Depressed, not depressed.

When will I learn that circumstance does not make for depression?! Exacerbate it, perhaps. It fuels, aids and abets depression but it is not depression – it is not misery and thus when circumstance is gone it does not take misery with it…

I am not within a depressive episode to rival all that have come before; not even close. But I am not happy either. I am lonely, numb and yet morose. I am tired. I know that I don’t need to be happy all the time – that in itself would not be a normal temperament but I would like to find a sense of contentment, I would like to lose this paranoid anxiety that hangs over my head each day. I would like to feel… I would just like to feel.

Mental illness is such an inward thing that it is hard to see when I am truly in need of something and lacking in what I deserve and when the ‘woe is me’ selfish streak of self-pity is rearing its head. I feel unappreciated in so many ways and I give and give and give and feel like there is no two ways to this street. I am giving too much and have less than nothing left, my arms, my heart, my mind are left barren, abused, used, spent… is this real? Or am I simply of the mind-set that the world is against me – it wouldn’t be the first time.

I keep thinking about what my life encompasses. I have good people around me – I am lucky but if you strip my life away I am work and children. If my children were to leave, which they will one day; I am work and nothing more… My life is empty, save the grace of loving and living for my children and eventually I will need to live without the drive that loving and living for them gives me – I can’t imagine I shall even find a reason to leave my bed. Perhaps I should begin to address that sooner rather than later.

I ask myself more and more often why I fight this vicious affliction that is Bipolar disorder. Far simpler to lay down and let it feast upon me.

One day I’ll find a reason for my fight – a reason for me, my soul, my needs and not the world surrounding.

 

It’s a relapse

There are times when you must accept the painful, unwanted and difficult truth. Though it may be tempting to carry on regardless – for oblivion holds less sorrow – there is no health in ignorance.

I moved house a little over a month ago. Around a year ago the end of another in a long line of troubled relationships gave me plenty of fuel for self pity. Then, just before Christmas, money became an issue and I thought I had hit rock bottom and reached the limit of what I could cope with – apparently not though because soon after that situation was resolved, in February, I was told that I would need to move out of the property that I have been living in for six years. I wrote before about the almost ridiculous sense of grief I felt for the loss of this, the only home I had ever really cared about, my sanctuary. I lived there, as an adult, longer than I have lived anywhere and for once I felt no need to run from it.

I wish I could say that I coped well but I did not. Though I am assured that nobody copes well with such occurrences. I tried to find a new home for myself and my children but it appeared nigh on impossible… I had agencies that would not even let me view homes, some that let me apply only to turn me down in favour of a more suitable person. I had agents just not bother to turn up and all of that on top of the crippling anxiety that plagued me in having to do any of these things. I had, as always, a fantastic support network who fought alongside me with a mass of strength, practicality and understanding. I am more grateful than it is possible to convey.

I got so ill and despairing during this debacle; it is the first time in a long time that I have actually felt concerned for my wellbeing; I was not safe in my own company and with no end of circumstance in sight I felt I had no choice but to seek help in coping. Truly I did not realise how dark and dismal my mind was until I sat in my GP’s office and sobbed about suicide and frustration, anger and terror.

My GP offered medication (what else I expected her to do I don’t know) – I have been medication free for around two years now and though I credit medication for a lot of my health – I did not go and pick up the prescription she gave me. I felt that this blip was due to circumstance, that had I not had to break up a relationship, had less than no money for a while and been in the midst of losing my home and facing the potential of homelessness then I wouldn’t feel so despairing – I would be ok, wouldn’t I?

My GP also referred me straight back to a Psychiatrist and I went along to see him fairly quickly. As luck would have it he was a consultant and very helpful. This time I went in with enough knowledge of mental health to offer my own take on what was wrong with me – he listened, I cried, I poured everything out because painful honesty is the only way to go when you need such help. He recommended medication… Though he accepted my argument for this being a circumstantial relapse he also brought concerns that made sense to me; he said that depression can change our brain chemistry and if you let a depressive episode go past a certain point it is much harder to bring the chemicals back to a neutral point. This appealed to my sense of logic and I said I would consider his advice. I came out of the appointment feeling lighter and better than I had in a while. Then, shortly after, a home was found, we moved and all manner of stressful, but essential, tasks were completed without much of a hitch and I decided I didn’t need to consider his advice because I would be ok now – it was done.

