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?

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.

 

 

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.

I see you, I hear you.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m the public one.

The one who speaks up.

The one who screams my story for all to hear.

The one that everyone says is so brave.

I don’t think it’s bravery.

I’m the one getting all of the support.

I’m the one getting all of the help.

I know there are so many others in the world.

Those that suffer in silence.

Those that don’t want to tell anyone what’s going on.

Those that won’t say how bad it really is.

Those that read along and see themselves in my words.

Those that are on the edge but just can’t break down, afraid of what will happen if they do.

Those that have broken down, but no one knows.

Those that are holding themselves together with smiles and laughs

And makeup

And perfect hair.

I see you.

I know you’re out there.

I know you’re the brave ones.

Without anyone to talk to.

Still putting one foot in front of the other.

Holding on for dear life.

Begging yourself to make it one more day.

And as you kiss your babies to bed each night.

Silently hoping you’re there to see them in the morning.

I hear you,

Even when you don’t have words to say.

 

Will to live.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I used to have this feeling, when sitting in therapy, or the psychiatrists office, or at PHP, that they knew something that I don’t know. Like there’s some big secret they aren’t telling me, something happening in the conversations behind the scenes.

Like they know the outcome and just weren’t letting me in on it.

That feeling was so strong last year.

I haven’t thought about it in awhile.

But back then, last time I was here, I wanted to scream at them.

“Tell me, what does the ending of this story look like.”

“Does the main character live, or does she die?”

“What type of story is this?”

I hadn’t thought about that in a long time.

I’ve been feeling like I’ve taken 20 steps back.

Like I’m right where I started.

Like the past year has been useless.

But somehow, in the midst of this crisis.

Even while buying bottles of pills.

Even while checking into the hospital.

Even while sitting in the rooms at Partial.

Even though I don’t know what the ending of the story is.

I know the main character makes it out alive.

Of course, it’s kind of funny (and horrifying) that today they let me in on a little secret.

The last time I was sitting in the rooms at Partial, they weren’t sure what the ending of the story was going to be.

They had their own doubts.

Not that I was in immediate danger, they would have gotten me safe, but that overall, I hadn’t solidified my will to live.

I remember being that person. I remember the wish to die being so strong that I could feel death surround me. I remember that darkness. I remember feeling no connection with life.

I remember.

Suicidal thoughts are different now. Even at their worst. Even in absolute crisis. Even when I’m truly in danger.

It doesn’t make them any less dangerous.

They could still make me just as dead.

But there’s a will to live that wasn’t there before.

There’s a fight.

There’s a chance.

There’s a light.

There’s hope behind it.

Yeah, shit still sucks sometimes and I’m honestly not sure just how far I’ll be able to go with this fucked up brain of mine.

But at least we aren’t questioning my chance at survival anymore.

And I guess that’s some pretty significant growth.

In the grand scheme of things.

Anhedonia

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Trigger Warning: Past suicidal thoughts and plans. Past self harm thoughts and plans.

Completely flat affect.

Complete absence of feeling.

Nothing.

The world wasn’t black because the world barely existed.

I felt no connection to life, no reason to keep living.

I couldn’t feel love.

I wasn’t afraid of dying.

I had plans and didn’t care if they worked or not.

Didn’t care what was left behind.

Didn’t care what mess was left to clean up.

I can’t remember a depressive episode like that before. I’ve had dark times where I felt like there was nothing, but there was still a feeling of dread within the nothing, I was still sad. This time, there was just

nothing.

I could tell that Wonder Woman was scared, but I couldn’t feel it.

I knew, somewhere, that I had to care, that there was a reason to care. I knew logically that she loved me, and I knew I logically that I loved her, but I couldn’t feel the emotion called love, I couldn’t recall ever feeling it, or what it might have felt like.

Maybe death would make me feel something.

Maybe sliding out of the car door and rolling down the highway would make me feel something.

Maybe sliding a knife across my skin would make me feel something.

Could anything make me feel something?

I knew that was a dangerous place for me to be, possibly the most dangerous place for me to be.

I didn’t care if I died, didn’t care that I was suicidal.

I got an extra appointment with my therapist. She asked that I not be alone for the weekend, asked that I get myself to the gym, stay busy, push myself to keep going until I saw her again, until I saw the doctor.

And now the weekend has passed.

Things aren’t so empty now.

I can see color again.

