I don’t mean to….(fighting depression)

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I don’t mean to stay away.

I don’t mean to make you worry.

I walk around in a daze lately, and can’t see through the fog.

I feel like I’m lost in the dark and the only lights I see are from the flames of hell.

I can’t tell  you why.

There is no real reason.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a pawn in someone else’s game.  I can see two demons hunched over a game board, we are the pieces they move.  We have no control over how the game is played; we can only hope they play fairly, but we all know that demons never play fair.

How can I feel so level headed and focused at one point and so out of control and totally depressed at the next.  What changed?

Sometimes the answer is “nothing”.  Other times, the answer is more complicated, but the thing is, it’s really not about what has happened on the outside, it’s all about what’s going on on the inside.

Right now I could actually write a huge list of things that have changed in my life, but none of them explain the extreme changes in my emotional state.

I’m not “letting things get to me”, nor am I “too sensitive”.  I’m falling apart from the inside out, and it has nothing to do with anything I am doing to myself.

Damn! Does that sound as stupid to any of you as it does to me?

I get so pissed off when someone tells me that they wish I didn’t let things get to me so much, or that they wish I wasn’t so sensitive….yeah well…yadayadayada.  I guess, it is all on me, isn’t it?  But then again…is it?  If it were up to me I sure wouldn’t allow things to “get to me”, and I wouldn’t be overly “sensitive”.  Heck, if it were up to me I’d be pretty friggin’ stoic sometimes, but I’m not, I simply can’t be like that.  I feel things, very deeply sometimes, I actually envy people who can “bury it” or “put walls up”, I can’t do that.  I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried.  I really do envy those people…..sometimes…like now…not always.

Lately, all I want to do is eat, sleep, and cry.   In reality I’m not sleeping enough, but I’m spending a lot of time trying to; I’m eating too much, the weight gain proves it, and I’m either crying or pissed most of the time!  But I’m trying really, really hard not to be like that.  Heck, I don’t even know why I’m crying, and I sure can’t tell you what I’m so mad about.  Here’s the kicker, something will happen that doesn’t bother me at all and then the exact same thing can happen again and suddenly I’m so pissed I can’t think straight, or I’m crying so hard I can’t see.  What changed there?  So…is that all on me?  or is it out of my control?   More importantly, is this something that is just happening because of outside circumstances and will blow over, or does my medication need to be adjusted?  Honestly, I have no clue.  (I think it’s probably the later, or maybe a little bit of both?

Even with all I know about mental illness, (from my experiences with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression) I still feel like it’s my fault.  I never feel like that about another person’s battles with mental illness, why do I hold myself to a different standard?  Is it simply because I’m often told, “I wish you didn’t let things get to you so much”, or is it because I think this is a part of me that I should be able to control.  I don’t have a lot in my life that I feel I have control over, surely I can control how I react to things.  Isn’t that what I’ve been practicing mindfulness for?  Simply accepting the way things are and not wishing it to be different.  Well honey, I do wish it were different right now, but I am trying hard to accept that it just is the way it is, and I know for certain that things will change.  Nothing stays the same, everything changes, I can always take solace in this, unless I’m deep in depression, then I think, “Yes, things change, it could get so much worse!”  Aaahhhh….No!  I can’t get caught in the future trap!  You know that trap, the one in your mind that predicts a future…good or bad, watch out! it’s a trap!  Chances are that the future you prophesied will not turn out the way your mind told you it would; staying in the present is the only way to really deal with life’s challenges, it’s it?  I KNOW these things.  Why then, is it so very hard?

I will try to take it moment by moment and be kind to myself.

I’ll try not to stay away.

I don’t want you to worry.

 

one moment at a time, I’ll get through this

 

*photo taken at Tumacacori National Park by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved.

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I want to be a better friend to those who are in pain.

 

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*Content warning: This post discusses suicide and depression.

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I had to share it with you.

