Vocabulary Vixen

August 7, 2009

I kick some SERIOUS ass!

I’ve been on a mini-hiatus as I endured a 5-day stint of anxiety-driven insomnia. I was able to sleep maybe 1-2 hours at a crack, and I had to work my full-time job while attempting to remain stable.

I succeeded.

To give a little background on my sleeping habits: Insomnia for more than one day is completely new to me. I am normally an olympian sleeper. If there were Olympics for sleeping, I would win the gold medal. I’m not narcoleptic, but I do enjoy my nine hours of sleep per day/night. I’ve occasionally in my life had 1 day bouts of being unable to sleep, usually because I’m excited for some reason or another (Christmas when I was young, etc), and any longer than that, I *will* make up for it the next day by “Power Napping” (A 5-hour “Nap”, which, I know, is more of a Sleep, but oh well!). I have had periods where I will sleep too much and just still be tired. That is because I would rather sleep sometimes than deal with everyday life.

Let’s rewind to last Saturday. I’d sort of effed-up. I’d had two days off, and I stayed up much later than I should have playing video games (not that my husband complained in the LEAST!!!). I went to work at 8:00 AM. My god, the possibilities!! I stayed up until 4:00AM. Whoa!, and that shift was anxious all-around. I was working with people that aren’t slackers, but they’re just plain not quick, and when there is a huge line of guests going out the door, speed and efficiency is key! But, I figured that I would either take a nap or go to bed early within the next day or so. No big deal.

I didn’t sleep terribly well that night, and when I did, I had a terrible, vivid dream about cockroaches coming to invade my domain, and when I found them, I sprayed stuff on them, but there was a little orange kitten in the way that got sprayed by the insecticide and got really sick. I was ashamed of myself for not checking more thoroughly for any other kitties that might have been in the vents (in the back play room of the house I grew up in). And then the cockroaches were super-cockroaches so I had to upgrade the spray, but I had to take care of the kitty-cat that I’d just gassed, and it was horrible! I woke up that day very anxious, and I had to concentrate on keeping medicated. I could feel the blackness welling up on me and getting ready to suck me in. I had that panicky, heart-thumping, shaky feeling I can only describe as headed downhill into a serious anxiety attack.

So the next night, I wasn’t really able to sleep either. By Sunday, it still wasn’t really that big of a deal. I was tired, but hey, I’ve gone through worse. I just figured that I’d sleep later that day or that night. I got home from work, relaxed awhile, and then tried to lay down and take a nap. I wasn’t able to do it. I laid in bed for two hours. I might have slept very, very lightly, but not enough. My mind was racing, and it kept going back to weird Obsessive-Compulsive La-La Land. I think I forgot my meds that day. I can usually feel it when I forget them, and I definitely felt that I was hanging on by a thread, and that that thread was fraying. I didn’t have a mental meltdown by any means, but I still felt dark, panicky, and anxious.

I should mention the experiment that I’ve been performing on myself. I have been looking to see exactly what it’s like when I’m focusing on nothing but one job, and I don’t have fifty other extracurriculars going on. For a long time, I used all of these extra activities to run away from my disease. It is much more comforting for me to be WAY TOO BUSY, because then I don’t have time to deal with all of this painful stuff that I’ve been going through lately and writing about. This has been part of it: to slow the hell down and figure out what makes me happy vs. what doesn’t make me happy.

I can say that this experiment has definitely proven to me that I do indeed have a *very* active mind! My brain moves through so much information on any given day that it’s ridiculous. So remaining completely unoccupied outside of my one job is probably not going to be the most beneficial for me. That is why I’ve decided to take on a few activities, like reading, writing, and drawing, to sort of get what’s going on in my brain out.

So basically, to continue the story about my week: I progressed further and further without sleep. I would lay down for a nap or to sleep for the night, and I was UNABLE TO DO IT. This went on for several days. Five, to be exact, and I knew it was dangerous territory. My sole mission for this week was to avoid a meltdown. My hand still kind of hurts from the last one. I also knew that the lack of sleep was beginning to take its toll as I was falling deeper and deeper into the darkness.

