Two paths diverge

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

We spoke today in session about the path I chose to take. The path that almost cost me my life. As I see it there was a split in the road. I made a choice and on I went. Beatrice challenged that. She felt it was more likely two paths were running parallel. One was walked by a person that wanted help, that wanted to be saved. I thought about it, and it is possible. Part of me probably did want a way out, it is probably why I made that phone call. Maybe I did want to be talked down from that ledge. But, my mind only allows me to see the secretive plotting side of the story. The side that planned for all those months. The part of me that diverged from the help and therapy, and instead forged on alone in silence. I don’t know that a mind in that state can truly see the dichotomy. I think it is so fixed on seeing things one way, there is no room for anything else. It is what makes it so dangerous there. The disconnect from everyone. The inability to see help standing within reach. How is it that the mind can alter reality that much? I know in the depths of that suffering everything becomes easy to miss. Reality isn’t really reality. It is a place untouched by time and place and people. It is the darkest of rooms. It is the deepest of suffering. At the very core of my being. It is very much like falling into a deep ravine. Everything looks so far away, and the climb out seems impossible.

She asked my why I called her. I really don’t have a good answer, as to why I called her and not Virgil. I think the most straightforward answer is had I called Virgil I would have had to page her. Her calling back may have woken my partner, and the plan would have failed. My attempt would have been foiled. That is the easy answer, but in reality it is far more difficult to answer. I said I did not want my story with Virgil to end like that. So many years of work, I didn’t want to hurt her. I know, I know. Killing myself would hurt her, but the mind doesn’t work like that when you are where I was. There is nothing logical, nor intelligent about it. I once read a story about a man who planned to jump off a bridge. He was stopped because he was unable to jump off where he planned to. When asked why he didn’t cross the road to the other side he replied “I didn’t want to risk getting hit by a car crossing 6 lanes of traffic”. It is a good example of how inflexible the mind becomes once it has latched on to a plan. I really don’t know why I didn’t call Virgil. Beatrice asked if it was because I thought she would stop me. It is entirely possible. There is no way to know what she would have done or said. Maybe all those years of relationship would have carried greater weight and I would not have stepped off that chair. I am sure there is some deeper meaning in all of it, some psychological theory, but I do not have the answer. Maybe someday I will.

I am glad to finally lay this out there. Welcome the opportunity to process it. It was one of the most profound decisions of my lifetime, and I do think it needs to be worked on. It has altered the course of my life, and my relationships. I hope that in processing the attempt and the months that led up to it, that I can learn from that experience. I do not ever want to wander down that path again, it is far too great a risk.

How did I get there….

I talked a lot in my last post about how I got to that tree, in a snow storm. The process was lengthy, not a split second decision. Looking back over those months, I realize it was a decision on my part. A decision to go down a path I had been many times before. It was familiar, and soothing. I guess I have to try to get you to understand when things hurt like that it is one of the ways to cope. It is maladaptive and dangerous, I know that. Just as some reach for a blade, or a lighter, I reach for those days of planning. It is a place to get lost. To lose track of time. It is a way to be anywhere but present, because the present is agonizing. I don’t cut, or burn myself, but I have spent a lot of time with people who do. I have been present when people have cut, it doesn’t register as pain, it registers as relief. To the average person that may seem crazy. I think when a human suffers they build up a tolerance to pain, whether it be physical or emotional. It is in those moments of cutting, or burning or strangling that we get a little closer, a little more skilled, better able to look at death and think it okay. Over time the distance shortens, and it becomes easier to take that last step. I think that is why statistics say people who have attempted suicide before are at higher risk to complete suicide. Death becomes something familiar, if just by association. By spending time near it, in studying it, we lose our inhibitions. We lose our natural instincts to survive.

I wrote about the battle with one’s body to actually end your life.I spoke about how hard it really is. I truly believe that. I do however feel that this obstacle can be overcome. It takes time, and it takes practice. That is the scary part. I am terrified of getting even remotely close again, because I know I don’t have 9 lives. I can’t keep doing this and expect a Nor’Easter to kick up.I know with every attempt it gets easier. It becomes closer to habit, and less a reaction. I have been there enough times to know I am no longer afraid in those final minutes. The fear is gone, it is only peace and acceptance. It is comfort, like a warm embrace.

