Tag Archives: motivation

Better

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in therapy and on meds. Going to therapy, takin’ my meds. Rescheduling therapy, adjusting my meds. Adding more therapy, adding more meds, then backing off a little on both. Though I’m still a habitual marijuana self-medicator, I’ve more or less stopped drinking over the past year. I definitely stopped that shit where I pick up a 6 pack on my way home and drink alone in my living room with my guitar before the sun even goes down. A bottle of gin in my house has a way longer shelf life these days. I been good. A model prisoner of my illness (or whatever poetics you wanna stamp onto this situation).

A week or so ago in therapy, my doctor commented on how much better I was doing. I’ve been on Depakote for like 5 months. No hair loss or anything! I’ve had some kinda funky depressions and at least one pretty awesome hypomanic episode, but overall things have been less sharp and less rough. I’ve been writing a lot. I’m working on a collection of poems and I’ve been writing some essays just for shits. I feel stupid and wordless a lot. Then I don’t. Sometimes I feel proud of myself. It’s real weird.

But my doc says I’ve been doing better. She has my chart. She’s been treating me for 8 and a half years. I told her I didn’t really believe her, but that she’s the expert. So here we are. I’m better. Yikes.

Part of me is upset by this prospect: better. It makes me wanna destroy myself a little and I certainly know how, but there’s a large part of me that feels I owe it to my psychiatrist – to all the hard work she’s done and all the shit she’s put up with from me – to stay better. Why don’t I feel beholden in the same way to myself?

Couple theories: Firstly, and most obviously, if I’m doing terribly, I probably can’t get a whole lot worse. There’s nowhere to fall from rock bottom. It’s paradoxically comforting to know there are no threads left to cradle you. You get to lie all the way down.

Secondly, I’ve had more experience with depression than…almost anything else over the past decade. I know how to navigate it. Sure, it hurts like hell, but it’s a hurt I’m used to. I can change all the dressings ‘n everything. I’ve been ill as a full time job for years and years. I’m getting fired or something. Additional metaphors relating to the unknown, etc.

But I think my biggest problem is: what now? My identity is kinda shifting away from simply Bipolar Laura to _______ Laura. Not sure how to fill in that blank. I mean, I’ll always have bipolar. I didn’t get here by magic, I worked toward this. I don’t think, though, I ever really thought concretely about what I was working toward, just that I needed to keep pushing in an upward direction. Now I have more time and energy (most days) and I don’t need to use those circumstances to patch myself up the same way. I can do things!

I told my doctor that I’ve arrived at the downside of up and she said, “Yup, that’s the downside.” She recognizes that the new imperative I’m facing to do something with my life is not an easy thing to tackle. Maybe it’s even complicated by the fact that there are like a hundred things I wanna do with my life. Basically, I’m having a Sylvia Plath problem:

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The Bell Jar

‘Cept I’m starving not just because I can’t decide, I’m starving ’cause even if I do decide, I can’t rely on my own self-motivation which has been directed entirely at my mental health for so long that I don’t really know how to use it for anything else. I just haven’t really had to, and though people keep telling me to be easier on myself, I still insist that I’m awfully lazy.

So let’s not confuse “better” with “cured.” I still have to take care of my illness, but the difference is that it’s not the sole thing I have to take care of right now. I still have mood swings and panic attacks and episodes. Like, that shit’s never going away entirely. Not unless I cloister myself in completely perfect behavior and probably take some stupefying meds that I don’t want. But that’s not a life. I’ve always been scared of the future for the same reason I’m now scared of being better. I don’t know precisely how to move around in it.

That’s basically where I’m at. And don’t think that I won’t stretch my indecision and cowardice and self-doubt into months and months of soul searching or some bullshit, ’cause I definitely will. Out of fear and hesitation. I have some thinking to do. It’s probably gonna be a minute.

-LB

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Do, Do Doodoo

Good gravy, I disappeared for another goddamned month again. Nothing exciting has been happening. I’m on Depakote now and I’m paranoid that it’s giving me the stupids and making my vision blurry and if there’s something in my midst that can be crafted into a complaint, then it definitely, definitely will be.

Oh wait, my tendonitis. Or tendinitis. Both are correct spellings and that fucking bugs me what with my being a stickler about things like spelling and grammar (you guys, I’ve totally gone back and edited months-old posts for tiny errors like a me vs. my typo, even though probably no one will notice and also they’re really old posts. Just a testament to this particular neurosis). ANYway, I have tendonitis in my right ankle. It hurts. I have to wear a brace. The brace only fits in my Chucks. The worst: I can’t go to my MMA class on Sundays or work out the same way at home during the week. I won’t be able to return to class for about 3 months. I’m gonna get all out of shape and lose the awesome muscles I was developing and I miss the environment in general. The women in my class and the women who teach my class are great. I enjoy myself, I get to push myself. Good stuff. Also, all that shit about exercise being beneficial to mental health has been true so far in my case.

