It’s been three months since the psychiatric hospital. And it usually happens every three months. “It” being me losing my fucking mind. I feel it coming, just like I always do. I mean, I can handle it better now. I haven’t screamed, thrown myself into a wall, cut myself. But I’m too irritable to focus. And I was having trouble focusing to begin with so fuck me twice as hard, I guess. I think that’s also why I’m anxious, so maybe anxiety shouldn’t count as its own symptom here, but I still don’t like the feeling. I’m on a relatively low dose of lithium, a dose that’s better suited for borderlines than bipolars (did I ever explain that the hospital doctor refused to believe that I was bipolar?) so I think I need a higher dose. But I don’t really trust my current psychiatrist to listen to what I have to say and take it into consideration. I am handling my emotions better (ie: the not screaming, throwing myself into a wall, or cutting), but I feel them at the same level I would have on something other than lithium. I’m wondering if I should do the experiment, go without upping my lithium dose, see how manageable this round is, and go from there. But why torture myself? I mean, maybe it’s important to see, but I’d feel bitter if that’s the case. I spent WAY too much time (14 years) suffering as I figured my bipolar disorder out, with no assistance from any professional (though not for lack of trying), and I don’t want to play games with my life anymore. That isn’t fair. I want to move on and feel successful and accomplished and proud of myself. I want to make a difference. I have goals that go beyond “survive the raging mood episodes I’m cursed with.” Fuck.
The only light in the room was coming off the clock on the nightstand, which indicated that it was 4:02am by way of a dull blue glow. It was too fucking early. And too fucking dark. And cold. Fuck the cold.
Insomnia ravaged her. Again.
The grunting snores of her boyfriend, fast asleep next to her, sent her temper spiraling but she was comatose despite the succession of jittery shockwaves pulsing through her body. She didn’t get up. She didn’t move. No matter how hard she willed herself to, she didn’t so much as roll over.
She didn’t want to wait til dawn to break. She wanted it to come now. She needed it and needed it now, in this moment, because waiting is the worst and she didn’t have the patience for it. This sucked.
It was her fault, she hated to admit. She’d drugged herself to sleep (thank you sleeping pill, melatonin, and cbd oil) at 6:27 because she couldn’t stand the thought of being awake for a moment longer, staring blankly at the wall. No, her brain was too loud but it wouldn’t allow her to move and her stomach growled angrily but it couldn’t bear the heaviness of food and there were texts to answer but no words were available to her. No, fuck that. Time to fucking sleep.
At two in the morning she’d opened her eyes but forced them shut again. Forced her brain into a quasi sleep mode by having made up conversations in her head, half concentrating on them until she couldn’t any more and the fake attempt at batting away the longing for a friendly voice, a friendly presence, faded into unfulfilling sleep.
Two hour of tossing and turning and it brought her to her present wide-awake state. Fuck.
Get up and do something, she berated herself. Get to your headphones, blast some metal, or open your laptop, do some writing.
No amount of internal urging seemed to be enough to summon the motivation to move.
She was just about to attempt to get another round of restless sleep in, but the thought of doing so was more exhausting than actually doing it. So she finally got up. Cold enveloped her.
She paced. She paused. She stood motionless like a confused zombie trying to get her thoughts together but it was a messy, tangled web up in her mind. Wires were twisted. None of them were plugged into the right connections.
Gravity amazingly pulled her to her desk, where her headphones thankfully sat on a pile of books, which thankfully was next to her laptop. A sweatshirt was thrown over the back of her chair, and she used what little energy she had to pull it over herself. It was a miracle that the setting was now one that allowed for a meager amount of productivity to take place.
A miracle. That’s what’s worth calling a miracle? How stupid. How pathetically stupid. But whatever.
Headphones on. Music loud. Laptop open. Document pulled up. Aaaaand, go!
“Going” took another few minutes of zoned-out staring, but somehow her fingers were brought to the keyboard and somehow they started moving and somehow the movements formed words that appeared on the too-bright screen in front of her.
Why is this happening again? Why did I let this happen again? Why did I make this happen again and why am I continuing to push myself father into it. Again. I’m guilty as charged. I hate myself.
It went on like that for a while. Her words chased themselves in circles. Negativity. Self-hate. Anger. It went on until she began to write fervently and passionately and quickly, so quickly, her fingers barely keeping up with the pace at which her brain threw thoughts into formation.
She shrugged her sweatshirt off. Rolled up her sleeves. Was it getting hotter, or was she becoming overheated like a computer that’s been on for too long? Did it even matter?
Her eyes flicked away from the computer for a fraction of a second.
Bad move. Losing the flow was always a bad move. She lost the momentum and let her thoughts wander and…fuck, no. Why did she let her thoughts wander?
But the tattoo on her left forearm shouted loudly from its type-written font: Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise!
Yet there was a pale light in the distance now. It fell through the window as if by accident but it stayed like it was comfortable in the bedroom. Morning had come. She shut her laptop.
She collapsed back into bed, weary from the exertion of being awake and alive.
