What if I decide not to be candid anymore. What if I decide to say, "just kidding, everything is fine." What if I don't tell you that things have really sucked lately--that my brain is not so functional. I forget things. I get lost. I don't care--and yet I am easily overwhelmed.
That last one is a mystery to me. If I truly don't care, how is it that I am overwhelmed?
What if I don't let you know that the psych NP has decided to try getting me off the bupropion because it doesn't seem to be working to fend off the Depression. What if I don't tell you that I am now on 75 mg of venlafaxine-- the drug that I was weaned from one painstaking bead at a time last spring.
What if I pretend that after changing medications on Friday, everything has miraculously gone back to normal and I am not experiencing any residual symptoms of the crap end of Depression.
What if I neglect to mention that I have little appetite and I'm tired ALL THE TIME. My sleep graph shows me getting more sleep, but of poorer quality in the past few weeks.
I confessed to all the relevant parties (bosses and co-teachers) that things are going not well. As if they cannot tell. I felt certain that they were going to be angry with me for doing poorly. Which is dumb. Because they are not monsters.
And I didn't feel like they would be upset if I called to say that I have walking pneumonia and wouldn't be up to snuff. But somehow letting them know that my brain is not working seems like a cop-out. Of course, I use my brain every bit as much as I use my lungs while I am teaching. Even more, hopefully.
I am showing up to class. I am teaching. I am even planning at least one class at a time. But any major changes to curriculum--any big WOW projects, any long-term planning is right out the window. As is any sort of collegiality.
meds: 300mg bupropion, 250mg lamotrigine, 75mg venlafaxine (day 6)
Unpleasant realization of the week: not caring is not a good sign. I was correct in thinking that there is something in between feeling EVERYTHING and feeling NOTHING. Crap.
Went to see the OFP yesterday finally. And at the end of the session, she explained that it would be almost impossible to schedule something with her because she just cut back from six days a week to three afternoons a week. I should not be surprised that a woman who served as my therapist more than twenty years ago is ready to retire--at least partially. But I am not thrilled at the idea of finding another therapist. Because I really like her AND she is the only therapist that I have ever been able to tolerate.
When you can't stand your therapist, the therapeutic effects of counseling tend to be minimal.
Back to the visit...
I opened with my best material: I don't care.
Which is when a was reminded that the whole not-caring thing is really "anhedonia" and is a symptom of Depression. And the anhedonia is fairly deep at the moment.
I hadn't realized that my lack of interest in anything but beading, writing and Spouse was indicative of a greater trend toward isolation and apathy. Or if I did realize it, I couldn't be bothered to care about it.This seems like a joke, and I think it is funny, only it really isn't.
I did not enjoy talking to the OFP because she made me realize that the lack of caring--this overriding apathy--is a defense mechanism so that I won't feel sad. And I'm afraid that if I feel anything, I will feel EVERYTHING. All the bad things will come in with all the good things and I won't be able to get them out.
As it is, I already feel intellectually and irrationally inadequate across a number of spheres. I have no interest in being emotionally destroyed by these irrational fears. Where is my motivation to "get better" if it will involve a bunch of crappy tears?
You really never like your therapist to say things like, "You must be so terrified." She told me that I needed to make sure that Spouse knew I was not doing well (I already told Spouse, so this doesn't count as passive-egressive communication).
She also asked me what I needed. Another kleenex. Because I had methodically shredded the one in my hand, and it was falling to bits on her floor. Beyond another kleenex, I was unable to come up with needs.
What are you most worried about?
My biggest worries: things that have already happened that I cannot change.
Another worry that I did not realize until just now: that the way I feel at the moment is the way that "normal" people feel and that this is what I should be shooting for. Because if that is the case... well, let's just say I was very pleased to find that it was not the case. Otherwise I was gonna feel very sorry for you and decide that treatment was a bad plan. Because this is really not where I want to be.
I almost feel like this is a third pole. Depressed, Manic and this other thing.
Stuff that bugs me (and is all symptomatic)
Things that I KNOW would typically cause me to be an emotional wreck for at least a week now just make me go, "huh," and I move on without any damage.
This seems like a bonus, kind of. But again, it's really not.
I need to call the Psych NP to discuss my meds. I don't want the meds to be wrong again. I want them to be magical. When the hell is someone going to come up with pharmaceuticals that automatically adjust themselves to work perfectly with the physiology of the person taking them? Trial and error and error and error and error seems like a really stupid system. I'm just saying.
