Checklists

So in case you couldn’t tell, last Thursday was pretty damn bad.  I was a disaster most of the day.  Thankfully, Chihiro was right there with me the whole time, sitting on me and purring constantly.  Around five, I finally started to feel it lifting.  I was in one of those places where I didn’t really even have words- I couldn’t talk without sobbing.  I wanted to call people for support but I am pretty sure someone would’ve called the police to have a wellness check done on me, as I don’t think I could’ve held up a conversation if my life depended on it.  I had my Chihiro, though, and things were… ok.

After managing to drag myself out of my chair and do a few things, I posted this to facebook:

Self-care I have managed in the last 48 hours:
-I took off work FMLA today in order to take care of myself since I was in a very dark place and didn’t feel like being certed involuntarily by a coworker
-I have taken all of my medication
-This was aboout 72 hours ago, but I have changed pharmacies to the Walgreen’s right up the road- as much as it hurts to not support a small independent pharmacy, the shipping costs plus the repeated late packages due to they putting on a signature order (despite my repeated pleas not to) have led to me missing doses of medication at least 6 times in the last couple months, along with stretching my already thin budget. As someone who prides herself on her medication compliance, as I know it makes a HUGE difference, which I’ve felt lately. Now I know if I forget to order a refill, I can go get it with very little hassle.
-I have eaten several meals with fruits and vegetables in them that were not soup (since I’m out) and have been meals I cooked by hand (and I am contemplating a potato with broccoli right now, that sounds good)
-I have stayed hydrated and avoided caffeine all day
-I have showered, and plan to brush my teeth before bed, after eating another meal
-I got 4-5 hours of sleep last night/this morning, and have stayed up the rest of the day so I can go to bed at a normal time to make sure my sleep rhythm is ok
-I have fed and watered the cat, cleaned her litterbox, watered plants on my porch, and fed and watered the sparrow horde (plus one cardinal and my darling woodpecker that visits me a lot)
-I have packed up and mailed a jewelry order
-I have reached out to friends even though the brainweasels didn’t want me to, to let them know I am hurting but I am ok, and tell them what is going on in my head and asked for support.
-I have stalwartly ignored the urge to check my gmail, which my work email forwards to, to prevent triggers. Work can wait until I get there tomorrow, and I *will* get there tomorrow
-And if I don’t get there tomorrow, I will call my psychiatrist first thing and park myself in his office until I can be seen, so he can assess whether or not I should go to the hospital. I feel like I’ll be ok now, though
-I have written a blog post to get the worst of this out of my head
-I have cried and not felt ashamed

All of this was made possible by the amazing Chihiro, who hasn’t left my side since I got home from work yesterday in the throes of this cycle. She backed off when I got up and engaged in a lot of these self-care activities, but she has been following me around the apartment and stayed within about ten feet at all times.

Listing these accomplishments makes me feel stronger than I’ve felt all day. I hope to achieve tackling my dishes later and packing breakfast and lunch for tomorrow, but if I don’t achieve those goals, I plan to be kind to myself about them.

It helped tremendously.  I’m going to start doing that when things are dark in my headspace, because having a list of small accomplishments helps.  One of my friends responded:

I’m so proud of you! Wasn’t long ago that it’d be a good day to do just 1 thing on that list, and look at what all you accomplished! You truly are an inspiration 🙂

It is a pretty long list, considering how dark things had been earlier in the day and over the previous night.  I still feel good about it.

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Oh, for the love of…

*Insert lots and lots of curse words here*

I can’t even really figure out how to articulate my frustration at how I feel right now.

I have been getting my meds mailed to me by a small independent pharmacy back in the small town my parents live. However, they changed their policies about mailing things to require a signature, and my postal carrier seems to enjoy not leaving those little “I tried to deliver to you but you weren’t home” slips in my mailbox until the third attempt, so I have to take time away from work to go to the post office that is of course in the opposite direction of work to pick it up myself, because now it’s three days past when I was supposed to have my meds and it’d be another two if I signed the slip and put it back in the box. Not to mention when I did that the first time, it languished, ignored, in my mailbox for two days before I went to give someone an earful at the post office.

I demanded that my pharmacy stop doing that, and after a few tries they managed to get the hint, until my last shipment of meds. Even though I want to support it, because small town businesses are important, my mental health has been seriously suffering due to multiple missed doses of various meds over the last couple of months. This time, I missed out on some of my recently increased Lamictal. I finally went to the Walgreen’s that is around the corner, because I know that even if I forget to fill my prescription until the last second, I can get it filled and pick it up right away.

