Category Archives: Grief

Inherent Dignity And Worth

In church today we recited some principles of our faith. The first one is the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, indeed every thing in the universe. The reflection included some stuff about the inherent dignity and worth of every person, as well as the need for finding meaning and purpose for life.

Some observations.

  1. It’s an assumption of mine that a lot of (most?) people in the world do not have the luxury of self-reflection or finding meaning and purpose – in their jobs, for instance. It’s a 1st world or 4th quadrant problem. Must have the basics of life going well (i.e., a job that provides for a family) before self-actualization becomes an issue, says the person in weekly therapy. I have the luxury.
  2. I do not feel I have inherent dignity and worth. I feel like a collection of cells that have gone wrong. I have so many medical problems, and bipolar is just the worst one right now. I know you will disagree with me.
  3. Evolutionary science is absolutely amazing, and each thing in the universe is awe-inspiring for how it has evolved to function in so many diverse ways. In living things, in me surprisingly, there is a survival instinct to keep breathing, keep eating, keep sleeping, keep living. It’s what has kept me alive when so close to suicide. I follow this instinct to this day when I can’t see a point in going on.
  4. So I’m in awe of how my personal cells have evolved with billions of microbes to create a living thing. But my genes mutated into a living thing that is not fit for the environment, and I first made the decision and then it was made for me, not to reproduce so that I didn’t pass along any of my (mostly heritable) mutations who would also not be fit for the environment.
  5. I know I’m not giving my body enough credit for adapting as much as it has. Nevertheless, I don’t feel I have inherent worth or dignity. Just a collection of cells not functioning even with modern science working hard.

Sigh.

An Icky Stay at a Icky Hospital

I miss my Illinois hospital so much. The people, the familiarity of the place and routines so I could feel safer faster. I was planning to write them an update anyway. Now I’ll sing their praises too!

I hit 10 months out of the hospital last Sunday. Hooray! Then the next day I went inpatient at the place I was doing outpatient programming. That was so very, very disappointing to stop my streak. I was doing well! Then it was just too intense with ridiculously high anxiety, suicidal thoughts and urges more frequent and more intense, PLUS visual hallucinations starting. [sheepishly] I guess I needed to go in.

I was only in for 4 days. Thank Goodness! It was a horrible and icky experience.

  • My medical meds were messed up the whole time. Apparently I needed x,y, and z from home. And then I didn’t. And then I did. And then I needed an order for them. Giant Sigh!
  • It was freezing! I was wearing two shirts and a sweater and I was still cold! I mean, I understand germ control, but give us a couple more degrees!
  • It wasn’t all that clean or kept as clean as it could, especially between roommates.
  • Most of the people were detoxing from alcohol or drugs, very few dealing with mental health situations. It was clear the rules, such as keeping rooms locked during the day, were meant primarily to keep them from sleeping the day away.
  • It was clear during the very little processing or therapy time of the need to keep such different groups separate. The dire issues are so very different.
  • There were six smoke breaks a day preceded by fresh air breaks. Guess which breaks were NEVER skipped? And since I’m allergic to cigarette smoke and have asthma, I can’t just go out during their breaks and stand away. That smoke carries far!
  • Did I mention how little therapy there was? I mean it was blank time so much of the time. Why be there?
  • Only benefit to me was the change in my psych meds which got rid of the hallucinations, and my anxiety went down. Suicidal ideation finally lessened too but I lied about having any. They wouldn’t understand that I have them all the time but now I don’t entertain them all the time. That was how I was able to stay out of the hospital for 10 months. (Still miffed I have to start my count over).
  • I am left with my psych meds making me sedated All.The.Time. I fell asleep in my chair there all the time, even meals. And I’m doing it again at home. Something I still need to work out in outpatient.

So I’m back in the outpatient program. I was so sedated this morning driving in that I was swerving and trying not to hit bumpers. So now I’m getting transportation from the program but I’m leaving an HOUR before I need to. (I’m whining I know. But I’m not a morning person plus all the sedation.)

I had a good day today and got a hair cut for self care. Here’s to processing grief and anxiety for a few weeks!

Anxiety Blows

I am struggling with an extraordinary amount of anxiety – 8-9 on a scale of 10. It has been high since October before I tried living on my own again. But with the move to Texas, the anxiety has been my constant companion and consistently high. And so I am in a day program to deal with mood lability, anxiety, and depression.