I thought I had already told Spouse that I was not doing well--although apparently not in so many words. Still, I follow the advice of the OFP. She hasn't steered me wrong. (Which is part of what makes me twitchy when I think about her retirement. She actually added a slot on her schedule so she could fit me in--but I think I need to have her help me find a decent replacement. Which sucks.) His remark was that it seemed to come on suddenly and then just stay. Like an unwelcome guest.
I still want a personal assistant. One who can screen my calls and manage my calendar and actually return calls for me. What's funny is that I could totally do these things for someone else. That could be my job. Not a problem. I am just paralyzed at the thought of doing any of these things for myself at the minute.
In sharp contrast to ant-crastination, pro-crastination has lost its amateur status. I am going to put off worrying about the things that I have not done. I will think about them later.
The day went thusly:
Take child to see psych regarding anxiety. Because of anxiety. All the time. During the meeting, child becomes so anxious/angry/fearful that he becomes an armadillo and hides under the couch. Parenting point #1
Tell daughter to take a nap. Shockingly, after informing me that she is not tired, she drags out pillows and blankets to the living room and falls asleep.
Reluctant to wake the child, lose track of time and realize that we will be late to pick up the older children from the bus. No worries. They are Old. It is at a park. They can play and not worry too much. We won't be that late after all. Parenting point #2
Drag half-sleeping child out to the car with no shoes. Get a text from a parent saying, "Your oldest son got off the bus and there isn't anyone here to meet him." This is why we shared phone numbers, so that is great. I was able to say that I was on my way. No worries. Still, you hate to be late and I feel bad. Parenting point #3
Except I didn't notice that she said "Your oldest son," and not, "your boys."
Arrive at park and ask older boy where his brother is. He doesn't know. Presumably still on the bus, since he didn't get off at this stop. How did he not notice? Didn't look behind to see that brother was behind him, focused on sneaking up on a little girl that he thought was his sister (to the random little girl in a park in SE Minneapolis, I'm sorry about that). Parenting point #4
Call Spouse because I don't have any of the requisite emails from the school telling me what to do when I misplace my child (at least he is 9, and while likely a bit freaked out, he is not 5). Call bus company, they track down the bus and say the driver will swing back to the stop at the park after her last stop. So we wait. Parenting point #5
Finally meet up with younger boy. He is obviously distressed--although he has a blue tongue and sticky lips, so clearly it wasn't a complete loss. Why did he miss the stop? He was too busy watching someone else play minecraft to notice that the bus had stopped, much less to notice that it was his stop.
Okay, so I'm not sure how the scoring went, and I think I might have counted some things double when really they were part of the same parenting event. And it's not like I was being a crappy parent, per se. I was just having a less-than-ideal parenting afternoon. And it was kinda trying.
Here's the other crap that I did:
called and left a message in the OFP's voicemail so she wouldn't freak out. I guess when you are the therapist for a bipolar person who is typically doing just fine (or fine enough) and then they call and leave a message saying that they are down and it kinda sucks... you don't have much to go on. "down" covers a lot of ground. She jumped to the worst edge of down. When really, I was on the middle part of the not-so-worst edge of down. Just wanted to preemptively halt the slide. If I were on the worst edge, I would have left a message for her with their answering service. I like that they have an answering service so that if you call after hours you can talk to a real person if you are having a mental health crisis. I don't so much like that I can't enter the phone tree and leave a message for someone when I have their extension. Details.
made phone calls for work that I was pretty sure I was going to by UNABLE to do following the anxiety meeting in the morning.
My biggest hangup was the fact that I am doing a piss-poor job of getting my kids in to see the mental health care providers in a timely fashion. And i think that I didn't choose the providers well. I don't think my kids really like the people they are seeing. Not that they dislike them, mind you--but there is no connection. Which doesn't work. Which means I have to find new people. Which SUCKS. And I really don't want to. Parenting point #6
Realized that I on-purpose didn't find a play-therapy person for younger son because I mistakenly thought he was too old. No. That is his brother. Parenting point #7
Still really don't want to see any of you. Or the children. Just Spouse. It's different when I am with you, because I like you and all, but at the moment, anyone who intrudes on my solipsism is... intolerable.
I have written 52000 words on steamy novel II: the romance strikes back
I have put together a virtual gallery for my beading:
I have taught class, meeting new students and being generally engaging.
