Category Archives: depression

The Darkness Within

Forgive me for the randomness and rambling, but I’m in a strange mood I can’t seem to shake.  …not even with ridiculous Bell Biv DeVoe songs, so you *know* must be bad. 🙂

There have been a lot of really messy things in my life, things I can’t always explain. It’s been easy compared to others, but sometimes I feel as though my own heart, my own mind is taking revenge on me. I know it could be worse, but sometimes it is hard for me to see that.

I have an illness-bipolar disorder-that can make me feel as though there were something else inside of me, controlling my thoughts and actions. I do not want this thing to define me or rule my life, but there are times when I can’t really do anything else.  An ex once told me it was a “demon” or “spirit” that needed to be cast out, which I will explain in another blog post. I would normally say he’s full of shit, and I still think he is, but the truth is that it can sometimes feel as though he is right.  He might have meant well but the truth is that he doesn’t understand this, and probably never will. I don’t fault him or anyone else for that, especially considering the fact that sometimes I don’t understand it either. I can read all the self-help books in the world, can spend hours in prayer, do all the things that work for everyone else but for whatever reason, it doesn’t always help.  I’m not saying these things are useless by any means, but they are not the “cures” they are for other people. Again, I don’t want it to define me but I can’t think of any other reason. I’ve had some form of depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember, but I thought it was just normal pubescent angst or a weakness on my part.  As positive and friendly as I usually am, medication has been my saving grace. Surely there is some reason God is allowing me to have all this-in fact, I know there is -but damned if I can figure out what it is sometimes. People give me advice, and I appreciate their concern. There are just some things that people-however well meaning they might be-simply won’t understand until they have been there themselves.

Sometimes, though, I hear something that speaks to me…that tells me, this person knows what’s in my head. This person has ‘been there’…

I love Nine Inch Nails* for this very reason…listening to Trent Reznor and people like him can be very cathartic. Anyone who writes like this just knows:

Hurt*

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

 

So I don’t run afoul of any copyright laws, you can hear and read the rest here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/johnnycash/hurt.html

And as if that wasn’t dark enough:

Something I Can Never Have

 

I still recall the taste of your tears.
Echoing your voice just like the ringing in my ears.
My favorite dreams of you still wash ashore.
Scraping through my head ’till I don’t want to sleep anymore.

[Chorus:]
You make this all go away.
You make this all go away.
I’m down to just one thing.
And I’m starting to scare myself.
You make this all go away.
You make this all go away.
I just want something.
I just want something I can never have

Again, copyright: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/nineinchnails/somethingicanneverhave.html

I’m not quite as dramatic as all that, but it is a strange comfort to me to have this sort of thing to refer to,  if only for inspiration for my own (crappy) writing.

*This is the Johnny Cash cover; his voice just fits so well.

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How to be a good friend to someone with bipolar disorder

(I’m publishing this again because I found a new resource that I think will be *immensely* helpful, both to you and your friend. Thanks to Healthline.com for bringing this to my attention!-PQ)

Hi, I’m [river in Ireland] (*cue twelve-step group greeting here*), and I have bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. To people who have known me for a long time, this isn’t usually much of a shock. Actually, I take that back. People who have known me and been close enough to have seen some rough times aren’t usually that surprised.  As for everyone else, my friendly and talkative exterior can hide pretty much anything I want it to.  I’ve had to use this skill a lot in the past because I have had some people find out that I have bipolar and not be very nice about it. I think my favorite comment was that I was ‘demon-‘ or ‘spirit-possessed’. *roll eyes* Others think I’m not as much fun anymore since I have begun taking medication that doesn’t allow me to bounce off the walls like I did before. Still others think I’m just a freak. Of course, I was pretty freaky before, but that’s not the point. 🙂

