What is this Thing Called Bliss?

What do you see when you think of your bliss? When I first read this I could think of nothing. My depression weighing me down, holding my thoughts behind the fogged and smeared glass of my mind. I tried to see out to something clearer when I remembered something that happened this past weekend. It was something that made me realize how close I could have come to losing everything I have, my home and family, and how easily that could have been.
My younger daughter was cooking and splattered some oil into the fire which caused the fire to rear into a huge fireball. The whole scenery frightened her greatly and she was going to spray water on to it when I stopped her. Luckily she had turned the flame off and the fire burned out. My daughter has long hair and always has some item of clothing hanging off of her though I tell her repeatedly not to cook with anything near a flame. She also cooks on a high flame, acts as if she is always in a hurry, and turns a deaf ear to all my teachings about safety. This time she saw and felt the effects of her actions. Fear can be a greater teacher than words unfortunately. Luckily for her she didn’t burn herself, just scared herself.
But it made me realize if it had been a worse case scenario and there had been a fire just how difficult it would have been to get everyone out of my house. My father is disabled with dementia and I can’t get his wheelchair through the door at all. I would have to drag him on a blanket, if I could move him at all. It’s not a nice thought to entertain.
So, when I think of bliss I think of what could I lose. I think of my daughters. True, they’ve driven me crazy through the years but it could be reciprocal and I think of my siblings and father. Depression makes me think they wouldn’t miss me but I know that’s not true. I care for my father and keep the household functioning (though some days I wonder how I manage this). I’ve lost my husband but I have his memories. The sadness I feel can’t take away my family or memories. My bliss is all of this.

Up and Down

Each day when I wake up I don’t know how I will feel so I started off this week meaning to be as positive as my mind would allow. Monday wasn’t too bad. Since my brother returned home from work early and started his vacation for the week it gave me the chance to do something for myself.

Studies talk about how nature is good for mental health and is a stress reliever so, after a break in the rain the dim sunlight drew me outside for a walk at the nearby park. I haven’t been there in many months and I was surprised to see how the scenery had changed because of beaver damage to the stream-side trees. My walk continued through the wetlands to see ducks and other birds all of which I felt like I hadn’t seen in many years. Before I knew it I was crying. I was crying because of ducks….crying because I haven’t taken a walk with the ducks in so long and I’m so screwed up. But I continued to walk until I felt better and walked the entire trail. When I returned I felt good and was able to spend the remainder of the day up, feeling somewhat manic but not out of control.

Unfortunately, what goes up must go down. The last two days I have been so far down I don’t know if there’s a bottom. Yesterday was worse than today so I am hoping that tomorrow I’ll feel better. Maybe the pendulum swung so far to the manic side that it had to swing the other way and now it is swinging back. Honestly, yesterday I felt so depressed that I considered overdosing on pills. Suicide is not something I normally fixate on because I am a caregiver but the depression was so bad that I wanted to just go away. I wanted to feel nothing. Then I switched to thoughts of drinking again and decided to go to the liquor store. I figured the vodka would be my friend again and I could just drink everything away. I even walked out the front door but suddenly I stopped. I didn’t want vodka to be my friend again. In fact I didn’t want anyone to be my friend so I went back into the house and just sat there and cried.

Obviously I have made a mistake by going off of my anti-depressant. I never knew it was masking so many emotions. I had wanted to feel something too. I was tired of being in a fog but I can’t live like this.  Experiencing mixed state bipolar disorder is absolutely the worse thing I’ve ever felt. For those who don’t know, a mixed state is when someone feels both depressed and the effects of mania at the same time. I’m not referring to the happy, fun state of mania but the irritable and trapped in a cage feeling of mania. The agitation combined with the depression and crying is wearing at me considerably. And by coming out of a fog I realize that my life really isn’t worth much of anything. I don’t mean to say that I’m not worth something to others but I feel worthless to myself. I feel like I am a caregiver and that’s it. I don’t feel like a mother anymore and I lost my identity as a wife. I feel so empty that I don’t know what to do with myself throughout the day anymore. I’m just a prisoner of my life.

For the time I am existing moment to moment until this passes. I’m trying not to think about what I will do tomorrow or the day after because I find it too depressing. Just trying to hang in there until I can talk to my pdoc and see if I can get on another medication. I’ve given up on ever being anything other than medicated.

