climbing. falling

The shift continued today. It is like watching grains of sand falling away between your toes while climbing a sand dune. All you want is to gain some purchase. To find a little firmer footing so you can make it to the crest. The sensation of fighting gravity vivid under your soles. I felt it creeping. Knew it was coming. Last night the hours clicked by in the restless darkness. Is it really 3 am? 3:30? it can’t possibly be 4 AM. It was. The additional doses of seroquel couldn’t sway me. It was past 4 when I finally struggled into some semblance of sleep. This week has been off balance. the nights have been much the same. Awakening disoriented and exhausted. My mind and body trying to sort it out and coming up short. In the place of my usual night time seroquel hunger is a 24-7 variety. As if I have never eaten a day in my life. I watch as the scale shifts and the hairs on my neck stand up. I won’t even let myself go near it now. I don’t want to know. I returned to running today only to find myself sluggish and sub par just as everything else feels. I know it is tough to judge a drug when I started it coming off such a significant weight loss. I tell myself to be reasonable/ rational…nope. The anxiety is just oppressive. In my mind I see 300lbs looming there on the horizon. This is the drug I can’t keep at bay. The one I can’t exercise into submission. This is the one I fail at. As each day passes and we pull closer to the next dose increase it makes my skin crawl. It was 115 there within reach and it is indeed just a number. But that number is an okay place for me. One where I don’t nit pick and criticize myself. One where I can get away with looking in the mirror and not getting discouraged or angry. But that is gone now, it is trending hard in the other direction. Moving fast enough it scares me. terrifying enough for me not to even bring myself to go near my scale. It all just feels so fucking wrong. How is it this is the right choice? The right course of action? The responsible one? In my mind the scale numbers flicker there amidst the words from that psychopharm email. Is this acceptance? Is this what it is to submit and succumb to a treatment meant to help while all I can feel is my world shift under my feet. I was okay I thought. I’m not okay now. this is not alright. This is all my demons coming for dinner. My fears about weight. My distorted view of my own body. My distrust of a system, and ultimately some anger with Virgil. I took her word. I thought it would be ok. There is no evidence and there is no proof. I am just another guinea pig here swallowing pills by the handful in hopes they might make a difference. What if there is no difference to be made? How cruel and terrible. I know I am lost in a mind working on far too little sleep and amidst a major shift in mood. I understand that. It doesn’t make it one bit easier. It hurts just as much and scares me deeply.

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Depakote 2.0

Take two on the depakote. More of the usual adjustment issues on a new med. The normal GI complaints which seem to bother me new med or not. The weird hazy disconnect from life as my brain searches for a way to incorporate a new chemical. An insult amongst so many others. Seems my brain just adapts. 512px-Valproic_acid.svg

Is this one going to be any different? better? worse? As the slow and steady progression of dose increases continues I cannot help but think about it. or maybe it is just the reticent mood today. I am looking back and looking ahead rather than just being here today. The mood just fell off sharply today. Could be this weather? or the planets alignment. Sleep has been somewhat off as well. I think it is the lower seroquel. I’m just so accustomed to it controlling my sleep patterns. Life if different with less of it. That is okay though. But it is indeed the devil I know. I think I am just adrift as indoor polo season wrapped up and I don’t have that weekly fix. I miss it. There really isn’t much to replace it with right now. In my excitement to return to running I gave myself a good foot bruise and it has prevented me from settling back into my normal weekly routine. I did get back on the bike a couple of times including a nice 15 miler yesterday. I may just have to do a whole lot more of that while my foot heals. I still don’t have much of an outlet right now and I think I really really need one. The painting has been wonderful but it is hard not to feel terribly guilty if I am in the studio instead of outside working. The light is poor late in the day so it really leaves only the prime real estate of midday when the light is great for painting. Unfortunately that is also the main work time for farm chores. It is that endless give and take. I know the days I need to take a bit more for me but more often than not it will be giving to this place and these horses.
I just have that inkling there in the periphery that something is shifting. I cannot put my finger on it yet. It is vague and distant but still leaves me with a queasy feeling of dread.

Whys?