So this is it – I have been in my new home for a little over a month now. It is beautiful, spacious, I am familiar with the area and have friends nearby. It is close to my family and the children love it too. So I should be better now? Shouldn’t I? The dust has settled, our things are unpacked and there are no more difficult circumstances to blame – but I’m not ok. If anything I am more unwell than I was before and only getting worse.

I have Bipolar and I have to manage my illness daily but this is a depressive episode, this is a relapse into oblivion. I don’t like the person that I am at the moment; it isn’t me. I am angry and bitter. I am paranoid and insecure and anxiety tortures me daily. My management techniques don’t work and I don’t have the motivation to try harder – I am sinking.

It’s time to face the truth. What may have been circumstantial is not anymore. I need to accept help and the advice of my doctors – though it feels like a great leap backwards, things will never get better if I embrace oblivion.

 

 

Tired

 

I am tired of the sorrow

and the thoughts within my head

Tired of displacement

and words, already said

I am tired of the torrent of miserable news

I am tired of the abhorrent, sickening views

 

If I tire of the sound

What must you feel as you listen

Do you cringe when I’m around

Do you grimace as my eyes glisten

Tears on your shoulder

all tinged with endless pain

Oh how do you bear me

as here I go again

Woe, woe, misery

I cannot stand the sound

Of little drops of despair

As they pitter-patter upon the ground

 

Do you wait for the sunshine?

Is that why I’m still here?

For nothing in this shell of me

Is something to hold dear

The cut and run

I have spoken about the phenomenon that is the cut and run before. It is this habit that I have had, through my years of illness, of simply removing myself whenever a situation got a little too intense. Its a subconscious habit and one that was hard to both recognise and then begin to break.

I first realised a few years ago, whilst going through therapy and taking a hard look at my life, that there was a pattern forming; friendships and relationships never seemed to last any longer than three years, if they even made it that far and then after that they would either dwindle into nothing or I would remove myself completely from them – even moving countries twice and avoiding the aftermath of the end of two relationships. Obviously I didn’t do this on purpose but I do believe it was possibly a self preservation technique and was likely borne from many feelings of inadequacy and a deep fear of abandonment.

Knowledge is always power. Recognising and accepting that I do cut and run has given me the power to begin to combat this behaviour. I have friendships with no sign of ending no matter how hard I might seem to try to destroy them or how self absorbed I might sometimes become. I dealt with the end of a relationship in a healthy way – I was shocked at the aftermath and emotions that came with the end, having never had to deal with picking up the pieces before, but I stayed and I coped and I moved on a bigger and I think, slightly wiser, person. I have a job that I am settled in and there is no desire to run, it has become a safe and comfortable place to be and brings me very little anxiety even in the face of new challenges. I socialise in a more fluid and calm way; I feel less desire to put on a show, I feel no need to perform because I am enough for the people I find myself with.

I have been living in the same home for almost six years. It has been a very happy, healthy home for me. My children have grown from the ages of three and five to eleven and nine in this home. I have healed within these walls and found a sense of peace and health that I thought was lost to me forever. I have laughed, cried and loved and lost and I have met and conquered many milestones here. Now, I have to move and not through choice, but circumstance. My landlords, who are lovely people, are moving back into their flat and so I need to vacate – they gave me a plethora of notice but time is running out and I am getting very ill and not really progressing very far in finding solace from this life circumstance. I feel as though I am grieving the home that is the only home I have lived in by myself, the home I have felt the safest in, a home that has brought me such a wealth of positivity; though I do know how ridiculous it might sound to grieve for a home…

I had, in the past, only ever attributed the cut and run to friendships and relationships but, in dealing with this new situation, I am slowly coming to realise that actually I have been running from all of the intricacies of life. I have never had to deal with finding a new home under a deadline or loving one enough to feel sorrow at it’s loss – I have only ever moved into homes already made with people who were there to take on the responsibility I had no idea was there or no inclination to look for – I have only moved into new homes with established partners or friends who did it all. Even this home I didn’t find, I didn’t call to make an appointment for a viewing, I didn’t search for it, I did nothing … other people did it all. I have always cut and run before things got to the point of ending. I have always been somewhere else, had something to run to.

