I’ve been shying away from writing because it’s depressing as hell but today I say fuck it, it’s my blog and I’m about as depressed as I have ever been and I get to write about that if I want to. I’m back at work and it’s awful and I’m having a hard time getting transferred to another position, so I sit and shake with stress and anxiety all day unless I dope myself up on Ativan, which makes it difficult to get work done, which makes a stressful situation even worse. And I come home every day and cry like someone has died because I’m carrying all of this around and there’s no relief. I’m not okay and I feel really alone with it, and I feel like after this second hospitalization people wrote it off as not as big a deal as the first time, or like it’s routine after a second trip and there’s no need to check in or ask how I’m doing. So whatever, here’s the answer: NOT OKAY. You can’t fix it, but you can show me you care by occasionally asking. Asking matters and makes me feel like people think of me and want to know, and it helps. The end.
So I spent last weekend in the hospital because I was suicidal again. I won’t go into details here because it was fucking awful and this blog has gotten sad AF lately, but that happened. New strategy is to take a month off work and go to intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) at a local hospital a few hours a day for a few days a week. I like this plan. Work is dragging their feet about FMLA leave and it’s really annoying because I need to know if they’ll, like, pay me (since legally speaking they don’t have to), but at least a little time away from the excessive stress of that job will do me a world of good. And honestly, I’m a little bit excited to start IOP tomorrow. It’s basically group therapy for three hours a day. I got a lot out of the group therapy during my first hospital stay, so I’m hoping to have a similar experience now. And it’s supposed to teach me some skills to get the DM (and the HM, I suppose) to shut up or at least quiet down so I can function as a person. It’s not enough to just not be suicidal – we need to make it so I never get suicidal again, because I’m sure as hell not going back into inpatient hospitalization again.
So I feel hopeful for the first time in a while. It’s a shame it took an extreme situation (two, technically) to get me and my therapist and psychiatrist to this point, but…woulda shoulda coulda.
In the meantime, Rufus/the DM has been acting like a real douchebag. It’s like he knows he’s cornered. But I’ve been sassing him.
Me: I’m excited about IOP.
DM: Ain’t gonna work, sister.
* * *
Me: I worked out and it felt good. Yay!
DM: It’s one workout. Girl, please.
* * *
Me: I put on makeup and real clothes and left the house!
DM: Normal people do that every day.
Me: SRSLY STAHP.
* * *
Me: I’m going out Saturday night and it’s going to be awesome!
DM: I have no idea why. You aren’t fun anymore.
Me: OK you know what? Shut the fuck up, Rufus.
As you can see, he needs to be quiet and go away, because he is a jerk. I’m going to get up and put on makeup and real clothes and go to IOP tomorrow morning and it’s going to be great. I’m going out Friday night and it’ll be the MOST fun. Because shut up, depression. I’m going to get better – watch me.
I’m sad today. It’s not Rufus, I don’t think, but regular old something-sad-is-happening sad.
I lost a friend a few months ago. She’s still walking the earth and such, but we aren’t friends anymore. It started over a simple misunderstanding that I thought would be easily worked out once we both calmed down and talked about it. But the friendship goddamn exploded and went down in flames, which to me means there was shit going on long before that incident. There was some discussion wherein we aired our grievances and I mostly sat there stunned, because we were very close and I thought she knew who I was and I very suddenly felt like she didn’t. That’s a weird, gut-wrenching experience, to be accused by someone you love of nasty things you would never think or do. I defended myself as best I could, and that was it. No closure, no nothing. Nada. Nyet. And I’m a person who likes closure. It’s been a few months now and we’ve seen each other socially a couple times because we know some of the same people, and it wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t easy. What I’m stuck on today is the part where we’re both pretending it’s fine. I mean, to be clear, it feels awkward as fuck when we see each other, but we’re both doing a bang-up job of acting outwardly like it’s all good. And I’m definitely not all good. I miss my friend. I don’t miss the arguments that sprang up sometimes and left me saying “what the fuck just happened,” but I miss my friend who I drank whole bottles of prosecco with and swapped hilarious/gross sex stories with and laughed myself silly with. I miss my friend who I told my worst secret and she didn’t bat an eyelash. We could text each other from work while crying in a bathroom stall and give each other pep talks to dry our eyes and go back out there and kick ass, or at least finish out the day with our heads held up. I miss my friend who I could trust with anything. It’s not that I don’t have other friends I’m close with and trust and would lay down in traffic for, but regardless of how many of those you have, it’s really fucking awful to lose one. I’m realizing that it’s not that dissimilar to the end of a dating relationship. You have to mourn it, and you have to gradually tell people and they’re all curious to know what happened and you want to sort of explain without speaking badly of the other person, because that feels like you’re disrespecting what you used to be to each other (and I do still respect her and care about her) and you just have to hope the other person is doing the same thing and not trashing you to your mutual friends, whom you’d really like to keep.
