Wednesday, July 31, 2019

I'm Really Struggling

Today is one of those days that I wonder if there is hope for this journey.  I woke up feeling down but that's nothing new.  However, I also had a bad headache.  I took meds, waited just a bit for them to kick in, and started working at my desk.

The meds seemed like they took care of the headache and I live most of my life with an underlying depression, so I still had a small amount of hope that I would be able to accomplish some things today.  One item on my calendar was a therapy appointment this morning.  With the way I feel right now, therapy is probably where I should be. However, as I started getting ready, the headache came back with a vengeance.  I ended up rescheduling the appointment at the last minute.

After I finished rescheduling with my therapist, an overwhelming wave of depression came over me and I just cried and cried.  I finally made myself stop, as the crying was just making my headache worse.

I have had clinical depression off and on since I was a teenager but those moments of overwhelming sadness don't happen that often - at least not the kind where I cry uncontrollably without an obvious reason.  Also, right now is one of those moments I just can't seem to reach out for help.  You see, when mental health issues are messing with me, I'm always worried I'll burn my friends and family out because I share so much.  Plus, there are those times that even though they love me, they (through no fault of their own) just can't understand where I am.  When that happens, I often feel worse because I feel like I not only burdened them with my junk, but I didn't feel validated doing so.

I feel so hopeless at the moment.  I keep trying to figure out this thing... to try to make it better and manageable.  I know this is probably not the place to do this, but I just want to list some of the junk I deal with to show you what I have to overcome (or to show myself that it's a lot and I don't need to feel shame that I'm not handling it well):

- RLS (restless legs syndrome) - This affects how well I sleep, which is a huge issue for me.  Because I take medication for it, it also has side effects that greatly affect my daily life, like sweating/heat intolerance issues.

- Sleep Apnea/Insomnia - I have tried 3 different sleep specialists and many different treatments over about 20 years.  However, I have major sinus issues as well as regular insomnia that cause a CPAP machine to be extra difficult for me.  Last year I was so hopeful when I had sinus surgery to fix a couple of the problems and thought that the CPAP would work after I healed.  The surgery didn't work, at least not to the extent I thought it would.  I still can't use the dang CPAP.  It's one of the things that terrifies me because I know how sleep apnea can lead to so many other issues in the long run, like heart trouble, and of course, it affects my daily life.  Every... Day...  I'm almost always tired.

- Major Weight Issues Combined with an Eating Disorder/Addiction - I am extremely overweight.  I have tried diets, pills, exercise, prayer, support, a combination of those... I'll lose weight only to gain it back again, plus more.  I finally realized what was going on after my daughter was diagnosed with an eating disorder (she's also overweight... I hadn't realized you could have an eating disorder and be overweight).  Just like my sex (porn) addiction, I have a food addiction/eating disorder.  Think of it this way... Some people can drink a few beers and stop without an issue.  An alcoholic literally can't, no matter what consequences may be on the horizon. An addict's brain is just different.  It's not a matter of willpower for me to lose weight.  It's like a drug that I'm addicted to and it's going to take major work to overcome it.  I'm not saying drugs are easy to stop for addicts, but at least you can avoid being around them in almost all circumstances.  Food is necessary for life. That means that in many ways, a food addiction is much harder to control than a substance addiction.  I know my weight is slowly killing me.  I'm not diabetic but it's inevitable if I can't figure this out.  Hip and knee replacements are in my future if I live long enough.  Heart disease, stroke, and so much more are huge dangers.  Even knowing all this, I'm an addict.  The threat of consequences isn't enough.  But the fear is still there.

- High Blood Pressure and a Fast Heart Rate - I take meds to control my blood pressure and I was prescribed meds for the fast heart rate but the side effects were so bad that I stopped taking them.  Stress affects blood pressure.  I have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder; a major anxiety disorder; I live with my parents; am a single parent to a daughter in college but who lives with us; I just got over a bankruptcy; for the first time in my life have a horrible credit score and no credit cards as a buffer if there's an emergency; lots of physical and mental health issues; and am trying to get a business going.  I don't think my life will ever not have a lot of stress.

