Tag Archives: crazymeds

Crush

(Re-post from my fannish tumblr)

Up-front disclaimer— I don’t recommend just discontinuing your meds to anyone who’s bipolar and having escalating mood regulation problems.

That being said, I went off my wellbutrin (100 mg) last night, because I’ve been feeling more and more like crawling under a rock, quitting my job, and/or running out into traffic, plus everything, everything hurts. (Anyone who tells you depression is all in your head is a steaming sack of dog shit.)

I’ve been diagnosed bipolar since 2005.  I’ve blogged off and on about it as a way to get the thoughts out of my head and maybe because it’ll be helpful to someone else to know they’re not the only one feeling nuts and still getting on with their life.  It hasn’t been easy; I’ve had some real setbacks, including starting over in a new career path after I self-sabotaged my old one during a bad depressed phase, plus realizing I needed to end my marriage because my husband (who had his own problems) couldn’t deal with being supportive when I was being crazy.

But since 2009 I’ve been on a drug cocktail that has more or less worked well enough to give me good insight into escalating mood problems— not in a *ooh, lightbulb* kind of way, but at least in a *oh, I’ve been working myself into a lather and I’ve been crying a lot and I hate everyone and I’m really angry and I don’t want to go in to the job that I love and I just want to sleep* kind of way that takes me only a few weeks to see, rather than months.  Having a therapist who asks if it’s time to adjust my meds rather than tell me it’s all Freudian shit (fuck you, last therapist, for undermining the fact that I do have a neurotransmitter disorder as well as a fucked up family life, you can’t just turn off the biological disorder like that) helps, too.  Plus, there’s that whole blinding headache all the time thing, kind of a clue.

Accordingly, I’ve discontinued the wellbutrin, because the mixed states I’ve had before have always resolved when I’ve gone off the SSRI* for a few weeks & then either reintroduced it or switched out that med, while increasing by 25 mg. the anticonvulsant (topamax) I take and bringing more of the benzo-class drug that I take (klonopin, 1 mg nightly) with me for day time anxiety swings, .5 mg prn,2 mg. max. daily.

I feel better this morning already, with the crushing headache absent and the body aches mostly gone.  SSRIs* are controversial for bipolars and bipolar IIs (my particular diagnosis) because a little can maybe help but it builds up and then you get depressed— and me, I get depressed and angry and despairing and— hate everything, including myself.  But up until they don’t work, they do.*  It’s a catch 22.

We’ll see how the mood is affected tomorrow when I go into work and all those situational stressors reassert themselves.  I did leave a voice mail for my shrink (it’s the weekend) of what I was planning to do.  I did tell my dad, who I live with, how I was feeling and what I was doing, but that I was basically ok if he just gave me some real quiet time this weekend.

It’s a rollercoaster and a ferris wheel— because it’s both up and down, but also it’s a slow cycle around.   I’ve been here before, in this crushing, aching, self-hating place, and I have to take a step back and give myself perspective even as I employ all my coping skills.  I have to be my own best cheerleader and say— you’ve deployed your support system, you’ve let people know you might need time off, you’ve been proactive, you’re taking time to yourself, you’re balancing quiet time and coping mechanisms like reading fanfic and listening to music with normal adulting stuff like doing laundry and taxes.  I have to remind myself that yes, it’s up and down, yet again, but the relative volatility isn’t as much, and if I was a jerk to someone at work, I did apologize right away and tell them they weren’t at fault— and they accepted that apology and let me be human, which is also a credit to me because this time, this career change that was a little more voluntary, a little less self-destruct, I chose a workplace where, for all there is too much work, at least I am allowed to be human.

Maybe this time, out of the crush, there’ll be some wine to drink— not just me, feeling like pulp.

*I have been on two other SSRIs from 2009-present before switching to wellbutrin in 2011-ish, and my shrink has always called wellbutrin an SSRI.  The wise ladyofthelog has noted, however, that wellbutrin is actually a DNRI, which I did not know until today, and which may well explain why I’ve been on it more or less steadily with two or three two-week-breaks, maintaining a pretty good mood state at low dosages (100 mg combined with the rest of my cocktail) for the last three years, when most of my other SSRIs usually only work for a year & a half at most.  Thanks, verity!  ❤

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Please let’s not talk about the weather

This is an all over the place kind of post.

I suppose, first off, my mom is okay as far as I know– she was discharged from the hospital after an overnight with some treatment, but I haven’t talked to her.  My brother’s in touch with her.  I don’t think I’m going to be, anytime soon.  I have been pushing her to get this problem dealt with for a really long time and she hasn’t, and I’m just furious– despite the fact that I know that she’s crazy, that she’s literally so nuts she can’t hear anything outside the stories she needs to write for herself in her own head– that she can’t trust or listen to me.  (Even if she lies and says that she does because she knows I am angry at her and that makes her uncomfortable because it doesn’t fit into the story she tells herself about us.)  I had a talk with my new awesome therapist about it and clearly, still lots of work to slog through, but right now when he asks me the question– what do I want from her?  The answer is nothing, because I won’t get the things that I want.  I won’t get an apology.  I won’t get someone respectful of boundaries or attentive to my interests and issues, much less aware that I am a distinct intellectual entity.  So, sadly, what I want from her is, precisely, nothing for as long as that can be maintained, because her refusal to trust, to listen, to acknowledge the adult competencies she herself thrust upon me by her infantilizing, victimizing behavior and her need to nevertheless whine to me because she somehow things that we’re friends or I’m her mother?  It’s too much to bear.  The only resolution is no.  I feel bad my brother gets to deal with her, but then again, I do get my dad, and he does infuriate my brother in a way I mostly ignore or poke right back on.  Even trade?