(Unedited) These past two sessions with Beatrice have been complete with a myriad of whys? Many of which I cannot answer. That is hardly unusual for me. Whether it is a question of remembering or just an inability to zero in on what I think about the question. I can’t say it is always like that though and over the years I think my insight and focus has improved. When we revisited the Nor’easter morning a few sessions back I found myself actively searching for the answers. That continues. It was such a pivotal and important event. I believe it needs to be understood.

“Why did you call me rather than Virgil that morning”? It was an innocent and straightforward question. It was one I had been asked before. I let my mind play back the tape. Looking carefully for evidence to answer her query. I saw a lot of things, not the answer.
“Was it because you felt she would have stopped you?” hmmm. Well yes that is part of the answer. I don’t know that I could have heard her voice and walked away. In the moments when crisis is imminent and I am skating on batshit Virgil does indeed have the ability to reel me in. At times it is a tough love, knock it the fuck off and others it is with a steady quiet redirection. I told Beatrice a story.

Back during one of my hospitalizations (in the past 12 years) I was on a unit with a middle aged man. He spent much of his time shuffling along with a cane. The movement an odd mix of heavy doses of antipsychotics and an injury. I kept my distance. Even with the slow movement I was pulling a very threatening vibe off this guy. Each time his wife would visit they argued. It doesn’t take much to hear a raised voice. The unit was library quiet. I would watch from afar and continued my worrying about this guy. On a beautiful afternoon during visiting hours I cast my glances from my visitors back to he and his wife. The alarm bells in my head were ringing. I have spent enough time inside to know when a meltdown is probable. I told my family they had to go. I rushed them out the door. They were confused but considering they were visiting me in a psych hospital they all just accept strange behavior as it comes. With little argument they left. In the minutes that followed I watched as an all out brawl began between this man and his wife. Those arguments paled in comparison. Especially considering there was now a cane involved and some hitting and shrieking. Every hair on my body stood up. This was bad. really fucking bad. At all psych hospitals they have a means of communicating the need for more help. A button is pushed and an alarm goes off to signify that a unit is having a problem. The sign up on the wall shows which unit needs people. Once that buzzer is going non critical staff are pulled from other units. At run they make their way across that enormous hospital. In most cases the first one or two arrive within a very short time, under a minute as they are usually from the unit above or below. The others have a little longer trip. These two were going at it and neither were backing down. With 4 staff members trying to get them apart. Now 6. It was like watching a train wreck. This guy was well beyond enraged. That slow shuffle was replaced with an unreal amount of power. I was frozen to my spot well down the hall. I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to. Once they got to 8 people I felt for sure they never were going to get this guy under control. That panic switch in my brain tripped. Every ounce of me knew I had to get out of that unit. I had to be far away from the screaming and fighting. I fled to my room which was right near where I was standing. One of the magnificent details of this old hospital was the huge windows. They are over 5′ and each have wide sills. They are screened heavily to protect the patients and prevent escape but are still beautiful. I don’t remember crossing the room, or even climbing up on that sill. I do remember hanging onto that screen and pleading to be let out. I had to get out that window. Away from the commotion and the danger. I shook like a leaf and cried in my panic. I was so sure they would not be able to stop him. A cold sweat clung to me as I stared out through the screen and prayed to teleport out of that room. I picked up my phone. I didn’t know what else to do. Virgil’s phone rang and went to voicemail. My panic ratcheted up. I don’t know that I have ever felt that degree of pure panic. I shook and held my knees to my body while staying as close to that window screen as possible. My phone rang. Virgil. I must have sounded near incoherent as I tried to convey to her how badly I needed her to get me the fuck out of there. right now. I was crying hard enough and my breathing was so shallow creating the sentences were hard. I still remember her words and the sound of her voice. She made it very clear I needed to get my shit together. To