Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Two way street? Three way street? How many different directions can recovery go?

So I’ve been back in NY for almost two months.  I want to make some things extremely clear right from the outset:

  • It was my choice to move back to my hometown.  We had been discussing it and other options for awhile, but for several reasons, I thought that this is where I need to be right now.
  • I am so so very thankful for the progress my parents have made in being willing to discuss this illness and accept it and learn about it and support me.
  • I am extremely grateful that my parents A) wanted to step in and help me and B) were in a position to do just that.  I’m sure they never planned on having their 37-year-old daughter move back home, and it’s been an adjustment for all of us, but it’s gone quite well thus far.

I don’t want people to read this entry and think, “Oh, she’s just unappreciative and doesn’t understand what her parents are trying to do.”  I do appreciate everything they are doing, and I know we are all trying.  I also know that sometimes, I need an outlet.  And maybe my venting will help you if you have loved ones recovering from depression.

 

A) I really really wish that recovery from mental illness was as easy as taking an antibiotic for an ear infection, of which I had much more than several while growing up.  You have an illness, you take some ear drops and take some antibiotics and you gradually feel better.  (Unless you’re the unlucky one who can’t take antibiotics.)  Recovery from depression:  take one medication and see what happens.  Let’s add another medication to see if that boosts the first one.  Hmmm, are those side effects causing insomnia?  Let’s try another medication?  Well, we haven’t see significant progress in six months, so let’s try a different type of medication.  And start all over.  Repeat as necessary.  Then, come to the realization that meds are not working, so we move on to ECT.  We find that that works.  And then we try to taper off of it and I relapse.  And we go back to routine ECT and taper off more slowly and move to maintenance ECT, and realize two weeks is too long in between sessions at this point, and move to every ten days with the hopes of eventually moving to once every three or four weeks.  And then, because we know the meds aren’t working, comes the task of going off them, but we can only start that long ass process once I’m strong and stable, and it will have to be a very very slow process to avoid dangerous side effects.

Needless to say, this is not a one way street.  You don’t decide to get better and work with your treatment team and then *bamm!* you start progressing toward recovery and never look back.  I had a rough day a few days ago, and the world was an ugly place and I didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone interact with any other human.  My father asked, “I thought moving home and eating better and having less stress on your shoulders would be helpful.”  silence  It has been helpful, and I have gotten better.  I have made so much progress since April and May.  But I have bad days.  Inexplicable ones that come out of the blue.  I have moments of panic.  I still keep tissues nearby.  I still retreat to my room a lot just because I can’t handle human contact.  But all this does not mean I’m not recovering.  In fact, the amount of time in between these bad days is growing, which is a positive sign.  Finally. 

And let’s hypothesize that in a year, I really am better and ready to join the world again.  There is absolutely nothing getting in the way between my brain and another relapse.  I cannot prevent it, just as I cannot prevent my heart arrhythmias.  This may all happen again.

B)  Today was “one of those days.”  Nothing really happened today that would have triggered me falling apart.  But I was exhausted, and stressed, and running around different offices to fill out various paperwork and then found out I am missing one crucial piece of paper to register my car in NY.  A piece of paper that currently resides in Missouri and will take an estimated 4-5 weeks to get to me.  So, until then (actually, I have until midnight to roam around the streets causing trouble), I have no car to drive.  And this just was the final straw that brought on the onslaught of tears.  I took klonopin as directed by my treatment team, relaxed, and listened to some music.  Then sat down to dinner and my mom told me, “It could be worse.”  And in my bitter snarky mood, I said, “Yes.  I could have cancer or a brain melanoma.”  Why is it that people with physical illnesses are shown pity and given encouragement and I’ve never had someone say to me, after explaining to them that my heart muscle is progressively dying, “Well it could be worse.”  Mental illnesses are painful–often in a physical way–and are often hopeless and the victims are filled with despair.  And there are days where we can’t imagine anything worse.  I mean, I had a schedule of events planned out and written down in my weekly planning book of how to get to a certain bridge at an ideal time so I could jump off of it because it had high fatality rates.  Please don’t belittle me and say “it could be worse.”  No.  In my personal case, it could not, and I don’t appreciate having my pain compared to someone else’s pain. 

So what I want people to know is that this whole “getting better thing” will have setbacks.  Some will last longer than others.  Rather than point out that I’m not better yet, encourage me by saying that I’m handling this setback in a much better way than before. 

And no, I am not upset at my parents.  I know they didn’t intend to hurt me in any way.  As I said, we are all learning and adjusting. 