- Living with My Parents - This was a mutual decision when my career went into the toilet (due to issues from the bipolar, though I didn't realize it at the time) and the fact that due to their own major health problems, they needed someone around to help out.  This causes so many issues.   I was a single parent for about 15 years before I moved back in with them.  In many ways, though, they still see me as a child.  I had a house and car that I owned and that I maintained without help.  I had total independence.  Then bam!  I move back in with my parents and I have no control over anything.  I know they love me and they are amazing for allowing me to work freelance, which means less money to contribute to household expenses, but it's very much their house, not our house.  I feel like an eternal guest.  I have to constantly, immediately, clean up after myself if I use the kitchen or living room; I can't let it go a day or two like I would at my own home.  My mom buys way too much food and so there's no room for anything I want to buy.  This complicates my and my daughter's eating disorders immensely.  I should be cooking at home and eating healthy foods but there's no room to put them when I buy them (and my parents and my daughter and I have very different tastes).  Or I'll buy them and they'll disappear before I get a chance to cook with them.  I feel like I'm already an imposition on my parents' lives just living with them without paying rent so I hate to mess up their clean kitchen by cooking.  Plus, my mom has control issues (like me) and won't leave me alone to cook in peace.  I understand that everyone has their own way of doing things, but it makes it especially hard to cook when I'm being criticized for how I'm doing it, as I'm doing it.  Privacy is also an issue.  It's gotten better, but for the longest time, my mom would just come into my bedroom or study without asking me.  Then she started ringing the doorbell I put outside my area (I have like a little apartment with a bedroom, study, and bathroom), but still expected me to say she could come in any time she wanted.  Finally, about a month or so ago I made a "Do Not Disturb" sign to say when I'm working and that unless it's an emergency, please wait.  (I told them this many times but before the sign it didn't make a difference).  To add to this, the cat door is in my bedroom window so I have to leave my bedroom door and the swinging doors that lead to the rest of the house at least partially open.  I can't ever close or lock those.  I feel so much guilt and shame that I'm not able to help more - either financially or around the house.  It takes so much work, especially when I'm depressed, to just get what I need to done and I'm always just barely making it financially - I don't have anything left to help them as much as I'd like to.  I do some things and try to contribute financially when I can but I know it's not enough.  This guilt wears on me constantly.

- Generalized Anxiety Disorder/Panic Attacks - So many things get blown out of proportion for me.  It's weird.  I'll know I'm doing it, but I can't seem to stop it once the thoughts start running through my head.  I've had times where I have been worried - what I experience with anxiety is not "worry".  If I'm having a really bad day with the anxiety, it often leads to panic attacks.  And get this - I figured out one of my biggest triggers for having a panic attack... and it's not getting enough sleep!  These are the kinds of things that make me feel like I'm screwed and it's never going to get better.

- Social Anxiety Disorder/Social Phobia - On top of the regular anxiety disorder, I also have social anxiety disorder.  Of course, this complicates all kinds of relationships, but especially professional ones.  Cold calls aren't easy for the majority of people to do... they can paralyze me.  One of the jobs I do is rideshare (like Uber and Lyft).  Talking to a rider often leads to good tips.  Some days I just can't do it.  Other days I do it but it absolutely wears me out.  Picking up the phone to make a call can be an incredibly anxious time and sometimes that call doesn't get made.  It also causes me to be unreliable. I've been invited to more than one party or social function that seemed like a great idea at the time, but when it came time to go, I froze.  I've spent time at parties literally hiding because I couldn't deal with people. I suspect that part of this is due to the bipolar but it's a very debilitating part. 