stop it or I was going to end up in restraints like the guy they were dragging down the hall. did I want that??? It was like being slapped. It was 100% what I needed to hear in that moment. Had she comforted me I would have continued in that hyperventilated state. I would have melted down just as I was when I picked up the phone. The authority and edge in her voice made me take notice and to stop for a second and hear what she was saying to me. I had been in restraints enough that I knew damn well I was not doing that again. NO. Absolutely not. She was showing me there were going to be consequences if I did not try to get some control over myself. I was still terrified. I knew it and she knew it. As I caught my breath and was able to come down off that ledge she settled back to her empathetic self. The one that reassured me I was safe. That they would control him. They would keep me safe. I did not need to worry or panic. Shortly after that a staff member came to take me off the unit and go for walk while they continued to deal with the crisis on the unit. Virgil had, in fact, talked me off a ledge. I had hard evidence. proof.
Was that why I had chosen to call Beatrice? I believe it was. As I told her that I watched the breath catch in her chest. I knew that hurt her. I hurt. I apologized. I knew I was being brutally honest. It was what had to be said. I could have just shook my head and said I don’t know. I didn’t. I hate to think my words hurt her. As we continued in the following session I tried to make that clear. I know my actions that morning hurt a lot of people. Just as my honesty about why I made some of those choices continue to hurt people. It is hard to think about. nevermind talk about. We have to. That morning needs to be processed. There are answers there in my mind and in my choices and actions. If we can figure them out we can hopefully head off ever ending up repeating that.
I don’t know that I would have been able to hear anyone that morning in the biting wind and driving snow as my frozen fingers clung to the phone. I was not in a place of listening as I had moved to a place of decisive action. My words were rambling and mostly jumbled. Had I moved past reality and into my own head so deep and dark it was blinding? I believe so. Had Virgil been on that phone would I have stepped off that stool and into the noose waiting for me in the wind? I am not sure. I feel I would have anyhow. It is an awful thought. Just as it is crushing to revisit that darkness. Not in a depressing way, or in a provocative way. It is just sad to think about having reached such a desperate place that I would choose to end my life like that.
We spoke about the phone call and the choice to even make one. My thought is ultimately there was ambivalence. Think there always is. It isn’t about death. It is not about killing yourself it is about killing the pain and suffering. the body and mind is solely the vessel. If there was a way to end the suffering and pain yet remain alive I think many would choose that. We don’t want to die. We don’t want to hurt. We are worn to the bone. Etched away slowly but surely till we are brittle and hollow with nothing left in reserve. It is that empty hollow place surrounded by the thousands of distortions created by a mind numbed and hindered by disease. It is the conduit that leads to suicide. I may well have been ambivalent. Truly. I walked out into the raging storm. there was a reason I put a phone in my pocket. There was a reason I used it. Who I chose to call is important, but ultimately so is my decision to even reach out.
I chose to drop that phone in the snow and step off into weightlessness. I do not remember any of her words to me in that moment. It was my choice. I did not want to suffer. I could not cope with it anymore. That eclipsed my fear of harming everyone in my life including Beatrice and Virgil. I think our return to this is critical. We need to process it. To come to terms with my ability to harm both myself and my loved ones. To apologize and accept. To understand and to revisit. Those are all critical. I do not ever want to be in that place again though I fear it is inevitable. It is one more trauma to add to all the others. I believe we can break it down and look at it. I know we can do that work. It is so important. I sit in awe of our resilience and of our ability to revisit the most painful of moments. I am willing to do this work. I know suicidal thoughts have been my companion for most of my life. They have been a coping mechanism. It is hard to let them go or to consider life without my escape plan. I accept her challenge to try to let them go and find new ways to cope when the depression is so dark or when life is hurling curve ball after curve ball at me. I know this won’t be easy. It may well be one of the hardest things I do in this life. I am okay with that.

