Spoonie

Hello everyone! Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. There hasn’t been anything unusual that happened in my life that thwarted me from the usual blogging schedule, but I’ve been kind of just feeling rather… small. Insignificant. At a loss (for words). Not worthless, that would be too strong of a word, but I have been just feeling a bit invisible in the past couple weeks. It’s very subtle how it manifests itself, this feeling of insignificance: there is a slight shift in my behavior at first. I start to not reach out to friends as much because my mind automatically thinks, “what’s the point of sending them a picture of this cute dog/cat? It’ll probably just waste their time and they’ll think that’s all I’m doing all day,” and the picture will not be sent. Same with text messages. The negative self talk will shoot down a text that was composed before it gets sent. Same with emails. Phone calls. I will also reject all invitations from friends. It’s not social anxiety that causes it, but it’s just the terrible feeling in the gut that says I probably shouldn’t go because I’m going to have a bad time. I’m going to be tired if I go. I’m going to have to talk to people who are going to judge. I’m going to have to lie about what I’m doing with my life to avoid awkwardness. If it’s close friends I’ve known since pre-hospitalization, I feel like there isn’t anything worth talking about in my life that they can relate to since I’m in therapy or napping most of the day (my friends in therapy get this, of course). For blogging, or talking to people, I guess I’m having a hard time because I feel like I’m not interesting and because the energy or motivation needed for doing it isn’t there. If you like spoon theory, I just have very few spoons per day because of the fatigue that comes with anything I do. Interacting (emoting, speaking, gesturing etc) with people takes everything out of me. Keeping my feelings and negative thoughts at bay takes away majority of the spoons on a regular day.

I think at this point you’re thinking: it’s avoidance coming from the depression, duh! And I don’t feel great that I recognized it and couldn’t do anything about it, but I don’t want to make myself feel worse than I already am. I’m hoping this blog post will my first step towards not avoiding.

 

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Stigma Won’t End Until…

Repost: An eloquent post by a fellow blogger suffering from bipolar that captures where our (collective) head is regarding mental illness on a societal level. Couldn’t have said it better! Thank you for writing this.

Bipolar Me

I wrote a post once about the difficulties of the mentally ill in finding and keeping jobs, how little employers think about hiring them, and how a mental disorder must often be kept secret if employment is to continue. And all that despite legal protections that are unknown or ignored. I received a vitriolic response that “those people” shouldn’t be hired, much less be promoted above and be supervising other employees like the writer. I couldn’t answer it, for fear of my keyboard bursting into flames.

There is no doubt that there is a stigma surrounding mental illness. People with mental disorders are blamed whenever gun violence occurs, even though the mentally ill are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. We are often considered to be violent, disruptive, and incurable – when we’re not ignored completely, especially in health care planning and treatment options.

The stigma even adheres to…

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Being speechless in therapy

You know when you don’t really have anything to say in therapy? Not that your life is perfect or that you don’t have problems, but all your problems are all chronic and ongoing and have no simple solutions that will end them once and for all and there are no major crises at least for once in your life? That’s where I am right now. I’ve been very stuck with therapy lately. I’m at a loss for words. Group or individual. I don’t really have anything to say other than, I’m managing and it’s fine. Not fine in the sense that I no longer have a chronic mental illness and all my hopes and aspirations are coming true, but in the sense that my bipolarness is not volatile. I’m not suicidal. My mood can still consume me and make be feel bad about myself. I’m chronically tired, but I’ve kind of accepted that. I’m still not stable enough to go out and look for a job, but I’m physically able to paint and draw. Socializing drains me, so that’s still difficult to do. I can’t even manage an online course at this state. Sleeping is still difficult. Eating is forced. Nothing is really “back to normal” and I’m not sure if it’ll ever be normal as before. I’m doing what I think is the best I can do.

I’m trying, I really am. But I’m also waiting. Waiting to not feel so tired all the time. Waiting for the moods changes to settle, waiting to feel like I’m not about to get attacked every second both verbally and physically, waiting to feel confident in my abilities to do things. Waiting to trust myself again in my judgment in small and big decisions. Waiting to become independent again. Waiting to regain my strength both physically and mentally. I’m trying but these things I used to take for granted are not back.

Every morning I hold my breath when I wake up because the mood when I wake up will determine how the day will go usually. So if it’s good, then it’s a relief. But for whatever reason, I’m feeling depressed, not much can help to lift that up. I become like a lifeless zombie- nothing is enjoyable. Vitality is no longer in my dictionary. On those days, I do things just for the sake of doing them. Showering, eating, going to group, interacting with others- I force myself. And it’s really so hard to move when there is this heaviness that won’t go away, like a demon is sitting on your shoulders.

I don’t know how long I will have to wait. But I’m pretty sure it will be a while. 

