What’s Next?

I keep saying this, but I wonder what will happen next. Every day is a risk. Every drive a challenge.  Every relationship a minefield. It is inevitable, I know, that someone else will be taken from me. But who? When?

People have suggested I read Job for comfort.  I don’t find Job comforting at all.  He lost EVERYTHING.  I have so much more to lose…. Makes me grateful for everything I still have.  Dave is gone but I have my kids, my health.  We are safe, if unsettled.

But I wonder everyday when the next catastrophe will strike.

Bad dreams, bad thoughts.  I want them to end. I want my old neurosis back.

I miss being worried about the little things.  Life seemed hard and complicated and now with this perspective it seems like it was actually very easy and carefree.  This life is so much harder than I ever thought i could manage.  But I don’t have a choice, do i?  Two kids keep me busy, keep me focused, keep me from under the bed.  Every once in awhile I flash on thoughts of giving up but my kids keep me moving forward.  What would happen to them if something happened to me? They have already lost so much…

Being bipolar used to define me, but now I have a new, bigger label… Widow.

What is going to happen to make that label shrink into the background?  It all comes back to what’s next, doesn’t it?

Love, August

 

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Stability in the midst of Chaos

I wonder what will happen next.  I can’t help but worry something else will happen – some greater tragedy – something that will break me into too many pieces to fit back together. Apparently, this is part of the grief process, this anxiety, but I don’t like it.

Let’s be clear, I don’t like any of this right now at all. The crying fits, awkward conversations, uncomfortable silences when I walk into rooms.  This all sucks.  I want my life back.  I don’t want a new normal..  I want my old, normal (crazy) life back.

And in the middle of all this I have to stay sane?  Really?  How is that fair?  Why can’t I give up on stability and dive for cyclical relief?  The downs will be hard, but what’s new about that?  But an upswing ~ that doesn’t sound so bad.  A little hypomania could be a nice break; a grief respite.

I’m not really going to throw myself under the bus like that, thought it is fun to think of sometimes. Instead I am seeing my psychiatrist.. talking to my counselor… taking my meds… trying to do self care.  Part of me wants to give up, but I know I can’t.  There is too much at stake now.  My new normal depends on my stability in the midst of chaos.

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Grief or Depression?

I am not sure I can answer this question right now.  I don’t know if I can see the difference between the two.  Both are all consuming, all encompassing, soul wrenching experiences I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  Both leave me nauseated, curled on my kitchen floor, begging for mercy from a God I can’t begin to understand in the midst of the darkness I feel trapped beneath.  Both tear at my spirit, calling for me to give up.

My friend told me grief is okay (considering the circumstances), but unconsolable grief only comes from the enemy.  I try to remember that and pray for relief from a God I am not on great speaking terms with currently.  I know the enemy is out to get me.  He wants me to walk away from my faith in anger, in disgust.  I know this, even if I don’t always act on it.  Sometimes I can’t help but wallow in my grief.  Getting up, getting out, is hard.

But I do it.  I sleep. I shower.  I cry. I laugh sometimes, too.  I wonder why me?  Why him?  Why now?  But I keep moving forward.  I have to – I have kids to raise, a life to live, a legacy to fulfill.

Thank you for the prayers.  They are keeping me afloat.  Please keep praying.

with love,

august

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Cautionary tales

I wanted to be a role model. I wanted to give people hope that mental illness isn’t some kind of death sentence of doom, but can be properly managed so we can live with some victory. There are two problems with this. First, it’s not really true. I’m not a role model. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing. Which isn’t really any sort of plan that another person can follow. “Do what I do while I completely make it up as I go.” Not the most persuasive slogan. Secondly, from that vantage point I have nothing to write about. While I’m in the midst of my mess I must remain silent. I can’t let on that sometimes this is just damn hard. That I struggle and fail, and often need to move on like nothing even happened; that I have as much doubt as I do confidence that everything is going to work out like I hope it will. Instead let’s view take a more honest perspective of being cautionary tales. You can laugh with us and cry with us as we bumble our way through our own stories. Like a drunk staggering home from the bar, our lives often seem like a series of missteps that lead us to where we call home.

Example 1. I went off my meds. After a year of swearing that is the one thing I would never do, it is in fact exactly what happened. I had told a host of people that if I ever did such a crazy thing, to promptly hit me and get me back on the pills. If only life were that easy. I was worn down. I was drowning in side effects. I would wake up in the middle of the night for hours at a time, often to nausea so bad that I would throw up. By mid morning I was exhausted. I couldn’t poop. I was gaining weight (probably from all the poop). None of my clothes were fitting. And those were the side effects I was tolerating.