I will help with any legal or medical matters, either at hospitalization, institutionalization, or death, but I can’t bring myself at this point to bear more.  I can only turn off my furiousness at her when I have to put on my I WILL FIX EVERYTHING HAT, the one she forced me to wear as a child, and then I will high tail it out of there to get fucking drunk off my ass– one of those rare times.

I have been debating if my creeping anguish and apathy and everything everything everything has been SAD, too much work, too much stress from my dad, some institutional problems at work that need active rooting out and more support than I’ve had but some of which may change soon– not enough therapy, or all of those things.  It’s just been getting worse, though, and while there are lights in the darkness I am starting to dread going into work, getting snarly, putting off yucky projects, and feeling generally hateful of everyone and everything.  I talked to my personal boss (rather than my store boss) about it and that I wasn’t sure what I needed quite yet but that I was feeling messy and I might need a little time off– she was supportive and when I offered with my heart in my mouth that I felt like I generally knew what I was doing, she agreed– but it’s going to be weeks before the institutional stuff at work is fixed and I’m in no place to have the patience to explain myself without starting to cry or just be a horrible beast.  (Which I can’t be, because I am the one who’s supposed to be the source of counsel.)

I have been dealing with being crazy for a while now.  I suppose this is “easier,” in that I haven’t messed anything up yet, I asked a boss for help and she said “whatever you want,” and while my plans to leave early when completely to shit because of said institutional problems, a few more perceptive coworkers saw I was in a really bad mood/didn’t look right and slowed their roll long enough to ask if I was okay.  I even was honest with a few of then and said “No, but thanks for asking.”  But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m so depressed and feeling isolated and lonely that I feel incapable and in need of a goddamned parade and a hug from everyone in the store and I KNOW I am overreacting to stuff– and I am afraid if I take time off, I won’t come back.  I need this job, this one in particular, plus the money is good, because even if I am getting fed up with the store, I like the company and I have plans for regional and eventually global domination.  And I don’t want to start over again, much less be angry and sad all the time.

Almost as a one-off, my new therapist asked me if maybe my meds needed tweaking once we ran through the was I eating & more or less sleeping routine, and OF FUCKING COURSE.  Lots of carb cravings, increased appetite (when they work, my meds make me very unhungry and anorexic in the clinical “lack of appetite” sense), mixed anger and sadness, no sense of humor, no time for any small talk or bullshit (and rage at any waste of my time) apathy, procrastination, anxiety, increased sleeplessness & anxiety dreams– and I’m so used to my old therapist being all MEDS AREN’T THE ANSWER that I haven’t been thinking that way.  (Maybe I should report her to the board of licensing, bullshit billing crap to the side.)  It’s been 5 years on this regimen, wellbutrin plus an antiepilectic and klonopin– it stands to measure that the SSRI has ceased to be effective, in the way that they do for bipolars, and that I need to wean myself off the wellbutrin and try something else.  (Yay, rapid cycling mixed states, kept under moderate control?)

Soooooo… do I work during that time?  In a fit of wisdom, I signed up for short term disability at annual enrollment, and I am sure that my therapist would write me a note, and that I could wrangle my shrink into writing something as well, though I don’t see her as much except for refills.  (And I should call her this weekend to set up a check in appointment for sooner/this week.)  I am worried the place would burn to the ground in my absence, but at the same time one of my institutional problems is people both taking me for granted and not paying attention, so maybe it would serve the damned bastards right.  I am concerned, though, about stigma when I return, and yet– if I can’t take the time off to get my shit together at a place like my current employer, then there’s no hope for anyone, anywhere, ever.

It’ll be spring sooner or later.  I’m just worried it won’t be soon enough, and after 5 years on this regimen, I have lots of worries about starting new meds and seeing how they will work.

Change is good– it has been.  I fucking hate it anyway.

Push (I’m renaming this week Shark Week because someone smelled blood in the water)

It’s been a challenging week.

(Whining alert.)

Sunday was the night when we got an “anonymous” phone call from the elderly neighbors’ kids about a pile of brush I’d already tidied up– on the side of a garage they don’t use behind a fence they can’t access and a bush they can’t climb over but that lies on their property line, mind you– accusing my dad and me of elder abuse for “throwing briar bushes into their property.”  Like I’d invaded their kitchen for the Red Wedding or something.  Mind you (part 2) that I cut those rose canes last week and tidied them up a week later and on Thursday night (so, a week elapsed time) got a call from one of the neighbors about something else (passive aggressive, much, hi?) and then the rose canes came up at the end of the conversation and I said I’d be out there that weekend– as I’d already planned.  The anonymous phone call was therefore bullshit, and I called them on it, asking one of them to walk down the driveway with me and agree that all the brush was already gone, and to further agree that it had only been there a week, was never anywhere they walked or touched, and that they’d only called me Thursday, so please don’t complain to your family first with such vehemence that they leave me nasty messages on the house phone.  They were more horrified by the bad manners of the call than anything else– I don’t think they understood that they’d made a mountain out of a pile of rose canes, but in any event, we called up the reasonable son and let him know they were getting a little histrionic in case it comes up again.   I told the elderly neighbor that allegations of elder abuse were not going to be tolerated,  since they were the ones who had helped me babysit my Alzheimer’s stricken grandmother in high school, and by “helped” I mean once or twice they brought her back when she got out while I was in the bathroom when she could still figure out locks.  That pretty much shut them up, but I am really, really angry about it still, and will be for a while.  Why would you ever get so worked up about something so miniscule to the point that your kid with problems gets drunk and leaves your neighbors nasty messages on your behalf?

