“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

I don’t know about you, but one way my anxiety manifests itself is by replaying moments in my life that I would have handled differently, that I thought I handled poorly, whatever. Events, that to the people that were involved, don’t matter anymore. I hate my brain. It hangs on to the most ridiculous things versus things it actually should hang on to.

I donated plasma today. Sometimes afterwards I feel great. Today was not one of those days. People ask me often why I donate so often. I have a rarer blood type, AB+, which is the universal plasma donor. Plasma is always high in demand. It’s not that I feel like I have to, but I kind of do. I mean, I kind of feel like it’s my duty. I can help people, so why shouldn’t I?

At work I have this kid working for me. He just started. He is habitually late, doesn’t show because he “doesn’t know his schedule,” etc. The decision was made with his next write up we were just going to fire him. I presented a verbal warning to him the other night about his attendance. During which he promised he’d try harder, he’d do better, I showed him how to get his schedule online so he never didn’t know when he was supposed to be at work, etc. My boss called me a soft heart. And she’s not wrong. I tend to give chances to people that don’t deserve them. I tend to be very empathetic to people’s problems. Hell, the ASPCA commercials get me all teary.

In talking with Mike, he thinks, and I agree, that my disorders have made me overly empathetic. I try to see the good in people more than anything. I give people a lot of chances. Sometimes I think it’s because of all of the chances I was given when I was in the throws of destroying my life. There was a lot of people that gave me the benefit of the doubt, and without those people I’d wouldn’t be where I am today.

I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like I need to harden myself, but at the same time, this is who I am. I don’t think I want to change that part of me. I kind of run with the assumption that at some point that’s going to come back and bite me in the ass, but until then? I’m going to keep on like I always do.

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

from Pexels.com

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Of course, things were going so well

I FUCKING HATE IRRITABILITY! And to make matters worse, I’m irritable that I’m irritable. It’s like a never ending cycle.

This morning was fine. Had a nice lunch. And then, we went to Walmart. Two Saturdays before Christmas and we had to go to Walmart. I hate Walmart on a Saturday to begin with. It’s too people-y. Today was even worse. The irritability spiked somewhere in dairy, which is also about the time I realized that, not only did I not take my meds this morning, but also that it would be too late to take them by the time I got home.

And now I’m crashing. God damn it. I hate feeling like this. Things were going so well.

I’m hoping this is just a blip. Please, let this be a blip. Just a bad day. I can’t afford for it to be any more than that. I don’t want to go through this. Not now. Not when everything was starting to come together.

The beauty of melatonin

My sleep sucks. There’s no other way to describe it. I wake up in the middle of the night, I sleep through my alarm to the very last second I can because I wake up exhausted, I have a hard time falling asleep, etc. I’ve had these melatonin gummies for months now, always scared to take them because I worry I won’t wake up on time in the morning.

I started taking them this week because I’m downright exhausted all day and my quality of sleep is absolutely awful.

I’m getting the best sleep I have in years. I’m falling asleep quickly, sleeping through the night, and actually waking up before my alarm goes off. I’m waking up a little groggy, but once I get going I feel much better than I have in a long time.

Makes me wonder why I waited so long to do this.

Oh yes. The fear and anxiety.

I think the key is going to be getting to bed early when I have to be up early (something I do any way) and really letting myself get a full 7-8 hours.

But I was thinking about it this morning – I was letting my anxiety keep me from a good night’s sleep. So my train of thought went to what else does my anxiety keep me from doing?

I have a list:

  1. going to parties
  2. going new places
  3. trying new things
  4. meeting new people
  5. starting a new job (I’m convinced that part of the reason it took so long for me to find a new job was unintentional self-sabotage – applying with the wrong resume, making mistakes on the resume, unintelligible cover letters, flubs on phone interviews, etc.)

I have a lot of anxiety about a lot of things. Really thinking about it, there’s not a lot of things that I don’t have anxiety about.

In my professional life my anxiety keeps telling me that I can’t do it, I’m not cut out for it, I’m going to fail. In my personal life it’s you have no friends, your relationships are going to fail, you’re going to be alone.

Reading that last paragraph I realized that I think and write about my anxiety as a separate part of me. Like it’s not really part of me, but rather someone or something else inside of my head.

But anyway, all of this anxiety eventually leads to depression. Which eventually kicks back to a mixed or hypomanic episode.

I hate mental illness. It’s like an unending game of Russian Roulette. Which chamber has the bullet? How many chambers are there – 2 or 15? What kind of bullet does the chamber have in it – anxiety, depression, mixed, hypomanic? Do I have to shoot myself in the head? Can I try it in foot, this time, maybe?

Ugh.

I hate that this is something that so many of us have to deal with. I hate that so much of our lives is spent monitoring our moods, feelings, thoughts, etc. just waiting for one errant thought or action to send the whole house of cards tumbling down. I hate that the space inside of my head is so disorderly that I can’t even imagine a way to organize it. The funny part of that is that I’m typically so hyperorganized and together.

Well, I’m going to go clean the oven because that’s something I can control.

That’s… just my face

I feel like I need to get this tattooed across my forehead. Just because I’m not smiling like a lunatic doesn’t mean I’m angry/annoyed/sad/mad/etc. That’s literally just my face. I’m not the kind of person to walk around all day with a smile on my face. Sure, when dealing with customers I put on a mask, but that definitely is not my normal state of being. I don’t know if I have resting bitch face, exactly, but I have resting something face for sure.

Someone recently told me that my “retail face” is really rather amazing. If I’m dealing with you as a customer you’d think I was friendly, personable, and helpful. These are not qualities I portray on a normal basis. I sometimes wonder if my ability to put on a mask – not just a happy one, but really any one – stems from my mental illnesses and my upbringing. I was always told to smile, to be happy, to not look so sour, etc. So putting on these masks is second nature at this point.

I can be happy, joyful, empathetic, sympathetic. It’s really only at home that these emotions come out for year. When I’m in public everything is bottled up and I show people either what the want to see or what they expect to see. I very rarely am relaxed enough outside of my house to actually show true emotion. There are some friends I let my guard down around, but that’s only a select few. (Mike has said I even use the retail voice on the phone with family and some friends.) I guess in some manner of speaking I’ve just been programmed over the years to not show emotion.

I’ve been getting at the whole feeling emotion thing. But I still don’t know how to show it. No, it’s not that. I’m not comfortable enough to show it. I just grit my teeth and put on the mask.

I’m new to this whole emotion thing. And I have to be honest. I don’t really like it sometimes.