my divisive brain is having an argument and evidently i’m not invited

i totally don’t have time to write this but seriously, what is wrong with me?! Ok, writing that sentence is pretty funny, since i believe there is a list somewhere. i can feel my nervousness boiling inside and i just don’t want anyone to call because i’m going to hate what they say no matter what they say and i’m going to be rude to someone i love. and that’s not fair.

i’m learning all these skills and i get that and yay for me. but i can’t seem to handle change, decision-making or mass moments of stress. lol. that’s like life in a nutshell. so woohoo, i can fucking not overeat and i can make it to an appointment. but i feel like i’m crumbling because i can’t control how much my insurance sucks. i mean, i just want to go to their office and sit there and be like “please listen to me. look me in the eyes and listen to me. you’re going to help me, we’re going to figure out how, and we’re going to do it without you reading off a fucking script? i brought you a coffee so settle in.” but i can’t.

and i can’t afford this sleep program. but i’m going to do it anyway. honestly, i can’t afford anything i’m doing and i’m just so tired of having to accept help from my parents. i’m so fucking lucky and i’m complaining.

i think i want to feel in control. i just want to feel like i have a plan. but i’m so scared that i have a list but i’m afraid to break it apart and deal with it. and i keep trying to say “value all that you’ve done these past two weeks” but all i can see is what i haven’t done and what i need to do. why can’t my mind accept any good? and how can the same brain want to do something and can’t? that makes no fucking sense.

ok, i’m going to go stick an ice pack on my face for 30 seconds because evidently it calms me down even though it feels ridiculous. ‘cuz it is. but so am i and this stupid brain i have. it’s not even clinical depression. i can’t even blame that anymore. it’s just me and my self-pitying habits. you know what it is, i’m angry at myself because i know i can do better.

ok. onwards…not sure about the upwards part. but onwards.

 

Advertisements

Accepting the Good in Life – No ifs, ands, or buts

jabba_the_hutt

Why is it that bad things feel safer? I mean, they hurt like hell and you feel like shit, but it seems less terrifying than a good thing happening. I used to think it was the depression. I imagined depression as Jabba the Hut, feasting on my failures, my failures transforming into fat, pushing down on me harder. (Ugh. I know I chose the image but it’s still vile all the same.)

But I’m starting to think it’s a maladaptive behavior; a habit of safety and control. ‘Cuz if things start to get good, that means they can get bad. If I get something, it could be taken away. Or worse, I could enjoy it, and then it could be taken away or I could ruin it.

I know I have written on this quite a bit already, but I was thinking about it in the context of women recently. I think women are more likely to protect themselves through insults and assumptions of failure to protect against “embarrassment.” This is a generalization, but when my friends are waiting to hear back about something, they spend a lot of time talking about what they will do if they don’t get it or how they know they won’t because there are better people out there. They are already preparing for the worst, and they don’t know why. My male friends don’t seem to be that way. It’s not that they walk around like a sheriff, with their thumbs tucked in their pants, their chests broad like a rooster saying “I’m just kicking it, waiting for what’s mine.” But they don’t seem to spend as much time berating themselves beforehand like women do.

There is an Amy Schumer skit. (NSFW) I don’t actually think the skit is that funny, but I love the point of it. A bunch of women are standing around, and as one compliments the other, her automatic response is to point out something horrible about herself. They go back and forth, dissing themselves each time they get a compliment until one woman approaches. They compliment her and she thanks them, and they proceed to kill themselves. She has, by accepting the compliment, shaken the base of their lives to its’ core.

Are we stuck in a cycle where it’s never enough? Is that what the American Dream is attempting to create? Not a person striving to reach the top, but a person who is constantly told they can be better and therefore in their current state, is not enough. Because we can always be thinner, richer, “happier.” And evidently the fault lies with us, not with sexism, racism, homophobia, religious persecution, ethic-judging, classism, (any form of defeatism).

I suppose that’s why I hate the American Dream. It was created as propaganda to keep utilitarianism alive. But there isn’t really an American Dream. I can’t remember the last time I met someone who was content with where they were in life. I’m not saying you should get to a point of success and just stagnate there and quit. You should always try to challenge your mind, help others, question society. But that’s different than believing you need to be more, have more, want more in order to find this non-existent happiness.

What if the American Dream was rather a list of ideals to live your life by:

*Always respect those around you and treat them the way you want to be treated.
* Never assume to know who someone is, but always assume the best.
* Always help others, in whatever way you can, in whatever ways they need.
* Add value to the world in your actions
* Always analyze, critique and question everything in life
* Never stop learning
* Live your life in a way that makes you proud

(I’m clearly missing a few, so feel free to offer suggestions in the comment section.)

