off good too!  And then all hell broke loose after the hospital case managers left at 4pm.  There was too much going on around me at once:  a case they left me, multiple pages for hospital discharges, a clinician in and out of my office, which wouldn’t’ve been terrible if he didn’t talk me to death or talk ridiculously loud on the phone.   


I got so overwhelmed.  Felt myself losing control.  I was either gonna curse someone out or break something.  So I left the hospital and sat in my car for 20 minutes, listened to some music and did some deep breathing.  When I came back to the office I decided that I was done.  I finished up a couple of notes and bolted for the time clock.  I’ve got to get back to practicing mindfulness again.   I need it in order to learn to conquer my stress.  But like everything else that will improve my mood and stave off swings, I hesitate.


Like seeing my therapist.
I finally saw her a couple weeks ago.  It took me so long to make an appointment because I just didn’t feel like talking to anyone.  I already know what I need to do… it was just a matter of doing it.  And at that time, even now, I’d rather distract myself with maladaptive coping.  I don’t like this present and I don’t want to be here.  So I create my own.  Although false and damaging in the long run, it’s an easy way to forget.  But I digress.  


I missed her.  I felt better after I talked and she primarily listened.  Just like all the other times I staggered into her office fresh into a low mood.  I saw her again last week too.  She reminded me that I needed to give myself a kick in the rear: get out and walk, do some mindfulness meditation, even if only for 10 minutes and she applauded my continuing to write.  She didn’t reprimand me because of my means of escape, one of those being something I hadn’t talked about before.  I appreciated that.  I know what I have to do.


I have found one good distraction.
And it has helped to feed my soul.  I’ve set Google alerts for all news related to mental illness in Virginia and I’ve been sharing it through social media.  The more of them I read the more empowered I feel to be more involved in the fight for mental health and against stigma.  Eventually.  


Reading more also brought to my attention several bills sitting on Capitol Hill that will impact mental health reform:




I’ve always been interested in the legislative progress.  I’ve just not had a good enough reason to learn more about it.  Mental illness touches the lives of us all in one form or another yet it’s not a healthcare priority in this country.  Seems like it's not a priority at all.  The sponsors and co-sponsors of these bills, and others, are pushing to make it one.  I want to be more involved.  All I can seem to manage right now is to learn and share in the hope of raising awareness.  It’s a start though.  


In the meantime, depression continues to skew…
and cloud my view of all the goodness there is in this world.  Including the goodness in myself.  I’ve been so unkind to myself these last few months.  The maladaptive coping in itself is an insult to my body and spirit.  I’ve come to hate what I see when I look in the mirror.  I’ve allowed the images I see in the media to add insult to injury.  I know it’s not real but I continue to say to myself “is this all beauty is? Well I don’t have it so I guess I’m not beautiful… never was never will be.”  I’ve let those thoughts drag my self-esteem further into the ground.  

But it’s not just my appearance.   It’s also the darkness and conflict I see in my eyes.  I feel toxic.  Like, all I can do is ruin relationships.  Which is why I stay to myself; never allow myself to get too close to people.  If I was blessed to be in a romantic relationship, I would no doubt kill it.  I would literally make my partner sick.  For this reason my misery doesn’t love nor does it want company.  If I have to be alive, I’m better off alone.  For now at least.


Friday, October 30

Birthday Blues, Stigma & Me



distress.jpg
It’s been a rough three days.  Depression has been heavy… crushing.  I only worked one day in the last seven so boy did I have big plans!  But nothing that would overtake me.  I convinced myself that if I did nothing else, I would wash my hair and tidy the kitchen.  

Pipe dreaming.  
I barely left couch.  

Terrible stomach issues left me feeling useless and fatigued-on-top-of-fatigue.  Soon worthlessness and guilt crippled me.  Powerlessness snuffed out all desires to do anything about it so I said “f*** it” and binged on sleep, low budget horror flicks and cartoons.  

I disappeared into distraction.

And there came the parade of birthday wishes that ushered in a pulsating anxiety shaking me from what I made my comfort.   Between social media and phone calls I wanted to bury my head in the ground in hopes they would all just go away.   And just to complicate matters, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I allowed myself to be cornered into a tug-of-war: on one end my needs, on the other the dubious wants of a friend who has also felt the weight of depression.  

