A welcome turn

Stepped into the same ER as we did 5 months ago. Got brought back just as quickly as before when the triage nurse saw his level of pain. Had the same ER doctor come in to the room. And as she stepped in she stopped. I’ve treated you before, haven’t I? He looked and said yes, that she was the one who found his cancer. She asked prognosis, current symptoms, and immediately put in orders for pain meds and a CT. I saw the same concern on her face as the last time when she ordered pain meds and a CT. Last time for his colon where she found multiple large masses, this time for his head where he was having the severe pain. It was all so similar, and so frightening.

I vividly remember 5 months ago, sitting in the chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hook up his IV. Waiting in that chair while they take him for scans. And finally seeing the doctor return with results, closing the door I didn’t know the room had before closing the curtain usually used as a door and turning to us to explain what she found. That time led to a week at the hospital, a cancer diagnosis, explanation of stage 4, massive surgery, and a rollercoaster of pain and emotion that we still face.

Today I sat in that chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hooked up his IV. Waited in that chair while the took him for scans. And then sat there anxiously staring at the door you wouldn’t know is there unless you’ve seen them use it. Desperately wishing it to remain open. I couldn’t handle going down this road again so soon. Even if I could handle it, I don’t know if he can. His mind is breaking.

Last time we sat through unspoken fear of colon cancer, this time the unspoken fear of it spreading to the brain. The doctor came back but the door remained open. Scans are clean, labs look great (considering). But she still admitted him. She wants another doctor to take a look, and beyond that just to give his body a rest. She is promising pain meds, anti nausea meds, and anti anxiety meds. And as the first batch went in his IV I slowly saw him sink into a gentle sleep. He is calm and resting, his pain managed, and when last I left his room he was keeping down what he has decided is the most delicious cranberry juice. The first thing he’s kept down in days.

It’s likely that the symptoms are just from the chemo, but it hit so hard and wasn’t letting up that we needed to get him in. What has me most concerned is the occasional moments of confusion or lapses in memory. It’s not normal for him, and started before these other symptoms. So they’re looking into it. I’m relieved that the brain scans are clean, and that he will be able to rest pain free even if just for tonight. This trip to the hospital had a much better turn out then last time. But I feel it will continue to loom over us every time we have these ups and downs. But right now I will sleep easy knowing he is safe. And tomorrow I will hopefully be able to take him home.

That is the worst idea you have had

When your therapist of 3 years, the women who has seen you through panic attacks, self harm, suicidal ideation, and lord knows what else says “that is the worst idea you have had.” You should probably listen 😬

So what was this terrible idea? I went off my meds. That may not seem like much, but remember all the lovely things mentioned in the first sentence? That was during a period of time I spent months arguing with her that I didn’t need medication. Followed by a month of trying to stabilize on my new medications, some of that time spent in a psych hospital. She helped me understand that I need meds, helped me find a good psychiatrist after I had had so many bad ones in the past, she helped keep me safe from myself while I worked to find the right blend, and she helped me understand that the meds bring me to a baseline where I can then work on my self care to become healthy and stable beyond that point.

Recently someone at the office started telling everyone that I don’t care about things. Suddenly rumors where flying around that I am heartless, that I don’t care about my work or my team. This started spreading out of control until someone started trying to tell others I should be fired so they can have someone that actually cares. As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder I’d never been told I don’t care. I’m told I care too much, I care when I shouldn’t, I am too emotional, that I need to shut it off. My whole world shifted as I began to hear these strange rumors and I panicked.

I knew the “issue” was that I was stable, and that I wear an emotional mask on top of that. I also knew that I wasn’t going to lower that mask, so the only way to show emotions through it was to stop being stable. So for the next two weeks I cut my antidepressant and mood stabilizer dosages in half. When I didn’t end up completely crazy after that I just stopped taking them altogether. I went against my better judgement. I went against the advice I give others to never adjust your meds without first speaking to your doctor. I went against the advice I give myself, to talk over decisions I know are probably wrong with my therapist before doing stupid things. I panicked, so I ignored everything but the rumors at the office and I screwed myself up worse.