I don’t do religion, though in reading this, I suppose a lot of these fall under the tenets of most of them. I just think if we stopped trying to achieve and rather just tried to experience, live, understand, connect, and question, we might find moments of contentment, even if we can’t find this illusive and non-existent “happiness.”

Oh my goodness, did I really just write this cheesy ode to the world? Did I go hippy dippy on myself without realizing it? I better stop now before I go too deep and resent myself in the morning.

I Couldn’t Let It Go: Be The Match and My Mental Illness

vgc9svvf

(Unless you are on disability or take certain medications for mental illness…)

 

Remember when I tried to give bone marrow cells and they said I was disqualified because I was on disability. I wrote about how angry I was and how I am so tired of stigma. Well, turns out…I couldn’t let it go. It’s been a few weeks, but I have been spending time thinking about shame, guilt, and accountability. So, I decided to write and mail this letter. I know that no one will read it, no one will respond, and no one will care. But I wrote it anyway. Because I care. I share it with you because I hope that you care, too.

Also, if you are not on disability, and do not take Lithium, are not diabetic, have HIV/AIDS, (and there might be a few others,) please register to be a bone marrow donor now at BeTheMatch.org. As I say in the letter below: They may take away my right to give, but at least I can help those patients who are dying by getting others to give. Patients shouldn’t suffer because of arcane policy decisions.

To Whom It May Concern:

It has taken me a few weeks to decide to write this letter. I suppose I was trying to evaluate my personal shame and the errors of your organization. However, I think it is important for you to know what happened, why it was hurtful to me and your organization, and what remedies you might consider.

My father lost his arm when I was nine years old. When I was 15 and legally able, I began to donate blood on a regular basis. When I found out I had a high platelet count, I started apheresis. In 2010, at the age of 28, I added myself to the “Be the Match” registry.

Since I was nine years old, I have suffered from depression. In 2010, when I signed up, I was working, but a mess. Just a year later, I had to quit and move back home because I was so ill. However, in the past year and a half, I have found proper medication for my illness. I have a support team of specialists and I work hard every day to make my life better. I am, for the first time since I can remember, in a strong, happy place and while I am not ready to go back to work quite yet, I am ready to start helping others.

A few weeks ago, I received an email informing me that I might possibly be a match! I went online and watched the videos. I filled out my questionnaire immediately. It should be noted that nowhere on the questionnaire did it say what medications would disqualify me, nor did it ask if I was on disability.

I decided to call the hotline to ask why you doing more PBSC now. While on the phone, the woman was polite and friendly. She suggested we review the questionnaire while I was on the phone to save time. When she asked me about my medications, I told her that two were for my depression. Well, to be specific, I unfortunately told her it was for bipolar II which very few people know of and often associate with bipolar I, which is incredibly different. In simple terms, I have depression but need different types of drugs to impact my brain chemistry. Her tone changed: “Well you can’t give if you take Lithium.” She was looking at my questionnaire, with my list of medications, but still felt the need when she heard I had a mental illness to throw out Lithium.  At this point, she became quiet and terse as we continued to review my questionnaire.

This made me incredibly nervous which made me feel the need to validate myself. I told her that I was doing really well, and the best part was, I didn’t work, so I could be there anywhere at anytime! She asked me if I was unemployed and living with my parents or if I was on disability. I told her that I had finally moved out since I was doing better, but had started to receive short-term medical disability for the past two years to help compensate until I could work.

It was at this point she informed me that because I was on disability, I was unable to give. I told her that if it had to do with liability, I would be happy to sign a document declaring I would not sue. I would also have my psychiatrist agree to monitor me or write a note attesting that I was healthy enough to deal with the side effects that I know the shots can give. It wasn’t that I was depressed, though she made it quite clear she was not happy about that. It was because I get a small amount of money from the government every year. When I signed up in 2010, if I had given, I would be more concerned about my mental state than I am now. And yet, because I was working, I would have been able to give? If I was just laying around at my parents’ house, living off of their food and money, I could even give, but because I was trying to be more independent, I was being penalized.

She told me she would “do me a favor” and not take me out of the system completely but rather declare me “invalid” until I called back and told them I was off disability. Now I know there is a stigma in society, and clearly this woman was uneducated but her actions made me feel tainted.

What has been bothering me since is that nowhere in the documents I received did it tell me that if I was on disability, I would be unable to give. You don’t even have a section on the questionnaire that says: “If you take the following medications, please call as you may be unable to give.” You have a question about diabetes – if disability is such a problem, why was it not on there?

I hope you can understand how excited I was to possibly save someone’s life. My friend died a few years ago of Hodgkin’s because she couldn’t find a donor in time. I had already written all of my family and friends telling them that while there was still a slim chance, I had actually been called up! I then had to write them and tell them that because I get government subsidies, I am useless to the program.

