Two steps back one foot forward

Thank you for being there for me, everyone. Your comments, likes and reads have helped me to hold on to dear life this past week. I truly think your thoughts and prayers got heard, and the mental health gods decided to spare me this time, again.

Motivation is coming back to me, slowly. I’m not as triggered by things and the dissociation went away. I’m so thankful that this depressive episode was just a short one.

Here is where I went wrong. I thought I was safe, and that my rapid cycling bipolar had stabilized because I had been more than OK for more than two months. But it humbled me again with another episode. I’m never safe. I’m never cured, even with the help of anything. It has to be managed. I think I put too much stress on myself by taking up full time classes and freelance jobs. They were great experiences, but I feel like I put those job related things before my mental health- and if I don’t want another episode in the future, that really needs to change. So, this month has been two steps back. We live and learn.

The state I am in

You know when things are off when you need to take a day off from art class (also known to me as, the most relaxing activity in the world).

I’ve fallen off the bipolar horse and am getting trampled by it again, big time. I’m dissociating pretty badly, and I’m still numb, lacking appetite, and feeling pretty confused, and out of it.

People often equate bipolar as getting a boost of creativity, but that’s a huge misconception. When I have depressive episodes, I can’t even pick up a pencil, let alone finish something. I’m making myself paint because I think I would feel much worse if I didn’t. I can’t say the results are that good.

I’m trying to stay away from social media as well as actual people, because I know I’m super vulnerable right now. Any small comment can throw my mind into symptoms of PTSD and all of that fun stuff. And I will get defensive most likely.

Sorry, this post isn’t all that interesting to read, or enlightening. In a city of millions of people, I just feel pathetic, sick, and so so alone, even when I’m with others.


It has been quite a while, depression

I didn’t really see it coming for me this time. I know I had been really busy, and it was a bit of a stretch right now to be doing anything full time in my condition, but I did it anyway.

My perception shifts, once again, to the negatives I have in my life. The negatives I have not even thought of for a month or so. I have no real friends where I am, I have no job, I live with my parents, I have no idea what to do about my future. It’s all doom and gloom. I try, at the same time, to remember the upsides, but it sounds like a false prophet. I don’t really feel it. I feel numb, and gratitude can’t be felt with all this numbness.

Call it what you will. The ripple effect from Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. But that’s not what this is about.

When I shift into this kind of mode, as I’ve written about it before, the colors literally look less vibrant, and I can’t emote. I can’t work out, and everything is a catastrophe in my head. Everything I’ve ever done is useless, and I feel like a victim in every episode in my life. I see in my head, a full house of the people who know me, laughing at me for where I am in my life.

My head decided that today was a mixed episode kind of day. So I’ve painted the whole day away, and I don’t feel even a little accomplished or joyful.

I’m going to try to ride it out. But this sucks.

White lies to myself

You know the feeling when something so terrible seems like light years away, stuck in the distant past? Oh, the relief. But there is a twist: the pain from it is still so raw, and palpable but no longer relevant in the present moment. That is how I imagine most of the people in the dormant stages of bipolar recovery to be, when the meds work and the depression and mania are in check. I’ve detached myself from that part of my past- my depressive phase- (at least outwardly), and it became another piece in my private collection, guarded by many locks and bolts to the outside world. To me, it was just another dark past that I have overcome. As Mariah Carey came out of the bipolar closet, I went in as far as I could.

It all started when I started going to a local church. Read: when I began interacting with people outside of my family, my treatment group and my art class. For someone who grew up without a particular religion, as a lifelong atheist, it doesn’t make sense. But I was thirsty for a human connection, preferably a non-judgmental, and kind one, and church seemed like the perfect place,and it was five minutes away from where I live. It may sound somewhat calculating, but I wasn’t so opposed to converting if my needs were met. And my guess was right, the church turned out to be another family I came to embrace, and it was all good.

