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.

Advertisements

Legion

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. There is a show on FX called Legion. The main character, David, is diagnosed with schizophrenia and lives in a mental hospital and has unusual delusions and paranoia (normal symptoms of schizophrenia). Except maybe that’s a dream and he has special powers that haven’t been harnessed. He even visits the astral plane of existence. But then we return in the next episode to discover that all of those people who talked of his special abilities are also hospital patients. 

So is he schizophrenic, or does he have special powers, and the hospital is a dream or projection? That seems to be the central question of the series.

My question is about the portrayal of mental illness and mental hospitals in this series. Is it sympathetic, and does it help people understand illness and hospital life better? Or does it drop to society’s most basic fears of mental illness and being “locked up in the looney bin”?

The show hasn’t answered its own question yet about whether David is schizophrenic. But if he is, he is having the grandiose delusions and paranoia typical of schizophrenia. And the hospital is the right place to keep him safe from living out his delusions in a way that could hurt himself or others. And the show is honoring the role of hospitals and the reality of living with mental illness. 

If, however, he has special powers, perhaps his mind is retreating into mental illness and a mental hospital to keep himself safe from his powers. Does that mean the series is portraying mental illness and mental hospitals as a place for weakness and hiding from reality? 

That is my fear, as a mental illness/health advocate. 

Mood and Life Choices Intersecting

asMid January through early February I spent in the hospital. Yes. Again. My psychiatrist was adamant we need to find another way than bouncing in and out of the hospital. I agree! The changes we agreed upon were staying with friends if I didn’t feel safe. That would allow me to ride the wave of emotions longer without using the hospital before I need it. And it would provide a chance for me to trust myself to keep myself safe. These things seem basic and “Why didn’t you try them before?” We have, but not with the same rigorous energy to keep me out of the hospital. The bouncing this time was ridiculous.

In other news, I’m still in physical therapy after shoulder surgery in early December. It still hurts, and the exercises seem to make it hurt even more. This pain has kept me from getting back into the pool for water aerobics. I’m too concerned about damaging the progress we’ve made. I could go to the gym and focus on the lower body. I’d be moving and re-establishing the habit of going to the gym. The water aerobics classes that are best for me are in the evening. But going to the gym in the afternoon and evening uses up any available energy. I’m a better morning exerciser.

A real factor in the exercise department is that I’m depressed and low energy from the depression. Any extra energy anywhere is like pulling teeth. So even though there is concern about hurting my shoulder in the pool exercises, the going-to-the-gym option seems less of an option because I am depressed. I already feel bad about myself. Now I can have guilt for not exercising added to that. Another real factor is that my drugs keep me hungover for most of the day too. And yet another real factor is that I made the decision I’d rather be healthy than skinny. That doesn’t help motivation to get back to the gym. I do still want to work out, but I’m less concerned with weight loss. Might be a mistake, but my mood affects the decisions too. I’m still trying to manage the mood. How am I supposed to manage pain and weight loss too, when my energy is zapped and I feel horrible about myself anyway?

One foot in front of the other in a boring life right now.

Winter Mood Problems

snowflakeWow, it’s been a while since I blogged. Sorry, dear readers.

One reason is that I met someone special and we are beginning to share our lives together on a more permanent basis. The process is slow because he also lives with mental illness, and putting us together means my or his illness can interrupt plans to spend time together.

Another reason is that I had shoulder surgery in December. I’m now in physical therapy and function is getting better, but strength is still elusive. All in good time.

The major reason I haven’t written in a while is that I have struggled with my Christmas delusion (that I am bringing Jesus to the world and have a special mission to bring unity or hope or joy to the world). Fortunately it only showed up a week ahead of Christmas Eve. I was on haldol to keep me in this plane of existence, but I did experience psychosis from time to time when I was not in touch with reality.

I went off the haldol – as my doctor indicated – when the delusion passed. Unfortunately my mood tanked and I ended up in the hospital for a few days before the new year. Putting me on low dose haldol brought my mood back to mostly stable so I went home for the holiday.

Then last week my mood tanked again – no trigger. So frustrating. So shameful to me to have to go back to the hospital for no apparent reason. Especially after only 10 days. No med changes were made, much to my chagrin – fix something! I thought. Suicidal thoughts eased up as did my depression, and I was discharged on Friday. Another short stay! Hooray!

