Tag Archives: mental health

Night Three

Here I am. It’s Night Three: the third night in a row of the wild swings, from giddiness to despondency in moments, that characterize my depression and anxiety. I am twisting and writhing, trying to fit myself into a world that I’m sure doesn’t want me. I am worthless, stupid, ugly. Wasted space, wasted potential. I should have been better, different. Somebody else.

The refrain from that chorus of voices, the youngest parts of my psyche: Why can’t you just be somebody else? Somebody normal? You’re broken. We’re broken. Fix us. Fix yourself. Be better. Please. Be better. Please.

Be better. Please.

I know these are defense mechanisms formed in my early years. Parts of me saw the world and how shitty and unfair it was — fuck, were they in for a surprise in 2017 — and figured the only way to survive was to internalize ALL the bad and make it my own. Make it me. If I was the bad thing, I had some control. I could improve me — the world, not so much. But I could be better — had to be better — or the world would swallow me and spit me out like so many others who couldn’t “handle it.”

God only gives you what you can handle. I don’t believe in god, haven’t for many years, but that saying still makes my stomach sink like a stone before the rage bubbles up into my chest where it burns red-hot. You only give us what we can handle? Do I look like I am handling this relatively easy life to you, you vindictive, omnipotent fuck-face, lying on the floor in a heap of tears and snot and sweat? How can I handle anything with this useless, broken brain you saddled me with? And don’t even get me started on those who have it worse. You accept their prayers while killing their kids and destroying their homes and tearing holes in their bodies and devastating their souls. Either make yourself useful for the first time in thirteen billion years, or go back to your cloud palace and leave us the fuck alone, you gossamer-winged douche canoe. Also, your wine fucking SUCKS.

Okay, that felt a little good. For a moment.

Still: four years of steady therapy and sixteen years of every medication under the sun feel worthless tonight, on Night Three. I’m exhausted to the point of collapse, but when sleep comes, I dream in rapid, flickering images, full technicolor and too well-lit. Vignettes of violence and humor and fear and love and death and that British lizard from the insurance commercials. Snippets of songs and whispers and horns and sirens and bad-movie dialogue.

I wish I could say that I had a good reason to feel this way. There isn’t, though. It’s just me, and my brain. It’s not Vegas, or the Orange Fucker, or work stress, or life stress – though none of those things help. It’s just me, and the voices.

Be better. Please. 

My therapist says to be nice to these voices – they’re only coping mechanisms, after all. They’re trying to protect me. And they are asking politely.

But I cannot be better right now, tonight, or really anytime. At 32, I am mostly baked – I am doing my best, and I am not going to become a superhuman anytime soon. I also cannot control the shitty, unfair world we are stuck in. But I do have work tomorrow, so, voices, here’s my offer: calm down, shut up, and go the fuck to sleep. Be better at being my psyche, will you? Please?

Here’s to a better Night Four.

 

 

#Goals, Accountability, and Shirley Temples

I’m back in San Francisco, and, after actually cleaning my apartment for the first time since I broke my foot two months ago, I am embarking on a personal spring cleaning exercise – TO CLEAN MY SOUL. Okay, so not my soul, per se, because I think that requires you to pay an indulgence to the Catholic Church. Or can you no longer do that because of the Reformation? What about Buddhism, can I pay money to cleanse my soul in Buddhism? Any other religions I should offend in this intro? No, all religions hate me already? Okay, cool, moving on.

In all seriousness, aside from the A-Z challenge, I got behind on some of my personal goals while I was laid up, so I’m putting them down here to keep me accountable. Congratulations, you are all now my life coaches. The position is unpaid and provides no benefits, but you do get my undying gratitude and occasional pictures of my manicures on Instagram:

Goal #1: Writing 

I’ve been working on a YA project for a while, but keep getting distracted. My goal is to now write minimum 2000 words a day on that project through the month of May. I’ll maybe get a word count widget going on this blog to keep myself ULTRA accountable. Yay!

Goal #2: Fitness

Before I hurt myself, I wanted to run a 5K this year. This is still my goal. I can’t officially start trying to run until this weekend, but I am going to walk minimum 10,000 steps per day until then and then start “training” (also known as jogging for a couple minutes each day until I can then jog for, like, 5 minutes without dying, and going from there). I CAN DO THIS! (Right? Can I?)