So I’ve been grousing about my ankle injury messing with my routine a whole lot more than I’ve been trying to come up with modifications or temporary solutions because griping is easy. Yesterday in therapy, I said to my doctor, “My laziness has ambitions.” Which is unfortunately true. I’m not a self-motivator. I have trouble sticking to routines when no one’s holding my feet to the fire. That’s partly why I joined a class rather than buy a gym membership, the latter of which would require me to decide when and how often I go, which would make for a very enthusiastic first week that’d quickly drop off into a money pit by the end of the month.

What now, then? I don’t have the time or energy to tackle this entirely right now, but in therapy this past week I decided I wanted to start setting some goals for myself in order to figure out what it is I really want from life (’cause I have very little idea), which would then inform my approach to treatment. I’ve jettisoned more than a handful of careers – and the sense of identity that accompanies them – over the past 10 years. I’ve been unmoored for a long time. I insisted to my therapist that second chances are inherently shittier than first chances and she disagreed so I said, “What’s your argument?” She said the second time around, I’d be more likely to understand what I want and don’t want. I’ll agree with that, but it gets messy when I remember how sure I was of what I wanted when I was 16, 17, 18, 19. K, granted, 16 year-olds don’t typically have a very clear picture of the future, and one has more latitude to dream big at that age, but I didn’t expect something as theoretically straightforward as knowing what I want from life to lose its shape so unrecognizably. I’m gonna get back to this ’cause it’s a problem for me that I haven’t been able to grip very firmly in the last few years. I’m…perturbed. About all of everything.

Today, I have more options than obligations. I think that’s what most people call a weekend. I have a very chill friend date tonight, so I won’t be cloistered in the house like some days. But I have about 5-6 hours to kill before then. What to do…I may never stop wondering.

-LB

Nothing, More Nothing, Bathroom Break, Nothing

I tried a new migraine medicine last night ’cause I could feel a migraine brewing and I didn’t want it to last all through today, which is a thing that happens to me sometimes because 1 day of pain, nausea and sensory overload isn’t enough, clearly. I tried Axert. It’s in a class of drugs called triptans, of which I’ve tried 5 others: Zomig, Maxalt, Relpax, Frova and Treximent/Imitrex. Triptans work by shrinking the bloated blood vessels in your head that are causing the migraine. They also have like the worst motherfucking side effects of pretty much any drug I’ve ever taken (with the exception of that time I had an ear infection when I was 4 and my doctor prescribed the wrong dose of antibiotics and then we went to Virginia for Thanksgiving and I had diarrhea all over one of the dining room chairs and a few hours later was rushed to the hospital because I was screaming in pain and my mom said my distended belly looked like I swallowed a basketball. That was most certainly worse).

But triptans give me joint pain, a constricted feeling in my chest, a tingly and sensitive scalp, mild nausea depending on the drug, severe lethargy, feelings of sadness, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and sensitivity to heat and cold. Also (fun) if I take one before I go to bed so I can sleep through the side effects, I get stress dreams. Good stuff.

There’s a supposed link between migraines and mental illness. I would actually go like look up some hard facts for you because this stuff is pretty interesting, but I’m so goddamned tired and I super don’t feel like it, so go do it yourself. Or don’t. But, migraines tend to afflict people with mental health issues more than the general population because LIFE IS TOTALLY FUCKING FAIR. When I was in the hospital a few years ago for bipolar shit, most of the professionals I talked to were really interested in my migraines and I didn’t know why until a while after I got out. But I had to give my medical history to like 2 or 3 different people every day and when they asked about other maladies I have (see LBD: comorbidity) I’d say “migraines” and they’d “ahh!” with a knowing nod and then not tell me shit about why my answer made them react. Hospital people tend to assume you’re an idiot.