- Dysautonomia - Dysautonomia is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system in your body.  Basically, that's the part of your body that controls everything that you don't think about doing - breathing, pupil dilation, digesting food, heart rate, blood pressure, insulin regulation, etc.  It's different for everyone but for me, I get dizzy more often than the average person; my heart rate is normally too high (not sure if that's dysautonomia or caused by something else); I have vision issues that fluctuate; and I have breathing issues.  The breathing issues are especially fun... I sometimes forget to breathe.  This is partially due to anxiety but it can happen anytime.  My boyfriend is great at noticing.  He'll lightly hit me on the arm and I know to take a breath.  This is the main issue with sleep apnea - not breathing regularly during sleep.  But this is when I'm awake.  The dysautonomia is also associated with the panic attacks, as I was diagnosed with it after having several panic attacks.  This is another complication that my mind just spins when I think about it.  One symptom of dysautonomia is low blood volume.  Another is that you get dehydrated easily.  Because of that, when I was younger I drank a homemade sports drink concoction a lot.  But now, I have high blood pressure and swelling of my legs and feet when I'm at my desk for a long time, so I'm supposed to watch the salt intake.  Speaking of that...

- Hypoglycemia/Pre-diabetes - When I was young, I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, kind of the opposite of diabetes).  Ironically, it's treated the same way diabetes is treated, with a diet low in sugar and carbs.  So when I said I drank a homemade sports drink, the reason it was homemade was because Gatorade and similar drinks at that time only were made with sugar.  I couldn't drink lots of sugar, so I made one with saccharin.  It was nasty, by the way.  But now, with my weight, my age, and my poor diet (the eating disorder doesn't help), this has flipped into pre-diabetes. I am still able to manage it with diet and meds but it's creeping closer and closer to Type 2 Diabetes.  This scares me but, like the weight, even the fear doesn't help me fix it.

- Vision Issues - So... I'm a professional photographer.  My eyes are my life.  Thus this is also terrifying... I have major dry eye issues.  I also have very poor vision and even though I'm only 51, I have early cataracts.  Here are the fun complications for this one. I mentioned earlier that I have heat intolerance.  So I use ceiling fans, other fans, and the air conditioner in my car a lot in the summer.  All of these blow into my eyes, which make the dry eye worse.  So I have to choose to either be too hot, which is hard on my physical and mental state or let my eyes dry out.  I have had stents put in my tear ducts, tried expensive eye wipes and prescription drops, and nothing really works.  I wear contacts because I can't use my camera with glasses.  However, because of the horrible dry eye, I have to wear daily disposable contacts, the most expensive kind.  The expense of these kinds of contacts affects my stress level and my anxiety.  In addition, I use the supplement melatonin to help with my sleep issues.  But I found out it can make dry eyes worse.  Aaaarrrrrggghhhh!  However, I have to keep my eyes as healthy as possible because photography is the key to one day hopefully being able to support myself again.

- Bipolar Type 2 Disorder, Rapid Cycling - The more I learn about bipolar, the more things make sense about my life and my past, like why I act the way I do even when I don't want to act that way.   And the hardest thing to realize is that it affects everything else.  I always wondered why, for a while, I was able to stay on a great exercise schedule and diet and get much healthier, only to not be able to keep it up.  There are, of course, environmental factors such as schedule changes that account for some of that and I realize it happens to everyone to some extent, but it happened a lot to me.  I now recognize that when I was manic, I could exercise and I wasn't craving carbs as much so I could deal with all this.  But then depression hit and I was doing good to make it through everything I had to get done in a day, much less keep a low-carb diet going.  In fact, looking back, most of the good changes I made in my life not even relating to diet would never stick because of this cycle.  Now I'm rapid-cycling.  I see no way to deal with something as daunting as overcoming a major eating disorder/food addiction until I'm stable in the mood department.  But I see no way of getting stable until I can do some of the things that the experts say will help - like healthy foods and exercise.

