I made it through my riskiest time of year. I did get the Christmas delusion and grandiosity a day or so early and lasted for a few days. In fact I still have the fear of the mystical and mysterious that comes with the manic experience.
See, I grew up very religious. From the time I was 9 or 10 I had the experience that I was participating in the birth of Christ in some way on Christmas Eve. It manifested as a sense of the mysterious, mystical, numinous, though I couldn’t use those terms or images until I was a young adult. By the time I was in seminary preparing to be a pastor, the feeling was strong and the experience included the sense that I helped bring/was bringing Jesus into the world and I had a special mission to bring hope or joy or love or unity into the world through Jesus.
I know, a little over the top. I even thought most people had a sense of the mystical on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t until weeks of therapy around this time of year over several years that I knew in my heart and mind that it was a manic experience and that most people don’t have a mystical experience at Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t bring it out with my worship services.
Now that I’m aware of all this, I get anxious as I anticipate this manic experience. I try not to anticipate but I do. I avoid my church during the weeks leading up to Christmas (Advent) because the focus is waiting for The Christ Child to come again and our participation in the peace, joy, and love in the world. Even though I didn’t grow up with this liturgical rhythm, you can see how it would be Not Helpful. Not only do I lose my church support system, I am faced in my mind with what I’m missing. So it’s hard not to anticipate the delusion and grandiosity.
Today is New Year’s Eve, and I am still scared of the mysterious and mystical. I’m glad the weather is bad enough I can’t travel to a New Year’s worship service. There might be too much of “opening the mystery of a new year” or that’s where my thoughts might go. Not Helpful. I’m still scared.
In the new year, I’m hoping for mental stability and the ability to ask for and act on help when I need it. I hope I don’t need the hospital. I’m also hoping to find that special someone.
Good news! I haven’t been so suicidal that I haven’t had to go to the hospital! I’ve been increasingly suicidal the last week. But I’ve promised myself I won’t follow through, even when tempted to follow through.
My mom came back with me on Halloween for a few weeks, then extended to a month to help me adjust and get settled and give me moral support for the routines I need. I sadly got bronchitis so I haven’t been able to exercise, which would have helped my mood and my routines. I did adopt a cat! Charmer.
After a lovely Thanksgiving with my mom, she left and I was able to adjust for a time. Then my finances fell out from under me and my bank was not helpful. I was totally destabilized emotionally and mentally. I got help from my family and from my church and a friend’s church. One of the problems was an increase in intensity in one of my medical diagnosis and needed medical supplies and drugs. And I would run out of food at the end of the month.
So, my family is taking me back to their house again, for a few weeks to stabilize emotionally and mentally. The rest of my life seems ok. Getting over bronchitis so I can exercise, making meals, finances stabilized. But I’m not.
I feel broken, inside and out. My mood was destabilized and it’s not righting itself. As my psychiatrist pointed out, this is a difficult time of year for me and getting family’s support would be helpful. She also wants me to practice self-forgiveness for all the financial mishaps. And self-compassion that I need help. She increased my anti-anxiety med too, since I feel more anxious too.
I feel like a failure for needing help. I feel like a failure that I let my finances blow it for me. Just when I was getting on my feet after my mom left. And now I’m going back. GRRRRR.
I have come to the end of my time with family and becoming comfortable with healthy habits. That was the goal, and it took a few weeks longer than expected, but I made it. I feel ready to go home to try my hand at healthy habits and routines in my own environment.
The only way this step is possible is that my mom is coming home with me for about two weeks. We get home on Halloween and she will keep me from getting overwhelmed those first few days with everything that needs to be settled.
I’ve already paid bills and picked up meds for the month. Just need groceries (thank you Peapod for delivering most of them), a stationary recumbent bike from Play It Again Sports, and car care. Plus I have appointments with my therapist and with my psychiatrist.
A busy first few days with trying to stay/establish working out routines and cooking routines.
I’ve been on and off anxious, even knowing my mom will be there. My therapist is encouraging me to think of this as opportunity rather than anxious-making activities. I have the opportunity to remake myself for the better.
So that’s the growth mindset I’m trying to have.
With my ever-wise therapist, I have decided to buy a plane ticket home. Two or three weeks out. It’s time to transition into my own space and my own rhythms and routines.
This scares me to death. How much of my mood will destabilize? (Probably labile between 3 and 5 for 3-4 weeks. 5 seems to be my baseline.) How will I deal with all the anxiety? (I’ll probably get up to 8 and 9 which is dangerous/suicidal for me. Time to pull out the Ativan.) How will I deal with the fear that I can’t do this? (Repeating true things about myself that I believe: I am competent to take care of myself; I know when to ask for help.)