Monday and Tuesday were various personality negotiations at work; there are some evolving ways in which everyone needs to learn to work with each other and it’s a challenge.  I’m in an in-between position and new to the company, sort of a neutral and sort of a disciplinarian and sort of a manager all at the same time, and I need to try and balance all of those things with my job to try to keep everything and everyone balanced.  Add to that my communication and responsibility kinks, the fact that I do have mediation experience and experience with lots of different management types and just… age… on some of the people I work with, and it sticks me square in the middle trying to help people figure out how to talk to each other– how to ask for what they want, how to say what they need, how to not hurt one anothers’ feelings, and how to do that myself when I’m feeling proud and uncertain and “aw yeah” and “who, me?” all at once.

And then Wednesday.

I had a job fair in the morning, screening dozens of people and then heading back to the store– late, because of traffic and the crowd at the job fair, because that shit was mobbed.  One of my challenges didn’t show up and while the story’s garbled and has only gotten more problematic as the week wears on, one issue compounding on top of another until it’s hard to keep things apart and not just fire the person for them all, all at once, and keep an eye on just the simplest things– the fact at the core of it is that not just I but most of us got played in that we tried to be sympathetic and helpful and this worker, either through stubbornness or stupidity or sheer malice has played all of us because they just don’t get that they have to play by the rules.  I don’t know at this point, because when I left work yesterday for Job Fair Part 2: Endless Screenings Continued, Electric Boogaloo, they had gone awol after a series of contradictory communications, so who the hell knows.  The lesson to be learned is:  don’t make exceptions, because someone will play you. So.  We made exceptions.  We got messed with.  Lesson learned.  Hopefully not too painful for us, but doubtful.  It’s going to be uglier before it’s all done, and it’s a shame because at the end of the day, when they show up, this person does a really good job.  It’s stupid.

One of the store managers got in an accident, another had a death in the family, and a third has been out for a family member, so we’ve also been down staff and I’ve been helping the rest juggle schedules, make arrangements, check in on the injured manager, request time off, etc., etc.  Paperchasing and phone calling– and then arranging to cover their shifts with enough other managers.

Next:  Wednesday, still– another challenge came in for a shift and accused me and another team leader of being liars because they didn’t want to admit that they hadn’t complied with a policy.  It was a big long ridiculous discussion and I couldn’t take any of it seriously because they were all affronted dignity and bullshit and when they said they’d just give notice if that was how we were going to play it (we did have a neutral party present, since I was a “liar”) I said I was sorry to hear that and I hoped that they found someplace they were happier.  When no one else disagreed with me, they immediately backtracked and said they weren’t giving their notice, to which the neutral told them to make up their mind, since it seemed like that was problem, and then another half hour of mediated drama and affronted dignity ensued.  Quitting chicken:  hell yes, I’ll play it.  I just hope in the end they do quit, because if I ever have to spend another hour and a half like that it will be too soon.

Also, the meat drain is backed up and water’s heading right for the compressors and the ice cream freezers are down, so: help organize repairmen and moving stock and unplugging all of the things.

AND IT’S STILL WEDNESDAY.  At least I got to help someone– a really great someone who’s been with the company a while and has been performing a little erratically, so an amorphous we sat them down to say we were worried and ask them what was up because if things kept in this vein, we would have to go the discipline route and that would be awful.  So we talked about feelings and feeling overwhelmed and asking for help:  it was hard, and teary and sad, but they left agreeing to look into help and are going to do that.  I’ve been scrambling and arguing since with my higher-ups about getting them some time off pending the doctor’s appointment they’ve since set up because I know they’ll miss shifts and end up with discipline if we try and make them come in and no one wants that– so while I could make this person feel better, now I feel like shit and doubting myself because I have to argue against my own bosses and therefore my own instincts about the right thing to do– when I’m trying to learn to trust them.  And all the while their rightfully worried (and a little bit OCD and pushy but really really excellent) manager is pushing at me and I’m just.  Stressed, because I want to get this person the help that they need and make sure it sticks, and at the same time I am trying to OBJECTIVE and not personalize this person’s situation, even though I realized Thursday:

I took this job because I want to give people all the chances and confrontations and opportunities to talk through their crap that no one called me on that I wish like hell someone had.  Right.  No personalization or projection there at all, whatsoever.  At least I’ve got something to talk about at therapy now.

Twelve hours after leaving the house I got home, and Dad wants to know what’s for supper.  Umm.  Leftover veggies and mushy mangoes with frozen shrimp in, erm, yeah, a curry stir fry?  Throw some garden-fresh herbs on it, no one will know it’s a mish mash! (eh, I knew.  Next time, I’m ordering Thai.)

And then Thursday:

MRI.  Oil change.  Overdue (whoops, and then I was anxious about that once I realized) state car inspection, which at 140,000 miles and no significant maintenance since 100,000 miles I was a little worried about.  Back into work on my day off to see if Challenge One came in and then more discussion about What to Do, and more discussion about Good Challenge and asking some questions about some other miscellaneous things including following up on Grieving Manager and then home, because I had a horrible headache from the IV contrast and– I’m not even supposed to be here today!  And then a late afternoon call with Challenge One’s manager and another manager and my position’s back up about the Game Plan.

