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.
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.
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.
What 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.
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.
I haven’t written it yet. I have a little hope that I won’t. I’m suicidal again and have activated a safety plan that may keep me out of the hospital. Yesterday I was completely convinced I wanted to write a suicide note and overdose on my meds. Today the urge is less, but my friend has my meds, and so I have less ability to follow through.
The urge is frantically searching for a way out of the deep pain I feel. Some other plan to die so the pain will stop. The pain of grief for 2 cats lost from my household, from a recent divorce, from the acceptance that I may never be able to work again, and be a part-time volunteer forever. The pain of a deep knowing that I will die young, perhaps at my own hand. The pain that is depression – a vice around my heart and one around my brain, squeezing life out of me, as my gut has a constant sinking feeling.
This is what I want to write:
It’s not your fault. I tried every conceivable way to deal with the intractable pain, and I couldn’t bear it anymore. I found the end of my rope and I can’t hang on anymore. I know you will weep for me, but weep also for the pain that had the power to drive me crazy. I’m not in my right mind, and I can’t find it anymore. Know that in my right mind I said and did things that showed I cared about you. And I meant it. Hold on to that, and let me go so that I don’t hurt so deeply anymore. There was nothing else you could do. Don’t blame yourself. I couldn’t fight anymore. Bipolar wins. Be mad at that.
That is what I want to write. And I’m ashamed of it, but I’m honest. At least give me credit for honesty.
We have experienced yet another school shooting in the USA. The 45th this year. And before the facts are clear, we hear that the shooter’s motivation may be mental illness.
When will this stigma stop? Whenever a white boy or white man shoots people, media and popular opinion nearly immediately want to say mental illness was at play.
Maybe that’s true. But in 45 cases in 2015 alone? I assure you, as a person with mental illness, that we’d much rather hurt ourselves than others, and are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than a perpetrator.
I propose that anomie – and not mental illness – is the culprit. Profiles of the shooters seem similar whether there were signs of violence ahead of time or not. A loner. Few friends. Little academic or personal success. Access to many guns or violent weapons. And I’m sure many more characteristics. Life is not going the way the man wants, and he feels out of control. The American doesn’t know where to turn to feel better about his situation. He doesn’t think of counseling or trying to find a new peer group, and these are not options presented widely in the culture or in the media he consumes. Violence is a way to let those feelings out, and is an accepted part of American culture and media.
Mental illness is not a catch-all for people acting out. Stop using it as one.
Twenty-sixth hospitalization this week. Saturday night I was too obsessive about suicide and a friend took me to the ER, where I spent 14 hours waiting in a room with nothing in it for a bed to open up in the psych hospital associated with the main hospital. Fortunately I was only in the hospital for 4 days, much shorter than other hospitalizations.
I think the onset of hypomania made me more susceptible to stressors – heat, the divorce, death of my cat 2 months ago, writer critique from people who don’t know the genre, starting online dating, new and old cats who are still not cohabiting well, not enough to do to feel meaningful, onset of more intense suicidal thoughts. I live with thoughts everyday, but they were getting worse, intrusive and obsessional. If I hadn’t been going through a mood shift and didn’t have as many stressors, I might have been able to handle the suicidal desires. Alas, I was going toward hypomania and did have a lot of stressors.
I feel guilty and as though I let everyone down including myself by going in the hospital. Even though I felt just as miserable as I ever had, I still think I should have handled it as I had for the 6.5 months previous where I didn’t need the hospital. I had been able to keep suicide off the table as a possibility. And then I couldn’t. I know it was just a tune up stay, short and sweet, but the clock starts over again for how long I can go without a hospitalization. I white-knuckled several time to make it to 6.5 months. This time of year (August through December) is my hardest. I hope I don’t end up in the hospital repeatedly, but I fear I will. And I will feel guilty again and a disappointment to my ideals and those around me who support me in so many ways.