Yeah, I can see why those lyrics didn't catch on. I have been engaging in recreational prep (doing marketing posters for the job-training classes at my place of employment) but it has been SUPER FUN. Also I have been reveling in tubular peyote-stitch.
Because beading is now the thing that I am doing. To the exclusion of many other things. Part of the parade of serial "hobbies" that I engage in with ridiculous gusto.
Parading through the summer I have indulged in: organizing house and rearranging furniture, canning/pickling/making jam, gardening and re-gardening (as I move things from one place to another and re-define the contours of my yard by hand)...
You know, I got stuck on the whole gardening thing for a really long time.
This week I have not felt as panicky about the garden when I go to check on it. Perhaps because it has fallen off of the serial obsession status. Now I go out and enjoy the garden. Maybe not even check on it more than once a day. Maybe even skip a day.
Oh, yeah, and that picture above is a peyote-stitch voodoo doll that I made for a friend of mine who is getting bullied at work. This is her mean co-worker. Tee hee. Don't worry. It isn't real.
Grateful Crap: beads are lighter than bags of compost
saw a friend
Turns out I am very good friends with someone who has bipolar disorder. She is one of the people who suggested exploring the possibility of bipolar many months ago. Prior to speaking with her this morning I was working myself into a bit of an anxiety spiral over the idea of a possible new diagnosis.
But here's the thing. She told me that being on the right meds does not make her any less quick of thought or any of the other good things about the Ups. She is not boring and grey. She is awesome.
The right meds just make everything more manageable. More reasonable. Less likely to cause sleeplessness, overuse injury, or whatever else might come as a negative consequence of hypomania.
Tangent: went shopping for "foundational garments" the other day and was not at all bothered by what size the lady told me I needed. I just wanted something that fit. It's not like people (besides me) are going to know my band size. But some people are so bothered by a particular size that they will insist on remaining in an ill fitting garment rather than go up (or down) a size.
Why do I care what the label is so long as I am able to get the correct treatment? And maybe I'm not getting the right treatment. I don't know. If I have been incorrectly labeled... antidepressants are known to cause rapid-cycling and increase the manic side of bipolar. Which doesn't sound good.
Today I saw my regular family practice doctor so that I could get her opinion on whether I should investigate the unipolar/bipolar question. I didn't even have to take out my list of possible symptoms.
She said since I had not seen a psychiatrist since my original Depression diagnosis in 1989... it was probably a good idea. Also, the fact that I had an antidepressant quit on me (the recent downfall of the mighty sertraline) tilted things in the direction of a new evaluation.
Very few teenagers are diagnosed as bipolar even if they are cycling because... teenagers are crazy just naturally from all the hormones whizzing around. And if I had been responsible with my mental health and sought continued treatment instead of largely just going off and on medication on a whim, I might have been reevaluated at some earlier time.
So now I am anxiously awaiting a visit with a psychiatrist (the last one I saw at age 18 thought I was a privileged diva snob who wasn't Depressed at all but just wanted attention.)
So here I am in limbo.
Even though it doesn't matter. Because I am taking the appropriate steps and my mental health (except for occasional anxiety spirals) seems to be sort of kind of okay. The Sad is clearing. The energy is returning. I enjoy doing things.
Grateful Crap: my awesome friend whose very existence and awesomeness decrease my anxiety about bipolar possibility
Time in the garden
Talked with friend
...when you're up you're up
and when you're down you're down
and when you're only halfway up,
you're neither up nor down.
Okay, I will admit that it would be nice not to go straight from "Everything is fanTAStic!" to "i will never be able to accomplish what i set out to do so why even try. i'm going to bed." within a matter of seconds. And sometimes I do.
How do you tell when emotional response/activity level/reactivity are part of a person's temperament and personality and when they are a pathology?
Maybe when they start interfereing with your life,
or endangering your health.
I am terrified of being boring. Normal. A carbon copy. Doing things the same way as everyone else. I am afraid to lose the way my brain skips from one thing to the next and arrives at amazing conclusions that I didn't see coming.