 

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July 31, 2014 Posted by | bipolar disorder, Communication, coping, death, depression, Eating Disorders, ECT, family, heart, recovery, relationships, suicide, therapy | Leave a comment

308 Day Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve been here.  308 days, if this online date calculator site got it right.  One of my close friends has asked me to return to my blog, and a lot of people have suggested writing in general and writing about what is going on right now.  And, I agreed.  I thought about deleting this blog and starting a new one, being that it started mainly to deal with my recovery from anorexia.  Am I still recovered?  Absolutely.  Am I ashamed of having been sick with numerous relapses?  Absolutely not.  So why try to delete my past?  It’s still going to be there in some form.

 

Right now.  It’s a sunny July afternoon and I am sitting in Barnes and Noble’s cafe.  It’s currently one of my favorite places to be.  It’s been the one constant this spring/summer since I relocated from Columbia, MO back to my hometown in upstate NY.  A rather large college town with tons of coffee shops to a very small town where “coffee shop” seems to be an alien language. 

 

Let’s start with last fall.  I was doing pretty well.  Then I wasn’t.  We have found out that ECT is extremely beneficial for me, and that whenever we try to stop it or cut back too much, I relapse very fast regardless of my medications.  And for some unknown reason (other than Bipolar Disorder is a biological illness, that is), my depression hit a low it has never hit before, and decided to stay there for an extremely long time.  I was IP just after Christmas.  Started the school year, but had to stop teaching in March.  Everything was going downhill extremely fast.  I hardly got out of bed, let alone left my apartment.  I didn’t want to knit, write, walk, do yoga, eat.  I began relying on crackers, pepperoni, and sliced cheese for meals because I didn’t have to cook anything, or even slice anything. 

 

Yes, the suicidal thoughts came back.  I had a plan and a date marked on my calendar.  Now, 99% of me knows that I do NOT want to kill myself.  But then there’s this 1% that takes over when I get to a certain point.  When I was writing out my plans in my calendar, the rational part of my brain took over and the next day I talked to my psychiatrist and was admitted.  This time I stayed for a month.  I did some things differently this time.  I realized I had lost too much weight since cheese and crackers are not that nutritious, so I worked with a nutritionist and began drinking ensure multiple times a day, even when I wasn’t hungry and even when I didn’t really feel like getting out of my bed for meal time.  I told my treatment team everything.  I usually do, but my pride usually ends up getting in the way and I try to avoid crying in front of anyone, let alone curling up in a corner with a blanket wrapped over my head.  And I went to staff as soon as I noticed the smallest urges to self-harm.  All of these things allowed me to talk to staff in a way I really hadn’t before.  I let them in to all my ugly places.  And they didn’t run away, they didn’t scold me, they didn’t make me feel bad or guilty or ashamed.  They sat down next to me and talked and listened. 

 

For someone who has been a strong advocate of “taking care of you” in recovering from  an eating disorder, it finally dawned on me that I hadn’t ever really “taken care of me” when I was depressed.  I’d go to the hospital for a few days, and then immediately upon discharge would return to work or school or whatever my life entailed at the time.  I never gave myself a chance to heal and recover.  My treatment team and I talked, and my parents and my brother and I talked, and everyone talked together, and we have decided that I need to take a few months to not do anything.  Except work on recovery and health.  And that it would be in my best interest not to live alone, isolated in my apartment, talking to cats and eating cheese and crackers.

 

So I am now living with my parents (I’m sure that will be an entry all by itself).  I do not have a job.  I am not volunteering.  At some point, I will look for part time work.  Hopefully, at some point I will go back to teaching.  I do not have a timeline for this.  It will happen when I am ready. 

 

What am I doing?  The first three weeks home was spend finding a new treatment team, and I had doctors’ appointments more days than I didn’t.  I think I have a new treatment team here in NY that I am going to work really well with.  Before I left MO, I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist to continue ECT.  We’re still trying to get the timing in between sessions worked out, but I feel comfortable with this new doctor and it has been easy talking to him.  After six weeks of searching, I found a therapist who was accepting new patients AND took my insurance, and although I’ve only seen her three times, I am pretty sure this is going to work. 

 

I have unpacked my books and found all my knitting supplies.  I am slowly reconnecting with friends in the area, and everyone has been very understanding about my anxiety and fears about that reconnecting.  I am adjusting to living back in my home town, with my parents. 

 

I wish I could erase the previous eight months.  It was a stressful time, not only on me, but also on my friends and family.  I do understand why a lot of people needed to step away, and I still wish I could say the right words and make everything the way it was again, but no matter how hard I have tried, I cannot make past time disappear.  I am extremely thankful for the friends and family who have stood with me through this and supported me and encouraged me and never gave up. 

 

Having severe depression is something that is often misunderstood in our society, and I would like to address some of those issues here.  Maybe I’ll publish in a reliable, scheduled manor, and maybe I’ll drop in randomly.  I’ll shoot for less than 308 days, though.

 

July 26, 2014 Posted by | bipolar disorder, Communication, coping, depression, ECT, family, feelings, health, identity, recovery, relationships, self harm, suicide, therapy | 3 Comments