- Medication Resistance - I did the genetic testing twice to figure out which meds would be best to try for some of the mental health issues I deal with. (The 2nd one was because new meds have come out since the first one - not because my body chemistry had suddenly become different.)  Both times very few "good likelihood" choices for medicines were listed that will help.  I have tried most of the ones on the good and okay-to-try categories to no avail.  All have major side effects and/or just didn't work.  One made me incredibly suicidal.  That was terrifying.  I knew I didn't want to die but while on that med, I still wanted to kill myself.  I also am one of the unlucky ones who has even worse side effects when withdrawing than I have while on the medicine.  I stayed on an anti-depressant that wasn't helping for years because I was scared of the withdrawal, which was hell when I did finally decide to do it.   Furthermore, I have serotonin toxicity syndrome.  I probably don't have enough serotonin in my brain, which is one reason I am depressed, but if I get too much due to the effect of anti-depressant medications, I can have major side effects, which can be fatal.  I finally went to a psychiatrist who specializes in those with medication resistance.  She told me that a lot of the research is showing now how much diet literally affects the hormones that affect mood.  So once again, if I could improve my diet, I might get better.  But I can't seem to make myself improve my diet until I get better.

- Finances - I already mentioned how finances affect my stress and anxiety levels.  What I didn't mention is that it's expensive to have chronic physical and mental health issues.  Doctors and therapy visits, prescription medications, supplements, and other treatments all add up.  Many times I've had to let a treatment go, cancel a doctor's appointment, or stop using a medicine because I just couldn't afford it.  I have and have always had good insurance but it's not enough.  This stuff adds up.  On top of the expenses that pile up higher and higher, there's the loss of work that accompanies these issues.  I work probably at least 50 hours a week most of the time, but a lot of it is unpaid or underpaid.  For various reasons, being available for appointments as one example, a full-time job is not a good option for me right now.

There are many, many other smaller aspects of my life that play into this craziness, but I have already written enough for you to get the idea.  Every part of recovery I deal with is affected by another part of my life I can't change at the moment.  When I think of this stuff I feel like I'm trying to just excuse why I won't do the work to get well.  It's... Just... Not... That... Simple...  There is only so much energy, money, and resources each person has.  I've tried tackling these issues one at a time but each is so intertwined in other parts, that I can't conquer it.  I've tried attacking groups of things, but individually they would be hard for anyone to overcome and I just don't have enough strength to conquer multiple issues at once.  Some things I just can't change right now, like living on my own so it would be a little easier to cook more and eat better.  Many things I'll never be able to change, like having bipolar disorder.

I know this was long, but I hope it helps anyone who feels this way - so overwhelmed with multitudes of issues you just don't know where to start.  If anyone who reads this doesn't have all these issues, #1 - be thankful.  And #2 - be compassionate.  The word "struggle" just doesn't even come close to describing the lives of those who deal with all this.

#SpotlightOnStigma #SOS #WelcomedButNotAccepted #Stigma #MentalIllness #Bipolar #Addiction #SingleParenting #Alone #NotAlone #Depression #Anxiety #EatingDisorder #SuicidalThoughts #OCD

Monday, July 29, 2019

Mental Illness Doesn't Take a Vacation, Even When You Do

Last week I traveled to a state I had never been before.  I went with my boyfriend and we stayed with his aunt and uncle.  It was so much fun... except when it wasn't.  Why were there times it wasn't?  Because I have several mental and physical illnesses that just kept getting in the way of the fun.

When you have a mental illness (or a chronic physical one), it's best to keep learning about the illness.  Obviously it's not possible to learn everything about an illness at once - and even if you could, there's the aspect of learning how your illness affects YOU.  

So I'm learning.  And learning.  And learning more.  But it will take a while before I actually am able to practice all I'm learning.  For example, one thing that has been recommended more than once to me is that if you have bipolar, it helps to stay in a routine.  Well, the ironic thing about that is that I don't have a regular routine BECAUSE I am bipolar.  At least partially because of being bipolar, I lost my career as a teacher.  I'm not trained for anything else so it's difficult to find a job at my age, plus,  because of other health issues, I can't mentally or physically handle most regular full-time jobs.