Friday:  Go in extra early.  Challenge One doesn’t show up.  Challenge One’s manager and I and a senior manager giggle because really, this week is ridiculous.  Challenge One’s manager leaves.  Senior Manager and I open the store, me doing senior manager’s job and senior manager doing Challenge One’s job.  Later, talk to Manager of Good Challenge some more, do some stuff I haven’t done all week because of the Wednesday from Hell, and then: get text message from AWOL challenge one that is contradictory to all prior communications.  Text Challenge One back and tell them to call the store, please.  It doesn’t happen for hours.  Get in the car, get lost on the way to Job Fair 2/Electric Boogaloo, get there with five minutes to spare and a call from my dad wondering if the cat’s dead because she hasn’t eaten her food yet (it’s HOT, she’s a PERSIAN, CATS ARE NOCTURNAL, we have this discussion each SUMMER, dad, CHILL) and then interview the dregs that show up at the last minute, all of whom are grumpy that we’re mostly hired up.  Pretend to give a shit they need a job when almost all of them have no experience, no skills, and waited until, (wait for it) THE LAST DAY OF THE FAIR to show up.  Pretend some more, because I am a motherfucking human resources professional.  Fight with my awesome really cool super nice boss in a not fighting way because we are motherfucking professionals, ‘kay, and I’ve had a migraine since WEDNESDAY, about Good Challenge and her issues, twist her arm aggressively until boss who hired me kind of concedes, go back to interviewing dregs of the job fair with less anxiety crawling under my skin because at least I can help SOMEONE who doesn’t think I’m a liar or play me or anything else.

Get a hug from other super awesome cool sort-of boss, who gives awesome hugs.

Have supper and a good Vieux Carre with a friend.  See Man of Steel.  (Meh, the writing was Portentous with a capital P, but HELLO, Shirtless Henry Cavill, and I ❤ Amy Adams and the lady villain and Diane Lane, so, all the ladies plus Henry Cavill and his muscles.)

Saturday:

Get woken up at 5:39 am by the rude blare of a call from Challenge Oh My God, Really, I Told You To Stop Calling My Phone and Call The Damned Store, I am Not Your Boss.  I Tell them To Call the Store after making sure they are merely calling out sick and not otherwise having problems.  Send an email to that Challenge’s bosses, because I’ll forget otherwise, and then send Good Challenge’s boss an email because well, I’m up now, might as well work.

I’M OFF WORK TODAY.  I GET PAID BY THE HOUR.

And now I’m awake, because did I mention I have a horrible shrink who doesn’t return my calls because I’m not really that crazy and so I’m not on her priority list.  So… I ran out of klonopin and I had to have my primary care write my wellbutrin but she’s not comfortable writing benzos and I need .05 mg nightly to sleep so then I left by shrink a NASTY message on her phone for the third time and she finally called me back and acted like nothing was wrong.  I asked her to just write me a 90-day script and to please give me the names of some people taking referrals.  I left a message for my old shrink as well; at least she’ll call me back.

So.  I broke up with my shrink and have to find a new one, but on the other hand, now I don’t have to worry about the old one and I might just be a bitch and report her for patient neglect.  It’s just disgustingly unprofessional not to return patient calls, whether or not I’m sobbing into the phone.

And… it’s 8:34 am.  Let’s see how today goes.

But does it work?

It’s been a weird couple of weeks in Lake No-Longer-Nearly-So-Woe-begotten, and I’ve written about a half-dozen posts of various tones and tempers and lengths, all stuck in draft.

Instead, you get this TMI blather.

I’ve been settling into the new job, figuring out all of its kinks from the rising personality and discipline problems of our daily employees to finding out the best way to balance myself (and everyone else) off everyone’s different managerial styles.  Feeling like the grownup and being deferred to in a group where I still feel unsure and new re: my standing with this particular group and this particular culture is, to put it mildly: weird, scary, awesome, bizarre, and anxiety-provoking.

At times, it’s a little enraging, when some people push a little too hard, and then I take a deep breath and remind myself– everyone is learning, there will always be alphas, and if I’m more of an alpha-beta when it comes to management style, I do know how to deal with alphas, and at last, I’m working some place where I can just point blank come out and say– “Look, this isn’t cool, but this is.”  Getting past the adrenaline rush of opening and in to the occasionally depressing daily grind of OK NOW WE HAVE TO MAKE MONEY and BTWS, EMPLOYEES, YOU HAVE TO SHOW UP OR GET FIRED, some anticlimax is natural, even in a (yes, still feeling it) more enlightened workplace like mine.  It’s been so long since I’ve worked with grown-ups who’ve considered my opinion, let me apologize for my mess-ups, and still come after me for advice that– I find it hard to settle.  It’s still a little surreal.

(Yes, dearest reader:  I am complaining because I apparently get to have nice things and am freaked the hell out by this.)

I’ve also been trying to be kind to myself, and not just in the YAY, YOU FOUND A REAL JOB kind of way.  Lucidity about my moods and affect have been hard to come by (hey, look, I imported my archives, I’ve now got the official, 8-year record…) but I realized this week that I was starting to get a little depressed, which has in turn caused me to try to figure out– well, what else?  Is it just anticlimax?  Or more?

Of course, it’s probably more.  Or triggered, or interrelated.  It’s so hard to tell sometimes what sets one thing or another going.  But.  This is the time of year when I have gone more than a little bit nuts as just one of my bipolar cycles– and I think I was, in fact, a little bit manic when we opened the store, maybe even before that in some kind of mixed state when I kicked my own ass out of the old job.  Still, the mid-spring wind-up worked in everyone’s favor because they needed me to be really attentive and fluid and hyperfocused.

Now, as things slow and so, too, do I, I am just trying to pay attention to myself right now as I find myself dragging (in old habits) this week before getting my ass into gear going to work, so that I don’t let myself do that, start going in late, start leaving early, etc..  I need to avoid the computer in the mornings, to set the alarm a little early, to change my routine so I do something different than my normal rut– wake up, read the paper online 15 minutes (which turns into 30 when I’m depressed), shower, eat breakfast during the 40 minute commute.  Revising bad habits is a big thing– or should be.  Maybe….  Wake up, shower, eat breakfast downstairs, don’t go back up, get to work early, go read in a park?  Read a book? Detach myself from the distracting, wondrous computer?

