Not for the faint of heart, I'd like to add a trigger warning to this one.
Tossing and turning for the umpteenth time, trying to figure out why I haven't been able to sleep, I reviewed my behavior over the past week or so and it finally dawned on me (I'm a little slow sometimes) - Mixed episode...one of my least favorite aspects of bipolar disorder, well not that there actually is a favorite aspect in my case because I never get those "happy" highs. Mostly at night, but also at random times during the day (especially if someone calls and says "how're you doing?" my brain just won't shut the hell up, ranting away at doctors and nurses, things I want to remember to say, emails I want to write, anger and frustration build up like too much air in a thin balloon, until I'm certain my head is going to explode. I wrote this whole blog post in my head last night (it was very clever), then I got up and finally took a couple clonazapams, slept well, now I can't remember what I was going to write...it was a good one, too. The night before I was writing angry emails to the CNP, and having phone conversations with the doctor's nurse (in my head, of course, not in actuality). In addition, there's quite a bit of self-trashing thrown in for good measure.
During the day, especially when I'm alone, the depression hits. The despair is so scary, it's been a long time since I've had suicidal ideations, and I can't get rid of them. If I lived alone, I'd probably be in the hospital right now. But fortunately, I have an amazing patient husband who loves me unconditionally, and a daughter who's been through this and knows when to alert him. Sometimes he seems patronizing, but then I realize it's just that he's scared (one of his closest friends had bipolar disorder and committed suicide), and doesn't know what to say or do. Fortunately, there's been no self-injury, just a shitload of tears and inability to function.
The triggers? Let's start with pain. After more years of abusive relationships than I care to think about, including 15 years of domestic violence, I've learned to have a high threshold for pain. But this time it's wearing me down. I've had enough of the promises, the injections, the pills, the misinformation, the varying diagnoses, and my inability to be productive. And that brings up one more trigger, most likely the biggest of all (survivors of domestic violence have a high incidence of PTSD ). The fucking laundry. Yes, the laundry. Greg has been happily (or at least uncomplainingly) doing the laundry for the last few weeks, and each time it sends me into a downward spiral that I just can't stop. When he cooks, does the dishes, or makes the bed, it doesn't affect me, but the laundry is unbearable. I finally figured that one out too last night.
About 18 years ago I had a ruptured disc (probably the beginning of this latest nightmare). I was in the hospital for five days, and I came home to five days worth of laundry produced by two children and one husband. The house was a mess as well, dirty dishes, etc. You see, that was all my "job," and I was expected to go right back to work when I got home. The doctor had said "You can resume restricted normal activities when you go home." What did my husband hear? "You can go back to work." He was proud of his new invention...a huge, three-sorter laundry basket on wheels. The wheels were supposedly to enable me to easily drag it up and down the stairs to the laundry room in our apartment building. Nice guy, eh? The day after I returned home, a visiting nurse came by, and was shocked to see what I was doing. I received a lecture on how to take care of myself after a back surgery, but it was useless. I had work to do, and I was out of sick days. So now, my first reaction to Greg doing the laundry is self-recrimination, that's MY job, damn it, and if I can't do that then I'm fucking useless.
And then there's the sex. Greg is definitely not a demanding man. He's respectful of "no" for whatever reason. No judging, pouting, or negative reaction of any kind. But again, there's where PTSD rears it's ugly head. I learned when I was a freshman in high school, that saying "no" will result in a slap in the face. I was trained well for marriage to an abuser (did you know there was such a thing as marital rape? I didn't.). So the few times I've had too much pain, I've felt horrible and burst into tears when I've had to say "No, thank you."
In 1997, my daughters and I escaped that horrific situation, and I keep thinking I should be over it by now. I don't even consciously think about it anymore, it's just a knee-jerk reaction.
Unfortunately, no amount of reassurance, thinking of my grandbabies, my cats, new bread techniques to learn, or those that love me can get rid of these selfish thoughts of wanting to disappear. I lie in my bed trying to will my heart to simply stop, because I don't want to leave behind any kind of mess for someone else to clean up. I have become a burden to those around me, and my quality of life sucks.
I fly up and down between "I am strong, look what I've survived, I can do this!" to just plain "Fuck it, I'm done." I try to think about others who have survived more, who deal with worse pain and disabilities, but all it does is make me feel worse because I think "What a wimp, it's just a little nerve pain, I should be able to learn to deal with this". Perhaps if the doctors and the CNP would be honest with me, and tell me what I need to know, not what they think I want to hear, I could deal with it. But they get my hopes up by saying things like "No, of course you won't feel pain after this injection, this will fix it for sure." I keep asking for advice on what I should be doing to help myself, and is there anything I shouldn't be doing, and the answer is always the same...go for walks, don't do anything that hurts - no shit.
Welcome to my pity party, there will be no cupcakes or party hats, you might not want to stick around for this one.
A mixed epsiode is defined by meeting the diagnostic criteria for both a manic episode as well as a major depressive episode nearly every day for at least a full week. Like most mental disorders, a mixed episode must be severe enough to cause distress or impairment in social, occupational, education or other important functioning and is not better accounted for by the physiological effects of substance use or abuse (alcohol, drugs, medications) or a general medical condition.