When I had a blog about recovering from Depression that seemed purposeful.
And when I had done my job well And completely recovered from Depression, I could just repurpose the blog into something else.
Track my creative writing.
Showcase my beading.
Publish evidence of my development as a DSLR photographer...
But I don’t have a blog about kicking Depression’s ass anymore. I have this instead.
A blog about going one round after another with Bipolar Disorder.
With no clear end. Except the clear end we all face. But at no point will I ever announce Mission Accomplished from an aircraft carrier with a banner declaring the War on Bipolar finally won.
I had envisaged the fight against Depression as being a relatively short boxing match... maybe kickboxing... in which I would inevitably gain the upper hand and Be Done.
Ok I know this is not true even in the world of unipolar depression, but it is the fairytale I wrote for myself.
I don’t want the point of this blog to be just whining.
Or just pathetic.
Or just cries for help.
But I don’t know what I do want from it.
This: a record for myself and others to see how I did on and off various medications at various times of year and in different circumstances.
From that standpoint I could write about anything.
Also this: proof of quality of life for someone living with a serious mental illness. Or at least proof of my existence.
I just feel like sometimes I want to be doing color commentary for the exciting match where Depression gets its ass kicked in the first round...
And instead I’m calling a bout that just won’t end. Literally. And it’s a punishing and brutal fights and it’s slow.
And the crowd is quite frankly sick of the whole thing but they’ve paid for the seats so what are they gonna do?
So I’m the one doing commentary. And the one fighting. And the one that I am fighting, And I’m the crowd. And we are all just so tired.
300 mg lamotrigine
Sad. Post Holiday crash? Too much chocolate? Not enough structure?
Sad and weepy today. Have been taking meds.
But it they are not magic.
Unhelpful external reasons not to actually crash include but not limited to my own children and other people’s children.
I used to describe myself as a foul-weather friend. Only there for you when you need my help.
Now I feel like foul friend. An ill friend that does no one good. Who only sees friends when I am in need.
Listened to sad love songs on the radio about people who think their love-interest is perfect.
And then thought of how I nearly had a panic attack trying to buy bagels and chocolate milk for the swim team.
Which I did wrong. I still have 2 dozen bagels left. And a gallon of milk.
And wallowed in my low self esteem Depressed puddle of imperfection.
Children are playing. I’m gonna go wrap myself in a silk comforter in a dark room.
I know its not the right term and I don't care. You know how airfoils are this magical shape that creates lift and lets you fly?
In doing the backstroke elderboy's body creates some weird magical airfoil shape that creates negative lift and drives him under the surface.
Floating on his back he will just slowly sink to the bottom of the pool under the weight of his legs and his lack of buoyancy. But get him going with backstroke and his head is actually driven down into the water. Sometimes only his nose is above water.
I was thinking about the sinking underwater metaphor for Depression that is often useful for me. And the backstroke as demonstrated by elderboy. (Who is a fine swimmer in plenty other strokes... just not backstroke!)
So if I try to do nothing about the Depression, I am like the floating/sinking swimmer. I can stay afloat but slowly, gradually I get pulled down under the weight of my own two feet.
But I also feel like if I'm trying the wrong thing... the wrong meds, the wrong activities, the wrong people, the wrong... I don't know... I feel like if it's the wrong thing to do to fight the Depression, it's like plowing myself into the water faster than if I were to do nothing.
Progress forward but also down.
So the trick is to figure out the right stroke. And focus on staying above water. And maybe don't worry so much about speed.
That's the lesson I learned from not drowning in real life. That going fast was what made me sink. Okay, lots of other things contributed to my sinking, but the drowning process was sped up when I decided to try and get to shore as fast as I could.
I taught the day without my co-teacher today. And it went okay, but I noticed the following things:
So in absence of co-teacher I mistakenly thought it was Wednesday today right up until 5 minutes before the kids showed up for class. Good thing I was prepared for either day AND I figured it out before the kids arrived or the poor Chemistry students would have had to take a test on photosynthesis and cellular respiration.
And whenever there were not children in the room I just felt kinda blank. It's not like co-teacher and I are chatting all the time. Mostly when we are doing prep for class we are just sitting at our own desks muttering under our breaths while occasionally saying, "Hey, what are you working on?"
But sometimes, enough, we say obnoxious and funny things.
Which I don't do when I am alone. Alone lets me settle in to a funk if I am so inclined. Don't get me wrong, I can do alone. I just haven't had to for a while so it feels odd.
And I don't like change.
Gotta go get elderboy from swimming. Where he did not drown.