I have, throughout all of this (read: changing jobs, feeling kinda sorta like a real boy) been trying to reconnect with some friends.  It’s been a half-and-half kind of deal.  Everyone’s busy, and some of the folks I’ve gotten in touch with have been so half-assed that I’ve just decided I’m not going to bother, and honestly, that’s kind of a relief, even if I’m sad to “lose” people that I once used to enjoy.    (And bless Brain Eats Brain for her emailed suggestion that sending an African Violet for those relationships that just won’t reset.) Others, though, have been closer friends, and it’s been a struggle to feel like I shouldn’t just throw a tantrum until I get the attention I want or they modify their behavior in the way I think is right.  I can’t have it my way all the time, though, and I have to accept that the fact that I’ve been in and out of their lives and really erratic means they get to decide not to bother with me, and I have to get that and not be clingy.

I have to accept that moving on means sometimes losing as well as gaining.  That a marriage that was no longer working and a safe-harbor job that had become a pain in the ass aren’t the only things I might “have” to give up– and that finding a new job that’s a pleasure but is also work isn’t something to depressed about but something to embrace as a challenge I’m ready to face.

Like I have to face– maybe some day I’ll get to make amends or repair the friendships I don’t currently have with those people, but maybe I won’t.  In the meantime, though, I have to create some new habits.  Look for new friends.  And finish letting go of things that no longer work and that I’ve decided (no, that’s not a laden sentence at all, in no way full of several complex emotional steps that I find a burden) no longer work.

I’ve got to ask myself– does it work?  No?  Let it go.  Find something that does, even if you don’t know what the replacement is each time I let something go.  I need to learn to trust that if things don’t feel 100% in the moment, they’ll get there, sooner or later.

Even if it means living with dad and occasionally growling at him to remind him I am a still mostly-competent adult who, unlike him, manages to get all the shopping and laundry done every week, so kindly don’t bitch because you don’t like the way I trim the fucking hedges, all square instead of rounded.  WHO CARES, THEY’RE STILL TRIMMED AND THEY STILL LOOK REALLY NICE.

(Why, no, this is not just an example of my relationship with my Dad as a metaphor for some power dynamics things at the store that have since worked themselves out but which made me internally depressed and anxious and rage-y for a couple of days and which I don’t dare detail because it’s already clear to people who know me where & whom I work for, no, not at all.)

Also?  Running into your ex-marriage counselor at your workplace/store and then having an awkward not-conversation where you can tell that she’s DYING to know how everything’s working out is not awkward.  At all.  (I might have had a bit of the feeling of Lady, I used to pay you serious money for this and you know what?  You didn’t help bupkiss, I’m not telling you shit.  Emphasis on the might absolutely not tell you shit.)  Yeah.  She didn’t work.

Now to move on to finding the things that do.

Friends & family

I’ve been trying, in a somewhat haphazard way, to piece together old friendships, relationships with friends & family that I have let slide as my attention’s been focused mostly on putting one foot in front of the other.  I’ve been trying to do this with the consciousness of several things all at once, or as the White Queen once said, “as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

It’s not that easy, and keeping all those things straight makes me feel very Down the Rabbit Hole-ish indeed.

In often contradictory order, those impossible things have been:

Thing One:

As someone bipolar and depressed and anxious and insecure as an adult child can peculiarly be (and all of those things do not always intersect, though sometimes they do, because they are separate pathologies/traumas whatever the emergent DSM-V might have to say), I can often be a self-absorbed and shitty friend who doesn’t hear when someone’s in distress and/or who drops off the face of the Earth during my own points of distress because I can’t handle social interaction, and so I miss important things in people’s lives, and if, as a result, people no longer trust me at all, or as far– they have that right, and my unreliability because of my crazy and perhaps maybe just because I am simply selfish, as well, can make me an undesirable friend.  So– if I reach back out to someone and get no response, or a chilly response, or an initial response and then a withdrawal– I can’t really blame them.

Everyone has a right to want people they can rely on.

Thing Two:

I have reached out to some of my oldest friends, ones who’ve disappointed me and I’ve probably disappointed in one way or another and gotten initial warm responses, only for them to fall off again.  People have babies, spouses, other things I do not, and those things are consuming, regardless of Thing One.  And the fact also is that people change, and our expectations of people aren’t met, whether they’re realistic or not.  I’ve found that with one old friend that I chafe under the old constraints of our once-friendship and old expectations about who I was going to be in that friendship– and I have the feeling that they didn’t approve of my leaving my husband despite the support I gave them during their breakups, a fact I find I’m really, really angry about.

Despite all of that, and because we’ve known each other so long, I reached out and got an initial more-than friendly response, and sent a birthday/congratulations on a momentous occasion gift not that long after that I hoped was well-recieved– but now it’s back to nothing again, not even a thanks for the gift, and I think at this point I’m just going to walk away, as sad as it makes me to say and think that.  They’re just– caught up in a life where there’s no room for me, and I’ve made attempts to visit and be part of that life(though not lately because: personal meltdown).  I don’t feel like it’s been reciprocal, though, (they’ve visited maybe once since their marriage) and I just don’t want to keep banging my head on that wall.  That’s ok, right?  To give up on a once-best friend because they just… aren’t anymore?  And to ignore them if they ever reach back because it hurts to try to be a person they want you to be and you aren’t anymore?  I know all of this.  I’ve told it to others.  It’s just hard to take my advice.