Today in program I had a nice meltdown about my anxiety. I figured a few things out. It’s related to losing my independence because I feel that I’m a failure at taking care of myself. The bipolar and anxiety and depression have won and I’m failing. I’m buying into the stigma that mental illness is a moral failure or weakness of character.

It doesn’t matter that I would tell people that their illness is biological and a disease they had no say in contracting. It doesn’t matter that I would tell people that asking for help and getting more support is a strength not a weakness. It doesn’t matter that I would tell people that living with mental illness is brave and courageous.

Because deep down inside I don’t believe it. I‘m a failure at living independently and taking care of Continue reading

Saying Goodbye

I am in Illinois with my mom for two weeks to see doctors, pack up everything, and say goodbye to the good friends who have made my life possible for the last 8.5 years in Illinois. I was in and out of the hospital more than 30 times during that time. My church, my family/friends, my friends have all walked that horrible road with me. They’ve seen me suicidal and helped me get through the moment and then take me to the hospital anyway. They’ve fed my cats while I’m gone. They’ve welcomed me back into the world without batting an eyelash. They gave me the opportunity to volunteer and give back in ways I could. They helped me feel less disabled. I can’t say thank you enough. And Goodbye is nearly impossible. I really hope I find cheap airfares to come back for a visit sooner rather than later, and regularly too. I’d like to keep relationships!

And saying goodbye to my psychiatrist and therapist was near impossible! They have been so helpful and accepting. I bonded so deeply to them. They are wonderful people.

I’m finding that the rending apart of relationships is so difficult, so very difficult, that I can’t concentrate on much else. My mom asks me questions about packing or donating, or whether these things are going to home or to storage, and it hurts my brain, literally, to make a decision. My concentration is so low that I’m forgetting basic routines like how to get ready for bed.

rootsI’m tearing apart roots that I haven’t had since leaving California after 30 years of growing up there. I hope I can make some shallow roots that deepen quickly in my new location in Dallas area. I’m a person that needs people and that needs roots.

New Year’s Thoughts

I made it through my riskiest time of year. I did get the Christmas delusion and grandiosity a day or so early and lasted for a few days. In fact I still have the fear of the mystical and mysterious that comes with the manic experience.

See, I grew up very religious. From the time I was 9 or 10 I had the experience that I was participating in the birth of Christ in some way on Christmas Eve. It manifested as a sense of the mysterious, mystical, numinous, though I couldn’t use those terms or images until I was a young adult. By the time I was in seminary preparing to be a pastor, the feeling was strong and the experience included the sense that I helped bring/was bringing Jesus into the world and I had a special mission to bring hope or joy or love or unity into the world through Jesus.

I know, a little over the top. I even thought most people had a sense of the mystical on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t until weeks of therapy around this time of year over several years that I knew in my heart and mind that it was a manic experience and that most people don’t have a mystical experience at Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t bring it out with my worship services.

Now that I’m aware of all this, I get anxious as I anticipate this manic experience. I try not to anticipate but I do. I avoid my church during the weeks leading up to Christmas (Advent) because the focus is waiting for The Christ Child to come again and our participation in the peace, joy, and love in the world. Even though I didn’t grow up with this liturgical rhythm, you can see how it would be Not Helpful. Not only do I lose my church support system, I am faced in my mind with what I’m missing. So it’s hard not to anticipate the delusion and grandiosity.

Today is New Year’s Eve, and I am still scared of the mysterious and mystical. I’m glad the weather is bad enough I can’t travel to a New Year’s worship service. There might be too much of “opening the mystery of a new year” or that’s where my thoughts might go. Not Helpful. I’m still scared.

In the new year, I’m hoping for mental stability and the ability to ask for and act on help when I need it. I hope I don’t need the hospital. I’m also hoping to find that special someone.

Down the Same Road Again

Here I am again. Anxious and suicidal. I have been feeling this way for several days now. Twice now I’ve stayed overnight at a friend’s house because I didn’t feel safe alone. I’m scared I’ll end up in the hospital, but at least I feel safe there. There are no temptations to end it all.