Why “I love you” and “Please reach out” are the crappiest things to post after someone has died by suicide – by Deanna Zandt

I have been one of those people with good intentions who have simply said the wrong things, and for that, I’m deeply sorry.  I have been there, yet I still don’t know what to say when a friend is in their darkest moments.  I need to always remember, I didn’t want to die because I didn’t feel loved, I simply wanted the pain to stop.  It helped me to have someone sit with me, hold my hand, and simply be a witness to my pain.  It helped me to know that they would help if they could, but that they didn’t try to force this false help on me.  I know these things, but it’s very hard to do these things for someone from afar.  I can’t simply sit with someone when they are in pain if I can’t be physically with them.  Often, when I reach out to someone through texts, or messages, I don’t know what to say after that initial contact. Silence is unacceptable when you are texting.  I want them to know that I care, and I simply want to be there for them.  I know I can’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.

I also read another article I found interesting: Depression and Suicide: Being mindful and accepting of the pain of the dark days – by Jack C. Surguy M.A. 

Jack Surguy mentions something that I found helpful for me; by accepting that everything changes I can take solace in knowing that these feelings will not last forever.  (even if they feel like they will)  When I’m am suffering I know that it will end, that is actually my mantra when my emotions are all out of wack, “this will end”.  I guess it’s a variation on “this too shall pass”, but that sounds trite to me for some reason.  I promise no matter what you are going through right now, good, bad or indifferent, it will change.

I hope you find both of these articles interesting and possibly helpful.

Right now my wrist is killing me, so I need to stop typing, but after the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I felt I needed to talk about this, I want to do better.  I want my friends (you) to know I love them, that I care, and that I respect their pain.  I want them to know this every day, not just times like these.

 

* photo by W. Holcombe.  A red yucca plant viewed while lying down looking at the sky.  I found it stunning.

 

yeah, I didn’t get that done…

You may recall my post back in December where I talked about my fear of gaining weight.  I felt like I was handling that better, and things were going well.  I was trying to focus on nutrition and not on weight.  I have been trying to eat more mindfully, more intentionally (appreciating the food, accepting it’s nourishment, paying attention to my hunger cues….)

I say try on all of these because I haven’t been doing a very good job recently.

I promised I’d write a post about mindful eating last week, and well….. yeah, I didn’t get that done.  I started getting very obsessed with food this week.

The fight with food is strong in this one (ha, I sound like Obi Wan..or Yoda).

I was doing well when the scale was staying the same, and even went down a little.  Yes I still want to lose that last 10 pounds.  I think I’m more anxious about my weight because  I still have not gotten to the weight I want to be at, if I can get there I think I can keep it off, but why will these last few pounds not go away?  yeah, I know there’s more to it than that, but it’s very hard to voice what I’m feeling.

I know it’s not healthy to be so obsessed with my weight, but I also feel like if I’m not very diligent I will end up back where I was.  I really don’t want that.  I feel better about myself now (no, really I do!!).  I’m more confident when I meet people.  I have more stamina…..  I know how bad I feel when I’m bigger, both physically and mentally, and this is better.  Even though I’m obsessing about weight gain, it’s better than beating myself up over being fat all the time.  Hiding my body, not wanting to wear clothes that show skin, not wanting to be intimate, avoiding looking at myself in the mirror, cringing when I’d catch sight of myself in a store window…these are not healthy things.  My fear of gaining weight is part of that.  I don’t want to feel so out of control any more.

I am seeing a therapist about this.  After a friend shared that she had been seeing a therapist through an online counseling site, and she had a very positive experience.  With all the barriers I have trying to go to see a therapist face to face, I decided to give it a try.  I’m so glad I did.

I’ve been “seeing” my new therapist for a couple of weeks now, and by golly this woman has earned her money!  I was not in a good frame of mind this past week.  Food issues, anger, racing thoughts, insomnia…..mania.  Yep, I had a manic swing.  It wasn’t as strong as it has been, and I’m pretty proud of how I handled things, but it I was not my normal self.  I’m sure my new therapist didn’t think I was handling things very well when I bombarded her with emails for 2 days, but I just had a live chat session with her and it’s all good.   (by bombarding her, I mean that I wrote her 5 emails within about 3 hours, all of which were looooong.  If she weren’t my therapist I’d be embarrassed.  Okay, I’m still embarrassed)

I’m going to close for now.  I just wanted you all to know that, I’m not dead, I will eventually write a post about eating mindfully, and I am seeing someone about these issues of mine.

