Ask me anything!

Hi friends- I’m looking for your questions (for me!) for a short Q&A blog post. Lately, I’ve been kind of stuck in my own head (and mood) and it would be nice to have some input from you lovely folks.

It could really be anything as simple as “what is your favorite _______ ” to anything profoundly philosophical.  Please comment your questions below and I will respond to them in a separate post.

Thank you as always for reading and being part of my support system. You all make my day.

Lots of hugs,

Amy

There is this feeling

I’m not sure what it is, but I just want to get this off my chest. Often, I feel like there is something wrong- not as a concrete fact, but as just some nagging feeling in the back of my mind. I wish I could call this an intuition of some sort, but it’s too vague to be useful to be used as a guidance. It’s simply just feels… wrong? It might be the earliest sign that my depression is returning, but I can’t be certain. I was going to talk to mother about it, but I already know that I’m going to be getting the “that’s-completely-normal-every-feels that-way-sometimes” talk, and she’s probably right, but I needed more of an analytical response, not another generalization, so I saved it.

If you’ve read any of my therapy update posts, you know that I’m not someone who feels her feelings. I’ve conveniently repressed my feelings for a very long time to become someone who I’m not really built to become. So one of my assignments was to feel the feelings, whatever they are, when they came up. I’m tempted to distract myself away, but managed to sit with it so far, and I’ve been sitting with this feelings that feels wrong. I’m sure it will make sense why I feel this way after the fact, but right now I can’t seem to connect the dots. I had a very productive day filled with painting (finishing one and starting and finish another), going to a work out class- on the surface, it sounds like a pretty good day. I haven’t had anything happen that was distasteful either; no triggers.

I guess as a newbie to feeling my feelings, and sitting with them, but I find this very uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with the fact that I cannot do anything about it to change it  (I tried), and I don’t really know the cause of it- so it remains a mystery to me. The only relief I get is from the fact that feelings never stay the same and I have to ride this thing out.

Trial and terror

Whew. Days like these make me realize that I’m still pretty darn sick. It’s not that I was dissociating or having panic attacks, it’s just that my whole day was centered around changing my meds or doing something differently. I called my psychiatrist in the morning to explain the situation with Abilify and the issues with my brain (impairment in memory, reaction time and cognition), but I got cut off because he had another patient come in. He promised me that he would get back to me, so I was just checking my phone the whole day because I was at a furniture store where reception wasn’t great. The whole time I was worried that I would miss his call. I got home and when the day was over, he called. We talked about all the issues, and he said since 2mg is a pretty low dose, but there are some good aspects of the drug, he said to cut it in half and only take 1mg until the next time I see him, which is in 3 weeks. He also said the side effect may be temporary or it could persist. So I’m going to stick it out for a few more weeks, but if it doesn’t get better or if it gets worse, I’m just going to ask to drop it from my regimen.

I’m really tired from not sleeping well in the last few days and going to class regardless. Being tired gets me down, so I’m feeling frustrated and impatient about the whole situation. When will I find the medication that truly will work for more than a week? Truly work, meaning, protect me from suicidal thoughts and help me live a normal life with a job, a social life, and dreams? I’ve been let down too many times by the trial and error thus far, and I’m kind of sick of it all.

Anyway. I almost finished a painting today- a self portrait. I’m still deciding what more I would like to add, and if I need to touch up on the facial features or not. I will probably take a look at it again tomorrow to see if there is anything I missed.

New medication: the dark side

When I thought I could finally rejoice… I think I found a nasty side effect with my new medication, Abilify.

All medications have their downsides, of course- it just depends how seriously some of them are getting in the way of you living your day to day life. I haven’t yet concluded if this one is severe enough to take my artificial will to live, away.

Memory impairment. Very subtle memory impairment. And issues with cognition. And the subsequent confusion.

I’ve never had problems like this before, but I’m having trouble remembering certain things, like when to use “bear” and “bare.” As a perfectly bilingual speaker, what “side effects” was in English, when I thought of the word first in Korean. I literally had to parse the words, “side” and “effect.” Which city in Colorado my friends moved to recently. Was it Denver or Boulder? Or was it even Colorado? Was it not Wyoming? I had to scroll back to my text messages with them to be sure. Also, when I left my class at the end of the day, I didn’t let my family know that I had gotten on the train (they like to know where I am at all times if I am leaving a place, for safety reasons) because I simply just, forgot.

There are other things like, forgetting what I was saying in the middle of a conversation. Dissociating a little while activated (not a pleasant combination, if you ask me). Not being able to focus for a long time. Having a hard time making sense in my blog posts. None of these experiences felt normal to me.

I just feel like my IQ is getting shaved off along with my confidence. I might be overreacting to all this, and it might even be temporary. Only time will tell.

My last relationship and bipolar disorder

I don’t talk about my last relationship much, because there was so much uncomfortable guilt I felt when I couldn’t be functional with my depressive episodes that comes with having bipolar in a relationship- this would be a major reason why I eventually left.

