Turning a Corner

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: 


My brother

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Progress and Regress

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.)
 

Texas Healing potential

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. 

Stabilizing

Hey! Did you know Suddenly Bipolar has a Facebook Page? And I use my Twitter account to tweet out tidbits if you’d like to see them.

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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.

Artwork from the Hospital in May

Poetry from the Hospital – May 10

No resolution for me

No six months out for me

No stability for me

No exit for me (from my illness)

 

Unless I take an exit

As fond as I am of an exit

It’s not a good idea to exit

But, oh, how tempting is the exit

 

Recovery has been/is elusive

Healing has been/is elusive

Reading comprehension has been/is elusive

Satisfying work has been/is elusive

 

Where is my change?

Can I ever change

Will a desire for exit change

How about elusive benefits – any changes?

 

I’m a burden to my support

I’ve tried to increase my support

I’m always worried I’ll lose my support

I’m broken. I don’t know why I have support.

 

Poetry from the Hospital – May 9

Laughing, Connecting –

Oops! I can’t feel happy;

I’m depressed.

Guilty, Ashamed.

Laughing, Connecting –

Stab! See how you

Want to die.

Afraid, silenced.

Laughing, Connecting –

Bam! I’m not in

that role anymore.

Empty, yearning.

Lost in a story –

Splat! You can’t understand

Or remember anymore.

Deflated, defeated.

 

Bipolar ravages lives, minds. You can roll over and give up and live next to potential, yet always short of it. You can adapt and notice limitations as mere borders that outline potential’s shape. Amorphous and floating those borders may be. But you can dance with them. And find life within the ravages. New life burrows and blooms from a fallen log. Never the manic high reaching beyond tree tops. Nor the depressed, decrepit log testing to lie forgotten. Surprise! the bipolar. Fill potential’s shape with a new tree that bends but does not break, that branches up and down and thrives inside its boundaries. Look to the bonsai tree…