Taking the road not taken (before)

Another late night post, folks. (Because of the usual insomnia.)The move is technically complete, except for some important details:

  • I need to find a psychiatrist
  • I need a new therapist (!!!)
  • I need something to do to get a routine going
  • I need a plan

I’ve called to get an appointment but it looks like the numbers for psychiatrists aren’t exactly up to date on my insurance website or the web, so I just left messages at all the good hospitals around the area. As a chronic Spoonie, I have my 90 day refill with me so finding one right away isn’t the most dire thing. But still. No psychiatrist! AHHHHH!!!I’ve been told that Psychology Today is a good place to look for therapists, so I’ve taken a peek, and it was nice that everyone listed their modalities and specialties. It will take some time to find a good one as I meet with them to evaluate whether if they’re going to the best fit. My lovely therapist in Chicago sent me a card saying really sweet things about the improvements I made and it almost brought me to tears. We worked together for about a year on and off and she’s seen basically the darkest corners of my life, and it was sad to let that go and a bit scary to have to find a new person.Now, on what to do with my time here… in the short term, I’m still in treatment. Not in a sense I’m going to a treatment center a few times a week for group therapy, but I’m still staying away from returning to work for a bit longer. I’ve already decided the path I was on was not good for me when I started this blog, and I’m doing everything I can to not relapse, because I know how painful it can be to go through another hospitalization again for myself and those close to me. So instead I’m looking at classes I could take in the interim that I would enjoy. I was thinking art classes such as print making classes, which wouldn’t be hard to find in the city. Long term though, is a bit more complicated. There are so many options out there, with limitations as always, since I cannot take jobs that are very high stress or need certain educational backgrounds. My majors in college (math, statistics and economics) were right for the job market, but it certainly wasn’t right for me in hindsight. I did very well academically, but it prepared me for the typical high stress/ highly competitive jobs in the business world. Without having knowledge of the underlying chronic illness, I was not a good fit. I’m at a place where I could try again and see if another type of corporate job would be right for me, or I could switch paths completely. Health sciences are the most desirable field for me because as providers of the care I need, they would be understanding, and I wouldn’t have to hide myself from getting found out that I’m “mentally weak” or something ridiculous as you’d face in the corporate world. I’m hesitantly considering becoming a developer because I like programming but I’m hesitant because the hours they work are pretty long and stressful. Another option I’m considering is to join a monastery and become a Buddhist nun. No, not kidding. I don’t know how they would feel about pill popping nuns, because some of the traditionalists don’t approve of western medicine, but I’ve thought about going down that path since I was in college. My values and principles basically come from Buddhist roots, and I’m the most home when I’m at a temple. Everything fits the criteria, except the money aspect. It’s a very different lifestyle that these monks and nuns live, so I will have to do some more research before I dive in.

Somehow it all came together

Well, I almost lost my cat at the airport.

The frightened little thing un-harnessed herself by backing out and tried to make a run for it when I took her out of her carrier during the security check. I caught her hind legs and didn’t dare let her go because I think it might have become news if she got lost at O’hare international.

To start, we woke up in the morning and brought the rental truck to load our stuff. The movers and driver came and they were on their way to New York. We got on the plane, all three of us, including the cat. This sounds really spoiled but we flew first class because I wanted more leg room for my cat. My cat ended up doing pretty well during the trip- I didn’t give her sedatives but she ended up dozing off. The whole time she meowed only once! The flight attendant was another cat lover so we chatted about that. She said doesn’t see so many cats flying on board so she was surprised.

We got home and after feeding Olivia, getting the litter box out, we crashed.

This morning, the movers who drove our truck was on their way to storage. And our car battery had died as my mother had been in Chicago for months, so we had to get some help from roadside assistance so we could get to the storage place. But since the ETA for the Chicago movers was unclear, the movers on the New York side didn’t know what to do when it came time for them to help because my truck wasn’t their yet! 90 bucks an hour for two people, wasted… but it did get there. So we were able to finish up. During all this chaos, one of us were working on a contract with the storage unit (after seeing twenty different sizes), and the other, telling the movers on both sides what to do. And the car battery died again, so I was again in the phone with roadside services.

I’m about to return the truck now, which had to be refueled before returning. I need sleep.

Feeling overwhelmed

I would like my appetite back please. The sink clogged and it’s the day before my move/flight. I’ve tried the vinegar and baking soda method (two things I haven’t packed for some reason), but no luck. Oh well. I dissociated today after a disagreement with my mover who kept pushing for more money to drive our van for the same distance. I haven’t dissociated in a while, so it was hard to get my bearings straight. It felt most like being very very drunk and nothing was real, except you don’t feel good at all, and you feel tense, anxious and frightened.

I’m so very stressed about tomorrow. I’ve never flown with a cat before and I’m moving on the same day as the flight. Also we are picking up the moving van in the morning. Oh. Plus the car in NY probably need to get jumped. I’m feeling super overwhelmed by the avalanche of events that are about to happen.

Reflections: second last day in Chicago

Boxes, boxes everywhere. I’ve moved a lot in my life. Overseas, across the country, within the same city, within the same continent, you name it, I’ve done it. Yet it’s always a struggle. It’s more of a struggle for me this time than any of those times because my bipolar depression wasn’t in full bloom back then. I’m doing a lot better this month than I have since college, or forever really. When my psychiatrist asked in my last appointment when I last felt like myself, I had to pause and scratch my head a bit. Feeling like myself… huh… Did I ever feel that? Do I feel “normal” now? You learn to forget. How you feel becomes a new normal, then another new normal until you hit rock bottom. You can’t see the forest from the trees, and you can’t compare the gradual changes your brain goes through, as others can. Just like aging over time.

