Dear self

I’ve been truly struggling with the transition, and having one of the longest dissociative periods I’ve experienced coupled with anxiety. This is an attempt to describe how that feels. I regret that I haven’t been active and supportive in the community lately- I’m a very empathetic person and it takes a lot out of me to engage in external struggles besides my own during my bipolar depression. I hope you’ll understand.


 

Dear self,

I want you to remember this mood, the sensations, and the thoughts in your mind right now. You are at rock bottom of the depression cycle. There were many version of this “rock bottom,” as you have experienced before, varying from suicidal to apathetic, and each time, it seems like you have less of a grip on your life than you thought. This time, I can characterize this dip in the cycle mostly as foggy and dissociative, which brings along apathy. It feels like you’ve taken your life and put it in the dryer for too long- the result is a desiccated soul that has been solidified into a ball of unusable cloth. You’re drained of the motivation you had for the things that bring you joy. To cope you escape through hours and hours of meaningless entertainment or sleep. Because the fewer hours you are awake for, you get to dissociate less. Meditating doesn’t help. Self, when I try to get in touch with you, I can’t feel your presence. I can’t tell what you’re feeling. I’ve been working on paying attention to you more, but this brain fog is a barrier from me to you and I don’t have the energy to climb up the chain linked fence. Every time I leave to go exercise in the park, the dissociation gets so strong that I can’t feel and my body is just going through the motions. It’s a terrible feeling, like having cotton balls block your five senses. Yet my family pushes me to go for walks, because it’s good for me. I’m sure it is, but it sure doesn’t feel good. I’m like those dogs in inhumane experiments trapped in zapping cages who can’t get out even with the cage door wide open. I’m often conflicted with these two competing goals- long term betterment (gained through opposite action), and listening to my feelings (being self compassionate). A therapist would say that it’s a balance. That’s like saying “it depends.” Totally useful.

I long to dream and I long to yearn again. Dreaming and aspiring might be a very natural thing to do, and I thought so too, until my health failed. So what I mean is other than longing to get better, to feel myself again. I guess I’m not courageous enough for this yet, but I want to have goals in life again, in my career, relationships etc… I want to be confident that the things I want to achieve will come with time and effort (and luck, but I can’t control that), I want to be stable, as much as you, my self.

Vertigo – the downside

This is going to sound very Buddhist of me, but I see everything as having both sides. Good and evil, glamorous and sinister, light and dark. For example, this could apply to drone technology, or the current US president (I hesitated about the last one but I can play the devil’s advocate with it, if I tried…). But today my thoughts are about medication. I’ve talked about side effects before, and sometimes the side effects override the therapeutic effects it’s suppose to provide. For me, some of those side effects include dissociation, increase in suicidal ideation, insomnia, and decrease in appetite. None of those things would have happened without the correctly (or sometimes incorrectly) prescribed meds. But I still obediently took them, thinking that it’s going to get better, and that it was better than unmedicated bipolar depression.

Today I added one more to my growing list.

Vertigo. (Like, around 20 seconds of vertigo, around 10 different times.)

Some mistaken it as the thing you experience as an agoraphobic, but you don’t have to be somewhere high up to necessarily feel this. Medication side effect is a strong culprit (lithium, personally), but maybe not the singularly definitive one (considering sleep, nutrition, activities etc).

Whatever the case, I have to be careful with turning my neck today because it’s a trigger for this vertigo, I found, after 2 or 3 times it happened. It’s different from dizziness, which is one of the side effects I already experience daily. Vertigo is an imaginary roller coaster with your axis flipped sideways, that feels real. I was in bed one moment and next I felt like I was falling into my mattress like I was on a roller coaster. I gripped my bed sheets so that I would not fall into the imaginary hole that my mind created.

Even when it’s not triggered it can happen at any moment for me, so showering is not the safest activity without assistance. I’m wondering how others deal with this, if you have?


Most of this week was a concerted effort from everyone involved in my recovery to distract me from my thoughts. My motivation was at an all time low, and so was my energy level. I’m trying to think of it as part of the process, but I’m getting tired (pun intended) of nights where I sleep and sleep and yet I never feel like I get any proper rest. I’ve been wanting to get off of taking Ativan for sleep, but that seems like a really bad idea right now with all the sleep problems. Hoping that this veil of doom lifts soon and I don’t have to worry about falling everywhere.

