“Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.”

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Oh the irritability today. I was stuck in a meeting all day and was totally bored and annoyed and out of sorts. This one kind in particular got my irritability kicking something fierce. You know the type – total asskisser, tries REAL hard to be the best but never actually is, just generally one of those people. When it became clear that everyone was about over it he tried be to funny by being sarcastic, badly. I wanted to kick him in the teeth. I think most of the other people there did too.

My irritation is a ball and chain that I carry around with me everywhere. Most of the time I can keep it contained, but every so often… it rears its ugly head, and I have to do my damnedest to keep it under control. But it’s like a simmering beast inside of me, raging to get out. I hate it. It can be so hard to quiet it down, soothe it until it calms down.

I would have to say that it is my predominant symptom of my bipolar disorder. Well, that and anxiety. And I hate them both.

I’d ask why there can’t be any positives to mental illness, but upon further thinking, I think there is. I mean, I’m a stronger person for it. I’m resilient. I have a better command of my emotional state than the average person. I’m more empathetic. I’m incredibly organized.

So… I guess there are some upsides. But they don’t make up for all of the downsides. And there are a lot of downsides.

I guess for what you get, you have to give.

"Be yourself and people will like you"

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I still haven’t decided the fate of this blog, but I don’t want to quit just due to inertia. If I’m going to hang it up, I want there to be an actual decision rather than one day realizing, “oh, I haven’t blogged in awhile. Oh well.” If there’s going to be an end, I want it to be definite. And I want to make that decision, one way or another.

So I had lunch with an old, good friend today. We don’t get to see each other often as our schedules rarely mesh. It’s been so long since we’ve gotten together that she actually asked me if was pregnant. =D No, not pregnant, thank you.

It was nice to see her. We used to work for the same company so she was filling me in on all of the gossip and news. We’re both cat enthusiasts so we spent a long time talking about our respective clowders. A good time was had.

But it got me thinking today – for as much as I say I have 4 friends, I really do have more than that. Sometimes life keeps us apart, but they’re still there in the background, the friendship just as strong as it’s always been. This particular friend has always been there when I needed someone – and I mean always. Sometimes she sends me random cards or candy for a holiday, or sometimes just because she saw something she thought I’d enjoy.

It was nice to see her and catch up.

Saturday I managed to stave off a major panic attack. I’m quite proud of myself for this. I was driving on the highway and all of a sudden my engine light came on, along with another light. I felt the panic rising. What was wrong? And more importantly how much was this going to cost me? We have some savings, but not a ton. I managed to hold it together and call the nearest dealership and made an appointment today. Luckily all of the issues were pretty minor – a brake sensor, a valve, the button that I push to start the car. All told under $500. Unfortunately they didn’t have the one part I needed so it had to be ordered. I go back Friday to get the last fix.

BUT. I managed to stave off the panic attack. I kept my head and was able to think clearly. Thinking about the potential cost I managed to keep myself calm, and not slip into the depression that was lurking just around the corner. I’m so immensely proud of myself for holding it all together.

I’ve found that most people assume that something big has to happen to trigger an episode – a death, a major financial problem, a lost job, etc. But I’ve found, at least with me, that most of the time it’s something little – or a lot of something littles. I tend to manage to hold things together through the big stuff. But the little stuff that sneaks up on you? Those are the things that seem to cause the most problems. The things that you’d assume you’d be able to deal with, no problem. Stub my toe? I’m irritable for the next four days. One of the cats knocks something off of the counter and it breaks (and I mean something insignificant), I’m depressed for a week. Mike plays video games instead of doing the laundry? Uncontrollable rage (he knows I’m irritated, but doesn’t realize the rage that’s boiling inside). Seriously. My reactions to things are completely out of proportion, but most of the time these things just marinate in my brain and people don’t realize what’s actually going on, if they even have a clue in the first place. What the shit, brain?

When my grandfather died, I cried once. I was closer to him than almost anyone else. And I cried once. I remember when I came back to work after the bereavement allowance ended my boss actually said to me, “I didn’t expect to see you at all this week. Are you doing ok?” I just shrugged and told her that I was fine. And I was.

It’s bizarre.

But, I guess that’s how I am. Maybe something to explore in therapy when I eventually go back. I’m still dodging that deductible. I should probably make an appointment. Maybe next week. Yeah. Next week……

Back in the saddle again

I reset myself. I got myself back and track and on the road to accomplish my goals. I’ve managed to stick to my lists, eat right, workout, expand my horizons, all that jazz.

