Hello, dear readers! I’ve been procrastinating writing a blog post this week, because, frankly, it feels like there’s not much to write about. The days blend into each other, as you all know.
I realized in therapy on Monday (right at the end of the session, of course) that I’m showing some key signs that I’m in a depressive episode. This makes complete sense given everything that’s happening in the world, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that I was feeling particularly down, because I wasn’t so much down as just…numb. I’m having a hard time responding to things with appropriate emotion. For example: thanks to the stimulus check, I realized I’ll be able to pay off my credit card in May. I have a very small balance left on the card. I’ve been working my ass off for two and a half years to pay down my debt, and I should be over the moon. Instead, I’m just…like, I know it’s a big deal, and there’s a part of me that’s proud of myself, but mostly I just don’t feel much of anything about it.
I told my therapist, after coming to this realization on Monday, that I was going to approach this numbness with some curiosity. I’m learning to observe what my brain and body are doing without getting lost in them. So far, I’ve realized that it’s more pervasive than I had initially realized, and I’m a little surprised that it snuck up on me so easily. I think, when I was hit with overwhelming grief a few weeks ago and then felt that pass, I thought I’d somehow avoided or bounced back from depression, but…I think I was wrong.
Despite all of this, I am still trying to find the bright spots. Here are some things that are making me smile, even as I wish I could feel more enthusiasm:
- The trees outside of our apartment are starting to green. The one that’s closest to our sunroom window, in particular, which has given me so much trouble with my allergies but that I love anyway, has gone from bare (save its little pollen bombs) to buds to the first tender leaves in the last week or so, and it is comforting to see that nature is getting on with spring despite what’s happening with humanity.
- I may not be responding with the appropriate enthusiasm to the idea, but I am genuinely relieved that my credit card is about to be paid off. There was a long time when I didn’t believe it was possible and thought I’d be saddled with this debt forever. It hasn’t been a smooth path – I had some setbacks and definitely made mistakes along the way. But I made a plan and worked really hard at it and now I’ve managed to actually do the thing, which feels really great.
- I’m starting a new D&D game with some friends tomorrow night, and I am so excited! I’ve been quietly trying out voices for my character while I work (I don’t always do voices in games, but some characters demand a little something extra), and I think I’m landing somewhere between Giles (from Buffy) and C3PO, and it’s entertaining. Whether I’ll be able to keep it up in game, I don’t know, but I’m having fun with it.
- While it’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic to get us there, I’m really glad to be connecting more with friends and family. There are people I feel closer to now that we’re socially distancing than I ever have.
- My partner and I haven’t really left our apartment in about three weeks, and we’re still getting along. We were both a little worried going into this, as two introverts in a one-bedroom apartment, but I have to say, we lucked out. I don’t know how I’d be functioning if I was living alone right now, but I also wouldn’t be able to do this with roommates. I am determined not to take any of this for granted.
I’ll be honest with you, dear readers: I’m not feeling great. I’m currently being paid a visit by the Depression Monster. While nothing in my life is logically all that awful, there have been enough hard things lately (not to mention the dumpster fire of global issues in the news) to trigger a downswing in my Bipolar cycle.
The good news is that my recent med adjustment seems to be helping: I’m not particularly anxious. The bad news is…well, I’m depressed, and there’s no anxiety to distract from that. I have to grapple with it head-on, and I’m out of practice with that.
I know that my brain will even itself back out in the end. This current space is just a hard one to occupy, especially when the whole world feels like it’s burning.
Which, I guess, is all to say: hang in there, friends. I know I’m not the only one struggling. Hold your loved ones close and prop each other up. None of us can do this alone, but together, we’ve got a fighting chance.
I am having a very blah sort of week. I’m not sad, exactly. I just feel very unmotivated, and tired, and nothing sounds like very much fun or like anything I want to do. All I really want to do is hibernate.
It wasn’t until I was on my way to therapy on Monday that I realized that this is probably a weird instance of the depressive side of my Bipolar cycle sneaking up on me. Usually when I’m heading into a depressive episode, I can tell – I feel really down. But “down” doesn’t feel like the right word for this. It’s just…blah.
It was a struggle to get anything done at work last week. It was a struggle to write my song for songwriting class (and my goal was actually to write TWO songs last week). It was a struggle to get myself to show up for my volunteer shift and for the social things I’d committed to doing (even though all of those things ended up being fine). I had a minor breakdown last Thursday evening, because I got home at the end of a long day, and even though I’d made a plan and knew what I should get done, none of those things actually happened. I got things done, but none of them were things on my to do list, and I felt like an enormous failure.
Since I was able to identify this as depression on Monday, it’s been a little easier – if not to find motivation or give-a-damn, at least to sit quietly with the blah-ness of it all and recognize that this, too, shall pass. Yesterday the sun was out, and I had the same revelation I do every time we get through a cloudy spate of days and come out the other side into sunlight – I am incredibly affected by the weather. I should
probably definitely be taking vitamin D.