I’ve accepted that the friendship is over. It’s beyond repair at this point and I don’t think it could go back to how it was even if we both wanted it to. Like I started to say before, I’m struggling now with the part where, much like in a romantic breakup, the other person seems fine and dandy without you and you feel like roadkill but have to pretend you’re fine and dandy too. And I know that appearances aren’t everything and maybe she feels like roadkill too. But I don’t get to see that part. I only get to see my part, and my part hurts really, really bad. Because even though I know I must be a pretty decent person because I have other friends who seem to like having me around, it was shocking how quickly and easily I (felt like) I got dropped. And how easy it is for me to stay dropped. That’s some harsh shit. I feel like the kind of person who deserves to be dropped utterly and completely and without preamble, AKA a really shitty one. And I truly never thought of myself that way. There’s no such thing as a perfect friend, but I have always tried hard to not be a bad one, or at least not such a bad one that someone had to walk away. Maybe she’s mistaken. I love her muchly and always will, but most of me thinks she’s mistaken.
But how can there not be a part of me that whispers, “What if she isn’t?”
The fun continues. I’m on day 5 of the full dose of Lamictal that’s supposed to fix the way I’ve been feeling for weeks, but apparently that takes time because I’m anxious as fuck and irritable beyond belief and so completely unable to handle stress that I had to come home from the office early because I couldn’t even work. I felt like I was going to lose my shit at any moment and I’m really trying to avoid that happening at the office. When I was standing out in the cold waiting for my Uber, freezing half to death and crying a little bit, I had vague thoughts of taking myself to the hospital so I could just rest and be somebody else’s problem for a little while, but then realized that wouldn’t help. I learned a few things in my time there, but ultimately that place didn’t really help me. It kept me safe from myself for a few days and that was it. Nothing was lastingly better in any significant way after I came home. But how and when the fuck am I going to get better? I’m so tired and frustrated and pissed off because every time I go to my doctor he’s like “SOON” and I’m like “THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH” and he just smiles and tells me to be patient because he doesn’t have to walk around in this body every day feeling at least three-quarters of the way out of his mind. Instead of feeling so depressed that I have thoughts of wanting to die, I feel so overwhelmingly anxious and stressed and panicky and angry and can’t see how it’ll get better and THAT makes me wish I could make it be over by flipping a switch. It’s like a different flavor of the same problem. Same dance, different song. And of course missing work doesn’t help the anxiety because I already feel like I’m not doing well there and am being treated accordingly, so then I’m so anxious I can’t work and go home and then feel more anxious because that certainly isn’t helping matters. I’m still a goldfish in a bag that some bratty little kid is shaking. In all the time I’ve been sick I’ve never felt so little control of my own body and behavior and it’s so scary and makes me feel so alone in it and certain people in my life don’t help matters by treating me like because I’m bipolar, none of my thoughts and feelings are have legitimacy or value: I’m not pissed because someone’s being shitty, I’m pissed because I’m a bit “crazy” right now. Actually no, I am still capable of having normal reactions and recognizing when something is bullshit. I’m medicated, not lobotomized. FFS. Bottom line is, when I’m upset or in a rage, don’t tell me to just go take a nap. I’m not a toddler having a tantrum.
It’s so hard to describe if you’re not in it, and it makes me feel so alone because how can you comfort someone if you don’t understand what’s the matter and I don’t even know what to ask for. So I sit at home and take my benzos with wine and try to chill the fuck out and it works for like ten minutes at a time. That’s all I’ve got at the moment – ten minutes at a time. I guess I can do that for a while until things get better. They have to get better.
I’m home from work today because the DM is here and he’s latched firmly to my back. I can barely sit up. I had a really stressful and anxiety-wracked day at work yesterday and then had a hard, awkward experience in the evening that made me really sad, and I’m down for the count. I got home kind of late (for someone who needs to be in bed at 9pm at the latest, because bipolar) and cried and screamed into a pillow and basically scared the shit out of myself and felt entirely alone. I know that I wasn’t; I know that I could’ve picked up the phone and talked to any number of people who care about me, but the depression monster makes me believe that that’s a stupid idea because nobody can say the right thing that’s going to make me feel better, and talking’s only going to make me feel worse. (And that’s not fair, because it doesn’t let me even give someone the chance to help me.) The depression monster knocks me off my feet and tells me that there is no “feel better.” There’s just this, so cry until your head hurts and the muscles between your shoulder blades cramp up from sobbing so hard and then take your Ativan and go to sleep, but not until you’ve spent at least a few minutes wishing you were dead. So I did all that stuff and then woke up this morning and there wasn’t even a question of going to work. I emailed my boss and told him I think I caught the cold that’s been circulating around the department and then I took more Ativan and went back to sleep. I woke up again a little while ago and perused social media, and I got a Facebook memory from a few years ago when I’d written an aggressively positive post at my other blog about how I can’t do it all and that’s okay, and someone I know commented on it with something that started with “life is awesome” and I dropped the phone and rolled over and cried myself breathless, because I don’t recognize the person who wrote that post and when you’re ridiculously depressed, phrases like “life is awesome!” kick you when you’re already way, way, way down.