I see the world again.

I can feel fear again.

I feel love again.

I smile again.

I’m not sure what made me hold on through the absence of feeling. I’m not quite sure how I managed to reach out to others when I couldn’t even stay connected with myself. But I’m glad I did.

I’m glad I’m still here.

I hope I never experience that again.

Feeling depressed is better than not feeling at all.

How far?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve written about this before, but it’s been getting worse again and I feel like not enough people talk about this type of mental health. It seems too “strange” to put it into words, and also, everyone experiences it differently which makes it harder to find commonalities. The typical type of dissociation that everyone can relate to, is zoning out when driving and having no real memory of going from point A to point B, maybe even driving home when you meant to go to the store because you were so out of it and just automatically followed your normal route.

This is my experience of it.

It happens at least once a day right now, but sometimes twice, or even three times. Sometimes more, maybe, I didn’t always count. But, I’ve started keeping track on my DBT diary card.

How big are my hands? Definitely too big for my body.

How far away is my computer screen? Why is it across the room when I’m sitting right here?

Why are sounds echoing when the room hasn’t changed?

My face seems to flicker, it feels like trying to watch something on Pay Per View when you didn’t pay for it, back in the days when that was a thing.

A mouth feel like biting on Styrofoam, and a taste to go with it. I don’t actually know what Styrofoam tastes like, but this must be it.

Why is everything too small for my hands?

How far does my spoon have to travel from my bowl to my face? Feeding myself becomes a chore, no longer an automatic task.

Don’t forget to chew.

My thoughts are slowed, I feel as if my speech is too. Those around me say they can’t notice anything different.

Derealization.

Dissociation.

Having names for it helps. It is a known thing, just a shift in my perception of reality, nothing has actually changed. Knowing I don’t seem to act differently to anyone else helps too.

I’ve learned to just keep moving through it, not let it stop me from whatever I was doing. It seems to pass quicker that way.

Some people are able to identify triggers that bring these episodes on. I haven’t found any regular ones yet. I know that talking about it makes it try to happen, but I can often fight that. I’ve been holding it back the entire time I’ve been writing this. Sometimes it happens when I’m bored and lost in thought, other times when I’ve read too long at the computer, sometimes when I’m stressed, sometimes when I’m happy, sometimes none of those seem to apply.

For some people grounding helps bring them out of an episode. For me, ignoring it and moving forward helps better. Grounding or mindfulness exercises just makes me focus on it and gives it more power.

Is dissociation something you cope with? If you feel comfortable sharing, let me know what yours feels like and your coping methods.

Lets shine some light into all of those dark spaces and help end the stigma.

 

Come Find Me

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I wish I could show you the thoughts.

What’s locked inside my head.

When I silently walk away.

And go lay down in bed.

That place inside.

That place I hide.

I wish I could show you the place.

That’s locked inside my head.

I get this far away feeling and I feel like I need to hide from the world.

I want to be alone, but more than anything I want you to come find me and hold the pieces of me together while I fall apart.

Putting it into words feels melodramatic.

My arms are heavy and I need something to struggle against.

But I don’t know how to ask.

I want to cry and I need someone to catch my tears.

But I don’t know how to ask.

I feel like a bomb ready to explode and I need someone to make sure I don’t lose any of my pieces.

But I don’t know how to ask.

It feels like I need too much, too often, always.

You have your own struggles and shouldn’t be worried about mine.

You have your own tears and shouldn’t be worried about mine.

You have your own pieces and shouldn’t be worried about mine.

So I walk away quietly.

I lay down alone.

I gather myself,

again.

Because I don’t know how to ask.

“I’m fine.”

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW: Suicidal Thoughts with plan and intent.

This is a rough one friends.  One I wasn’t sure I was going to write out because I knew it would get intense and honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to shine light into these dark spaces, but I know it’s better out then in.

And I’ve learned that people actually do care to hear about it.

But seriously, this was one of my darker moments, so take care of yourself and only read on if you are up to that.

I’m going to preface it by saying I am safe now, and feeling much better.  I did eventually reach out, my therapist knows what’s going on, there’s a safety plan in place, and I’ll reach out again if I wobble.

Shit got real dark, real fast after my last post.

I talked myself out of the house, got dressed and went for that walk.  Grumbled about it but did it because I knew it was good for me and I knew I’d feel better for it.  I was listening to great music, dancing and singing along in my head.