The guilt came from the fact (loosely defined, thought would be more accurate) that it was my fault that I was sick. That I was broken. I did things in my life that got me here, I thought. And that he didn’t sign up to be with a broken, broken thing that I was, and it was all on me. It took a lot of therapy to rid of the guilt, and the self blaming thinking pattern out of my system. Because after all, you don’t choose to have trauma. And yet, some of it remains to this day and still is one of the major things that I’m working on. That some things (most things,) aren’t my fault just because they happened to me- my illness, my separated parents, and my pain.

I always firmly believed that without my breakdown, and the subsequent hospitalizations, and the diagnosis, we would have made it through the storm. If both he and I could be cloned, and my clone didn’t have my bipolar gene, so to speak, the cloned couple would have made it. Because that couple, sans bipolar, were so happy together. They had so many similarities that made them a perfect team. They also had enough differences that made them interesting to each other. Ignorance wasn’t bliss in this case. Looking at the situation more objectively, in third person: she had a traumatic childhood that she had wiped from her memory. She didn’t know why there were strange thoughts in her head (that were separate from her own thoughts) were always criticizing and attacking her. She always felt unsafe, except when he was with her. This changed after the breakdown- she always felt unsafe. He had a relatively happy childhood with several siblings in a loving home- he had a healthy view of marriage and partnership, unlike her. He was in a word, wholesome in those aspects plus more. For this she felt undeserving of such a good thing.

So what happened? Besides being unhinged and unstable, I started to feel unsafe with him emotionally. It was his first time seeing someone depressed and suicidal up close, he didn’t really have the experience or the tools to be helpful. He just didn’t, and couldn’t comprehend- not that that was even possible by someone without the disease. You have to understand, a depressed person is fragile, and any harsh word, even if not intended, could shatter their trust in a single blow. And fragile people don’t take chances- they are often full of fear. Their choice is not fight but flight. So I reacted out of this fear. After a quarrel, one that was becoming more frequent because of the recent change in my mood and my drastically different life style as a depressed mental patient than him, or  our mutual friends (unemployed, seemingly lackadaisical), I said I had enough and a short good bye.

Shy of one year since we parted ways, I am realizing that maybe, just maybe, he did truly care for me. Past tense. There is no way to know what is going on now because we fell out of touch, and I moved away to another city where my family lived. This isn’t something I had considered before when I was unstable and broken, because it was unthinkable- but thinking back to all the things that were said during those heated conversations, I can now see the possibility that perhaps he didn’t mean me harm, he just wanted me to get better. Some of it could have been phrased a bit more delicately, but he didn’t know how to handle someone in that situation. I also didn’t know how to hold on during such a situation, when I wasn’t his equal in a relationship. I didn’t know how to be the sick one. I didn’t know how to trust someone to stay, as I had been betrayed so many times, and disappointed by so many that came before him, when I was at my lowest.

What “could have been,” is something we all think a few times after days, weeks, or years have gone by. We reanalyze with new data and new information about ourselves in the present state in the old situation. But that situation couldn’t have turned out any differently with the old me, and the old him. It takes two to tango, right? So I’m letting him go, a little bit every day, and opening myself to embrace what will come next with my less broken self.


Here is a poetry version of what I just wrote, if you prefer terseness.

What makes me happy is

What makes me happy is different from what makes my ego happy, as it turn out. My ego, which wanted to look more successful, more admirable, more correct, wealthier, and better than everyone I knew, made me greedy- rapacious, even. To support this grandiose aspiration, I sacrificed my mental health. Not knowingly and not gladly. Something had to give in my equation. A sacrifice, you could say. I didn’t really listen to me anymore, I listened to the ego. Everything became a “should”, in my life, and not a “want to.” Anxiety grew as life got flooded with the shoulds, and depression surfaced after these sky high aspirations set by my ego were not met. Bipolar became the diagnosis. But a lifetime of not listening to myself, what do you expect? Denying yourself joy and happiness in pursuit of success and appearing that way to society. And so it goes.

My ego tried to kill me a few times- that harsh voice that told me that “you’re unworthy” to myself was all it took. It took many years, but even small consistent droplets can crack open a boulder- like Chinese water torture.

Recently, with the help of my adjusted medication, I was able to lower the volume on my ego station in the back of my head. I felt the peace that I was looking for in something else. I finished a large scale painting after four or five hours- which just felt like ten minutes to me because I was enjoying it so much. My drawing class continues to help me observe things in a new way, and helps me bring my inspirations and my ideas to the canvas.

I feel like I’ve been given a second chance. I’m sure that my battle with my ego is far from over, and I will have to be a bit more mindful of it, even with my meds, because there will be ups and downs, I suspect. And the ego is so ever present, and in control of us in this modern life where there is so much comparison and competition- on social media, on the news and so on.

I can’t answer what makes me happy quite yet- not conclusively or holistically. But I think I’m on the right path.