I think this was brought on by a med change. I’m so frustrated by that because my doctor and I made them, and made them slowly so that I wouldn’t have that hangover feeling until mid-afternoon when I finally had energy to start the day. I often fall asleep in the morning a couple hours after I get up too. I hate feeling like a slug.

I think lowering one drug in particular brought on increased depression and anxiety, as well as increased suicidal thoughts with plans (which I always have, even when I’m not actively thinking about suicide, I have the thoughts WITH plans).

That drug has been increased for several days now, but I’m still feeling horrible. Anxiety is cycling with suicidal plans. Impulsivity is growing. I don’t have the means to carry out my primary plan at home so most of the time I feel “safe” – I’m less likely to do anything. Doesn’t mean the thoughts aren’t there or the plans or the impulsivity. Sadly, my main plan is one I can carry out at my friend’s house where I stay when I feel unsafe. I’m not alone until after I fall asleep, I sleep pretty hard and I wake up groggily when people come downstairs. So I’m mostly safe.

I’m so tired of the lost time I get in the hospital all these days and weeks I’ve spent in my 30+ times. I grieve for the time even though there is nothing else I can do to stay alive. I grieve for the burden I become on friends to take care of my cat or bring me clothes. I’m ashamed of my self for not trusting myself to keep myself safe or using skills strongly enough. I’m very hard on myself. I feel a hospitalization coming. I’ve been on the increased medication for several days now and I’m still just as bad. I don’t know if I can wait a full week to give it a shot, or for another week after that when we increase the first medication, which is likely.

I don’t know what to do. I feel horrible.

Angry and Sad and Anxious

It’s f-ing Holy Week before Easter and I’m imploding. Mostly from the anxiety that turns into tension that turns into a headache that turns into a migraine. I took a walk to see if that would expel some of the energy of the feelings. The walk didn’t really help.

Holy Week is traditionally hard for me since diagnosis of bipolar, which you can see documented throughout the blog. Not as bad as the Christmas mania/delusion which can last weeks, but this Holy Week seems especially bad.

I’m grieving not leading a church through the holy days ever again. I liked making space for mystery and for people to experience something bigger than themselves in the dramatic and formational/fundamental story of Christianity. And I won’t do that anymore.

And I won’t do it anymore partially (wholly?) because when I was leading a congregation through the holy days I would experience manic religious visions and delusions. I had my own high going. I planned everything far enough in advance so that I could enter the experience in my way too, and I hoped my experience and liturgies  would lead others into the experience of Holy Week too. Holy Week and Easter, besides being fundamental to being Christian, exemplified how I approached being a pastor – making space for others to have mystical ,or at least mysterious, experiences of the divine. Like I did.

I’m angry because I won’t get to live out Holy Week again with a church, and I’m angry at mania for being the reason I can’t. So I’m mad at myself too. I’m angry that my response is an inability to deal with my feelings and therefore not being able to take care of myself very well. I’m doing the best I can, I guess. Give myself credit for getting out of bed? For getting dressed? For going for a walk? Still haven’t figured out meals today. It’s hard every day and I get so messed up in feelings that I don’t want to eat, but I need nourishment to prevent hangry outrage or turning on myself.

I’m sad because I miss leading people through holy days. I was good at it. I’m grieving the position I lost because of the bipolar. I’m sad that I’m susceptible to being ruled by these feelings so that I’m not at my best and not taking care of myself the way I want to be. I’m using skills to deal with feelings, such as reminding myself they are just feelings and I can go about my life anyway. I’m so bogged down in sadness that this skill is not working well. My therapist reminded me this is probably a week to focus primarily on distraction techniques to move through the week. I’ll get there. The time will run out, and I’ll be ok again. The moving through is what is so damned hard. Slogging through quicksand is the best image I can think of.

I’m anxious, well, because I’m anxious. I’m always anxious. Yet this anxiety is fueled by the anger and sadness. I’m anxious that I’ll take this too far and end up in the hospital again, after 70 days of being out and stable, even through the time change and equinox, traditionally difficult times for me. I’m anxious that the manic visions and delusions will happen even without participating in anything religious. Maybe just by reading about or hearing about something religious.

I’m stuck. I won’t always be stuck because time marches on, and it will be next week soon. These four days are trying to the soul, to the mind, to the body. I’m not taking good care of any of those, despite some trying such as taking a walk.