Thing three:

I find it very hard to tell people I’m friends with on less than a best friend level (especially ones that I’m conscious of having been a shitty friend to on occasion myself, despite the fact that it’s life, and even non-crazy people have ebbs and flows) that they’re bugging me because of X behavior and that I need them to either stop X or I can’t be friends with them anymore.  Partly, this comes from a long history of not speaking up for the things that I need and being afraid of confrontation, and partly, guilt for having been a shitty friend.  I have two different friends who this is a problem with, and both of them are engaged in shitty cycles of bad career choices/self-hate and want me to validate them– and I can’t.  I really can’t, because I no longer have patience for people who self-victimize (see: my Mommy issues) for years and do jack shit to change things, even if it means really painful retrenchment (see: I haven’t bought new underwear in two years, and don’t ask me about my sock drawer).  It hurts to see them flagellate, and I am angry and angrier the longer I spend time with them/talk to them and… I don’t want to be angry.  I have spent so much time being angry.  I feel guilty because they have been very supportive of me in the past, but at other times they haven’t gotten it, or have been poking at me when I have expressed a real desire not to be poked, and I just can’t be around them while they’re focused on feeling sorry and not doing bupkiss.

So– do I say that?  Do I withdraw and let them feel hurt?  Either way will result in hurt feelings, but my preference would be to be honest, even if it isn’t potentially “kind” to say that I think they’re being a moron.  (Not in those words, but still.)  I made a vow to myself when I left my husband that I was going to be honest and stand up for myself and not put up with people who couldn’t meet me halfway.  Keeping that promise is hard.

Thing four:

I’m really fucking lonely in my regular, in-real-life life.  I love my dad, but he doesn’t like to talk about feelings.  Getting over his alcoholism and keeping a job is what he can manage, and that’s about it.  He is my friend, in his way, but he also drives me batshit and I can’t talk to him about my crazy thoughts except in a clinical “I am feeling kind of manic/kind of suicidal, please poke me occasionally” way when I have that level of lucidity.  And I do that, and he does, but beyond that, it makes him twitch to talk too much about feelings.  My brother and I are not close; he and I can talk about Traumatic Family Shit when my mom’s acting up or my dad’s in poor health, but he’s not a talker to start with and I find it hard to tell if he likes me at all beyond family “of course” obligation.  Of course, I’m scared to ask.  I am sure he is worried he’ll melt down like me.

I have some married friends from law school who all have kids and spouses and jobs and it’s erratic how often we get together– and I have a feeling my most recent drop-off-the-planet stint pissed one of my female friends in this group off to the point of no return, which makes me sad, because she is sarcastic and smart and refreshing like a beach breeze, even though we don’t see each other all the time. I need to send her a card and tell her I miss her and I wonder if I did something to make her mad, even though I worry that it’s clingy, because I won’t know unless I ask, and if it’s clingy, well, I guess I can’t make things worse.

As to the others, well– there’s a married couple and I need to balance them because I enjoy their company in different ways as well as their dynamic together, and they’ve been kind and moreso to keep me after I broke up with the husband.  They have wonderful kids, are busy with that and professional life and their pack of married/kids/friends, and I can’t help but feel a little bittersweet every time I spend time with either or both because we used to do couple things with them and now it’s just me.  And I have another local law school friend who’s going through a rough patch who I’m trying to be available for, but he’s in a needier place than I am and I need to conserve my energy (aka, I need to watch all my spoons), too– so while I am grateful that I have more kindness and patience for him than I used to (I was a horrible bitch, at times, in law school, I like to think it’s not just the meds that have changed me)– I can’t spend too much time with him or I get exhausted, because while he’s a good resource for getting my Geek on, it’s more of a me giving than a reciprocity thing.

There are other friends with other commitments, and it’s hard to keep track of them all, because: everybody has lives/lives at a bit of a distance/I haven’t sucked it up to apologize yet/it’s been a really, really long time/we only talk on Facebook.  They are none of them best friends.  But they are all of them friends.  And I need to work harder, even if it does wear me out.

Thing four:

I am feeling shy about making friends at the new store, both because of my role there– professional secret keeper of personnel files, etc., disciplinarian helper, etc., etc., and therefore The Last One to Know– because I’m older than a lot of the others, if only by a few years, because I’m experience-older than others by a few years– and because I’ve been burnt by people at work who I thought were my friends before, only to have them either backstab me or drop off the face of the Earth once I left an old job, in spite of all their  “keep in touch!” and “<3 u!” protests.  Some of them hurt less than others when the attempts to get together (some initiated by them, some by me) slide off into nothing.  Still, it hurts.  (I feel like that should be my real memoir’s title.)

I should know better.  I do know better.  And yet, still, I’m hopeful.  It’s either a sign of psychosis, uncurable sentimentality, or something else that has yet to respond to medication.  And yet, I know that same soft-heartedness and “I just want everyone to be OK and happy (and also for people to like me)” thing is what makes me a good middle manager and good at my particular job, because my job is to figure out people’s emotional tone & be helpful in a caring, kind, neutral way.  Which I can’t always be if I’m all entangled in messy friendships with people.  I should probably talk with one of the other people in my particular job group outside my store about my TOO MANY FEELINGS about the job and how to/whether to make any friends aside from the three people at work more or less on the same level at work with whom I’m passing from friendly to work-friends– at the very least (and gee, duh, that may result in making some friends there, too).

At my last bookstore, I didn’t push for activities outside of work except for one or two people– and even those fizzled, either because of significant others or I-don’t-know-what-dysfunctions.  It’s rough, mixing business with pleasure.  In short, as much as I really, really like all these folks I work with and have a lot more in common with them in terms of cooking! reading! progressive social issues! political thinking! geekery! the fact is, I’m still kind of an old lady and in an uneven power dynamic with a lot of them, so whether or not they like me as a person and think I am competent or moreso at my job, it’s probably not a good idea to try to do more than be friendly and helpful.  Which makes me sad, because see: fucking lonely.