I started with that terrible cockroach dream. This was not the first dream that I’ve had of cockroaches lately, and I’ve noticed that it’s been a recurring theme. Combine that with a lack of sleep, a lack of meds, and this panicky anxiety, and I realized that I was diving headfirst into my next obsessive-compulsive manifestation. They change over time, really. But, to this day, I have a hard time really being outside in the wilderness, which is something that I love, and the last time I went camping, I basically had to drink myself into laying face-down drunk in the grass to make it through the night. So, this new obsessive-compulsive thing IS NOT COOL. I found myself contemplating whether or not I should inspect every nook, cranny, and crevice for potential entrance points and basically dust my kitchen with Boric Acid.

This is not a good idea for three reasons:

#1, Boric Acid must be used carefully, it’s NOT good for pets, and although relatively benign for humans, it’s only *relatively* benign. There is still a danger involved. Its a poison.
#2, I realized that if I started there, where would it end? My experience in dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder for ten years is that once I start acting on those compulsions, it is merely a temporary solution for anxiety relief. The thought will repeat itself, and I will have to repeat the cycle.
#3, While handy to at least give a visual look-over for cockroach evidence, the time involved in dealing with an obsession and then compulsion is utterly ridiculous.

Still, though, my thoughts kept straying back to the little asshats. And back to them. And again.

Finally, I had to sit myself down and tell myself:

“Hey, there is ABSOLUTELY NO RATIONAL REASON FOR THIS!!! I haven’t seen any cockroaches at work for several months now, due to persistent visits from “The Man”, and although I live in an apartment complex, I am WELL familiar with what they look like and what evidence they leave in their wake, and I have literally SEEN NOTHING whatsoever to indicate that they have taken up residence in my apartment. Yes, there are a few stray crumbs, but I have cleaned them up, and there is just no plausible, rational reason for this!!! WHAT THE FUCK GIVES?!?!!!!”

I figured it out. I know what gives. It’s me diving headfirst into obsessive-compulsive la-la land. This is a familiar pattern. I dealt with this ten years ago when I first dove into the OCD deep-end with the head lice issue. Once I realized this, I decided right then and there that I am NOT doing this. There is no rational, logical reason behind it, and I am NOT going down this road again. I am making an active decision to separate myself from my disorder, realize that it’s my disorder talking, and move on. Once I spiral out of control into this OCD nightmare, it’s hella difficult to bring me back. What I *can* control is my med levels, and knowing that I am headed into mental WELLNESS, NOT more mental illness. And I REFUSE, REFUSE, REFUSE to fall prey to my disease again. I am exuding EVERY bit of effort that I’ve got toward living a life that is not chained down by the wholly fear and dread in my brain.

So I made that decision, I regulated my meds, and I feel a whole lot better. It still took me two or three days to accomplish all of this, and I was only finally able to sleep once I took care of one of my friends. That was a weird experience. But the important thing is that I took a STAND against my problem, and I FUCKING WON!!!

Once I realized what I’d actually accomplished, I also realized something else: I kick some SERIOUS ass! In a hardcore way. I took my problem, recognized it, and then beat the shit out of it by using rational thought and recognition.

I also realized that this is definitely something that I should feel really, really good about. I’m winning. I’m winning the battle. And I am one seriously determined woman. The sights have been set. I am going to beat this. All-around, I am going to win. Hardcore.


July 30, 2009

In Pursuit of the all-elusive Happiness…

I’m still here, I am still writing, and I am still living, breathing, and being human. My god! What?! Moi!? HUMAN?!

Last week was kind of tough, but I made it through that one. I think that I used to think that once I’d make it through a breakdown, I’d be stronger and that I’d never have a breakdown again. I’d never cut myself again. I’d always make a vow that I would do it better next time, and that I wouldn’t crumble under the load again. This is in my nature. The whole denial of reality thing is in my nature as well. Plausible denial. But, as life goes, something would happen, and I would crumble again under the pressure, and keep going up and down, down and up, around and abound, until I found myself completely and utterly lost over a year ago.


July 28, 2009

That made all the difference

I have been so amazingly relaxed today. Just, chill. And I’m enjoying it. I did, in fact, sleep like a baby last night. I slept wonderfully, even if for only five or six hours. I woke up feeling relaxed, but awake. With it, and not overwhelmed by the Anxious Monster. I took my shift by my bare hands and twirled it around my head.

*THIS* is the balance and harmony that I was trying so desperately to restore. I was losing it, I really was. My sense of humor has returned, and I just feel like an all-around nice person to be existing in this world today. I think that a part of me knew that that was still there, but I was having a hell of a time trying to find it. Depression, mental illness and disease are all fucking brutal. (Yes, the f-word is ABSOLUTELY necessary on that one!) They will suck you back in at a moment’s notice. Too many times, I’ve been caught unaware, usually by fluctuating hormones. This past time, it was the hormonal imbalance as well as too much damn stress all at once.