Chicago living has been pleasant, (sans bad experiences that could have happened anywhere else). The people are, as Midwesterners are known, nice. Places are more spacious for a lot cheaper, and people don’t give too much of a hoot about how they look (Not in a fashionable Parisian way, but in a utilitarian, it’s warm-it’s comfortable-and-I’m-going-to-wear-it way). It’s less cut throat. At least compared to the East Coast. The best words I can come up with are that I have grown here, but I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed my life here. There are still painful things that come up, like when someone I dated for a year broke my heart by breaking up with me at 2 am out of the blue, or the time my new boss told me that I was not learning quickly enough (during our first one-on-one), the time someone whom I considered as one of my best friends stopped talking to me during my worst time with my depression, the time I got hospitalized the first time, and the second time, and the time someone who meant a lot to me didn’t believe that my depression was very serious, or that I was trying to get better.

At the same time, there were small surprises here and there that made it all bearable. I found a group of friends that I really clicked with (read: found a book club with) from work who were kind, and saw my potential as a coworker/person. I adopted the most beautiful cat, who is my Emotional Support Animal. I have been in love and out of love, then in love again. I found the missing link to my life- the ultimate question, the truth about myself, “why was I so sad/guilty/depressed/down all the time?” (answer: I have an illness, and had it probably for awhile and it went untreated), complete strangers who wanted me to feel better while I was hospitalized/in treatment, the friends who visited me at the hospital, and most importantly, my parents who supported me through my struggles and stayed by my side.

Life is funny. When I got this job offer based in Chicago out of college two years ago, I had rejected the other ones closer to home, thinking that it was a good idea to move somewhere I’ve never been. Turns out, I didn’t know myself very well, or what I wanted. I wasn’t sure where home was, but I found myself telling my friends at my farewell brunch that “I’m going home.” So I guess, New York is home, then.

Nighttime anxiety

It’s not rooted in thought or event; it just is. The tingling in the limbs and shivers down the back. The worry that I’m missing something, not doing something I haven’t done, guilty but not knowing what I’m guilty about… at night things are more intense. Both the depression and the anxiety. It makes sense why I’m a morning person.

Ohh, shoot. Just realized I didn’t take my Ativan. No wonder…

OK. I’m back, medicated.

Because of the move next week, I probably won’t blog much until I get to NYC (sorry!). I have some fun posts that I need to write soon, but I’d like to do a good job, not as frazzled, so stay tuned.

Real talk. Moving sucks. Packing sucks. Arranging movers and storage sucks. Why do I have so much stuff? Most of all, leaving friends behind sucks. But I am leaving this damned place I’ve been through hell in, so for that I can be thankful. Nothing against Chicago, it’s a beautiful place to live, it’s mostly just the association I have with it now. I’ve had some unfortunate experiences here. If somehow my cat doesn’t throw a fit going through security at the airport, then we should be golden.

Trying our best

I used to be one of those ignorant people before I got (clinically) depressed, so I know where they are coming from. But Andrew Tate’s twitter comment about depression not being real? Ignorance is so real.

Those of us with invisible mental illnesses…To society, we might look like failures. But in reality, we’ve worked as hard or harder than anyone else, just to survive another day. Recovery is more than a full time job, and an accomplishment in itself- getting my diagnosis of bipolar II and the depressive episodes related to it were definitely the hardest things that I’ve had to face in my twenty-something years.

We might not look like we’re trying our best on the outside from your perspective, but trust us, we are. Not everyone functions the same way. We don’t have the same f(x) = y, certain input of energy and determination does not equal certain amount of result.

It’s my personal belief that everyone is doing their best in their given situation. It may not seem like it if you put yourself in our shoes, but that just means that you don’t have all the information. How someone grew up with certain values, hopes and dreams. Traumas they hid from you. Chronic pain. Mental Condition. Physical ailments. External environment. Relationships. The list goes on. We’re complicated. If you did know everything, you would understand why we are doing certain things a certain way, and that we’re brave enough to have gone through it all.

So don’t tell us to just “suck it up,” or berate us for being depressed. While there is tremendous amount of effort needed to recover and manage our illness, “sucking it up” doesn’t cure us, since our illness is not something we cannot control, but a constant battle to be fought.

Three principles

I’ve been a bit stuck with this question of, “what are your principles?” So I’ve been listening to what other people thought theirs was, and here is one of them, relevant for interpersonal effectiveness:

Three things to live by* (and the values):

  1. If something is better to be said than not, then say it, even if it’s scary. (Advocacy, integrity)
    • Think back to a situation or two where you wished you could go back in time and say to someone what you were really thinking.
  2. Do not rely solely on others to fulfill your wishes.
    • This can easily lead to manipulating behaviors. You cannot (in reality) control other people, and people can always move in and out of your life whether you like it or not. All you have is you, as well as control over yourself and your behaviors. (Independence, self-sufficiency)
  3. Practice self-care, always.
    • You need to put your own air mask first. Don’t become someone’s liability. (Self-compassion)

*The credit goes to one of the therapists I’m working with named Matt.

What are some principles or mantras that you cherish in your everyday life?