Calm before the storm.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Things feel calm.

Like, I’m slightly hypomanic, but nothing major. I’m right where I like to be.

It’s been like this for a while, it’s hard to say exactly how long, minus a rough few hours here or there. And I pull back out of those rough hours before they become rough days and weeks.

But I’m scared.

Will this last or am I just experiencing the calm before the storm?

Will the other shoe drop?

When?

I don’t fool myself, my mental illnesses aren’t something that will ever go away. I’m going to have rough days and weeks no matter how well I use my coping skills. I’m going to be on medication forever and I’m fine with that.

But these nice calm periods, when it lasts long enough that I’m ready to call it stability, leave me fearful, wondering, waiting.

Is it the calm before the storm?

Will the other shoe drop?

When?

But, I have a lot of coping skills and mostly, I’m good at them. As long as I don’t hit full blown crisis before I can put those skills to use, I have ways to ground myself and even myself back out.

I know what to do.

I know how to do it.

Wednesday is my last day of PHP, I’m so ready for that day to come. I love the program I’m in, it’s my goto when I need care like this, but being there when I feel stable is boring, tedious, and I stop getting much out of the program.

I don’t know what to talk about in group therapy because I can’t pull up the feelings that existed when I was in crisis.

They don’t want to be thought about.

They don’t want to be felt again.

But I was afraid to leave.

What if this is the calm before the storm?

Will the other shoe drop?

When?

Working it out

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

With some Really Real Widow stuff thrown in there too.

I’ve been feeling really good. Even my bad days don’t last and don’t get as bad. I’m using a lot of coping skills to pull myself off of any emotional roller coasters I end up on. Part of me thinks this is too good to last, part of me thinks maybe I’ll be okay for awhile.

I went back to the gym today, first time I’ve been there in over a month. I’m thankful that Mickey has been gently reminding me that the gym still exists, but has also been understanding that I just don’t feel like I have the time while I’m in PHP and school.

Today I took the day off from PHP, so I went to the gym and it felt really, really good, even though we took it easy.

I’m tired of PHP. My empathy feels broken and I’m restless when I’m not doing something with my hands, so groups are both boring and difficult to sit through. I’m not in crisis anymore, so the educational groups feel redundant, I’ve learned most of this stuff before and I know how to use it until I hit my skills breaking point. Then knowing it doesn’t really matter because I’m too far under to use it.

PHP is incredibly helpful for me when I’m in crisis, but I’m learning that when I’m stabilized it isn’t the best place for me. And I have over 2 weeks left until I’m finished. If I stick around to finish out my time. Nothing is making me stay.

It felt really good to be in the gym. It felt really good to have my normal routine back today. It felt good to avoid the emotional exhaustion that comes after a day at PHP.

I’m really torn.

And on another topic.

The thought crossed my mind a few days ago that widowhood isn’t that hard right now. That’s one of those thoughts I hate to have, because inevitably after that thought comes a difficult period of grief.

Right now it’s just a quiet hum in the back of my brain. I miss Parker. I wonder what life would be like with her still here. I wonder what the world is missing out on with her gone. I wonder how she would react to my latest crisis. I wonder if we would still be married. I wonder if we would have been able to pull ourselves out of survival mode.

And, I also love my life as it is. It’s one of those things that will always be difficult to reconcile. I want her back in this world and I don’t want to give up what I have now.

Luckily it’s not a choice I’d ever have to make, she’s gone and nothing will change that.

Something came up for me in PHP a week or two ago. Blaming myself for Parker’s death is one way of wishing I had control over something that can never be controlled. If her death was my fault, then doing things differently means maybe I can keep another loved one from dying.

Believing that her death isn’t my fault means realizing I had no control over it. It means realizing that I can’t control the life or death of other important people in my life.

It means I’m helpless to save them.

That’s a hard thing to process.

I miss her. I wish things would have been different but I realize I had no control over it then, and I have no control over what happens now.

Anyway, hopefully I can spend more time in the gym working this shit out. It’s been such a great form of therapy for me these past 3 years.

Can’t tell the sweat from the tears.

 

Music Blaring

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Normally when I write, I have soft piano music playing through my headphones.

Not today.

Today I have the computer blaring my “Top Songs of 2018” playlist. It’s not a soft piano music kind of day.