A New Week

I’m looking forward to the coming week with a positive attitude and a tiny bit of trepidation. I’m going to be facing a NEW me. A NEWchemical” me. And honestly I’m scared to death but I can feel positive too. I’ve said recently that I’m trying to recreate the old me and even while typing it I realize how silly that sounds. We can’t reclaim an old me because we are constantly growing and changing. So, this week I am attempting to be positive again (I have tried before) and since I am minus the Risperidone now I want to see what is going to happen to me. I decided I wasn’t going to wait a whole month to see my P-doc before some changes take place. So, the last few days I tapered off my pills and stopped them last night. I didn’t sleep well though. It’s probably a reversal of when I first started taking them and they gave me insomnia. I just want to reconnect with myself again and instead of thinking I’m crazy and making a big mistake which is some of the negative chatter in my  mind, I just want to get back to the original two drugs I had been on so long, the Topamax and the Depakote. Those are my base line drugs and I can work from there again.

Yet, there are two sides fighting right now. I’m not really sure what I am doing nor why I am doing it. I have an idea that I want to go off of these medications because I gained weight and I was unhappy but I’m scared too. I’m afraid of myself and what I have become in the last year and a half. I’m definitely not the person I used to be. I used to be the decision maker all of the time. I was a strong person, confident to the point of being crazy. If someone messed with me I was convinced I could take on that person and three more. Now I dread all decisions and barely want to go outside anymore. I used to go hiking by myself every weekend, take my camera and do my photography. Now I only go out if a relative takes me out. I hate to be alone. I want to be the person I used to be again. It’s as if I am afraid of feeling emotions and if I stay in my house locked up I won’t feel anything. If I go out alone, then I only hear my own voice and my own sadness. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I want to be happy again and move on but I am stuck in the past.

So, I want to try to convince myself that tomorrow and the day after that, etc. will be a good day. I have to try. Of course I will have set backs but I have to think forward to something good and not feel that I can’t do it. I am a strong person. I have proven that. I remind myself that outside influences, like my father’s behavior (which he can’t help) will not deter me from being happy. The never-ending darkness of the afternoon sky WILL NOT depress me nor the cloudy days because the sun hides behind the clouds, it is not gone only hidden. Just remember to not listen to the noise in my head when the days are bad and I should be fine. Everything should turn out okay. Tomorrow will be a perfect Monday.

Maybe

questions

I’m not doing well. I have to force myself to get through each day. If you know what that feels like you know that it really tears at you. If you don’t, then I hope you never do.  It’s an ache that won’t go away, that spreads from my brain to my heart. I know if I do anything , even this typing until it passes, then I will have made it for this moment and I will just hang on until the next one comes. I want so badly to not have the next one come though. Maybe I need to go back on my Sertraline. Maybe I shouldn’t have come out of the fog I was in. There are too many maybes. Maybe I should try another medication, something different. I’m scared that there is nothing that will help me and I will feel like this always. I don’t know what I’d do. I wanted so badly to be off some of these medications and have some control of my life like before. Maybe I should take “BEFORE” and have a formal banishment from my mind. Can one do that? I don’t think so. I keep thinking of the past and how good it was. But a voice chimes in…”if it was so good, why did you drink?”  (shut up voice) Maybe this is a test to see if I can handle adversity. To this point I have been able to handle anything laid before me, obviously. I am still here kicking. So, why does my pea-brain like to derail and get all weepy and psychotic on me??   Well, I suppose because I am weepy (menopausal and grieving) and psychotic.   **BIG SIGH **    I have come to the conclusion that I am still depressed though and maybe I should still be on some kind of antidepressant or have my other medications tweaked.

