Category Archives: Artwork

Depression Moon

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.

One Week Done with DIY Residential

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

2015-11-22 14.24.34

 

2015-11-22 14.42.23

A Rich and Meaningful Life

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.

2015-11-19 15.36.16

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.

Empathy Cards for Serious Illnesses

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.

 

didn't know what to say

 

Happens for a reason

Nirvana – Lithium Is My Anthem

In the hospitalization over solstice (anyone paying attention will not be surprised to find out I was hospitalized at solstice and during a new moon), my delusion got the best of me and I met psychosis again. I did the best I could, and the delusion broke open and took me with it anyway.

Now in my more right mind, I heard Nirvana’s “Lithium” today, and I thought “Yes! Exactly.”

So here you go. A teeny bit of what it felt like to lose my mind.

View Performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkcJEvMcnEg

I’m so happy
‘Cause today I found my friends
They’re in my head
I’m so ugly
But that’s okay, ’cause so are you
We broke our mirrors
Sunday morning
Is everyday for all I care
And I’m not scared
Light my candles
In a daze ’cause I found God
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah!
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah!
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah!
I’m so lonely
But that’s okay, I shaved my head
And I’m not sad
And just maybe
I’m to blame for all I’ve heard
But I’m not sure
I’m so excited
I can’t wait to meet you there
And I don’t care
I’m so horny
But that’s okay
My will is good
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah!
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah!
I like it
I’m not gonna crack
I miss you
I’m not gonna crack
I love you
I’m not gonna crack
I killed you
I’m not gonna crack

December Processing

It may not be the best time of the year to process the loss of my marriage (anniversary is in December) or the role bipolar has had in the huge blow up of my life and who I am (since December is a manic, mystical time for me and I miss leading congregations through them). Yet I process through art and speaking, even though I’m struggling with a delusion and suicidal thoughts. What I’m processing only adds to one or both of those feelings, but squashing the feelings and need to process only makes the feeling worse. They are coming out whether I process them or not. I guess I better process them.

bipolar sucksI’m angry about how the grandiosity of manic bipolar had a role in decisions I made through my life, including the ones I made about becoming superwife to make a broken marriage work over many years. I’m angry that I put up with a bunch of stuff because I thought I could fix it, or deep down I secretly deserved it because I wasn’t good enough to fix it.

I’m angry about how the grandiosity of manic bipolar and the doom and depression of bipolar had a role in decisions I made in working with committees and in preaching when I was a pastor. Was that even me? How much of who I was as pastor was me, and how much was sick me?

I forgive myself of what I did in all these situations when under the influence of bipolar. Forgiving is not forgetting, and feelings of remorse surface regularly about both realities. I have and continue to let go of what bipolar influenced me to do. But I made decisions out of youth or just me at that time, and they need forgiveness too. Hence, the artwork to express feelings and begin processing what led to those decisions in the first place.

What was so clear in artwork today was that I’m so angry, and one of the objects of my anger is the role bipolar has played in the decisions I made about my life, personal and professional. Even though I’ve released myself of responsibility for decisions made under the influence, I still live with consequences and grief. I can still be sad about it. And angry about it. I’m really angry, in case you hadn’t soothed that out yet.

Possible Beginning to My Book Suddenly Bipolar

bookDuring this 2 week hospitalization I did some writing that would make being in the hospital sound fresh instead of only based on memories. Enjoy!

 

The nurse feeds me my evening cup of “Skittles,” brightly-colored psychiatric medications, while down the hall waft sounds of a small group of patients singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It will be Lights Out in 12 minutes. I will lie in my six-inch foam mattress bed with thoughts of ending myself racing through my slowly-sedating brain. The eerie light of the hallway won’t allow the darkness to envelope me in sleep. Nor will the shadows be chased away enough to feel safe.

“Deborah, I have meds for you!” It’s the next memory I have. The nurse calls cheerfully as she wheels the cart next to my bed for my morning “Skittles,” more brightly-colored psychiatric medications. Dutifully I swallow and offer a prayer to the bipolar gods that I’ll feel sane and confident this day. And discharge from the hospital may be only a day away instead of weeks. Slowly it dawns on me that my first waking thoughts were of offing myself instead of the usual joy I would feel that it is my birthday. My prayer now feels like a distant hope I’ll never realize.

That was the first night of my umpteenth or twenty-somethingth psychiatric hospitalization in the four years since I was diagnosed with Type I Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a bonus of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder because my suicidal thoughts take on obsessive tendencies. And I’m Bipolar Type I because I’ve had at least one psychotic break – two that I remember from years – eons it feels – before diagnosis, but happenings just the same, perfect emblems that Bipolar has followed me my entire adult life, and not only the last four years since diagnosis.

This is the story of being Suddenly Bipolar and of the slow coming to terms with what Bipolar and Anxiety now mean for my future and how they made sense of my past.

Come with me and explore a sudden diagnosis and its slower cousin, Acceptance. Join me on a journey toward an ever-cycling life of moods, schedules, routines, and the intense beauty of a support system that held faith for me.