And then something flipped, and I was just over it all, over dealing with the depression and the mania and the mixed episodes, and this time of year being so horrible for me again and again no matter how much I try to make it better.

And then I wondered, when they found my body, who would they contact.  My sister and Batwoman are still my emergency contact at some of the local hospitals, it hasn’t been switched over to Wonder Woman yet.  So I contacted both of them to make sure they had Wonder Woman’s contact info, “Just in case something happened.”

And I started walking for the main road.

I’m not going to type out the full extent of what happened.  There’s no need for it. But there’s about an hour of time that I was in a really really dark space.  I had a plan, went way too close to it, realized it would possibly leave me hurt and not dead, came up with another plan and went towards that, realized access was blocked off, and headed home for pills that I knew were accessible.

I’m thankful that, pills and drink in hand, I saw something with Wonder Woman’s name on it and I decided to text my therapist instead.  The act of typing out what had been happening was enough to make the thoughts quiet down to a dull roar that I could fight.

I don’t actually want to die, but it would be really nice if my brain would stop trying to kill me.

My therapist wasn’t able to get back to me for a few hours and by then I had gotten together with Batwoman so I wasn’t alone for the few hours until Wonder Woman got home.

The pills have been locked up with the rest of the meds now.  We discussed the possible need for a babysitter over the next few days.  I declined, the fog has cleared and that’s not saying it won’t come back (it always does, eventually) but the honest truth is we have no way of knowing if it’ll get that bad again in the next 24 hours, or if it’ll be another year.

I feel wobbly right now.  That was as close as I’ve been in a long while.  I wasn’t sure I could fight them and I wasn’t even trying.

I hate that I’m putting myself through this.  I hate that the people around me have to deal with me like this.  I hate that no matter how far I come, these thoughts can show up and knock it all out from under me and leave me feeling completely powerless.

I want to live and I hate feeling like the only way through is death.

Dissociation

Really Real Mental Health Post

Most of my experiences with mental illness are just part of me.  I know they don’t fall within the realm of typical, but they don’t feel particularly abnormal or make me feel all that strange.  But occasionally, the racing thoughts get too out of control, or my speech is too sped up, or the suicidal thoughts are too strong and it makes me feel crazy.  It’s those things that truly makes me feel like I’m sick.

There’s another thing that happens that I don’t talk about, and until yesterday I wasn’t really sure what it was because I hadn’t pinpointed it enough to get a name for it, although I’ve suspected for awhile.

It doesn’t happen often, sometimes it doesn’t happen for a year, and sometimes it happens a few times in a week.  I remember the first time it happened, when I was in middle school, and I remember a few other significant times, like when I was driving and had to pull over because it became dangerous, or when I was in a job interview and had to act like nothing was wrong.

My depth perception will shift and suddenly everything looks a million miles away, even things within my reach, my hands will feel and look too big for my body, sometimes there’s a funny taste that goes along with it, and this strange mouth feel that is almost like biting on plastic, everyone including me sounds like they are talking in a tunnel and speech feels slowed down even though it doesn’t sound that way.

I’ve never really told a lot of people about it, except those that might be able to give me a name for it.  I would talk to people in my mental health circles because they understood.  Other people typically give me a strange look and think I’ve kind of lost my mind (I have, I’m certified crazy, thank you).

And it finally happened while i was sitting in my therapists office a few weeks ago, and I could explain it to her while it was happening.  And we were able to pin down the timing and the trigger for that time.  And she told me to explain it to the psych doctor, which I’ve done.

Yesterday I found out it’s called dissociation and it’s basically a detachment from reality due to a trigger of some sort.  My psych doc says it’s a way of questioning what’s even real, although I’m not sure I fully understand that yet.

It happens so infrequently that it’s hard to really work with.  When it happens I try to find something to ground myself to, which is instinctual, and is apparently exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  Less important, but still something to look at, is figuring out what I’m thinking or talking about before it happens, so that maybe we can figure out the triggers.

I kept quiet about this for 25 years because I knew people would think this was nuts.  I’m writing about it because I’m glad to finally know it has a name and because I’m hoping if someone else has something that seems weird, they don’t wait 25 years to talk to their doctors about it and get a name for it.

Even though the label isn’t going to change anything, it makes me feel a little better to know it’s not just me that this happens to.

I’m not alone.