Too bad my pdoc is out of town for awhile and I won’t be seeing him until mid-January. It’s always like that, isn’t it. Well, I suppose I could play around with them myself but I stopped doing that awhile ago. I know I could go back on the Sertraline but that seems like I failed if I do. Excuse me while I stand here and beat myself with a stick….ouch* ooch* ouch*…. That’s another thing I wonder a lot about, where does this propensity to suffer come from. Why do I always feel like I should do without? Is this something that we all tend to do or is it another way of hurting myself? At least by writing I’m feeling better. So, if there are lots of ridiculous and meaningless posts it’s only because I’m trying not to go off the deep end, bear with me, thanks. And if you’re suffering from depression and your meds work, what are you taking (if they don’t put you in a fog). I’ve considered trying Wellbutrin because I haven’t tried that in 19 years. Supposedly it acts as a stimulant so gaining weight isn’t as common as other meds. I’m not sure I even care now though. I think I’d rather be overweight and feel sane than skinny and anxiously manic. Then again…..will anything MAKE me happy or am I just looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

In my last posting I mentioned briefly about my awakening from the murky depths of the Sertraline haze and how nice that felt. Well, it still feels good but it comes with a little baggage. A symptom that had been hidden is showing itself again. That symptom is anxiety and it likes to show up in the evening. I wondered if it’s because that is when I have a little break in my activities or when the sun sets so early now. ( I really dislike the darkness too). I get this feeling of impending doom and feel incredibly lonely.

I’ve been thinking would it help to get myself more involved in society. At this time I am not involved socially with the “outside” world. I go to stores when I need things but I am not socially active at all. If I do go somewhere, I go alone or I go with a family member. I still have friends from years past but I don’t see them regularly and I really don’t keep in touch with the exception of “liking” their status on Facebook or leaving a comment. So, it leaves me wondering how do I get involved and should I?
I could go somewhere on a weekend but only if I felt like it. Then there’s the decision of where to go and how much time to spend and do I really want to. What if I don’t like them? Although I’m not really that hard to please but I am afraid of getting tongue-tied because I do tend to trip over my words now. Is this just a passing phase because the days are so short and I’m beginning to feel incredibly lonely by myself. It dawned on me today that I really am alone but I’m not sure what that means to me deep inside. On one hand it’s a little scary to have only me as a friend. My brain is known to play tricks. But on the other hand maybe I’m not alone and I just need to reach out and “ask for help” look.
I already feel I’m not alone on a spiritual level just to clear the air but I’m not quite there when it comes to living totally without some kind of companionship.
I’m not even thinking about the future in regards to finding a future boyfriend/soulmate (whatever he would be called at my age). I don’t feel the draw towards that at all right now. I believe that will happen spontaneously or not at all. I don’t have the type of personality (as in open and trusting) to try a dating service so I would probably just meet someone while doing a hobby or a job. That is how I met my dear husband, through work.
Maybe I should start watching sports on TV then I would have something in common.  Most people I know are into football, basketball, and hockey. I only know about baseball. I never watched the others when my husband was alive and I really wasn’t much of a fan. I did like hockey though when I was younger. I just feel like it involves so much emotional and physical energy and the pay-off isn’t very good. I’d rather go for a walk than sit on a coach and yell at a TV screen.
Also I’ve stopped drinking, so the social drinking part of socializing is over. I suppose I could drink water but it would be a temptation. But I’m pretty strong when I want to be. I’m really not sure where I fit into today’s standards of socializing. I feel lost. I can’t eat out either because of my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I suppose all of this isn’t that unusual for a person with a mental illness either.
It has caused me some anxiety lately too. All of this thinking about the future and what should I be doing. Of course, being here in my house all week with my father can cause me to go stir crazy now that its standard time again and cold weather settles in. I can’t even step outside without freezing.

Maybe all my anxiety comes from worrying too much about what I should be doing? Does anyone else have this problem? Does this all stem from over thinking the situation. Perhaps the Sertraline buried that part of my personality and now it is back. This all could be tied into my OCD too. I don’t know. How does everyone else handle the long winters and the long nights? I’d hate to have to go back on the medication again. I’d like to see if I can find alternative ways to combat the anxiety and mania that stems from this time of year. We’ll see.