300 mg lamotrigine
I don't feel feverish exactly, but kinda. I wrote something in my last post about being busy but I can't remember what it was. Co-teacher/workplace accommodation is having surgery on Tuesday. Daughters birthday on Thursday.
Went to meeting today. And I thought of a post I wrote with "Jesus wept" in it. And here it is Christmas but if you've read my religious posts in the past you'll know I have a complicated relationship with Christianity. And Jesus.
So in meeting when "Jesus wept" came into my head and I thought of him weeping over the death of Lazarus. And it made me weep.
And the only "vocal ministry" was about Jesus only they kept saying Christ which I don't and they talked about his birthday which I don't really celebrate and anyway he wasn't born in December. Which is totally not the point.
I have jury duty the first week of January. Which is good timing since I will be off from my regular job.
I was recently officially observed at work and co-teacher was very impressed with my lack of freaking out. Which is partly due to the fact that I am way more freaked out about her going out for surgery. She thinks she is going to bounce back fast. But I am worst-case-scenario.
Elderboy swam much faster this year than last year. Shaved 3 seconds off his 50 yard freestyle and 8 seconds off his 100 yard freestyle.
ack. Deleted post. Oh well. More Tomorrow.
upshot: very busy. Got meds. Going to bed.
300 mg lamotrigine
Did an art show on Saturday where there were probably hundreds of people. I did not talk to all hundreds of them, but enough. It felt like hundreds. And inevitably, predictably, there is the crash after the crowds. That big groups and lots of activity are Not Good For Me.
So on Sunday, I had ZERO PATIENCE FOR ANYONE. I didn't even go to Quaker meeting because sitting in silence with people was still too much. And people would want to say hi afterwards. Or shake hands. And that is such a human thing. Ugh.
I had reached PEAK IRRITATION by Sunday afternoon. Everything that everyone said or did set me off. I decided to drive around looking for advent candles. I don't even really know what advent is. I just know that there are candles involved and it was the second Sunday of advent and I was supposed to burn 2 candles but I just had the one. And I couldn't find the advent candle wreath holder thing.
And then I ended up at Target wandering the aisles looking for tapers and candle holders. Where there were a lot of people. I made Spouse do all the running around and taking care of the children all weekend. So he was exhausted. And I just had no patience for anything.
My observation window is open now... which means at work I am looking forward to being formally observed. Ordinarily this causes great stress. And I am greatly stressed, but more worried really about next week when my co-teacher is having back surgery.
I have decided to take a break from art shows. I haven't been beading at the frenzied pace I used to, so it's not like I have giant stock of new materials. So people who have been to the shows before have seen that, done that... and I don't really enjoy the process of connecting with other artists and talking about my process. I just wanna do the art part.
Might try actually to get my stuff in at some boutiques. It's a better place for it. It just means that I will have to shop my stuff around.
This morning I felt the anhedonia side of Depressed. I was clay-faced and didn't much care. Wondered if this was part of the course-correction from the too loud/too bright/too frenetic energy of the art show.
I need things to be boring. Same. Quiet. Predictable.
Which is funny because none of those words really apply to me. I just need them in my surroundings. Probably because I am not same, quiet, predictable and boring. Sometimes boring. Perhaps when predictable.
One of my students asked me to proofread a hip-hop piece he wrote. Which is really, really funny. Because I was his ESL teacher he figured I could
Tried telling people I was ok today even though that wasn’t technically true.
It’s a mantra. You know, a lie you tell yourself in the hopes that it’s true.
Better to keep repeating in my head I’m okay I’m okay I’m okay to the rhythm of my boot heels clip clipping on the poured cement floors.
Better than thinking I’m so stressed I’m so stressed I’m so stressed and I don’t know even why really. I’m okay has a better meter. Anyway.
My hair needs to be more blue.
My bird needs its wings clipped.
I have an art show on Saturday.
My coteacher/workplace accommodation is having back surgery soon.
There are 2 pumpkin pies cooling in the kitchen that Spouse made when everyone else was asleep.
I am on 300 mg lamotrigine
Unpleasant interaction with a student today. Not even my student. Not even that unpleasant really. The word bogus was used. Not by me. Really the whole thing rather trivial.
Then I had trouble letting go. Or something. The interaction went away but the feeling didn’t.
And now student has been asked to apologized so the thing is still not done and I have to think about how one receives an apology.
I want to apologize. Sorry if you felt I was disrespectful when I asked you to leave. Sorry if I didn’t make it clear what our class rules are. Sorry you were rude.
This is why I am conflict avoiding. Conflict makes me sick.
Then a parent meeting for elder boy swimming and I don’t know any parents and don’t really have any openings for new people in my life right now.
So I sat in a far corner and listened. And wondered if coach could tell from my behavior which swimmer is mine.
