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Middle-aged Woman; Interrupted

18 Oct

you-are-not-your-mental-illness

Most, if not all, of my knowledge of bipolar disorder comes from movies and TV shows, namely, A TV show I watched last year called Black Box, Apparently I’m the only person who watched it because it is no longer on, probably took it off to make room for Snorkeling With the Stars, or some such nonsense, anyway this is not about my disdain for reality television shows, this is about my shocking lack of actual knowledge that was not obtained through television shows and/or movies. In the show ( If you didn’t click the link above, you should) because I’m not going to outline the whole show, just my thoughts on the show and what I gleaned about being bipolar from watching the show. My thoughts were that sure her highs were high and her lows were devastating, but if she didn’t stay on her meds, which she didn’t want to because she felt like they dulled her personality, she got to make out with super hot doctors during her manic highs, and she felt very sexy and fearless ( this didn’t seem so bad to me) this is the only thing I thought bipolar disorder was, they showed a little of the lows, but she lived through them and I was no stranger to depression, especially post- stroke,As I say in my set I got through it with a handful of benzos and a fistful of lunchmeat and the movie Pacific Rim on repeat, I didn’t realize how low a manic low could be, I also learned about bipolar disorder by watching the movie The Silver Linings Playbook, I even wrote a blog post about my love for that movie and the foresight in that post is insane. This is all leading up to my own recent diagnosis of bipolar 2 disorder, rapid onset,which I never knew even existed.

This past week. I was laid off from a job it had taken months to find, I had the job for two months and I liked it, and was feeling like I was getting my mojo back as far as comedy and being a decent, present mom again, my personal, dating life was non-existent but I had gotten so used to that it was a non-issue. that lay off, and some other things I over thought to the point of constant anxiety, both of which should have been small blips on the radar of my life, turned into reasons to actually plan ending my life. I Googled all of the pills I had in my house and according to Yahoo answers,even my pills were failures and I didn’t have enough of what I needed to actually do me in, and I had no money to go buy sleeping pills and I didn’t want my children to find my body (somehow this was worse in my mind than them not having a mom at all for the rest of their lives). I thought I could go out in my neighborhood, maybe my neighbor’s yard and die there (that’ll teach you to steal my fucking lemons from the lemon tree in my yard) but then the thought of being peed on by dogs, grossed me out and I decided then that I needed to not be alone so I called my friend Cara and she came over bearing ice cream for me and alcohol for her, I told her of all my plans and said I would call my psychologist tomorrow but if I was honest they would commit me for having a plan. Tomorrow came and I called and he said “skip coming here at all go right to the Psychiatric Hospital” and I did and they asked me to voluntarily sign in which I decided to do, the psych hospital happens to be connected to the rehab hospital where I spent several weeks right after my stroke, I bring this up because the first day I was there the tech from the rehab side who had tested my INR (coumadin level), came to test my INR on the psych side, he said ” so how have you been?” and I said “I’m in a psych hospital, so what do you think?” he said “there’s no shame in that your life has gone through a major strain just after the stroke alone, whatever brought you here means you were living it and that’s a good thing” ” living it as an absolute failure” then I had to go in for an initial evaluation with the staff psychologists. Immediately I started to cry as they asked me about my past, especially careless and impulsive actions with no thoughts of consequences….umm…that’s kind of been my “thing” my whole life, I fly by the seat of my pants, it’s part of being creative, right? I won’t go into detail but I’m very lucky I didn’t end up a Lifetime movie of the week, they asked about manic episodes of staying up all night with scattered thoughts, that’s creativity too, right? I would do that and write(some people clean) not this girl, sadly. those things coupled with my extreme depression and suicidal thoughts over admittedly minor things, and my super high score on the depression test detailing my feelings of being a worthless failure and awful person in general, the doctors mentioned bipolar 2 as a diagnosis, but didn’t officially give me that diagnosis that day but many days after several more meetings with psychologists and group therapy sessions, and mentioned starting me on a mood stabilizer called Lamictal and staying at the hospital for a few days, by this time I resigned myself to it and said sure, I walked into the common room with all the other patients and was struck by the range of ages, Living in a college town, I was expecting mostly college age people but this mental health shit didn’t discriminate, there were college aged people all the way up to a 90-year-old. I plopped down in a huge blue chair and sat there so much, they started referring to it as “Amy’s chair”, I quickly learned that this was very different from the rehab side, and almost the exact opposite in the sense that we were constantly busy with therapies over there to the point of exhaustion, here we had  group, psychologist meetings, and food every two hours and a library cart where I chose a novel called “Catching Genius” that I read in one day. I looked around that first day and couldn’t find a thing that I could use to kill myself (which I’m sure is by design), but we did have DVD’s in the common room and I thought I could break one of those and slice open my wrist if I needed to but I wanted the movie to be something funny, like Die Hard, death by Die Hard struck me as amusing,Luckily we didn’t have the movie Die Hard, I got my first dose of Lamictal and within hours I was feeling a bit better, I was on suicide watch still so every 15 minutes, I had to talk to a nurse and tell them how I was feeling, I guess I wasn’t progressing as fast as they wanted so they raised my dosage. Quickly, we became comrades in this place together, some like me were there voluntarily, but most had been baker acted and were planning to make things as difficult as possible for not only the staff but themselves. One night there was a coup over the tv and one of the patients who referred to himself as “the court jester” took a vote (written on the back of a coloring sheet written in crayon) but he soon found that the techs intervened after he got unruly because he wanted to watch football and when he couldn’t he wrote 1-900- abuse (in crayon again) and slipped it under the door to the always locked nurses station. they did not find that amusing in the least. It was 8:30 but I went to bed at this time. I heard the next morning over breakfast that “the court jester” had a full-blown fit and called his mom and a lawyer. he was mad at all of us for several days. After I finished my book I passed the time playing cards and coloring, I colored a Halloween picture of a minion that said ” Going Batty”, I found that delightful but this just cemented my knowledge that I am a horrible artist.There weren’t many DVD’s or tapes to watch but there was the Blue Collar Comedy Tour but I made it clear that if forced to watch that I would become homicidal (I chose my words carefully because had I said suicidal, I wouldn’t have been out in 3 days, they would have made me stay longer) There were some beautiful things to be found in this harsh environment, however, we were allowed to go outside in the courtyard if accompanied by a staff member, someone had written in chalk “not all those who wander are lost”by J.R.R. Tolkien, one of my dear late friend Brett’s favorite authors, someone also drew a kick-ass picture of a giraffe that made me happy. In group we had to write a plan for our after care for trigger events to prevent a relapse or what to do if we do relapse. I realized while writing my plan that I have a HUGE support system in friends and family and I can live with this bipolar 2, and most importantly, I want to live. I’ll forever be under the care of psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, but all of these people want me to succeed (whatever that looks like).