For months this rolled on. And I faithfully took those damn pills. (I lost a lot of love for those pills) Every week I met with my pill doc. We tried new pills, we tried more pills, I agreed to hypnosis. But reality was I was sinking into depression that seemingly nothing could pull me out of. Daily tasks began to overwhelm me. I was losing traction and slowly my hope. My doctor wanted to hospitalize me. Life began to be just too hard to live like this on a daily basis. I felt like a cancer patient, to which there was no cure. I could follow every rule to the tee and life would only hold this unbearable pain for me. This would be my life and it was honestly not a life I could see me surviving for very long. Neither could my husband. A sweet and understanding man, he was also burned out by this illness. So I just stopped taking the pills.

Who knows where my story will go stumbling to next. Maybe this will be the beginning of my cautionary tale to why you should never ever stop taking your pills. Maybe it will be a short break that gave me a breathing room till I tried medication again. Or who knows, the start of something consistently better. But one thing is for sure. It’s not an example to follow, just a piece of my journey that I share with you. -Jillian

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Consistently inconsistent

There seems to be very few things in myself that I can be 100% certain of. But this one of them. I will be inconsistent. Consistently.

It starts on the inside and pours out till it effects those around me. My energy, moods, enthusiasms will fluctuate. My sleep, eating and exercise patterns change from good to bad to indifferent then over to fanatical. The amount of words I speak and the speed at which I say them will adjust. Sometimes I stumble over what I’m trying to say because the words pour out so fast. And then other times I have to stare into the sky to try to find the next word that just flew out of my mind causing my conversation to be punctuated with long awkward pauses. I can talk with my family 2 hours a day then not be able to bring myself to pick up a phone for 2 weeks. I struggle to get by with 12 hours or maybe I feel great with 6. I see the world full of wonderful possibilities. I only see blackness.

 But this I have learned. Where ever I am, I won’t stay there. Maybe I can’t wait for change to come or maybe I wish it never would. Doesn’t matter. Change will come.

For years I lived with shame at my inconsistency. I hated that I couldn’t perform the same all the time. Even that I couldn’t be the same person all the time. But I’ve made some peace with myself and this kind of crazy I live with. I’m inconsistent. Consistently. And you know sometimes that works out just fine. Sometimes you find a job that you can work like crazy then take some downtime. Or a friend who is ok with chatting everyday and then having you fall off the face of the earth for a month. Or you marry a spouse who doesn’t mind that you’ll clean the house top to bottom, then basically sleep for the next 3 weeks.

With my best efforts, this is as good as it might get. And I just hope that it’s good enough. But if it’s not ok, I still think I’m ok with that. I’m tall. If you are hoping for someone short, then I’m probably not your girl. I’m ok with that too. There aren’t enough pills in the world to make me short or consistent. So I’ll try not to live in shame and self hate anymore. It is what it is. I’m consistently inconsistent.

 

Jillian

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Pray

Pray. Pray like crazy. Our sweet, sweet August has gone through an unspeakable tragedy. Her world is reeling. And all we can do is pray for her. So please pray. Pray for God to be near the broken hearted and save those who are crushed in spirit (psalms). We will write more later, but for now all I can do it pray for my dear, dear friend.

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The “B” Word

Balance. That elusive mix of not too happy, not too sad, just right in the sweet spot of life.

I told you last week I called in help and found myself upright again after a few tough days (ok, more than a few). Now I am in that place that always makes me question myself – I feel balanced. I am making appointments and keeping them, laughing with my kids, even blogging now and then. The tears have dried up and we are moving forward with our lives the way they are now instead of just waiting for things to “go back to normal”.

This is, I have been told, the new normal. And you know what, I kind of like it. I feel capable (competent is still a stretch for me) and well. A little worried I might be cycling up a bit more than I should, but I think I am just actually functioning where I should be. Maybe it is okay to be satisfied with normal.

Perhaps balance is possible in all circumstances.

I was speaking to a dear friend just this morning who just got diagnosed bipolar and was remembering what those first few weeks were like. How scary and big it felt, so overwhelming and so defeating. I wanted to encourage her to seek balance in her own life so she could manage the disease and not let the disease manage her. I reminded her about the importance of sleep management, exercise, hydration… all to be sure that she was able to tell what were the moods and the meds, not the bodily response to lack of any of the basic elements we need to survive. As I told her, she needs to find homeostasis so she can tell what is chemical vs. biological.

It was a good reminder for me too; balance in all aspects of our lives is critical to successfully manage this disease.

So how do you find the “B” word in your life?

with love,
august

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