Emotions

Emotions are funny things. They constantly change.

I feel weird today. I’m sad, but I’m not depressed. That’s an odd combination for me. Sadness is always accompanied by the overarching gloom of depression. Today, it’s just simple, genuine sadness.

I know what it’s about. It’s just life stuff. It’s a simple combination of living with a chronic mental illness, being part of a sexual-orientation minority, lots of change in my life in the past four or five months (new bosses at work, dating partners come and gone, new therapist, new thoughts about old wounds, etc.), and being single for a long time. None of that has an easy fix.

At least today, I’m not looking for an easy fix. I’m kind of walking through it. One step at a time.

This will pass. Emotions aren’t permanent. I’ll be fine.

Advertisements

Changes

There are a lot of changes happening in my life, and I’m really proud of the fact that I’m walking through it and not freaking out.

The therapist I’ve been seeing for four years suggested that I explore other therapists to help me deal with childhood trauma that is resurfacing. I went to see two new ones. One of those was horrible. She spoke for 75% of the session and spoke in very prescriptive terms most of the time. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced with a therapist. The other potential therapist turned out not to handle trauma, so that was a non-starter.

I will see the therapist who’s been helping me with sleep issues this week. She’s excellent, and she does general psychology as well as her sleep specialty. It’s possible that she can help me.

All this helps me understand how difficult it is to find providers that fit. Getting a good relationship with a provider is so important and can be so hard some times.

I have a relatively new supervisor at work. She was a colleague before, and then she got promoted. Now she’s my supervisor. That change has taken a long time to get used to. It was complicated by the fact the office is reorganizing, so my position began to answer to a new level in the hierarchy. It’s all more change.

I broke up with one man around Easter time. I started spending a lot of time with another man, but that relationship was very ambiguous. I was the only one of us calling it dating. He disappeared a few weeks ago. The colloquial term used to describe a person in a relationship disappearing is ghosting. Ghosting is a form of rejection. The person doing the ghosting is avoiding what they believe will be unpleasant. The person ghosted is simply left with questions. My questions faded quickly, and I was left with the rejection. I got over it very quickly. It only took a couple of days.

I have had coffee with three new men. All those dates went very well, and one went particularly well. We’ve been out for a second date that was a lot of fun, and we have plans for more. I’m really pleased with this. He’s emotionally available. We met on a dating app, and his profile states he wants a relationship. This is a good change.

The period of extreme stress at work is completely over. I feel so much better with that behind me. I slept well last night for the first time in a while. It felt so good. I’m hoping it’s the start of a trend.

There’s been so much change in my life in the past few months. I’m really proud that I’ve managed not to go overboard with anxiety. I’m doing really well handling all this.

 

Ah Ha!

I survived the incredibly busy 3 weeks of work. It was monumentally draining. I’m still pretty tired.

The man I was spending a lot of time with has disappeared again. I’ve had one short text in two weeks, and that was ten days ago.

“The man I was spending a lot of time with…” I had to say it that way, because I was the only one who called it dating. That seems important. Hell, it is important.

I really enjoyed our time together. Honestly, he’s a good man to be around.

However, once again I’ve chosen a man who is emotionally unavailable.

I’m actually OK with the fact it’s over. I really am. I feel fine. I’ve been to coffee with two new potential men in the past two days. I have no clue if either of these will develop further. Only time will tell, and I’m completely fine with gaining two new friends out of the meetings.

And I had an “ah ha” moment:

I choose emotionally unavailable men, because I still believe that I am unworthy of love.

That hit me today. It’s startling in its simplicity. It seems completely obvious.

When a man is emotionally unavailable, it’s a form of rejection. I search for the rejection to reinforce what I learned as a child that I’m unworthy.

Today, I will step into the assurance that I am worthy of the love of a good man.

There’s hope!

I haven’t been friend-zoned after all! Hooray for me! The man I thought who’d friend-zoned me has been over to my place twice since I wrote that, and we’ve had a good time both evenings. We have good conversations in person and on the phone. I’m very hopeful that this will develop into something romantic.

There’s more reason to hope on the recovery front. This past weekend, I received a message from an old friend thanking me for my candid posts on this blog and on Facebook about my recovery from both mental illness and alcoholism. He told me he has just passed two years alcohol-free, and he said my posts helped. It does me so much good to hear that.

I’ve had several notes from readers here also thanking me, and those kinds of words are so valuable to me. It really makes a difference to me to hear that my experience resonates with others.

I am full of so much gratitude for the people who take the time to read this blog. I am full of so much gratitude for my recovery. I have so much good support. I have a good psychiatrist, an excellent psychologist, a wonderful best friend, and amazing friends. I’ve had really good teachers along the way who have helped me develop the good tools (medication, meditation, therapy, exercise, sleep, and diet) I use to keep myself stable.