One thing I’m really struggling with right now is a friend of mine is going through a REALLY hard time in his life. And I seem to be his therapist. It’s not that I mind – I don’t, but these phone calls can be absolutely exhausting. It’s not that I don’t want to be there or even mind, but I don’t know how to help him other than to listen and try to give positive advice.

He refuses to go see a therapist – and I mean REFUSES. Won’t even consider it as an option. Don’t get me wrong – I get it. Therapy sucks. But it also can be so helpful to work through everything that’s going on in a safe space with someone who is actually trained to help you. I can only do so much. But you can’t force someone that doesn’t want to go. As much as I’d like to.

I guess I just don’t know how to help him, really. I’ve often been a sounding board or shoulder to cry on for many friends, but I’ve never dealt with issues of this magnitude. Hell, I’m actually considering going to see my therapist just to figure out how to deal with this. (This really isn’t a bad idea, deductible aside. I have the feeling that I’m going to need some support through this. As soon as I get my schedule for next week I might do this. Probably a good idea.)

Does anyone have any advice for situations like this? I just want to help, but I don’t know how.

In other news, a bunch of us are going to an escape room tomorrow after we all get off of work. We did one at this same place last summer for my birthday and had a KILLER time, even though we didn’t quite solve the puzzle. So we’re doing a different room this time. Mostly the same group with one addition that couldn’t come last time. I’m sure it’ll be a banger of a good time. I need a night of fun after dealing with all of this.

A little off of the rails

Last week got a little out of control between diet, exercise, and just getting things done. I don’t know what happened. I totally lost motivation half way through the week. So today was a reset. Recommit to all of it. And get it done.

So I went to the gym, ate right, got The List done, and now I’m relaxing on the couch.

Surprisingly my mood didn’t go too off of the rails. I felt very scattered, a little out of sorts, but not… blipping. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; everyone goes through times like that. Maybe it was the change in the weather – it was finally cold around here. It’s been pretty mild so far this year, and I’ve noticed over the years that my mood is definitely influenced by the weather. That being said, we’re finally in the state of days getting noticeably longer. Thank goodness. I’m over the 15 hours of darkness every day.

I have a confession. I’m avoiding my therapist. Not for reasons you might think. Until I meet my deductible appointments with him are $100 a pop. My shrink is the same thing, but I see him a lot less often. I can’t stomach a $100 bill for 45 minutes of therapy twice a month. Maybe that’s just me. Especially because their website charges a $4 surcharge for online payments, and they won’t let me build up a few sessions and pay them off at once. I have to pay for each session one at a time. Needless to say, I’m annoyed. So yeah, I’m avoiding him like the plague right now.

Another gripe – I can’t find a place where I can see how much that I’ve spent towards my deductible on my health plan’s website. That’s bloody irritating. Why can’t I see this information???? Ugh.

So that’s it for now. After a brief hiatus and a few crazy days. You can’t get rid of me that easily.

It's the same, but different

I was thinking today about mental illness and how it affects each of us differently. My bipolar isn’t the same as Sue. Andy’s anxiety isn’t the same as Barb’s. And so on, and so on.

And it’s our experiences with our illness that makes us who we are.

The constant pressure of being better, doing better, combined with the fact that it wasn’t treated, really, until the last few years turned me into the quivering ball of anxiety that I am today. I’m like Jell-o that constantly shakes.

But anyway.

It’s interesting how it changes each of us, in so many ways. Depression, anxiety, bipolar… they all shape who we are. Even if it doesn’t define us, it has molded us. We are who we are today because of the struggles we’ve had with mental illness. Are there things that I would change? Yes. Absolutely. It’s exhausting to deal with it day in and day out. The constant headache and stress of monitoring your mood, trying to sooth your anxiety, try to hold it all together… it can be a bit much.

In a lot of ways that’s what this blog is really about. My struggles with mental illness and how I navigate the murky waters of my life. Sometimes I feel like I’m screaming into the universe, hoping that someone hears, and maybe even answers in response.

I don’t know. I’m feeling introspective but I can’t find the words to put my thoughts onto paper.

Signing off.

I finally got the letter

It’s official, it’s done. I finally got the offer letter.

