Let’s talk it out

I’ve talked before about all of the things I regret in life. But there’s nothing for that now. What’s done is done. All I can do at this point is try to make the best of a bad situation, right? Er… right. Well, at least I can try.

Let’s get down to it, shall we?

I can always go back to working in a lab. Yes, I hate it. No, it isn’t what I want to do, but we’re getting to the point where I may not have a choice. At least working in a lab I can get a decent salary, and I’ll probably have to work another part time job. Ok, cool. That could work. It’s definitely an option.

But I guess what I really want to – no, need to figure out, is what I really want to do with my life, my education, and where I want to do it.

At the end of the day, I’m not against moving for the right job. Mike isn’t thrilled about the idea, but he knows that it’s not off of the table. What I’d like is a low cost of living city that’s a decent size, with a growing job market. I want a city that the bands we like will travel to. That there’s cultural things to do – the opera, musicals, symphony, art. While Mike, I’m sure, would like to stay closer to our families, I’m not going to let myself be hindered by that. If it’s a good job in a good city, I’m going to apply.

But what do I really want to do? I like the operations side of business – supply chain, stock movement, labor forces, etc. But what’d I’d really like to do is work for a non-profit that deals with anything from women’s rights, science in politics, healthcare advocacy, animal rights and treatment. A friend of mine and I joked back in February when her position took a hit that we should start our own non-profit. Honestly, I wouldn’t be adverse to that. Maybe it’s something to work toward in the future.

But at this point? I’m not going to be picky. I just need a job. And I need one that’s not going to cause my mental health to suffer. Good luck, right?

Is it possible to be having an episode without having an episode? Oh, and I may be going through menopause at 36. Or have lupus. But it’s never lupus.

As the title says, is it possible to have an episode – that is, the symptoms of an episode – without actually having an episode? I’m angry, irritable, irrational, moody, cynical, unimpressed by things that should thrill me (*cough cough Endgame cough cough*). But my mood itself feels fine. Or mostly fine, at least. I don’t feel like I normally do when I’m having an episode. I honestly think I’ve just been beaten down so hard by the world the last few months that all of the emotions are starting to vomit all over me.

Like I said in one of my last posts, I’m about ready to give up.

Back to the point. I’m angry, and I anger very easily. I feel very unsupported. Simple things will irritate me until the anger builds until it almost explodes. Unfortunately the tipping point is often my husband. Which isn’t fair to him. But he and I need to have a completely unrelated conversation about how I’m feeling very unsupported, unappreciated, and unloved. But that’s a post for another time.

Moving on.

Those damn irrational thoughts are back. Mostly anger driven. But still very irrational. I think. To be fair, I don’t even know the difference any more. And I’m not sure I care. Because even the irrational ones lead to thoughts or ideas that are based in reality. They just tend to veer into the worst case scenario realm, which is where half of my “normal” thoughts are any way.

I’ve always been a very cynical person. But it’s gotten to the point over the last week or two that has been previously unreached. For example, I didn’t hate Endgame. I actually quite liked it. But there was a lot I didn’t like about it. And when we left the theater I was very cynical about all of it. I reacted similarly to the latest episode of Game of Thrones. To be fair – winter has been coming for eight freaking years. And it lasted an hour. It didn’t even get past Winterfell. I wanted winter in King’s Landing, damnit. This obviously ties in with the not getting enjoyment out of things part.