So here I am. At a pivotal point. I am standing at the end of one adventure, never having made it all the way through one before and instead of the elation I know I will feel once all is right with the world again, I feel despair and I have fallen very far into depression. There is but one place to run and its a choice I will not make and so I am left standing on the precipice of beating the cut and run, in this game at least – though I am sure there will be more games to come…

I know that this is something that we all must deal with. It is not some special evil created to make my life miserable and I am confident that whatever we move on to will be better than what has been but I am finding it very hard to find positivity or the faith that it will all be alright and more than anything I want an end to the continuous battle to be well and to simply find a little peace.

 

 

 

 

Fear to spite its owner

This time last year I was set on a crusade to enrich my life. I was tired of waiting for the future to find me and had decided to reach out and grasp at the potential happiness I felt I could see. Of course, what you think you want isn’t always what is best for us, I put myself out there and I failed; but I also gained so very much. I gained patience, self esteem, a better understanding of what it means to be loved, a closer relationship with my loved ones and a higher standard for who I allow to entwine themselves so deeply into my life and the lives of my children.

I am in a pensive and emotional sort of mood, one that analyses every facet of life, inspects every feeling and prods at my precarious hold to positivity and stability. I am a little cowed by recent events, new experiences and challenges bring panic in the realisation that as my life grows, so diminishes my control on the situations I am faced with and the judgement I must deal with.

When I was just beginning to take control of my mental health I removed all negative influences in my life and kept only a very few people around me, these people I trusted with everything I was – both good and bad. I let nobody else in and though it wasn’t really a fully conscious decision it is obviously one that was pivotal to my debatable success in learning to manage my health. Now; my life is moving forward in great strides and getting a little harder to juggle. With but one or two people of trust there are no secrets, no intrigue, no gossip or foot-in-mouth moments. With few people there’s no awkward clashing of events or excuses and explanations needed. The people I held around me were so trusted that I could tell them anything and receive no judgement but now I must mind my words, I must remember the lessons in social interaction that I have rushed to learn over the past few years and I must listen to my instincts as to who to trust with my most inner-workings; sometimes those instincts will be wrong and my faith will be placed upon someone who will pass judgement and create situations that seem dire and again I am left in a position that is beyond my control and painful to traverse.

How much simpler life was when only my mind created havoc for my soul.

Of course there is some good in embracing new people and experiences and there have been comments from people I have known for some time about how much more sociable, open and easy-going I seem now.

One woman who I met only recently upon finding out (beyond my control) that I have Bipolar commented that she couldn’t believe I had a mental illness because I ‘seemed far too calm and positive for someone with Bipolar’ I wasn’t sure of how I felt about her comments, though written now they seem fairly tame… at the time I was both insulted and pleased, I suppose. Insulted because of the ignorant stigmatic view of Bipolar that she clearly holds… Her comments also made me feel very anxious, would she treat me differently now? Her only reference to Bipolar is a few episodes of Eastenders (which I haven’t seen) where a girl with apparent Bipolar is seen having a breakdown and while I have certainly lived through those devastating stages and may very well one day return to them, I doubt the drama of a soap opera compares to the reality… My fears however were unfounded as she hasn’t treated me any differently at all but I never needed to feel that kind of fear of judgement until I started living again. What risky business it is to be alive. I was also pleased by her comments because I am both of those things now. Calm and positive, but not without considerable effort and thought so if that is how people see me then all this work is not for nothing.

There have been epiphany’s aplenty in recent days and yet more grim acceptance of my flaws. Despite my negative experience in grabbing the bull by the horns and attempting to move life faster than it was willing to go – I am not adverse to moving forward and I refuse to shy away from new experiences, friendships and relationships for fear only spites the owner and I didn’t work this hard to live only to die in other ways.

