Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Missing Chaos

sometimes, I have to admit that I feel a little . . . unsettled . . . in this new world I live in.

25564_633436301485_7179378_nThis world is so much calmer than the one of my twenties and the first six years of my thirties.  After 3+ years, I’m still not used to it.  I still walk out of my apartment some days, amazed that I have a bag on my shoulder filled with work stuff–that I have this thing called a job.  Sure I’ve had jobs before.  In fact, I’ve almost always had some type of job, even if it was a very-part-time job while I was on disability.

This, though, this is different.  I enjoy this job and I want to keep this job and I keep waiting for the calm to stop.  For chaos to fall down from the heavens and cause this current world to break into tiny pieces.  It’s happened before.  I know I’m now working with an awesome treatment team and that I will hopefully catch any relapse before melting into a puddle on the pavement, but it still terrifies me.

Yet sometimes, I long for that to happen.  Only I wish I could control the severity and length of the chaos.

Why?  Why would I miss the voices in my head telling me to give up on everything and to hurt myself?  Why would I want to constantly obsess about my suicide plans?  Why would I want to go back to a run of stays at various inpatient units?

Maybe I don’t miss the chaos as much as I miss the community that knows the chaos.  The community that just gets it–all of it–without me having to explain anything.  The community that’s mainly made up of people who have failed-multiple times-at being an adult. Others who can barely keep a job, let alone contemplate a career.  Others who never seem to have many stable relationships–romantic or otherwise.  Others who have periods of time on their resumes or CVs not filled with a job or education or anything other than psychiatric emergencies.  Others who know the daily routine on a psychiatric unit can be as comforting as it is mind-numbingly boring.

It’s easier on a psychiatric unit.  To admit to exhaustion and sadness and hopelessness. To admit I need help.  To admit I want help.  To admit that I have no real clue about ‘normal emotional reactions and behaviors.’  I know the extremes.  I’m finding my way around this middle grey zone, but I often feel lost here.

I don’t have the Sorority Days stories, or the Spring Fling stories, or the Marriage and Family stories, or the New House stories, and sometimes I don’t know how to engage with people when I’m in a group that seems to be focused on reminiscing about The Good Old Days.

Some days I fear needing to go back in the hospital.  Some days I wish I could, just to take a break for a week.  I still feel “new” to all of this, and I have no idea what’s coming next.  At least the chaos was predictable in that I knew it would be there tomorrow.


February 17, 2018 Posted by | addictions, bipolar disorder, Body Image, Communication, coping, depression, guilt, health, identity, progress, publicity, recovery, relationships, responses, self harm, shame, suicide, teaching, therapy, treatment | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Intentional Acting

14358754_10101428559527125_201134823500979566_nThis time of year is always difficult for me.  I have come to accept that life in general will be  . . . interesting during the winter months.  This year, however, I made some changes to my routine to make sure this would be a successful winter.

DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and I agree on most things, but not so much on a few things.  I have learned a significant amount about taking care of myself, however.  A relatively new concept if you look at my life as a whole.  This year, I decided that, above all else, I would make sure I went to bed and woke up on a regular schedule.  This meant saying “the world won’t end if I don’t finish grading these papers tonight” and asking “you already know how to stay in bed for 24 consecutive hours, so how about we try something new?”  I’m not saying it was easy to maintain a regular sleep schedule; it took a hell of a lot of self-talk/self-lectures on a daily basis, and I certainly didn’t have a 100% success rate.  But I tried another new concept out this year by not shaming myself with negative self-talk when my day was less than perfect.

Not feeling guilty is actually more difficult for me than maintaining a good sleep schedule.

Healthy sleep habits definitely helped, but so did healthy exercise habits.  I said at the beginning of the winter that I wasn’t even going to go into the season with the intention of walking every day.  I hate the cold.  I hate the cold wind.  And I hate snow.  Going out for a slow walk was just not going to happen in upstate New York.  It was easier when I was able to run.  Then, just knowing the endorphin high was coming was enough to get me outside and exercising.

