I had a bad day again

I’m having one of those days where I feel like I can’t do this. Not that I have a choice, but I’m really questioning my strength and ability to push through this.

My impulsivity has been super bad. I’ve gotten help from therapy on shopping impusively and have been doing well at it, even if not perfectly. But other impulsive behaviors are still there. I keep saying things without thinking. I wanted a bed frame that was the first one I saw that I liked.

I am wondering if I can do this work thing. I feel like it’s a major part of my mood dropping. I want to be able to work, but my back pain turns intense. This makes me miserable and makes me droop in pain. I can’t handle being in pain all the time, it’s almost unbearable.

Then I feel completely guilty for feeling not good enough to work. People work through so much more than I deal with. Yet here I am. I don’t know if it’s the best thing for me and I can mentally and physically do it. But I can’t fail. I have to work, have to.

I hate these moods. Even Connor knows something is up. He pointed out that we were doing wonderfully and then things went downhill really quickly over the last few days.

Sigh. I hate this.

Bipolar and Pregnancy

I have had this idea for something to write for a long time.  But I’ve been dreading it.  It scares me to be so open and raw.  I’ve been trying to and learning to do so, but this particular topic is really hard for me to admit and to be open about.

I’m terrified of having a child, especially after my diagnosis.  Because there is a genetic component to bipolar, what kind of mother would I be to give my child the same kind of issues that I’ve dealt with my whole life?  How is that fair to them?  It’s already hard enough to be alive.  This would, or could, just make everything harder.

While it’s not as extreme, it kind of feels like someone with Huntington’s or some other disorder that is genetically inherited.  They struggle with knowing whether to have a child as well.  But for these disorders, or some of them, there are tests in vitro that can be taken.  They don’t know enough about the brain to be able to test for something like bipolar.  I have family history of mental disorders that I’m just really finding out about, so there is some kind of genetic issue going on with me.  Do I just ignore it all because of my deep and burning desire to be a mother?  Can I reconcile with the fact that I will know what I’m seeing if my child does show signs of bipolar?  Or will I overreact like I have with my step-kids and make a mountain out of a molehill?  So far, I’ve been able to notice issues with my step-kids before the doctors do, but that doesn’t mean I’m good or it’s safe for me to notice and point them out to their parents.  I could be wrong and start things that shouldn’t be there.

How does one reconcile the need to be a mom, since I was but three years old, with the desire and love for an unborn child to not hurt?  Because I already have extraordinary issues with my back, it’s already going to be very difficult for me to carry a child before and after birth.  That I can handle.  But what about my medication during the pregnancy?  I’ve already talked to my psychiatrist about it and she’s helped many bipolar women through pregnancy and had a healthy child after.  I know it’s possible.  But it’s also terrifying to be taking such powerful medicine when you’re not even supposed to have Tylenol or soft cheese during pregnancy.

Now family that is reading this.  This does not mean I will not have a baby, as you all know it’s my one goal in life.  I’m just voicing my fears.  This is all supposed to be coming up soon, so it has been on my mind a lot.  I have so much support and know I’ll be able to get through it.  It’s just terrifying.

 

 

(As an afterthought.  If you’ve noticed my writing has been shorter, I’m trying something out.  I was told that my writing is too extensive and people don’t have time to read the posts.  So, maybe if I write less but more often, I can reach more people.  I’ve just got to learn to be less verbose and more to the point)

Pain and Depression

Now that I’m no longer in crisis mode, I’m feeling slightly down and in a lot of pain.  That much stress and tension really gets my back to set on fire.  Every muscle is a giant knot that hurts so much.  It doesn’t help that I had another injection yesterday, and then physical therapy today.  Shortly after physical therapy, was group therapy.  So I’ve been sitting all damn day, which is a huge trigger for my pain.  Thankfully during physical therapy, we are mostly just doing muscle relaxation, which is just a really super amazingly wonderful massage with all my trigger points.  We’ve got to release my tension in order for the strengthening exercises to even work.  As it is now, they will be pointless to even try; they’ll just cause me more pain.  Anyway, I digress.  I wanted to talk today about how pain really makes living hard and how it exacerbates depression.