I cannot control every situation for the rest of my life, I cannot control the actions of others, the judgement they pass or the poisoned words they might spread but I can control how I let those things affect me, how deeply I let them wound and so I am going to continue to be me; I am going to stop feeling the need to hide my more eccentric idiosyncrasies and I am going to move forward with my head held high knowing that those who love me do so unconditionally and that anyone who doesn’t is not worth but a thought let alone my fear.

 

 

She is not her, she is not me…

I haven’t written in a while and when I have written it wasn’t me, not really. I have been avoiding writing because if I write then I must accept and really process that reality and if I accept it, then it is done and there is no power that can undo it – but it is time to face the writing. It is time to be me once again.

I think I got smug in my health, I got too comfortable with being well and I suppose, in all honesty – and with hindsight, that it was a false kind of wellness in the end because no matter how hard I might strive I can’t be the ‘normal’ that people want, that I wanted… The universe serves to remind us of reality and so it has for me once again for my feet are firmly planted on earth once again. When did I forget all that I have learnt? When did I decide it was time to drop all of the management that saved me?

My relationship of a year and half has ended. I don’t want to air my dirty laundry here – this blog has never been for that – and so I won’t share the details. I will say though that he is not a bad person and nor am I and that I have faith that he will turn his life around and become the magnificent man I know he can be. I’ll tell you that I love him very much but that love simply wasn’t enough right now and so the painful decision was made to end things and move forward. I have been trying to remind myself that relationships end for people every day this pain is not some private one created solely for me and that my hurt is not so much to bear, that this is life, this is reality and its never what any of us wants but it happens… where is the line between genuine ‘normal’ pain of the loss of something and the melodrama and extreme of Bipolar disorder? Emotions are so hard to fathom…

I always strive to take lessons from everything that life throws my way – I feel that I have become a bigger and better person for all of the things I have been through and that if you choose to see life in that way and to avoid bitterness and hate then you can truly find a happiness that others miss… but I must confess that I am finding it difficult to find my lesson from all of this self-inflicted mess and I have been wracking my brains looking for it. Though, writing always makes things seem a little clearer and I think I see now that this was my warning to slow down, that I had fallen into my frequent trap of looking for perfection; striving for that family unit that I seem to think is ‘normal’… this experience has taught me that the family life, traditions and everyday fun that me and the kids have is pretty near perfect in itself and that its going to take something pretty special to blend into that. It has shown me that what is really important is us three and feeling happy, comforted and cared for. It has shown me that I have created a pretty awesome family environment for my children already – they feel secure in my love and really that is all I have ever wanted…

So I’m hurting again and I feel as though I have messed up. I have hurt and let down some people that are very close to me and I will bear the consequences of that. I have shaken the already shaky financial foundation from under my feet and I will also deal with the ramifications of that particular bout of stupidity… I have neglected my health, I have neglected my very self… She is not her, she is not me… But no dwelling and no wallowing in the misery of what I have done and what I have not – no more punishing myself for not fulfilling some destiny that I have decided is imperative to my being.

No more. The lesson I take from this and will plaster all over my stubborn brain and broken heart is that I AM ENOUGH. I am enough, I am enough, I am enough…

This time will pass and I will work hard to find my level ground, I will rebuild what I have broken and she will be me once again.

I’m not OK, but I will be.

Well if you wanted honesty…

Hello my faithful old friend. It has been a while.

Life changes so quickly and yet progress seems hard to find; these past few months have been nothing short of abysmal and yet, not even close to the worst things have been – I suppose that is what I must remember when feeling as though my life and my progress are sliding backwards into the hungry maw of doom; things have been much worse, much, much worse.

My medication stopped at the end of January and though I can’t blame that for all of this gloom that hangs around me right now – it played its part like a weathered actor, it tore down my every defence; bashed against the walls of my management strategies and spat at the feet of mental health. I have had to learn again and all while my brain does the tango with the ebbing drugs that so soon before had been it’s lifeline and saviour… One might say it has been a rather unpleasant time and one might be understating things by gargantuan proportions.

I, rather naively, thought that the withdrawals would be the worst that I would have to deal with when coming off of my medication and they were dreadful – on the worst day I actually though I was going to die – but the worst of the withdrawals lasted only around a week, after that, though I felt odd, unfocused and generally unwell I could cope with them. It seems obvious now that it would not be the physical but the mental side of things that would bring me such trouble and despair… hasn’t it always been that way oh brain of mine? Haven’t you always made me suffer?