Thing five:

My brother and his lovely wife are having a baby any minute now, and while I am really looking forward to being an aunt, and as much as it seems like my sister in law seems to be looking forward to my being a competent babysitter, it’s AHOY, MIXED EMOTIONS.  At one point, I wanted kids before I got married, and was pretty baby-crazy.  And then the husband didn’t.  And I was crazy, and angry at my mother and everyone else, and didn’t want to pass on my crazy to anyone else.

Then my husband’s brother and his wife had their son, and he is amazing.  I love him.  I miss him very much, his parents too, and my husband’s older sister’s husband (funny, that, which in-laws you want to keep, despite everything) and the family dinners we used to have.  I was uploading pictures to a fancy photo-editing program my brother got me and got chest-punched with feelings from old photos of some of those dinners with the nephew and my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace and roll her eyes at my drama forever.  (And also, do I email those photos to my brother in law, and try to have no expectations of any response, even a thanks?  I should send them, just because they’re good pictures, good memories, and any good picture of my mother in law is worth having.  But the brother-in-law kind of sat on the sidelines while my marriage dissolved and I can’t help but resent that, and my resentment clouds how I think about him, even as in general, I want nothing but the best for them all.)

Still, when my nephew was born, I started to think… hey, these baby things are pretty fucking cool, but at that point, there was a shadow of awareness at the back of my head that it wasn’t working out with my husband.

And now I’m single, if not yet divorced.

(Also, background, when my mother was moving to California, years ago, one of her prefatory declarations of why was because I wasn’t giving her grandchildren anytime soon. Thanks.  Thank you, mother, for reaffirming my conviction that your narcissism runs so deep that my use to you is limited only to your expectation that I fulfill those roles you had of yourself and failed at.  She is thrilled, however, that my brother is providing a grandchild and plans to come visit that grandchild on as much of my brother’s dime as he will spend as soon as they will let her come, and incidentally, she may spend some time with me.  No, I haven’t had this discussion with her.  It’s like kicking a retarded puppy.  They’ll still piss on the rug, and they’ll whine even more loudly than they did before you kicked them.)

I am really looking forward to being an aunt.  Again.  And this time, to getting to stick around.  (I don’t know what would have happened if I’d tried to maintain a relationship with the nephew-in-laws, but it would have been awkward for the husband, so I chose not to try.)  I do want to be helpful to my brother and sister-in-law, and not just because I’m fucking pathetic and need to be loved whatever way I can get it, even if it’s just competent cook and babysitter.  I want to be that sarcastic aunt who gives my niece all the cool books and takes her on hikes and teaches her to take pictures and shows her how to make a mean steak and a salsa verde and shows her how to install telephone jacks or whatever passes for handyperson skills when it comes time for that kind of thing.

But now I am thinking about– is there any possibility of me, mother-me?  It’s a hilarious thought, considering that I just had (just, literally, as in last night just) my first sexy dream about anyone in two years.  My sexual self has been on the back burner for a long time, and I still have Incredible Moments of Awkward where I don’t know someone’s flirting with me or I get embarrassed because they are and I have no idea how to respond because it’s been … IDEFK because it makes me cry too much to think too hard about it, six plus years since I’ve had someone else want to have the sex with me.  I am no longer used to feeling like I am sexy.  Attractive.  At all.

There is no timeline in my brain for dating again, though I know it’s something in the aspirational undefined future.  I don’t know about pregnant/foster/adopt.  But I look at babies and toddlers and think for the first time more than just cute/adorable/give them back.  I think… mine.  Maybe.  Even if the idea of who/what I might do that with is as nebulous as things they aim the Hubble Telescope at.  (And about as far away.)

Thing six:

I have made a lot of really good friends on the internet, some of whom I’ve then gone on to meet in real life.  Some of them were through this blog in its various url-incarnations, some of them were through writing/fandom sites.  Some I’ve let go because they were toxic, some I let go because I began to associate that community and what I was writing (once I’d looked it over) with the falling-apart of my marriage and I needed the distance to sort out why the hell I hadn’t seen it sooner because I had this erroneous idea that I was beginning to get a handle on shit.

Hah.

Now I need to try repair those friendships I’ve neglected, and suck it up if people don’t reciprocate anymore because I’ve let things go too long, not given enough of a heads up, not apologized enough.  I need to understand not everyone has to understand, because everyone has their own shit and they can decide that even though I have mine, they don’t have time for it, and that if they let me back in at all, I have to accept it on their terms.  I have to apologize in not too abject terms, try to be straightforward and honest and say all the whys while not getting all TMI with the gory details– and if they respond, then I am lucky and blessed and they are generous and kind and I have to work hard not to waste it again, knowing that there’s a good chance I will anyway.

Thing seven:

I have given all this advice to other people.  I need to reread it.  I need to reread my own blog and stop committing Santayana on myself.

Thing eight:

I’m having a bit of a comedown from the initial high of the new job as we settle into the real everyday problems and I’m being a bit of a drama-llama and insecure and feeling depressed as I come off the high, which could be situational or neutransmitted or both.  But I want glitter and flowers and fucking unicorns, okay?  I just do.  It’s unrealistic and I still want it.

Thing nine:

I want a cat.  But– we have a feral one who will attack any other one we bring in the house– I don’t want to bring her to a shelter to kill her just because my father couldn’t be fucked to tame her and only fed her and changed her litter for the four years before I moved in.  But I want a cat who will sit on my chest and love me me me me, because people-friends and lovers and all the see: above shit to the side, animal comfort is no small comfort in deed.

