The Between Time

This week brought days of feeling light and open, afternoons of writing and music.  Calm and Steady Mind settled in.  Struggle turned its volume way down.

But, today it feels like all the open windows in my mind snicked shut.  The expansive energy stopped and is now compressing.  I feel claustrophobic as if wearing clothes two sizes too small.  My mind generates fuss, picking up little worries and rolling them around and around.

This is the Between Time, when Calm and Steady Mind is gone, but Depression is still on the horizon.  It’s gray here—colors start to lose brightness, joys that felt so fresh and alive yesterday shrivel so much I can’t even find them.  A mental fuzz, like dust, sifts down over everything.  The predominant mood is a gentle sadness, a melancholy, with a strange sweetness that depression never allows.

In the Between Time, I can still find comfort—touch Emmett’s soft, tiny ear, listen to Enya’s music.  I can see the coming depression and not panic, because I know it will pass through.  I’m standing on the edge of the hole, but not in it yet.

The Between Time is horrifying, and also a grace period.  In it, I can get ready.  The storm is coming, so I gather up my flashlight, water bottle, radio and head for the cellar.  Because who knows how long I’ll have to wait in the dark.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    Feb 19, 2011 @ 09:52:53

    And you know you’re not alone Sandy. You have reached out and touched so many people, and we’re all here for you. There is Love, aplenty, here for you. So gird yourself up with our thoughts, our prayers and our Love for you too.

    Peace through the storm,
    Linda

    Reply

  2. Kitty
    Feb 19, 2011 @ 18:44:14

    Some time back, I had a realization about the word “calm.” I was afraid of it. Just like you describe here… after calm came depression. So I would rush back to mania… I would jack myself up as much as I could, for fear of falling. And sometimes it worked, but then hypomania brings its own challenges.

    I’ve been practicing a new skill for the past year that seems to help… I think of it as “taking the sharp point off the top.” I know that I don’t have much control or much where-with-all when I’m depressed. Not much ability to pick up my Power when I’m in the “sharp point” of the deep darkness. But it occurred to me that I DO have more control and ability to cause change when I’m “up.” So I started practicing being “not too happy” and “not too high.” My idea was that if I could take the sharp point off the top, it should cause the sharp point at the bottom to soften. It seems to be working. It took practice, but I am able to stay more in the middle and I have learned to be less afraid of being calm. So, for me, it’s about being proactive when I can, when I am able. And I have had to give myself time to adjust to being in the middle, which I had not been accustomed to in my life.

    I should say here that I’m not full-on bi-polar, I’m Cyclothymic, so it may be different than your experience. But it seems to me that the goal of medication is to take the sharp points off in both directions, so maybe that’s what I’m teaching myself to do… now that the idea occurred to me that I can. And it certainly must help that I’m becoming less afraid of being in the middle. It’s tough to strive for a goal you’re afraid of and now that I don’t automatically assume that calm leads to depression, I’m more able to manage my rapid cycling.

    What do you think, Sandy?

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 20, 2011 @ 07:20:01

      So much good stuff here!
      I think it’s *amazing* that you found a process that’s working for you! My biggest question is “What does this practice look like?” I want details, sister! It sounds like you’re more observant of yourself and your moods, but what do you do/think when you see that you’re “too happy” or on the train to that station? What’s the process?

      The fear factor is huge, too. Every time you practice being in the middle, the fear lessens, and you can go there more often. It’s how people work with phobias. If you’re scared of the horse, you feel the fear and get on the horse. When you don’t die, it’s a little easier to get on again the next time.

      Anytime I can bring awareness to what I’m thinking, I have more control. The feelings are still there. The compulsions are just as big. But, I’m not trapped in the false truth that makes it worse. For example, when the depression is severe and the hopelessness and despair get big, my thoughts tell me this will never end or I’m doomed to keep coming back to this dead place for the rest of my life. If I can detach a little, I can see those thoughts aren’t necessarily true. And if they aren’t necessarily true, then parts of them could be false. And so on until I turn the thought from true to “this is just the depression talking.”