Tired

My psychiatrist hasn’t told me conclusively why it might be, but the chronic fatigue is really pulling everything down. My mood, my motivation and my energy level. It could be the lithium, although I should be used to it by now since it has been six week I’ve been on it, or it could be something else that’s wrong physically (but probably not)… whatever the reason, I’m just so tired all the time. I can hardly function without taking a nap a day, and socializing with close friends  for more than 30 minutes drains me. I’m trying to walk and do something active every single day but that’s proven to be a challenge when I can’t get out of bed easily. I was doing so well last week but the lethargy is back. I’m trying not to give in but sometimes the apathy takes over and everything irritates me to the point where I don’t want to do anything.

Goals I set for myself

Recovery goals are always a moving target. And not a linear moving target, because recovery isn’t linear- sometimes you take 2 steps forward, other times you take 5 steps back. And it’s hard to accept that sometimes you have to do less than what you planned a week ago for that week because things just happened to go south. It’s seriously frustrating. So sometimes, oftentimes, you might find yourself biting more than you can chew, or reaching for low hanging fruit.

Two weeks ago, I thought I was at a place where I could start pushing myself with learning something and just do more in general. The weeks before, I was starting to do things that I enjoyed (like drawing), without getting prompted to do it- which I think was a huge step forward. (Sidenote: depression makes it very very hard to want to do the things you enjoy, or used to find enjoyable; or get out of bed to live… or live.)

Because I felt good about where this was going, I said yes to the NYC trip for the weekend, and I also said yes to many other social activities over the course of the two weeks. And by that I mean, meeting friends from my life-before-hospitalizations in the afternoons after I came back from group, which is more overwhelming that it should be because I’m vulnerable, I don’t know how to phrase things about what I’m doing, and I’m just usually tired all the time. To top it off, I’m mostly an introvert, so I burn a lot of energy by hanging out with people. I didn’t want to say no to these interactions because I value relationships and that’s more important than anything else right now because not only is it enjoyable, but it also gives me a sense of belonging with the rest of mankind.

That’s all really fine on its own, but I also did sign up for an online course (algorithms) that might be a good segue into a field I’m thinking of getting into, which turned out to be very time consuming and stressful. Clearly, not really something I can handle all that well. The material was very interesting and it was a great course on the subject matter, but experimenting with my meds, and all the social obligations with friends and family wore me out. I seriously felt bad about myself for a few days because I knew I couldn’t complete week 2 of the course because I didn’t have anything left, and I knew I couldn’t finish the problem set on time. I compared myself with my past self without the mental illness, and thought, well I could have done 4 of these at the same time back then! I hated that I committed to the course, but I know that I was feeling more confident two weeks ago about where I would be with my recovery. Unbeknownst to me, my recovery decided to take two steps back, and because of this, I was not at a capacity to do everything I signed up for. And I think I’m starting to be okay with that. I’m not going to let myself think I’m a failure, or that I can’t ever get into this field, or that my future is doomed (I’m not going to lie, I’ve already thought this, but now I’m pushing back).

Now I’m going to try to sleep again. Thoughts, comments are always appreciated!

Trying to make progress on my progress

I often don’t know when too much effort is too much (for my own good). Sometimes I don’t want to know, so I ignore it and keep going. That’s how I got here in the first place, I suppose. My therapists have called it my “lack of self awareness.”

I feel like I’ve come a long way in my recovery, and I can usually use skills to not feel this way, but today my thoughts automatically go to: am I resting on my laurels for too long? Am I doing enough? This feeling (the same one that has been there since the beginning, before the hospitalizations) keeps telling me that I need to do more. More towards my recovery. If I take beginner level yoga, then I need to take a more difficult Viniyasa class. If I’ve done 30 minutes of my online course today, I need to do an hour the next. More efficiently. Harder, better, faster, stronger. According to the thoughts, I should have thoughts like, “the next job I’m going to get will better be higher paying/better/more suitable to me than my last one.” I realize that it’s insatiable, this beast (or logical mind, for DBTers out there), and it’s impossible to please. It also doesn’t give a shit about how I feel about any of this. It’s greed, and no longer a healthy amount of ambition. It’s obsessive perfectionism- no meds can make it go away, just pure will power.

Being happy isn’t my default and I’m trying my hardest to feel satisfied and not be anxious about being pleased with my progress. I’m letting myself be satisfied with my satisfaction.

Saying no

Saying no to a job that made me miserable seven days a week.

Saying no to an identity created to appease everyone else but me.

Saying no to thought patterns that made me unhappy.

Saying no to projections of the future that brought me fear.

Saying no to toxic people.

Saying no to relationships which no longer serve me.

Saying no to unhelpful help.

Saying no to alcohol and yes to meds that help me function.

Saying no to coffee, the anxiety starter.

Saying no to recurring thoughts of trauma.

Saying no to thoughts of inadequacy.

Saying no to all these things, every single day, to be in the here and now.