There was a period in my life that I routinely strangled myself, just to see how close I could get. How skilled I could become at pushing that envelope. It would have been easy to make a mistake, and die in the process. I didn’t. I have moved away from that as a means of soothing myself. I look for other ways to help myself. One of them is writing. Years of therapy have taught me that as vicious as the emotions can get, they will reach a climax. It will come down from that peak. The trick is to understand this and try to see it thru to the other side. It is extremely hard to trust they will decrease in intensity. Especially while in the midst of it. It is hell while it is going on. But, it will have a down phase, and you will get a breather. Sadly they may come right back up again in intensity. I think those are the times when impulsive behaviors happen. We react instinctually to the mayhem. We reach for whatever we can. If we have skills to cope, great. If not, well it can get really ugly real fast.

The long extended depressions are different. It is a slow culmination. Piling on, bit by bit. day by day. It isn’t the pain and anxiety of one day that finally drives me. It is the accumulation of many days, many months. There is only so much I can endure before I start looking for a way out. Unfortunately for me, my mind has honed a dangerous one. Over the past six years I have tried to make a very conscious decision when I see that split in the path, to say something. I know myself so well, and have lived the pattern so many times. It has to be then. It has to be redirected there, or else things get bad. I have learned to be open about my suicidal ideation. I trust Virgil. She won’t just put me in a hospital and throw away the key. We can work together and try to find a way to get by.

I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is for both my therapists. I know when dealing with horses, in the aftermath of an extreme behavior it is hard to ever trust them again. Especially if that behavior hurt someone, or caught us completely off guard. We spend our time worrying and hoping it doesn’t happen again. We work on ways to decrease the likelihood of it happening again. But, it never leaves the back of our minds. It forever alters the relationship. I know I’m using horses to describe it. I can’t help but feel it is the same with therapy, in the aftermath of a suicide attempt.

Nor’Easter Part III

The snow was still falling hard when I looked out the window. I found myself sitting in a small beige room. Water stains tracked paths across the ratty old acoustical tiles on the ceiling. I traced their paths as my mind wandered back across the twenty fours hours that brought me to that decrepit room. I was barely aware of the people around me. I was awash in so many emotions. An utter sense of desolation and sadness enveloped me. I could hardly breathe under the weight of it. I had failed at my attempt to take my life. Part of me mourned that. I couldn’t understand how it had all gone so wrong. I had planned it down to the minute. I knew what I was doing. I had not planned for a major weather event. I hadn’t thought about minus zero temperatures and 40 mile per hour winds. I never once thought to myself, wait a day till the weather improves. I was so devoted to my plan. My mind had grown hard and inflexible over the days leading up to it. I had this precise vision, and that is all I saw.

I couldn’t adjust or calibrate for the changes. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would have. When I stop and rewind, and go over that night, I realize it is what saved me. Had I waited a day it would probably have ended differently. I wouldn’t be blogging about it. I think the act of suicide is as much about the fantasy and the visualization of the plan, as it is about the execution. For whatever reason it becomes something you fixate on. It has to be THAT way, exactly. Why it is like that, I have no idea. I just know that is how my mind works.

When I had my first series of suicide attempts it was different. I was young, impulsive and angry. Once I failed the first time, it became more and more difficult to act. I was on a locked ward being watched. The more they took away, the more desperate I became. By the time I was left sedated and in restraints alone, I was beyond out of control. As the earlier post about the yellow gown illustrated. That is what landed me in those restraints. What they did not realize is that I was going to get myself out of them. It didn’t take me long. Less that a couple of minutes. I am very flexible, and they were not properly applied. In that instant I just reacted. It was split second and impulsive. The exact opposite of my night in the storm. More than a year led up to that. Strangling myself with restraints was impulsive and wild and full of rage. Fuck them and their gowns and fucking restraints. fuck everyone, and their medications and therapy. fuck this place and these lunatics. I did want to die, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to die for all the wrong reasons. My depression had moved well past the pain and suffering. It was now combined with a sense of injustice and a rage against a system I didn’t understand. I took me under ten minutes to break a bone in my neck and need CPR to bring me back. I awoke from that episode with someone sticking a needle into my wrist to get a blood gas level. I looked her in the eye and thanked her for saving me. I will never forget that moment. So how did everything change so much from 1995 to 2006?