I started this blog nine years ago. I’ve come a long way, and I’m so grateful.

Getting Help

I left work early yesterday for two reasons. The first reason was that I called my psychologist and got an appointment that day to go talk to him about something troubling me. The second reason I left work early was because that thing troubling me grew too large in my head to effectively cope.

There are a lot of changes going on at my workplace, and I am using every tool in my toolbox to cope. The feelings I’m getting from the changes are helplessness and fear. The anxiety they give rise to is sometimes overwhelming. I took some days off work not too long ago due to all this change. It helped.

Yesterday, I had that anxiety again. I was faced with a new reality, and my insides rebelled. I’m really lucky. I work where we have adequate sick time, and I was able to use it.

At my therapy session, I gave vent to my anger at the situation, and I was able to speak directly to my psychologist and tell him emphatically that I don’t think he takes my level of anxiety seriously enough. He heard me. I was able to advocate for myself really well, and it felt good. The result was that I left feeling much better than when I arrived. I felt heard.

At home, I did a quick meditation, and that felt really good, too. Meditation is such an important tool for me. I just sit and breathe and imagine anxiety being pulled out of me. The visualization really helps me feel relief. The sitting and breathing is such a good way to give myself a calm center.

I slept well last night and woke up feeling good this morning. I took extra time in meditation this morning just to breathe. When I meditate, my mind wanders. I don’t fight it. I let it wander, and when I notice it, I calmly bring it back to the breath. I do this over and over. A wandering mind is not failure. Wandering is what the mind it supposed to do. That’s what it’s built for. I just recognize the wandering and calmly bring my attention back to my breathing.

I’m not trying to reach enlightenment. I’m just using a tool to help my overwrought brain gain some peace. It works. I recommend it.

Meditation isn’t hard. Sit comfortably. Relax, and breathe. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breathing. Do this as many times as you want. That’s it. Just keep trying.

Recovery

Recovery is an ongoing process. There is no end. It’s often day by day. At times, it can be hour to hour.

As outlined in my last two posts, I’ve been in a bit of a bad way. Bipolar disorder manifests in me in a seasonal way, and when the seasons change, I often get symptoms. These have been quite mild for years lasting only a few days. This time was different, and I think it was caused by all the changes happening at work that I’ve also written about.

I was hypomanic for a while, and then just simply unstable with various symptoms like rage, extreme irritability, hypersexuality, speedy thoughts, etc. I am lucky to have the job I do, and I was given time off, and then last week, I only worked half days. I am happy to say it worked. I’m back at work full-time today, and I feel normal. I don’t feel amped up or depressed. I just feel normal. I’m experiencing normal emotions today, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Here’s what worked for me:

  • I meditated a lot while I was home not working. They were short bursts of time to clear my head from all the speedy thoughts.
  • I continued speed walking for exercise.
  • I used anti-anxiety medication daily at my doctor’s insistence that had been prescribed for use as needed. He decided this was a period when it was needed regularly. My doctor also increased the dosage of the main medication I take for the bipolar disorder.
  • I have increased my therapy to weekly, and last week, I was able to talk to my therapist by phone twice when I needed to quickly debrief about a situation.

Today, I feel like I’ve made it through the worst. I’m going to stick with weekly therapy for a bit, and I have a follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist this week to reassess where things stand. I am really grateful for all the tools I have to use when I need them.

Pressure From Myself

As my last post mentioned, there are lots of changes at work, and it’s causing me a mood episode. I have been amped up for lack of a better term. I have also had greatly heightened emotional responses to minor events. I mean really extreme responses. Finally, I’ve had depressive thoughts and bouts of crying.

I took time off work for five days, and I’m only returning to work part-time for this week. At work, I’m feeling enormous self-generated pressure to be well now. I hear an internal voice to just get over it and work.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is internalized stigma. Society often tells people with mental illness that we should simply not be ill and that we should just get over it and get on with life. That is stigma, and we who live with mental illness internalize it and repeat it to ourselves. I am no different. I have it, too.

The voice inside my head that states my disease isn’t real and shouldn’t cause me to suffer is internalized stigma.

I am going to use meditation to make that unwanted voice quiet. It works for me in so many ways. I’m sure this will work too. I’m also going to take a nap this afternoon, and then I’ll go for a walk.

My therapist reminds me that this is like growing a garden. We start with seeds and give them a little water and keep the weeds away. It’s good to let the garden grow at its own pace. I’m going to let myself grow at my own pace for just a bit.