The thought that kept going through my head is that if I was actually a match and you told the donor I had a mental illness (that did not impact my cells) and that I was on disability, there is no doubt in my mind they would ever say no to my cells! For an organization that understands how difficult it is to find a match, something this inconsequential is letting people die.

If there are legal reasons, there should be information on the website. And I should be able to talk with someone about it. I am so disappointed in you as an organization. I wrote a blog post about this, and told my family and friends. But I want you to know that I also told them I still thought if they could, they should sign up. You may take away my right to give, but at least I can help those patients who are dying by getting others to give. Patients shouldn’t suffer because of your arcane policy decisions.

I am no longer ashamed of myself. I stand true to my values of helping others. I will continue to give blood and platelets and encourage others to sign up on the registry. But I am ashamed of your organization, and I hope by sharing this story, you are ashamed of yourselves as well. I ask you not to apologize, but to please do something about this. If you don’t want us to give, then make it clear. If there are medications we cannot take, let us know. And make sure you have educated nurses on the phone for the questionnaire who know better than to judge someone on the phone for an illness they did not ask for, who is only trying to help.

We need organizations like yours, but you need to step up. It is 2016, and people are dying who could possibly live. It is your responsibility to make sure that anyone that can give, should be able. I hope you give this time and thought. I know I have.

 

Go The Fuck To Sleep: A Lullabye to My Maniacal, Stubborn Brain

shut-the-fuck-up-stfu-sleep

While I wish I was clever enough to think of that title or write this page, this comes from the book by Adam Mansbach (read aloud by Samuel L. Jackson) and is worth a read…and I don’t even have kids.

Look,  I believe in the lyrics “you can’t always get what you want ”  but I’m having a difficult time wrapping my mind around “But if you try sometime you find You get what you need.”  That’s where I’m going to call bullshit. my body my brain my legs my stomach -they all know that I want to sleep.  That I  don’t just want it, I need it.  And I assure you I am trying as hard as I can.

it’s like my brain is laughing at me as I try breathing exercises, body relaxation, mocking me for my attempts. I even tried doing visualization, which I think is a bunch of shit, and I tried to lock each of my problems  into boxes with keys so that my brain would be empty.  I don’t want to give away the ending but let’s just say I’m still awake.  I’m on day four of this wacky insomnia bout. I was able to lie down and close my eyes and relax my body, but my brain still wouldn’t let me sleep. and so now I’ve been in bed for three hours: I’ve tried reading, writing, (I don’t want to do anything too important since I’m not sure I’m fully awake,)  i’m doing my best to avoid medication but I don’t know what else to do and I don’t know why I can’t have this.

maybe it’s  my depressions’  childish way of telling me to fuck off since I slept so much when I was depressed and now I can’t seem to slow down enough to enjoy a deep dream sleep.

even when I do fall asleep I’m usually half awake, directing my dreams and getting up every few hours. it’s just this process of falling asleep  that I find so fucking frustrating.

it’s such a simple idea. I remember as a kid I was so good at sleeping. I could sleep anywhere, I slept through anything, it was a problem because I was just so damn good at it. it doesn’t make sense to want something so bad, to try so hard, to even deserve it and still eyes open brain thumping racing twirling, body aching, and wanting.

there’s usually a point when I decide whether to keep fighting or just watch TV until I pass out at three or four in the morning.  This is my current conundrum that I’d really prefer not to have.

“Do You Really Think You’re Strong Enough To Do This On Your Own?”

A person said something today that I cast off at first, but has been bothering me all night. We were talking about London and I was telling him about DBT skills, and therapists I had researched, and how I was going to get my medications, and I had found gyms, etc. Basically, I was telling him about how I’m setting myself up there to try and have as much support and healthcare available to me since it will be an academic/social stress mess.

He then asked how I planned to live the year without my mom to lean on. Even without respecting his opinions, (it just so happens I don’t for this man,) when he said it, it really hurt my feelings. Because what he was really saying was: “do you really think you’re strong enough to do this on your own?” And the intimation was that I was not.

When I was depressed, I needed my mom for everything. She got me out of bed, she bought me food, she cooked for me, she sat with me and listened to what I’m sure was incredibly painful as a mother hearing her youngest child say. Since I have been getting better, we have been open about the relationship we developed over that time – the two of us and our dependency. Because while I needed her, I think she needed me too. I provided an escape from my father and from her life and gave it purpose. After all, my mother, while she worked full-time, truly loved being a mom to three kids and I think she misses that. She is a caretaker in her soul and I must say, she is good at it.