In the meantime, I’m finding ways to cope. I’m listening to a lot of Dar Williams (even when I’m not listening to Dar Williams, my brain’s playing The Christians and the Pagans or The Babysitter’s Here or When I Was A Boy). I’m taking time to write down what I’m anxious about. I’m thinking a lot about the Starfinder game I’m going to start playing soon. I’m dreaming up new tattoos (even though I can’t afford a new tattoo right now). I’m celebrating the fact that I pushed my credit card debt down under the next $1000 since making a payment last week and getting a disputed charge taken care of. (I’m trying not to be disappointed that I haven’t gotten farther in the process of paying it off.) I’m trying to remind myself that while yes, I probably should be reading and knitting and writing more, the fact that I’m not doing it right now does not mean that this is what my life is going to be like forever. Once again: this, too, shall pass.
Being Bipolar is an adventure.
Sometimes, I can feel the shifts in the cycle coming, like the ache in my joints when the weather changes, only the ache is in my brain and it feels less like an ache and more like an electrical current under my skull.
Other times, it jumps out from behind a corner, beats me up, takes my lunch money, and leaves me wondering what in the world happened to get me here.
This week has been an example of the latter. I have so many things to be excited about, and so much to work on to get there, and yet DepressedBrain has decided to come to visit. I’m so tired all the time, and I’m spending way more time than seems necessary feeling paralyzed by the sadness.
With DepressedBrain has come what feels like a particularly paranoid iteration of AnxietyBrain. My internal monologue seems to get stuck on an endless stream of worst-case scenarios if I let my mind wander. Which, as you might imagine, is a super fun time while waiting to find out if my insurance is going to cover this otherwise extraordinarily expensive surgery that’s now less than a month away.
Still, it does feel like things are falling into place, and I am tentatively hopeful that everything is going to work out.
It’s Christmas, but it doesn’t really feel like it.
It’s too warm and rainy, for one thing. I could maybe cope with the warm, but the lack of sunlight is definitely getting to me.
I’ve been struggling the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s the weather – I think I’ve seen the sun once in two weeks. Maybe it’s the fact that my back has spent the past week giving me grief (for the second time in a month). Maybe it’s continued frustration with my family, or the fact that a lot of people I care deeply about are having an especially rough time right now. Maybe it’s just that I’m on the depressed end of a Bipolar cycle. It’s probably a combination of all of the above.
The chronic-ness of my longstanding back issues has been hitting close to home in ways it hasn’t in a while. I am acutely aware of the fact that I am facing a drastic decline in mobility if things don’t change, and am struggling with a lot of emotions surrounding that – I have this horrible fear that if I lose my ability to be a strong physical presence (helping friends move, shielding friends from harassment, things that have apparently become more ingrained in my identity than my gender ever was, because they’re proving harder to let go), I will stop being useful…and maybe, in some way, stop being me. I recognize that this is a problematic, able-ist mindset (even if it is almost entirely self-directed), which adds a whole extra layer of complexity to what’s going on in my head right now. I am not coping at all gracefully. I have been feeling angry and whiny and ungrateful and overwhelmed and selfish. There is a very large part of me that has spent a large portion of the last week wanting to throw a major temper tantrum (complete with screaming and throwing myself on the floor, which I would pound with fists and feet).
Still, despite my tendency to be particularly cynical and growly these days, there is a part of me that is evidently an eternal optimist, and that part insists that I find something less sad to end this post with. So here are three things I want everyone I know who is struggling to make it through this holiday season to hear:
- Regardless of whether you, your coworkers, your family, or strangers on the street can see it right now, I want you to know that I believe you have value. Even if you think that’s not possible, that you’re too broken to be worth anything to anyone, please try to at least entertain the thought for a moment that the simple fact of your humanity, in all of its complexity and confusion and rough edges, makes you beautiful and gives your life value. My life would be less without you in it.
- I was reading Terry Pratchett’s Feet of Clay this week, and at the end of the book, one of the characters declares, “Either all days are holy, or none of them are. I haven’t decided yet.” I found this idea immensely comforting. In the end, a holiday is just another day. It doesn’t have to be any more or less than that for you unless you want it to be. No, that doesn’t remove societal pressure, but perhaps it will alleviate some of the pressure in your own mind.
- I can’t see the future, so I can’t promise when (or if) things will get better. I do know, though, that holidays can be a special sort of hell, and that it can be much easier to breathe on the far side of them. I came across the sound advice a few days ago that one should never make important decisions during the holidays. Hang on for the clarity on the other side.
This week has been relatively drama-free (woohoo!), so I think it’s time for a positive post, don’t you?
- I’m finally getting away from DepressedBrain. Cyclical highs and lows are just part of life for me, but this latest low spot lasted longer than any I’d had in at least six months. While ManicBrain has its disadvantages as well, it at least comes with the feeling that I have enough energy to sometimes be a productive human being.
- With the extra energy, I’m finding a renewed passion to create. It’s hard to focus on any one project for any length of time, but at least I want to try.
- I officially have a new job title: I’ve gone from being an Administrative Aide to an IT Support Specialist, which sounds a lot more like what I’ve been doing for the past year. It also comes with more money. Yay!
- Over the course of the past week or so, I’ve been making a little bit of time each day to meditate. This has been really helpful and centering for me. My brain is constantly working on numerous levels, and I’m not always paying much attention to what’s going on beneath the surface. Meditation (even when it only lasts about ten minutes) is helping me to get back in touch with those deeper thought processes.
- Next weekend, my partner and I are taking a road trip to Minnesota. Planned highlights include seeing my nephew, going up north and getting away from the city for a day, getting a massage, and seeing Paul McCartney in concert. Admittedly, it is very hard to focus on the present with so much fun in the imminent future!