I don’t want to get too much into my issues, but I have severe back pain and have since I was 18.  I’ve been to 5 different physical therapists, countless MRIs/CTscans/X-rays etc.  I’ve had an ablation done (where they “burn” the nerve causing the pain to my toes) as well as receiving the injections in my neck currently and doing to physical therapy…again.  So, while I’m a lot better off than a lot of people, I live every single day in pain.  I have the hardest time gauging my pain when they ask me my level of pain.  “I dunno, I live every day at about a 5-6…my 9 or 10 is really high, my 15 is when I’m on the floor dying” kind of thing.  It’s hard to really explain that to doctors.  And then of course, it’s which PART of my back that hurts or is causing me the MOST pain at that time.  I have issues in all three “sections” of my back.  Sometimes all three hurt, sometimes only one.  So, with me constantly in pain, it has vastly hurt my depression.  I’ve often questioned “what’s the point anymore, I’ll never get better.  I can never carry a child.  Why even try yet another doctor, they’ll just give up too.  Nothing works, and I refuse narcotics.  I can’t be fixed,” is a constant commentary in my head.  It doesn’t stop.  I have no hope for pain relief anymore.  I can take the very edge off some of the pain with my Neurontin and making sure to avoid my triggers, but what kind of life is it where I can’t hold my nieces and nephew?  My biggest goal is to have a child, I don’t know if I’ll be even able to hold the baby to soothe it when/if I can even carry it to term.  That’s a HARD pill to swallow.  The older I get, the more hopeless I get.  Woops, I spent way more time than I planned on myself.  Oh, squirrel!

So, pain can create consequences in almost every part of one’s life.  Relationships, sleep, fatigue (not just being tired), hopelessness, anxiety, depression, guilt, mood, memory, concentration etc.  Pain is all encompassing and not something that is easily ignored or pushed aside, no matter what kind of pain you may be in.  It completely takes over your brain and you cannot focus on anything else for more than a few seconds without going back to noticing the pain.  It’s a constant nagging devil on your shoulder that is stabbing your head with his pitchfork.  It doesn’t stop.

It can cause issues in relationships because as you’re in pain, your mood suffers greatly.  It’s really hard to be happy when it’s all you can do to stand up.  You want help but can’t ask for it or you’ll feel guilty for asking for help.  You’re exhausted, can’t sleep, can barely move and of course have no libido.  It’s too exhausting to even think of sex.  It’s the last thing on your brain.  Then your spouse will feel rejected and it may cause a rift.

Sleep seems to me to be pretty obvious in how it is affected by pain.  If you hurt, you’ll toss and turn all night.  Which will not refresh you, and you’ll then be even more exhausted and fatigued.  Your body can’t replenish and so I will keep hurting more and more.  It’s a never-ending cycle.

The one that grasps me most is hopelessness.  I’ve been to doctors for 15 years for my back pain.  Back when I started, doctors would just throw opiates at me and I gobbled them down for the quick relief.  I didn’t care that that wasn’t something that would actually FIX what my issue was.  I don’t even remember if I got an MRI back then.  Probably not.  I then lost my insurance and had to suck it up for years.  I was a server and so constantly had to lift very heavy trays to tables.  I was super stubborn and didn’t want help, so I just did it myself.  That was brilliant of me.  Stupid 21 year old Kayleigh.  Then I finally got an office job and thought I was going to be all better, since I didn’t have to lift.  NOPE.  Just a different type of pain, that spread up my back instead of down.  Yay.  And it kept getting worse and worse until finally about 4 years ago I started the whole process of doctors again.  And this time, as the opiate epidemic has reached epic proportions, of course doctors are hesitant to prescribe anything.  I’m okay with this; I’m terrified of them at this point.  Addiction is the absolute last thing I need in my life now.  Doctors would just pass me to the next person, and the next and the next.  Nobody could help me.  They just shrugged their shoulders and referred me to the next.  I stopped trying again until I went into my spa week at the hospital.  I had been in a car wreck (slash me driving off the road) so my back was the worst it’s been in a long time.  I demanded MRIs and they finally found some things wrong they hadn’t seen before. Again, this began the process of another round of physical therapy and cortisone shots and then ablation.  Siiiighhhh.  How long until this doctor gives up?   Although this time I may be pushier, as I’m desperate to have a child.  I can’t have nor carry a child until I get my back in some kind of better shape to be able to hold a 10lb thing for more than 3 minutes without shooting pain.  I guess we’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.