The point is that people with bipolar disorder can be quite complicated; things can bother us that won’t bother ‘normies’, and our medications and treatment can take a lot out of us.  The disorder is very complex and there is more being learned about it all the time. There are various different symptoms or signs that can be mistaken as something else entirely, which makes it really difficult to figure out.  It can really screw with someone’s life.  For instance, it wasn’t uncommon when I was first diagnosed to get four hours a sleep a night for two weeks straight and clean the house up and down at 3 am**…only to crash the next week and not shower or leave my bedroom for two days.  That’s not even counting the episodes where I was crying and throwing things one minute and dancing a jig the next (only a slight exaggeration), with major swings like this happening in the same day.  It’s kind of hard to hold down a job when your boss can’t figure out what planet you are going to be from one minute to the next!  That’s not even talking about the medications and their side effects-I’ve been through several changes and can’t even keep track of them all. One of the medicines that worked the best for me also gave me shakes so bad I had to see a Parkinson’s doctor.  Another gave me gas you wouldn’t believe, and still another made me gain so much weight that I was nearly too fat to fit into my wedding dress! And you know what’s scary? I’m one of the luckier ones, because I can even take medicine;  I know some people who haven’t been able to find anything that doesn’t mix badly with their other medications, assuming they can find something that helps at all.

Bipolar has a strong tendency toward comorbidity-meaning, it often occurs alongside other similar disorders.  I’ve lost friends and had others change how they relate to me, although I have had some actually come closer because they had similar problems and felt I wouldn’t judge them.  Generally, though, it’s one of those things you don’t really understand very well unless you have it yourself.  In this spirit, I thought it might be fun to give sort of a ‘guide’ on the care and feeding of your bipolar friend. 🙂  So, let’s get started:

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Things I hate the most

I’m usually a positive person. At least, that’s what people keep telling me. I’m very open and accepting when it comes to people who are different from me. I rarely get angry and, if I do, it’s for a damned good reason. I have many friends who tell me that I have a gift for making people feel calm and secure. I care a lot about other people and am more than willing to put myself out for them, even if I don’t expect them to do so for me. I found a great therapist on referral from a great church family and truly enjoy being part of things. I guess that’s what makes tonight’s mood-and ensuing blog post-so frustrating. Here goes:

The Things I Hate The Most:

-I hate how I can’t focus. I remember so many times being told that God is the answer for all that ails you and that you’ll never thirst again after knowing Him…blah blah blah…I don’t mean to sound dismissive, and at one point I really believed it to be true. As it is now, though, I want to believe, I want to pray, I want to behave and have a clean heart, but I can’t focus long enough to understand anything that’s being said to me, in church or in the Bible. I just can’t get focused, which means I don’t understand things, which means I get frustrated, which means I try to learn more but I’m still unable to focus…you just want to give up. Yes, I have ADHD. Nothing I’ve taken for it beyond what I already take for bipolar helps much.

-I hate how I can’t feel much of anything, positive or negative.

-I hate how I always feel something’s missing, but I have no idea what.

-I hate how I don’t know if I have the type of faith or closeness to God that I need and, if not, what to do about it. If I ever *do* figure out what to do and start on something, I never finish it.

-I hate how hopeless I feel sometimes. About whether we’ll ever have kids, because that means we have to do what it takes to have kids and that never happens, so I feel like I’m getting my hopes up for nothing. That’s just as much my fault as anything else, though.

-I hate how I can’t stop comparing myself to other people no matter how hard I try. There are so many unexamined “shoulds” that constantly come up-your marriage “should” be passionate, because otherwise how will you ever have kids? You’re in your late thirties , so you “should” have had kids by now. You “should” have money in the bank, even if your medical bills and time away from work have dried up all of your savings. You’re smart, so you “should” have a good job, a strong career. Instead, you get Social Security disability and sponge off the system. At least, that’s how other people see me.