I work several jobs as a freelancer.  When someone asks me about my regular routine I just laugh.  Usually I get up and work at my desk (editing, marketing, etc) in the morning and try to do some other types of paid work (rideshare, etc) in the afternoon.  This may depend on weather because I'm very heat intolerant and some of the work I do involves being outside.  But then there are times that I am hired for a job that starts at 8am... or is during lunch... or is a 12 hour day.  I never know what my "routine" for a week will be.

Even though I haven't been able to utilize this tip in everyday life - why did I think it would be okay to totally ignore it during vacation?  During everyday life at least my place is routine.  At least what I'm doing is mostly up to me.  At least I have some control and can take breaks if needed.

Though my mental illnesses had been showing their horrible selves all throughout my vacation, I never thought about what I could have done to prevent it. In fact, at the end of my vacation, I had a light-bulb moment: I so wanted to be "normal", especially in front of my boyfriend's family, that I tried to pretend I was normal. 

It.  Just.  Doesn't.  Work.  That. Way.

Pretending, even for a short time, that something isn't wrong doesn't make it go away.  In fact, because I wasn't up front about what I needed, I ended up having a worse time than if I had said ahead of time that I am bipolar and there are times I can't do everything everyone else does.  I wanted to not inconvenience anyone by saying I had special needs only to really inconvenience everyone when my needs came anyway.

I will never forget a breakdown I had in a cute little cheese store in Amish country.  I was expecting a few choices of cheeses and not much else and I wasn't prepared for what I saw.  It wasn't like a Walmart's amount of inventory but it was much more than I expected. Being locals, my boyfriend's aunt and uncle knew what they wanted immediately and were done.  My boyfriend had been there before (or very similar places) and knew what he wanted.  I just barely had time to look around when I realized they were all ready to go.  

At that point my anxiety jumped in full-force and it was too overwhelming.  I wanted to make sure I got something good for a couple of people in my family and something for myself - but... How much should I buy?  How much did I feel I could spend?  Would we be shopping anywhere else?  Then the doubts came in... What if they didn't like it?  Would everything I wanted keep fresh until I got back?  Would a certain thing be cheaper to get somewhere else?  Then the added pressure of getting done quickly (note that my boyfriend and his family weren't in a hurry - I just didn't want to be a burden so all the pressure was put on myself - by myself).  My brain went dead and I just could NOT remember what kinds of things they liked and what I had wanted to buy for myself.  There was no cell service so I couldn't call my daughter and ask what she would like out of the choices there.  I started spiraling.

I am very thankful for having an amazing boyfriend who realized what was happening and helped me.  He calmed me down, reassured me that we weren't in a hurry after all, and helped me make decisions (or made the decisions for me when I couldn't).  

But all that could have been prevented.  If I had just gotten more clarification of where we were going that day or where else we would be shopping, or done things like written down ideas of what I wanted to get for people and myself instead of trying to remember, the day would have gone much more smoothly.  I wouldn't have worn myself out with mental stress so that it made it that much harder to enjoy the rest of the week.  

Lesson hopefully learned - plan ahead as much as is possible and speak up... even on (or especially on) vacation.

#SpotlightOnStigma #SOS #WelcomedButNotAccepted #Stigma #MentalIllness #Bipolar #Addiction #SingleParenting #Alone #NotAlone #Depression #Anxiety #EatingDisorder #SuicidalThoughts #OCD

Monday, July 15, 2019

But I Don't Want to Be This Way!

Today was one of those really horrible days.  What I dealt with would be a bad day for anyone, but honestly, I'm not just anyone.  Always lingering behind both my good and bad days are mental illness and being an addict.  So what does this mean in practical terms?

It means I can see that I'm irritable and getting on everyone's nerves, but can't seem to stop what I'm doing.  It means that I know I'm messing up when I do something unhealthy to comfort myself when I'm in a bad mood, which just heaps on the guilt and shame I already feel.  It means I second guess every... single... thing... that I do, and then second guess it again (or third guess it?).

I told my boyfriend today, "I don't want to have bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder anymore.  I don't want to be an addict anymore.  I'm tired."  But the hard truth is that I will always have those issues.  They will never - I repeat - never, go away.   My only hope is to learn to manage them better.