I changed. My experience of mental illness changed. I didn’t see my life as a fuck them, I’m out of here. I only felt pain, and stress and an endless undercurrent of anxiety. Like a live wire, it was a constant. When I look back over things I have written over the years, I realize just how big a component it is. Anxiety wears you down, it exhausts your resources. Cripples your ability to cope. When combined with a suffocating depression, it is deadly. I didn’t see a way out. As each day passed and the symptoms grew worse, my planning grew more defined.

It always starts out as a fleeting thought. Just a quick blip on the radar. Barely registers, blip…..and then another. It isn’t unusual for me when I’m depressed. I usually note it and move on. But it got worse, and the thoughts became more intrusive. The year of the Nor’Easter they were frequent. A couple of times a day. Instead of brushing them away, I’d stop and marvel in them. I found refuge there. It was a way to sooth myself. I know that sounds strange. But when the suffering is that severe weird things are soothing. I spent hours each day lost in my thoughts. Planning and thinking. Researching and reading. The internet is a double-edged sword. For each resource for the suicidal there is one with information on how. I knew I would stay on the same path I had started on. Even though I had firearms, I could not even bring myself to consider using one. There is something very violent about a firearm suicide. It strikes me as impulsive. What I was planning was not impulsive. I wanted it so careful and accurate, never mind the thought of the mess.

It was the process, the soothing and the time spent that meant so much to my survival those last months. I know I went to therapy, I talked and I went through the motions. For that I am sorry. I hate that it was deception that got me to that tree. But, it was indeed deception. Secrecy is critical to getting it done. Nobody was going to let me just kill myself. I perfected the plan while in plain sight. I just went along, never wanting to catch anyone’s attention. I didn’t want to end up back in the hospital. So I made a choice, a choice to remain silent. A choice to walk away from all the help that was within reach. The months passed and they all got so far away in my head, they all but disappeared. I couldn’t see them, even if they were standing in front of me. My mind did that. I did that. It was that isolation, that solitude that accompanied me that night.

Nor’Easter Part II

I stood in the machine shed, surrounded by equipment and tools. Hammers, wrenches, buckets. Everything but the damn rope I wanted. It was a faded yellow rope that had been kicking around the farm for years. It was unmistakable because of its plastic like texture. It wasn’t a soft rope. This one had a bite. Years of hard use had roughened it and caused strands to stick out like little fingers. That is the rope I wanted. For the life of me I couldn’t find it anywhere. This was nothing new. The place was a mess, as always. I grew angry and frustrated the longer I poked thru the various piles. I left the shed an hour later, on the verge of tears. All this because of the rope. My mind had this planned perfectly. Not having that special rope was causing me to feel anxious and desperate. But I had found a long length of climbing rope. It was blue with gold braided into it. Brand new and coiled on the shelf. It was okay, it would do. I knew by picking it up that it would more than support my weight, and it was plenty long enough. I gathered up the rope and walked across the property.
The old Maple sat at the corner of the deck, stretching high above the house. It had probably stood there for the past 100 years. It had a thick limb that spread out from the trunk at a right angle. It bore scars from years of swings, and ropes. Many a child had happily swung from this great branch. I imagined those kids and their happiness in the moment I threw the blue rope over that limb. I was calm and steady. Focused completely at the task at hand. I pulled the rope flush with the large trunk. I coiled the end and tucked it in neatly at the base. I even walked once around the tree to make sure the blue rope wasn’t visible from the house or deck. I was sure it was perfect before I turned and left it waiting for later.
I couldn’t tell you what I ate, or even what I did in the hours that led up to that early morning. The snow started to fall, and the wind howled. I was undeterred by it all. I went upstairs to bed. Keeping the same routine I always did. Meds, and then up to sleep. I set my alarm clock to wake me well before dawn. I rose quietly. Steady in my head, and completely confident in my plan. I felt at ease. No anxiety, no doubt. I went down the stairs and quietly left the house. The dogs did not stir from their sleep on the couch. I stepped out into the dark. The Nor’Easter was still raging. The wind whipped along the siding and tore around the corner of the house. It was brutal outside. I was not dressed to be out in the elements, but that didn’t much matter to me. Nothing much mattered, but what I was about to do.