But at least she got an hour and a half of sleep.
“If you have the courage to make it through a lonely night with nothing but your self destructive thoughts to keep you company, darling, you have the courage to make it through anything.”
[written December 2019]
I guess I had a decent day. I had a good morning, anyway. I claimed this week’s unemployment, I got some stuff done for a magazine I help out with by reviewing article submissions. But I dunno. I didn’t make the bed. I didn’t write as much as I wanted to. I feel unfocused. It’s stressful. Because I’m thinking waayyy too much about this fricken adhd meds thing. I never really thought about it before because I assumed I’d always be able to get meds for it. I still don’t fully understand why I can’t continue to take them. I looked it up after my last appointment and couldn’t find anything about adults not being able to take Vyvanse. I downloaded the ADDitude magazine to my phone and iPad, but I still haven’t read much of it. I should. I wanna become more educated about all this. But anyway, my point is that when I can’t focus like this, it makes me sad. Like. I feel sad right now. I mean, it’s not the crippling depression I’m accustomed to (thank god), but like. I’m using energy trying not to be too frustrated or panicky. Because like. I do have things to do that require me to use my fucking brain. Ughhhhh
But it was a decent day anyway I sat outside and enjoyed the weather and soaked in the vitamin D and I video chatted with my family, saw my nephew (who can wave now!!)…like, overall? Not terrible.
I’m telling myself not to give up. It’s was a yucky day. But tomorrow is a new one. It might be a “cut myself some slack” type of thing. I think.
I sat on the couch in my psychiatrist’s office with my arms crossed and steam billowing out of my ears.
“Are you on cocaine?” he asked without a hint of sarcasm.
“No,” I shot back, completely bewildered but appropriately defensive.
“Then you’re bipolar.”
Yup. That was how I was diagnosed. And to my memory, that was really the only major piece of information my psychiatrist gave me that day. There was no supplemental information given to me, no sort of enlightenment or introduction into the all-consuming project that would be managing my difficult and sometimes debilitating condition, and I left the office with what felt like a really random label and a higher dose of Abilify. I was nineteen years old, I was a chemistry major in college, I’d kicked the hell out of an eating disorder, and I was bipolar. The facts didn’t matter too much. Right?
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I had a random thought pop into my had and I was thinking about it. And I know there are countless ways to dive into this topic and that there’s so much under the umbrella of mental health management because mental health is made up of so many different things. But I think, for me, there are three components to staying on top of it. Even typing that feels weird because the number three doesn’t capture how hugely important mental health is. But at it’s most basic level, at this point in time with my current train of thought, it comes down to:
- What goes into my body. My meds, obviously. And vitamins and supplements, which I take because there’s no harm in doing so. Food. Water. You get the point.
- The things that I do. How I use my body and brain. My daily routines, the habits I’ve formed (and have tried to keep healthy). Journaling. Tracking my moods and anxiety and sleep. Going to therapy.
- The thoughts in my mind. What I focus on. How often I renew my motivation. My internal monologue and self-talk.
I need the most work in the category of thoughts. I am consistent with what I take in terms of meds (finally) and supplements, and I’ve been making more effort to drink enough water, and now that I’m saner (thanks, lithium) I’m not struggling with eating as much. I’m pretty good with my structured routines, even though this period of time is difficult and different, with the quarantine and whatnot.
But now I have to be careful about what I do with my mind and my thoughts.
I think a key thing I can do to make sure I’m thinking positively is to work on only consuming content that makes me feel good. I’ve been bored (obviously), so I’ve been spending too much time on YouTube. Which is fine, but I have to really put in the effort to process how I feel about it. I enjoy it (mostly) but also feel guilty about enjoying it (since I’m mindlessly consuming what other people create instead of creating myself, I guess!) and compare myself to these random influencers (which I honestly rarely do in real life).
I’d love to rattle off some statistics about how much content the average person consumes every day, but I also don’t wanna do that so suffice it to say it’s an overwhelming amount. YouTube videos, news websites, blogs, social media, apps, music, podcasts, shows, books, movies…so much going into our brains ahhhhh. It totally makes sense that I’m thinking about how to make sure it’s mostly positive and helpful (because what goes into my brain influences how my life is). Anything to keep me in a good frame of mind, with THIS EXACT level of sanity (I spent far too long fighting with myself and my moods and my brain and my disorder, and now that I’m okay let’s fuckin’ keep it that way, shall we?), and every little bit helps.
The renewing the motivation thing is also important for me. I have this desperate desire to be productive because it is somehow linked to my worth (I know, I know, I’m working on fixing that). But I’m not always productive. I have ADHD and my moods get in the way sometimes and oh yeah I’m a human being haha, and that’s just how humans are. But I think it’s a matter of getting back on the horse when I’m unfocused or can’t seem to do what I want/need to do. Not getting discouraged or thinking it’s the end of the world.
While this post might seem totally pointless, I just want to say that I love writingggggg because I can start with some random thought I had a few hours ago and make sense of it (sort of) and it makes me happy!