I am pretty sure I missed 200 mg of my 300 mg Lamictal prescription on Tuesday. I had been waiting for a refill of the 200s, so I had been substituting in two of the 100s until it arrived, but I can’t remember if I’d added them that night, and based on the hell in my head right now? I’m pretty damn sure I missed it.

Wednesday was increasingly a nightmare as the day dragged on, and I spiraled farther into a dark, dark cycle of thinking. I called in around 5 am Thursday morning, and finally managed to go to sleep somewhere between 8-9 am. I was up again at 1 pm for a return to the emotional abuse of the day before. As I write this, I’m waiting for it to be a reasonable bedtime before I go let myself sleep so I don’t get my circadian rhythm completely borked. I am really struggling. (Italicized statements are the words echoing in my head that I am trying desperately to not believe.)

I am barely letting myself eat, barely letting myself sleep, and hating myself the whole while, and the tiny rational part of me is trying to encourage some healthier behaviors even as it’s shoved further into a corner by the darkness. All of the usual arguments aren’t working- I know I wouldn’t treat a kid or my best friend this way, but I’m neither of those things so who cares.  My family would miss me, I’m sure of it, but the part of my brain that insists on telling me I’m a pathetic burden is louder right now. I bought a toy for my nephew to hold over myself as leverage; I need to stick around to give it to him.

I’m sitting here sobbing and the voices are still telling me you’re pathetic and being ridiculous. Who cares? Even the people that do care wouldn’t if they really knew you, if they really knew how much of a disappointment you are. If they knew what you’ve done and how many ways you’ve failed.

I’m a sham, trying so hard to pretend I’m normal when I’m so damaged and broken. I keep reaching out to people and hoping I can hold on to them before my weakness disgusts them, I’m too weak and needy, I’m going to scare them away. After all, I can’t even keep a boyfriend because my mental illness makes their boners sad. Primus help me, but I hope I can survive this with my psyche intact.

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Exercise, or something like it

I had a moment of great stupidity earlier this weekend. I was signed up to run (*cough*walk*cough*) in the Grand Rapids Color Run with my mom and sister. I was positive it was later this month, so I was planning to get all the gear I needed this weekend- I was going to find a suitable sports bra if it killed me (do I seriously need to wear six of the damn things to keep everything under control? Why don’t they make ’em strong enough to withstand the forces of my mighty breasts?) and some shorts of some kind to wear.

Yeah, no, it was the 1st.

I found this out sometime around midnight on the 31st. So I was vastly unprepared, and my foot isn’t completely healed (I was diagnosed with acute tendonitis in my right foot like, two months ago, and it still isn’t really working right. My doctor just ordered some x-rays to see if maybe there’s a stress fracture going on or something.) I felt really stupid and struggled with that for a bit, but I finally just shrugged it off and went to bed. My mom and sister both told me later that it was a VERY well attended thing, and they were glad I didn’t come because they did not think I would’ve done well with the crowds. I think I’ll stick with smaller 5ks from here on out, like the Turkey Trot we did last Thanksgiving. I’m ok with coming in dead last, but I don’t want to be suffocated by other people in doing so.

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Meh, life.

So I’m still struggling with regulating a bit, and still mighty frustrated over my stupid health insurance. I need to file the appeal but I don’t even know where to start. How much information do I have to give before someone somewhere feels sorry enough for me that they approve the appeal and do something? It costs $50 to get my psychiatrist to do paperwork, so as much as I’d like to get a note from him, I don’t think I can honestly afford it. I could probably send copies of all my FMLA paperwork, I’m sure work will let me make copies of that, maybe that would be sufficient proof that I’m disabled and need some help. I’ve got stacks and stacks of receipts for meds, as I save all of them, and I can get statements from my insurance of all of my appointments and the copays required at the rate I’m actually supposed to be paying.

I wish the Affordable Care Act took one’s disabilities into consideration, instead of just going by income. So then the Marketplace would adjust your assistance based on how many meds and specialists you require to manage your health. Or maybe they could do it a bit more like food stamps, and take your overall life expenses into consideration as well. (Although no government program takes student loans into consideration, and those? Those are definitely part of why I’m poor.)