It’s a loud music with no headphones kinda day.

It’s a dance around my living room to bring myself down kinda day.

I’m angry.

I’m sad.

I’m frustrated.

I’m even somewhat suicidal (but safe).

I have to make a decision and each option has it’s pros and cons.

And my brain’s answer to feeling cornered is to tell me it’s easier to just die.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely that my brain will ever stop reacting that way. All that can be changed is the severity of the thoughts. Right now they’re mild, but they are there.

I’m dealing with meds with shitty side effects, including empathy dulling, but those same meds keep me from wanting to die.

Mostly.

It at least stops the thoughts from getting a tight enough grip to kill me.

Hopefully.

I’ve fought my ass off to get stability and I don’t fool myself that it’ll be easy.

But damn it, why does everything have to be this hard.

Being faced with a tough decision today was enough to take the entire day from me.

And yes, I’m vague-booking, because the specifics don’t matter.

The difference between stability and chaos is a few words. But I have enough coping mechanisms to bring myself back to center, sometimes.

Sometimes that coping mechanism is music blaring while I write. Drumming on my keyboard to the beats in the song. Wondering how long until neighbors get pissed (fuck em, I don’t know what empathy even is right now, yay for med side effects).

I just want peace, and I want to make a decision free from strings.

But there are strings.

And I can’t make a decision.

So today is a loud music kinda day.

And tomorrow I’ll really figure this out.

 

 

Too big, too much

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m having the absolute hardest time sitting still. I need to be doing things with my hands, working on projects, twenty things at once.

In groups I’m fidgeting with a fidget cube or stress ball. Chewing ice. Rocking my leg.

Must.

keep

moving.

It’s not as noticeable at home, I don’t think, because I’m working on things and I’m moving anyway. But at PHP, in groups, when other people are talking, I can’t just sit there and focus.

Today one of the groups got large.

Really really large.

We ran out of chairs in the room.

So I left.

There’s no way I would have focused through that.  Too many people moving, chairs shifting. Too big, too much.

And I can’t sit still.

I don’t know why.  Is this because of the increased dose of one medication.  Is this because we’re discontinuing other, redundant, medications.

Or is this because my brain is trying to run from the healing.  It’s too uncomfortable to sit with these emotions, literally.

Ants in my pants and I can’t sit still.

Heavy.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Overall, I’m doing fairly well. Even the hard days aren’t all that hard, especially in comparison to where I was a month ago.

A month ago, it’s hard to believe it’s really only been that long since I was inpatient.

I’m doing pretty well.

And I’m still having a hard time with motivation.

I wake up in the mornings and just don’t want to get up and go to PHP even though I know I will do better by being there.

I’m late more often than not.

I give myself credit for going, because even that is a struggle.

I should be spending some time on schoolwork most nights and I know it’s not likely I’ll focus if I go home after PHP.

And I still call my Uber as soon as group lets out.

I’ve had late assignments and missed assignments and I’m still fighting hard to stay on track.

The motivation just isn’t there.

I want to do this stuff. I make great plans. I wake up on time and doze back off. I carry my school work with me everywhere I go.

The bag is heavy.

The weight is heavy.

The guilt is heavy.

The shame is heavy.

I know I am capable and I wonder if I’m not. How will I ever hold down a job if I can’t do these two things?

I know I can succeed and I wonder how long until I fail. How will I ever graduate if I keep dropping classes?

I have no motivation and I feel like shit for that.

And yet, I’m able to do some things that make me feel good. I’m still making cards for people and sending them out, making sure to get each one just right. It feels so good to brighten someone else’s day with some bits of paper that are glued together.

How do I move the motivation from one, onto the others? How do I find the drive to do what I have to do? How do I find balance?  How do I turn have to’s into want to’s?

How do I remind myself that all of this is a choice?

I could stop going to PHP, nothing is making me.

I could drop out of school for the semester, nothing is forcing me to stay.

This is a choice and therefore I also choose how much effort to put in.

I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time with motivation right now.  Leftover depression? Laziness? Lack of enjoyment?

But I’ll get out what I put in, and maybe it’s time to focus on how much control I have.

And maybe that’ll also take some of the pressure away and let me make a choice based on what I want to get out of PHP and out of school.