How has physical pain affected you?  Have you found any tips or tricks on ignoring it in order to be able to focus for more than 28 seconds at a time?  What relief have you found that works for pain?

Fighting the Stigma

Because I have my undergrad degree in psychology, I’ve always pushed to end the stigma attached to having a mental disorder.  It’s something I will argue about with people with no hesitation.  The brain is an organ just like the kidneys, why can’t it get sick too?  Why do we look down on those that are depressed and tell them, “just get over it.  Why can’t you see the good in things?  Just be happy!” and things to that effect.  I logically understand that it is a holdover from previous decades and not understanding the human brain nor it’s disabilities.  But it can still be infuriating to someone who not only suffers from a mental disorder, but has an education in it as well (all be it a small one in the scheme of things).

Then I admitted myself to the psych ward.  I voluntarily checked myself into the loony bin, and not for an experiment like Nelly Bly did (check her out, her investigative journalism really shocked the world of mental health:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Days_in_a_Mad-House).  I was diagnosed with bipolar II, not just a simple depression/anxiety thing which I believe is a lot easier for people to swallow, if still stigmatized.  Well shit, what now?  How do I go about living with this, in more than a logistics way?  Do I hide it?  Do I only tell certain people?  With my open views on mental health, do I shout it to the world?  What will the repercussions be to myself and those I love?  What about gun control and the conversations involving us “crazies” now?  How will that affect me?

For the first few weeks, I was extremely tight lipped about my diagnosis.  I didn’t tell anyone but my family and close friends.  I felt like a total hypocrite.  How can I say everyone ELSE needs to be open about their diagnosis, but not do that myself?  I had already begun working on my book about being in the hospital but planned on using a pen-name, so my family wouldn’t be harmed if I was ever able to publish.  The cognitive dissonance was astounding and hurt my head.  I couldn’t reconcile the two.  So, I decided that I was going to blog.  That way I could practice and hone my writing “skills” as well as be open about what was happening to me.  I’m so glad I did.  I am sure I will feel negative repercussions for this other than Connor questioning me about privacy the first day I posted and my dear friend G calling to warn me.

I truly hope that I can, in some small way, help end some of the stigma of bipolar.  I still catch myself when asked, hesitating to say what’s happening to me.  I will choke on the words but spit them out nonetheless.  I have got to.  I can’t lie to myself and others about something as simple as a chemical imbalance (they think, as far as I’ve seen, they don’t know precisely why it happens).  The brain and psychology are still a very young science.  When I do say that I have bipolar, I make sure to not specify bipolar II for a few reasons.  One is that most don’t KNOW that there are two distinct types of Bipolar.  Another reason is that it just doesn’t matter.  I have the disorder, I’m admitting it, it doesn’t matter which.  One more reason is that bipolar II, for those that know about it, is seen as the more “mild” form of bipolar, which isn’t true.  Yes, the mania is much more mild (called hypomania), but the depressive episodes are MUCH deeper than Bipolar I, which makes it just as intense, but in a different area.

Sometimes I will refer people to read my blog, which feels a lot like a shameless plug for views.  Even though I only get a very small amount of views, I do want more.  I want more people to see what it’s like to live through the disorder.  I want as many people who DON’T have bipolar to see that we are just the same as you, we just have to fight our brains every day.  That’s not scary to you.  We (for the most part) aren’t scary or dangerous, though there are some that are.  Not all mental health sufferers will be dangerous.  With millions of people diagnosed with some type of illness, it’s such a small percent of us that do become violent or dangerous to others in some way.  Mostly we are self-harming.  Mostly.

Shameless self-plug ahead.  If you’ve ever thought about sharing this blog, please do.  I want to help others in any way I can.  If that means putting my whole life out there, then so be it.  My existence doesn’t feel worth it if I don’t make some small impact, in some small way.  I think this is the way I was supposed to make my impact.  Let others know they are not alone.  They are seen.  So, share away!  It’s an easy link to remember, Enterbipolar.com.  Think of the Metallica song “enter sandman” except with bipolar.  That’s what I stole the name from (fun fact!), as well as from Hamilton the musical, “So there will be a revolution in this century, Enter me! He says in parenthesis.”  Hopefully that’ll help you remember as you’re living and encounter someone that may need any kind of help.  And of course, please reach out to me with questions if you have any!  I have an email address set up just for this site and you should be able to find it under the “contact me” page.  Or, if you know me personally, message/text me.  I’m terrible with phone calls, they make me anxious as all hell.