Anxiety in the Evening

Dear Dr. PDoc

I’m happy today because I have to see my pdoc and I’m trying very hard to be happy. Usually I’m not happy and I am anxious. Today will be different. I think the doctor deserves a break from me and my insanity. Maybe I will go in there and start laughing hysterically. No, I’ve done that already. So what, who says I can’t do it twice? When I saw my therapist last week I confessed to her that I had been telling teeny tiny white lies about being sober when I wasn’t being sober but now I have been sober since going off of the Sertraline. The only problem is my pdoc doesn’t know yet and I’m not sure if she slipped him an email telling him or not. They’re always slipping little emails to each other so I can’t get away with any mischief at all. AACK!! But I will come clean to him too, I just will have to squirm around about it because I do feel bad about lying. I never tell lies unless they are to my children and will protect them from harm or protect me from embarrassment from something I did as a teenager or something. So, I want to be happy though because my pdoc is going away for three weeks or so and usually I don’t care but when doctors tell me they are leaving on vacation I always feel abandoned. My brain starts yelling, “What do you mean you’re leaving? What happens to me when you’re gone?” I get all panicky and think its the end of the world and surely a tree will fall on me in the forest. Of course I know he’ll have a back-up pdoc but my stupid brain will still go through it’s PTSD dance of panic and the logical side of the brain will try to act all cool and non-caring like “oh, good, I hate you anyway” and turn the whole appointment into a manic mixed up, stressed out, insanity filled thirty minutes (!) of fun. Hopefully he treats me kindly about the drinking too and realizes that I am crazy and if I was sane I wouldn’t have been drinking in the first place and wouldn’t even be going there.

And, oh, yes,…… did I fail to mention that I cut back on some of my other medications that you prescribed too. OOOPSIE……. well, only a little bit. I cut back on that Depakote that you increased recently and I cut back on the Resperidone by 1/2 a tablet. Can I help it that I want to lose some weight and these medications are guaranteed to make a person gain 90 lbs. a years?? At least I didn’t stop taking them just cut them back a little. It’s quite amazing the awakening I’ve had by stopping the Sertraline though. It’s as if I’ve been at the bottom of a murky pond looking upwards towards the top. I could see the top of the water and the whole time I’ve been holding my breath. Slowly I’ve been making my way to the surface of the water and now finally I have broken through and can breathe again. It’s amazing. I hope he sees how important this is to me and doesn’t just view it all as a bunch of mindless rambling which it may come out as, especially when it’s mixed with maniacal laughing….hahahaha. But, that’s what happens when I’m happy. Got to love it!

Ego I Am

Last night I tried to calm myself by reading. I am currently reading a book by Deepak Chopra called ‘The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment‘. As I started chapter two I came upon words that suddenly were aimed directly at me. I could feel the words striking me and sinking to my very core. I felt almost as if I was under a microscope. I had to remind myself that many people have read and will be reading this book. It also was exciting to know that someone was describing how I felt.
Anyway, this chapter discusses finding your true self-esteem. This is not the same as your self-image but what lies beyond images. Self image is when we identify with external things. We seek outside people or objects and think they’ll be happy. Or when we wait for someone to tell us how good we look so we’ll feel better. I have been unhappy lately because I’ve put on weight and I feel like everyone has noticed and is talking about me. So this is me confusing myself with my self-image.
Your true being has nothing to do with what others think and has no limitations. My true being wouldn’t care if I weighed five hundred pounds, it would be happy anyways. But I’m too busy listening to something else. And that something is my ego. The ego is very insecure. It is addicted to approval, control, security, and power. That’s me in a nut shell. I love approval on one hand but am ashamed of it too because I don’t know how to accept it. Control is my big issue. I must feel in control at all times or my mind will lose it. Security to me means I can relax and not feel anxious. Power is something mysterious but I think I obtain it from being in control; even if it is fantasy related.

This is what Deepak Chopra says about ego. See if you don’t relate to this:
If you want to know how strongly you identify with your ego as opposed to your true being, there’s no mystery about it. The ego has the opposite qualities from the five we described before. The ego feels isolated and alone. Therefore it needs outside validation in order to belong and have worth. The ego feels limited and bounded. Without power and control over others, it fears that its helplessness will be exposed. The ego prefers routine and habit over creativity. It finds security in making today the same as the day before. The ego fears the unknown more than anything else. This is because it sees the unknown as a place of darkness and emptiness. The ego struggles to get what it wants. It assumes that without struggle, its needs would never be fulfilled; this reflects a deep sense of inner lack.

Chopra, Deepak (2009-10-28). The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment (p. 49-50). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

I really found this fascinating on one hand and frightening on the other because I realized that I am a complete nut job. No, I’m just kidding. I realized that I could work on this by being aware of myself more than I was doing. It’s not going to be easy because I am addicted to so many of the things that the ego stands for. Control especially. But I can try to help myself. What have I got to lose?