I think it’s extremely important to find what works for you, I’ve seen the meme about just taking a walk in the woods when you’re depressed and not needing to take any meds (brought to you by Tom Cruise I presume) I can tell you if I had taken a walk in the woods the day I checked in, I would have found the sharpest stick I could have and plunged it into my chest, pharmaceuticals and extensive therapy is what I needed. find what you need and if you are feeling worthless and un- loveable like I was, take a chance on yourself and get some help. Speak kindly to yourself, be your own advocate. You’re worth it and let’s lift the stigma surrounding mental illness, let’s talk about it.

1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish

You Say Narcissist Like It’s a BAD Thing

25 Feb

This morning The Huffington Post called me a narcissist. They might not have called me out by name, but they might as well have. It’s like they have been following my blog and wanted to let me know exactly how they feel about me.

I know many of you will not click the link above and read the entire article, so allow me to condense it for you.  Narcissists don’t take to aging well. They (we) feel a disproportionate amount of sadness when we realize we are not receiving the same attention we once received in our youth. We may do things like get a lot of plastic surgery to try to convince people that we are actually still attractive, or we may try to garner attention by, say, trying something we have always wanted to try, like stand-up comedy or something. Okay, they don’t SAY that, but it is there, between the lines.

Per the article, these are the 5 surefire signs that I am a narcissist

  1. Believing that you’re better than others
  2. Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  3. Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  4. Expecting constant praise and admiration
  5. Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly

What I find interesting, actually I find MANY things interesting about this article, is that there seems to be a very fine line between self-confidence and narcissism.   I teeter on the line between feeling like I deserve anything at all to feeling like I deserve everything. It’s crazy-making and something I work on constantly to obtain balance, but I didn’t know it made me a narcissist.

The second trait listed above really puzzles me because isn’t this what we are TAUGHT to do? Even my new-age hippie vision board is really just a bunch of pictures of things I fantasize about so that I can manifest my own destiny or some such bullshit (and yes, I have a vision board. I’m allowed to call it bullshit).

oscar

I am writing this tongue in cheek of course. I don’t think I am a true narcissist, but, and the article fails to mention this, each and every one of us has to have a bit of narcissism for our own self-preservation.  When this kind of thing is written in a flowery script with a pretty background, it’s inspirational. When it’s on the list of the traits of a narcissist, it’s scary.

I have never been one for labels or boxes, but I do believe that in the realm of psychology labels have their place. The thing about that article, and many like it, is it sort of spews all this information out then leaves it there for public consumption for all of us to diagnose ourselves. I try to stay away from WEB MD when I have a stomach ache so that I don’t end up convincing myself that I have a tumor.  I imagine I should probably stay away from articles like this one for the same reason.

I wonder, does the fact that I think this applies to me MAKE me a narcissist or would I be more of a narcissist if I read the article but saw none of myself  in it?

Enjoy this humorous video that totally applies to both this post and my life.

I Will Accept Crashed. I Will not Accept Burned

11 Dec

I had a thought last night when reading something on Gawker with a headline that went something like “owner of company delivers smack down to customer”. Of course I can’t find the actual piece I was reading, or anything like it to link here, but trust me, Gawker sometimes has emails or Facebook status updates that have headlines like that. My thought was how I really hope I don’t end up on Gawker because of my last few posts under the headline “watch woman crash and burn after stupidly short non-relationship”.