Oh yes, the early menopause. Ok, so we don’t actually know what’s happening right now (went to get some blood work today for a start), but I get the hot flashes from hell. To every woman that has gone through it, is going through it, or will go through all of it (ok, so all women). I AM SO SORRY YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS. It’s absolutely horrible. They strike at random – during the day, middle of the night, in the shower, at work, at home, in the car, working out, doing nothing on the couch (have one right now). Sometimes I’ll only get one or two a day, others I get one or two an hour for 14 hours. I had my thyroid levels tested 2 months ago with my normal psych blood work, and they were fine. So were my kidney levels. So this time we’re testing hormone levels, liver levels, and a CBC with diff to rule out infection. I doubt the CBC will show anything – I just donated plasma last week and got the email today that my blood was on the way to the hospital, so I’m sure if there was any indication of an infection they wouldn’t send it out. If all of these look fine, it’s off to my Gyn for more thorough hormone testing and possibly an endocrinologist or a rheumatologist to see if this is something autoimmune. It is also entirely possible that this has at least something to do with having lost 22 pounds in 2 and a half months. After years of psych meds, who knows what was stored in that fat. And then there’s the added bonus of my brain saying hey, we’re 1.5 stone lighter and we have no idea how to regulate ourselves! Party time!

Anyway, yeah. That’s the latest and greatest this week. I’m still chugging along. Pieces are bent, but they’re not broken.

I was definitely pretty low there

Welcome back.

I reread my last entry, as well as the few messages I got regarding it, and realized just how low I was. Mike and I talked for a long time about everything I wrote about and everything that was going on.

I didn’t realize how bad I perceived things to be. I’m not going to say that I don’t believe everything I wrote last time, because in many ways I do, but… I tend to be very fatalistic and look at things from a very negative standpoint. I don’t regret my education. Far from it – it has opened a lot of doors and exposed me to a lot of different things I never would have ever even encountered otherwise. But sometimes it’s really hard to look at something that you put so much work into, so much money into, and so much literal blood sweat and tears into, only to see no payoff from it.

I think the hardest thing I wrestle with is that for so many years I’ve worked so hard, and overcame so much, to achieve so much, only to watch people that have done nothing but screw up, screw around, and half-ass everything, only to have everything absolutely handed to them. As unfair as it sounds, to me they don’t deserve it. People that screwed their way through college, drinking every night and missing class, barely passing making 6 figures because Daddy got them an internship at his golf buddy’s company. It’s not jealousy, it’s not that I really even covet their success. But I want my own. And it’s hard to watch people get what they really don’t deserve.

God, that sounds so catty and jealous, but I was always told as a kid that if you work hard, success will come. That’s all I’ve done for the last 20 years. I feel like I’ve been lied to my whole life. I grew up in the 80s when the mantra was “you can be anything you want.”

Bull. Shit.

I’m just frustrated. But after talking to Mike I’m trying to stay positive, and really make sure my resume is out there. I’ve been spending 4 nights a week plus multiple days on my lunch break either paging through Indeed and savings jobs, or applying for jobs. I am going to turn things around. I am going to be successful. I am going to make my own way.

It will happen eventually. I have to believe that. Because if I don’t…. I think I’d just give up.

I think it’s time for some serious self reflection part 2

Let’s just get down to it, eh?

I think the most important issue to analyze is my education.

I went to college right out of high school because that’s what was expected of me. Due to some health problems I bounced in and out for a few years before ultimately dropping out.

I went back a few years later, again, because that’s what was expected. I graduated with a STEM degree. One reason was because I really enjoy science. The other was because all I heard was that it would be easy to get a job. Yeah. Not so much. My first job out of school paid less than 25k a year. But I plugged away, changed jobs twice, and finally was making a decent living.

But there was nowhere for my career to go. As it turned out, I really wasn’t a fan of bench work. So based on my education and skill set I had hit a ceiling in a career I really didn’t like. What to do, what to do.

So I went back to an online program and got my MBA. Again, everyone I talked to said I wouldn’t have a hard time finding a job at all with my education and skill set!

Yeah. 23 months later and no job.

I’m going to be honest, there were times that I weren’t as diligent as I should have been in looking for a job. A combination of depression and discouragement were big factors there.

But let’s get down to brass tacks.

I feel like every educational decision I made has been the wrong one. After I dropped out of my first undergrad program, I wanted to go to a trade school. Be a mechanic. But I felt like that wasn’t an option due to familial pressures. That just wasn’t an acceptable option for “someone of my intelligence.” And yes, that was actually said.