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Tightrope Walker

So it’s been a long couple of weeks.

TFCon was the 17-19th, so the week before and the week after I worked four ten hour shifts so I could get Friday through Monday free. I was pretty busy at work and at home, getting ready for my table. I managed to keep things on a pretty even keel throughout the convention (my repeated meltdowns due to stress on the way TO Canada notwithstanding) but when I saw my psychiatrist on the Tuesday I was back to work, I was a bit… manic.

SUPER manic.

I was talking about the whirlwind of events and I was speeding up, jumping from thought to thought, all over the place, and his eyes were getting wide.

“Are you feeling ok?” he finally asked, and that’s when I realized I was definitely not feeling ok. He suggested a raise in my mood stabilizer to help me balance back out, but I wanted to give it a day or two to see if I just settled on my own. I returned to work (because I was working tens) but ended up leaving early because I couldn’t slow down.

I generally don’t sleep well at conventions due to anxiety about the convention itself, plus I always struggle to sleep in unfamiliar places. I was on a pretty comfy futon and I’d remembered my sound machine, so I should’ve slept better, (and at least this year there wasn’t a jackhammer tearing up the sidewalk outside of my friend’s apartment first thing in the morning!) but enh. Overall I think I got about 20 hours of sleep between Thursday night and Monday night, which is not good for my mental state. When I got home on Tuesday, I went right to bed and slept for fifteen hours.

Wednesday night? Five.

By noon on Thursday I was such a disaster I called and asked for the increase in my Lamictal, because now I was rapid cycling; I was manic, exhausted, irritable, and of course, having suicidal thoughts, because those are always lurking around the proverbial corner, waiting to ambush me. Friday was tough, but I pushed through. I had my nephew over Saturday and he stayed the night, and Sunday morning I physically felt like crap because of course, I had to get sick on top of everything. I was feeling a little more sane, but still not great.

All week I’ve been emotionally and physically exhausted. I have a head cold that is slowly traveling south and I am pretty confident it will become bronchitis because I am never lucky enough to *just* get a cold, and I’m still all over the place emotionally. I feel like I’m walking a tightrope all the time, and I’m so anxious. I’m utterly convinced I’m going to be fired right now, and the suicidal thinking is always there in the background, always encouraging me to just give in and listen.

I am so, so glad it is almost the weekend. I just have to survive Friday and then maybe I can sleep for two days and recover a bit.

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Coping Skills

I have as of late discovered the wonder and joy that is multi-hour tracks of spa, meditation, sleep, etc music. I have youtube open at work and at home with one of these tracks loaded, and I listen to it when I’m having trouble focusing at work, or to help me wind down for sleeping at night. It has made a HUGE difference in my sleep cycle. I wish there was a way I could listen to headphones at night- I couldn’t play it due to the fan and A/C running, I can barely hear my white noise machine over the A/C. These are all so peaceful and I find a new one every so often. I’m listening to one right now, actually. It blocks out the A/C and helps my mind quiet down so I can meditate or concentrate.

The new case manager at work has officially taken over, and I’m just the community integration coordinator. It feels really weird to be giving away tasks that defined who I am for SO LONG. My professional identity has been as a case manager for my entire professional life (other than that year and some that I was unemployed/working at Wendy’s) so it’s a bit scary to take this new step. I love the CIC work, though, and had been struggling to juggle it all, and tended to favor the CIC stuff versus the more involved case management work. Now I get to focus on running meaningful groups, planning fun events, doing things on campus like gardening, volunteering in the community… SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. The more I can get people engaged, even if it’s just in one group or activity a week more, can help so much.

Still feels a little… empty, almost. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but it’s just… weird, to be closing a chapter in my life like this.

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I swear I’m not dead.

I have just been alternately really busy, and really apathetic.

For a while, posting to my blog felt just… wrong, because I felt so much better. I still feel much better than I did back when this blog began. My downswings are not quite as bad, and don’t last quite as long. I haven’t found myself in an ER in more than a year, now. I can recover from a bad couple of days, within a couple of days, and a mental health day from work usually does the trick.

