PANIC over the impending holidays I have avoided any preparation. I have red and green colored blinders on. I have no set plans except dinner on Christmas Eve. And for some reason this is not causing me stress.
As a non-theist Christian Quaker, Christmas is my favorite holiday as celebrated by my largely secular-humanist family. How is that for a theological mouthful.
Growing up I would plan surprises for my parents and almost always included hand-made gifts. As an adult I occasionally went off the hypomanic deep-end and did things like: sew flannel pajamas for everyone. Or else I would make grand plans to make things for everyone and then feel TERRIBLE when I didn't get everything done.
I'm growing more mellow in my old age. (Don't laugh. I totally am.) I just want to hang out with my family, eat some good food, and not worry too much about the whole gifting thing. I'd rather just gift people throughout the year anyway.
So really, I am not too worried about Christmas. And I make it a practice of not doing anything for New Year's Eve. So what PANIC? Because, the panic is there. I think it is trying to get in a bunch of celebrations in within such a short span of time. And the combinations of people who will or will not be seen at the same time.
Why were all three of my children born in successive months: Nov, Dec, Jan?
Daughter's birthday coming up does cause me stress. Several reasons: I really do not want to get in the habit of celebrating her birthday before Christmas. Because it is too close to the madness of 24th-25th and it is too hard to get people together twice and... stress.
Also, I have yet to have the "family birthday" for one who turned 12 in November. I feel guilty about this. And I don't feel like I can do anything about that now. Throw him a surprise party? It would be a big surprise. SURPRISE, you are turning 12 and 1/6 today.
NO, I'VE GOT IT!!!!
We will celebrate his birthday on January 4... because he will 4,444 days old. How dang cool is that. The party can begin at 4:44. Ignore the fact that 4 is super unlucky in Chinese numerology. It isn't my superstition. My superstitions are all about symmetry and number that just seem cool to me for some reason.
And how about we just universally declare that February 14 is when we celebrate the daughter's birthday.
It's a plan. OK, admittedly it is a wacky plan and one that I have not shared with anyone, but there you go. Maybe it will be a surprise to everyone but the people who read this blog. Heh, heh. heh.
Grateful Crap: something. kids. apples. music.
tap danced in the kitchen (found my shoes on my bedside table. of course.)
went to meeting
This was a Friday. I had a bunch of meetings trying to recruit people for occupational prep classes. Know anyone in the Twin Cities area who needs their ServSafe certificate (for food management) or is interested in a career in the health field? Send them to Hubbs Center. We have free classes and awesome teachers.
I did a bunch of work, talked through a number of ideas about how to get the message out to people about the courses we offer and THEN forgot my purse in someone else's file cabinet.
"No woman would ever leave her purse behind!" (Jessica Fletcher, Murder She Wrote)
Unfortunately I also forgot that the building closes super early on Fridays so I wasn't able to get it. Dang. Dark and slippery evening with a concert in a faraway suburb... I decided not to risk illegally driving without my license. Made Spouse drop me off and hitched a ride home with a band-mate.
Oh yeah, had a concert with Grand Symphonic Winds. They totally rock and they let me play with them, which is pretty cool. (P.S. if you go to the website you will see my left pinky and partial ring finger. So my hands are famous.)
Concert went fine. Came home, Did not stay up inappropriately late. The lateness of my going to bed was not inappropriate? I went to bed at an okay time.
Grateful Crap: Successfully got a ride home. Also remembering that I missed the concert in Chicago 4 years ago because nobody would let me go (including my midwife) even though I thought it would be fine especially because we have more than one doctor in the band. Glad I didn't go, though, because I ended up having pre-eclampsia and that would probably have been too deal with behind stage or on the bus...
took my meds, found my tap shoes and played my horn
I went to tap last night and COULD NIOT FIND MY TAP SHOES. If you have read many of my bog entries since September of this year, you will know that tap dancing has become a very important part of my life at the moment. So the loss of tap shoes was disastrous.
Looked everywhere, remembered the last time I had them. Looked there.... nothing. So on my way out, I grabbed the 12yo boy's shoes. Which were one size too small. They were not comfortable. Still, it worked.
Next week since there are only 3 of us left in class and one person will maybe not be there, we are goingt to join the ADVANCED beginners. I'm only kinda nervous. Not that there will be any mocking or staring. Just that I don't want to have no clue what is going on.
Choreography is not my thing.
Did I mention that when I was in musical theater as a teen I needed to stay behind the rest of the cast so I could have remedial polka lessons? And that in the end the director, a classically trained ballerina, gave up and told me to just skip around in a circle. My poor attempts at the polka had caused my partner bruised shins and kneecaps. Honestly. Who fails at the polka?