I had the cordless house phone with me. I know you are probably wondering why. I knew I couldn’t step off that chair without saying something. I had written my notes, letting people know my thoughts and had said goodbye. But I knew I had to tell Beatrice, or Virgil. It was the only part of my plan I had not decided upon. I really had no idea. I slid the phone into my pants and bowed my head to the wind. It was a short distance to the tree. I pulled the heavy metal chair silently through the shin deep snow. In the dark and snow it was hard to find the rope. I pawed through the crystal cold white piled against the tree. My fingers ached from the cold. With the strong winds and the dark it was probably well below zero at that point. I was covered in snow by the time I found the rope. I fought to tie the knot I had studied so carefully in the weeks before. My mind and fingers numb, it wasn’t working. Finally I though I had it right.

With peace in my heart I lay the noose around my neck and stepped up on the chair. Everything seemed right. Hands shaking I took out the phone and tried to remember the number. My mind was lost, I couldn’t concentrate. I could only shiver as I stared at the numbers. I was going to give up. The wind was driving snow, pelting me with ice. I finally got it. I don’t remember what I said, I only remember letting go of the phone. I watched it fall to the snow beneath me. Knowing I would soon follow. My heart pounded in my chest, I suddenly felt nervous. I knew though, that it would soon be okay. There was nothing to worry about. I checked once more the knot in the noose. Aligning it behind my right ear. I felt the anxiety leave me as I stepped off into the wind and snow. I remember the snap of the rope as it went taught. The weightlessness of my legs as they dangled. The pounding of my heart could be felt in my temples. I remember hearing a weird noise, and thinking it sounded like a dying animal. I know now it was me, fighting to breath, fighting to live.
There is one thing that we can’t take into account when planning our own death, our body’s will to survive. You cannot just will yourself to stop breathing, it doesn’t work that way. Our mind may want more than anything to be at peace, but our body will still go on. Our brain will tell our heart to beat. With each beat bringing oxygen and life to our being. It is not easy to stop that. It is not easy to kill oneself. I know in those last moments before I lost consciousness hanging from that tree, my body wanted more than anything to live. It wanted no part in this careful plan that got me up there. I respect that now. I understand, deep in my heart, it wasn’t meant to be.

Psychopharm

Well the consult went really well! I am feeling hopeful right now. It feels good to have a couple of options on the horizon, rather than the thought of ECT. Like I said in an early post, I am not anti- ECT. I just feel in the hospital they are quick to go it, and it is used a LOT.

I have met this doctor before. I don’t remember our previous visit. All that remains in my brain is brown and beige? Maybe his office was brown? or the hallway? or maybe he wore a brown jacket? Yesterday he wore a wonderful pink bow tie. I love men in bow ties. Don’t ask me why, always have.

He is soft-spoken, but direct. He talked about options. With each he discussed the studies that supported the decision to try them. Not in an over your head science geek sort of way. He never talks down to you, more at you. Right at you, in a way that is understandable. Once he discussed the studies, he talked about how he has seen the medication work in his practice. That for me just knocks it out of the park. It gives me confidence. I know, I know. Just because it works for other people, doesn’t mean it will work for me. I am hopeful though.

He also didn’t seem to be a big fan of ECT- gee a man after my own heart. He said it was low in his “algorithms”, and getting lower all the time. He said it works initially, but in 6 weeks most people are depressed again- as happened with me. He said it is developing. That the switch from older technology to the new brief pulse has helped. He also discussed the newer TMS technology of using magnetics instead of electricity may eventually evolve enough to be a useful treatment. But for now, he thought ECT was not a good direction for me. Especially since I have cognitive issues from it.

He did talk about the trileptal possibly causing some of these issues. We will get a blood level drawn to check. The seroquel augments the effect of the trileptal, and this may be causing some issues. We also will check my sodium level. It is possible for trileptal to lower sodium, and that can cause cognitive side effects.

So, here’s to a new path and a new drug. Hope it helps me.

Nor’Easter Part 1

Long one…..

