Shallow Heaviness

I wrote about feeling heavy a few weeks ago. It’s never really lifted, and I feel just a kind of lassitude. I don’t know how to describe it otherwise. I’m just not cheerful. At the same time, it doesn’t feel tremendously awful. This feeling has a bottom.

I know what it feels like at the bottom of the pit of despair. I was there many, many years ago. I haven’t been there in a very long time, over a decade, and I hope to never return. Still, I feel low.

I have good reason to feel low. There’s the parental thing. There are enormous changes at my job directly causing me pain. I’m single, and I don’t want to be.

Here’s the thing I’ve never written about. My finances are a mess. I’m so ashamed of it. I’m going to talk about it in therapy tomorrow. I’ve talked about it there before. It’s not credit card debt thankfully.

I had a plan – an actual budgeted, written plan – to get myself out of this mess, and then the changes at work happened putting everything in turmoil. My salary is going to be decreased, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make it.

[I am editing this post after having written it. I want to add that difficulty with finances and overspending is an honest symptom of bipolar disorder. It’s written in the DSM-V. It’s right there in black and white. This is a real diagnosable thing. Did I mention that in this post when I originally wrote it? No. That’s how deep my shame is about my finances. I have a real illness that causes me difficulty, but because it’s a mental illness and there is stigma attached to it, I feel shame. I still think this is completely my fault. Did I spend the money? Yes. Do I have to pay my bills? Yes. Do I need to feel shame about it? No.]

I’ve written all this to say that I have good reason to feel low. This is not unreasonable.

I also know this low is shallow, because I’m at work, and I’m functioning. I’m getting stuff done. My mood is down, but it’s not desperately low. If this were despair like I’ve experienced in the distant past, I would not get out of bed.

Writing about all this helps. I know this for a fact: speaking my pain out loud makes it lose some of its power. That’s one of the reasons therapy is so powerful. It’s a time to go and talk about all the crap in my life to a person who is not personally involved in all the mess. It’s validating to hear him simply tell me that yes, indeed, I have a lot going on.

I know I’m going to make it through all this mire. I know this will end, and I will feel better. I just wish it would hurry up.

Being Gentle

I woke up after sleeping seven and a half hours in a panic. I was suddenly awake and afraid. I wanted to stay in bed, but it was useless. I was unavoidably awake.

I struggled through my morning routine. I didn’t just sit and breathe for my morning meditation, but I reverted to guided visualization. I needed the steps of walking through the door into My Happy Place and the continued steps to the place of just breathing.

I reached out to the love that I feel when I get to the place of just breathing and felt it soothe me, but I was just not able to stay in that feeling.

There is so much tumult in my life right now.

I ended up having to stay home from work today. I took medicine for anxiety and went back to bed for another two hours.

I called my therapist and was able to see him this morning. That was helpful. I’m using the tools I have that I know have worked in the past: medication, meditation, therapy, etc, and I’m being gentle with myself.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself through 33 years of therapy is that I am not good at handling uncertainty. I have a lot of that in my life right now, so I’m going to be gentle with myself today.

I really wish I could cry. I can’t. Years of forced repression of my emotions and my homosexuality inhibits my ability to show distress.

At least for today, I don’t feel good. I know this will pass, but I’m feeling it today. I’m using the tools that I know work. I will be OK, but for today, I’m going to be gentle with myself and stay home and read.

Ten Years Blogging

I started blogging ten years ago today. Wow! Where has the time gone?

When I look at old entries, I’m amazed at the change. Ten years ago, I was beset by despair. Today, I live in hope of things getting better.

As regular readers know, January was hellish for me. On January 4, my dad called me telling me – much to my surprise – that he’d recently discovered I was gay and therefore he and my mother were disowning me. I say I was surprised, because I’d come out to my mother more than twenty years before. I always assumed she’d told my dad, but obviously she didn’t.

Then in late January, I found out that in the reorganization at my work, I was being demoted and would have my salary slashed. January was plain hell for me.