It’s taken us time, but we are slowly trying to separate. It can be hard because I have such a small support group that something that I would normally call a friend about, I might tell her. I hate doing it, I hate muddling the lines of our relationship, but sometimes I just get too lonely and need to talk to someone who has time to listen and cares. She’s also been going through a lot, whether she admits it or not, and I hope I provide an outlet for her, even if it’s not ideal or healthy in terms of a mother-daughter relationship.

But it has gotten better. Sometimes I will go to text her something, but I erase it and I just deal with it on my own. It’s tempting to want to complain to her at night, I used to do it all the time, but now I wait it out, I blog, I watch TV, I have a shitty night, and I deal with it. She also said she is trying to work on it too. Sometimes she doesn’t hear from me or I will text back “watching a movie.” In the past, that meant I was spiraling and she would often come out to be with me. But she says now, she knows I’m watching a movie, and if I need her, I will tell her.

I’m not going to say we have gone back to the way things were before I moved home. I don’t think they were entirely healthy then either. I was lying quite a bit until the end when I just was too exhausted to keep secrets.But my independence was so important to me, getting away from my family and creating my own definition of self – so having to come home, knowing how they saw me, and being too weak to protest was difficult. Having to rely on her to drive me into the city three days a week for ECT, no matter how much she said she didn’t mind, pained me. Even now, every time I go shopping with her, she pays. Basically, if I’m with her and we are running errands, unless I make a big scene, she pays. I hate money and I hate how it makes me feel, but I am trying to just appreciate this luxury while I have it. She knows I don’t have any and that I am frugal anyway, so I think she doesn’t mind, but I always feel like money always has strings attached to it, it creates a power dynamic, and I abhor it. It has played a large role in hurting my family and has ruined friendships as well.

So when he said that to me, he made me feel like he didn’t think I could emotionally handle my life. I love my mom to a point where it hurts, but I know I need to be able to live my life without her, even if we are still close and connected. I cannot turn to her for everything and I must define our relationship in a way that does not enable bad habits or weaken me. I tried to explain the idea of her weakening me to him, and he of course was befuddled. He didn’t get how someone being there to help you could make you weaker. But when I am with her, I wouldn’t say I turn into a child, but there is a part of me, a strength and resilience that falls away, and I can be lured into asking her to go into a store for me, drive because I’m tired, or help me with something because I just don’t want to do it alone.

When she isn’t there, those things still need to be done, but I do them because I have to. So as much as I love that she does things for me, that she enjoys it, I need to do those things, because that is what slowly builds my mastery of independence. It’s probably why when I travel, I tend not to talk to her as much. Because I become weak and allow my fears to escape. And sometimes, you need to keep that inside and use it as energy to push you forward. It makes me stronger by showing me that I can do these things – I can travel to London, eat on my own, deal with my loneliness, make difficult decisions. I believe she understands this.

I know he’s a fool and I shouldn’t put weight into his thoughtless and unknowledgeable comments. But I suppose there is a side of me that is scared that maybe I do need her more than I should. That maybe I won’t be strong enough without her and I will have to come home.  I suppose it was a mix of him having the audacity to invalidate all of the hard work I have done, stirring my anxieties up, and me allowing him to have that power to do so. It will pass but it just really pissed me off. Argh.

It should be noted that I did not tell my mom about this. :)

 

 

A Habit I Can’t Quit: All Decisions Lead to Failure

So the number one thing that brings me anxiety like no other is decision-making. And that’s been a big ‘ol nuisance as of late. But what has me up tonight is my inability to prioritize.

At work, it was pretty easy to prioritize. I had due dates, and after a while, a sense of the process and how long things took. I knew how long I could hold off on the things I hated, and what days I could slack off if needed.

But now I feel like I’m running around in circles. And I think a part of me is afraid to stop and organize it because that will make the decisions real and I will have to make them. And things are more complicated when it comes to prioritizing your life. It’s hard to place value on something like “deciding if I am ready to move across the continent” or “if I’m smart enough to take this challenging volunteer job.” It’s not a task, it’s a choice and that means choosing a path that may lead to good or bad. I know people say that it’s your path, whatever you choose, but I kind of think they say that to make them feel better for all the shitty choices they have made along the way. (Sorry, I’m a bit crabby.)

I know having options are a luxury, but a part of me wishes for simpler times. I was joking with my mom that I think I was born in the wrong era. Sometimes I crave the idea of an arranged marriage, a job based on what my family did or what was tasked to me, a life laid out for me without having to choose whether it was good enough or not. I wouldn’t have to worry if I “could have done more or been better” because I was following what was expected. It’d never work given my liberal belief system, my innate feeling that I could always be doing more, and just my own self-respect..

I think depression gave me something similar to that. Or perhaps it gave me something to blame, to put fault on. But it helped make decisions for me. It would tell me not to go out, not to call someone back, not to go to the gym, not to try and achieve something or speak up for myself. And it protected me in doing those things and therefore moving forward and risking failure even though I felt like a failure the whole time because I wasn’t doing those things and I wanted to. (It’s really quite confusing.)