I’ve been getting migraines since I was 9 which was roughly when I hit puberty (like I started growing pre-boobs and leg hair around then which seems early, but really isn’t, or so I’m told, because of dairy or chicken or whatever people feed children that has too much or too little of something in it, I don’t know, I don’t have kids and I’m rarely tasked with feeding them so I’m the wrong person to ask about the hormones in your kid’s poultry). I wasn’t treated for migraines until I was 15 because my dumbass pediatrician diagnosed me with “allergy headaches” despite the facts that a) I’m demonstrably not allergic to anything but bee stings and b) my migraines are so completely textbook, I can’t believe that dude has an actual job as an actual doctor for actual kids. He prescribed me an ineffectual plethora of allergy medications (most of which are now over-the-counter because this was 18 years ago) and most of which listed “headache” as a side effect, so I spent 6 years medicating my migraines with medication that made my migraines worse until my parents took me to a headache specialist when I was 15. It took my migraine doctor – who I still see like 3 times a year – about 40 seconds to diagnose me with what were VERY OBVIOUSLY GARDEN VARIETY MIGRAINES.

So he gave me Zomig and Zomig aborted my migraines when I needed it to. But after 3 or 4 years of crappy side-effects coupled with grueling prep school and topped with inadequate sleep and respite, I ditched the Zomig and – honestly, to this day, I don’t know how – I powered through ~6 years of migraines with coffee and ibuprofen and naps. I hate naps. I fucking hate naps. Naps are traps. So, fed up, I started shuffling through all these migraine pills trying to find the one that would be maximally effective and minimally uncomfortable to use. Fun thing: the meds that work the best for me (Zomig, Relpax, Treximet/Imitrex) give me the worst side effects. The drugs that are less effective (Maxalt, Frova) are easier to tolerate re: side effects. At the end of the day, I’m gonna feel like shit no matter what I do. Most people don’t have this problem as severely as I do and can take their migraine medicine and still function. I seem to be particularly sensitive to medication side effects, as was my dad (thanks, Dad) so that’s the reason I’ve been on the medication carrousel with these drugs for so long.

Last night, I just thought, what the hell, I’ll try the Axert and smoke some weed to dull the aches and hopefully I won’t have a migraine tomorrow. It’s tomorrow and I don’t have a migraine, but I still feel the Axert. I feel like crap. I’m exhausted – either from Axert induced lethargy or from 9 hours of the frantic-ass stress dreams I got instead of quality sleep last night – and I’m having mild pain in my joints and muscles. I’m also itchy. That one’s new. But the worst of it is twofold: I can’t think straight and I feel bummed out. How I managed 900 words so far is a little beyond me because my brain feels like gutter slush and I keep stopping what I’m doing to stare at nothing for like 15 seconds at a time. Also, I’m sad. Not genuinely sad, more just listless and bummed. I don’t wanna do anything, which is Ok because I have nothing I absolutely need to do today (but I have plenty of stuff I’d like to do today), BUT this brings me, at long last, to my dilemma:

Do I have a shower and some coffee and try to power through the discomfort and do something useful or do I throw in the towel, have a cup of THC laced hot cocoa and spend the day in bed watching Hoarders on my laptop?

I could go either way, really. I feel like there’s a “should” implied here, but it’s not a very convincing one because, seriously, there are like zero negative consequences to me accomplishing a heaping pile of nothing today. I have the option of accompanying my husband on the drive downtown to pick up his newly fixed up bass. If I did that, I’d get to chat with a friend of ours who works at the shop where Nameless Bass (my husband doesn’t name his instruments like I do) is being restored. But I don’t have a lot to say, ’cause, like I mentioned, my mind is running at a snail’s pace today and I’d be like, “Hi, Friend. How’s things? Good? Good. Me too. Kinda. Yeah. How’s your girlfriend? Any headway on those Grateful Dead 50th anniversary tix yet? That’s gonna be a shitshow. My sister’s gonna move Heaven and Earth to be there, she’s really persistent…” And then I’d be talking about the Grateful Dead which is basically the same thing as talking about nothing and the whole while I’d be like mining the sloppiest tar pits of my brain trying to string together the words to form a cogent sentence, which would invariably result in many pregnant pauses and OH MY GOD I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT. And seriously, why am I so itchy??

So that zero negative consequences thing isn’t 100% true because when I do nothing all day, I feel shitty about myself and I don’t wanna pile more shitty on top of the the shitty I already feel due to the meds. But I’m pretty sure I could forgive myself for one wasted day – after I got done berating myself for having wasted a whole day. Damned if I anything. Good for me.

Even after all this writing, I don’t feel much closer to a decision. My husband is making lunch downstairs and I can smell it and I totally don’t wanna eat it. It smells salty. I want ice cream. We don’t have any. Why don’t we have any? I think this post is devolving into unbridled whining. Whatever. I did a lot yesterday. Let’s go with cocoa and Hoarders.

-LB