Goal #3: Career

June 1st is the anniversary of my leaving the Goog, and by this Fall I’m probably going to look into getting a full-time gig again as I continue to work on writing, because I like money 🙂 Seriously, though, I want to take one action a week to investigate what job(s) I might like to do full time come Fall. This week, I’m talking to a recruiter at a cool company on Thursday, so we’ll see how it goes!

Goal #4: Mental Health

I didn’t feel my best mentally this past week, partially because I got REALLY drunk on Saturday and it’s affected me for the past two days because clinical depression + wine = depressive episode. I’m in my thirties now, damn it, and I need to take better care of my brain. I talked to my therapist, and I’m going to engage of minimum 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation per day and also watch my social drinking. The drinking thing is especially annoying, because I really only drink socially once or twice a week, but when I do go out with friends I lose track of what I’m drinking quickly and then I’m screwed (this, to be clear, is my own fault, not my friends’!). Also, our overall culture has a super sick relationship with alcohol, THANKS SOCIETY. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So I’m only going to have 2 drinks max when I go out, and if that means I have to drink a shit ton of shirley temples at the fancy restaurant then THAT’S WHAT I’M GONNA DO!

Okay, I have SHARED MY GOALS AND NOW YOU BETTER MAKE ME MEET THEM, INTERNET OR I WILL SEND THE BEYHIVE AFTER YOU AND YOUR GOOD HAIR!

If anyone has any personal goals to share in the comments, please do! I would love to return the favor with some encouragement and accountability 🙂

Meditation: A Questionable Guide (A-Z Challenge)

Happy Monday! I’m on “M” in the A to Z Challenge, so I thought I’d share my meditation techniques with you all. I am a master at meditation, if by “master” you mean “someone whose therapist told her to try it, so she bought an e-book on the subject which she somehow managed to delete instead of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is now somehow a permanent fixture on her Kindle home screen, much to her embarrassment.” DAMN YOU TO HELL FOREVER, E.L. JAMES!

Ahem. So, I’m maybe not a meditation master per se, but I’ve been told repeatedly by MANY gurus and therapists and consultants and dogs and voices in my head that there is no wrong way to meditate. So, this is my way–maybe you’ll find it inspiring!

The Jackie Meditation Method™ (overpriced instructional dvd coming soon):

  1. Get into a comfortable position: I like to find a good spot where I can sit comfortably in a “wakeful” position, per the instructions of the app on my phone. I know you’re not supposed to meditate on your bed, because you could fall asleep, but my floor is usually dirty so I just get into a cross-legged position on the bed anyways, which is fine because I’m sitting up straight and–
  2.  Wake up 45 minutes later: Okay, so I fell asleep. That’s fine! There’s no wrong way to meditate, and–shit, I’m late for therapy. Damn it, where are my shoes? Where’s my checkbook? WHERE IS MY BRA?
  3. Go to therapy and discuss meditation techniques: My therapist asks me how my meditation is going. I lie, and he doesn’t believe me. We discuss my childhood and I cry and write him a huge check and pay an extra $15 in uber surge pricing to get home because Muni is down.
  4. Get into a comfortable position, take 2: I return home after therapy, eat a healthy meal of salad and yogurt for dessert, and try for some calming evening meditation around 7:30 pm. I set out my yoga mat and sit cross legged on my living room floor. I begin breathing deeply and–
  5. Wake up six hours later: What the fuck? How did I end up under the coffee table hugging my yoga mat? And where are my pants? Also, it’s 1 am and I’m starving, so I eat approximately 4,000 pieces of bread. I try to fall back asleep and fail until 5 am, at which point I nap for another 90 minutes before actually getting up to get my day started–exhausted.
  6. Drink 3,000 cups of coffee: How the hell else am I supposed to get anything done today? My hands are shaking a little, but that’s only to be expected…is my heart beating a little faster than normal? God, my stomach doesn’t feel so good…
  7. Have a full scale panic attack: OH GOD OH GOD TOO MUCH CAFFEINE HOW WILL I SLEEP TONIGHT MUCH LESS MEDITATE AND OMG THE KEYBOARD MY FINGERS ARE SHAKING SO HARD I CAN’T HIT THE KEAYAAPSODAS SJALSKDJPQOIWJE[O AWPOFJ (rocks back and forth clutching knees to chest, sobs)
  8. Try to meditate to calm down: OH, FUCK THIS SHIT. (*fumbles around in medication drawer*)
  9. Take a Xanax: Nirvana achieved, bitches.

 

I wish you a pleasant and peaceful day of meditation, coffee, and benzodiazepenes!

Please share your own meditation methods in the comments because THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO DO THIS, DO YOU HEAR ME?