I need to get myself feeling at least moderately okay before tonight, because tonight I have a giant fancy fundraiser party that I’ve been looking forward to and is going to be lots of fun, and Rufus is not going to take this away from me. Did I ever tell you his name is Rufus? I came up with it last year while in a therapy session. My therapist asked me if I’ve ever thought about what my depression monster would look like if it was a physical persona, and I said that I’d read many times about people referring to their depression as a black dog. And I said that when I’m trying not to let the DM get the best of me, I imagine him as the stupidest, homeliest, least intimidating black dog I could possibly imagine, and his name is Rufus, because nobody can be afraid of anything or anyone named Rufus. To be clear, he doesn’t always look like that (he looks kind of like the Babadook most of the time) but when I’m trying to ignore him and keep him from getting the best of me, he is Rufus, and I mentally say things like, “Jesus Christ, Rufus, would you just shut up?” It’s easier to disrespect and disregard a dumb dog named Rufus than a Babadook-like thing that towers over me and says terrible things and I’m too afraid not to believe him.
So today I’m resolved that he’s going to be Rufus and he’s going to shut the fuck up so I can put on some makeup and a dress and go have fun tonight.
I think this is what they call a mixed episode. Supposedly bipolar II’s don’t get them much, but I’m restless and hostile and irritable and can’t sit still and I’m also depressed as fuck. I’m fine and laughing and in less than 5 minutes I’m having an emotional breakdown. I start a sentence and am sobbing by the end of it without any warning that I’m about to get upset. I fly into a rage over the stupidest shit – I bumped my head on an open cabinet in my kitchen and was instantly so pissed that I lost it and opened and slammed it until my hand hurt. I didn’t feel this out of control four months ago when I was planning how to die. I can’t do anything except play Xbox and watch My Little Pony because my attention span is so short and I start to panic if I try to focus on anything real like reading a book. (Hard to freak out when you’re watching pastel ponies fly around talking about friendship.) I haven’t finished a book in almost a year, and I used to read 2-3 per month. I have things to be happy and excited about, things to be motivated for, and I feel good about them for most of the day and then suddenly I hate my life and have no hope and want to die. I haven’t had a suicidal thought in months but now here they are again. If there’s a hell for me, this is it – manic and depressed at the same time. I see my doctor on Thursday and thank god for that. For a couple of days after cutting the Abilify it seemed like things were settling down, but they’re not. I don’t think there are a lot of other options besides the path I’m on and that’s the scary part. Maybe this is all just a long, slow adjustment phase, but what if it’s not? This is just as bad as the blackest-black depression I was in before my diagnosis changed. I feel like a goldfish in a plastic bag and some shitty little kid is shaking it. I’m furious and sad and scared and I feel absolutely nothing like myself, and all I have ever wanted out of this entire godawful situation is to feel like myself again. It’s such a basic, reasonable thing to want I’m so fucking tired and so fucking mad because I don’t get to have it.
Tonight I fell asleep hypomanic and woke up depressed. It can happen that fast. This week was tough; we’re getting me slowly ramped up on the Lamictal so I’m not feeling any effects from it yet, and my doctor raised my Abilify to see if that would help bring down the mania. It sort of did…I’ve had lots of energy and but also haven’t seen sleeping right, which makes me think I’ve still been a little manic. Then late last week I turned into a goddamn lunatic. I was furious and hostile and painfully irritable to the point where I had to keep going to the bathroom to rage-cry. I called my psychiatrist demanding that we move up my appointment and he calmed me down and said it was all Abilify side effects and I should just go back to the lower dose. So I did, and felt better right away. The land of antipsychotic medication is unfamiliar to me and I’ve been having a hard time getting my bearings. But even though I felt less manic and hostile and irritable, I started hearing the most unwelcome voice in the world, the one I know so well. “This is what your life is going to be forever. You can take the damn pills and try to improve, but it will never be quite right, and you’ve got this thing forever. You’re never going to feel quite right ever again.”
He stayed in the background, though. I was up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. this weekend and washed, folded, and put away seven loads of laundry. Then today I found myself able to nap a little bit, which hasn’t happened in weeks, and then I let myself doze off on the couch for just a little bit and woke up four hours later, and within five minutes of waking up, I was crying uncontrollably and for no real reason.
Ding-dong. Little pig, little pig, let me come in.
I don’t want him here. Hypomania is weird and unfamiliar but at least I’m never really sad. I know the depression part all too well and he’s basically going to have to drag me away kicking and screaming. So off I go to bed, because sleep is the #1 most important thing. And tomorrow starts the mental warfare of fending off the depression monster.