Ten years ago, I would have had dire reactions to these events. This year, I had some strong emotions, I took some days off work, but I never thought of giving up. I have tools today to help me in times of trouble: medication, meditation, therapy, exercise, diet, and sleep. I used all but exercise to get myself through the pain of those events, and I’m not beating myself up about not exercising.

Ten years ago, I wrote about living in the hell that was my head. Today, my head is pretty calm. It’s not great, but it’s not scary. In all honesty, I have to admit that the thought of being unlovable since my parents disowned me did occur to me just this past weekend. I talked about it in therapy yesterday. It’s a false notion. My parents are warped. Hopefully, I won’t date warped men.

I have one thing to say about this anniversary: recovery is real. People who live with serious mental illness can and do recover and lead meaningful lives. If I recovered, other people can, too.

Turning the Corner

I had a great therapy session yesterday, and I slept nine hours last night. I feel great!

I worked through some important points in therapy yesterday. I’ve been working through them for a long time, but the anger I had yesterday was the catalyst I needed to complete the work.

I have been obsessed with finding a boyfriend. To hell with that! I’m going to date and just leave it up to the Universe. I’m just going to have fun. The boyfriend will happen when it happens. I have released the obsession.

I am worried about the reorganization that is happening where I work. It’s causing me problems directly in the form of compensation. You know what? I’ll figure it out. I do not know what’s going to happen, but I’ve decided I can’t worry about it right now. Somehow it will work out.

I am fabulous! Fuck anybody who disagrees!

Hurting and Angry

Yesterday, I experienced high anxiety all day long. I had to rely on a medication I have for those kinds of days. I also took a nap and restarted my day. When I woke up from the nap, I did all my regular morning routine including meditation. It helped enormously.

However, by the evening my negative self-talk was blaring lies in my head. They only stopped when I went to sleep. I woke up feeling better this morning. I had a wonderful meditation. I didn’t time it today, but it was a really good one.

I am back to feeling lousy, though. I feel just awful, and my negative self-talk is screaming at me.

The title of this blog has the word winning in it. I am not winning this morning. I hurt, and I’m angry.

And I don’t feel like talking about it. That’s true for right now. I have therapy this afternoon. I’ll definitely talk about all this then.

But for now, forget it.

Heaviness

My heart is heavy. I had two real traumas in January. The first was when my dad called to disown me. The second came much later in the month, and it had to do with my job.

The agency where I work is being reorganized. As part of that reorganization, my job is being reclassified, and the little office I run is being made part of a new office. The result is that my salary is being slashed by a lot. The reorganization takes place July 1. At that time, the new office will come into effect. It will have a new office manager, and I will be eligible to apply for it, but there is no way to know in advance if I will be successful.

I spent much of last week reeling with this news. There were days my anxiety was so high I had to take sick leave at work. The slash to my income is too high for me to manage. If my application for the new management position is unsuccessful, I will have to take a roommate to afford my rent. I have analyzed my budget, and I can’t make ends meet by simply cutting expenses.

I have done several things to prepare. I have immediately slashed spending. I still have a number of months to go at my current salary. I will save every stray penny that I can.

I just feel very heavy.

Through it all, I realize that I’m quite strong. I have weathered two real traumas, but I’m still standing. I haven’t isolated. I’ve been out on two dates. One man came to my house, and I made him a cup of very good coffee. I met another man for coffee. I was able to tell both about my troubles and demonstrate that I’m resilient.

I’ve been seeing my therapist weekly.

I’ve been sleeping a lot, which can be a sign of depression, but sleep is one of my recovery tools, so I take this as a good sign. I say “a lot,” but it really just is a healthy amount. It’s not too much.

I’m taking all my medications as prescribed, and I have made an extra appointment with my psychiatrist to tell him what’s going on. He needs to know about these things to help me monitor myself for signs of debilitating relapse into depression or hypomania.

I’m meditating as much as I can. I’ve started walking down to the cathedral during work breaks and getting some even breathing in that time.