And after getting into my career, I felt the only option I had was more school.

I regret that too.

Looking back to 13 years ago when I went back to school, I wish I would have been strong enough to stand up to my family and did what I wanted to, rather than what was expected of me.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul searching over the past few weeks, and far too often I’ve done what other people expected of me rather than what I wanted to do.

I don’t think anyone, barring Mike, has any idea of how much I regret so many of the choices I’ve made in my life. At the very core I’m very unhappy with my life. But I don’t know how, at this point, to change things.

Maybe once I get a new job, and ten years down the line I’ll feel differently. But right now I have so many regrets, so many things that I wish I would have done differently. So many ways I wish I could have lived my life differently.

It’s hard to admit all of that. And for once I can’t even blame the bipolar or anxiety or mental health issues. This is all on me and my desire not to rock the boat and do what was expected. I feel like just about every decision I’ve ever made has been the wrong one for all of the wrong reasons. And I don’t see a way out of this. I just hope that I can find a new job soon and maybe try to turn some of this around.

I think it’s time for some serious self-reflection

So, so far this blog has been largely about my struggles with mental health. Looking back at past entries, I tend to do some stream-of-consciousness self reflection. That’s great. It’s helped me more than a few times to flesh out some things that are going on so I can better communicate things to my treatment team. I can’t begin to say how helpful that has been for all involved, and I encourage those of you that sometimes have a hard time putting things into words (like myself), to think about journaling or blogging just to get your thoughts out of your head and onto a medium where you can examine them. Sometimes just putting thoughts and feelings into words make things more clear.

Anyway. That was way off of the point. (But my advice stands.)

So what I’ve decided to do in the next kind of series of posts, is really dive down into my motivations for doing things, the results I expect (or expected), my current feelings on things, etc. I need to get to know myself. Somewhere over the last few years I seemed to have lost sight of myself and what really makes me tick. Why do I do the things that I do? Are the reasons for doing them good, or valid? Or are they just things that I happen to… do.

First up, since I just got done with a workout and things are fresh in my mind, is my motivation for changing my eating habits, getting healthy, and losing weight.

When I started watching what I was eating and was planning on starting to work out, I told every one that my main motivation was to get healthy. I was overweight, had a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, my eating habits were awful, I didn’t exercise past what running around and lifting I did at work, and all I saw in my future was heart disease, diabetes, weight loss surgery, and on and on.

All of this is true.

But.

At the heart of it, I hated the way that I looked. While yes, all of the health issues are a concern, I hated that I was fat. At my last job, I worked a lot of overnights. What do you do when you’re bored and stuck at work at 3 AM? Yep. You eat. And you don’t sit there and eat a tangerine. You eat chips, cookies, soda, Sheetz breakfast sandwiches and snacks. Carbs, sugar, fat.

I’ve always had a very unhealthy relationship with food. As a kid I was a very picky eater. I later came to find it was because my family can’t cook themselves out of a paper bag and would only eat at the same 5 restaurants. Since meeting my (chef) husband, he has introduced me to the wonderful world of food. And once I realized that food is, for the most part, delicious I gained the confidence to get out on my own and try things without his guidance. I would eat until I was so full I could barely move. I would get so bloated that I looked like I was 7 months pregnant. And more than one person over the last few years asked when I was due. Yeah, that was awkward.

So point 1 was learning portion control, healthy alternatives to some of my favorites, and learning that it’s okay to still eat crap once in awhile, but do it in moderation and don’t eat 1500 calories in one sitting.

Point 2 was getting active again. I bought the Body Boss Method program. I know it’s not the greatest program out there, but it gave me a regimented program that I knew that I could commit to.

Since February I’ve lost a little more than 20 pounds.

I have one chin again. And I feel better. I have more energy. And you know what? When I was teetering on the edge of an episode last month I was able to pull myself back and refocus.