      For me, medication never took off the sharp points, though I know that’s what they’re supposed to do. Meds caused my moods to become more extreme and threw me into rapid cycling, which I’d never experienced before starting meds. My shrink would tell me my illness was “advancing” when it was really the medications themselves that made me worse. Brrrr. Anyway, all this psycho/spiritual work off medication is yielding new results. Let’s play together and see where we end up!

      Reply

  3. Kitty
    Feb 20, 2011 @ 18:05:56

    Yes, yes, this is it… “The fear factor is huge, too. Every time you practice being in the middle, the fear lessens, and you can go there more often.” It took me a while to realize that what I was doing was actually working… so it’s important not to give up after one try. I mean, seriously, who is afraid of being calm? But when I thought calm was just the precursor to depression, I’d freak and run in the manic direction. You know me… Up, up, up and away! So it took practice. Let’s see… The actual process… Well, that’s another interesting thing… It is counter-intuitive to say that you don’t want to get “too happy.” But my sense was that I could moderate the UP in order to moderate the down, so I kept at it. Of course, I do all the “regular” anti-depression stuff like sitting under my Happy Light, taking SamE and Vitamin D, getting regular exercise and trying to eat right. Oh, and now I’m taking Melatonin to help me sleep, since Menopause wreaks havoc on that and I’m rotten without good sleep. (I use Schiff brand… 3 mg Melatonin with 25 mg L-Theanine that I get at Costco.) And I do all the usual things one would do if they were trying to be calm… meditation, affirmations, baths and candles… all kinds of anti-anxiety jazz taught to me by my daughter. Seriously, just being mindful of not wanting to get too high helped. The odd thing here is that I do all this work to try not to be “too happy.” Crazy. But I was aware that it wasn’t really the “too happy” part that I was working on most.

    For me, depression is pure hopelessness. No real work is done there… just holding on for dear life, waiting for it to end… having Faith that “this too shall pass.” That’s all I can do… wait it out… so the “work” of “fixing it” has to be done on the up-swing. Make sense? And mind you, it took almost a year before I was convinced that what I was doing was even helping… but I really think it’s working. I’m virtually depression free without medicine for only the second winter in my life. I learned a cool trick from Paula, a Franciscan Nun at Clare’s Well… When I feel the darkness start to descend upon me, I stand up and face it… Thank the sadness/depression for whatever gifts it has brought to me and tell it that I have received the Gifts and it can go now… then I physically turn my body around, with great intention, and walk in the other direction. I swear to God, it helps! It may sound hokey, but I will take anything that helps me keep from sliding all the way into the abyss.

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 21, 2011 @ 10:20:01

      For me, depression is pure hopelessness. No real work is done there… just holding on for dear life, waiting for it to end… having Faith that “this too shall pass.” … so the “work” of “fixing it” has to be done on the up-swing.
      That’s it exactly! The good days are for rounding up all the ponies that galloped over the horizon and saddling them up.
      I love the visualization Sr. Paula gave you, too.

      One thing I want to say—there’s a difference between happy and manic. You know when it crosses the line. The giddiness gets shrill, the ideas fly like sparks off a pinwheel, every part of you goes in to overdrive. What you’re doing is slowing the motor down before it redlines. You don’t cut yourself off from being too happy, you keep happy from morphing into that crazy/scary funhouse ride. I think you’re actually cultivating joy, which is much more sustainable and part of our beingness.
      You go, you little Buddha Kitty!

      Reply

  4. Kitty
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:44:19

    Yes! Thank you for this discernment about “slowing the motor down before it redlines.” That’s it. For me, I often don’t know I’ve crossed the line until WAY after I cross it. I look back and say, “Now how in the world did that happen again?!” Often it takes someone else who loves me enough to speak the truth (like my family) to say, “Uh, by the way, did you not see the line you crossed days/weeks/months ago? Do you not understand why you are so exhaused and edgy?” And God Bless them for standing by me and speaking up, because when all my ponies start galloping, it’s usually my family who find themselves standing in the piles of pony poop!

    Reply

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