I use an app on my phone to chart my moods – I’ve done it for a while because it can be so difficult, whilst living and functioning, to stay mindful enough to recognise the swinging pendulum of moods that can be my downfall until it’s too late and by then I’m too far into an episode to heal and bring myself back from the brink. Before I leapt into life without medication I had reached a spree of middle ground type moods – my swings were fewer and there were less peaked moods. My charts looked clean and healthy… since stopping my medication the charts have been feverish; great peaks and troughs; spikes of anxiety and paranoia lace the pages and my life grows ever more unstable. Until, this month – or rather these last two weeks… Now, I can start to see my moods calming and though things still feel desperate, dismal and dark I can finally start to see the faint glimmer of hope shining on the horizon… I promised I would be O.K. regardless and I will; because I fight, because I am trying whether you see it or not, whether you believe it or not. My progress may not look like much from the outside but on the inside I wage a war to rival all wars, a battle to end all battles, it is a race for health, a dash for sanity…

And sometimes remarkable things happen when you show what you can do and who you can be and then stumble for a while – the people who you fought so hard to convince the first time round – the ones who were unsure anything was wrong with you, the ones who, though you didn’t see it at the time, fought alongside you – they believe this time and they become the strength at your back, urging you on because they see it now – they understand now that this shell of a human is not you – your potential is much greater. So, though we stumble and regress and end up in the waters of oblivion once again – now, we have a hand to hold, a tether to the real world, a lifeline… mine is my mum – without her, I would not be here; I owe her a lot… and could there be more fitting a day to tell her than this, mother’s day?

So yes, life is not so good right now, decisions must be made and outcomes fought for. I am in a limbo – awaiting the correct paths to take and hoping all of this despair and anguish is happening for a reason. But whether there is light or darkness surrounding me, I see the sparks of hope and where there are sparks, there shall soon be fire.

A new chapter…

Perhaps one of the biggest changes I made to my life when learning to cope with my Bipolar disorder was to release all the negativity I held within me. I set about slowly chipping away the negative influences in my life and I worked hard to replace each dark thought with one filled with light. This isn’t always an easy thing to do but the old adage is certainly true, you receive what you put into the universe. Yesterday, as I was on my way to work, the air was so spring-like and it was delightful. The old me, would have missed instances like that. I would have been too far within my own head to realise that the timid sun was beating down, I wouldn’t have noticed the deliciously fresh, cold and crisp air; and in turn I would have missed the very thing that brought me back from the brink of insanity once again… My medication has now stopped entirely. I have been on many medications throughout this journey of mine but the only one that seemed to stabilise me was Venlafaxine and so all of the others were slowly discontinued – it is different for everyone so I would never deign to belittle or even to recommend a certain medication. For me, Venlafaxine gave me the time to learn my illness, it halted symptoms that hindered my ability to function, it kept me alive… and now I need to learn to live without this crutch of medication to hold me steady. I am not afraid of living life without medication. I have developed so much as a person, I have management techniques now, I have strategies to keep me going, I talk more – about anything and everything because an externalised problem is far easier to cope with than one kept hidden inside, festering. This time is a difficult one though and I am not too proud to admit that I am struggling. My Venlafaxine was reduced slowly over this past year, from 225mg right down to 37.5mg… but the withdrawals from this drug are hellish to say the least. Sweats and instances of severe cold, brain zaps and body zaps, headaches, vomiting, panic attacks, irritability, dizziness, tearfulness and even a few rogue suicidal thoughts are among the symptoms I am experiencing right now. I can feel the sickness within my mind – which is rather fascinating as I realise now that it has been there every time I have fallen in to the pit of despair; its a strange sensation – almost as though there isn’t enough room in your head for this pulsating brain inside, I feel this immense pressure as if I were about to explode in a horrific display of blood and gore. I am five days into having no medication and things are starting to ease – I feel dizzy and a little queasy but for the most part the symptoms are subsiding and so I see a light at the end of the tunnel. The important thing is to continue to move. Things are more challenging to deal with now, I have a job, I function as a human being and  no longer reach for the pillow and sleep away my troubles away; though sometimes I really wish I could. I know without a doubt that I will come out of this, victorious. I will battle through this tough time – like I have so many times before and when I emerge it will be as though from a cocoon – I will spread my wings and all life will be a riot of colour; no longer the rage of grey that has plagued my soul. Things seem bleak but I must not dwell on that. I must look at the rays of sunshine, timidly pushing through the overcast sky  – the Venlafaxine that gives me so much pain right now is also the saviour that stopped me from ending my time here. These withdrawals are merely a renewal; they are the making of me and serve to add yet another facet to my character, another layer of wisdom, another layer of knowledge, inevitably making me a better person. And so; though I enter a new chapter, I do it with my head held high because no matter what, I will overcome, I will flourish and I will be ok.