But there’s still a lot to unpack here.

Yes, I want to look better. I want clothes to fit better. I want my husband to find me attractive. And yes, I’m going to say it. I want other people to find me attractive. I miss the way I looked when I was 26. I miss the way people reacted to me when I was 26.

There’s so many messages in the media about how you should look, and I’m going to admit that my mind can be very impressionable when it comes to these things. I’d see people on TV or in the movies or in ads, and then I’d look at myself in the mirror, and I would be disgusted by what I saw. (We’re going to come back to this in another entry, so keep it somewhere in the back of your head.) I hated everything about myself. We wouldn’t have sex unless the lights were low, if not off. I wore baggy clothes. I lived in hoodies this winter using the convenient excuse that I worked in retail, in a dirty job, and the store was cold. It shouldn’t come at as any big surprise at this point that I have incredibly low self-esteem. I see very few things in myself that are positive or even desirable. I don’t understand why people are friends with me. And all of the noise coming from the TV and computer screens were not helping at all.

But how do you turn that off? Truth is, you can’t. There will always be TVs, and movies, and Instagram. So you have to figure out a way to find your truth.

And you know what? I am feeling healthier, and fitter, but I’m also looking better. And while I’m still doing Body Boss (starting week 3 of my second time through pre-training before I tackle the “actual” program this week), I’m also going to slowly start training to run a 5k. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but I never felt like I could do it. I do now.

And while I’m still doing this from a physical standpoint, I also am enjoying the health benefits from it.

I really need to start planning out these entries rather than writing whatever comes into my head when it comes into my head. I’ll try to do better next time. =)

So I ran into an old friend…

Was at my crappy retail job this weekend, and I ran into a girl I went to college with. At the time, we were very close, but when she was accepted into grad school she fell off the face of the earth. As much as I liked her, she could be very… snotty, for lack of a better word. She looked down on everything and everyone that didn’t fit into her perfect world view.

But running into her got me thinking.

Why does life seem to work out so perfectly for some people, while other people face obstacle after roadblock after set back despite their best efforts. I know those of us with mental illness really face our own set of difficulties, but seeing people that everything just seems to work out for can be absolutely infuriating, especially when your own world is falling apart despite doing everything that you’re supposed to.

I know personally, it seems like everything I do ends up having the opposite effect that I had intended. Got a bachelors degree, took me 4 years to find a job that paid more than 35k/year despite being in a supposedly “hot” field. Decided to get a graduate degree? No job almost two years later despite doing everything I was told to.

It’s so hard to watch people do the bare minimum and get everything they ever wanted while I bust my ass day in, day out and just… nothing ever seems to go my way.

I regret everything and I’m at the point where I honestly just want to give up. I try to tell myself that everything will work out, but what if it doesn’t? It’s really hard to not be negative about what will come, at this point. 

But, I guess I’ll continue to soldier on and hope that things will be different. Despite everything in me screaming just to give up.

A little of this, a little of that

Last night I almost deleted this blog. I had it archived, and was ready to hit delete. Ultimately I decided against it, at least for now. I may eventually move over to a different domain name as this blog started out as one thing, and has morphed into something completely different.

The one thing that stopped me is that it’s really cathartic to get all of these thoughts out of my head. It helps me identify them, organize them, and better able to communicate them to not only my treatment team, but also my husband, who really is the majority of my support system.

I don’t tell my parents what’s going on. My mother would worry herself to death, and she’s got enough on her plate between her own health problems, and everything that’s going on with her, my dad, and my brother, I don’t need to pile something else on her plate that she can’t do anything about. Some of my friends know bits and pieces about what’s going on, but I’m a very private person. I don’t like people in my business or knowing my business. Especially when it comes to my mental health. For example, the last depressive episode I had in August of 2017, people thought things were a little off, but no one other than Mike knew I was suicidally depressed. I can hold things together really well in public, at work, and with family. And then at home I fall apart.

