Not like hunger-games type survival... or scaling mountains survival. No supplemental oxygen required.
It’s more like practical life skills for camping in the woods. Common sense type stuff. But for Depression.
Last night cried a bunch while trying to get to sleep and the tears dropped into my ears.
This is morning I thought I’d have an hour or so to steel myself to face the day with people... but then realized I had a meeting and needed to pull myself together in 4 minutes.
Which started up a miserable crying jag.
These are not the survival skills. These are the things that I have to navigate in my Depression camping trip.
(Gotta remember to tie the food up in a tree so the bears don’t get at it. Or you.)
I am not a danger to myself or others.
I am just successfully navigating the whitewaters of the Downs.
Because I am not alone. I got people. I have the best people. They have skills. I am no fool trying to summit Everest alone. Not alone. And nowhere near Everest.
This is is a bonus of not being manic while Depressed. I can plan some things. I can think of strategies. Or at the very least think of people who might have strategies.
Took the FB app off my phone, but I do check in sometimes and see posts on my posts from F/friends who support me from afar.
Telling people I am not doing well is infinitely better than trying to hide all symptoms and pretending to be fine.
It would be so much harder to get help or feel supported if I hid. Here are some things I would have missed
A supportive note from a friend written on a turquoise sticky-note.
Another friend mentioned how much she appreciated how open I am about all this crap.
(Because if no one talks about mental health crap, we don’t realize how normal it is to have mental health crap that you need to deal with at some time or another.)
I asked my director if she could mention to me that I am not a rubbish teacher. She knows why. She’s been near my shoes. (Also had her chew out my obnoxious 4th period students who have taxed my end-of-day reserves.)
I don’t want to be alone right now but only because I know that hiding under the covers by myself in a dark room is not a great way to kick Depression’s bony ass.
Otherwise the warm dark cave sounds like a great plan. Until I am eaten by bears.
I talked to the acquaintance who told me they could never date someone with bipolar... (see previous posts).
We have stuff in common. They seem like a nice enough person. And even when I am Depressed I can have many non-horrible moments of regular humanness and casual conversation.
I figure this is part of my slow education of a person who doesn’t know much about mental health crap—especially bipolar.
I figure if this person (through a series of harmless interactions bit by bit) can see that I am a fully functioning human in most ways for enough of the time... their ignorance might gradually fade.
Writing this makes me feel better. I’m Sad but my brain feels more connected.
Maybe this is a side-effect of the lifting of brain fog. That first the fog lifts. And then the mood slowly rises as well.
Slow is good. Manic is the opposite of slow and not the desired goal of medicating for the Depression.
200 mg lamotrigine
150 mg bupropion (remembering in morning now)
I have a band concert on Saturday. It is in Hinkley. Hinkley er veldig langt herfra. I’ll invite people to closer ones.
started day yelly at elderboy over stupid persistent adolescent crap.
forgot my keys at home
had disastrous first hour (tech glitches) and felt like I should be fired because I was a rubbish teacher for not having everything run smoothly.
it was not smooth.
(cried unnoticeably in in the corner between classes)
texted Spouse for moral support
class at end of day filled with middle school boys who can sense when energy level and patience are nonexistent. And they act like they have never been in my class before.
like talking over the teacher is okay.
like you can just refuse to move seats.
like doing activity is optional because you are just going to guess all the answers on the test.
one student (ironically high school girl) suggested that I whistle with my fingers super loud to get their attention.
and now headache.
no emotional reserves to talk myself into feeling good about today.
it was a terrible day with no redeeming qualities and I am a rubbish human being.
I have had more time to think about my major worry about other people being sick or otherwise in a bad way... and how this is all about me...
I am not afraid of these people not being available to me. Not afraid that they won't be able to do things to take care of me.
I am afraid that I will not be well enough to take care of them.
Elderboy is having trouble keeping track of things and turning them in. He has declared his intention to retake a class next year because he is not happy with his grade this year.
I am very worried when his grades are crap because he is very smart. Nope, smarter than that. Ridiculously smart. So when his grades are crap it is an indication that Something Is Wrong.
And of course the Something Wrong could no doubt have been prevented or ameliorated by me if I were on top of my game.
It is so hard to explain that I am less worried about the Bad Grade than I am about the reason for that bad grade. He's got some of the Depression too. And the Perfectionism. And a severe case of adolescence.
And our parental worry and concern can come off so yelly and unsupportive. Which is crap.
I told elderboy I was going to watch a whole bunch of teenager tv shows in which parents are crappy to their children in order to get them to do better in school.
He suggested that this was a bad plan because either
1. I would think that this was a good plan (and it would be crap)
2. I would think that I was already doing these terrible things and that I was a crap parent.
Like I said, the boy is a bloody genius.