Sharing my Life

When I clicked my computer key and launched an update on my Facebook yesterday I could not have imagined the response I received. It was a huge step sharing this blog with the world. Not just here in anonymity, but with my name attached and in complete cognizance that this might have a huge impact on my life. I have many friends and family on FB. This was, in a key stroke, sharing a deeply personal and private side of my life. I have come here to WordPress almost everyday for more almost two years. I have wandered my mind and wrestled for answers. I have processed my journey in therapy and I have struggled deeply with mood instability at times. This has been my place to put all of that. Many times I thought to myself why keep this secret? I have made such an effort to unscramble my thoughts and to make sense of a life that often times make no sense at all. This is my home. As the clock ticked down on this next anniversary I felt compelled to share. I needed to show where I have spent my days and nights deep in thought. I wasn’t sure how best to share it and ultimately I’d say FB is as good a place as any. In the hours that followed that status update my fear and anxiety swiftly out paced my enthusiasm to unburden my soul. Had I made the worst mistake? did I really want the world to read this the most personal of blogs? It fed on itself and I launched myself out the door in my sneakers in an effort to stall the fear. As I ran in the sun I let my mind conjure all the worst things that could happen. I thought about my family reading this. Though most are not on FB I do realize it can find its way back to them. I thought about how honest and brutal some of these entries are and the harm they could do if misread or taken out of context. As I continued running the fear slowly abated. Instead of the harm this blog might cause, I thought about the good it might do. If these words could resonate with another person struggling to keep their head above water it would make this journey mean all that much more. Even if I never know or never hear about it that is alright. These words are indeed mine. They have provided me with so much. I have found my way deep into places I thought unreachable. Within some of these entries I have walked back through the most harrowing and painful experiences in my life. Each entry providing me with the opportunity to revisit , explore and walk away. Sure they stick with me, just as those experiences have shaped me. What is different is that I can control this. The degree to which I venture and uncover is in my power. A far cry from the past. This blog has enabled me to heal a word at a time. Beyond that it has opened a window into my thoughts for my therapists. They can see how I process in real time. Prior to blogging they had their intuition, experience and whatever I shared in the follow up session. Now they can read and understand how each session has effected me and how I am processing each. It has shifted the course of my treatment and ultimately (to me) it seems to have drastically improved my growth and gains in therapy. It all started with my choosing to share myself here. It is a natural progression of sorts for me to go one more step and share it in a public forum.

I could not have hoped for a better response. I truly was not sure what the reaction would be. I chose the running entry as the linked post because I thought it was accessible. Even the average reader could accept it, unlike some of the darker and more rambling posts held within the 400 + that make up this blog. Those that reacted gave me positive feedback and praised my decision to share this. I know it still might go very wrong and that there are those that will not feel comfortable with what is here. That is okay too. Not everyone is open and accepting when it comes to mental illness, or abuse. I am so thankful the initial response has been so positive. I can not express my relief clearly enough nor can I say enough thanks to those that have come and read these words and shared them with others. I do not regret my decision, least not today. I wish more than anything that these words and thoughts can provide support for all the people like me out there putting one foot in front of another.

To Run. To Mecca

-10+ days in and I had one ever so brief run yesterday that promptly reminded me I’m still a ways from back to healthy. All I want to do is run. I want to get back to feeling like I had. Unfortunately I am impossibly stubborn and all too willing to try and rush back into it. What is so apparent is the depth of the habit I have formed. Read somewhere that it takes 30 days to create a new habit. What is it after that? Like a year or two later? Is it an addiction? a compulsion? an edgy drive that settles into your body that creates this unrest when not fed at least a few miles at a time. As each day passes and I feel more like my own self the desire to take flight flourishes. I see it as 10 days of nothing. nada. I only see my days in relation to miles logged. I see zeroes and an anxiety nags at me. That irritable nasty voice gets going. Tomorrow I know I have to do something. even if it is just another short one. I have to feed this beast of my creation. It was my doing. I never set out for this. I can even look back and see the first time I set out in the rain just to see where I was at. That 8 mile run stands out so clearly in my mind. It was awful. Windy with an icy bite to the rain. An early fall rain that reminds you it isn’t summer anymore. I settled in and put my head down. I set that goal and I did it. It was control and it was success all in one nicely wrapped package. If only all of life could be that simple. If every goal could be so easily attained. I don’t mean easy as in simple, I just mean it was doable in that amount of time. That run was not easy. It showed me a bit of misery and a bit of pain. Not a ton, but enough to keep it honest. Enough to teach me a little respect for the distance. It gave me a taste. and so it began. I started off on a journey that took me beyond Tough Mudder and into life with a new mouth to feed. A clawing pushing, shoving need that now stands firmly in the middle of my life. I don’t think that is a bad thing. It has gotten me through the worst of days and the darkest of thoughts. It has been my companion as well as my guide. I have learned much about myself along the way. Where I can push and where I know I will give up. I have learned what pain is my friend and which is not. If you had told me a few years back I would devote so much of my time and effort solely to running I probably would not have believed it. I think there is often a meaning in all things, and that more often than not things truly do happen for a reason. I think the gift of running came to me because I needed, more than anything, a place to be me with only myself. Nobody to answer to or to worry about making happy. Nobody to disappoint. I had no goal and I had no direction. I just put on an old pair of sneakers and stepped out in the rain. I wasn’t sure where I was going. It was an open stretch of black asphalt and a heavy lidded grey sky. I didn’t know that day would alter my life. who knew the power of movement. In the steady foot falls and the chasing of oxygen I found my zen. It wasn’t on some mat with rain fall noises piped in. It wasn’t breathing exercises or booklets on mindfulness. Nothing could have prepared me for what I found in the rain that day. It was priceless.

