I want to post every day but I didn't yesterday, but here is something I wrote yesterday, so I think that counts.
Bipolar Episode 14
I am walking around the house wearing just a bra. I empty three quarters of the dishwasher. I obsess whether or not the recycling truck will pick up three weeks of my newspapers, milk cartons, and aluminum cans. Have I done something wrong? Are my cans and newspapers organized improperly? Maybe I should finish getting dressed. Maybe I should eat. I call a friend and talk for an hour. We’re both dealing with anxiety. Neither of us likes it. Is it chemical? Is it because I’m not Zen enough and need to meditate more? I’ve been trying to get outside and mow my lawn for two hours now. I’ll check my email. I’ll search the web for something that seems very important. I’ll move and dust the boxes under my bed so I can vacuum my bedroom. I’ll dust the shelves, but barely. Did the truck take my recycling? What will I do if they didn’t? It looks like my neighbor’s recycling is still there. I’m going to mow my lawn, so will I just move it to the driveway? And then what? For the last several weeks it’s been too much to get the recycling out there. Dragging it all to the curb feels like a moral victory. After talking to my friend I felt calmer. Not so much now.
Racing thoughts. That’s what my therapist calls them. I took my pills. I had this one pill that really helped with the racing thoughts. It also made me dangerously, completely tired. I’d hit one in the afternoon and it was no longer safe for me to drive. When I try to slow down and focus I see these little spots of light in front of me. It’s true that I’m less anxious when I’m asleep, but that is not a good long-term strategy. I have this little pill, just .25, hardly anything at all, that helps, I think. But I resist taking it because I want to be able to fix this myself. I want to not be anxious. I want to be productive in a slightly less manic way. I want to be able to have some sense of what I have accomplished, which is hard to do because I’m working in an altered state.
Ok, that’s it. I had to go outside and check if my neighbor’s recycling had been picked up. No, and not the next house over, either. I can hear the truck now, outside of my house. It’s beautiful out, a North Carolina spring day, sunny and not too warm. My yard is a disaster, so I think, ok, I’ll take it one step at a time. Mow the lawn first. Use the weed wacker. The other day I took my weed wacker to Home Depot because I followed the instructions to re-thread the unit and it got stuck. All I wanted was to buy a replacement piece – please, sell me something – but the guy was on a helpful kick and fixed it, but I know I won’t be able to do that again because his hands were really big, and mine are not. And nobody knew if these replacement pieces would fit my machine. And it was 3:55 when my mother called me and I was supposed to be at my therapy group at 4:30 p.m. and I needed to take a shower. Thank God she called and talked me down and out of the store, but REALLY, when someone wants to buy something, why would a salesperson block the transaction? Should I have to beg, please let me spend money in your store?
Back to the yard. I plan to use a completely un-organic means to kill the weeds. I don’t have the energy to research other options. I already have to research whether or not the replacement piece at the Home Depot will fit my machine. At some point, I’ll borrow my grandmother’s thing-a-ma-gig to trim my bushes back from over the sidewalk. I’ve been trying to get outside to work in the yard for several hours now. Actually, several days, even weeks. I’ve had three men come to my door and offer to mow my lawn. One of them stopped by twice. This is a sign.
It takes so much energy to hold myself together, I said to my friend, who is also anxious. What would happen if you didn’t hold yourself together? I don’t know, but I’m clearly not able to consider that question at this time because it’s frankly not possible to consider because I am working very very hard to keep moving and not stop moving because to stop means that I might stop for a really long time and not get anything done at all. I can go to sleep at 5 p.m. and not wake up until morning, and feel very guilty about my dog who is incontinent anyway, so I don’t feel as bad because then she just pees in the house, and only in the guest bathroom which is incredibly considerate, she’s always been that way, and now she is sixteen, it’s hard for her to keep food down, and she’s seriously slowing down, and it’s likely she’ll die soon and then I won’t have the sweet comfort of another being in the house, the sound of her breathing while she sleeps on her dog bed right next to my bed. Though I won’t miss cleaning up pee and vomit, I have to admit that is true.
Is anxiety about repressed anger and emotions that cannot be expressed so they twist and turn and become this other thing? Am I just a bit manic? It feels like all I can do is to keep trying to get to the next thing. Dishwashing, emailing, washing clothes, sorting clothes, making lunch, getting dressed (eventually putting on the rest of my clothes), planning to bring up my summer clothes and putting away my winter clothes which makes sense because I can carry the plastic bins down the back stairs outside when I go down to mow the lawn.
I had this whole month or so where I tried the new medicine, the one that put me to sleep, and I also screwed up and doubled my dose of another medicine, and I was shaky and my mouth tasted metallic and I couldn’t really function all that well. I feel like I lost a month or more, more even because then I had to catch up on all I didn’t do in a month, like pay bills or respond to emails, or mop my kitchen floor which is really pretty gross. And getting my sleep back on track – with the sleeping during the day I wasn’t so much sleeping at night – took even longer.
If slamming my head against the wall would make this racing stop I would do it, but unfortunately, it only works for a minute. My body is vibrating, my skin itches, I’m wearing the loosest possible clothing because otherwise I might tear it all off and end up nekked.
Did I mention I need to go to the mall to return those shirts my mother gave me that don’t fit? And mail back that bathing suit that doesn’t fit, which makes me sad because I’d really like to get it together and start swimming laps again. Getting it together enough to leave the house is a bit intimidating, though.
I’ll try. Try to notice my feet in my pink Crocs pressing into the floor. Try to be aware of my body in space, of each movement. Try not to spin off into the anxiety vortex. Stay. In. This. Moment.
Hungry. Smoothie and peanut butter on toast. Finish emptying the dishwasher and load the dishes on the counter. Leave the laundry alone. Mow the lawn.
At least they picked up the recycling.
And so this is what happened. I sat in the sun, present to the warmth on my skin, and I got terrifically sleepy. So I went to bed to take a nap around 2 p.m., skipped an evening outing, which it would have been really good for me to attend, lots of folks that I like and who like me. Then I slept until 10:30 p.m. and woke up and had cereal. It was hard to go back to sleep after that and so I dosed in an out all night. Got out of bed at 7:30 a.m., made eggs for me and my dog, and now I am bound and determined to do ONE THING AT A TIME: eat, vacuum, mow lawn. I feel pretty calm in this minute. We’ll see how it goes.