Home standing in the kitchen in my stockinged feet forgetting what I am doing... not moving because I don’t have any slippers on.
Face felt kinda clay-faced earlier in day which likely primed me for poor recovery from conflict.
I feel like I want to cry. Not for any reason or because I’m sad. Just because. Like it would be a good plan. Like it would relax something in my clay face.
Elderboy and younger boy are singing a song about the quadratic equation.
I will I’ll start taking 300 mg lamotrigine today. Only that.
There is a study on use of TMS on bipolar depression st the Mayo Clinic. I won’t go. It must be hard to get enough people for studies. Too far. Too much time. Too scary.
Everyone has heard of Depression. Because it sucks. And you've been there. And its a hole that you can maybe climb out of yourself or maybe with a hand up or maybe not depending on how deep and pervasive and chemical or situational... and hereditary. Still. We all know it. Familiar.
Everyone has heard of Mania. Because of celebrities and movies and sensationalization. The idea of endless energy and hallucinations and megalomania. Psychotic symptoms. Fascinating. Exotic. Unreal. But in reality far less exotic and much more nuanced than the tabloids would have you believe. Still we have heard of mania. And can recognize its more extreme expressions.
But Euthymia sounds mythical. Like the bright side of the world in a dystopian young adult novel. Leave your drudgery behind and cross under the river of skulls through the secret tunnel that leads you to the land of Euthymia. And it feels mythic. And no one has ever heard of it. Because it's maybe all a lie.
Euthymia is the magical Stable Mood State in which you are not Depressed or Hypomanic or Manic. You just are. Free to be happy or sad or angry or any of the other many colored emotions. But you aren't stuck in some stoopid bipolar state. Again the Dystopian novel. The Bipolar State of Hypomania. I could be the head of state. Ha.
Not to be confused with Euthemia who was a nymph struck down by Artemis's arrows after she no longer worshiped the goddess. I guess she was taken down to Hades by Persephone while still alive. Where presumably she was no longer euthymic.
I think I have had large stretches of euthymia. Really. But not lately. Not since probably long before I decided to stop being Depressed when I started this blog in May of 2013.
But there were long stretches of Depression I know. On and off medication.
I did have at least one crying jag while teaching prior to 2002. No kids yet. No antidepressants since 1990. My teacher friends sent me home. Debating about whether they should call Spouse. Or if one of them should go home with me. But there didn't really seem any danger. Just that I couldn't stop crying. I went home.
It was after that incident that I called to get back on anti-depressants. I remember the feeling of holding the phone in my hand and which way I was facing. It was my friend's room at school. I called after the kids left for the day. And I talked to the OFP to see if she could recommend a good Adult Therapist who could help me with my Depression.
And she said that I had responded so well to medication before that it was possible I just needed to get back on meds.
The first time I was on them it was of relatively (ridiculously) short duration. It is possible that I was only on antidepressants for a month during my senior year of high school.
I remember that I ran out while in China because I forgot to refill my prescription. And I wisely halved my pills and tapered down my dosage and was Just Fine for a long time. I think. Kind of. Anyway I was not debilitatingly Depressed anymore. I could think. And smile. And record long-term memories.
In college I went to see a therapist a few times when it seemed like maybe my Depression symptoms were coming back. Or maybe it was because I was using some eating disorder tricks to deal with my anxiety. Or maybe it's because a friend told me she was suicidal. I don't remember. I just remember that I didn't connect with her very much and when I tried to explain things I always felt like I was doing it wrong.
And it was my friends then who got me through things. I have amazing friends. I know how to pick them, you see. And even if they might not feel like they are that close to me, they... are. They just are. And when I am stressed but not too down I can remember conversations and interactions and little life-saving moments given to me by these friends. And they are still here for me.
When I am Down, truly Down, they could all be lined up true to life in my living room to tell me how awesome I am and I would just call down curses on their heads. And call them liars. And charlatans. And fools.
When I am Up, I would whirl through these gathered friends and laugh with them and make plans to do a thousand things and forget that I made the plans because I had already been sucked into another thousand things and then I couldn't see them at all because some infinitesimal speck of nonsense suddenly consumed me. Something unimportant in the grand scheme of things but to me Utterly Crucial and Must Be Done Now. By Me. NOW NOW NOW.
When I was Depressed before children I thought about running away. Or running off with someone. Someone who wasn't Spouse. Idle thoughts. Because I was in pain and these were drastic changes that might change things. But these were not real thoughts and I knew that. They are the same as my intoxication thoughts now. I know these choices would bring more pain in the end. Better to just stay in the mess I'm in than borrow more trouble.
Quaker, teacher, parent,