 

Ever Present Guilt

This month I’ve only posted twice.  I’ve been playing around for how often to post and when, to see what it does to views.  With every 4 days posting, NOBODY reads!  So, I’m going to try once again to post daily/every other day (sorry for those that will see constant reminders!).  When I inevitably wake up at 2AM every morning, I’ll go down and write instead of laying down and mindlessly looking at other people’s lives.  There is really no point.  My goal during all this intensity is to be productive.  Looking at other people’s happiness does absolutely nothing to my productivity, nor my own mental health.  I feel guilty for coming downstairs in the middle of the night to write as well.  Connor cannot sleep without me beside him and so me being gone will wake him up.  I feel guilty infecting another person with my inability to sleep for only 3-4 hours at a time.  So I give myself grief for coming down and spending the few hours alone in my solitary self-reflection.

Feeling guilty about writing at night is what brings me to what I want to talk about.  Guilt.  It is absolutely pervasive in my mind.  Guilt is a lot of why I feel so negatively towards myself and what I do.  I practice so much mental self-flagellation for about anything and everything I do.  I didn’t do the dishes soon enough?  *whip* Didn’t have a trauma growing up during a trauma class, but am still messed up?  *whip* Laundry piling up?  *whip* Said what I believe is an awkward thing to a friend?  *whip* Thinking about going on disability to fully heal both my back and my brain?  *whip* This type of thinking is absolutely no fun and is what I think may be my most destructive brain pattern.  Why do I feel guilty about feeling guilty right in this moment?

Guilt in very small doses can be a good thing (so I hear).  It causes you to be sure to do kind things for others, like remembering to send a present for a birthday or call your mother/friends/siblings etc. on special occasions.  This type of guilt can be NOT self-destructive.  It’s when you over use guilt that makes it so damaging.  I don’t know why the guilt dial can be turned to 11, but I wish I did.  I only realized that my guilt lever was fully on today when I was in therapy group.  We were talking about trauma and the physical responses with the nervous systems as well as symptoms of trauma that persist throughout life.  Because I HAVE no trauma that I know of, I felt guilty for even being in group.  Why do I deserve to have this amazing opportunity to be in this intensive outpatient therapy group, when I haven’t and don’t go through what the other wonderful people that are there do?  I don’t have childhood abuse; my family life was great growing up.  Why am I so depressed?  I am not abused now either.  I sat in group and practically disassociated and went somewhere else as an unintentional coping mechanism.  I couldn’t handle my guilt for lack of trauma.  How in the hell does THAT make any sense at all?  I feel guilty for NOT having a life destructing trauma?  What the hell?

I’ve heard that these types of self-flagellations are a phenomenon called the “Dobby effect” named after the house elf in one of my favorite book series ever written, Harry Potter.  Dobby will self-harm any time he goes against his owners or says something that is negative or forbidden about them, at least until he’s freed by Harry.  The Dobby Effect causes guilty feeling people to ward off the guilt by self-punishment.  I use this effect in spades.  I don’t know why, but I do.  It makes me avoid persons and situations in which I’ve felt guilty, as well as isolate myself, feel guilty about that and then over-work myself at the house which will cause a crash later.  I have recently crashed in the last two weeks or so, which I feel guilty about as well.  I was doing so well at being good and productive and positive about things.  I’m now back down in the depression pit, although not as deeply as I normally do (thanks bipolar meds!).

Because it’s what I do, I researched ways to work through guilt and found a good article on psychologytoday.com.  I love this website.  I do everything from research to finding a psychiatrist here.  I’ll link below for those curious.  I think I need to print out these suggestions on post-it’s and put them around my house for me to see, along with my “you are enough” magnet on my fridge.  The headers for each suggestion are as follows:

  1. Tell yourself that you have done the best you could
  2. Consider that at the time, you didn’t know what you do now.
  3. Remember that you’re not to blame for surviving a tragedy
  4. Think that to blame yourself for a mistake that was beyond your control may not characterize your behavior
  5. Tell yourself that you may have adopted too rigorous of standards for yourself (!)
  6. Acknowledge your right to protect your self-interests
  7. Recognize that you can stand up for yourself and your rights
  8. Remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong for pushing for your own goals
  9. Stop the inner dialogue that is negative

Admittedly, these are not exactly easy things to do, but at least it’s somewhere to go and something to reach for.  I’m going to work on putting these suggestions into my daily life, and practicing them.  Maybe this will help my flagellation problem.  Man, for such a negative word, I really like the word “flagellation.”  Oh look, squirrel!