I thought to myself “what type of s*** is this?”
But I won that war.

Meanwhile, days have passed and the parade continues.  Stragglers.  Shouldn’t I be happy? Grateful, at least?  But depression and anxiety have made their home: using up the toilet paper and eating all the food.  I’ve been squeezed out… again.  There’s hardly any room left and now it’s home to work and back again… and back again.  

The moral of this sad and pathetic excuse for a telling is that mental illness on its own is ruinous.  But it is the stigma that tells them to close up their bowels of compassion and redirect blame to us.  It then manipulates us to turn on ourselves.  To give up and retreat. Helplessly choosing suffer alone instead, muted and restrained in the dark.  To slowly deteriorate into obsolescence.  Or to fall into swift tragedy.  




Thursday, October 22

Crash


con’t from: Trying Times
I had dual feelings at the end of that school year. On one hand, I feared being left back would have disastrous implications on any future plans for college. But on the other hand, I felt relieved. It was an opportunity to have a fresh start. I would still have my friends but I no longer would feel threatened by my then classroom bullies. That sentiment was not shared at home though. With my secrecy and her lack of insight, how could my mom even begin to understand?
I redeemed myself, however! An opportunity to graduate on time presented itself in the form of night classes. Of course the underachiever I became didn’t pass those classes with flying colors. Nevertheless, I passed. And it was a proud moment.  For me at least.
Tensions between my mom and I were on a sharp upward trajectory way before I failed the 10th grade.  For this, we were both to blame.  I was an insecure and rebellious teenager. Not only with a tumbling self-esteem but by then seized by passive-aggressiveness.  My mom had a strong-willed personality and reflexive emotional abandon due to a desperate need to guard her neglected and bleeding wounds.  Yes, she is resilient.  Despite my frustrations later in childhood she has overwhelmed the cruel odds that were set against her in her own childhood to my amazement.  
But hurting people hurt people, even if unintentional.  It is what it is.  And while parents are no exception, there were a few brow-raising moments that I can remember during the high school years. These would include not talking to or being short with me for days at a time, showing annoyance in response to my acts of affection and destroying my things.  But these paled in comparison to the hurtful things that were said.
As the issues between my mom and I mounted, I became envious of the relationships my friends had with their parents. Namely, my bestest and her mother. I often asked myself why our relationship seemed different, even cold at times.  I had so many unanswered questions. There were so many misunderstandings.  As we drifted further and further apart, I was left on my own to search for a root cause of the disconnect. What a heavy burden to bear even as a teen! Naturally, I searched my own childhood.  Soon I questioned every decision my mom made in raising me.  Next, I blamed her for all of our problems.  Yet we were both to blame because our ineffective communication.  That was the real culprit.
For example, up until a couple of years ago I had the impression that I was dropped off in the Bahamas at three months old.  I was actually three years old.  Furthermore, it was my grandma’s idea to watch after me until my mom finished school.  These misconceptions, seemingly harmless, led to intense feelings of abandonment. And I often wondered how long I would’ve been with my grandma had I not asked to come home at nine years old.  Similarly, the fear of abandonment drove me to allow my feelings to build to boiling points before sharing them.   So once I did, it was often with anger and contempt.


abandon
verb aban·don \ə-ˈban-dən\
1   a :  to give up to the control or influence of another person or agent
    b :  to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in <abandon
          property>
2:  to withdraw from often in the face of danger or encroachment <abandon ship>
3:  to withdraw protection, support, or help from <he abandoned his family>
4:  to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly
5   a :  to cease from maintaining, practicing, or using <abandoned their native language>
    b :  to cease intending or attempting to perform <abandoned the escape>

aban·don·er noun
aban·don·ment \-dən-mənt\ noun

from Merriam-Webster

I was angry.  She was guarded. And we would have at least two screaming matches before I left home.  One in which I poured out my heart, with anger but also with the rawest and honest of emotion. I was hurting; desperate for guidance. For insight.  In that moment I needed to see her vulnerability.  I needed to feel safe.  But… nothing.  I was shut out again. And then…
Now this thing with me and my mom.  She told me… I forgets what day but I was on the phone with my (bestest). My mom came to my door and said when I get off the phone she needed to talk with me… to cut this story short she said, “In January I’m moving into a one bedroom apartment, that will give you 6 to 7 months to find your own place… ~ Thursday, August 7th, 1997
That day my feelings of abandonment were brought full circle.  My feelings of being a throw away were reinforced.   Years would pass before we spoke of it again but she denied ever saying it.  Maybe I heard wrong.  Or maybe her mind, with great sorrow, repressed that memory. I may never get closure regarding that.
No worries.  