Here I am more than 19 months later and it is no less a gift than it was then. As everything comes undone around me, or in my head- I look for a pair of sneakers as if my life depended on it. They are my salvation on days when I can’t function. I may lack the energy to get out of bed but my body is so conditioned I can force myself out the door. I know if I just try it will be better. I can turn my mind and make the unbearable bearable if only for that hour or two or three. It can be done. Even when nothing else can. When I am powerless and hopeless. When I feel like I have nothing and no one I can find myself. I can run.

So where is the line. Many might argue I run too much. I run for the wrong reasons. I don’t think there is ever a wrong reason. When the alternative is sitting and ruminating, torturing myself sitting in the worst of thoughts this is a very real alternative. Does it hurt some of the time? yep. It can hurt quite a lot. Does that have a purpose? yes. When the disconnect is so vast and bottomless that I lose track of where I end and the world begins it has a place. I can run hard enough to reconnect. I can lose the hollow, if only for a little while. I can FEEL something. It may not last and it may not help ultimately, but in the short run it can. It is a survival skill on some days. It may be all I have to hold onto at times. There is nothing wrong with that. I have learned along the way how hard I can push and how much I can endure. I understand those boundaries. I don’t cross them. There is a time for growth and development, just as there is a time to settle and take what you can get. there has been much of that along the way. In the zen of the run you can get lost and go too far. You can get lost and push too much. Those are all lessons learned in the pursuit. It is at times a labor of love. Days when the wind is stopping you still and rips the breath from your lungs. days when the ice pellets sting like rocks hurled from the sky. those are the days when it is the habit you have instilled that keep your legs moving. Relentless forward progress is the key to days like that. It is too easy to just give up and turn back. The hours and hours built a foundation that can sustain you when the toughest moments come around. When your mind says fuck it this in insane, or I’m tired. I’m hungry, I’m sore. this sucks. those are the moments when all the work pays off. Your legs keep going and your lungs keep fighting for it. That is when the true beauty of it becomes apparent. The house you built. The strength of those pillars you set with sweat and tears and blood. Those stand strong and from them you can reach beyond where you thought you could go. To fight for more miles or faster splits. It is your house. fuck it. it isn’t a house this is a palace. a mecca. You built it and now it is yours alone. this is my mecca. My home beyond these walls. It is a place for me to seek refuge and solace. to retreat to when everything is so very wrong. but it is also a place to build me up and to make me more than I was the day before. to reach potential I never knew I had. To kindle those goals till they get crushed and replaced with new ones. It is a means of creating strength both in mind and body.
It feels good to want something, to feel that drive to be in motion. that is a gift beyond all others as it gives me a place where I can create my future, even if it is just that next hour. or even that next minute. I can exercise my control and drive. I can feel what it is to be completely successful. If only life could be like this. If only life could be my mecca.

2 AM musings

Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness?
~ Artemus Ward

since clearly sleep is elusive tonight I will continue to aimlessly wander FB and think about food. wtf. on a good note, finally!! and I mean finally finished Breaking Bad. now on to something new. great series. one of the best ever.