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201506/9-ways-talk-yourself-out-unnecessary-guilt

Social Anxiety and Wins

Social anxiety really blows.  This past weekend, I had a full calendar of social engagements and things to do around people that always make me nervous.  I was able to not just survive around the fringes, but had fun the entire weekend, although I’m socially exhausted today (well, if you count 3AM as today still).

On Friday, my in-laws, Connor and I went to a large casino and dinner for fun.  I ended up having a great time, but it definitely took a lot of my coping skills and a lot of holding Connor’s hand to be calm enough to enjoy myself.  There were a ton of people all over the place and I get really nervous around that many people.  I’m afraid they’ll take my purse, I’ll get separated, I’ll get lost, someone will talk to me, people are all staring at me and judging me, on and on and on.  It’s very difficult for me to be in THAT huge of a place.  Hell, even a bar isn’t something I can handle anymore.  At restaurants, I’m more comfortable in the back corner rather than a table in the center, and I never cared until about five years ago.  It sucks.

Today, I knew I could do it.  I was scared but knew I could get through being around my in-laws (whom I love but I’m still always nervous around) and not making a fool of myself and being around about a billion people.  I had Connor with me.  He’d protect me.  He’d let me hold on to him.  I had to do a lot of deep breathing though.  I had to ignore 99% of what was going on around me as I held his hand.  I kept him right next to me the whole time.  I had a couple drinks to loosen me up, can’t lie about that.  Not enough to really FEEL anything, just relax.  The one time I was away from Connor, I went to the bathroom while he wandered around a specific area and looked for “his” good machine (he’s so dang lucky at slots).  After my ablutions, I went back to where I left him, and he was gone.  Immediate panic.  I walked around the slots looking for him while my heart raced.  I started to panic and get terrified.  Then I went back to where I left him again and looked on the other side of the row.  He was right there.  He stayed exactly where I left him, just on the other side.  Phew.  Minor panic attack averted.  I did then guzzle the rest of my decaf crème brȗlèe coffee though as a calming mechanism.

I have a worry stone (actually a few of them) that I carry around.  One is in my car since that’s where I panic the most, one is beside my bed for something to do with my hands if I can’t focus on coloring, reading, or crocheting.  The other is in my purse.  Of course, I put one in my coat, but I checked my coat at the coat check, so I didn’t have it with me.  I had nothing to grab and hold on to so that I could calm down around the multitude of crowds, so I just grabbed Connor’s fingers whenever I could.  At least I had something.  With my coping skills I’ve recently learned, I was able to calm down enough to thoroughly enjoy myself and actually be able to relax around my family and billions (okay, maybe an exaggeration) of people.  It was great fun in the end and I finished the evening very glad that we’d gone.

On Saturday was a wedding of a very close neighbor of mine.  I knew that I would not know anyone there, and that is enough to make me panic.  I was so excited when I got to see another neighbor I know and adore, as well as meet one more.  Since I live in the woods with nobody having less than 5 acres around them, it’s not exactly easy to meet neighbors.  I am so lucky that every single one (excepting one) have been the most amazing people.  I digress.  I didn’t have a “win” at this event other than being able to do some small talk with the new neighbor (before I had too much wine).  I hate small talk and I’m very terrible at it.  I’m uncomfortable, I’m awkward, I don’t know what to say or how to get the topic onto them sometimes; it’s the worst.  This is why I hate networking.  Even if I didn’t have much a social anxiety “win” I did have fun and it was a beautiful wedding.  I completely cried at the vows and of course Connor had to tease me.  I’ve not been able to cry throughout his time knowing me, so now that I can recently cry, he loves to tease me.