So as we move away from just learning basic steps and into choreography I am getting lost. I need a way to write things down. And include the names of the steps AND the rhythms. I have already forgotten 1 part of the little mini-routine we learned at the end. And the part that I do recall... I don't know the rhythm.
Cramp roll, step step, (something landing me on my right foot)
step, heel (turning out) step, heel (turning out) step, shuffle, ball change
Also she had us doing turning "maxi fords." Which I would love to practice at home, but I'm not too sure where. I need something like a bowling alley. Or a dance studio. (step, shuffle, something, toe... there is some kind of leap in there. And I don't know which foot comes down after the shuffle. And when I am turning around I can't stare at the teacher's feet.)
I don't have the vocabulary of dance. It is foreign to me. Still having fun. Still getting good exercise. Now I must go because apparently when I was asked to help cut out a pink Christmas tree from constructiojn paper I did it wrong. Or I did it too much. Or it is nap time.
Grateful Crap: the Y with my friend today.
did NOT stay up later than 11:30 last night even though Spouse went to bed early and I was sorely tempted.
took meds (150mg venlafaxine, 100mg lamotrigine, 450mg bupropion)
I just wrote a nine-page short story. Which kind of kicks ass. When I set my goals for why I wanted to get better, my reason for wanting to fix my brain is that I wanted to be able to WRITE. Not just blog posts, but short stories, finish my frickin' novel. Think about things in a longitudinal way.
Nobody can read this short story yet because it is in its infancy, but I am just happy to be dipping my feet into the writing world again.
I got a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing seven years ago. (I think.) At the time I had a novel that was a finalist for the outstanding work of fiction at my college. I can't remember what exactly the prize was called, but in the land of academia the work was well received.
However, in order to be commercially viable I needed to do some work. Which I did. For a while until I got stuck and then I had a third child and then my brain slowly went out of whack. First dipping deeper and deeper into Depression and then making the swings between Depression and hypomania more obvious.
Because those swings made it possible to identify my bipolarness and get me the proper treatment.
So if I can eventually get around to working on my novel again I will be Super Happy. And I surely have let it sit for long enough that I can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Grateful Crap: recreation brain work
took meds (150mg venlafaxine, 450mg bupropion, 100mg lamotrigine)
going to gym with friend
calling therapist now... just a sec... OK now I have appointments with Once and Future Psychologist (OFP) and my psychiatrist. Not until January 20something, but still it is on the books.
Either I do things RIGHT NOW or not at all. When left to my own devices. Trying to come up with better self management tasks for my non-work life. And while it pains me to say it, I think I need to have more structure. Remember structure? And routine? And all that?
So I plan to add more structure to my spending habits (which I don't think are extravagant, but they are ridiculously undertracked) and more structure to my eating (which I know needs to include more fruits and vegetables).
I am trying to remind myself how really awesome it was to have structured times for going to bed. And a routine for taking pills. And a regularly scheduled time to go to the gym. And then I will try to apply this joy of routine to other things.
But here is the thing... once I establish a routine it will become... routine. And then it won't have to take up so much of my time.
Day 2 of being back on the venlafaxine and the shakes and the nightmares and the extreme irritation are gone. I WANT OFF! This still does not make rational sense to me, but there it is.
I have many many meetings this week. Kind of sort of stressing out about them, but not really. I just feel underprepared and overprogrammed.
I have nothing profound to say today. Which is probably for the best. Now I am going to dig myself out from under the pile of papers that I am burried under. Junk mail. The kind that is so old and so heavy that it is starting to become sedimentary rock. I am located somewhere in the equivalent of the cretaceous era.
Okay, signing off.
Grateful Crap: roof over head, healthy children, 3yo giving me a backrub says, "This is torture."
back on all the meds - venlafaxine, bupropion, lamotrigine
I tap danced in class today, but it hardly counts as exercise-- more as comic relief
Crap. Forgot to call the people. You know, the psych. people. Tomorrow. Really. I'll make a note.
Still having trouble posting photos without crashing my browser. Eventually I will figure this out. THAT would make a great epitaph.
I did not purposely suddenly cease taking one of my medications. And it was certainly not purposeful that the one I stopped was the same one that a friend had said gave her withdrawal symptoms within 24 hours...
And I didn't realize that my symptoms were withdrawal symptoms because I was not really in working condition of any type. However, after my third night of heart-pounding nightmares that prevented me from getting any kind of restful sleep I picked up my prescription (at long last) and read the information from the manufacturer:
Side effects of suddenly stopping the medication (and can occur within hours for some)
My primary complaints:
I couldn't help but notice a striking similarity in these lists (ha!)