Sang in meeting today. It wasn't as loud as I needed to sing. It was too high. My voice sounded squeaky and rattled around in the open spaces. But it was a start.
Grateful Crap: Not Being Yelly All The Time
200 mg lamotrigine
150 mg bupropion (remembrering to take it, but not at beginning of day.)
Bipolar is a selfish disease. everything is about me. If something terrible happens to other people I worry about how it will affect me.
Sad things in the world make me sad. I feel like I’m reaching for things to be sad about.
All about me.
Friends and family falling ill is of course stressful. No one can fault me for feeling sad.
But family of friends... people I have never met... surely that is not about me. And yet I worry. And I weep.
And I am not confused here... I am not grieving over golden grove unleaving. I am who I mourn for.
A coworker who is a great source of stability just found out her sister is dealing with a serious health issue. Hospitalization. Operations. Long term uncertainty.
It is stressful for her and she is sad and worried for her sister. They are very close— share a house, vacation together.
And here I am worried about what will happen to me if she leaves to take care of her sister.
Because it it is all about me.
I feel like I have had more energy since starting to take the bupropion on Wednesday. I don’t think it’s technically soon enough to have taken effect.
I felt disproportionately sad. That broken mood thermostat.
Cried during band practice when someone asked how I was doing.
Cried when I heard Carl Sagan’s voice while watching Cosmos with family.
I was just thinking back on Tuesday that I didn’t have any reserve. That if anything sad happened it would just tip me into real unequivocal depression. The always sad weepy kind.
Because I was already kind of stuck in the listless blues. No energy. Little patience. Foggy brain. Glad I went to have meds adjusted. Hope it helps.
I don’t like that it is all about me.
200 mg lamotrigine
150 mg bupropion (taken in pm)
Went to see psych NP today. After a forensic reading of my blog, I determined in a mild to moderate depressed mood state since mid December.
mezzo depressionata as the tempo marking
poco a poco deccelerando
She is going to try me on the small doses of bupropion as an add-on antidepressant.
It has been a long time since I have been on an antidepressant. I’d be curious to see how long. I’ll have to dig through the archives.
I forgot to tell her about the nightmares. I did remember to tell her about lack of focus, crying jags and word salad.
I need to go back in a month and give her some good data on how the new meds are working together with the old man’s inside my brain.
I was listening to NPR after the latest school shooting in which there is the obligatory reference to mental illness... and when the announcer said, “unlike governor... did not call for measures to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.”
Set aside for the moment the horror of the event. The ghastly mundanity with which we can speak of school shootings.
Of course this is hard to hear. Of course it shreds my nerves and leaves sadness bleeding through my veins.
But... The Mentally Ill!!!!!
I was furious. Shaking. And I spent the next two hours frantically scribbling notes for the editorial I am going to write. Illegible pencil scratches in between typed lines. Curling up one side and down the others Racing thoughts and slithering nerves.
The Mentally Ill?
Do they also refer to The Cancerous or The Domestically Abused or The Physically Ill...
But this is not the post about that. That was days ago. Thursday. And I don’t have the time to sort out the twisting graphite lines and straighten them into a coherent narrative.
No doubt this failing is because I am one of the mentally ill. Interesting that I have not been so affected by lack of “person first” language. Usually it just seems like careful, politically correct speech.
But it this is not about that.
This is post is just this: a post.
Not doing well and I know this. Have eliminated FB from my phone and I won’t touch my computer. Partly because I simultaneously want and do not want contact with people.
And I don’t want to see if I post and no one replies. And I don’t want to read in to much and psychoanalyze any responces or non responses.
So I pulled back. And I don’t check my email. And I am nervous about interacting with people in person. More and more. You say hello... do you mean that? Or are you just saying it out of social obligation?
I cannot handle conflict. I shut myself in my room and locked the door when the children were bickering about picking up the living room. I texted Spouse to say that I was never coming out. By then all the kids were laughing and playing and singing.
There is no winning with me when I am like this. I want to be alone but not really and I know the isolation is not great for me. But I don’t want to have to put on a show of normalcy...
I don’t want people to not notice that I am gone but I don’t want anyone to call attention to my... me, I guess. And I’m afraid that I have been so absent from my own life that this withdrawal is not noticeable to anyone but me.
Friday I felt terrible for going to a book club at school because I hadn’t read the book entirely. So today I read the proposed book for next month plus 2 others just in case... reading is a gateway drug and now I cannot stop.
I want to watch all 4 seasons of SKAM and write down word for word what the characters are saying in Norwegian. I can listen to it now and have memorized the English translation. I think it would help my Norwegian language learning.
I dont know know if I am more afraid that people will read this or that they will not. I am living in a state of anxious fear. Some of that racing hypomnic thought, but none of the elation.
