I tell myself this every day

I tell myself this every day

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nothing more and nothing less

I spent the morning, this being the 3rd day of summer, playing with my dogs in the creek by our house. The recent heavy rain has washed away most of the garbage that would normally deter any concerning Lakeside citizen from wading around in what could otherwise be uncapped sharps, used condoms, and a fine layer of jagged beer bottle glass everywhere. It was absolutely gorgeous out. The cruelly bright sun that I hadn't been familiar with for months now burned my shoulders, but was a welcome change from the blocked out windows of my bedroom where I had retreated to for the past 10 weeks. The heat had helped dry up enough of the creek bed that a fair amount of large flat rocks to relax on were available. The water had been undisturbed by fishers and usual drunks, enough to see the algae covered bottom of the creek as clear as glass. It was a beautiful sight and I found myself enjoying the moment. I assessed my emotional state and realized I felt happy, not ecstatic by any means, but a relaxing form of content.

I spent an hour tossing tennis balls into the deeper parts of the creek, watching the short legs on my dogs frantically tearing at the water in a sloppy race to get to the ball first. I loved knowing I'm doing something fun for them since they had to endure me not leaving the bed or house for a couple of months. I was also enjoying the fact that Dovah is the only one fast enough to get the ball, yet Annie diligently struggled and swam after it every time, her hope about getting to the prize first never waning. I soaked up the beauty and innocence knowing that just a few weeks ago I was living the antithesis of this moment. I had about a 10 percent chance of surviving yet here I was, feet stuck 6 inches into a soft sandy creek bed, laughing hysterically at my 2 dogs in life jackets desperately trying to stay afloat with their solid pit bull torpedo bodies. There's nothing buoyant about a compact 45 lbs dog that's pure muscle.

Every morning, before the past week or so, I would wake up and spend my day assessing what my chances of survival were. It was like being tucked into hospice care, with everyday the doctor being asked the inevitable "what are the chances she'll make it through today?" I felt like a body that was still functioning through the power of machinery and pulling the plug on myself was inevitable. Each day felt like a new diagnosis with a new survival rate. Some days I felt like I was given a few weeks to live out while other days I felt my diagnosis was more terminal and I that I had mere days. Either way, I started everyday feeling that there was an expiration date not too far off in my future.

I knew the depression was getting the best of me but what could I do? You're best bet to get away from someone who's beyond reason and trying to kill you is to run, but what if you're tied down and can't move? I was trying to kill me, how can you escape yourself?

Every morning my chances of survival were decreasing. I caught myself counting my sleeping medication and other sedatives to see how much of what it would take to do me in. I was writing all sorts of numbers down in order to find the equation of body weight to milligrams of what combination of pills, liquids, and powders would take me out the easiest and the cleanest. Most people who seriously contemplate and plan out their death will tell you that one of the important variables on your mind while you're plotting your own demise is how you can avoid making your loved ones clean up a large mess. Nevermind that you're taking yourself out of existence, you just don't want to ruin the bed sheets with your decaying fluids, or make them squeegee your brain matter off the TV in the living room. Depression is a queer beast.

I wish I could tell you that my friends, family, or pets pulled me out of it but that would be a farce. An hour or two after I had my pills sorted and counted out I just sort of lost interest. There wasn't a defining moment, no revelation, no divine intervention. I just decided to go do something else and by the next day my 2 or 3 month long funk was gone. I confessed to my husband how close he had been to being a widower with the same demeanor as if I was expressing the mail came late that day. When I'm no longer in crisis I tend to no longer speak about grave issues in such a way. We discussed what we wanted for dinner and I casually mentioned my pill counting and internet search history on destroying myself in the same manner.

You become accustomed to coming close to death. It no longer becomes scary after a while. You know you should be frightened but its familiarity no longer sets off a warning signal in your brain.

When you live with bipolar disorder, and many other similar illnesses, you live with a constant self destruct button. You never really want to push it but sometimes you wake up to find your hand over it and one slight change in pressure will send you off to the next world. I survived this bout just by pure luck. If my moods hadn't of changed later that afternoon then I know for certain that this blog would have been all that's left of me to give my friends, family, and children in hopes of them finding some kind of peace about what I had done. There wouldn't be any cryptic answers or warnings, but they would swear that were silent calls for help and that they could have done something.

The truth is simpler than that. I would have been gone because the disorder wanted me gone. Nothing more and nothing less.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

If I could catch my breath just to exhale

I've spent the past 2 weeks holed up in my bedroom and in bed. My depression and the accompanying anxiety are my constant companions. Whenever those emotions become too much and I can no longer hold the mental waste in, I grab onto my dog Annie and just cry. I wrap my arms around her thick and compliant neck and bury my tears into her fur, wishing she would turn to me and say "everything will be alright." I feel mostly sadness these days with many of my daily routines having gone out the window, I feel like I have very little remnants of what could be described as a life. I don't venture out, I don't go to the store, and I'm finding it harder and harder to accomplish simple tasks like bathe or brush my teeth. I lay in a heap of my own misery and if it wasn't for the 12 hours a night I sleep, I wouldn't have any reprieve from it.

The job at the SPCA didn't work out but I found another event coordination job that was holding me over to help me slowly get back on my feet. I was behind financially but if I played my cards right, I could slowly get caught up. Then the company suddenly went under and now I'm left in the dark again. For the past 2 weeks I've been filling out applications online, as much as I'm able to do in a day while fighting against a barrage of discarnate voices telling me how worthless I am. I only have my past work experience and my high school diploma to navigate me through this world of employment and they're producing more closed doors than opportunities. I see openings for hundreds of jobs I'm not qualified for, I have to scroll through pages and pages of job descriptions that require much more than I have to offer.

This feeds the depression monster. It loves to look at each job summary and point out that I am inadequate. It revels in the moments when I become discouraged, lapping up the ineffectiveness of my search. I have 34 years on this earth and very little to show for it. Or as least that's what my mind tells me. I have a hard time separating what my actual thoughts are, the things I would normally say and feel, and the involuntary thoughts of the depression monster. I constantly feel devoid of value as a human and a failure as someone who's constantly only tried to do better for themselves and those around them. I am flawed. I am flawed at a chemical level and while it isn't my fault, it makes for really poor coping mechanisms naturally. I have to fight bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder at the same time and I currently feel like I'm losing.

Jobs that I am qualified for don't pay a wage that I can survive on and a lot of them are hard labor and/or mind numbing. I see the jobs I'm qualified for, or that basically anyone would be, and I think to myself that I've come all this way in life just to appear to be starting from the bottom. I fear my car being repossessed the most. If I lose that then my options become disparaging limited. I am buried in anxiety most of my waking hours, worried about my finances. My youngest daughter wanted to get ice cream the other day and I had to explain that I couldn't. I'm the other parent, the fun one they get to visit so when I had to tell her that I couldn't afford it, I broke down inside. They're good kids, they understand, she didn't protest, she didn't ask why, she just went back to what she was doing before.

It breaks my heart because I don't know if I'll be able to buy food for them for the next time they come over. I don't want to cancel any of these precious visits I get with them because I can't afford simple items like cereal or mac n cheese. I have celiacs so everything has to be gluten free in the house, which makes these items more expensive than normal, which makes me feel guilty for having another medical condition I have no control over. I always want to look at them and apologize. I always want to say I'm sorry for having these disorders. I want to tell them that one day it will all be ok and mommy will overcome her biological setbacks. But I don't know if I will.

My medication is working. My depression is currently situational, which means I am able to work. But so far I haven't had anything promising and it's eroding my ability to cope.

I just hold my dog and just cry in between filling out job applications. That's my only option for now. Maybe one day she'll be able to turn to me and tell me everything will be ok.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Close to death

I watched the cars traveling at high speeds soar down the highway and disappear underneath me. I stood on the sidewalk of the overpass gauging how long it would take me to scale over the chain link fence and for my body to hit the ground below. Could I time it just right so a car were to hit my body and make sure I was dead?

Able to pull myself away from staring at the highway for a moment I began searching my surroundings, trying to find something to ground me to this world. A cyclist rode by, I hid my face. I didn't want anyone I know to see me like this. I looked up at the beautiful blue sky that aroused no feelings of awe within me. I looked at my feet in my brightly colored running shoes. I looked at the park next to me, the grass a fresh color that only early spring brings about.

And I felt nothing.

My gaze shifted back to the overpass I was standing on and back to the only thoughts I had, ending my life. But I didn't want to die, I just wanted the pain to be over and it was the only solution my brain was showing me.

Think of your kids, I tell myself.

I felt nothing.

What good is a mother that's constantly sick and suffering, my mind rationalizes with me. What does it show them to constantly see that their mother is going through hell with no end in sight?

Think of your husband.

I felt nothing.

Think of everyone, anyone, I scream to myself. Still, I felt nothing.

The cars aren't frequent enough. Someone would stop and the chances of me surviving the fall are too great. I stare down at the highway below me and I can see my twisted body laying on the concrete, injured, bleeding. Dead.

Without thinking I put my hand on the chainlink fence. My foot comes up but I'm able to stop it and put it back down on the ground. I don't want to be injured, I just want this pain to end. I want the medications, the depression, the thoughts of self harm, the invasive thoughts, the hopelessness- I want all of that to end.

I would do anything for relief.

My hand falls off the fence, I turn away and start putting one foot in front of the other, grinding my teeth as I do. What am I living for? How is this going to get any better?

It doesn't matter. I just have to keep going. I have to keep walking, walking away from the overpass. I can't reason my way out of suicide so I have to just keep moving.

I finally make it to the gym and try not to make eye contact with anyone. Do they know they're looking at a dead person walking? Do they know how close I just was to another story on the evening news? I try to guess how many would see it as a coward move and how many might understand the horror that is your own mind trying to kill you. I'm a walking statistic, nothing more.

I'm ok. I have a plan to go to inpatient if my health deteriorates any further. I called my doctor shortly after this incident and they have switched my medication. I wanted to share this incident because suicide is a very real part of my mental health struggle that I haven't talked about in a very long time.

This incident happened to me today and it scared the shit out of me once I was able to come back to my senses. I was in the middle of a run inside the VCU gym when I started bawling uncontrollably and had to leave the gym. All of my thoughts centered around ending my life for a period of 2 days before I was able to catch on. I've had several medication switches lately and with nothing working my mind seemed to deteriorate without giving ny warning signs.

I would like to reiterate that I'm currently ok and not a threat to myself BUT if for any reason that changes I've already contacted people that will help make sure I'm put into an inpatient facility if it comes to that.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Truffle Shuffle

We're told to love our bodies no matter what they look like and that being big is beautiful, and while I don't see other people being fat or obese as a bad thing, I'm having a hard time applying my apathy towards body size to myself. What if you can't apply that kind of indifference about body image to yourself? What if what you see in the mirror doesn't line up to the standards you hold for yourself? What if you hate your body and compliments only make you feel worse?

Latuda and Abilify had me gain a total of 30 lbs in less than 2.5 months and going from 132 to 162 has been difficult for me to accept. I haven't weighed that much since I was pregnant 11 years ago. The Latuda threw my binge eating out of control to the point where I was pulling my hair out in cold showers just to stop thinking about eating for 10 or 15 minutes during the day. Binge eating is a symptom of borderline personality disorder, it's a form of self harm, just like cutting is. It's terrible because all you can think about is eating nonstop and when you binge on all the shitty foods you're craving the relief is so miniscule and so momentary that it actually makes you feel worse. It creates a cycle of feeling like shit because you gave in and the only relief is eating. You're filled up with self loathing from what you think is a lack of willpower when it's really part of your mental disorder that strips away any control you think you have over yourself.

It's not because I didn't want to stop eating, I couldn't. I would grind my teeth as I paced around the house trying to go over why eating a pound of candy is a very bad idea. I tried to pacify the impulse with herbal teas, gum, planning out all of my meals, trying to limit how much candy I would buy and eat, and dozens of other tricks but not a goddamn thing worked. I was spending so much of my day fighting the impulse to binge eat that I didn't have energy for anything else.

I thought about it day and night, I couldn't focus on anything else. It got to the point where I knew I was losing the battle. I couldn't overpower my body's impulse to eat all the time. If I couldn't stop eating I needed to gain control in another way. I resorted to the only thing that made sense in that state of mind- throwing up all the food I couldn't stop myself from consuming.

I had a short stint of bulimia and the only reason I stopped is so my husband wouldn't find out and feel worse for me than he already does. For 2 weeks I tried to throw up after my binges, I could never feel like I got as much out as I put in and it only caused me to feel worse about myself. It's a scary cycle and I wanted out before it got worse, thankfully after those 2 weeks I was no longer purging.

My doctor took me off Latuda when I told him about my bingeing and unstoppable sugar cravings, I never told him about my purging. He put me on Abilify and I lost about 10 lbs during the switch, which was a relief. Finally I can get back to a normal weight, or so I hoped. After 2 weeks I started gaining weight but this time without binge eating. My cravings weren't gone but there was a 50/50 chance of me giving into them and they weren't as strong. I wasn't hitting my calorie goals each day but I was no longer overeating. I also felt more relief after eating while on Abilify, it wasn't as empty or as hollow of a feeling. But then those 10 lbs came back.

I'm now back to 162 lbs and I hate my body.

I'm uncomfortable, bending over is difficult because there's so much more to me now. Even Though I have clothes that fit me they're terribly uncomfortable. Things don't sit or fit right, I feel heavier and weighed down whenever I move around. I'm not even going to get into how awful it feels riding uphill on a bike.

I hate how I look in the mirror and can't accept it. The world beats into our head that there's nothing wrong with being overweight, and I honestly couldn't care less about other people's bodies. I don't judge others for their weight or body type, I save all unfair and cruel criticism for myself. When I look in the mirror I don't see me, I see 30 lbs of burden thrusted upon me because of psych meds that didn't end up helping me in the end anyway. I had no control over how I got here, yet I experience all of the blame and guilt. I don't want to be this size, it isn't me.

It's completely destroyed my self esteem. I feel like I'm living in someone else's body, not the active bike woman my life actually is. It affects how I act around other people, it affects what I do that day, it keeps me in a mild state of depression because the situation feels hopeless. I'm being weaned off Abilify but I don't know if that will help me lose any weight. I'm overwhelmed and lugging this odd, 30 lbs heavier flesh vessel around makes me miserable.

I don't feel powerful, I don't feel strong- I only feel shame. I want to wear a shirt that says "this body isn't my fault," but I would only be trying to convince myself.

But I'm only 162 lbs, I can't imagine what it's like starting off heavier and having medications add to that. I know people who have gained over 100 lbs thanks to meds and I can't imagine how someone could deal with that. My 30 lbs make me feel hopeless about getting my body back together, trying to imagine the situations other people are dealing with blows my mind.

I've gained empathy where there was once apathy about body image.

Thanks for reading

Friday, March 17, 2017

The dog days are here

I've decided that I'm healthy enough to work. Because of how bad off I was, the plan was to get on disability pay in order to take the time I needed to get my meds straight and find some stability before I entered the workforce again. Between the russian roulette game that is figuring out psych meds and recovering from my termination and bullying at the bike shop, I was finding it impossible to get basic life tasks accomplished, so disability seemed like the only viable option until I got back on my feet, mentally. But now that the doctors and I know what I'm facing- not just bipolar disorder but also borderline personality disorder- we can treat it accordingly.

The meds weren't working because my bipolar wasn't the culprit, BPD was, and just like when I was diagnosed with bipolar 4 years ago, I hit the ground running to educate myself about the disorder. It's surprising it took this long to catch but BPD is exacerbated by stress and with my former boss doing things like mocking me to my face about my symptoms, it set off a BPD hell storm. By the way, yes, my former boss came up to me one day mockingly shaking his arms around and said "so, is this what we're going to do all day?" clearly making fun of my lithium tremors. Yes, my former boss mocked me like a child on several occasions and when politely asked to stop he threatened to fire me.

I was in a bad situation but I figured as long as I didn't give in to his bullshit then I could continue to do what I love- work in a bike shop.

The good news is that I no longer have to worry about disability or trying to secure odd jobs because I have finally entered the workforce once again- I officially work for the Richmond SPCA as a kennel assistant. It doesn't pay much and it's only part time but it will bring home pretty much the amount I would have been getting with disability. Since knowing, understanding, and treating BPD my mental state has improved greatly between DBT, CBT, and no longer throwing meds that don't work in the mix, my mental state has improved dramatically, and more importantly, I have complete faith in my ability to work part time in this particular job. I plan to find a way to move to a full time position eventually if I feel like I can handle more.

I will say that if there was a perfect job for me that doesn't involve bicycles then it will be one that involves dogs.

Me having too much fun when I was volunteering at the SPCA

I hate to do it but I'm asking for help one last time. My car payments have piled up since I had no income for 3 months and my phone is close to getting shut off. Both of these things I will be able to maintain with my new job but I won't be making enough to get caught up. I have a GoFundMe and Paypal, the difference being GoFundMe takes 10%. Anything and everything helps, I seriously mean that. I've been unable to sleep and have panic attacks whenever I think about my car being repossessed or my phone being cut off. These aren't the only bills that are behind but it's the only two I truly need help with enough to ask. Once these two are set I will officially shut down my GoFundMe campaign and be able to close that chapter of my life. Thank you for everyone who already contributed, you are responsible for me getting to where I'm at today and I will never forget that.

Car payment: $1,160.02        due as of 3/17/17
Phone bill: $369.15               due as of 3/17/17

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Nervous breakdown

Late November of last year I took 2 weeks of medical leave from work in order to deal with my overwhelming symptoms. I did so in order for my performance at work to stay at a functioning level; it was a preliminary strike in order to reign in my mental health before it seeped into my job performance. I ended up in a very bad place and I couldn't figure out what caused it, I reflected on everything and came up with no answers. Was it just the bipolar throwing me for a curve ball? But it felt bigger and much more complicated than bipolar disorder.

Rewind to a week ago, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in addition to bipolar disorder. I'm not shocked, I've had my suspicions but until a doctor says anything, was sticking to bipolar disorder as the culprit.

I've hit my research hard, reading, watching, and absorbing everything I can about BPD and when I did so, a new picture started to take form. I knew exactly why I had my nervous breakdown in November. It was the way I was being treated at my job. The more time I have to reflect on it the more time I'm glad to be out of the environment I was in, the more time I have to see that my boss firing me didn't come out of nowhere.

I was told to clock out if I was going to talk to customers for too long, which came as a surprise since my whole job revolved around talking to people. People love to chat when they come into the shop, anyone who's ever worked in the industry knows that. If a guy wants to tell be about the kayak he bought from Rowlett's 20 years ago, then that's what we'll be talking about (as long as I don't have any pressing issues or other people to attend to.) His talking about something that seems so irrelevant was actually a treasure trove of information for when the conversation circles back to cycling. I can gauge his level of fitness, whether he would do better with a road or mountain bike, and how much time a week he would be riding. All conversations greatly helped me in making sure these people got the right bike and the right equipment.

But I was pulled aside and told to clock out if I want to hang out with my friends at the shop. But they're... customers. I can call some of them friends but that's because I ride with them regularly. I don't really know them outside of a cycling context and plus, isn't that kind of my job? To talk to customers, whether they're regulars or not? To represent the bike shop as an active member of the cycling community? I was in sales, it's my job to listen to people to better figure out what they need in order to enhance their riding experience.

I was told if the topic isn't about cycling specifically then it's inappropriate and I need to clock out.

No one else in the shop was help to this strange policy that I found out was exclusively for me. Everyone else had friends come in the shop and hang out for hours at a time but the owner never felt like it was an issue to bring up with them. I didn't care that it happened, I just wanted to be held to the same standard as everyone else. My friends rarely came up there, when they did it was to buy something from me or to take 2 minutes to say hi and then be on their way.

This is just one small example of how I was treated so much more different than the rest of the guys, I'll write further posts about other ways I was treated unfairly over the next several weeks because I now know it's what set me off. I was being singled out and it was wreaking havoc on my mental health. I just wanted to do my job, I wanted to sell bikes, get people into cycling, and bring all the people that I know or ride with to come over to the shop I was working at. I was good for business. I brought in a lot of regulars.

But I didn't have any defence mechanisms for being treated unfairly. BPD causes me to internalize these things. The more I was treated poorly, the worst I got.

I was singled out long before I picked up on it. I think he was afraid of me since day one, thinking that at any moment I could have a "bipolar fit," which isn't even a thing. I had a BPD meltdown because of the way I was being treated, but that only causes harm to myself, no one else.

I just wanted to be in a bike shop and do my absolute best to serve the cycling community.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A love letter to my husband

I always want to use the phrase "thanks for putting up with me," but I can't. In our 3 years together, and for the first time in my life, I've not once felt like a burden. I'm not something you put up with, you laugh with me when people would normally be laughing at me. You stand by my side when my mental health would, and has, made people run away from me. You've never shown fear towards me, despite experiencing fear when my disorders take a scary turn. You've had many instances where it would have been so easy to run or renege on our commitment, but your dedication since day one isn't just admirable, it's legendary.

You're the strongest individual I've ever met and that's not just in the context of my mental health issues. Your strongest trait (outside of getting free car parts off Craigslist) is your ability to pull through anything and everything that's thrown your way. We share that trait, the ability to end up on top in the end. You probably don't see this quality as clearly as I do but I observe everything you do; you're terribly fascinating to me. I never enjoy seeing you down but I always look forward as to how you're going to pull yourself back up, because you always do. You give me strength just by being you, by always ending up on top after being knocked down.

You knew I had bipolar disorder before we started dating, you had no idea what that would entail but you went forward anyway. I didn't think this relationship would work, not because of anything on your side, I thought you were perfect, but because of my life long string of unstable relationships. I either chose poorly or eventually sabotaged a good thing. Why would a relationship with a barely divorced bike mechanic be any different?

But you were different. You were kind. It was very shortly after I fell for you that I realized that a relationship with you was worth trying, even if it didn't work out in the long run. You were worth becoming vulnerable for. Every relationship someone has will fail until one doesn't and if you didn't work out, well, that was a risk I was willing to take. I didn't want a relationship when I found you. I didn't want to date, I still had so much to learn about myself and my bipolar disorder. I didn't want to expose someone new to my complete psychological mess.

I'll never be more thankful for the universe sending you my way. I'll never be more proud of myself for choosing a healthy and functional relationship. I was attracted to you because of all of the hard work I had been doing with my mental health. I was attracted to a higher caliber person because I was viewing the world through mentally healthier eyes. My bipolar (and also what we now know is BPD) didn't make that decision for me, I did. Gwyn did.

It hasn't all been rosy, you've experienced the wrong end of my disorders; watching me snap and bolt out the door in the middle of the night, with talk about throwing myself into highway traffic. I know you were afraid when I sat in a kitchen of broken dishes that I destroyed as you watched me switch from Typhoid to Gwyn and back to Typhoid over and over. You had every right to be fearful in those situations but what separates you from the rest of the world is your ability to keep cool and calm in order to make sure the woman you love doesn't end up in any more pain than she needed to be. You realized she wasn't hurting you on purpose, she was just a product of her flawed brain chemistry.

What makes you unique is that you have always been able to separate me from my symptoms. You knew you were dealing with my mental illness and not with the woman underneath.

Being brave doesn't mean fearless, it's being able to trudge forward despite overwhelming fear. I see you as by far the bravest person I've ever encountered, even more so than myself.

You constantly see me struggle and I'm always honest with what I'm going through mentally no matter how insane or dangerous it is. I have never felt the need to hide the darkest parts of my struggle because I have never felt judged and you've never made me feel crazy. I can turn to you and say "my brain is telling me to kill myself" without you freaking out or seeing me as a danger to myself. I can be 100% real and honest about what my brain is doing and you never look at me like I'm crazy, even when I'm... well, being crazy.

You make me feel human. You make me feel valid. You make me feel like I'm not alone.

Thank you for that.

Thanks for reading