I have a job I really, really love, which helps. I’m transitioning into being just the Community Integration Coordinator (we have too many case management clients for me to manage both jobs any more by myself) and this basically means I will get paid to plan fun things and go DO said fun things with my residents. For example, today I bought 17 tickets to a 4th of July basketball game, and a fishing license. I can get a special license to cover all the residents of the facility once I had my own, so mine has now been submitted to the DNR to get the special one. I bought supplies for the resident store, and started planning and purchasing items for a sensory room for one of our autistic residents. I rented a movie for movie night on campus- the new Robocop, since residents wanted Jurassic Park until I can afford to send them to Jurassic World but the Family Video people were like “HAHAHAHA yeah right we can’t keep our one copy here to save our lives right now.” I ran an Independent Living Skills group about food and kitchen safety, I talked to residents as they wandered in and out of the rec center about a whole range of things… and I enjoyed all of it. I’m tired, because I’m pulling 10s all week to make up for Monday, and I didn’t get quite enough sleep last night.

May was a little rough and I had some of my usual seasonal downswing nonsense, plus something very triggering happening at work, so I have finally had The Talk with HR and my boss about my illness, and FMLA has been applied for. (My boss evidently thinks I can schedule my episodes, but enh.) My wellbutrin was upped and that seems to have made the difference. I don’t know if we want to bring it back down or not, I’m not feeling overmedicated or anything, and it might’ve helped me bounce back from this weekend as quickly as I was able to. (Two days to come back to baseline from a night of very serious suicidal thoughts, for me, is DAMN fast.)

I am struggling a bit with eating. I know I need to, but money is tight, and most nights I just don’t care anymore. I eat very little now and a full meal makes me feel queasy. I have more or less gone vegetarian because I simply cannot afford meat, so red meat and my insides really dislike one another. I eat a lot of other kinds of protein- eggs, dairy, peanut butter, refried beans- but I just don’t think I’m eating enough. I’m writing this at 9:45 at night and I have yet to make myself dinner. I’ve been vaguely hungry, but I keep coming up with excuses to get up and make it (current excuse: I’m writing a blog post! Two in a row! I can’t stop now!) I am also sometimes not letting myself sleep, because I feel like I don’t deserve it. This is usually when I’m already feeling down and then the more tired I get, the more self-abusive my thoughts get. I also tend to have a panic attack once I do lie down when I’m in that state, making falling asleep even harder.

I wish I understood why I do this stuff to myself. I know I deserve to eat and rest and take care of myself, but I just… I dunno. I’m not sure why I’m punishing myself or what I did to ‘deserve’ it. I guess it’s still self-harm, just a less immediate form, like cutting or swallowing. It doesn’t make me feel better, though; it just makes me more susceptible to the insidious whispers of the illness. Stupid illness. :/

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Bad, bad weekend

I don’t even really have the spoons to talk about the damn thing, but my weekend was really bad. Saturday there was a cousin’s wedding that involved traveling to Toledo, wrangling my crazy grandparents (grandpa is a crotchety old grumpus that I wanted to yell at several times and grandma has dementia, so I had to re-explain how they were getting home to her about 20 times at the reception,) and helping to wrangle my very energetic nearly-four nephew, and everyone was stressed and grumpy. Everyone I was in the car with rushed out of the reception before they finished cutting the cake, which upset me a lot. I needed meds out of the car, but nobody would let me take five minutes to go get a drink so I could take them- my brother was in such a goddamn hurry I had to make him stop so I could buckle grandma in, as she couldn’t find the buckle and I had to go around to see around the carseat. By the time I was able to get the words out that I needed to take some medication, because I was shaking at that time, I ended up having to stop at a random Kroger to get a bottle of water to take them. My brother and grandfather were both pissed off at that point and it was scaring me. I was crammed in the backseat with my grandma and my nephew in his carseat, so I had to fit myself into a space big enough for about half of me. I was carsick because I had to ride in the back, having an anxiety attack from all the stress around me, and I had a headache. I ended up crying for about the last hour of traveling home, after we dropped off my grandparents and my brother was driving me back to my car where I had met my mom that morning. And this whole time I was also convinced Chihiro was dead because she usually greets me in the morning and she didn’t, but she was just being a jerk who hid in the closet when I opened the door, and she’s fine.

So Saturday night I had nightmares all night where I woke up crying, and I did the same during a nap on Sunday. Sunday night I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep again so I called off work at 2 am via email. My boss responded with a rather long bit about how I was inconveniencing them before ending with this jewel: “I am thankful that you notified me and I can empathize with you; however, I really encourage you to handle personal business on the weekends and not miss work on Mondays or Fridays as it puts a whole strain on our entire campus.”