I asked for this. (See recent post re:longing for hypomania)
I dont want want to talk to psych NP when I see her on Tuesday. I’m afraid she will tell me I need to go talk to The OFP and I don’t have a thesis prepared.
Tomorrow somehow I will bring myself to go to the largest indoor shopping mall in the United States so I can watch my children play piano. It feels like a terrible plan. It feels like I should put on fully-beaded chain-mail armor to be well prepared for such an outing. Can’t be a mess. Gotta be a supportive parent.
asked for help from family
I gotta say I have not noticed a dramatic improvement in depressive symptoms since increasing from 200mg.
I took Facebook off my phone because I wasn’t using it right. I was minding it for all the stressful anxiety-ridden things I could find.
I still feel useful at work. I can still get things done. I can make eye contact and interact with people and plan lessons and right tests. I can go to meetings. I can mentor students. I can even smile and mean it.
But I can’t sustain this level of energy. And by the time I get home I don’t want to deal with anything. And I feel like I’m putting far too much pressure on Spouse to pick up all the pieces.
Which isn’t fair. And it keeps happening. And that sucks. I’m afraid that if it continues, eventually the decision will be inevitable… that I am not worthy.
This is the depression that my acquaintance said they could deal with if they were dating someone with bipolar.
Personally, I think I am a lot easier to live with hypo manic. At least I get a lot done, even if the things I get done or not necessarily what we planned.
instead of doing things that I know I need to do, I am sitting around wallowing in the fact that I don’t feel like I can do anything. Can you wallow in a fact? I feel perfectly able to wallow in anything whatsoever. It could be my new hobby.
It Feels almost like I am ultra rapid cycling from euthemia to depression depending on the time of day. Rising and setting with the sun. And the sun sets early here.
this afternoon I had idle thoughts about what it might be like to use controlled substances not prescribed to me. Alcohol. Cannabis. Magic brownies.
These are thoughts that I do not plan to act upon. Don’t worry. I just wondered what it would feel like. And I could see the appeal if it makes you feel better even for a short time. But I am far too focused on the end results to fall for such a scheme.
I need to make a list. Reminder list just small of things that I could do. Little things that would make me feel effective without overwhelming me. I could wash a sink full of dishes. I could fold a basket of laundry. I could send myself on these little missions and in small pieces work my way back to feeling useful when I am not at work.
I want to be hypomanic. I want to get things done. I want to need less sleep. I want to feel excited. Let my heart to race. I want to have so many ideas that I cannot write them down fast enough. I want to feel like I have superpowers. The good kind.
if I could do something that would trip me into hypomania, I totally would. But only if I could be assured 100% that I could stay there. And would not have to pay with equal parts from depression later.
I would only agree to this mythic hypomanic state if there were a legally binding contract that stated I would not escalate into mania, nor experience any psychosis.
I am maudlin. I am in the house alone. I can hear the sound of the clock ticking. This post is bringing me down. I imagine people reading it and being alarmed. Which is not my intention.
I just want to have a record. I want to be able to read this in the future and remember what it felt like. I want to be able to tell psych NP how my depression is doing. And what months tend to be the most difficult for me.
If I read a post just saying I’m a bit down, it doesn’t give me good data. If I don’t post anything at all, it doesn’t tell me anything at all. By tomorrow I will have forgotten what I posted here. Not entirely, but I will have forgotten the details.
grateful crap: I am not manic.
Equatorial actions: not a damn thing.
Here’s what the Downs feel like right now. I still want to stay in bed all day and never interact with anyone.
Until I get out of bed.
And interact with people. Then I feel better.
But if I’m at home, my comforter beckons. It is warm and dark and cozy.
I want to stay in bed all day. Alone or with Spouse. Because that is the one person I can imagine spending time with in the Downs.
If Spouse is present I would like to be held tightly so my molecules don’t fly apart.
Or I’d like to have a lead blanket. Maybe not lead. Something less toxic. But dense. Good, then. A gold-filled blanket.
And if Spouse is there maybe I can sleep. And if he’s not I just want to keep watching obsessively my Norwegian show over and over. Because I’m starting to hear more of the words.
And if I’m watching Skam I am not crying.
Which is what I did for half the day on Sunday. Maybe less. I cried through meeting and was desperately glad not to interact with anyone.
(As an aside, to break the 4th wall: My child’s school district nearly went on strike for the first time since 1946. I have many friends who work for the district. Until very recently I worked for the district more than 10 years. My anxiety level was extremely high over the weekend. Which I am sure contributed greatly to the downs.)
Then there were some “word salad” problems this weekend. A bit worse than my fuzzyheaded usual depressive mood episode can’t quite find the word.
I know what I want to say, but like a stroke or like dementia... something that interferes with the brain’s access to words... all the wrong things come out. Or right words in the wrong order like I am a living word jumble.