You can see all the work we did today. Homework is to buy the ticket. Set up time with friends now that there is a date to work with. Other things are bonus.
I’m still scared to death. And crying. Definitely crying.
Pic from time in Texas:
I’ve been tooling along with the stabilization plan here in Texas with family. I’m still getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time (already good at that); eating regularly (new skill); exercising 2x/day (new that it’s twice and it’s everyday); making lunch and cooking dinner (new skill, still learning); using time to exercise my brain with reading, puzzles and art (re-starting an old skill).
I’m still going to church while I’m here – a Unitarian Universalist one actually since a friend from seminary is the pastor there. Shhh. Don’t tell my family. They already think it’s weird I go to church and Presbyterian is enough for them. They’d probably flip if I went Episcopal! But we have different worldviews.
One funny thing is that we have together found a floorplan we all like that would allow us all to live together. Unfortunately it’s in Texas since my brother is the only one gainfully employed and we’d have to stay close enough to his job. That takes me away from values of long-term relationships, which I’m in back in Illinois and living independently, which may be overrated since I’m doing so well mentally and physically living in community with my family. I’d have a suite with two bedrooms and my own bathroom so I could have a couch, tv, office in one and feel I could live independently within the community.
I’m going on and on about this (unrealistic?) plan because I have been doing well and getting better in the head and body while with my family. Yay! And I don’t have the same live-in community at home. I don’t have someone doing my laundry or cleaning my house (which are things I’m good at taking care of at home, making it easier to let that happen here. But I’m cooking and exercising my body and brain, and those are all things I needed to get better at. The social environment has helped. And I just can’t get the same level of social environment at home. Hence, the flirting with living altogether as a family (boyfriend welcome to live there too – but not with someone long enough for that to be an option, IF he wanted to move to Texas in the first place. IF I wanted to move to Texas in the first place.)
Well, it has been way too long, dear reader, since I have checked in. A week after finishing the outpatient program, I flew from Chicago to Dallas to spend a couple months with my family. The purpose is establishing healthy routines I’ve fallen out of. The very routines that could anchor me and my moods in an environment that will help stabilize the swings. Plus I’ll be in a supportive, social environment to help make the process a success.
That stabilization is the theory anyway. 😀 My therapists and psychiatrists are on board. And so I’m giving this a try.
We are focusing on getting up and going to bed at the same time (something I’m already ok at), showering regularly (which I’m not good at), eating regular meals with more healthy snacks. I’m also focusing on regular exercise by walking after breakfast and water jogging three times a week, with some treadmill thrown in. I’m going to church on Sundays, an important part of my spiritual practices.
I also brought all my art supplies and books and paper, and there are puzzles here, to do some art therapy and some mental exercising. It’s been two weeks and I’ve already finished my first 500-piece puzzle ever!.
Sadly, with all we are doing, I’m still heading into a depressive episode now and I’ve been feeling alone, fearful and suicidal (with plans) too. I can’t win. And I’ve gained weight even with all the focus on losing weight. Gah! Not helping.
I talk to my therapist once a week. Today we talked about my resistance to defusing from my thoughts (ACT skill), and how I can use my support system better, when I’m out of my home and close to them.
I just don’t want to feel alone and fearful anymore. Here or at home.
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Now that my shameless plugging is done…
I am doing an all-morning outpatient program Monday through Friday. Group therapy, skills, expressive therapy – all working to put me back together again. Following the program, I’ll be going to Texas for a couple months to be with family for reestablishing healthy ADLs (Activities of Daily Living – hygiene, cooking, exercise, cleaning, etc.) that I can then use and not neglect when I return to my little apartment. One of my friends will board my cat for me while I’m gone – very generous!
An important revelation occurred to me in the last couple days. I’ve felt shame, ashamed of myself, since I was a very young child. Guilt is something you feel when you make a mistake. You can make restitution, ask for forgiveness, and change. Shame says “I am a mistake,” leaving very little room for fixing anything. I think this shame I’ve felt for so long may be fueling my suicidal ideation. If I’m not worth anything, then might as well take me out. It’s a wonder I only came across suicidal ideation after the fall of a high mania when I landed in the hospital with suicidal depression. The visions of me killing myself have plagued me since – almost 7 years now. And yes, I still feel shame. Not sure that will ever go away.