There’s a spin app that has a trainer on it that I do for my workouts…anyway, one of things that the trainer say is that it’s better to try to challenge yourself and have to pull back then not try and see if you can do it. And she also says the point is to defeat yourself, to push yourself farther than you think you can, and not make it – find your breaking point. I think the idea behind it is that every time you do that, you can push yourself farther and I imagine it also intends to provide a mindset that failure from trying is success all on its’ own because you won’t know how strong you are until you figure out when you have to pull back.

I think about that a lot now. Knowing your potential. Knowing what you’re good at. Knowing what you can and can’t handle. That sometimes the only way to figure it out is to do it, and yet it’s also important to listen to yourself and if your inner self is screaming “don’t do this! it’s not just fear, we aren’t ready!” you also need to listen to that, no matter how disappointing.

So I guess decision-making, failure, fault, and trust are facing me across the table. And I need to prioritize the choices I must make and the tasks that come with those choices. A part of me craves to just make a decision, have it feel right, and move forward scared but certain. But that feeling has yet to come.

Usually in spin, when she tells me to try and push myself a little harder, I might go up a notch or two, but I don’t really go to a point of defeat. I don’t want to be dissapointed. I don’t want to accept failure or set a higher bar that I might not be able to reach the next time I spin.

I’ve created a system that has put myself in quite a predicament. Because really, there’s no way to win. I can prioritize, I can try to challenge myself, I can try to see failure as success for what it teaches me, but in the end, deep inside, it all feels like failure. It feels instinctual. And while I see how to change certain habits and I give DBT a lot of credit for skills to help break bad habits, this is more of an internal belief system. Next to my values of helping others, being a good person, and always trying to add value, I believe what I do will never be enough and I will never find peace within myself because I don’t deserve it and I should be ashamed for the opportunities I have been allotted and the time I have wasted convincing all of these people to believe in me and give me chances.

This is when if I friend told me that I would tell her she should go to therapy. LOL. My therapist believes and I agree that I established these beliefs from a very young age and they were supported in different contexts and so I came to make these thoughts into facts. She believes I must grieve for what I have lost because of it, understand why it became fact so that I can see it is thought, and from there, learn to question that thought when it arises and tries to bring me to my demise.

And I want to believe her. I’m just not sure I can do it, and honestly, I’m afraid to fail.

An (attempted) Day Without Judgement?

Ok, so I’m oddly angry. Anger is a weird emotion for me. Usually, it turns to sadness quickly. I think I’m afraid of anger – both because of how much I saw it as a child, and also because I don’t want to make someone else angry (also probably because of what I saw as a child).

In the past, my anger was directed at myself. And I suppose I’m frustrated with myself. I am getting things done. I am not lying in bed crying or self-harming, or stuffing my face with pancakes. But I’m frustrated at myself. And it bothers me that all I can see are the things I’m not doing – wanting to punish myself with anger because there are other things I “should” be doing. DBT tells you to take “shoulds” out of your life, i.e. not be judgmental. This is intended not only for others like: “He should have taken out the trash” but also to yourself :”I should be stronger than this.”

One skill is to practice being non-judgmental. It means stepping back and observing a situation as it is, without thoughts or emotions. So instead of “I’m at the computer again because I’m terrified of failing at the things I have to do outside of it” you merely note “I am sitting in a chair, typing on a computer. There is traffic and sounds of cars driving on wet, rainy streets The blinds are closed.” You get the idea. You take the judgement out of the situation and in doing so, take the emotion you are feeling out.

It sounds so fucking simple, but it’s really hard. Most DBT skills are like that. You read them and you think “duh” but you realize when you try to do them, especially if your emotions are not regulated or you are in distress, it’s a lot harder than it looks.

I have options about what today looks like. I have options about what I am going to let ruminate in my big black cauldron of a mind. I also can choose to be okay with whatever the day turns out to be. I can allow myself to live the day without judging what I “should” be doing. Let’s see what happens.

The Dichotomy of Dread and Excitement For the Unknown Future of Tomorrow

o-nail-biting-570

I had a rush of overwhelming dread today. It’s not like my normal waves of panic when I have too many tasks before me, or when I have decisions to make for the future. This feels exhausting, frightening and sad – fearful of the days ahead, exhausted by the idea of making it through yet another week, sad that this hasn’t gone away.

The thing is, it’s fleeting. I might stop and think to myself “Another week of living this life until Thursday?” And then I’m back at the table, working on the computer. And I’m thankful for that. It’s just so intense in that moment of distress. It feels so strong and definitive.