Life is a minefield

I often wonder if its worth it; the eccentricities of everyday. Was life not simpler when all I did was sleep? Why worry my life away in a wakeful torture when my dreams await to soothe my aches and pain…

Now there are fights and battles galore. There are tears and feelings, cuddles and kisses and pain and emotion… There are others to consider when you’re awake to the world and their strategies at coping with the everyday are often different and foreign… It is rather ironic and very like me that I would not give myself long within a world of balance and peace before throwing in a load of noise and disruption to ripple the tides once more.

Is change a good thing? Or should we forever stick to the comfort of the status quo… Does change not enrich our lives and the people we become? Every battle I have fought, every torture that I have overcome has simply draped another layer over the person I am today, given my character another facet, enriched the mind I share here and with every experience, whether turbulent, pleasant, emotional, painful or otherwise; I become a richer version of me.

So again, I ask myself the point of all this… life, living and putting myself through so much change and upheaval… and I suppose the answer is a simple one. It is that there is no living at all in remaining stagnant, standing still… yes it is safe, yes it is comfortable but nothing will ever become anything more than it always was and for me, that will never be enough. There is power in standing alone and independent, strength in finding yourself and learning that you have worth all on your own… These past six years alone have taught me that. But I suppose there is also a great strength in learning to stand beside someone else. Finding that the world will not end should you let go of the reigns for a moment, letting another share in the person that you are to a depth that no other would dare to tread.

Its not all pain and torture in this new world of mine but it will take time to adjust to all that comes with sharing the complicated woman that I am… and then; regardless of the outcome of this new venture, I shall become a better version of me.

Remember, remember

I’m doing well. I have to keep reminding myself of that because when things are hard (as life so often is) and when stress, anxiety or paranoia rears its ugly head; it is difficult to remember that this is not the worst my life has been and these are healthy and ‘normal’ life events. My job is going well, the monotony and routine of it all is healthy for me and I like the people I work with. I thrive most when I am face to face with customers, I love the feeling I get when I can complete a task well and send someone on their way feeling satisfied and content. I have noticed an increase in my paranoia but I’m coping with it fairly well and I’ve put it down mostly to being around so many new people and dealing with so much change within my life. Juggling all of the facets of my life is a little more difficult and often I feel as though I am failing miserably at it. If only I could split myself into a million pieces and experience all that I feel I am missing out on and be there for all of the people I feel I should be. My medication has radically reduced and so far it does not seem to have affected my mood in a long term way; though it does make my moods wobble a little for a while after a change. I am pleased that it is reducing; I didn’t have a diagnosis or the skills that I have learnt within these past couple of years when I was first put on it and so I would like to see how well I manage without it and if it is possible to control my illness without medical intervention. Though I do worry about becoming complacent and letting the management skills I have learnt slip… it would be so easy and almost peaceful to slip into oblivion sometimes. I am proud of all I’ve done for Christmas this year. I have worked hard to get the kids most of what they’ve asked for and so I’m excited to see their reactions when they open everything. It’s certainly a difficult time of year; money is the root of all evil!! but it’ll be worth it to see my babies smile. Am I losing this battle and just don’t know it yet? No matter how well I feel this is the question that constantly hangs over my head; because when illness hits it will not give me a warning and if I fall this time, will I get back up? Will I even want to?