So at last Monday’s appointment we discussed the issues I’m going through right now, and eventually got to the dreaded question:

“How are your meds working?”

“I’m not taking them.”

Pause… “When did you last see your Psychiatrist?”

“About 3 or 4 months ago?”

“So she doesn’t know you stopped taking them?”

“No.”

“How long have you been off your meds?”

“A week, I was on half dose for 2 weeks before that.”

Pause…. “Why?”

“They were making me stable so people thought I didn’t care. I needed stronger emotions at work or everyone would hate me!”

Longer pause (probably an effort to regain the peace she had found while meditating that morning before I had come in and ruined it) “That… that is the worst idea you have had.”

“They want to fire me!”

“You can’t just stop your meds.”

“I can’t be stable right now, they hate me at work!”

“Do you hear yourself?”

“Yes. But I don’t care. I need my job.”

“You are more important than just a job. You need to be stable for you and your husband and your kids. You need to be on your meds.”

So I’m back on my meds. I’m feeling better, more clear, more calm. But I still have moments of desperate desire to be off them. To let my crazy take control. I don’t know where this desire is coming from exactly, I don’t think it is just from work though that was certainly a catalyst. But something in me says I shouldn’t be stable. And this is a new fight for me, one I don’t know how to face.

When I was young and refused to acknowledge depression as a medical condition, or that I had anything more than seasonal depression, I would refuse meds or go off of them because I shouldn’t need them. I’ve fought that battle and moved beyond it. I’ve learned to ignore the occasional thoughts my brain throws at me trying to convince me of that lie. But this is a new lie. My mind says the meds are working, and they’re needed, but that I should stop anyway. I recognize the truth of my illness and my treatment, and something is telling me not to be treated. To let the symptoms take over. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know how to fight it. Have any of you fought that before? The idea that you can be stable but shouldn’t?

I need a break from me

I’m trapped in my own mind, stuck with my own company. I live the day picking apart my every action and shoving my own mistakes in my face. I torture myself, I cry, and then I hate myself for the tears. I go to bed at night and the mean part of me takes more control, feeding into my insecurities and stress in dreams. Tearing me apart worse than while awake because now that part of my brain controls all. I want to sleep, but I fear my dreams. I want to cry but fear my response to those tears. I want to scream and push back the part of me that is so filled with hatred, but I’m not strong enough. Or at least that part of me isn’t. I need a break from my own mind. I need to protect that little hurting girl in my mind from the monster currently tearing her apart. But I am that monster. I am both, and so hate both. I’ve been living on energy drinks this week for fear of sleep and for lack of sleep. I need a break. The house is quiet right now, the whole family asleep. My energy drink is wearing off and the TV is no longer blocking out the voices in my head. I need sleep, but it won’t give me the break my mind needs. I refuse to keep sleeping pills in the house specifically for this reason. Because I know I will take too many out of sheer desperation to not dream. So I sit and struggle. I’m safe, but I won’t have a break. I just need a break.

Counting down

As others have been counting down the days, hours, minutes until New Years, I have been counting down to my next therapy appointment. I’ve spent the last 2 years working my ass off to be stable, or at least to pretend I am with some amount of calm under the surface. A few months ago everything took a nose dive. Life said “fuck you!” and everything went nuts. It’s enough to add great deals of stress to the normally stable people, so you can only imagine what it’s doing to me. The biggest problem right now is that the issues are as time consuming as they are stressful. Which means that during this time of my needing the safe space of my therapists office more than anything, I haven’t been able to keep a single appointment. Every time I have scheduled one something has gone crazy that required my time and I had to reschedule.

