Category Archives: Grief

New Year’s Thoughts

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.

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Down the Same Road Again

Here I am again. Anxious and suicidal. I have been feeling this way for several days now. Twice now I’ve stayed overnight at a friend’s house because I didn’t feel safe alone. I’m scared I’ll end up in the hospital, but at least I feel safe there. There are no temptations to end it all.

I think this was brought on by a med change. I’m so frustrated by that because my doctor and I made them, and made them slowly so that I wouldn’t have that hangover feeling until mid-afternoon when I finally had energy to start the day. I often fall asleep in the morning a couple hours after I get up too. I hate feeling like a slug.

I think lowering one drug in particular brought on increased depression and anxiety, as well as increased suicidal thoughts with plans (which I always have, even when I’m not actively thinking about suicide, I have the thoughts WITH plans).

That drug has been increased for several days now, but I’m still feeling horrible. Anxiety is cycling with suicidal plans. Impulsivity is growing. I don’t have the means to carry out my primary plan at home so most of the time I feel “safe” – I’m less likely to do anything. Doesn’t mean the thoughts aren’t there or the plans or the impulsivity. Sadly, my main plan is one I can carry out at my friend’s house where I stay when I feel unsafe. I’m not alone until after I fall asleep, I sleep pretty hard and I wake up groggily when people come downstairs. So I’m mostly safe.

I’m so tired of the lost time I get in the hospital all these days and weeks I’ve spent in my 30+ times. I grieve for the time even though there is nothing else I can do to stay alive. I grieve for the burden I become on friends to take care of my cat or bring me clothes. I’m ashamed of my self for not trusting myself to keep myself safe or using skills strongly enough. I’m very hard on myself. I feel a hospitalization coming. I’ve been on the increased medication for several days now and I’m still just as bad. I don’t know if I can wait a full week to give it a shot, or for another week after that when we increase the first medication, which is likely.

I don’t know what to do. I feel horrible.

Angry and Sad and Anxious

It’s f-ing Holy Week before Easter and I’m imploding. Mostly from the anxiety that turns into tension that turns into a headache that turns into a migraine. I took a walk to see if that would expel some of the energy of the feelings. The walk didn’t really help.

Holy Week is traditionally hard for me since diagnosis of bipolar, which you can see documented throughout the blog. Not as bad as the Christmas mania/delusion which can last weeks, but this Holy Week seems especially bad.

I’m grieving not leading a church through the holy days ever again. I liked making space for mystery and for people to experience something bigger than themselves in the dramatic and formational/fundamental story of Christianity. And I won’t do that anymore.

And I won’t do it anymore partially (wholly?) because when I was leading a congregation through the holy days I would experience manic religious visions and delusions. I had my own high going. I planned everything far enough in advance so that I could enter the experience in my way too, and I hoped my experience and liturgies  would lead others into the experience of Holy Week too. Holy Week and Easter, besides being fundamental to being Christian, exemplified how I approached being a pastor – making space for others to have mystical ,or at least mysterious, experiences of the divine. Like I did.

I’m angry because I won’t get to live out Holy Week again with a church, and I’m angry at mania for being the reason I can’t. So I’m mad at myself too. I’m angry that my response is an inability to deal with my feelings and therefore not being able to take care of myself very well. I’m doing the best I can, I guess. Give myself credit for getting out of bed? For getting dressed? For going for a walk? Still haven’t figured out meals today. It’s hard every day and I get so messed up in feelings that I don’t want to eat, but I need nourishment to prevent hangry outrage or turning on myself.

I’m sad because I miss leading people through holy days. I was good at it. I’m grieving the position I lost because of the bipolar. I’m sad that I’m susceptible to being ruled by these feelings so that I’m not at my best and not taking care of myself the way I want to be. I’m using skills to deal with feelings, such as reminding myself they are just feelings and I can go about my life anyway. I’m so bogged down in sadness that this skill is not working well. My therapist reminded me this is probably a week to focus primarily on distraction techniques to move through the week. I’ll get there. The time will run out, and I’ll be ok again. The moving through is what is so damned hard. Slogging through quicksand is the best image I can think of.