Yes, because I can totally schedule my episodes. I’ll get right on it.

Weddings in general kick off some really bad brainweasels about how I will never get that degree of normal in my life. Chances are I’m going to be alone. I won’t have a spouse, and I’m not planning on having kids. I doubt I’ll ever manage to get my master’s degree because I can’t work full-time and manage school as well, plus I’m still in obscene amounts of debt from my bachelor’s. My life right now, while independent, is a far cry from comfortable. I keep having to beg for money to make things happen like going to the doctor, getting meds, and buying food. The more I think about how this illness is chronic and basically terminal, the more tired I feel. I have been sick for 26 years. I’m tired of being sick. I’m just so tired.

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Anniversaries

(Author’s note: Sorry for the long hiatus. As I slowly recovered, I started to feel triggered by my blog. I’ll hopefully write a catch-up post soon to let you guys know what exactly has been happening in the life of Nadja.)

So, tomorrow is the ten year anniversary of my hospitalization.

I’m… conflicted. I want to celebrate it, but I also don’t know who to celebrate it *with.* I’m alone here in Lansing, and my diagnosis makes my gentleman friend nervous. (We have been casually dating since September, but he still hasn’t decided if he wants to make things a bit more formal. I am dying of impatience.) He felt that me telling him about my illness in a rush towards the beginning was too fast, and some nonsense about taking some of the discovery out of things. Seems how bipolar disorder is such a huge, pervasive part of my life, not sharing it was killing me. I feel like I’m lying when I keep it to myself, especially when I’m beginning a potentially romantic relationship. I don’t want to get hurt if I get attached and then he runs because of it, so it’s partially a defense mechanism, and partially my knowing that I need to make it fairly clear why I have so many strict rules for myself, so there is no misunderstanding of why, exactly, I can’t be out too late, I don’t drink or use drugs, my mood can vary dramatically from day to day and at times over the course of a date, why I can get hypomanic if I’m in an overly stimulating environment for long periods of time, why I might have to cancel a date on short notice due to lack of spoons, why I might have a panic attack, etc, etc, etc.

He is also extremely allergic to cats. I’m… not entirely sure about this one, but he hasn’t run away yet. Even though he hasn’t committed, he hasn’t refused me, either, and he is making an effort to spend time around other people’s pets to acclimatize himself a bit more to dander. I just try not to be too crazy in his general direction.

Next Sunday I turn 31. Twenty-year-old me didn’t think I would ever seen 25, let alone 30. I feel like I’m living on borrowed time, now. I also feel so, so tired when I think about living to 60, or 90, or 100, as I come from a line of very long-lived people. 100 years of life would basically boil down to 95 years of bipolar disorder.

Just the idea is exhausting.

So I feel conflicted. I am proud of myself for making it a decade without a hospitalization (several er visits, but I haven’t been admitted) but I am also nervous about the future. I am afraid I will always be alone, I am afraid of becoming a burden on my family. My stepdad has made it pretty damn clear that I have used my one and only chance to start over now, so if I do fall apart again in the future? I don’t know where I’ll go.

No pressure, of course. But I’d sure better never get sick again, goddamnit.

But, on this anniversary, I am gainfully employed, and independent, and I have my cat. I am ahead of the game from last year’s anniversary, and much more hopeful than the one before that. My life isn’t turning out how I wanted, but it’s less awful than I had feared it could be by this point. So… yay for me?

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Rough night

So on Monday and Tuesday, which are presently my weekend, I was all kinds of productive. I got my entire to-do list tackled, and I started working on my costume design for TFCon. I got very excited, to the point of getting hypomanic about it…. which led to a panic attack and no sleep spiral. I called in to work around 5 am as I still had not managed to sleep (or stop panicking) and said I had a stomach bug. I slept most of the day and feel better now, though I want to cry, and possibly panic some more over things. I am worried about money, about getting debt paid off as fast as my parents want me to… So much worry. And it’s been over a year that I’ve had any kind of medical oversight. I have an appointment next week to meet with a guy about getting health insurance in place, so while that is MORE money going out, at least I might be able to start seeing the doctors I need to see again.

There is a possibility that I might get a promotion at work. I’m excited and nervous and mostly just feeling scared, because things are happening so fast.

I am basically one big ball of anxiety today and I am not terribly happy about it. :/

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