I know, I am breaking one of my own rules, no guilt for genuine emotions or feelings, and my feelings and emotions are genuine. I will accept crashed, but burned? No, not burned. Crashed, yes, but crashed and okay. Crashed and re-assembling.  Crashed and getting myself back into therapy, but NOT because I was so devastated that I am falling apart, not that there is anything wrong with falling apart. I think we can all agree that I’m okay with falling apart if you learn something putting yourself back together.

Back into therapy,  because while half of me still thinks I’m pretty awesome, the other half of me got sucked into the old mindset that of course somebody is not going to be as crazy about me as I am about him. OF COURSE.  Because I don’t deserve that, because of choices I made in my past. And that’s not okay. That’s destructive,  and while it took me a while to get half of me to feeling awesome, the other half needs to follow suit. Or at least meet in the middle somewhere.

My ex-husband, who I hurt more than anybody with my past choices, has told me more than once that I deserve to be happy. If HE can want that for me, it’s so crazy that I have such a hard time convincing myself of the same thing. I want someone that I am wild about to be wild about me. There. I have sent it out to the universe.

My life-long friend Brett, who passed away in October of 2012, told me more than once when I was crying my eyes out over some boy, or something  (and in more than 30 years as one of my closest friends, he witnessed a lot of tears from me)  in a totally baffled tone, “but you’re Amy. You’re awesome”. Yesterday, Brett’s sister, and my friend, said those words to remind me that I need to get into my head that being Amy is  enough, because I really am pretty awesome.

No I’m not.

I am however,  still hilarious.

I-am-enough

I am enough.

I am toast.

The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. Again.

10 Dec

Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.

Washington Irving

There are probably a few things you’ve learned about me from the last few posts

1) I write when I’m processing emotions
2) I have a lot of emotions to process right now
3) I’m an Aquarius

The first and second are the most important, though if you’re into astrology then maybe the third will give you some insight into the first two.  You may be asking yourself “why the hell doesn’t this girl invest in a diary and stop hitting publish on every damn thought that enters her head?” To that, gentle reader, I say this IS my diary. I have always written, always poured my heart out via my fingertips.

I thought about not publishing this series of miserable posts but after the first one I received so many comments from people who could relate that I thought I would continue. Also, I’m a total hippie bullshit freak and feel like if I can write about what’s in my head, it will help me to process these feelings and send them out into the universe. I know, right? Trust me, half of me is making fun of the other half just for typing that.

I have read a lot about shame and guilt and how those particular feelings can color our entire perception of ourselves. I have first-hand experience with both shame and guilt.  Without going into a lot of detail in this particular post, I branded myself with a giant scarlet A,  and made sure that nobody could hate me more than I hated myself, for years.

After I spectacularly drove my marriage into a ditch, I kept myself in a painful jail of guilt for many years.  I stayed in a relationship that was less of a relationship and more me trying my damndest to be the exception to the rule and trying to “fix” someone.   I stayed put either actively engaging in fix-mode or beating myself up for actively engaging in it. It was a no-win situation for my psyche, and I did it to myself. Cue the shame and guilt.

Guilt is deadly. Even now, I have a hard time accepting the choice I made to cut someone, the someone who these recent posts have been about, out of my life because after he told me that he didn’t have the capacity to care about me the way I cared about him, it just wasn’t good for me to be in contact with him anymore. It wasn’t healthy for me, and I absolutely hated the emotional wreck that I had become.  When he told me towards the end to let him know if I needed anything, my retort was “I need everything. That’s the problem I think”. Everything meant exclusivity.  And he couldn’t do it.

I have written about one of my favorite books called The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, by Susan Piver, and how it has taught me to give my feelings validity, and how not to be stuck in a cycle of guilt, or to be afraid of my feelings. I also learned how to just be still with my emotions, and ask myself what is happening to cause me anxiety. Once I realized that I was truly experiencing anxiety attacks waiting for him to tell me he was dating someone else, I had to be calm, and let go, and write 10,000 blog posts about my feelings, rather than stay engaged and inadvertently make him feel bad just for feeling the way I did, and make myself feel bad because of the way he didn’t.

So I stopped, because every single time I talked to him I thought surely it was the time when he would realize how amazing I was. It was killing me. And it hurt. And if I could figure out how to still talk to him and not feel like I was constantly being rejected, I would, but I don’t know how to do that.

I know this is not where I live. I’m sad. I’m hurt. I miss him every day. I’m a little angry. I’m Taylor fucking Swift.  However, this is not where I choose to reside. So now I’m working on telling myself that it is not a bad thing to do something that is right for me, even though it is so hard and it hurts. And I realize that even after all the work I did to pull myself up out of the jail of self-hatred and guilt that I had put myself in for years, the jail is still just right there, waiting. It’s up to me to keep walking by. I sentenced myself. I can pardon myself too.

heart

J. A. Allen

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