That isn’t to say that I’m closed off about my illness, quite the opposite actually. It started when I was in college, I advocated for a better system for students dealing with mental health issues. There was an instance where a girl attempted suicide. Rather than trying to get her the help she needed, she was expelled. Not send home for the semester to work on herself so that she could be welcomed back when she was ready. Expelled. I was hopping mad. So I did something about it. I’m very open about my diagnosis, but sometimes I wonder if my propensity for holding it all together doesn’t do more harm than good. I mean, if I always seem like everything is fine, do people get the wrong idea about my diagnosis? And then what happens when I collapse? I feel like people are more shocked than they might otherwise be.

I don’t know.

Anyway, I had my appointment with my therapist earlier this week. He informed me that despite my feelings otherwise, I was not crazy. As he put it, crazy people don’t seek out help. Ok, I’ll give you that. While he did agree that there was some worrisome behavior going on, none of it, at least to this point, was destructive. Being inside of my mind was a messy, weird place to be, but I wasn’t what he would consider to be “at risk” of escalating. Thankfully I seem to be on the tail end of this weirdness and cycling. I’ve felt more stable this week. I adulted the shit out of Monday and Tuesday. I got a lot of things squared away and a lot of problems either solved or on the road to being solved.

I felt good this week. Maybe not entirely back to normal, but at least on the way to being normal.

I hate the bullshit that my brain puts me through. I mean, this lump of matter has control over everything about you. But what happens when you’re not control of it? I absolutely hate that feeling. That, more than anything, makes me feel crazy.

Let’s talk about intrusive and obsessive thoughts. Also, a touch of rapid cycling for good measure.

My therapist thinks they’re the same thing, but I don’t agree. Intrusive thoughts are negative. Obsessive thoughts don’t have to be.

To get down to it, intrusive thoughts are ones that come like “I wonder what would happen if I drove off of this bridge” or “I could totally slit my wrist right now.” They’re the thoughts that make you stop and think what the fuck, brain? I get these more frequently than I’d like to admit. But that’s what this blog is for, isn’t it? To admit to all of the cracked out things my brain puts me through?

Anyway, my therapist claims that everyone gets these, and I will submit that that’s probably correct, but my dark bipolar brain takes things to a whole new level. It’s not so much what if I slit my wrist, but more of “if I take this razor blade and start scraping away the skin, how far can I dissect my wrist, avoiding tendons, arteries, veins, etc. before I either pass out or die.” Down to the point where I can picture what my wrist would look like, skin gone, and down to base anatomy. I dream about this image. It pops up randomly during the week. I need to stress something – I have no intention of actually doing this. The thought makes my stomach turn. But, there it is. At least once a week.

The driving off a bridge thought – it isn’t just a random thought. I can see my car going through the barrier, in midair, hitting the water. I can see the car filling with water. I can see myself injured and drowning. Or it can go another way – the car hits the barrier and doesn’t go through. The airbags go off, my neck breaks.

I asked my husband, and he says he gets these thoughts occasionally, but not nearly in the amount of detail that I do. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because my brain is really such a dark and vivid place. I don’t know what to think. People keep claiming this is normal, but some of these thoughts and images are scary as hell.

Ok, obsessive thoughts. In my opinion these don’t have to necessarily be negative. They can be positive, or even just totally innocuous. Things like music – spending time curating the “perfect” playlist. Or… Ok, now that I’m thinking about it I have nothing that could really be positive or even neutral. Sometimes though I latch onto an idea, or a thing, or even a person. My mind runs through a thousand scenarios, I research things to no end, I’ll have ten tabs on my phone’s browser opened to different variations of the same thing. I read into things more than I should. Not in the the universe has a special message for me, kind of way, but just… I don’t know how to explain it.

Now that I’m putting this all down, this is starting to sound a little like mania.

Son of a bitch.

This actually leads well into the next topic.

