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