I laughed with family until tears streamed at a particularly bad case of language. I meant to say: «I could buy some tea at Lady Elegant’s.»
What came out of my mouth instead was... «I could get something from Maeve Binchy’s Harlot Shop.»
I knew that wasn’t right so I tried some circumlocution and I said (unhelpfully) “they sell sticks.”
It was a minor blip. Two sentences that didn’t make sense. I was able to manage the rest of the day.
But I have forgotten things. And each forgotten thing makes me feel more and more like a failure. Every failure makes me feel that I am unworthy... Incompetent... that someone else could play me better and more convincingly in the ABC after school special of my life.
I have deleted Facebook from my phone. I told myself it was a good way of having contact with people I liked when I couldn’t bring myself to have real contact with people people I like...
Don’t worry. I have an appointment scheduled to see my psych NP.
Students from my school (99.95% Asian) attended a concert at Orchestra Hall in MN conducted by Sara Hicks. Ms. Hicks is the first woman in MN orchestra history to hold a titled conducting position (Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall).
She is also Asian. And when she walked out onto the stage, the kids from my school were stunned. Mouths open. Eyes wide. Then they erupted into vigorous, stunned applause. It was like she was a rock star. It had never occurred to these kids that an Asian woman might be a conductor. That they might one day be conductors.
I have been watching SKAM, a Norwegian drama starring a bunch of teenagers that I am not the target market for. But I am sort of obsessed. I have watched the entire series once, and I am starting my third viewing of season 3, which is my favorite.
In season three the main character (Isak) comes to the realization that he is gay (but not "gay" gay, he explains to his friends). He turns out to be more homophobic than any of his high school buddies or his family (including his very religiously conservative mother).
"It's 2016 man, get out of the closet..."
I enjoy a good coming-out, coming of age story as much as the next liberal snowflake... But the main conflict in the story actually comes from Isak having to deal with the fact that his love interest (Even) has bipolar disorder.
This is probably (okay pretty much certainly) what fuels my obsession with season 3. There is a main character, a likeable character, the main love-interest of the main character who is living with a major mental illness. My major mental illness.
Representation is important.
Because Even is played as a person, not a caricature... a person who lives with bipolar disorder and yet has devoted friends and an active social life and holds a job and who finds love in a committed relationship.
And at no time does it feel like this character is meant to represent ALL people with bipolar or ALL gay teens. It feels real. It feels like Even is one particular person. With one particular set of circumstances.
I thought of this when my students were viewing a pre-packaged powerpoint in which 99.99% of the images showing what it meant to be "prepared for a job interview" were white.
And the other .01% was a picture of Lucy Liu intended to show what sort of make-up one ought to wear.
Blah. The question on one slide was "Which one is more prepared for the interview?" My answer, "Ooh, I know! The white guy!" Because the picture featured two generic white guys in button-down shirts: Mr. Whiteguy With Belt and Mr. Whiteguy Without Belt.
I am not going to make an awesome Norwegian TV drama. I am not going to become the first female conductor of the MN orchestra who is living with bipolar disorder.
But I can think about presenting real faces in the small things that I do prepare. What images do my students see when I am teaching science? Is every picture of a "scientist" an old, possibly long-dead, white guy?
And it is not silly and stupid and PC to try to find alternate images that include women and people living with obvious disabilities and minorities. It is important.
You need to be able to see yourself in the world or you begin to question whether or not there is a place in it for you.
Grateful Crap: Seeing myself on the small screen in bits of characters here and there. Who knew I would identify so strongly with a gay Norwegian teenager.
meds 250 mg lamotrigine
#whatnottosay to anyone. Really. Because you don’t know what anyone else is carrying.
Acquaintance: I could never date someone with bipolar.
Me: I have bipolar.
Acq: ...I think I could take the depression, but not the crazy. I’m so chill. It just wouldn’t match with my temperament.
Maybe she’s right… Maybe I am Undateable. Why would anyone want to deal with all this crap anyway?
Why should Spouse stay with me?
She’s right the Ups and Downs suck. When choosing someone to date, who would seek out a person with mental illness.
That would actually be a really creepy thing to do.
In the wake of dealing with crappy depression stuff at work, this was a particularly unhelpful, unwanted, and deeply hurtful exchange.
I spent some time crying for no reason at work on Monday. Today was better with the exception of this isolated conversation...
But depression isn’t something that you just shake off in a day.
Called psych NP to schedule an appointment. I will see her on February 20.
In the meantime I am increasing my dose of the Lamotrigine from 200 mg to 250 mg that way I can let her know if a slight increase in the dosage helps with the depression.
Thanks to supportive friends and family. You rock.
Quaker, teacher, parent,