Sunday was my most impressive win.  I’m a vice president for the board of directors for an organization.  I’m also an extraordinarily passive person who has almost no assertiveness (which I’m working hard on).  I was able to speak up during my “section” of the meeting and ask a request of the board, because one of the members did something that I was not okay with.  I spoke my piece, didn’t look at her or say her name, but made it clear what I was talking about.  She tried to interrupt me and I was able to calmly look at her (in front of people!!) and say “’Can I finish speaking please?” and finish what I was trying to say.  We went back and forth for another hour or so (okay, maybe a minute really) and I didn’t back down.  I didn’t cave.  I didn’t submit and get quiet.  I was able to hold my ground calmly and assertively.  I was so proud!  Even Connor and Miranda noticed and said how impressed they were.  Group therapy 9 hours a week for the win!

There are ways to get around being terribly anxious around people.  I will never be the room enchanter that walks in and the whole place gets excited for great conversation.  I’m okay with that, though I’m sure it would help to be able to do that.  I’m still learning ways to cope with the terror, and I know I’ll learn more and be better able to do them as I practice using the skills.  Maybe one day I will be that charming person, who knows?

You Are Enough

Today was a hard day for me.  For absolutely no reason.  I woke up as is now typical at 2AM, went back to sleep at 4AM, woke up at 7 and decided I needed more sleep.  I forced myself to sleep and didn’t wake up until 11AM.  I felt like the worst person ever.  For some reason, I’ve always slept really well during the day when I’m not supposed to, and when I’m depressed, I sleep for 18 hours a day sometimes.  I guess when I didn’t wake up at an acceptable time, I slid back into the fear and loathing that I feel when I sleep too much when depressed.

When I did get up, I immediately decided that I was the worst person in the world and not worthy of love.  I was telling myself that I was a lazy piece of crap and a terrible wife and stepmother.  I love my husband and step-kids and hate when I feel that I’m not good enough for them.  Thankfully I didn’t get any suicidal thoughts, because then I’d check myself back into the hospital or have to call my psychiatrist(s).  Now, knowing that I feel worse about myself when I’m not productive, I decided I had to get up and moving and do something.   I decided to go to the hardware store to get paint, as my stepdaughter wants to redecorate her room into something more teenager-like rather than the pre-teen she has now.  I think it’s a great idea and we have come up with a really cute design.  Now I just have to do it.   I went to go pick out paint and such and ended up spending a lot more than I thought I would on supplies.  I didn’t even get anything I didn’t need, which is what I usually do when shopping. “Oh!  That’s fun, I need that too” is something that happens all too often.  I’m a much too impulsive shopper and it’s caused a lot of issues.

So, still miserable in my head and fighting negative looping thoughts, I got home and put up some more Christmas decorations outside.  I put some solar lights in Berkley’s garden (where I buried his things and planted a tree since I didn’t have him to bury) and lined my walkway with little solar light bulbs from the dollar store.  Then I went inside and finally finished another painting project I’ve wanted to do forever.  The walls on my stairwell are/were all scuffed up from moving things up and down the stairs and it drives me nuts.  So I got my little paintbrush and fixed it all.  I actually got to put away the paint that I’ve had out since I fixed my bathroom paint weeks ago.  I’m glad that’s done.  But I couldn’t get started on my stepdaughter’s room.  It felt overwhelming to pull everything down from her walls and push it all in the center of the room.  Taping and prepping was just too much for me today.  I knew I couldn’t do it.  I wanted to also finally put up my Christmas tree, but I knew that would be too much too.  I did get it assembled and fluffed but I couldn’t get myself to put up any ornaments.  Baby steps I guess.

I am learning to reach out to Connor and tell him when I’m feeling down or upset about things, as it’s something I have hidden from him for years.  I started randomly crying for no reason really.  I hate crying.  I have no idea why, but I feel weak and don’t want to succumb to emotions like that.  I told him how I felt, and he did what he knew how to do.  He sent me a video that was talking about how you are worthy of love and that “you are enough.”  I cried when I watched that too, as I was asking him if I’m still a good person with dust and dirt in my house.  If I’m still worth loving even though I struggle with being productive and getting things done.  The video was his way of responding to my asking for help, as he doesn’t usually know what to say in these situations.  He’s trying so hard to understand and work with me on my illness and he was very thoughtful in sending me that video.  I’ll see if I can link to it at the end of the blog for those who need to know they are enough as well.