I have been in a good place in a while, but I still feel exhausted by the prospect of life. Every day, even without clinical depression, takes energy, drive, and a lot of forced action against maladaptive habits. I fight rational and irrational fears from the morning when I wake up to when I lie in bed hoping to fall asleep. I don’t feel sorry for myself. Now that the medical depression is gone, I know that in due time, feelings pass, and if I allow it, so do my thoughts.

But every so often, I wonder if I have what it takes to make it. Is this week going to be like last? Is that good enough? What if it’s better, or what if it’s worse? What will that mean for the week after that? I felt this when I was clinically depressed, but in a much deeper, darker, and devastating degree.

So often in recovery, people tell you to take things day by day. When I was first starting out it felt like hour by hour, task by task. But now I feel the need to look at the week. And I’m being asked to make decisions in two weeks about something four months from now. If you asked me four months ago if I would be where I am today, I would have had no clue. So how am I to make a rational choice about four months from now when I have no idea where I will be, how I will feel, or who I will have become?

It’s such a weird feeling to dread the week ahead while at the same time feeling like I’m wasting the limited time I have on earth. I panic sometimes that all this work is for nothing. Will I work this hard and tragedy will strike and ruin me? Will my medications stop working? Will I push myself just a step too far and fall back down the steps of my progress to the very bottom? What if one day I stop progressing? Or worse, what if after all this work to find hope and seek moments of contentment, I just don’t wake up, or get hit by a car, or any number of things that happen to so many on a daily basis.

For so long I craved to leave this world. I had resigned myself to never getting better, my fire of hope was completely out. All of my dreams and fantasies felt like mean illusions – mocking me, taunting me, showing me what I would never have. And now, with life-changing decisions before me, I find myself timid. Or maybe just terrified to face the world outside. Out there, more decisions and their possibilities lie in wait.

Everyone keeps telling me they see me at a place where they feel safe for me, where they trust I can begin to live the life I have missed for so long. And I have tried so hard to gain that trust and understanding. But my fear of failure hangs above me, constantly threatening. And I know if I fail this time, no one will believe I could get back up. Especially myself.

The dichotomy in my head of both dreading and fearing (with excitement) the future is so odd to me. Everyone around me trusts me, but why can’t I? They believe in me, they see something there, but I can’t see it, I can’t feel it. I look in the mirror waiting to see the girl I believed was hiding behind the depression but my face stays the same. I have done so much and yet what if tomorrow I can’t or worse, what if I don’t want to? And how can each day seem like a challenge to become more whole, and at the same time seem like an exhausting future I don’t want to carry? And why, after more than a year, am I still asking the same fucking questions?

This will pass. I have thankfully learned that my emotions and thoughts do change. Even if I have them for a week, they can be changed, either naturally or by forced action. I just felt scared and exhausted by the notion of the days ahead. It’ll pass. I know it will.

To Wallow or Not to Wallow: That is Today’s Question

 

 

82ff-dv191006-resized

I looked up images for “wallow” and this came up. Honestly, that doesn’t look so bad, but evidently there are different meanings for wallow. If I had to choose, I’d pick this one. He looks like he’s at a fucking spa. Seriously, is he smiling?

I’m having a shitty morning. I’m having a shitty morning because I am having a shitty morning. Fucking cyclical bullshit.

I want to tell my psyche, “you can’t surprise me anymore. i know what happens. i know the warning signs. i know what you’re going to try and catastrophize, until i ruminate myself into a ball in the corner. seriously, find some new shit if you want to pull me down.”

But it’s tricky. No matter how much I know what is happening, I can’t seem to always stop it. I mean, I’m trying, but sometimes circumstantial shit makes it even harder to fight and makes giving up seem so much easier and less exhausting.

Circumstantial: When I was in London, I walked A LOT. Mostly, because I got lost, but regardless, I wasn’t wearing proper shoes, especially for cobblestone and I sprained my ankle. Since I have been home, I have had a rash all over my body (totally stress-related and now just comes out in small areas like my hands or my neck though I did fuck with one and now it’s infected); a sore in my mouth, (also stress related but painful as a motherfucker and annoying); I pulled something in my left wrist, and now I think because I’m overusing my right one, it’s starting to hurt. I feel like my body is crapping out on me, and it’s just making things harder because it’s preventing me from blocking my kryptonite of depression and anxiety – exercise.

Exercise helps me in so many ways, and I don’t mean in raising my  endorphins or whatever the fuck internal shit it’s supposed to do. I hate writing that because I hate when people say it. When I couldn’t get out of bed and people were telling me to just talk a 10 minute walk every day, I wanted to tell them to take their own advice and walk the fuck away. But the truth is, as much as I hesitate to admit it and perhaps prove those people right, it helps me. Exercise makes me breathe. It makes me sweat. It makes me feel like I’m burning calories which makes eating less frightening or guilt-providing. It tires me out, gets me out of my head mostly, and it takes up a large part of my day. It makes me feel more confident and so I’m more likely to face tasks that cause me anxiety. I might hate it every time I stand outside the gym, but I am so grateful on the way out, no matter how shitty the workout.