I go on Tuesday. So far nothing has come up that can’t be handled without me or wait another day. I only need to make it until Tuesday. People have been asking me what my New Years resolution is. As I smile and make some non committal answer to move the conversation off of me, my brain screams in response “survive!” I want to survive. I want to survive this time both mentally and physically. I want to come out of this with a limited amount of new scars, no trips to the hospital, and nights with sleep. Even if that sleep is restless and filled with nightmares, at least it is a night safely asleep and not awake and lost in dangerous thoughts of “my family is better off without me” as I sit alone in the dark.

Two years ago I don’t know that I would have made it through. I have come a long way, and my ability to see that reminds me why I fight. Why I force myself to get treatment for my illness. Why I can keep getting up, even when I fall. So I will cling to this hope that snuck its way into my depression and follow it to my therapy appointment. Almost there. Just a couple more days. My countdown continues and with each day marked off brings more hope.

Happy New Year Y’All… cheers to us, and to therapy. May we all be blessed with many good and non-canceled therapy sessions this year.

Hiding away

I’ve hit one of my phases where I want to disconnect completely from the outside world. I’m virtually non- existent on social media. I can barely bring myself to blog. I wear my earbuds at work, or hide in a small conference room. I simply want to hide, to disappear temporarily. These phases frighten me because they can lead to worse depressions with time. So I continue to force myself out where I feel stable enough to do so. I’m focusing on self care and distraction. But that doesn’t mean I’m succeeding at these things. I’m falling much more than I care to admit into this pit of depression, fear, and self hatred. I will continue to fight through. I am mentally awake enough to know there is a better and a worse, and that the better is truly worth fighting for. I’ll make it through. I’m a stubborn bitch, so will continue to fight the monster of my mind.

Diagnosed Workaholic

My first session with my current therapist was just over two years ago and after explaining how I had been “coping” for years and what was happening leading up to my pending breakdown she looked at me and paused, and then she simply said “you realize you’ve been self medicating with work for the past nine years, right?” Yes. Yes I did. The fact is I didn’t know how to cope so I worked too much in order to distract myself from myself. When I was forced to slow down, I couldn’t handle it. I was a workaholic. I’m not saying that to downplay actual addictions, but addiction runs in my family so I have always been excessively carefully with the actually addictive things, so I ended up turning to work instead.

The last couple of months at work have been nuts. I’m working crazy overtime and barely keeping shit together for my department. I had to cancel my last therapy appointment cause I can’t take time off work, and I still haven’t been able to schedule a new one. I’m too exhausted for crafts or games or anything that I used to do after work. I’m barely blogging, sleeping is hard, it took me a week to finally sew buttons onto my sons sock for sock puppet eyes. I wake up already exhausted, run on coffee and soda energy all day, and lie down with an exhausted body and overactive mind as soon as I get home.

But I realized today that in the last two weeks I’ve had almost no panic attacks. I have not had the constant urge to self harm. I have not cried myself to sleep or stared at nothing in the overwhelming emptiness of my lack of self. I have not begun screaming at someone out of uncontrollable anger held too long. My emotional extremes aren’t there. Today it occurred to me that I am doing almost no self care at all, so why am I suddenly stable? My meds didn’t change, so it can’t be that. Then my therapists words echoed in my head. “Self medicating with work.” Am I doing it again? Am I so overworked that my disorders have taken a backseat? I don’t know. But two years of practicing self care has at least taught me a couple things.

First, work does not define me. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and I do. No matter how much of my day is stuck on work right now, it does not define me. Second, it is important to not judge. I don’t need to judge my overworking nature at the moment, I simply need to be aware that it is there and that it will not last forever. That I need to keep working to build in more self care while I can. Third, I can’t make this permanent. I need to allow myself to slow back down as work slows back down. I can’t allow myself to get so used to this that I don’t stop.

I choose to be aware of my situation and my past so I can move past this. I choose to be healthy, even if it means that feeling good might not be from feeling good or from healthy practices.

Long forgotten happy place

When I was a kid my favorite uncle worked at Home Depot. My mom and I would occasionally go visit him and pick up a plant or paint sample while we were there. I fell in love with the store. I loved walking through the kitchen section and feeling the differing types of tile, looking at the carpet samples to determine what kind will be in my home when I grow up, studying every type of door fascinated by the ones with windows or fancy knobs. But my favorite aisle was the one with wood. Nothing but boards in various sizes, all with the most spectacular smell. I could loose myself in that aisle forever.