Not alone

Be warned: this is an honest post about depression and self-harm, so don’t read if that is not what you need right now.

Tonight was not a great night. Depression combined with PMDD combined with injury combined with rain combined to form a cocktail of true shitty-ness.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have an intermittent history of self-harm. My depression and anxiety kick in, I get angry and disgusted with myself, and instead of just crying or shouting or hitting something else, I hit myself, usually in the head or leg, or both, to the point of bruising. Obviously, this is not good.

Tonight I was thoroughly convinced that I was a mean, fat, disgusting, stupid, lazy, weak-willed, worthless, uncouth, ungrateful, shallow, timid, and boring person, all at the same time. The cognitive dissonance required to think all of these things about myself at the same time was pretty impressive, but the result was not–I hit myself for the first time in probably over a year.

Besides the physical pain I caused myself, I also caused my mother, who saw me do it, emotional pain. I feel awful, and thinking about her distress brings tears of guilt as I type. But I am also grateful to her for helping me calm down and redirect the urge to hurt myself into actual discussion of my feelings, which she often shared when she had PMDD in her twenties and thirties. I’m grateful that she hugged me and dried my tears and told me she loved me. I’m grateful that she forgave me for the fear and hurt I made her feel by hurting myself.

I am lucky that I wasn’t alone.

I’m still somewhat stuck in a depressive a black hole, but my mother’s being present with me tonight was like a tiny sliver of light in that darkness. So I want to pass it on, right now, before I lose my nerve and delete this post:

If you are in despair tonight and there is no one there to comfort you, you are still not alone. There are millions of people who are with you. I am one of them. Even if no one is there to physically hug you and tell you that you are worthwhile, I will tell you now: you are not alone. You are a good person. How you are feeling is temporary, but whether this feeling lasts one hour or one day or one week or one month, you are NOT alone. 

Consider this a hug from me ❤

Love you.

 

 

Medication Frustration

This is the top drawer of my bedside table, a.k.a. the “med drawer”:

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This is where I keep the stuff that most folks organize neatly in a medicine cabinet. Mostly, it’s full of your typical and over-the-counter remedies: ibuprofen, pepto bismol, benadryl, cold medicine. It’s also where I keep my meds for anxiety, depression, and migraines. It’s a necessary, if messy, drawer. Usually, I open this drawer at night to take my daily medications without so much as a thought; it’s automatic, an action I’ve taken every night for years.

Sometimes, however, I really fucking hate opening that drawer. This week is one of those times.

I’ve been on some sort of daily medication to treat anxiety and depression pretty consistently since I was sixteen, which makes fifteen years of me opening this drawer (or its previous incarnations at my parents’ house and other apartments and dorms) every night. I’m incredibly grateful for this drawer, for the drugs in it (which have changed over the years several times–if you want to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of prozac vs. zoloft vs. lamictal vs. lexapro vs. a couple others I don’t remember at this point, I’m your gal) and for the doctors and therapists and friends and family members who have helped me get my shit together and get the help and medication I need to treat my anxiety and depression.

And yet, right now, I really hate that fucking drawer.

I hate that I have to cut my lexapro doses into little quarters as I wean off a higher “winter” dose to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I hate the bitter taste of the pill residue that gets caught in my throat sometimes when I don’t cut the pills perfectly. I hate the fact that that higher dose made me incredibly drowsy in the afternoons for two months and eliminated my libido. I hate that these pills make it hard for me to lose weight and even, sometimes, to experience joy. I hate the fact that I rely, to some extent, on a pill to make myself “normal,” if there is such a thing.

I know that these feelings are valid–and likely temporary. I also know that there are alternatives to medication that I may try down the road in addition to my current therapy regimen. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they work, that’s great. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they don’t work, that’s okay, too, and meds will still be there and probably still be able to help me from falling into a non-functional depressive black hole.

I sincerely hope no one thinks that I’m saying meds are inherently bad or that no one should take them; I don’t think that at all. If you are feeling low, and especially if you are thinking of harming yourself, please go get help, and if a doctor or therapist thinks meds will help, consider their advice seriously. I’m also not advocating that anyone take meds if they truly feel they aren’t working for them. Basically, I’m the non-judgmental ninja over here, promise!

All I’m doing is sharing with you that, for whatever reason, this week I’m just tired of the process. I’m tired of opening that drawer. I think it’s okay to be tired sometimes. It’s okay to hate the drawer and to feel grateful for it at the same time. I hope, if you have a drawer, you know that, too.