Hey, it’s me. In my personal hell

It’s been thirteen days since I moved to my home in New York. But to me it might as well have been a day, or a week, or even a month. I slept most of the days. My dad was here briefly before he went back to work abroad, but I don’t think I’ve done anything meaningful while he was here. My anxiety keeps me caged in this small apartment I share with my mother, and my dissociation makes me lose track of time and place. My new therapist asked if I was dissociating intentionally, and I said to my knowledge, no. It’s not a good feeling to feel like you have no control of what you’re doing, first of all, and second, with added anxiety you feel like someone is going to pounce on you the next minute. My usual grounding techniques (breathing, meditation etc) haven’t worked, so if anyone knows a way out of this state, please let me know.

She’s great, my new therapist. Hardcore Jungian, believes that dreams can help you figure out your unconscious. A year ago I might have scoffed, but stranger things have worked to cure me a little. So I said why not.

It’s raining today, and it’s currently noon. I thought about what I would genuinely want… To be in nature where there is no one else around. Play with a bunch of puppies. Not have to eat for the rest of my life. Become invisible.

It’s hard to know when my anxiety ends and I begin. Everything is terrifying. I constantly shake my leg to get the nervous energy out. Watching horror films have calmed me down in a twisted way because it’s self reinforcing all my terrified thoughts. It’s also probably not good for me.

 

 

Unsettled

Really struggling today.

I get anxious about everything outside of the house. I’m the least anxious under the covers. I escape reality by oversleeping.

Usually drawing or writing grounds me, but it’s not working.

I’ve lost a lot of weight because we don’t have snacks around the house and mostly

because I don’t have an appetite.

Sleeping is difficult because I wake up every two hours. I started taking a higher dose my doctor prescribed PRN.

I’m trying to stay grounded, and trying to stay present. Trying to distract myself from bad thoughts and see thoughts and thoughts and nothing more. Meditating helps a little bit, but I feel so flat it’s hard to get in touch with myself. So I continue to distract, hoping that I’m not avoiding by doing so. My family has intervened, and started taking me out to mandatory walks in the park to get exercise. Like a frightened puppy. I close my eyes when we drive there because the roads here are so narrow and the drivers honk at every chance they get. Then I see myself slowly caving in, getting further from myself and others into a black hole where I can’t feel anything and I’m not aware of my surroundings.

I know I can get better. I’ve been better. I’ve been optimistic, and happy about who I was. I smiled when I walked down the street and I was confident. I’ve felt good and good about myself and I know it will come with time.

Coming out of the dip a little bit

Trigger warning. I want to keep this blog as honest and transparent as possible, so that people who feel alone in their struggles feel validated and that they are not the only one going through it. But sometimes it can be a bit too much so this is just a heads up. 

Maybe my depressive episode (of this week) is coming to an end. I’m feeling less guilty, less paranoid, less irritable, less numb, less hopeless, a little more energetic…This dip wasn’t as bad as some of the other ones I’ve been through where I felt suicidal (without a good reason) and had plans. I was hospitalized soon after that, thank goodness. This time it was more just being OK with not living, which wasn’t as hard of an urge to fight off. There are shades of depression or even suicidality, and it’s important to know where your tipping point is, and when you need to seek help. I feel safe today, and feel like I’m in one piece, as if the negative thoughts are not able to engulf me, and I’m going to try to get out and attempt to do things.

Hope everyone is having a good day.

One of those bad days

I stayed in bed all day with my cat, my protector, the one who silently understands. I was supposed to go to open houses with my family but that proved to be a monumental task. I got up from bed to get to the kitchen, and without a knowable cause, I fell. Just blacked out. The next thing I know, I’m on the floor, and my mother is hugging me close. It could be anemia, or something else, but I feel like I ran a marathon, so I said no to the planned activities.

It’s hard being me. It could be much harder without the love and the support (emotionally, financially) I get from my family, but it’s still hard. Actually, it’s not hard at all if I feel like I’m “myself.” It’s only hard when my body and mind decide to give up during the only time when my whole family is in one place. (My parents live in separate countries).

New York City, my new home, is the financial center of America, where money is made, status is elevated, and luxury is experienced. It’s always busy for those who can afford to be busy. But for me, it all looks like an old, cliche Broadway show that I’m watching without much interest. I’m not part of the show, or want any part of it, and it keeps going and going, and I look around to see that I’m the only one not really interested.