I am not going to worry about what the doc may or may not say because I bet you a dollar that she will say I have atypical depression that is somewhere on the spectrum in between regular unipolar Depression and Bipolar. I even might bet you two dollars.
And hopefully she will say I can continue to stay on just my antidepressants as long as I am regularly monitered to make sure that the hypomania does not bloom into mania. Because that would just suck.
Grateful Crap: I don't know.
There have now been four close friends (whether I see them in person or communicate with them via electronic media) who have raised questions about the status of my unipolar Depression.
Perhaps, they wonder, perhaps you have bipolar disorder. A mild form. One without the mania. One with no psychotic episodes.
I can't diagnose myself. I don't think I am bipolar, but the milder forms are apparently very difficult to diagnose. Here are the behaviors o'mine that led friend(s) to this conclusion:
Here are some descriptors of bipolar disorder that fit me pretty well:
When I first went on anti-depressants in 1989 (holy crap!) I was worried that they would change my personality. I was afraid that whatever is the essence of me would just disappear. The docs assured me that fluoxatine was not mood-altering. And I would still be me. But not Depressed. Able to function normally as I had before the Depression.
Here was my biggest concern: I didn't want to lose the highs on my mood roller-coaster. I just wanted to shave a little off the lows. Because the highs feel really good. I can get a lot done. I have energy. I'm creative. I think of all kinds of awesome ideas.
And I sound exactly like someone who does have a diagnosis of bipolar.
(By the way, antidepressants did not alter my personality and did not alter my mood)
I am hoping against a bipolar diagnosis. For two reasons: I am so used to being just simply Depressed. I don't want to have to adapt to a knew stigmatized label. I don't care if it is the latest thing in mental illness. I would just as soon stick with boring, unfashionable Depression.
My other reason remains fear of treatment. Bipolar does not often respond to anti-depressants alone. Because that doesn't help with the hypomania. So usually they add some mood stabilizers. That strikes fear into my heart. I don't know why. Shouldn't I want to have stable moods?
Maybe the drugs I am addicted to are whatever is kicking around in my system when I am Up. So much for my avoidance of recreational chemcial use.
Grateful Crap: plain-speaking friends
talked with a friend
schedule doctor appointment to discuss bipoar (since neither I nor my friends can diagnosis it)
I accidentally invited people over to my house for a celebration of Spouse's birthday before I remembered that the cleanliness of the house was a recent obsession.
(I injured my elbow in April I think-- and was under doctor's orders not to clean without supervision...)
And when last night rolled around the house was no where close to ready.
So I started with my bedroom. Because that was possibly the one room in the house that no one would see. And was I actually CLEANING?
No. I was organizing things and moving one pile from here to there and rethinking my clothing storage system. Right. Often referred to as "Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."
As evening approached I became an anxiety-ridden, cleany fool. (cleany is similar to "helpy"; meaning to clean, but really just moving things from one place to another or getting stuck on one project etc.)
I cancelled plans with friends-- not really cognizant of the fact that I had not seen said friends in months and that I had flaked on both of them a number of times. I was treating each instance as an event unto itself. Today I cannot go out. It is a differet experience entirely for my friends who have been trying and trying and trying to connect with me.
When two people are feeling Sad (whether Depressed or depressed) it really sucks when one of them needs to be around people and the other one really needs people (however much she loves them) to stay away while she hibernates.
Realizing this now makes me feel like an unintentionally crappy-- very crappy. Possibly even Uber-Crappy.
So at 9:54 at night I find myself at Target buying cleaning supplies. The friends that I cancelled on texted me to see if I wanted help. If they had asked me in person or on the phone I probably would have said no. But it was easier, for some reason, to text the word "yes" than it was to ask for help.
The cleaning brigade arrived and my friend took over-- giving me small, manageble tasks to do and keeping me away from my Titanic deck-chair rearranging. Had she not been there it is likely that I would have gotten stuck straightening the books on the bookshelf and coming up with a better organizational system for them.