 

Have you ever thought about online counseling?

Would you try it, or not?  why?

I’ll share more of my experience soon…..no, really, I promise I will.

 

My Bipolar Self Care

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After Saturday’s bout with bipolar rage and my continued mood fluctuations I’m reminding myself about self care. Eating right, getting enough sleep, getting some form of exercise, keeping a routine, abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, watching or reading anything that is upsetting, or anything that may alter my mood, ……these are a must when dealing with my bipolar disorder.
I’m paying very close attention to my moods and trying to step back and refocus before things get out of control. (yes, I’ve had a few moments of quick anger, but I took a step back, cleared my mind and took a deep breath. I’m happy to say it’s been working well, it’s just hard to stay on top of)
I’m trying hard to stay in the moment. Worrying about what has happened, or what may happen will only make things worse. That worry could be a trigger.
 
I’m attempting to meditate more. Meditation helps to calm my racing thoughts, but I have to realize it’s okay to have those racing thoughts while I’m meditating, I just note them and come back to my breath without judgement. That’s the big thing. No judgement. Beating myself up doesn’t help matters, it will only cause me more anxiety. Being gentle with myself.
 
I have Stuart watching me too. I know sometimes my moods will shift and I don’t realize I’m overreacting. We realized that if he said I was overreacting I might get really angry, instead, when he sees that I’m not acting like myself, he hugs me.  So far, it’s worked.  I was started to get worked up and angry, and Stuart came over and just held me and I melted.  I know there are times that I would not respond well to this, but after talking about everything this was the best option we could come up with, and it’s working…so far.  Another huge thing I’m making sure I’m doing: talking with my husband.  We are working hard to make sure the lines of communication are open.
I saw my psych doc yesterday.  We are adding another mood stabilizer to the mix that helps more with the anger aspects of bipolar.  After I’m on it for a while, we will probably reduce the other one I’m on and hopefully get rid of it, and let the new one take over.  Funny to say “new one”, I think it’s the oldest bipolar med.  I’m going back on lithium.  Wish me luck!

I made him cry. Bipolar Rage

Saturday was a day that I will always remember, some very good, some very, very bad.

We started the day running fun errands.  Going to the library, and then to Michaels.  I got a lovely gift card for my birthday.  Can we say…YARN!  🙂  Then we had a fabulous lunch at a restaurant that we’ve been wanting to try.  They focus on sustainable seafood.  I had grilled fish over greens with fresh pickled vegetables.  Then we shared homemade gelato for desert.  It was a divine meal to top off a lovely morning.

Then we got home.  Stuart was doing laundry (something I can’t do) and I noticed that he hadn’t treated a shirt that I asked him to.  I saw RED!  I flew into him.  I was so angry!!  I told him exactly where I was putting 2 shirts that needed to be treated and he was just disregarding what I asked and was going to ruin my clothes…..I have no idea all of the things I said.

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self portrait – w. holcombe

After HOURS of arguing, of me closing myself in the bedroom, then getting mad that he didn’t come after me…..over and over.  It was so bad.  I look  back on it and it is a whirlwind.  However, at the time I could not see that I was out of control.  I felt completely justified in how I behaved.  When for a moment I thought I was overreacting about a silly shirt.  (Both of these shirts are shirts I only wear around the house and to bed.  They could be stained, who would care.  However, even if it had been a $200 shirt, it would not have excused the way I acted.)  I blew up about the fact that I can’t do laundry.  How if I was doing laundry and he told me to treat something I wouldn’t have forgotten (yes, I was suddenly perfect!)  He just didn’t pay attention because he didn’t want to do it…..ect, ect.

Finally, it was 10pm and Stuart was trying to go to bed, but I wasn’t finished.   I was still all upset.  It would appear I was calming down now and then throughout all of this, but then it would come back full force.  That’s what happened at bed time.  I was getting ready for bed, then I fell apart, and started yelling again.  I then left him to the bed and said I would see him the next day.  Soon he came out and wanted to talk.  Fine.  Talk.  He was so confused.  He wanted to know what had changed.  He told me that I have been very defensive for the past few weeks.  I’ll be fine one moment then snapping at him for no reason.  He said I’ve been taking much of what he says in a negative way.  I just sat there and fumed.   He then broke down.  He wanted to know if he had changed, had he caused this change in me?   I made my husband cry.  At that moment, the rage lifted, I still felt it’s presence but I took a deep breath, calmed myself and came back to center.  Suddenly I felt relief.  Then I thought: “What have I done?”