But I can’t fucking work out. I can’t spin or even walk outside because I’ll exacerbate my ankle. I can’t do arm weights, because my wrists are useless. I could maybe do a core exercise or two, but seriously, at that point, it’s not going to raise my heart rate, and it’s certainly not worth getting into spandex for.

But I am going stir crazy and am terrified of falling into an old cycle. This happened in the past: I would stay home one day and then couldn’t leave the house the next. Two became three days and then it would have been a week and each day I just felt worse – mentally weaker, dirtier, grosser, less in shape, less confident, more in my head.

Part of DBT is to practice opposite action especially when you are feeling an emotion that does not support the facts. This would mean that I would get in the shower, get in my car and go run errands. I would take my computer to a coffee shop so I was out around people to do my work. I would force myself to do the things I didn’t want to do and in doing so, change my emotions through my actions. (It’s a practice clearly, so you win some you lose some but you still try.)

I can feel my internal selves fighting with each other – one running through things I can do to shake it off, get back in the swing, work around my problems, make my therapist and DBT coach proud. The other isn’t as bad as my previous demons. It’s like demon-lite. It’s just some cranky little kid who is having a tantrum – focusing on everything that’s unfair, not going well, catastrophizing my ultimate future, crossing its’ arms, pouting its’ mouth, and telling me to shut it with that positivity crap and leave her alone in the corner to pity all the work she has done and how failure was inevitable. I think she actually is calling me a worthless chump. Kids say the darndest things.

My normal instinct is to just put on a hat and get in the car. Sometimes if I can just do one thing, it helps set off a chain reaction of movement and action. But it’s been a few days and I’m a little beaten down. I’m going to try and shower and relook at my list. If I can get out early enough, I might be able to do just a few things so I’m not in the house the entire day. I’m trying to take deep breathes and convince myself that this will pass. I will try and tell myself: I will not gain all 65 pounds back in a week; I will not spiral into a deep suicidal depression; I will eventually leave the house and get back to work in trying to improve and strengthen myself; I have not ruined all of the work I have done and I will get back on track. My brain will stop having mini-panic attacks with thoughts flying through my head of things I have to do, decisions I have to make, self-esteem blows, larger unanswered questions about life. This too shall pass. (Ugh, I fucking hate that expression too. It can go ahead and pass me by with its’ contrite simplicity.)

Ok. So: breathe and take a shower. I’m going to start there. Then we’ll see what I can salvage and what I can’t. Wish me luck.

Those With Mental Health Disorders Need Not Apply

b1ajx

I know it looks like a ghostbuster, but it’s actually one of my bone marrow cells.

 

 

I’m one of those people who selfishly likes to help people because it gives me a high. Especially when it’s so simple and doesn’t require things I don’t have…like money.

In DC, I gave platelets bi-monthly to a Children’s Hospital. The staff was amazing, and it felt so good to know I was helping someone just by sitting for 80 minutes. I don’t mind needles and it turns out I have a naturally high level of platelets, so it worked out well for all of us. Since I have been home, I have tried to give blood but have had difficulty because (I’m resisting a tirade,) there have been difficulties finding my veins.

My philosophy for giving is that so many people can’t give, so if you can help save someone’s life, that’s an amazing thing to do, and there’s no good reason not to. So I give for those who can’t. (And this includes those with phobias – I do not look down on anyone for that – we all have our reasons.)

So, I’ve been on the bone marrow registry since 2010. Bone marrow is a really fucking hard thing to match. Most people never get contacted or actually make it through the whole process. They emailed me a few days ago to let me know I might be a potential match! I was so fucking stoked. I’ve felt so useless these past few years, and this would be so incredible. A good friend of mine died of Hodgkin’s – she was one of the bravest, kindest people I have ever known and she was going to make such an impact on this world. If I could save the life of someone else who was loved and needed on this planet, it was worth the least I could do.

This morning, I filled out the health questionnaire. There wasn’t any information on there like: “if you have the following conditions, take the following medications, etc, you cannot give.” So I got so excited because I got good blood – I mean, it doesn’t mean I’m a match, but I know I’m healthy. I watched all the videos on donating and yeah, it’s not a walk in the park. But it’s temporary and definitely overrides possibly saving someone’s life. I wanted to call to just ask a simple question about why they do mostly blood processes and not take the liquid from the hip.