Finally, in the evening after forcing myself to do as much as I could, even though I felt extremely down and overwhelmed, I decided to cook dinner.  I HATE cooking so much, but I’ve been trying to learn to at least tolerate it.  I’m just not great at it.  I got a free week of Hello Fresh, so decided I was going to do one all on my own (Connor had to help me on the last one).  I did it and it actually worked.  Of course, I was not hungry at this point, being upset all day.  All I ate yesterday was some cheeze-its and a bowl of cereal at 3AM.  This medicine makes me not hungry (YAY!  Maybe I can lose the weight I gained back in my hypomanic state!).  But, when Connor came home, he sat down at the table with me as I was coloring (he suggested I do that when I complained to him as well, as he knows it calms me down).  He was going to come downstairs and do the tree with me too, but I could see how much pain he was in so told him to go lay down.  I finally felt okay.  Not good.  Not happy or good about myself.  But okay.  The hamster wheel of negative thoughts was finally slowing down.

When I feel that way, it makes me panic that I am going to go down into a depressive episode again.  Depression for me is the absolute worst.  Hypomania sucks and is very destructive, but the depression ruins my relationships and costs me so much.  So, when I have a bad day like today, my anxiety goes into overdrive and doesn’t help the depression.  It’s a vicious cycle and one I’m terrified of.  But, I made it through today.  I did it.  I didn’t lapse into deep depression and lay in bed all day.  I was productive and got things done.  And that helps.  Even though it was hard, and I had to focus on one thing at a time, I did it.  And you can too when you’re struggling.  Just do the next right thing that you can handle.  Even if it’s just showering and getting up.  It’s something.

Here is the video Connor sent me in case anyone is interested.  I want to keep it for myself when I struggle again.  https://youtu.be/bUMFZM5WBrI

Self-Esteem, or the lack of it

Self esteem.  This is something I’m sure BILLIONS of people struggle with.  I know it is one of the worst things about me.  It’s really hard to be positive about your life and confident enough to be assertive.  Protecting yourself is next to impossible when you think you’re not worth protecting.  Standing up for yourself against those who would tear you down is futile.  You don’t feel worth anything.  You’re not good enough for anything.  You don’t deserve good things.  It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad feeling (I loved that book growing up).

Because of this complete lack of self esteem and self worth, I have the most impossible time with any and all conflict.  I don’t know if that’s just me or part of the lack of worth in my head.  I panic and clam up.  With a husband that thrives on conflict sometimes, it has made for some really rough years.  Thankfully though, with this group therapy as well as one on one therapy (and I guarantee my medicine), I’m finally starting to feel like it’s okay to speak my mind.  I still don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, and that’s where the calm assertiveness comes into play that I’m learning.  I’m lucky to have my sister who I feel is good at this (well, she does more of a sarcastic comment but she’s the sweetest and cutest, so it’s hard to get mad at anything she ever says) as well as my work wife who emulates this perfectly.  I think the more I get used to standing up for myself, the better I’ll get at appreciating who I am and having self-worth.

In group, we often deal with self-esteem and so I have quite a bit of worksheets I’ve done on it.  Some of my favorites I will post here.

Daily affirmations I have seen work wonders on people, though I haven’t had a lot of practice using them and having them help me.  I need to write them on sticky notes or post this page all over my house.  Practice makes perfect.  This bill of rights is also wonderful and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, if you aren’t arguing with it inside your head like I do.  Hopefully I’ll continue to improve.

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Now this final thing is one I REALLY struggled with during group.  We were to put down 5 things we appreciate about our life, and then 5 things we appreciate about ourselves.  I’ve been trying for months to find a few core things about myself that are from ME only, not influenced by anyone else, that I am proud of and can hold onto.   Who I am.  What I am proud of.  I can find three.  Those three are better than the nothing I had before, but it’s still miniscule to what I should have.  I’m not going to lie, it’s REALLY hard to post this with my answers on it. If I’m going to be open and honest, I have to be open and honest.  You may be able to tell that I struggled with the last few answers.  I’m thankful for Halloween, yes.  It’s my most favorite.  But come on, I could have pushed to find something else.  And thankful for my beautiful shoes?  ABSOLUTELIY.  I love shoes.  But…I could have searched deeper to find something inside of me that I liked.  Alas, this is what bad self-esteem looks like.

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The strangest thing is that I thrive and love finding good in others and that’s something I’m proud of. I believe everyone has good in them and things that are worthy of being loved, no matter who or what they are. I just have a hard time applying that same philosophy to myself.