I tried my damndest to bring myself out of it as quickly as possible, because I don’t want to live like this. I’m *not* destined for a dark, miserable, solitary confinement the rest of my life. I know this, but damn, it’s hard to break! And I can’t do it by myself. I’d rather rip my own teeth out by tying a string to them and putting the other end to a car than to admit that, but that’s what I realized one long year ago when I finally decided that I needed to go back into therapy. I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself since then, and that’s what’s making it better as I go. Those things were literally ALL I had to hold onto this past week. I fought it, though. I fought the urges, I fought the depression. I knew it wasn’t right, and I knew that there was some part of me that wanted back to the light.

My entire essence has been yearning for the slivers of sunlight that I’ve had in my life, and during this past breakdown, I recognized that, and reached for it as far as I could possibly reach.

And now I’m back.

And life is good. Finally, balance has been restored, and I cannot express how thankful I am for the people in my life that have been with me through this ride. Their strength, and unwavering support for me has carried me through, even when I’ve been ready to give up on myself. This past week, I wasn’t ready to give up on myself, but I saw that I could very easily be.

My husband drives a bus in a college town with a hospital. He told me of an incident yesterday about a man that checked himself into the hospital for depression. This person left for lunch and never returned. They found him later mangled over a bicycle rack from hurling himself over the parking ramp. My heart pours out to him. I feel so bad for him, and his family, the ones that he left in his wake. Perhaps he thought that by checking himself into the hospital, that that was failure. It’s tragic, because that could very well have been the step to bring him back to the light. I don’t know anything about him, not even his name, but that event had an impact on me.

When my husband told me about this poor soul, my first thought was:

“My god, that could have been me. That could have been ME that checked myself in, and couldn’t go on any longer. I would have left my husband without a wife. My parents without a daughter. And I would have left many, many people with a hole that couldn’t be filled.”

I can’t do that.

I know what it’s like to be driven to the edge. I know what it’s like to be at the absolute end of the line, no more rope. I know what staring into the endless void is like, ready to just end it. End all of the suffering, finally and forever. No turning back, just please, oh god, end it now. I can’t escape these things. I’ve got to fix it, and the only way is to just down the bottle of Lexapro. Or Asprin. Or Ibuprofen. Or all of it.

I’ve only really experienced the suicidal thoughts, I’ve never actually acted on the urge, namely because I’ve been in treatment for this sort of thing for a decade. I will say, though, that were it not for an extremely loving and supporting family that got me help when this first started, I would not be here today. And that would be absolute travesty.

It would be tragic because I’ve still got a lot to do in the world. I’ve worked very, very hard to discover several truths about myself over the past year that I had lost in the process of living, and suffocating in my illness. I knew that those truths were there, I had just lost them for awhile. I’d lost them for so long, that truth became story, story became myth, and myth became Forgotten. But I found them, and I’ve worked hard to do so.

That made all the difference.

July 23, 2009

All hell broke loose, and I spit in its face

Heather had a particularly wonderful post today. It was heartfelt, poignant, and brilliant. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’ve had a particularly rough week, starting last Saturday in my new solo Supervisory role.

Quick recap:

1 – Car broken into. Not worth anything, nothing stolen, still unnerving.
2 – 1st day as Supervisor: scheduled to work with MAJOR pain in the butt. Don’t know what I did to her in a past life. Maybe I stole her car? Did everything I possibly could to be nice, only to get no eye contact. No contact, period, actually.
Period *really* started. After four days of spotting. I was ten days late to begin with when spotting started. Suspected pregnancy. Took pregnancy test, came out faintly positive. Took one yesterday, as bleeding was ending, no longer positive.
3 – 2nd day: Pain in the butt coworker again.
4 – Monday: not normal “restart” b/c of working on weekend. Tired. Took 1.5 hours to count the drawer.
5 – Tuesday: Blur. Don’t remember much.
6 – Wednesday: Actually had a decent day at work, was happy about this. I “felt” a little off, though.

And then that brings us to yesterday night. Already, the load is intense. I’m trying to juggle the new responsibilities of Supervisor, learning new things (two things that I *LOVE* to do!), but I had to deal with a whole bunch of other bullshit at the exact same moment in time. Had I had one or two less things going on, I think I would have been okay.