Those branches seemed to go forever. My eyes focused and took in each limb. How they intertwined and formed a network out from the trunk. Just the palest of blue light back-lit each one, enabling me to trace its path as it reached out into the dawn. It was hard to follow them, and at first I couldn’t understand why my eyes wouldn’t listen. They wouldn’t just stay on track. I grew frustrated and instead focused on the light. I couldn’t focus and the world went dark again.

When my eyes opened the sky had changed, it wasn’t that icy blue, it was later. Dawn was finding the edges of everything, and it wasn’t quite so sharp. Some warmth was creeping into the sky. I shuddered hard, not grasping where I was. My eye lashes had snow flakes stuck to them. They created spots in my line of sight. The tree limbs and all their thousands of tiny capillary like branches were still there. I was shaking hard now, but my body didn’t want to move. I willed my right leg to move, but instead it lay there leaden and stubborn. I glanced at my right arm laying beside me, it was mostly covered in snow. It too did not listen to my asking. No, not asking, pleading. I knew in my head somewhere, I was freezing to death. Everything was so ethereal and white. Why not just close my eyes again. It goes dark.

It was the violent shivering that woke me. My mind sharpened fast and hard. Images of frostbit fingers, and blackened toes of Everest climbers flashed across my conscience. No, not that, no not to me. I managed to focus back on my right leg, move damn it. It too was covered in show at this point. Why won’t my body listen? I thought to myself, as the edges of my vision began to blacken and flicker. NO, no, no. I cannot leave again. A violent shudder caught me by surprise and the darkness cleared from the edges. Desperation began to pull at me. I had to get to the house, I had to get out of the snow. I yelled in my own head “You are going to die out here”. The darkness slid in again, silent and deadly.

Thank god for the shivering, it slammed my teeth together , catching the tip of my tongue in the process. The metallic taste of blood caught my hazy brain my surprise. In that instant my arm rose to touch my mouth. I had done it, I had unearthed myself from that snowy burial mound. I coughed away the blood as I rolled myself over. I now lay on my stomach in the deep snow. Trying to figure out what I was doing, For all I was worth I started to crawl, clawing at the snow. Trying to gain purchase in this white expanse before me. My eyes were unfocused, but I knew home wasn’t far. Suddenly, a sharp pain across my neck. I was halted mid crawl. I was bound to the tree by the noose that had failed me. It had somehow caught, or froze to the tree in the blowing snow. As it slid tight around my neck I struggled against it. No, no, I have to get inside, I cannot freeze out here. My fingers clawed at my neck to get it off. They were thick and numb with frost. But they did it , they got the rope off. I began again to crawl for home in the early dawn light

My head rolled as the vehicle pulled to a stop. My eyes unfocused. My mind in a haze. I couldn’t understand where I was. I didn’t know what was going on. I heard voices around me, mens voices. It was soft, I drifted. “I don’t have a pulse” from somewhere near my shoulder, “what?” from down by my legs. “should I start compressions?” a voice from the haze asked. The breeze and cold kicked up, the door was open. A new voice, “why isn’t she stabilized?”, “get the c collar now”, no focus just voices. I wondered if I should be worried, were they going to hurt me? where was I? who was talking? But my mind couldn’t focus, it was blurry. I felt someone very close over me, “I got a pulse, but she it too cold- we have to get to the hospital”. My mind wondered why the hospital? It would not grasp or follow the words spoken around me. I felt my neck being touched, and then felt cold hard plastic wrap around it. Blackness found the edges again, gone.

Beatrice looked down at me, surrounded by the overhead light. She looked like an angel. I wondered if I were dead. But she started speaking, and my mind slowly began to focus on the pain in my body. The rigid plastic that held my head to the stretcher and wouldn’t allow me to move. I tried to focus on her voice, but my mind began to fade again. “Did they sedate you?” she asked. I felt warmer finally. The shivering had subsided. My mind began to trace its way back over the hours that got me to where I was now. I understood in that moment that I had failed. Sadness, heavy and thick lay over me like the many layers of warmed blankets. I was pinned to the bed, not by that C collar, but  by disappointment. I had been so careful, I had planned so well. I had not counted on the Nor’Easter, and the snow, and the frozen fingers. I had not planned for that. That saved my life in those bleak early morning hours.