The past four years have been hell.  When I first lost my job, then my career, over something that was my fault, but was taken way out of context, my daughter and I called that year, "The Year of Hell".  When it didn't abate well into the 2nd year, we started calling it "The Years of Hell."  Now it's just a never-ending timeline that no matter how hard I try, I can't see a bright future ahead.  Most of the time I feel like I'm living in hell.

Actually, one of the best talks I ever heard on depression (within a talk about bipolar disorder) was by Dr Patick McKeon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mdopKvBqNA&list=WL&index=9&t=0s) described depression as not being able to - note he said "being able", not that I don't want to, I literally can't - see the future.  One is stuck in the past and maybe in the present.  But having hope that something will change is impossible if you are in the throes of major depression.  Brain chemistry does that.

This is one reason during a depressive episode, I have a hard time doing absolutely anything.  When you can't see the future and can't imagine something good happening, it kind of takes away your motivation to try.  I know I have got to make a certain amount of money to just pay the basic bills, but to work hard enough to get ahead?  It's not possible.

I know it's not PC to admit, but overall I love much more the times I'm manic.  I'm Bipolar Type 2, which means the highs aren't incredibly high, so it's usually possible to manage them.  My manic times come with a huge dose of anxiety, so they aren't exactly fun, but I am able to get a lot done.  I can see the future.  I often have great ideas about the future.  But then the reality of my life once again hits - with the depression coming back.  It's all I can do to get the regular stuff, much less get all of the grandiose ideas I had during a manic episode, done.  So then I feel like a failure because I can't keep up with all I wanted/planned to do.

A very ironic part of being both mentally ill and an addict is that one of the major characteristics of most addicts (at least the ones I've talked to) is that they are major people-pleasers.  I know I am.  So when I find myself incredibly irritable, angry, and even mean, it affects me on another level.  I'm not pleasing someone if I'm angry at them, even those times I'm not really showing it (but I know they know).  But in that moment I don't have the skills and the ability to stop.

What's really scary is that it's getting worse.  I had a lot of hope with the last psychiatrist that I went to - that she would find the magic bullet of medication that would work for me.  You see, I've done the genetic testing, twice actually, and there are very few psychiatric medicines my body will tolerate.  I've tried almost all of the anti-depressants and some of the mood stabilizers. One mood stabilizer made me seriously suicidal.  The one I bravely tried after that made me exhausted (like my depression doesn't do a good enough job of that).  Nothing works.  As of right now, I'm trying to make a go of it purely with therapy with a wonderful counselor; a 12-Step program and an amazing sponsor; and support groups.  It's not enough.

Many times I actually would like to check myself into a hospital to see if they have any solutions that I can't deal with trying while dealing with life - but I know I can't afford it, both the medical payments as well as losing work.  Everything I'm dealing with complicates everything else - in both physical and mental aspects.

One example... I have major heat intolerance but one of the ways I make money is doing ride-share, like Uber and Lyft.  The heat is brutal this time of year where I live and sitting in a sweltering car waiting for rides affects my body more than the average person.  So if the temperature is high I decide not to do that (all while trying my best to figure out other ways to make money) and I decide to work at my desk instead.  I have swelling of my legs and feet (I have a doctor's appointment to figure out why) and so I can't do that for long stretches either.  I have thought about trying to find a 9-5 job somewhere but I know I can't stand for a full shift and I can't sit for a full shift.

However, I'm doing too well to look into disability.  I don't really want to be on disability but there are more days than not that I'm extremely worried I can make enough to live on.  And my bar on what is "enough" is set low.  My parents needed help and I'm struggling financially so I live with them.  It's not like I'm going to be evicted if I can't pay rent, but staying here, for various reasons, is extremely detrimental to my mental health.