In the past few years we’ve often agreed that mother-daughter relationships will be contentious to a degree.  I would extend this to all parents and their children.  It’s just not something I could understand at the time and it was too painful to blindly accept. Ineffective communication... that was the real culprit.





Monday, October 19

Article: Rejection Really Hurts

"While everyone accepts that physical pain is real, people are tempted to think that social pain is just in their heads," said Matthew D. Lieberman, one of the paper's three authors and an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA. "But physical and social pain may be more similar than we realized."…
"Rationally we can say being excluded doesn't matter, but rejection of any form still appears to register automatically in the brain, and the mechanism appears to be similar to the experience of physical pain,"…”
con’t reading: Rejection Really Hurts, UCLA Psychologists Finds published in ScienceDaily. Retrieved on March 4th, 2014 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031010074045.htm



Tuesday, October 13

I.O.U.



Hut.jpg


I was so conflicted as the calendar counted down to Vegas.  I had so many reservations. Mainly, would my mom be gentle and understanding of my depressed state.  And, would I be able to mask my irritability and not lash out at her unfairly.  To my relief our week together went better than my pessimistic mind had me thinking the last few months.


There were plenty of laughs.  Even some tears, on my part, as I spoke about my frustrations of not knowing who I am which was met with compassion on my mom’s part as she shared the struggles she had finally confronting her own pain.  I admit there were also some overwhelming moments: the crowds, the many treks up and down The Strip, the long days. Just being out of the comfort zone of isolation had me on edge.  So even though I made sure to bring my reads, mindfulness coloring book and Bluetooth keyboard to neutralize those anxieties, I needed a break by Wednesday.


I found myself in bed most of that day.  And by Friday, after a long day in the Arizona desert the day before admiring the shapes and colors of the Grand Canyon, I was finally ready to be alone.  But I’m grateful to not have been with anyone else but my mom over the last week. Because through it all the only pressure I felt was, well, self-inflicted.  Also, I wouldn’t have had even half the experiences I did if it wasn’t for her.


Thanks mom.


I love you.





Monday, September 28

Thursday the 17th: Woah!



20150404_140937~2.jpg


I’m still in the murky pit of depression.  
I had one of my best days so far last week but now I feel like I’m going backwards.   And today, the ER staff is pissing me the f*** off!  They desperately seek the help of the case management team and then are contentious about the help we give them.  Why the f*** am I here again?
The good news?  Vacation is in about a week.  
Good news?  It’s debatable.  There’s having to pack and unpack, deal with the airport and TSA, with my mom see me in one of my darkest moods and entertain an entire week of activities.  I don’t know if I’m up for it yet.  I mean I threw $100 dollars to the wind Labor Day weekend because I didn’t have the motivation to pack an overnight bag and take a 2 ½ hour drive to Richmond.  
I have yet to make an appointment with my psychiatrist to get the results of my ADHD/ADD testing.  While a part of me is scared of the results and having to be on additional medication, a greater part of me is still pissed off that she shrugged off my need to have intermittent leave from work.
The disdain for my physical appearance rages on.  
I guess my skin is getting clearer.  I’ll continue to get fatter because my diet is s*** and my exercise habits are nonexistent.  And you know what?  I would be okay with that, for now anyways, if I had the right clothes to match my shape… and if I didn’t have acne.   I just don’t know how to put myself together.  I don’t think I ever really knew. I’ve been a poser for so long I can no longer tell.  And frankly, just thinking about how much effort it takes makes me very anxious.
I’ve thought more about death since July.
I haven’t decided whether it’s due to my recently writing about my past suicide ideations or if I really don’t mind the thought of dying.  I am tired of living this way.  At this point my life is a slow and dreadful death anyway.  The only thing I believe that’s keeping me in this world is the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ, where there will be no pain, no suffering, no tears, no… depression.  I guess I’ve got some hope after all.