By sitting down some of the weight, some of the guilt, some of the shame, I make it easier to carry the load and focus on what I want to achieve. Why I want to follow through.

I can do hard things, and I don’t have to add the extra weight to them.

And I know I’ve got this, cause I’m pretty much a badass.

Coffee will be my downfall.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I got 3.5 hours of broken sleep last night. I kept dozing off in groups today.

I know why, I drank coffee too late. Sometimes I can, sometimes it fucks me all up.

Last night it fucked me all up.

So today I have no energy reserves. I came home and landed in bed where I napped restlessly for an hour. I tried to stay busy after that. But it’s 8pm and I can feel my mood slipping with my energy level.

My bed is calling my name, but it’s still too early.

After having a few days of relative peace this feeling of dread coming over me is such a heavy weight.

I’m walking through fog and it’s not just because I’m tired. It’s that blanket of depression.

My reserves got too low.

Dinner still needs to be figured out and cooking is out of the question. Even ordering food seems like more than I can handle.

The bed is calling my name, but it’s not just because I’m tired. It’s my safe space, my depression space, my blankets over my head space.

What happened to the peace I was feeling yesterday? What happened to euthymia?

What happened?

I just need a good night’s sleep and hopefully this will pass again.

Exhaustion is awfully close to depression, maybe I’m just confusing the two.

Maybe.

Hopefully.

What would it look like?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

This one got long and I’m leaving it that way, because there’s some really good stuff in here.

It’s been almost a week since I wrote.  I can normally tell things are going well when I’m not writing every day.

It’s hard to write when things are just,

Okay.

I started asking for a word a week or two ago.  I asked my therapist, asked in group therapy, asked Wonder Woman. “What’s the word for baseline, midline, “normal”?  Not manic, not depressed, just, okay.”

I don’t like using the word normal. I don’t think there is a “normal.” Add to that, having a period when I’m not hypomanic and not depressed certainly isn’t normal for me.

It hasn’t really lasted any significant period, so I wouldn’t classify it as stability.

Euthymic.

According to an online medical dictionary, “Euthymia is a normal non-depressed, reasonably positive mood. It is distinguished from hyperthymia, which refers to an extremely happy mood, and dysthymia, which refers to a depressed mood. It is a term used frequently in mental status exams.”

I’m mostly euthymic right now.

My meds are working. Unfortunately I’m on some higher doses and I’m having some shitty side effects, but I’m finding ways to cope with them.

Meanwhile I’m working on some hard shit in partial. I’m digging into some core beliefs about myself that are supremely unhelpful. I’m trying to sort out the process of getting rid of them and replacing them with positive truths. I’m digging into how I’m supposed to do that.

It’s easy to say on the surface, especially when I’m doing well, “I’m not too much,” “I’m not less than,” “I’m good enough,” and ultimately “I’m allowed to be me and I’m wholly lovable as my true self.” But, when there’s an underlying belief that it’s all bullshit, that surface shine falls apart as soon as depression hits.

It becomes a spiral.

Depression makes me question my validity.

And my worthiness.

And my right to the space I take, both physically and emotionally.

And eventually my desire, and even my right to exist.

That’s so hard to look at from the outside.

How do I change it?

Telling myself “I am pretty, I am kind, I am important” is a great place to start. (Side note: I’ve never seen that movie) However, it only goes so far.

I was asked, “What does life look like without those beliefs?” “What does life look like without mental illness?”

Well, fuck.

This is all I’ve known.

Where does the illness end and I begin? What happens if you take me away from the trauma, away from the chaos, and away from the mental instability?

Who would I be if I were to achieve stability?

I keep saying, that right now it isn’t fair that my brain is being such an asshole. My life is the calmest it’s ever been. My bills are paid, I have lights and food and a stable roof over my head. My house isn’t filled with tension from the latest screaming match, or problems we are avoiding. I’m, in a lot of ways, living my best life right now.

And my brain is more unstable than it’s ever been.

Maybe it doesn’t know what stability should look like.

I mean, it’s not just one thing. It’s also that life is finally calm enough that I can process and heal from all of the trauma, and healing isn’t pretty.

But maybe it’s time to take a long, hard look at what my life would be if it weren’t the only thing I’ve ever known.

And that’s some hard shit.