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Category Archives: Artwork
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.
Laughing, Connecting –
Oops! I can’t feel happy;
Laughing, Connecting –
Stab! See how you
Want to die.
Laughing, Connecting –
Bam! I’m not in
that role anymore.
Lost in a story –
Splat! You can’t understand
Or remember anymore.
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…
Waxing gibbous, perigee Moon mocks me
with her neither large or small shining call.
She terrifies me when full –
some symptom flares up.
She sneaks up on me when new –
surprising energy leading to health or shame.
Moon mocks me in all guises except crescent.
The Cheshire Cat grins and I know
I’m safe for tonight.
Waxing gibbous, perigee Moon glowered at me.
Sadly, I’m reminded that Moon
guides/tempts/throws me. I, her slave.
No path to guide me, save to the hospital.
No salvation from temptation
except a friend’s interruption.
No lifeline thrown, save the red bag
half-packed awaiting Full Moon’s beckon.
Waxing gibbous, perigee Moon shines brightly
as she rounds out, rings around her.
She tells me it’s time, though she is not full.
My hunch from her confirmed as I crawl around
trying to function
and the Mom confirms Moon.
Depression drops me off at the hospital.
It’s been about a week of the DIY Residential Program. Following the strict schedule has been moderately easy. Dealing with suicidal thoughts has been HARD. As happened at my residential therapy experience in February, and is happening again – a rather normal reaction – I felt challenged by the material and resisted what my therapist and group therapy and classes presented. I’m resisting the ACT requirement of Committed Action toward your values, because I’m not at all sure I want to live or have a meaningful life. I think I’m just resisting and I’ll eventually break through, provided I don’t end up in the hospital first.
I looked up on the internet overdosing on my many medications, I called a suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-TALK – they are amazing!). I keep a bag packed in the car in case I need to drive to the hospital. My support system has been life-saving, and I’m so sorry for dragging them through this horrible journey. Partly it’s because I don’t have residential staff to talk to about the terrible things I think about or see in my head, so I’m sharing them with my support system, local and national. Y’all have been great at encouraging me to keep moving forward and not follow through with the thoughts and visions. But as one of the images below says, I feel like I’m on a never-ending treadmill of suicidal voices and visions that I use defusion on every time they come up. Which is A LOT. In the middle of conversations, in the middle of reading, when I’m laughing at something someone said or at a funny show. Any time I’m alone, or with people. There they are, waiting for me to give in this time.
I started a new workbook that is specifically for using ACT with depression. I have high hopes for it. Until in one early chapter it makes the claim that depression is only a little bit biological and almost all about how we respond to situations – emotional avoidance or fusion with unhelpful thoughts. I’m still open to what it says, as clearly I need new ways of coping. But even though I’m depressed, I feel like I’m depressed more from the suicidal thoughts than I am in the traditional sense. I still get up and do everything I’m supposed to do as though I am following my values. But I still feel numb and separated from life, which is a feeling associated with depression. I’m avoiding feeling the emotional pain of suicidal thoughts? or what the suicidal thoughts are trying to tell me? (that I want things to be different? that I want to be strong again? that something needs to change?)
I also think I’m lying to myself in a couple different ways.
- I keep saying I want to die and need this life to be over. But I keep asking for help and I keep doing the positive things such as taking care of myself, exercising, socializing, going to the hospital to be safe, etc. Those are things that seem to say that I want to live and I want things to be different, not that I want to be dead. I really like the thought of being dead though. I’m very fused to that idea and I use a lot of defusion techniques with that one. So the lie is that I want to die, when my actions say I want to live. Which is what my therapist says too.
- I’ve started saying that I no longer have viable options for killing myself since the information I got about overdosing looks like I’d just end up waking up in the ER or ICU with heart and liver and other damage, or if I took enough I’d have seizures and a heart attack. Not the go to sleep forever image I have in my head. And I’ve mostly given up on slicing my arms or throat open after talking with people who have and still ended up waking up in the ER. So, the only plan that would really work involves a gun and I don’t have access to one, which everyone says is a great thing. It seems that I don’t have viable options. But I think I’m lying to myself, because maybe a heart attack from too many meds wouldn’t be so bad. I’m totally irrational on this lie. I really don’t think I’d do anything, I’d rather die from something that took my life and I didn’t have to do it. I just really want to be dead, which is the subject of Lie number 1 above.
With all of these lies and thoughts I’m continuously using skills to defuse from, to make room for them to just be, and just be words and just be pictures and not be imperatives I have to follow. I’m doing the right thing according to everyone in my care team (about 6 people, plus a bunch of auxiliary people when I’m in the hospital). I just still really want to be dead. And out of pain. It hurts a whole heck of a lot to feel like there is a black hole in the center that is slowly, tortuously sucking you dead into its center.
I’ve been working with the Thought Defusion as described in the previous post, and added Expansion, which is making room for thoughts, images and emotions to be there – don’t have to like them, just let them be there. And finally, getting in touch with Connection, the Observing Self that is always present, never judging, who only notices and sees what is thought about, felt, experienced (also known as Mindfulness in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). These open the doors to being able to have a deep, rich, fulfilling, meaningful life based on your deepest values because you are no longer a slave to your thoughts, emotions, and images or memories.
That’s the theory anyway.
Then there’s me. Today I drew this.
And I talked about the art and the thoughts with my therapist. I say I don’t want a fulfilling life and I want to die. She says I think I don’t deserve the fulfilling life and dying isn’t an option. That someone who goes to this much effort isn’t someone who wants to give up, but someone who wants change. OK. I’ll give her that. Change would be nice. I feel like I’ve worked my a$$ off for years and feel I’ve made very little progress. Even in the last few months the goals to meet my values of relationships and meaningful work – I added volunteering in more social atmospheres, joined more MeetUp groups and started attending them. And I still ended up suicidal and in the hospital. 4 times in 10 weeks.
Tonight I’m suicidal again. I can’t tell you how much I want to die and how much I don’t believe I’m worthwhile at all. I work hard toward my values, for what? Measly scraps of barely moving forward. Why try? I don’t want this magical, rich meaningful life. I want to be done. I can’t do this anymore. Therapist still says I think I don’t deserve the meaningful life. I say I just don’t want it. It’s too much bother. I’d rather turn in, thank you very much.
So, I’m using defusion skills as discussed in the previous post. In some small way I want to not believe myself. I’d like to think I want a meaningful life and I want to live. You’d think I want that with all the effort I’m going to in order to do this DIY residential program. But I’m defeated and can barely stand to live, much less follow my values. I’ll keep using skills. But I still don’t want to live.
Update: Emily appeared on Good Morning America on May 21. Yay Emily!
You’ll never guess what I found! The perfect cards that all our family and friends can send us when they find out we have a mental illness, or are having a flare-up of a mental illness. Empathy Cards by Emily McDowell.
No more icky promises that it will all work out. No more friends and family disappearing because they don’t know what to do or say. Just send us a funny card that says you know this sucks and you’re here and not leaving. And you won’t tell us about some new internet potion that will make it magically go away.
Let’s make Emily’s cards go viral! All sorts of long-term, invisible, serious and/or horrible diseases are out there that need EMPATHY not saccharine.