And the kitchen would have still been a stinky mess.
And the bathroom.
And the living rooom.
Let me be clear: the people coming over would not have made any judgements about the state of my house. Spouse was perfectly comfortable with the level of cleanliness when he retired at a reasonable hour before the cleaning fairies arrived.
I was well aware that my anxiety over cleaning was irrational. But KNOWING that something is irrational doesn't help. It just makes it impossible to reason myself out of-- since it is not reasonable to start with.
My friends rock. I need to get MUCH better at telling them what I need instead of hoping that they will magically guess. Or waiting to talk to them until I feel
THEN I made a whole bunch of stuff for our "simple" dinner. I don't do that well. But it was tasty. And now that the kitchen is clean I have handed off the baton to eldest son who is perfectly happy to clean the kitchen before he goes to bed.
Grateful Crap: my awesome friends who know when I need a cleany intervention
talked to friends
So in fact I am not going to lose my job over the fact that I showed up five minutes after class was meant to start.
Also, the big boss does not think I am a crappy teacher who doesn't give a flip about her students and their time.
These are a big relief because I had spent some time working my way into an anxious frizzle with ridiculous ideas that do not bear repeating.
Anxiety over the job hiccup bled into all other areas of my life.
I began to channel my Presbyterian foremothers... seeing every minor slip as a major gaff and as proof of my utter decreptitude.
Went to talk to friend this morning. Felt sick. Took a nap while friend wrangled all of the children.
Goodish start to day. Pleased with my new leadership role at work, went to meet with one of my colleagues to start recruiting fall students...
But then my morning work meeting went super-long and bled into the afternoon.
Which meant that I left my children to be raised by wolves fore much longer than I should have.
They were fine. They were playing outside and having fun with their friends. But it was NOT my intention to leave the 11yo in charge for as long as he was.
Came home and went into whirlwind cleaning mode. Tackled the nightmare that my room had become (I really missed the weeks that it was clean and relaxing to be in). I probably should NOT have tried to do the whole room. I worked at such a speed that I became super exhausted and overtired.
But it didn't have the same feeling that the hypomanic cleaning did.
3:30 I fell into a DEEP sleep while putting 3yo (who was "not tired") down for a nap.
Woke up 15 minutes AFTER I meant to leave for my class. Which meant I arrived shortly after the class was meant to start instead of some time before...
AND THE DIRECTOR OF MY PROGRAM WAS CHATTING WITH MY WAITING STUDENTS
He has never seen me teach. Never been to a site where I was. And now his one teaching memory of me is that I show up late and flustered. DOOFUS.
I am trying hard not to spiral into a panicky anxiety thing in which I worry about EVERYTHING. And tie it all back to the fact that I am a terrible person because I don't do well keeping track of time and I should have set an alarm and I could have done so many things differently. And I could have left my meeting earlier and been home to clean more leisurely and then I wouldn't have fallen so deeply asleep.
And really I wanted to have the whole house clean and shiny as a surprise for Spouse (who typically has to deal with the fallout of the day's disastrous side-effects of the children's play and my projects while I am happily away at work in the evening).
But the whole house is not shiny.
And I didn't get the things done at my meeting that I wanted to get done.
And I got called out into the hallway and lectured by the big boss... crap.
I am glad that I did not launch into a series of whiny and pathetic excuses for my tardiness. Because there really is no excuse. You show up on time to work. If you don't, there are consequences.
And one of those is having the boss think that you are a total doofus who doesn't respect her students enough to come promptly and prepared to class.
Some things must have happened on July 22 but I am not sure what they were. Presumably they were not earth shattering in a good or bad way. Oh... except that I missed the celebration of pi approximation day. Dang.
I think it might have been another day of too much computer time and all that because we are leftover lazy from the HOT. Could be.
Today I met with my friend and made plans to go to a conference. I am super excited about that. I also met with my behavioral psych nurse practitioner who actually literally did a happy dance when I told her that the meds seemed to be doing well and I smiled a real smile.
