Long Road to Recovery

I’ve had some bleak days, but I’ve also had periods of calm. If you wonder what has happened, see my last post.

I’ve been using my recovery tools.

I’ve been using the medication my doctor gave me to help with the situation, and I’m grateful to have it. It honestly helps a great deal.

I’ve been meditating. I had a very long one this morning.

I’ve been to therapy, and I have another appointment coming up next week. I’ve also been to some AA meetings. They’ve been helpful. Most importantly, I’ve got some good friends checking on my daily. I cannot adequately express how good that feels.

I have walked some. Not daily, but I have walked. Exercise is a good idea when I’m feeling low.

I’m eating good food. Yesterday, I actually cooked for myself, which is something I rarely do. That’s real self-care. I took the time to wash mushrooms and cook them and eat them over toast. I did it for myself.

I’m making sure I get good, restorative sleep.

Medication, meditation, therapy, exercise, diet, and sleep are the important tools I use to stay stable.

This morning, I’m battling negative self-talk. I know it’s lies, but it’s so loud. Pain in a situation like this comes and goes in waves, and today I’m in a wave. It will pass. Soon, I hope.

My Parents Disowned Me

When I was a teenager, my father threatened to kick me out of the house if I was gay. This trauma forced me deeper into the closet for many years and greatly affected my alcoholism when that happened.

When I got sober twenty years ago, I came out to my mother. She was not supportive. I always assumed she told my dad. In these past twenty years, I haven’t really done anything to hide my sexual orientation from my parents, but I live 5000 miles away from them. When I talked to them on the phone, I never talked about men in order to keep the peace. It never occurred to me that my dad didn’t know.

Yesterday morning, my phone rang. It was my dad. He quickly got to the point. He said he’d discovered that I am gay, and therefore, he and my mother never wanted to hear from me again.

During the call, my heart was pounding. I was shaking. I felt like I was being physically attacked.

I said nothing to try to change the outcome. My dad asked if he’d made himself clear. I simply said yes and hung up.

I spent the day in shock yesterday. I told my children, a sister, some close friends. I texted my therapist. He responded helpfully. I texted my psychiatrist to alert him, and he acknowledged the news.

Everyone was helpful except for one friend who wrongly thought it would be helpful for me to try to see it from my parents’ point of view. Everyone else was very supportive. My children have been a source of great love.

The next thing I knew I would need was to go to an AA meeting. I did that in the evening. It wasn’t a great meeting, but it helped me. I wrote an email to a good friend who has been sober a very long time. I spoke to him this morning. He is a gem. So kind. I had to cut that call short to get to another AA meeting, and this one was really good. I’m so glad I went. I met a man there I’ve met under other circumstances, and he and I are going to meet at the big LGBT meeting Monday night. I’m looking forward to it.

I am hurting. A lot.

My greatest fear is that this will trigger a mood episode. Specifically depression. I’ve been having depressed thoughts all day. I’m using the medication the doctor gave me as prescribed to try to prevent a depressive relapse.

I am using my recovery tools to stay stable. Only time will tell if this will work.

One thing is very clear. I feel like I’m officially gay now.

The Teens

In 2010, I was living on disability. My life was a mess. I was unable to cope with most things that life threw at me. I had a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a case manager.

I got some medications that worked well, which I changed in 2013 to different medications that work better.

I learned to meditate, and that has proven strikingly valuable. I now meditate between 10 to 30 minutes every morning, and I can’t imagine starting my day without it.

I have been going to therapy regularly through thick and through thin. It has given me a safe place to go and talk about all the things that weren’t working for me and to come away with ideas to try that might work better.

I got on a regular sleep schedule that has helped.

I have been exercising by walking most of the time. I’ve had periods when I stopped, but I’ve been fairly consistent in the ten years.

I changed my diet. I now eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I try to eat as much fresh food as possible. It’s not easy, but I feel so much better.

I was accepted into a training program in 2013, and today I administer that very program. I work full time.

With the skills I learned this decade, I now live a fulfilling life. I have my own place and a car that’s paid for. I pay all my bills every month. I cope with all the stress of living a modern life. I am an out and proud gay man. I have friends.

I am excited to see what this new decade brings.

A Trip

I took a trip. I had a lot of fun visiting my children who all live far from me.

I’m not afraid of flying, but I don’t enjoy the small seats and cramped leg room in planes. For some reason I can’t explain, I was nervous before this trip. I used some deep breathing to help. (Inhale through the nose and exhale though the mouth.) It honestly helped on more than one occasion.

One child and I rented a car to drive to where another child was. That was interesting. I had to drive far on routes I had never driven on before. When we returned from that trip, I had to drive on very busy city streets. This is something that would have really caused me enormous anxiety in the past. I did it! I drove in a very big city, and I only got angry once because I missed a turn. I really managed the whole thing very well. I’m really pleased with myself.

Then I had to fly to where the other child lives to meet my granddaughter. That meant negotiating airports and sitting in small seats again, but I did fine. I was so excited to meet my granddaughter. She’s 8 months old and is honestly a good baby. She only fusses when she’s hungry. Otherwise, she was very cheerful. It was wonderful to see my son again. I haven’t seen him for two years.

I do have to do one important thing for self-care when I travel like this. I have to fly home one day before the end of my vacation to give myself a buffer of time to readjust back to my regular life. I’m happy to report that this worked well for me. I was able to unpack and do laundry and buy groceries before having to return to work today.

I’m really pleased with myself. I went on a ten-day trip, and I stayed stable.

Life Continues

Things have been rolling along in my life. I’ve had good days and lousy days, so that’s all normal. What I find gratifying in my recovery from bipolar disorder is that my bad days do not feel like the end of the world anymore. They used to feel like that some years ago.

These days, I just feel off when I feel low. I don’t know how to say it otherwise. In the past, I would feel horrible. I would barely be able to function.

Yesterday, I felt wonderful. It was Sunday, and I had a relaxing day. I read some. I listened to music. I wasted some time scrolling through the internet.

This morning, I feel off. I slept well, but I could have slept longer. Still, I’m awake and not really wanting to go back to bed. I feel vaguely dissatisfied with the fact I’m single. The result is that I’m thinking about my ex. Ugh. My thoughts haven’t dwelt on him in weeks. I only think about him when I feel off.

This too shall pass. It always does. I’ll feel fine soon. It may be just a few hours, or it might be tomorrow. I’m positive I’ll be fine soon.

I have hopes and dreams, and they are rolled up into expectations. I also live with a good amount of self-awareness, and when my hopes and dreams are disappointed, I blame myself. So this morning, I went out to get some exercise, and I could only think that nothing is going to work out the way I want, and it will all be my fault since I’m not perfect.

I am feeling very damaged.

Simultaneously, I know I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine.

I am a bundle of contradictory feelings, but I’m fine. I will be fine. I am fine.

I think I’ll just let life keep rolling.

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.

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.