So the change from winter to spring, and the change from summer to fall tend to be rough times for me. I rapid cycle between mild depression and what I call baby hypomania day to day, sometimes from one to the other in the course of the day. My shrink and therapist both know this, and I generally just have to ride it out unless things progress from mild into the Houston we have a problem territory.

I see my shrink next week. I think we’re going to have a lot to talk about.

There are times that I wish I could be neurotypical. This is definitely one of those times.

What am I even doing?

I honestly don’t know anymore. I had thought that getting an MBA would solve all of my problems. I could get out of the medical field, which I was starting to hate, I could find a new job quickly making more money…

Yeah. That hasn’t happened. We’re struggling financially, and it’s all my fault. Everything is my fault. I tried to do something that would put us in a better position. And here we are in a worse one. Once again, I fucked up. I’m the Queen of Fuck Ups. I do things with good intentions, and things never work out. I don’t know why I even bother anymore.

But then I go to therapy, and my therapist keeps telling me that these thoughts aren’t real. While they may hold some water, everything is not entirely my fault. I try to internalize that like I internalize the negativity, but it just doesn’t stick. The negativity still comes back, time after time. And honest to God, it’s only by the grace of my meds and years of therapy that I haven’t slipped into another catastrophic depression. I’m trying to hold on to hope, but what no one tells you is that it’s so hard to hang on to that sliver of light when all of your thoughts are so dark. The darkness overtakes any light that tries to shine.

I’m trying to beat back the darkness; trying to hold on to that little glimmer of light. But it’s just so damn hard. I so badly want to give up.

New year, new me?

I’m normally not one that’s big on New Year’s resolutions. But I need to make some changes in my life, and New Year’s seemed like as good a time as any.

So I quit smoking. I did switch to vaping, but my intention is by the end of the year to be off of that too. I started at a lower nicotine level than I probably should have, but so far so good. Haven’t had a cigarette since the first. Go me. I know some people will say that that’s not really quitting blah blah blah. But I quit this way before when every other method I tried failed miserably. My doc and my shrink on board, it’s time to do it. It helps that Mike and I are doing it together.

I need to lose weight. I’m overweight, and I carry all of it between my middle and my knees. I feel like I’m waving a welcome sign for type 2 diabetes. So grocery shopping today wasn’t buying the crap we normally consume. I bought salmon, a butt load of chicken breast, avocados, a ton of fruit and vegetables, whole grains. I’m going to do this. I’m not getting any younger (as the turn of the year made me realize I’ll be 37 this year), and I realized I don’t want to be like my family. I love them all dearly, but they’re all overweight with a ton of medical problems. I need to get this in hand. Now.

I finally took my shrink’s advice and started CBD oil to try and help with my anxiety. I went with the vaping route since I was doing that anyway, and also the research I did said you get a higher bioavailability if you vape it versus using it as a tincture.

I need to get healthy, I need to get my shit in order, and I need to get a new job. I need to make a concerted effort to do all of these things. No more screwing around. Time to get serious about my health, mental health, and physical well-being. I am the first to admit that since the depressive episode in 2017 my mood has been much more stable. I feel more grounded. The bipolar tendencies are mostly under control. For the first time in a long time, I actually feel stable. I think quitting that toxic job has a lot to do with it, as well as finally being on medication that actually works. But my anxiety, I recently told Mike that’s become like an old friend I take everywhere with me. I always have a low level of anxiety simmering in the background. And then it spikes. And I want to crawl in a corner and die.

I did email my therapist. I haven’t seen him in a few months, but I think now is as good as time as ever to get back into it. I think everyone assumed that when I quit my job my anxiety would magically disappear. To a degree it did, but in other ways, it’s worse. It’s almost like my body and my brain don’t know what to do now that they’re not under constant stress, so the anxiety just simmers in the background like it’s waiting to be called on.

I need to change. This is my commitment for the year. New year, new me. I’m done screwing around.