It’s been a long time, I didn’t even recognize the signs.

Bipolar Rage

 

All this mess with my medication, well it appears I’m not on the right mix yet.

But do I blame all of this on medication?  Why did I not realize I was being more confrontational then usual?   Normally, I’m very aware of changes in my behavior.  I know when things are off,  I’m very proactive about it.  This time, I was blind sided.  All of my coping strategies out the window.  How can you incorporate coping strategies when you don’t see anything is wrong?

I’m much more aware now.   I’m doing a lot of deep breathing exercises and trying to meditate more.  Exercise would be good, but I’m not allowed to do that until my back gets better.  (I haven’t mentioned I hurt my back yet?  I’ll try and write that up soon)  I’m trying to stay in this moment and not beat myself up over what happened on Saturday, or what has been happening over the past few weeks.   Remembering to be gentle with myself.  And I’m pampering my husband as much as I can.  He needs to know that it isn’t him.  He needs to know that no matter how bad I act, I still love him and would NEVER hurt him on purpose.

 

Read more about Bipolar Rage:

Bipolar & Anger: Getting Control of Irritability and Outburst

Bipolar Disorder and Anger: Stuck on the Rage Road.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Triggers  this gives a rundown of all the symptoms associated with Bipolar Disorder.  It’s not just mania and depression.

#HAWMC Day 11 – Friday Follow!

Today is Day 11 of #HAWMC (WEGO’s Health Activist Writers Monthly Challenge).  The prompt today is:

Friday follow! Create a must follow list for your
community:
• Top 10 Tweeters
• Top 10 blogs
• Top 10 Facebook pages

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image source click here

There are so many amazing people, it is hard for me to pick just a few to pass on to you, but I’ll give it a try.  If I don’t mention someone it doesn’t mean that I don’t think you are great!!  It just means I ran out of room.

Tweeters worth reading their tweets on Twitter.

  1. @HearingHealthM (Timely information and lively insights for everyone who cares about hearing loss)
  2. @HurtBlogger (#Rheum advocate, #ChronicLife Founder…great chronic illness advocate)
  3. @dizzysupport (a community to inform and support people who suffer from dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, & vestibular health problems…)
  4. @911well (Mindfulness Wellness – Start your day with something positive…)
  5. @HeadacheHeroine (Spoonie: All types of headaches, narcolepsy. food allergies, (oh my!)
  6. @myselfandhealth (REAL TALK about HAPPINESS & MENTAL HEALTH).
  7. @MySpinningHead (Meniere’s Sucks Raising awareness of Meniere’s Disease by ranting about how much it sucks)
  8. @MenieresTeam (Bringing hope, inspiration and information to Meniere’s patients.)
  9. @sharieberts(Hearing Health Advocate)
  10. @justagoodlife (Patient Empowerer +…)

Blogs I just can’t get enough of…

  1. Hearing Elmo (hearigelmo.com) “Living with Hearing Loss and Invisible Disability”
  2. ADD…and so much more. (addandsomuchmore.com) “You can’t let what you can’t do determmine what you CAN!”
  3. Bipolar Barbie-Q (bipolarbarbieq.wordpress.com) “I was just getting seasick from seeing too much”
  4. Polishing Dookie (polishingdookie.wordpress.com) “Making the best of the sh*t I’ve got.”
  5. Behind the White Coat (doctorly.wordpress.com/) “Beats a real human heart”
  6. The Manic Years (themanicyears.com) “The world through the eyes of a bipolar mind…”
  7. My Frilly Freudian Slip (myfrillyfreudianslip.wordpress.com) “CREATIVE : ) : BIPOLAR ESCAPADES : ][: “
  8. Life of MON (lifeofmon.wordpress.com) “I Life Hard”
  9. The Mesh Warrior (themeshwarrior.wordpress.com) “The pen is mightier than the scalpel”
  10. All Things Chronic (painkills2.wordpress.com)