Now, it’s been a couple days. I can feel the suicidal thoughts again building up steam. I can feel my mood tanking. I don’t want to go to the hospital again, but I feel it coming up again. It seems the only time I stay out of the hospital are the times I mostly seem “up” which means hypomanic or manic, usually the summer. And I hate the summer. I’d rather be in the hospital then, than the rest of the year when I like the weather better and can find some solace in the times of the year.

I don’t know what to do now. I committed to teaching middle school at church next week. But I might be in the hospital again. I see my psychiatrist tomorrow and she may send me there. I try to make plans and my mood always wins. This is so freaking old. And I always feel ashamed when I walk onto the adult unit – again. Why can’t I take care of myself? And it’s hard to explain to a new person in my life. Though being in and out of the hospital shows part of the story.

 

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.

Trying to Travel

For people with bipolar disorder especially, travel can be very destabilizing. Time changes, schedule and routine changes, new activities and people – all work to change one’s life enough that a mood change might commence. 

I’m visiting my family several states away, but in the same time zone. I haven’t seen them in over five years. We are celebrating Thanksgiving together since we haven’t done that in 25 years. The visit sounds great, right? My schedules and routines and stamina are different. Being with family is being around some kind of strangers since I hardly ever see them. We have different views on politics and religion so we don’t talk about them – my idea. We’ve done some kind of activity every day. So I’ve needed to have stamina for all the driving (they live in the boonies) and the activity itself. 

I discharged from the hospital the Saturday before I traveled on Tuesday. My mood really was stable. Starting yesterday I’m feeling a dip in mood toward depression with suicidal thoughts and plans. I would say I’ve been managing anxiety well – one day, one hour at a time. But anxiety, I think, is triggering this potential mood change, as often happens for me. Some environmental factor triggers anxiety which leads to suicidal thoughts, and I feel depressed that I’m feeling suicidal. 

My therapist thinks I get suicidal when I don’t feel perfect, my too high expectations aren’t met. Maybe in this case, I wanted to feel relaxed around my family. And when that didn’t happen – which should have been obvious from the beginning – I become anxious, then suicidal, then depressed. 

And that’s where I am now. I can probably make it til I get back home. I just don’t want to spiral as I do into needing the safety of a hospital. 

Cycling, the Endless Cycling – and Consequences

Well, I’ve had a volatile 2 months since I’ve written. I had another bout with mania that led to great consequences with my NOT thought out at all high-risk, high confidence behavior. One of my doctors thinks I may have been psychotic. And that should make the legal battle with my finances a bit easier – to argue that I was out of my mind and therefore not responsible for the behaviors. We’ll see, I guess. I have yet to secure a pro-bono or sliding-scale lawyer to take the case.

Following the first day of dealing with consequences, no surprise, I ended up in the hospital for over 2 weeks. I was out for 5 days dealing with more clean-up and consequences and ended up back in for nearly a week. Two days out cleaning up and in again. Anxiety was the primary motivator for these. Even when I knew what to do to clean up my psychotic mess, it was still too overwhelming to do it. And I got too close to making more foolish decisions (suicidal actions) out of anxiety instead of mania this time. And when the anxiety lifted a little, post-mania depression was waiting for me.

I’ve been out 10 days and have finished as much clean-up as I can. Next week I begin stage 2 with trying to find a lawyer.

But I’m suicidal every day. Every day I see suicide as the answer to a question that only exudes pain. I don’t know where it comes from. Existential angst is the closest I can come. Anxiety about handling life to the expectations I have for myself? Which I know are way.too.high. I’m trying to get back into healthy schedules and healthy eating and exercise. I know that will help, though it will only help a little bit.

I’m supposed to fly to visit my family on the 1st. I haven’t seen them in 5 and 1/2 years. We’re doing Thanksgiving early. We haven’t all been together for Thanksgiving in over 20 years.

I’m hoping in 11 days I’m at least only a little suicidal and not obsessional so I can take the trip. I’d hate to be in the hospital instead of going. This is the $78 round trip I booked in July, expecting to be stable this whole time.

Fate had other plans. Manias, depressions, and anxiety. My eternal companions until I can shake them permanently. (See how helpful suicide sounds?)