It’s enough to make a girl want to hide under a mushroom and wait for someone to tell her what to do, no matter what nonsense they might happen to spout.

Wound

I have the occasional reminder that I’m not “fine,” and that’s been happening this week– I’ve run out of my klonopin, which I take at night with the rest of my meds, and the last two nights I’d be surprised if I got more than five hours sleep at all, combined.

I don’t feel hypomanic, exactly, because I’ve been productive at work, but not unusually so.  I don’t think I’m depressed, or in a mixed state where I’m whirling and angry and sad all at once.  I’m not super-angry at anyone (even my ex-) at the moment, and I’m not experiencing moments of road rage on my drive home.

But I am anxious.  Anxious about the new job, about all the things there still are to learn, to forget, to screw up, and those have been waking me up with thoughts– BAM– two hours into my attempt to sleep every night, even though they’re essentially small, mundane things that I can and will take care of when I get to work Monday.

Still.  I am so invested in this new job, this new start, this chance to not screw up what I’m emotionally overinvesting in, probably, that I’m hyper-anxious, and the last few nights of waking up with no sleep and then bolting awake after attempting to read for a few hours and letting myself get drowsy again is a reminder.

I am not “fine.”  I am still worried.  I still need serious drugs to regulate my sleep cycles.  And I’d better get my ass to the pharmacy (now that my COBRA’s kicked in) to pick up those meds, since I know disturbed sleep will mess my moods up pretty quickly and badly, and that makes me even more anxious.

Argh.

It makes me want to go into work, to put myself at ease, just a bit.  But I can’t.  I need to learn how to relax in this new job, to not self-soothe with more work, because that’s what I did when I was practicing law.  Instead, I need to learn to get done what I can, set aside what I can’t, prioritize, and not be so freaking neurotic.

Hah.

And now a word from our hypomanic sponsor.

I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at mood(swing)spotting over the years.  I do think I have.

I knew going into this new job, without any break, that I would be stressed– even if it was the good kind of stress.  I knew my anxiety about doing a good job in a much more responsible, high-thinking position where I could be really useful was going to be really, really high, between my adult child responsibility kink and my leftover shame from flunking out as a lawyer.  But it was time to try, whether or not I thought I was ready, because I’d never know unless I tried (that and I’d slaughter the bookstore in a fit of annoyance one day.  Murder is bad.).

I was right, more or less, and I’ve been pleased, positive, excited, to go in to work every day and laugh and work and groan about stupid stuff with people who have similar mindsets to mine.  And I’ve felt like even as I’ve been running so fast & so hard to learn, that I have been able to help, to get people hired to fill our unexpected staffing gaps, to soothe hurt team members’ feelings because of the bombings or other, more personal things.  I feel like I’m making a difference.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t hit the anxiety wall last Wednesday night, or that I haven’t been having bad dreams and feeling– hyper-talkative at work, needing to slam through my work, needing to work work work and keep working, and so far I’ve been keeping it up even though my brain has been mush at the end of the day and my appetite’s wonky because I’m stressed and because I don’t run around all day heaving boxes of books like I once did.

I noticed, though, that I was getting a little road-ragey in the car.  A little prone to sniffling too much at Adele and Kelly Clarkson songs and– well, yes, there’s a time and place for that all, but really, I’m past that, so sniffling’s suspicious.  And the hyper-work-talking, hyper-active, get home, cook dinner, read until one in the morning thing is a clue.

That and the slightly metallic eau du armpits.  I have no idea why that physical manifestation is a sign of me going hypomanic, but the scent of an aluminum foil plant setting up shop in my pits (sorry, y’all, TMI, I know, but the body does weird things and this is a personal blog) is a sign that’s hard to miss, even if I miss the almost week’s worth of shitty sleep, increasing anxiety, and blather (sensible, still, but blather) coming out of my mouth.  Plus, my mom kept calling, wanting to do the agony aunt rehash of the bombing and talk about my feeeeeeeelings, and all I wanted to do was reach through the phone and punch her, because she’s in fucking California and just, no, fucking no, she doesn’t get to bandwagon on Boston, even if I wanted to tell her anything confidential in any event, which I don’t, because she’s always crazy and just can’t be trusted.  But– the fact that all I wanted to do was tell her exactly what I thought of her when my approach the last couple of years has been biweekly calls to discuss commonplaces and a theory of “don’t kick the puppy,”– well.  Pro-tip– these symptoms = you’re hypomanic, with a bit of mixed-up depression & anxiety to temper the sweet, sweet productivity at work.

But.  I’ve been on this merry go round.  I ratcheted down my topomax by 25 mg, and within 2 days was feeling less weepy, less like there was an elephant on my chest, less like I had to FINISH ALL THE THINGS NOW.  Which is a relief, because I’ve been told several times by different folks that I’m doing great, and I really don’t want to mess things up by going crazy before my evaluation period’s over.

They know I’m neurotic.  That’s ok– it’s a good thing in my job, someone has to be the paperwork and details geek.  I don’t need to expose them to my horrible temper or my breaking into tears because someone didn’t say hi, though.

I’m chalking it all up to situational stress, that and maybe a little circadian stuff with the spring, because I sometimes get wound up with the change in the light.  The important thing, though, is this:  I caught it, all by myself, before anyone looked at me and said– you’re being kind of nutty.

I caught it, myself.  I am getting better.  It’s taken eight years since my first diagnosis, but I finally am getting better.  I will always be a little bit nuts, but for the first time in– maybe ever?– I’m feeling like I might be able to mostly keep a handle on it.

In the words of Macklemore, this is fuckin’ awesome.