Facebook Pages worth a Look and a Like

  1. Transform Your Chronic Life
  2. Chronic Illness Cat
  3. Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources
  4. Patients Like Me
  5. VEDA Vestibular Disorders Association
  6. Meniere’s Resources
  7. Chronic Illness Bloggers
  8. Putting Our Heads Together
  9. Migraine and Chronic Pain Art
  10. Living with Invisible Illness

I hope you enjoy these links.  If you have a link you’d like to share please leave it in the comments.  I enjoy finding new sources of information.

If you’d like to read more posts from today please search for #HAWMC and check out WEGO’s Facebook page.  Don’t forget to Like Picnic With Ant’s Facebook Page too.  🙂

If you would like to share your story on Picnic with Ants, contact me through the contact form on my About Me – Contact Me Page.

#HAWMC- Day 1 What Drives You?

hawmc_background_coverToday marks the beginning of WEGO’s Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.  I will attempt to follow each prompt every day to bring awareness to chronic illnesses.  Be sure to check out WEGO’s Facebook Page for more blog posts during this month.  Don’t forget you can always follow my posts on my Facebook Page too!

Today’s #HAWMC prompt is:  First, let’s get to know each other! What drives you to write about your health? What do you want other Health Activists to know about your condition and your activism? Reflect on this for 15-20 minutes without stopping…GO!

What drives me to write about my health?  Since the prompt says to write for 15 – 20 minutes I’m going to write stream of conscious, if I repeat myself or have grammatical errors please forgive me.

I started writing about my health for the same reason I still write about it, to help others who feel alone when faced with the same conditions I have been faced with.  I’ve found support through my blog and I hope I give the same.

I try to bring awareness about Meniere’s Disease, Chronic Migraine, and Bipolar Disorder and let other’s who have these diseases know they are not alone.

I also have other illnesses that I mention along the way.  Like Degenerative Disc, Hypothyroidism and others.  I’ve also recovered from Avascular Necrosis in my hip and like to give others with this condition hope.

What drives me is my illnesses and my love for others.  My compassion for others and myself.  I write because it helps me and in turn I hope it helps others.

What do I want others to know about my conditions and activism?

Well there’s an awful lot to know about my conditions, as there is more than one condition to cover.  I’ll pick just talk and see what comes out.

Meniere’s Disease – Meniere’s is diagnosed by the symptoms, there is not definitive test for it.  The symptoms are: Random attacks of Vertigo, Fluctuating hearing loss, the feeling of fullness in your ears, and tinnitus.  If you have all of these symptoms and they have ruled out other illnesses then by process of elimination they diagnose you with Meniere’s Disease.  The progression of the disease can be different for different people.  It is normally only in one ear, it can attack both ears. I have it in both ears.   It used to be thought that the disease would “burn” itself out.  As the patient lost more hearing the vertigo got better, until there was a leveling out period where the patient no longer has vertigo.  As can be seen with me that is not necessarily the case.  I am deaf now and still have vertigo often.  There is not sign of a “burn out” for me.   I do want everyone to know that this disease does not progress the same for everyone.  just because I lost my hearing does not mean other people will, I still have vertigo, but that doesn’t mean other people will.  I’m in a very small minority.

Bipolar Disorder – I want people to know that people aren’t crazy when they have this.  Being Bipolar doesn’t stop me from living a normal life.  I want people to know that not everyone is the same with this too.  I am lucky.  With medication and therapy I am doing very well, and have been for years.   Others are not so lucky.  Medication does not work for everyone. Everyone with this disorder has to work hard.

Chronic Migraines – I want people to know that migraines are not just a headache.  They are so much more than that.  They make you sick all over.  Having a migraine for more days during the month than not can put a huge damper on life.

It takes a lot to face the world with a smile on your face when you are faced with these illnesses and more, but with the help of mindfulness and a support from those who care about me I get by better than I could ever imagine.

This is some of what I want you to know about me and my illnesses and why I write.  I hope you will join me on this month long journey.  Wish me luck that I can accomplish this goal of posting every day this month!