Also, the fact that I slept like a baby and lost all my weird anxiety headache confusion crap the day after I resumed the medication.
I WANT OFF OF VENLAXINE. Why? Because it freaks me out that ther is such a strong reaction to the presence or absence of this drug. And it is not approved for people with bipolar and is known to cause bouts of hypomania and anxiety and I would like to not be on so many medications.
NOTE: I will NOT be taking myself off of ANY of my medications without scrupulous supervision by my psychiatric care providers. Just to dispel any concerns in this arena.
I am going to (really I am) contact my psychologist tomorrow to reschedule AND I will call my psychiatrist's office to schedule a medication consult. Or by phone. Or whatever. I kind of wish I hadn't had this very dramatic demonstration of the powerful (and real) effect that this drug has on my brain.
I have never used illicit drugs.
I have never been drunk.
This is because I am a control freak law abiding person who jealously guards my own brain cells.
But then again I go and regularly consume these ridiculously powerful medications that alter my already wacky brain chemistry and frankly scare the crap out of me sometimes.
Greatful Crap: NO MORE NIGHTMARES (or at least only the regular kind. I shudder to think of even one more night of heart-pounding terror every time I closed my eyes)
met a new family member
took all my meds at a good time (bupropion, venlafaxine, lamotrigine)
stopped scratching my frickin' wrist (and have no desire whatsoever to do so. I'm writing it off as another side-effect of the withdrawal. Sudden and severe anxiety caught me off guard)
Ungrounded fears that spent a grand time flitting about for the three days that I was without my venlafaxine, and apparently suffering some withdrawal symptoms...
1. That I will get worse and worse and worse and become more of a burden to my family and not realize it because in becoming worse I will move further along toward psychosis and hallucination and I will most likely think that everything is just jolly and that I am the ruler of the universe.
2. People like me, people love me, but people don't actually want to spend any time near me.
3. I am constitutionally unable to deal with any routine task required of modern life. Mail, email, phone messages, laundry, awareness of the world around me (globally and locally)...
4. My bipolar diagnosis is wrong and I am just a grasping prima donna who wants attention.
5. My bipolar diagnosis is right.
6. Everything is my responsibility and clearly since everything is not perfect I have really effed things up.
7. I am moving backwards in time through my mental illness crap. So from bipolar to Depression to anorexia to anxiety... and that I will pick up all the unhealthy behaviors associated with each phase and pile them on top of one another until there is nothing left of me.
8. (note that I am NOT feeling this way now) That the world would be better off without me.
9. There are hidden meanings behind the words and actions of everyone around me that I don't understand. And what they are saying wordlessly is some kind of condemnation of who I am as a human being. (This was one of my favorites... it covered pretty much any situation and really allowed the anxiety levels to max out.)
Grateful Crap: back on the wagon
Told people about the crap as I was going through it intead of trying to cover it up
Took the meds that I did have (bupropion, lamotrigine)
Tried to reschedule with Once and Future Psychologist... will try again.
Also, I need to make sure that Spouse has the contact information for my psychiatrist and my psychologist. And that I give them permission to share information.
Thursday (December 4) allowed television to raise my youngest child again. Some headache. Some sinus crap, but mostly I just felt very hide-y. I think in part that the anxiety of my students as finals approach is contagious.
And there is the whole holiday season. Where I get to stress about pretty much everything. It is the gift to myself that just keeps on giving. But I have been doing okay in recent years taking it easier. Not trying to do everything. Not taking on too many things. But that doesn't mean I don't feel like I should...
Right. So back to Thursday.
Drove children to bus-stop only to find out that 8yo left backpack at home. So my children went to school in the bus and I drove to school following the bus.
Did not go to the Y.
Felt demoralized by the backpack thing (don't know why). Spent the day moping. When I picked up the children after school I went into active hiding mode.
Because every time I tried to talk to someone they started crying or yelling or having some kind of tantrum. So I hid in the dark until spouse came home. Once I stopped trying to communicate with the children everything calmed down. As soon as I emerged from hiding, the crying, whining, screaming tantrums resumed.
At night I made one smart move: not staying up after Spouse went to bed. I know from experience that if I stay up without anyone else awake I can lose track of time and projects and myself and suddenly it is 1:30 am.
So I smartly went to bed, but I wasn't tired. So I read. A whole book. And then it was 1 am.