I have spoken with family--occasionally with a civil tongue.
I have picked up and taken my prescription. I have a partial bottle of lamotrigine in the house somewhere. I should run out of bupropion and lamotrigine at the same time. that did not happen. it is of concern. it is either the partial bottle that i left here when i went to the cabin or it is the partial bottle that i purchased on the way to the cabin. bollocks.
i have slept.
I am still liking this sleep app that I am using (Sleep Cycle). Because I am competitive (with myself) I am trying to improve my sleep scores. And I always have my phone charging by the bedside table, at night, so it is easy enough to set an alarm and stick the thing on my mattress. Don't know how accurate it is--claims to track periods of light sleep and deep sleep using the motion sensor. But I kinda don't care how accurate that part is. It does a great job of keeping track when I actually go to bed and when I wake up. So I am not guessing or lying. And I can compare the sleep log stuff with this. Eventually.
Also, must revisit Optimism.
They really should rename an app intended for bipolar people. When I am Down, the last thing I want to do is lick on an app named "optimism." I just want to kick its ass.
The incomprehensible metaphor for the day: bipolar as climate change.
Here is the thing: I can tell that my mood stuff is not quite where it should be for whatever reason. But I can't tell which way it is off... more toward the manic pole or the Depressed pole. Or maybe just not stable.
This morning it occurred to me that the mood crap that I have (which had probably been gradually worsening over time, pre-diagnosis) sorta relates to the climate/weather thing.
Bear with me here.
Weather is how things are right now. The prevailing mood of the moment. Hard to predict. Affected by local conditions. Tomorrow might be completely different.
Climate is the broad scope of where things are headed... and my mood climate has a much broader range than it used to.
This made a lot more sense in my head.
But really, the idea of unpredictable changes in a broad sense with daily variations.
So when I say my mood crap is off, it could just be the weather. Not the climate. Hard to say. Thunderstorm yesterday, all-day freezing rain. Today, partly sunny with intermittent rain.
Grateful Crap: I am not homeless or hospitalized or hopeless (h words seem ominous)
Funny Crap: I had been using a program to track my moods, but I sorta let that slide. This morning I tried to log in, but failed. Told spouse, "Optimism isn't working."
Called office of OFP. Waiting to schedule.
Will pick up refills today
i made a cuff a while ago (last spring) that i hate. almost everyone else likes picks it out as one of their favorites--or at least it catches their eye. i hate it because it looks chaotic and anxious to me. and i remember that i worked on it while i was ramping up to full-on mania last spring. so looking at it makes me feel anxious and chaotic.
a friend had an interesting thought: perhaps people who have not experienced the chaotic anxiety of mania get a chance to experience a little bit of the energy. maybe it's just because they like chaotic things. it might explain why they like me.
i am down really down icky down no reason down and it sucks down. perhaps i should phrase this differently. i was down yesterday and still down this morning.
don't want to list the things that i am thinking about because they are not the things that have made me sad, they just are. they are the things that i continue to think about and percolate on to sustain the sad.
most of them can be twisted around to prove that i am a bad parent bad friend bad daughter bad employee. notice a theme?
i will call i will call i promise i will. both the OFP and the Psych NP. today. even though all i want to do is write and bead and sleep and not interact with anyone. including students and children and friends and parents and coworkers. (see above paragraph for the bad tie-in)
wondering if it is sssseasonal. or perhaps sssstart of sssschool.
don't really want to talk to the OFP because i figure what is the point i know there is no reason to be sad and she will be all reasonable and say things that of course make sense that i could tell myself.
went to bed after dinner last night. wanted to sleep earlier. did not cope well with anyone else's stress. then slept for almost eight hours. then woke super exhausted.
i want to just sleep, mostly to avoid interacting with anyone or think about the low self esteem crap.
There is something about the term "plastic surgery" that makes you not want to tell anyone that you are having it done. Or "elective surgery." Because the one makes you feel vain and the other makes you feel frivolous.
Only here is the thing-- the elective plastic surgery that I had done was neither vain nor frivolous. But I still was not very good about telling people beforehand or afterhand about the "procedure." Because I thought it made me seem frivolous and vain.
So, here is the end of my campaign of disinformation...
I got new boobs.
Okay, I still have the same boobs, there is just substantially less of them.