My diet is unchanged. I eat healthy food. I don’t drink soda. The only thing that is close to junk food I’m eating these days is trail mix, which is mostly nuts and raisins with a few M&Ms.

I’m going to AA meetings when I can. That’s about two or three times each week. It’s good to be around other people working on improving themselves.

One thing I’m not doing is exercising. I’m just not doing it, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

Despite two real traumas, I’m going to be OK. Right now, I’m allowing myself to feel heavy. This is grief.

A Dream

I dreamt my dad sent me a packet of mail that had been delivered to their house, and he wrote a letter and included it. I read the letter in my dream, and it upset me a lot. There were other parts of the dream that I don’t remember, but one part was actually very nice. There was a baby learning to talk. It was just learning a word. I wish I could remember the word. It’s gone.

This is all part of the process of grieving and releasing. There are good days and bad days. I had a bad night. It woke me up, and I was unable to get back to sleep for many hours. I was very late for work, but I’m lucky. My work understands.

The dream is interesting to think about. A packet of mail delivered to my parents who have disowned me. I think it has to do with severing more of the ties that used to bind us. I’m cutting off more of the pain they inflicted on me for years. The baby learning to talk is me learning to live as my own person.

I slept a bit more and woke up feeling much better. I’m at work now, which is good. I’m not sitting at home ruminating about a letter in a dream.

The rest of today will be good.

Just Maybe

I feel OK this morning.

I’m definitely not doing a happy dance, but I’m not in a pit of despair either. I was in that pit Tuesday. That was a really painful day. I managed to stay at work all day, but I was hurting bad.

I’m not hurting bad this morning. Just maybe I feel a teensy bit light. I guess it’s not hard to feel a bit light after how low I’ve been.

I even went out this morning and got a bit of exercise. I walked a mile at a very brisk pace. Speed walking is something I’ve enjoyed for years. For a long time, I walked 6 mornings every week. I haven’t walked recently, but I walked this morning. After meditation, I stood there and thought it would be a good idea to cap off that good experience of sitting and breathing by walking, so I did.

Just maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I am certain there will be more sadness, but just maybe it will be of shorter duration when it comes. Just maybe I’m healing.

If you don’t know what’s going on, you’re going to have to back up in the blog and read the events of the last 3 weeks or so.

I’m at Work

I got up early as usual. I noticed right away that I wasn’t feeling buoyant. I felt low. My negative self-talk was running, and I was trying to counter it as best I could.

I was able to meditate for a good long time, and that made me feel very good. I crashed after, though. Came back down to the low feeling.

I was struggling all morning. I did not take a walk. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t make my bed either, which is out of character for me.

All this is due to the stress from my recent loss. I’m having good days and bad days. Sometimes they are good hours followed by bad hours.

I made the determination to come to work no matter how I felt today, so I’m at work. Right now, I feel flat, not good and not bad. I think being at work is a good thing. I have tasks to perform, and that takes my mind off my situation.

This blog is about solutions. I don’t know which solution is working today, but I’m walking through my difficulties. Just walking through it.

Ritual

When I got home from work last night, my negative self-talk exploded without all the distractions of work related tasks. I simply couldn’t stop all the dark thoughts. I was in a lot of pain. I was reciting the positive things I have in my life, but it just wasn’t enough.

My best friend had what turned out to be a lifesaving idea: write them down and burn them. I got a sheet of paper and filled it front and back with all the stuff that my mind was lying to me about. I put down the darkest, most horrific thoughts that my mind was filled with.

I loosely wadded it up and put it in an old can and lit it on fire. I took a picture of it burning and texted it to my friend. It honestly felt good, and while it was burning, I got a great idea to do the same thing with all the beautiful things I could say about myself.

I did that. I filled the front and back of a sheet of paper with love about myself, with the names of people I know who love me, and with good things in my life. It felt good just to write them down. I did the same thing with this list. I burned it. I released the good energy, and I felt wonderful!

I am so grateful to have a friend who thinks so imaginatively. It was a little ritual that honestly rescued me.

xoxo