This year, I told myself I would try to maintain a regular yoga practice, along with my regular meditation practice.  My daily sitting practice went by unscathed.  However, there were many many many days when I just couldn’t make myself do yoga, or even do some simple stretches while watching television.  But–this winter I didn’t lecture myself about how bad it is not to exercise.  Turns out, guilt isn’t such a great motivator.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I found myself thinking, “It’s winter.  Just chill out and watch more Bones reruns.”  It was the end of winter and I didn’t feel like showing up at work, let alone exercising by myself at home.  And I’d just continue to sit there and read or knit.  And even without any self-lectures, I’d feel worse.  Mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Then I remembered another DBT skill: Acting Opposite.  I wanted to curl up in bed after going to work, not because I was enjoying a good nap that would be refreshing, but because I didn’t feel like dealing with the world.  Or my mind.  So I intentionally (a big mindfulness concept) decided to start (restart? revisit?  continue?) a daily yoga practice–with gentleness.  I started off with a few slow sun salutations–they only took a few minutes.  But I was okay with “just” doing a few minutes of yoga.  Each day, I added one more pose to my sequence.  I didn’t automatically just add on the next pose in the ashtanga series; I thought about what would feel good for my body and went with it.

So for part of the winter, I let myself sit and do nothing, exercise-wise.  For the rest of the season, I chose to challenge my depressive habits.  But in each case, I had to do so in a balanced fashion.  I had to listen to what was right for me in that given moment.  And I had to learn how to forgive myself.  These concepts of acceptance and forgiveness and gentleness are still new habits for me, and don’t come naturally.  But–I am discovering that, overall, I feel better when I choose to practice them.  My body and my mind thank me.

March 16, 2017 Posted by | bipolar disorder, Body Image, Communication, coping, depression, Eating Disorders, faith, feelings, guilt, health, heart, mindfulness, progress, recovery, shame, therapy, treatment | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

more along the depressed honesty lane . . .

So not much has changed since my last entry.  I wish I could say that things are great and my job is wonderful and life is full of roses.  Actually, I can say that my job is wonderful.  I mean, I knew I liked my job and I enjoy working there and I love teaching (the vast majority of the time)–but I have to admit to being scared shitless a couple of weeks ago when I realized that the depression had continued to grow, and my strength and resilience had both continued to shrink–making my job pretty much impossible for the moment, especially when combined with the fact that we wanted/needed to increase my ECT treatments for a couple of weeks in order to get back on track with them. 

So I went to my boss’s office.  And I sat down across from her and explained the situation–using those dreaded words like “depression” and “crying” and “sleeping all day” and “increase in treatment.”  I was terrified I’d be fired on the spot.  I was terrified I’d lose my job permanently.  And I didn’t want that.  I’ve been through the depression enough times to know when I honestly don’t like something and when the depression is taking away my abilities.  And this, this is the depression.  And most of the time, I honestly don’t feel like it’s ever going to get any better, which is pretty disheartening.  But I’ve been through this enough to know that it will get better.  I don’t know when.  I have a good idea about how it will get better, but even that isn’t 100% sure knowledge–if it were I’d be healed by now. 

Right now, I am doing my best to remember that this does pass.  With time.  With medication.  With ECT.  With my light box.  With treatment.  With my friends standing beside me.  And, with the knowledge that I still have a job (one that I love) to return to when I am ready.  I have to admit that I am proud of myself for going to talk to my boss and tell her exactly what was going on. 

The point of this entry?  I’m not all that sure.  I know I haven’t been writing as much, thanks to the depression, so I guess this is just an “update post.” 

There are days when I want to give up.  When I think it will be easier.  But as I said, I know this is not a permanent state.  (You should see my journal.  I remind myself of that on a daily basis.)  And I may not feel like I have a lot going for me right now, but I have a family, I have some kick ass friends, and I have a treatment team that is working together to do whatever they can to help me.  I know that this will pass.  At some point.  With treatment and help.  And I will be back in front of that classroom and making corny jokes that only half the class laughs at.

I know ECT raises some questions for people.  If you have any questions about ECT, depression, treatment, and other related things, please feel free to ask:

January 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment