Sometimes, my courage amazes me.
25 Feb 2015 4 Comments
22 Feb 2015 16 Comments
in art, bipolar disorder, cats, exercise, health, mental health, mixed-media art, money, relationships Tags: compulsive spending, daily plan, diet, Integrated Health Services, journaling, sleep, support
Yesterday a crack opened in the bipolar depression that’s been at me for weeks. Enough to let me remember to return to basics. Because I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and said to that shocked face, “We’re not going to the hospital this year. We’re not.”
First a call to the group I worked for this past summer—Integrated Health Services. Their whole mission is to keep mental health clients out of the hospitals and emergency rooms. I know I need more support now—I’ve been hearing from my providers all year that I don’t have enough in the best of times. I’m not sure what IHS can do, but I made an appointment for Monday with Rosario, my care coordinator, and with Allison, my peer, to sit and figure that out. They are both kind, heart-centered women. I feel safe going to them. The fact that I was just able to make the appointment helped. Doing something, anything, sometimes helps.
Today I will start using my Daily Plan sheet, the one I created after my partial hospitalization last spring. It will help me focus on small goals and remember to do every day tasks that get waterlogged by the swampy emotions.
I looked at how much money I’ve spent this month and cut back to the essentials. Today I’ll figure a budget to get me through to May (February is just the beginning. March and April can sometimes be even worse). I’ll try to make it something I can live with, not something that will punish me for being sick.
I cleaned out my refrigerator of all the liquefying vegetables and bought a few simple groceries. I swam at the Y. I sat with my fading bedspread for a while and sewed a blanket stitch around the frayed edges with gentle music playing and the cats behind my head on the chair. Henry’s belly makes a gurgling, crackling sound when he’s digesting, and I pressed my ear against his fur to listen while he slept.
My apartment is a sickroom now. No sudden moves. No grand expectations. Everything deliberate and gentle. I must tend to my sleep, get to the Y every day, maintain my journal, plan quiet visits with friends, try to eat fresh food. I will try to keep the structure sound while the storm carries on inside. I will treat myself as someone worthy of care and respect, as someone that I love.
21 Feb 2015 Leave a comment
In a room without a window, there burnt a fire, guarded by a high and strong fender, and a lamp suspended from the ceiling by a chain… In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell… — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
20 Feb 2015 18 Comments
There are days like today when there is nothing for it. The darkness is real and thick. The thoughts are alien and weird. Nothing helps. Nothing hurts. It is a day for soft music and sleep.
17 Feb 2015 17 Comments
It’s a little after 3:00AM now. I’ve been up since 1:30 after four hours of sleep—despite my never-fail sleep cocktail of Xanax and Benadryl. It’s February.
The one good thing about nights like this, when rapid cycling and mixed states turn my days and nights inside out, is that I don’t have to worry about getting up to go to work. I remember, years ago, trying to talk myself back to sleep. Before any diagnosis told me this might be part of my “normal,” before doctors, and my work ethic, and the State agreed that I was no longer employable, I fretted over my sleeplessness and dreaded the morning. I know most of us have had nights where we finally drop off at 5:00 in the morning only to have the alarm go off at 6:00. It’s a horrible, rock-in-the-gut feeling.
Now I just get up. Open the windows to let the cold, fresh air wash the stale taste of insomnia out of the apartment, stick my favorite mug in the microwave and sip chai while I putter on the computer. In a few minutes, I’ll close the windows and pull out my plush throw, rearrange the cats on my chair, and read for a while. When I get sleepy, I’ll go back to bed. It doesn’t matter anymore when that happens.
That freedom is exquisite. The absence of that particular stress is like a Christmas present, an emotional gift card that keeps on giving. It makes the discomfort of this spell easier to bear.
I’m trying to be more conscious of how winter torques my bipolar disorder. Fellow blogger-friend, Kitt O’Malley (and what a foin Irish name, that is) just posted a clinical piece about the relationship between BP and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It was the first thing I read when I sat down with my chai. (Synchronicity is alive and well in my spinny corner of the world.) It’s always nice to know I’m not alone in my otherness, that there are folks who go through the same kinds of extra grief this time of year, that a committee somewhere labeled it.
It’s the little things that help me keep going when I really don’t want to, little comforts, little efforts. I give my light box one more try and sit down to make a card—like the one at the top of this post. I haul my ass to the laundromat, normally a place I love, but now just one more chore I can’t quite accomplish. But I do it, and the gentle rhythm of the dryers, the warm scent of clean, comforts me. I let Richard Armitage read to me in the car, his facile voice assuming dozens of characters in a novelization of Hamlet, and it comforts me.
Now the chai and the soothing motion of fingers on a keyboard, the wandering off to read a bit of Rumi, the quiet trust of my sleeping cats all conspire with the space I’ve made for acceptance. I feel sleep sliding up behind me. It’s 5AM, and I don’t own an alarm clock anymore.
There is always something to be grateful for.
14 Feb 2015 2 Comments
Happy Valentine’s Day.
May you hear only loving words today.
And may you find the voice to speak them, as well.
13 Feb 2015 Leave a comment
12 Feb 2015 5 Comments
11 Feb 2015 2 Comments