 

Another day

Here we are, another day has started. I guess I’m looking forward to my evening appointment. I’m not looking forward to the drive, or the city, but I am glad I got an appointment so quickly. I think the last time I saw him, it took a while to get into his schedule. I think I have pretty much wrapped up my summary. I can’t remember a lot of things. That is sad. Here is a 5 year span of my life, with all these black holes in it. It is like a moth got loose in my brain and just ate parts of my memory.

Believe me, I am willing to try anything before I go back to ECT. I don’t think I want any more holes in the fabric of my conscious. Though I do know it won’t much matter what’s missing if I am not here. I know that if it came down to it, I would probably consent to it again. That pains me to say, but the reality is I don’t want to be dead.

I’ll put up part I of a series about a day in early Feb from my past. I’ll follow it up with the other half at a later date.

My life, summarized

so tomorrow I have a psychopharmocology consult and I need to quickly organize my notes. Basically, I need to summarize my life in just a couple of pages. I have seen him before, so this makes it a little easier. I need to do from 2005 to the present. Oh, JOY. This is no fun. Because I did not expect to get an appointment so quickly, I am scrambling to get this all done.

so my first stop is my insurance records. They give me a pretty good sense of what happened when, including medication changes. I have been on 13 different meds since I saw this man last, with a lot of dose changes in the middle. Some meds have really stayed with me. My favorite being seroquel. Not sure where I’d be without good old quetiapine. It helps me sleep when all hell is breaking out. Based on the records, it looks like it was the first thing they reached for when I was manic. I am sure it is a drug I’ll keep in my cocktail for many more years.

2005 and 2006 were my Lithium years, man did I hate that shit. Between the blood tests all the time, and the side effects. I wasn’t a happy camper. I also had a really bad suicide attempt while on it, so despite the studies saying it helps, lithium didn’t decrease my suicidality. It is a drug I don’t want to ever revisit.

My old standby Wellbutrin was with me for many years, and for years it did help. Unfortunately that was before I was dx bipolar. It has not been in the cocktail since 2010. Prior to 2010, it had been a little hypomania here and there, but nothing significant. Just enough to shift my diagnosis to bipolar II. But, 2010 really took the prize. What a february I had that year. It all started with an elbow injection of bethamethasone (steroid). It is possible that got the ball rolling. Then a med change to add Aripiprazole (Abilify). About a week later the cymbalta dose was doubled. Voila, I was officially batshit. I would have destroyed my relationship, with my escapades, and most likely been arrested for some illegal gardening, if Virgil hadn’t pulled the plug and hospitalized me. Well the mania didn’t last with lots of seroquel and risperidone. That episode changed the medication landscape. The antidepressants would no longer be the main part of my cocktail. I was now depressed again, a lot depressed. I don’t really recall much from that year. I know I went from manic in Feb to having ECT by April. It was a free fall for sure. I don’t know if it was meds, or me, or a combination of all of it. I do know that I had a rough year. I may recall some of the wild weeks when I was smoking pot daily, just to try to level out, but I don’t remember much of the rest of it. I know I went to a partial hospital program. It was a full day program, don’t remember any of it. So much for adding coping skills. By June is was back depressed, I know it was pretty bad. I do remember begging Virgil to do something. It must have been bad for me to agree to a big gun mood stabilizer. I had always refused them. All I knew is they would probably make me fat and stupid. Everything I ever read about tegretol, depakote and the others is that they sucked. I was firmly refusing them. Somehow I got myself to agree to Trileptal in early June. It was a slow titration up, each week we jumped up until we hit 1800 or so. Everything leveled out. My functioning must have improved. Not that I remember. I know at one point we went up to 2100, but I got a little panicky, so we went back down.

Things are quiet in my records until got sick with Lyme in summer 2011. Then quiet again until 2012. Here we are Summer 2012 and the depression is back. It has been a pretty good run with the Trileptal. It’s a good drug. I did gain weight. Between the Saphris and the Trileptal, I ended up about 20lbs above my normal weight. I was a pissed and upset about it. I slowly lost the weight over a period of 6 months. I was tracking my weight each week, and I had a note on my mirror for each weight. I was able to deal, since the numbers were going down not up. The Lyme helped, since I dropped weight fast when I was sick. It was one of the reasons I went to the doctor. I have been ok with my weight, as long as I am reasonable about what I put in my body, it maintains itself at my normal low 120’s. I’d like to weigh less, but that is my weird distorted brain thinking.