Got good news from work... more responsibilites, more connections, more pay, more visibility. All of which bode well for the mythical once and future contract in Adult Basic Education. Still on the two-year plan... sometime in the next two years it would be awfully nice if I were allowed to work more than 15 hours per week!
I found myself doing commercials for the Hubbs Center today. Telling random people about classes that were available. They took my email address and said they were inspired to sign up for classes now... that they had been thinking of it for some time.
This led to me thinking that Adult Basic Education should be run like a direct marketing campaign. I should talk to 5 new people about Hubbs Center every day and encourage them to talk to five people as well... Ha. Education as a pyramid scheme.
Grateful Crap: working in the garden with 3yo
saw psych nurse
took meds (450mg bupropion, 3 pills of venlafaxine, 1/2 pill sertraline. Tomorrow the amounts change)
talked to friend
time in the garden
Excessive heat warnings lead to excessive laziness. Children and I had a hunker down around the air conditioner and watch movies today. And I read. Stayed up too late last night beading. It was glorious. I will take a picture of the finished product. It is a tubular peyote stitch lanyard for my ID badge. Sexy, huh? But it is beautiful and comfortable and I will wear it a lot.
I wonder if it is possible to get hooked on the feeling of Depression going away. Because this now feels like I just got glasses for the first time and fog is lifted from everything. Or cataract surgery. Or I used to be living life underwater and now I am on land and can see and hear and think so much more clearly. And I remember this from when we originally got the bupropion doses right.
I am so thankful once again that I live in a time and a place where more than one prescription drug to tread Depression is available. And that I have access to them. And that it is mostly covered by health insurance that I get through Spouse. If I lived in a different time maybe all the physical labor of just ordinary daily life and the lack of processed sugar explosion foods might have mitigated my experience of Depression. But maybe not. I'm certainly not going to jump on the paleo bandwagon. Not very fond of bandwagons in general.
Grateful Crap: local landscaping company advertises that they have "gluten-free mulch" and "non-GMO river-rock"
communicated with some people
made some plans
took my meds
blogged; really want to get back in the daily habit
This post covers July 18-20. I was lazy about posting, but well aware of the passage of time. So that was good. I did finally (on July 17) schedule the appointments that I had been putting off (they could both be done online and it was super easy) and also ordered my refill of bupropion.
It has been unseasonably cool this summer, for which I am grateful. The plan was to get a car with air conditioning but that has taken a back burner... probably in part because of the cooler weather. I am also not driving much. Which is nice.
Went to sculpture garden with children and my mom. Spent less time there than expected. Traffic was terrible. I was low energy, but it was fun to watch the children running around and around and around. She watched them while I went to get my first set of allergy injections. No hideous reactions. Which is nice. I'm just getting treated for trees and dust.
I totally flaked out on a friend-- was supposed to see her after doctor's appointment. But instead I put 3yo to bed and promptly fell asleep. Need to reschedule that. Doh!
I was supposed to go to a matinee with a friend but that didn't work out. Instead we tried out Little Szechuan's new Hot Pot (fondue only) menu. It was awesome. Really. Also, laughed a lot. Which is good. Because it helps to stave off the Sad for me and she is going through nasty nasty divorce from someone who would not be believable as a fictional character. (Believed a family trip to a war-zone with a child diagnosed with an anxiety disorder would be a fine plan... so fine that he forced the decision to go to an emergency trial!)
During the day I think I slept a lot. Spouse took elderboy to see Shakespeare in the park. Century College was doing As You Like It. Turns out he liked it quite well. So they are attending Julius Caesar next week.
Grateful Crap: Pickling cucumbers growing in the garden!!!!
took meds; very close to being on the proper dose of everything now.
Currently: 450 mg bupropion and 3 pills of the venlafaxine (can't remember the dose)
Hmmm... continued feelings of normalcy are pretty awesome
Quaker, teacher, parent,