Just 5 years ago I was on track.  Around the time my daughter finished high school, I would have my own school loans paid off.  (Long story on why I still had those, but that's for another kind of blog).  That would free up some money to help her with expenses while she went to college.  Around the time she finished college, I would have my car paid off and my house would be extremely close to being paid off.  Then when she, hopefully, got a good job and moved out of the house, I was going to either rent out part of it or do something like Airbnb with part of it to make some extra money.  Saving that money would help with retirement.

Instead, I'm over 50 years old; can't find a full-time job that I'm physically able to do; living with my parents; just getting over a bankruptcy; and fighting every day to make it to the next one with the physical and mental stuff I'm dealing with.

I've written way more than planned.  I have other things I need to get done.  So I'll keep pushing and trying and maybe, just maybe, one day I'll figure out how to cope with these things called mental illness and addiction.

#SpotlightOnStigma #SOS #WelcomedButNotAccepted #Stigma #MentalIllness #Bipolar #Addiction #SingleParenting #Alone #NotAlone #Depression #Anxiety #EatingDisorder #SuicidalThoughts #OCD

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

What a Month!

For at least 6 months I have known that May-June 2019 was going to be one of the busiest periods of my life.  Turns out I was correct.  I had 3 huge projects starting mid May and lasting until July 1st.  Even if each one had gone smoothly, it would have been a lot.  But nothing went smoothly about any of them.  Major complications arose for all of the projects.  I ended up adding some work that I hadn't planned on.  At times I felt I was drowning but I just kept pulling towards the sky, trying to break through all of the crushing water to get some air.

I actually finished half a day ahead of the last deadline of July 1st.  But another, last-minute project came up.  Even though I was exhausted, professionally it was a great opportunity which could lead to more opportunities, so I decided to do it.  Was it because of my exhaustion or was that just a contributing factor for doing something very poorly that I usually do easily?   There were extenuating circumstances that would have been hard to overcome on my best day - and after the six weeks prior I was far from being my best.

But I made it.  Then another opportunity.  And another failure.

I...  Don't...  Like...  To...  Fail...  I'm usually pretty good at most things I try to do.  I consider myself very good at some other things.  However, the eight or so weeks from mid-May to early-July I have failed at my goals much, much more than I've seen success.  This is hard to admit, even though I know there's a chance that not one other person will ever read this blog and so I'm probably only admitting it to myself.  It's still difficult to write out, though.

Combine this with my ongoing and never-ending mental health issues.  It may seem weird to some, but I prayed for a bout of mania to get me through this time.  After a stretch of mania, the bone-crushing depression is always not worth it, but at the time... At least when I'm manic I can get things done.  I don't second-guess myself nearly as much.  I feel there is hope that I can make it as a freelancer, that one day I can make a living at this without struggling every minute.

Most of that time I was in a low cycle - depressed.  My very strong sense of commitment as well as the need to please my clients was often the only thing that got me out of bed each day.  I did have a couple of very short-term times of mania, or maybe they were actually short periods of stability (as someone who isn't stable very much, I have a hard time recognizing when I'm there).  Those helped me push through and get a little momentum going so that I felt it was possible to finish.  But like I mentioned before, most of that time I was in a depressed cycle.

So July 1st finally comes.  I had been counting down the days until I could feel a little relief.  But the project from the afternoon of the last day of June had to be finished.  So I went into the last job I've described depressed and beyond exhausted.  I was training to do another aspect of my business.  It's not good to go into training in that mental, emotional, and physical state.  But I didn't want to disappoint my trainer or let on how bad off I was, so I tried to push through.  It was horrible.  I knew it didn't go well but I hoped I could recover.  That during the next training session, it would all make sense.  It did go better, but not nearly as good as I wanted.  It turns out that not only do I not have the specific skill-set to do this, but I don't have the right equipment.  I'm not usually a quitter, but after the second training session, I knew it wasn't a good fit.  So I quit.

Now... today... I need to do something I've had on the back burner for months.  I'm still very depressed and I'm still extremely exhausted.  But it needs to be done so I'm back pulling towards the sky, trying to break through all of the crushing water to get some air.  I just hope I can find the strength to keep swimming.