I’m anxious, well, because I’m anxious. I’m always anxious. Yet this anxiety is fueled by the anger and sadness. I’m anxious that I’ll take this too far and end up in the hospital again, after 70 days of being out and stable, even through the time change and equinox, traditionally difficult times for me. I’m anxious that the manic visions and delusions will happen even without participating in anything religious. Maybe just by reading about or hearing about something religious.

I’m stuck. I won’t always be stuck because time marches on, and it will be next week soon. These four days are trying to the soul, to the mind, to the body. I’m not taking good care of any of those, despite some trying such as taking a walk.

Summer Mania – No Surprise

Well, I had an interesting week last week doing high-confidence, high-risk behaviors that were outside my usual way of being in the world. I had lessened need for sleep, which is very much different from my 8-9 hours a night that I usually need. When I saw my psychiatrist, she confirmed I had a short bout with mania. Yay.

I’m more likely to have a manic episode in July or August. No particular reason why, unless I’m getting too much sun. I hate the sun normally. It’s too hot, it burns my skin if I even think about it, and I succumb to heat stroke quickly. However, the increased light of this time of year could lead to mania. Which it did.

This week I’m a little depressed, but a new relationship is keeping my spirits higher than I otherwise might have been.

I’m a bit worried about September. It’s another equinox and change in weather and light patterns. I’m susceptible to suicidal depression when seasons change – any of them. I’m so lucky that way. I AM trying not to borrow trouble and just let each day unfold as it will.

Psychiatrist Says Overwhelmed

Understatement of the year. I shared how overwhelmed I felt doing very small tasks. And I shared my thoughts and feelings about suicide and my wish to die. And she wants me to stay with people, even while going home to handle little tasks. That’s when I feel safest – with people – even though I still want to die. I’m obsessing about ways again, the way I was in the hospital. I have an appointment with her again on Friday. I guess my goal is stay out of the hospital for the next 3 days. But it’s so painful – the feelings and wanting to die, as well as the struggle to stay out. Hour by hour I hurt and I have to tell myself “just thoughts” or “just feelings” or “just an obsession.”

I want to die.

Bipolar sucks.

Awaiting Xmas Mania

hospital
I ended up in the hospital for about a week after that last post, and I’ve had a week to do non-treatment oriented activities for a week now. I started getting better in the hospital when I stopped going to groups and stopped doing the workbooks that I had brought with me. So, my care team agreed that I should not do the home residential program anymore and focus instead on fun things and keeping busy with friends and knitting and reading and baking (if I feel like it) and other things. So far this plan is working. I’ve had a couple hard days where the suicidal thoughts I have every day were more insistent. But I’m still managing them.

I did just find out that a friend died by suicide. While I grieve for her and her family and friends who were closer to her than I was, I find I’m still ok. I do wish it was me. That’s the nature of my illness and daily suicidal thoughts.

mania1What I’m more imminently worried about, however, is the euphoria and delusion that I’ve gotten at Christmas for the last, oh, 30 years. The delusion is only 17-18 years old, but the 2 together have been strong for quite a few years together. They usually peak on Christmas Eve and resolve in the days after Christmas so that I’m usually ok by New Year’s Eve. The euphoria is a grandiose union with all things natural and supernatural and accompanied by increased energy. It’s disorienting. And the delusion is also grandiose – I personally am bringing and will bring salvation to the world’s problems.

My therapist says euphoria is ok and bearable as long as I don’t make decisions while experiencing it, and that a pattern doesn’t make it inevitable. A saving grace is that for both I’m usually aware of them, which keeps me safe even through the mania. If I was unaware of them, I would need others to be aware of them to keep me from making decisions in the grandiose state – like spending lots of money that I can’t repay. I made end-of-the-year donations yesterday and I’m second guessing that I was overspending. I think I’m ok, though, despite the amount. But that’s exactly what the grandiosity would say. So I should probably check this out with someone.

One behavior I have needed to keep in check since the beginning of November is over-anticipating this euphoria. Last year I had the euphoria for almost the whole month. It was horrible, and I ended up in the hospital. What a surprise (she said, deadpan). So, I’ve made it to the 19th of December and been ok. I’m heading into the week when the 2 usually start, and I’m trying to stop thinking that they are inevitable. But I think dying by suicide is inevitable too. So, inevitable is part of my disordered thinking. That’s something to work out with my therapist. Stopping the feeling of inevitability of something that’s a pattern and the inevitability of a gut feeling.

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.