Prior to the elective, cosmetic procedure, I was an H cup. I bet you didn't even know that existed. But it does. H for HUMUNGOUS. It comes right after G for GINORMOUS. My friends with small boobs would say lovely things like, "Lucky you!" My friends with big boobs would say, "Oh honey..."
Here are some of the difficulties with gigantiboobs that you might not realize
So, on the advice of my regular doc, and in order to improve my overall health, I went under the knife. The surgeon removed two pounds of breast and brought me down to a much more manageable C cup. Whew!
Here are some of my discoveries post-surgery
I was pretty freaked out about having the procedure done right up until the time they put me under. I told the following people that I was having "reduction mammoplasty" prior to surgery (most of them the day before I went to the hospital): Spouse, three friends and my mother.
The recovery was/is kind of uncomfortable. The first few days I was on narcotic pain meds-- which didn't seem to help a lot. I wasn't in pain, per se. I was just... uncomfortable. Surgery will do that to you, I guess. It wasn't pain at the incision site, but swelling that was the issue.
For those of you who have breast fed, it felt an awful lot like I was "engorged." Which can be quite uncomfortable. But I went to the store and bought something called "boo boo buddies" which are little round icepacks intended for little kids. I just called them booby buddies and tucked them into my bra
So far I gotta say my quality of life has improved dramatically even though I am only one month out and not fully recovered from the surgery.
Funny how I am much more comfortable talking about having psychotic episodes than I am discussing breast reduction surgery. Huh.
There must be something in between feeling everything as if you are raw and unprotected - a wound that will not heal... and not feeling much of anything. The second is certainly easier in many ways. But I can't tell if I have reached a state of apathy or a state of health. Apathetic or healthetic.
Cat euthanized and I felt bad, but aside from the actual surrender, I was not destroyed by the occasion. This in part was because of my deliberate distancing of myself from an animal that was on its way out. One of the principle reasons that I would make a terrible hospice worker. The nearer you are to the end, the less I want to care about you. Classy.
Things are going wrong--not terribly wrong, just the usual sort of wrong--and I am not paralyzed by fear and anxiety. Instead, I can just say, "whatever." Only, what if there should be some small bit of panic? And how would I know?
Job stress, death in the family, sick child, anxious child, teenage child, sick friend, very sick friend, even sicker friend. And I am not happy about any of these things. And I can express the appropriate measure of concern. But it doesn't penetrate beyond the surface. I can say, "Boy, that really sucks, I'm sorry" and then go back to my regular life without sparing much thought beyond that. Or I might even do something sort-of helpful before going back to my regularly scheduled program.
And as I write this it all seems terribly normal. Mundane. The way things should be. I don't want to be destroyed by any of these things--because bad things happen and will continue to happen.
But it seems false, in some way.
Not the lack of self-destruction, mind you. I'm totally fine with that. But the fact that I feel like I am pretending to feel things instead of actually feeling them. I know I am supposed to be sympathetic to my crying child, so I do the things that a sympathetic person would do. I know I am supposed to be sad about something, and so I say the things and do the things that a sad person would say and do.
Normal? Or a fog of medication? Or a sign of a downturn?
Start of school for children had no emotional impact on me. It was like any other day. Drove them to bus and picked them up.
I think it feels like I don't have the full range of human emotion at this time. That there has been a narrowing of the spectrum. It is not that I am apathetic, but that I don't feel things as strongly.
Well doesn't this sound just like a bipolar person who isn't happy about losing out on the highs--and even the lows.
NOTE: not about to mess with my medications. Not interested at all in bringing on a full-on cycling from Manic to Depressed. Because that is worse and dangerous and hard for me and everyone around me. The fuzzy apathetical stuff is really just a problem for me, I think.
Here is what I keep thinking about: at the beginning of the summer I was an emotional wreck FOR WEEKS about a dead caterpillar (I kid you not). Now I am able to take the death of the family pet in stride. Dry-eyed except for a few odd moments here and there. These seem like extremes-- like neither one is quite right.
But it is probably something like having feet that always hurt. Or a back that always hurts. People ask you if your back hurts and you say, "No!" because all you know is the pain. So maybe this feeling that I have is just the absence of extremes. Or maybe it is because my sleep has been super-erratic this past week. Seven-plus hours alternating with four-hour nights. I know. Irresponsible.
Unconscionable. Unacceptable. Upsetting. Undesired. Undermining. Ugly.
Quaker, teacher, parent,