Hallelujah, praise the FSM. No more of this shuttling from store to store. I now have the ability to rely on where I’m going to be from week to week.

The whole process has been very anxiety-laden. I was told that all of this was supposed to happen a month ago. But the finality doesn’t mean that things are going to be easy.

I’m going to a non-traditional store, which means that there’s a lot of things that are done differently from the way I learned. It also means that there’s a lot of extra things I have to do and learn. And I really have to hit the ground running. I’m hoping to get some quality one-on-one time with my GM next week and really find out what my responsibilities are, what I’m in charge of, and what I need to do every day. I’m going to say it – this is going to be hard. But I can do it. I know I can. Mike has faith in me. My family has faith in me. And my friends are great at pumping me up whether it’s job related, or going to the gym, or whatever I need. I really have an amazing support system.

Someone asked me recently how I managed my anxiety day to day. While I’m not on a typical anti-anxiety med, the Zyprexa really takes an edge off of things. But there isn’t a magic pill that makes anxiety go away entirely. It just makes it easier so all of the things that I have in my mental health tool box can work.

One of the first things that I ask myself is: is this something really to be anxious about? Is this something that a “normal” person would be anxious about? Or am I blowing things out of proportion?

Next: are these rational thoughts? Are my thoughts in reaction to the situation normal? Or are they skewed by negative thinking? For example: you forget to do something. Your boss tells you it’s totally fine, but you immediately think “do I need to look for a new job? Am I going to be fired?” Those aren’t normal thoughts that should follow what was ultimately a positive conversation and a teaching moment. There is no indication that you’re in trouble. But yet, those thoughts come.

And yes, sometimes they reveal legitimate worries. But more often than not, you have to recognize that these thoughts aren’t true. They aren’t real. And they have no power.

Fuck anxiety. It’s the asshole that lives inside of your brain, telling you things that are wrong. Making you worry. Making you shake. Making you believe things that aren’t true. Impacting your life in a grossly negative fashion.

I’m trying to say that I’m done with all of that. I’m using everything I can – twisting the thought and asking myself why I believe that, asking if that thought makes sense or if it is an overreaction, asking if I truly believe that or is that just what the negative thought pattern is trying to make me believe.

You have to take control back. You have to learn to minimize those thoughts – acknowledge them, yes, but understand that they don’t represent reality.

I try, every day. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but the important part is that I try. And tomorrow, I will fight another day.

Making progress

Went to the gym for the fourth time today after work. It was a tough one, but I did it. And then I came home and ate hot dogs (and no, I’m not kidding). I cheated a little today and went 50cal over my budget for the day, but I’ve been good all week. And 50cal isn’t all that much. I think I’ve got myself planned for Thursday to jump on the scale. We’ll see if there’s any progress.

Work dragged today. When I was doing the schedule first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon when I was doing paperwork it wasn’t too bad. But man, those middle hours dragged on forever. It was actually painful to be at work. I hate days like this. It’s so hard to stay motivated and focused when you want to be anywhere but where you are. On the upside, I’m now halfway through my 8 day stretch. Too bad the hardest part (Monday into Tuesday) is going to be the worst as I close-open between those two days.

As of right now my transfer for next week is still on. But tomorrow is Monday, so who the hell knows what’s going to happen over the next four days. For all I know I’ll be going to Kentucky by Thursday. (For the record, this is not a possibility, but it sure as hell feels like it could be, at this point. I just want to know where I’m going to be, without the Wednesday Hail Mary of “we’re just going to give you a schedule here since we haven’t heard anything else.” I’m over it. I don’t even care where I go or if I stay where I am. I just want some permanence so I can go back to planning my life and having some sense of being grounded and stable. Honestly? With all of this going on, I can’t believe that I haven’t had any kind of even mini-episode. Thank God for meds, I guess. I haven’t even seen my therapist since November, or my shrink since December. For me, this is a miracle. With all of the uncertainty and doubt, the stress of not knowing what’s happening, I’ve managed to stay stable. I’ve managed to stay sane. Even with quitting smoking and going back to vaping, changing my diet, etc.

It’s been a hell of a year so far, filled with ups, downs, and even some sideways, and there’s still 11 months and 5 days left.

Day one and done

I made it to the gym today. And yes, I went in, but that was a struggle. It took a friend giving me a bit of motivation to actually get out of the car. And for that, I’m thankful.

