For two weeks I used skill after skill to stay safe. I exhausted myself. And when I showed up as scheduled at my therapist’s office, she told me it was time. Time just for a respite at least so that I could go back to using skills. I needed a break where I knew I was safe so that I could rest.
I was inpatient for 5 days, a relatively short stay, and I’ve been out for 6. And some of these days I’m “wasting time” again using skill after skill to manage anxiety and suicidality to make it through the day. If it’s only anxiety, I have several skills in my back pocket from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It’s the way I live my life now and I feel so much better knowing I can handle anxiety.
Then there is the anxiety of suicidality, and I get flustered because what I am normally doing to live with anxiety suddenly takes on life and death. And I don’t feel prepared for that. And this is the space I’ve been in for the last couple days, as well as those last few days before this last hospitalization.
As I was hospitalized, I was aware that Anxiety was mixing with the change in mood from Manic to Depressed, and yes, I was Depressed by the time I got into the hospital. Not as low as I have been, but certainly in the Depressed cul-de-sac. My doctor increased my anti-depressant to deal with the depression, but hugely bumped up my mood stabilizer to avoid (hopefully) the Mania that I get at the end of September through most of October.
One of the things I did while in the hospital was to list coping skills that I use when anxious or could beef up when anxious AND going through a mood shift or changed mood. I also listed the skills that would help whether that was in or toward Mania and in or toward Depression. Good work. Up on the frig.
Except, I’m in my old stomping grounds (did you know that expression came from elephants returning to areas they have lived?). Anxiety and suicidality. Suicidality and anxiety. In a depressed state, though not terribly low. I’m stuck not knowing how to handle triggers (like being in church and on the chancel today, 4 years from my first hospitalization). And I’m stuck with coping skills that don’t seem to work when I start obsessing about suicide again. Am I just going to wear myself out using coping skills and end up back in the hospital again?