AND the book I read had a very interesting main character with whom I identified. Which turned out to be not so great when we learned that she had a history of anxiety and mental illness and used pain to cope with mental crap.
And when I woke up in the morning (Friday) I felt like my spine had been coiled tight like a watch spring. And maybe my spinal cord was just a little too short. And all the parts of me that were attached hurt.
I took a bath, soaked my muscles and then rubbed my skin raw. Just the stupid part on my stupid wrist where I stupidly used to (anciently, decades ago) scratch the surface layers of skin away. Leaving a weeping sore. So that if I touch it, there is pain. Salt in the wound. And it distracts me from whatever stupid mental crap I am indulging in at the moment.
I really want to read the next two books that the author wrote with this character, but I think it is probably a not very good plan at the moment. It was supposed to be in the romantic fluff novel category but I made the mistake of getting away from the syrupy historical novels and into something more current.
I want to break this up into another post and so I am going to.
p.s. - did not take venlafaxine on Thursday or Friday. did not exercise at all this week except for tap on Wednesday. did not spend time outside. did not phone a friend. did not do crap.
Grateful Crap: I AM NOT FOURTEEN, FIFTEEN or SIXTEEN years old.
Much of this day, quite frankly, sucked. I was really hoping that adequate levels of the correct medication would just magically fix all mental anguish and any lingering personality quirks that contribute to... crappy days.
Woke after having really bad nightmares and inadequate amounts of sleep. (Forgot to use my yellow glasses last night while reading on my phone. Don't know if that made a difference or not, but I didn't realize I was tired and just kept reading and reading and reading.)
And I was in great physical pain.
And I was super super super sad. I felt damaged and extraneous and like the great anchor that pulls everyone else down. Like they should get far far away from me because if they are too close they will get sucked under. Sploosh.
So after I soaked in the tub and scraped open my stupid scar, I crawled back into bed and under the covers. Where I stayed for some time while tears rolled down my face. Making lines of salt from the corners of my eyes all the way to my ears.
I managed to make my eyes stop dripping for a short while as I dropped daughter off at preschool. Then I cried all the way to work.
So when little kids who have a lot of creativity are really really good at scaring the bejeezus out of themselves because they can so clearly see the made-up creatures they have conjured... this is stressful. Real stress caused by imaginary monsters created by the child.
I am also quite good as an adult at causing real stress from made-up monstrosities. Like assuming that when people are asleep it is because they are trying to avoid me. Or when someone sighs it is because I did something wrong. Or the fact that I misplaced an item means that I should be fired from my job.
As if a single missed stitch destroys an entire sweater.
These are all the kinds of things that I really hoped had just magically gone away. Because on the one hand I really do think I am ten kinds of awesome. But then sometimes I wonder if the awesome part is the imaginary thing. And my ridiculous worries are actually real.
I burned my wrist on Thanksgiving. Now there is a comet-shaped blister just above the wrong-looking scar. I seem to spend a lot of time staring at my left wrist. This is the wrist where I want to get a tattoo. Of a turtle.
To remind me to
(slow down, get it? tee hee.)
This morning I was already in an irrational bad mood based on imaginary stories about real people. And I decided to clean the living room. Only it was clear that I wasn't just cleaning the living room. Spouse called me on that.
Happily, the frenzy only lasted until I had to leave in the morning.
You'd think with all my hypomanic cleaning that i would have the tidiest, most clean house ANYWHERE. Only I don't. Because the way I clean is not productive. It is destructive.
My "cleaning" doesn't follow any kind of pattern. It involves organizational schemes that make sense only to me and then change the following day. It makes use of countless bins that have things sorted in them but I leave them long enough that I no longer remember the thread that holds the items together--
Things that are too small? Summer clothes? Items that are counted with the Japanese counting-word mai? Things to store? Things to donate? Things to throw away? A box of random things that need to be sorted? Dirty clothes? Clean clothes? A top layer of clothes covering the seedy underbelly of legos and library books?
Grateful Crap: my job, my boss, my students and planning for next semester (no, really. super excited about this. just got word of grant money for revamping curriculum with my coteacher)
confessed to my freakishly ridiculous worries at the time I was worrying them (which made them go away much faster than if I let them fester and grow and create little baby worries through cellular division)
I have yet to figure out how to put pictures on my site since updating the operating system of my computer. Dang, I type fast.
Okay, and tomorrow I need to pick up my prescription for venlafaxine, because I am told that it is not the kind of drug that I want to miss. And I really don't want to miss any of my drugs. I haven't filled my pill minder yet because I need the orange skinny pills that go in all the am slots.
Quaker, teacher, parent,