Over time I forgot this happy place of mine. My uncle went on to another career, we bought our plants elsewhere, didn’t paint as often. And the joys of this magical place got lost somewhere in the back of my mind. Not too long ago I had to get something from Home Depot. It was late, an hour before closing, and quiet. So I decided to wander a bit. I began to remember how much I loved this store, but as I went into my magical forest aisle it wasn’t quite the same. So I continued to wander until I reached the far edge of the gardening section and became lost in a sea of half grown trees and giant bags of soil. My new aisle, my new happy place.

Today I needed a break. I needed to calm my mind of the anxiety of the week. Week? Actually no, let’s try month. So I went to Home Depot and picked up a new pack of key rings and then went into the forest in the far corner. As I wandered I found myself at the clearance rack, a metal shelf unit covered in half dead plants marked down 50-75%. As I stood there I longed for these plants. But I rent an apartment, and my tiny patio and window sills have more heat than light from the sun, so plants don’t grow for me right now. I had to leave them all behind as I knew they wouldn’t flourish with me. So I spoke quietly to them. I told these plants that they were not forgotten, that I loved them, and that when I have a house and a garden I will fill that garden with clearance plants and bring them back to life. The plants can’t hear me, but that’s okay because I needed the reminder that all living things can come back to beauty and life if cared for properly. Some day I will save those plants, they will not be forgotten, left to die on a shelf.

I loved my moments in my forest today in the back corner of Home Depot. Then of course I hit the grocery store on the way home for a giant bottle of wine cause let’s face it, it’s been a shitty few weeks. So cheers. Here’s to half dead plants, half forgotten happy places, and half empty bottles of wine.

Audio book recommendations

So life is crazy and hectic and exhausting right now. It’s giving off the strange effect of increasing my depression rather than my anxiety or anger like it more commonly would. And because all has gone haywire, I’m struggling to make time for self care, which I desperately need. So I started listening to audio books in the car to and from work in hopes of building in at least that small chance of personal calm and happy. But I need recommendations for new ones.

So please recommend audio books for me. I would greatly appreciate it!

Bigger on the inside

I feel sometimes like having BPD makes me like the TARDIS, bigger on the inside. My emotions are so strong, so powerful, so huge, that the outside of me begins to shut down and shrivel into a tiny lump in the corner. All week I have been trapped in this. Mostly with anger. I physically feel anger the same way I do anxiety. I feel it creeping around in my arms and legs. I feel it tighten my chest and weigh down in my stomach. I feel these sensations spinning around in me until I think I may burst. But I don’t. My insides have made room for the swirl of anger, and my outsides have learned to blend into the background and remain calm and small. But how long will this last? How long until I explode into a million broken pieces from the exhaustion of my insides?

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee we would be sitting next to a large window at home, soaking in the sunshine without the fear and crazy of the world outside. And avoiding sunburns. Inside on sunny days makes my nose and shoulders feel safe 👍

If we were having coffee we would be chatting about nothingness. This has been a week of ups and downs. Politically things are weird, weather has been weird, and my life right now is weird. My new med kicked in and at first made me constantly exhausted, which fixes the insomnia I guess but still sucks. I finally adjusted more to it and am back on a normal sleep schedule with vivid dreams, but not nightmares. My week was starting to pick up until yesterday morning when my anxiety hit out of nowhere. I was coping fine until I got a call from my mom. My uncle was in a bad car accident and has not yet regained consciousness. He went through an emergency surgery fine and it's just a waiting game at this point.

If we were having coffee we would distract each other with jokes, music, and random chatting. We would enjoy the day off and the lack of responsibility for the moment. Tomorrow we can get back to the insanity of the day, our lives, and the world around us. But for today let's relax and enjoy our coffee.