Saturday, September 19

Fruitless Ambition

Inspired by “Soon”, Drawing by Rubyetc


I wanna go places
I wanna meet people
I wanna walk into a crowded room and be unafraid to greet people
I wanna try new things
I wanna lend my talents
I wanna expand my senses and become more than a one woman island
I wanna be spontaneous
I wanna go where the wind takes me
Spain, India, Belize… hell the posh new café down the street
It’s open mic night
I wanna be an inspiration
I wanna affect change
Not just in myself but in all… even those who will never come to see my face
Or know my name
I wanna be athletic
I wanna be out-doorsy
Volleyball, hiking, tennis, camping… maybe even run a marathon
Maybe 3
Or am I thinking of a triathlon?
I wanna build
I wanna be a creator
I wanna be and do so much more than my depressed mind can get down on this piece of paper
I wanna detox
Not from drugs or alcohol but from anxiety and fear
*Sigh*
I just wanna be healthy… normal
Whatever that is for me
I just wanna live
Just wanna be all that I was meant to be
‘Cause this… this right here?
There has to be more to living than this right here…




Wednesday, September 16

Again & Again: Where I Am, Part 2


con’t from …Part 1


In effort to rid the world of a bit more ignorance, I dejected my emotionalism as best I could and chose to share more facts.  Namely that there is a misconception of what self-esteem is and of course I gave examples of low, healthy and high self-esteem as well as how parents contribute to them all.


What I didn’t expect was a response from my mom.  A response that would immediately make me question, even regret sharing my thoughts in the first place.  But then I said “no”.  Facts are facts no matter how uncomfortable they make people feel.  And I refused to betray myself by recanting my statements.  Wouldn’t I be contributing to mental health illiteracy if I did?  I’m only raising awareness; it’s the least I can do.   


But I did understand her point of view.  When we spoke again, I broached the topic first by avoiding conjecture and then by offering clarification.  And in that moment, I made a decision.  These days, I want to include my mom in everything.  Vulnerability is sign of trust.  Trust moves relationships forward and helps to sustain them.  Yet, if the tradeoff is tearing open her wounds then it’s best that I do not volunteer as much as I have.  And I’m okay with that.


... faith

Some time ago, well before this breakthrough depression, I was feeling so frustrated about my faith walk.  I concluded that it was because it was time for a growth spurt; I needed to draw even closer to God, step up my discipleship.  And I thought that was what I began to do, mainly by throwing myself into deeper study.  But then I fell into darkness and my light was snuffed out.  


What’s worse?  My mal-adaptive coping has me feeling like a hypocrite.


hypocrite
[hip-uh-krit] /ˈhɪp ə krɪt/
noun
1.   a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc.,
    that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie
    stated beliefs.
2.   a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially
    one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.


When a person drinks of and is refreshed by the living water that only Jesus Christ can give, they shout from their roof tops for all to come and drink.  There was no pretending. At every moment I was sincere! But the person I become when in the deepest and darkest pit of depression betrays the person I became when I publically chose to follow Christ; when I first drank of that water.     


“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” ~ Luke 14:28-30


I can't bear to say more right now…


… career

Boss lady recently asked me how my studying for the mandatory certification exam was going.  It took everything for me to not burst into hysterical laughter.   In hopes that she would understand the reality of depression, I admitted that I could barely shower much less even think about studying for anything.  Once my mood stabilizes I’ll get back to it… or I’ll sabotage myself and be forced to seek employment elsewhere in the system.  Typical me.  At this point I couldn’t care less.


Just like going into work each day while I’m depressed… don’t care.  I’ve called out a few times during this episode.  Didn’t care.  I’ve also asked to leave early.  Meh.  These long days feel so much longer and I reach max tolerance for the workflow, the people and the surprise consults in the early afternoon.  In a twelve hour day I probably “work” half of those hours. The rest of the time, I’m shooting the shit: internet surfing, watching videos on my phone, writing… anything else I can do except work.   It’s stealing really.  No thanks to my psychiatrist who refused to complete the paperwork for temporary leave.


On the bright side we finally have three nurse case managers to cover the ER. That means I no longer have to work every other weekend or an additional shift every two weeks.  Doesn’t seem like much but I’ll take whatever I can get at this point.


… conclusion

#DepressionSucks