Well tomorrow will be a big day. I have to deal with my anxiety about leaving the farm. I have to deal with the city, at rush hour on a Friday, no less! It will be interesting. Thankfully, I have my partner to go with me.

Recycling

I was shuffling in some old files today, looking for an old spread sheet I had done on my psychopharm record. I found that spread sheet, and the answer I was looking for. Unfortunately for me, the next file in the cabinet contained much of my old writing. Amidst the rants, and raves, and late night rambling was a very long handwritten letter. This letter was written when I was in the darkest of places.The letter was written almost to the day, seven years ago. It was the final days preparing for a suicide attempt. I don’t think that an attempt actually happened that year, the dates don’t add up in my mind. However, reading this letter launched me. It all became so real again. The cyclical nature of my journey and the moods that shape it. I can’t help but feel hopeless in this moment. Hopeless in this never-ending recycling of depression. I can only wait and wonder if this time will be like that episode. Will it level me to the point I am writing goodbye notes to each of the people around me and planning my funeral service. Will I again be plotting and planning to the very last-minute. I am numb with grief at the thought of it. I cannot do this again. Unfortunately statistics say as many as 1 in 5 bipolar patients completes suicide (NIMH). I don’t want to be a statistic. I’m just not sure I have the energy to keep going.

I know everyone that struggles with mental illness contends with the cyclical nature of it. I think the reality is, I like a lot of other people, live their lives looking over their shoulder. With each successive episode, this becomes further intrenched in our psyche. For me the history of suicide attempts further drives it home. When things are ok, I am always wondering to myself, when the other shoe will drop. It is an awful way to go through life. With bipolar, we get the problem at both ends. If I put more than one day together of very good, I start to worry as well. Is this good- too good? To imagine, having to worry about good and bad. For me the bad far outweighs the good worry, but I figured it was worth mentioning.

I guess, in this evening of discomfort and sadness, I need to keep in mind I am still here. I made it through that depression. I can somehow make it thru this one. I have to keep going. I can’t look back, I can look where I am going and try to make my way mindfully. I will not dwell on that letter tonight. I will remain in the moment and get to tomorrow.

Thoughts

There is a lot of truth in the statement- A lot of the pain that we are dealing with are really only THOUGHTS

I know for me when I am feeling awful, a good portion of what is going on in my head is repetitive thoughts. Not the good variety either. They range from, god my life is terrible, I hate everything, life just isn’t worth all this pain, to, why do I have to be sick? This just isn’t fair. When taken alone, each of these thoughts are quite negative. When all piled together they compound pain and suffering. I know this. It doesn’t make the thoughts lessen, normally it only makes them worse.

I think this is where CBT has a place. It is such a simple direct way to challenge a thought, see it for the distortion, and attempt to change it. Again, not easy. Note I said simple, not easy. When I look at a CBT worksheet, I usually get irritable and frustrated. It never fails. I think to myself, you need a freakin worksheet to deal, what an idiot. Yeah, I know judgmental, and not helpful. I think it is because they so throughly CBT you in the hospital setting. It becomes boring, bordering on ridiculous. Doesn’t matter what the thought is, they will have you examine it for distortion. Kind of comical considering you are locked up on an inpatient unit, of course something is distorted. Nobody in their right mind goes there otherwise, unless they work there. Even then I think some are questionable. But I have gotten off topic.

I was about to rant about CBT worksheets and how they make me pissy.  I think the bottom line is they make me feel like a kid. Endlessly going through homework problems. Here I am an adult and it continues. With a little talking to, I can get myself to do them. Yes, I do actually see how thoughts make my experience of depression more painful sometimes, heck, most of the time. I understand that it takes work to alter the endless supply of negative thoughts that saturate my depressed mind. I wish I could reach in and wring out that sponge filled with negative judgemental thoughts and start over. The sad fact is, I’d be right back to saturated and miserable, in no time. Where do they all come from? I think it is a lifetime, especially a childhood. A childhood where I spent so much time alone with my thoughts, and had plenty of time to twist and distort them.