Actually, screw that. Screw that and screw them. I know for a fact that Social Security disability is damned hard to get and I didn’t even apply until nearly a year or so after it was originally suggested by one of my doctors. No, instead I kept trying to work but ended up getting so confused and frustrated and upset because I couldn’t “register” what people were telling me. I “broke” one night waitressing and walked out because I couldn’t handle it. In another job, I nearly had a panic attack and had to leave. I get disability because I need it. I worked outside the home for 15 years-since I was 15 and had my first job-and paid into the system the entire time so, if anything, I’m living off my own contributions. Most people I know know this and thus don’t bitch about “the system”, but I have not hesitated to explain it to people in the nicest words I possibly can.

-I hate how easily I get obsessed with things or people because I don’t have much else going on.

-I hate how I get discouraged so easily.

-I hate how I wallow in self-pity when other people have it much worse. I hate how I can’t appreciate what I have because of my own expectations of how I thought things were going to be when I “grew up”. It’s not always like this, but I hate it when it is.

-I hate the way that sometimes I can’t read blogs or see Facebook photos from friends without feeling sorry for myself for not having children. All these pictures of kindergarten graduations or tee-ball uniforms or kids’ soccer games make me feel like I’m missing out on something great all because of something that happened years ago that I don’t remember. The truth is that I have no way of knowing whether or not I would have had children if not for my getting hurt, us having go through all of our savings and all the other things that went on.

Yes, as a matter of fact, it *does* all go back to the wreck. There have been times when I wondered what possible reason God could have had to save me from the death or dismemberment pretty much everyone who’s seen the cars (you can see them here, about halfway down the page) says should have happened. I know there’s a reason for it and that I should be grateful to be alive. I *am* grateful, but sometimes I find myself wondering what things would be like had all that not happened. I know that’s not healthy, but there you have it.

 


Would it *really* have been any different?

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of things in my life that I wish I had done or had not done. You know, the whole “woulda, coulda, shoulda” thing. A lot of times, I think I would have been happier with jobs had I studied psychology or religion rather than communication, or I think what it would have been like had I actually been able to work a the job I was going to my first day at when I got into my wreck. It’s mostly jobs I think about, mostly because I’ve spent about half my life working outside the home for money. That’s really all I know; I’m on disability right now, and it killed me to apply because that meant admitting to the government that I couldn’t work. Worse than that, I had to admit it to myself.

But lately I’ve looked back and thought, would I really have been any happier? Professionally, that is. Would I have had an easier time of it had I studied something else? What if the thing that has made the difference isn’t job related at all?

What if it is the bipolar that has caused the problems? I don’t want to have it run my life, but sometimes I don’t know how it can’t. I think the part I’m having now started when I was in college. I did socialize a lot more than I did in high school and was kind of a drama queen, however unintentionally. Certain ex-boyfriends (namely, PR*) took up a lot of time and energy, so much that I often wish I’d never met him. I don’t regret much more in my personal life because I have the most wonderful husband in the world, but professionally is where I mostly wonder. Would things had been any different had I studied something else…would I have been able to get through the school? I think back at how I wanted to go to law school…I shelved that idea for a different reason, but I wonder now if I would have done very well at the job or if I would have been able to get through law school, with the concentration issues I have. Would I have been able to keep jobs for any longer than I have so far? Would I be any happier?

Okay, sorry to ramble, but I hope you see what I was thinking about. Would things really been any better had I actually done the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” I think about? What about you? What are some of your “coulda, woulda, shouldas”?

*’PR’ stands for Psycho Rapist…that’s not the only nickname I’ve used for him, or even the most colorful, but he doesn’t deserve to have me call him by his real name. Actually, he really doesn’t even deserve this amount of thought. Sometimes I still have flashbacks, but that’s another post.


My Own Effort at Self-Expression

Broken dreams
Twisted lies
Tears of pain I can’t deny

A clouded mind
A faded soul
An emptiness I can’t control

A tattered heart
Painted blue
I’m helpless Lord what can I do?

A darkened core
Filled with strife
Your shadow overtook my life

Shattered hopes
Misspent years
I wish I could hold back the tears

Wasted time
Thrown askew
I’ll never get that back from you


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