Sometime, over the past two days, I missed my medication. And then I fell apart under the pressure and all hell broke loose. I love my husband dearly. I love him more than life itself. He has been here for me in the good times, the bad times, and the really ugly times. My problems are rough on him. Mental illness sucks for everybody involved, and I would not be surprised one day that if, like Jon Armstrong, my husband will end up in therapy for PTSD from having to deal with me.

I knew it was going to be a rough week, so I was doing everything in my power to prevent last night’s breakdown. I still managed to head off some of the worst of it, and recognize that I was cracking under the pressure, and that all things irrational flooding into my brain were a result of the stress and lack of medication, NOT a flaw in my character. . . Though my brain would have had you think that I’m seriously fucked up. Oops. Well, yeah, maybe, but it’s my crappy brain chemistry, NOT me. Now that I’ve been able to differentiate the two, it’s making these breakdowns a lot easier to deal with. The duration is shorter, though still intense, and the recovery is much quicker. It is still not without some huge, glaring problems, but I am making improvements. I know what the problem is, and I know what to do to correct the problem, and work on it better next time.

ALL of that being said, it still sucked. I completely, totally, and utterly lost it. I’d been trying to prevent it, and as soon as I started feeling it, I started yelling at myself: “No, no, nonononononono, nOOOOOO! DON’T DO THIS!!!” But then, being unmedicated, my brain went tumbling off of a cliff. In a matter of an hour, my brain went flying off into left field about:
“how useless, stupid, and insane I am, and why should I really exist because of this bullshit? I’m just a burden to myself, J, and society. I shouldn’t be allowed to breed anyway. They gave me the promotion because they were desperate, how could they do it because of any skill? I’m just an idiot.”

Yeah, that was fun. NOT.

I did my best to contain the explosion zone, and if I am going to find ANYTHING positive about this most recent freak-out, it’s that I succeeded, for the most part, in keeping this contained. I managed to keep it together so as not to physically lash out at my husband, or any objects around me. Yes, I lashed out, or in, physically, and I’m paying for it today. But, what I’m keeping in mind is that IT COULD HAVE BEEN MUCH, MUCH WORSE. My recovery has been a lot quicker this time than times past, mainly because I’ve got knowledge on my side for this one. I’ve done this so often and learned so much, that I know what to do to lessen the impact of it. My goal is to avoid these completely one day by STAYING medicated, REMEMBERING TO STAY MEDICATED, and generally taking good care of myself when I find that there’s a lot going on and I’m VERY stressed out. I *almost* made it this time. Almost, not quite, but almost. It’s two steps forward, one step back. It’s still progress.

I am ever-thankful and appreciative of a husband that has stuck by me, through thick and thin, for the past 8 years.
I declare my undying love and gratitude for his patience with me through the bad times. I love him, even those times when I want nothing more than to smash him in the nose, I love him so much it hurts. I would say that I can’t imagine the impact I have on him, or the toll that I’m taking, but I’ve got a feeling that I know. I’m trying to save a little love for myself. Some days, it’s easier than others, though.

It’s a lot of work trying to manage mental illness. It’s a lot of work trying to keep it all together. There are blocks in the way, but I always managed jump over them, or crawl around them. I’m still here. I’m still writing. I’m working through these deep-rooted behavior patterns and I am more determined now than ever to BEAT THE LIVING HELL OUT OF MY ISSUES! Figuratively, of course. I’ve done enough of the mental (and physical) boxing ring. These have been happening more frequently lately, but the difference is that I’ve been allowing them to happen by slowing my busy life down for a second. This means that although they are more frequent, they are less severe. I’m allowing myself to feel these things, instead of avoiding them like the plague until they are “RIGHT HERE, OH MY GOD, HERE ARE MY ISSUES AND I’M GOING TO DIE RIGHT NOW!!!” I’m not working three jobs anymore, just one. Just one so I can take the time to focus on getting better, and getting healthy. I want to live my life. I want to love my life. I want to feel the love in my life. It’s been awfully hard, but even though I’m having these bouts of mental breakdown, there are also bouts of happiness that are in between. Not just mere function, then breakdown. There *is* light, and it’s undulating with more regularity and it’s brighter.

It’s an event. Nothing more. I’m not giving up. I *WILL* win my war. There’s still work to do, but I’m getting there. Inch by inch. Bit by excruciating bit. I pick myself up again, brush myself off, and keep moving forward.

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