Sometimes I don’t realize how much of my life is controlled by anxiety. Something as stupid as going to the gym for the first time I’ve put off for a week stating, oh I still don’t feel 100%. And I didn’t today, but I’m not going to start feeling better unless I push myself. So I took a half an hour brisk walk at a slight incline. I’m exhausted. But I did it. And now I can convince my brain that going to the gym isn’t something that I need to be anxious about. I figure even if I’m just going in and taking a walk, I’m still doing something. And that’s better than nothing.

The kick in the ass I needed came this morning when I did my weekly measurements and realized that I actually gained two pounds from last week from all of the snacking I was doing. And I wanted all of the snacks. I couldn’t stop eating. I’m tempted to think that it was hormonal as it’s not nearly as bad this week. I’ve had an IUD for five and a half years, and while they’re good for seven I’ve read that it’s believed that the hormone level can drop off a bit after year 5 and you’ll get some period-week symptoms. And that was eating all of the things and an acne breakout. I don’t see my gyno until March, but I think I can soldier on for a month and a half until I can get her opinion. She wanted to IUD to be changed last year, but the doc that does it said there was no reason to at that point and to call her when I actually got a period. She’d change it then. She knows best, I guess.

I volunteer every week for a local cat rescue. This pretty much means that I go in and play with cats for an hour or two a week. Honestly? This is one of the best parts of my week. I get to give all of the pets and I give all of the kisses and headbutts and face rubs. But one of the things that we do is try to socialize cats that aren’t used to humans. The big win this week was a cat that came from a hoarding situation that was pretty people-wary came right up and sat in my lap to get the pets. My cold little heart grew three sizes.

So I’m back on the diet plan, I’m back on the workout plan, and I’m back to working on me, and being the best me that I can be. New Year, new you? I got this.

A little of this, a little of that. I'm really bad at these titles.

I’ve noticed recently that my anxiety isn’t acting up at the moment. It’s funny how you don’t notice these things right away. I mean, it’s been at least two weeks since it was noticeable, if I’m remembering correctly (which, let’s face it, I might not be). I checked off “anxious” on my mood tracker one day last week, but looking back it wasn’t really anxious. Maybe more a little unsettled. Not truly anxious, that is.

You know, I sat down with a whole list of topics in mind to write about. But now? I’m drawing a blank.

Oh! I did my first post-flu workout. It was a video I’ve done at least a hundred times before and killed it. I wanted to die halfway through it. My stamina isn’t nearly what it was. But I pushed on and did it, albeit at a lower intensity than I’m used to. It felt good. I’m hoping tomorrow morning to hit the gym before I donate plasma. Wednesday will also be a lighter day at the gym due to the blood donation, but I’m trying to get fighting fit again. I think this is going to be a longer road than I anticipated. On the upside, between the workout and running around like a nut at work I ended the day with a 500+ calorie deficit.

I guess that’s it. If I ever figure out what I was going to write about I’ll be back.

The balancing act

What a lot of people don’t realize, well those that don’t suffer with mental illness, is that every day is a balancing act. A little teeter one way or the other could have disastrous effects. And if you fall, you better hope to all hell that you have a good safety net to catch you.

I’ve asked people in the past how much time they spend every day managing their mood. Most of them just looked at me like I was nuts. Apparently very little. I swear, I spend most of my day managing my mood and emotions. If not managing, then monitoring. Mental check-ins every so often, gauging how and where my emotions are running, etc.

This is sometimes made hard by the fact that at work I have to remain upbeat, personable, and friendly, even if I’m everything and anything but those things. Some days it can be exhausting. Some days I pull it off with no problem. Others… it’s not quite so easy. Those are the days that I need to come home and do some R&R. Those are the days that I look forward to my days off.

It really is a battleground sometimes in my mindscape.

So how do you do it? We all wear masks, even we don’t realize that we’re wearing one. There are times when I can’t deal with what is going on in my head right that second, so I have to put in a “For Later” file to be dealt with when I get home, while I’m working out at the gym, hell even when I’m driving home.

I hate this.

On a side note, we’re watching Evil. And this show is horrible. I’m really not sure why we’re still watching.

In other news, the new routine is going well. I’m having a hell of a time with calorie counting right now because I want to snack on all of the things. And I mean ALL OF THE THINGS.