While on the phone, the woman decides we might as well go through my questionnaire. We were going through my medications, and the second I said bipolar II, her voice changed. (No one knows what it is, I really just need to say depression.) So I go into panic mode, which means I talk way too much, and try to explain that I’m doing really well, and even my psychiatrist could attest to it, and I’m going to school in the fall and I can hear her typing all this. I tell her about the ECT, (I don’t know, she asked about any procedures and I figured it didn’t matter since it was years ago and on my brain.) She didn’t know what it was but when I said “electro-convulsive therapy” I’m pretty sure she was imagining Frankenstein. I’m not sure, but there was a really long silence on the phone.

And as we’re talking, I casually mention that on the videos people complained about the inconvenience with work but how great was it, because I didn’t work right now so I could be there whenever they wanted. She asked if I was just hanging out looking for work and I explained that I’m trying to start volunteering and living on my own and taking care of myself, but I’m on disability. Silence. “Medical disability?” “Well, short term disability – I mean the goal is to get off of it soon, that’s the direction I’m headed.” “Well that’s just great for you. But you can’t give if you’re on medical disability.” So I try bargaining – my psychiatrist could call them to assure them that I am mentally able to handle this. I told her I understood liability but I would sign a waiver. I imagine they assume if you’re fucked in the head the stress could give you a nervous breakdown, someone could point out that I am on disability ,and they could get sued. (It should be noted that this really should be on the form before I get all excited. Something like: “don’t apply if crazy in any way. yeah, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a good candidate, but mental shit scares us.” I’m just rapping here.)

Oh, and by the way, and this might be presumptuous of me, but I have a feeling if I actually was a match for someone and they told them “hey, so just so you know, this girl has depression and is on disability” I’m guessing they’d still take my cells.

But this is what really pisses me off. She tells me that she will do me a favor and not take me off the list, but she’s going to put that I am an invalid donor who should not be used, and I should call back when I’m off disability and she will take the disclaimer off. I’m branded from giving my stem cells to someone who is dying of an auto-immune disorder or blood cancer because the government gives me shit money monthly. I’m branded because I’m not “normal.” The funny thing is, when I signed up in 2010, when I was working but clinically depressed and super fucked up, it probably would have stressed me out more to give and impacted my mental health.

I was so angry, then sad, and then ashamed – then angry again that someone made me feel ashamed. Maybe I could have lied and told them I just wasn’t working – even that would have been better to them. Which is also funny because when I wasn’t working and not on disability, I was suicidal. You decide who in this situation is healthier mentally to give. Then I got angry and then sad again.

Because as I’m sure most of you can attest to, this isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with this. Whenever I decide to tell them about my mental disorder or that I’m not working, or on disability, especially that I’ve had ECT (I usually don’t,) you can see their faces change, their tone of voice shifts, last week someone literally took a step back. I can watch their image of me change in real time. Now I’m not the funny, smart girl with the nice smile who is being helpful and goofy. I’m the funny girl who might lash out, or start crying, or who had to get electrocuted because she was so mentally deranged. All of my positive qualities are invalidated because of my non-transferable disease.

People tell me I should wait and meet someone a few times before I tell them. I get why, but it’s so fucking unfair! I wouldn’t have to wait until the third date to tell someone I had had cancer or diabetes. I don’t have an STD; you can’t contract depression from me. And you know what else? It shouldn’t matter! I’m still the same fucking person from five seconds before you knew. If anything, I think I’m a better person for having gone through this – I’m stronger, more empathetic, my emotional intelligence is through the roof. So fuck them. I know, I know. They’re uneducated and ignorant. They’re missing out. If someone really loves me, they won’t care. But it still really hurts.

Look – I get that I might have been months into the process and turned out I wasn’t a match anyway. And maybe on a date it’s good to know the person is a douche early on. But they made me feel tainted and unwanted. And I just wanted to help someone, to add value to the world, to make some sort of difference.

I want to say fuck them. But the truth is, they really do need people. So I’m still going to say that all of you should register to be a possible donor if you can. Just go to http://www.bethematch.org and sign up…unless you’re on disability or take lithium or are diabetic or have a blood disease – then I guess we’ll just have to find another way to help. Maybe by telling people to sign up, this is the way I can help. Just know I’m not doing this for the organization. I’m doing this for the people who are dying and need our help.

And as for the stigma, I don’t know. I battle with being proud and being ashamed multiple times throughout the day. I struggle with whether to tell the truth or make up some bullshit excuse every time I meet someone. I know I’ve written about this before but I still don’t know what to do. I know it’s why I’m so fucking lonely and have no friends. Which is a shame because I’m definitely fucked up, but I am fun to have around at parties.

Even if “it is what it is…” what it is, is bullshit, and it needs to change. Who would like to manage that project? Anyone? Anyone?