Except, it got in the way of being authentic. Being me. Long time readers know my issue with this- this fine line of oversharing and being authentic. I found myself introducing myself to these people as a glossy version of myself, which skips the part where I quit my job because of my bipolar breakdown, the multiple suicide attempts, hospitalizations and moving back home across the country, and then moving yet again because my parents moved. And not working, and not looking, or aspiring to become something any time soon.

The glossy, approachable, I-have-my-shit-all-figured-out version is that I’m an art student and voluntarily quit my job and moved to New York City to pursue a career in art. Ah, how different things look when you swap out the true reason for a innocuous, false one. I started taking comfort in this version of my story to others, and I almost started believing it myself. It moved me towards more and more projects, and to practice drawing, painting and towards learning about art history. I actually subtly started dreaming about doing art for a living. Not that I was sure of it or knew how I could make it.

Like a bad breakup, I had abolished what was left of my hospital experiences, and those dark dark moments of depression from my memory (and most importantly, my story.) I feel a slight tinge or guilt when I have to tell people this new version, and frustrated that I may be making myself work towards a rather temporary goal that may not be something that I really want. But really, for now, I’m happy. My story will simply have to change when the time comes, I guess.

Late therapy update, more on anger

I feel like I’ve been away for awhile. It doesn’t mean that I, all of a sudden, stopped having intrusive thoughts, anxiety and everything else I write about due to having bipolar. In fact, it is the opposite- I tend to have nothing to write about (other than about my agonizing existence) when I go into a depressive episodes because things get so chaotic up there. I don’t know, I fell into depression and I must be improving because things are easier to manage. Bad thoughts are easier to brush off, it’s easier to laugh, and I can write again.

I still haven’t done my homework from my last therapy session, which was monitoring my anger. Or rather, knowing what makes me angry, since I hardly ever outwardly express it. C thinks it’s the root of my depression: my inability to know that I’m angry, and my inability to express it outwardly. I’m, of all things, a placid person- not even my family, who has seen me through thick and thin, has seen me lose it. Anger frightens me. According to C, it comes from my childhood experience of witnessing a violently verbally abusive (and some physically) household from a very young age, if you want to be technical about it. No one was physically hurt, but from an early age, I carried the hurt inside, and was careful not to unleash my anger for anyone to see. I’m not sure if I believe that to be my “core reason” but I do hate confrontation, and my heart rate goes a million bpm if I ever get into something like it. C asked, what triggers your anger? Is it unfairness? Worry (like a mother yelling at her child for not being in touch)? I had no idea anger could be other than anger and could be based off of another emotion. Anger was really complicated.

My mother later told me that there were times when she sensed my anger. She said that she saw annoyance in my eyes, and I was very uncomfortable- I just didn’t say anything, though. I probably had no idea that I was angry at the time.

And, look- I don’t know if fixing this will help me not be depressed, but I know that the meds are working close to their optimal level. So I’m going to give this a try.

Records of everyday existence

I feel like I’m shrinking and shriveling like a scared little ball of wet piece of paper. I’m collapsing because I can’t take being myself in this world. Tired, so tired for being incongruent to it, I’ve desperately tried to change, but trying apparently wasn’t good enough- I tend to fall short. (But it’s all in my head, they say, I don’t actually fall short but I just feel like I do.) Only a select few in this life know what “feeling nothing” means. I believe I’m one of them- there are upsides to it; you see the world more clearly. But you have to be prepared for the starkness and cruelty of it.

I had some rest.

Yesterday’s chasing thoughts have slowed down a little but still I’m faced with a bit of numbness. Numbness isn’t better than pain- it doesn’t work that way apparently. It’s just discomfort without a knowable cause.

I had some breakfast.

I look back on what I wrote, and it’s hard to empathize with those feelings I wrote about within the 12 hour range. I’m feel better, and I even had a few ideas for a new painting. The feelings I’ve felt- the roller coaster of them- are not uncommon to my every day, but so foreign every single time it happens. Only if I could reach back to that person feeling the pain and the numbness, and tell her that it will pass… only if she will listen.