Less Stress is Best – For Everyone

In my last post, I shared a laundry list of things I felt were related to times of extended and elevated stress. As a person who has Bipolar 1, I’m acutely sensitive to stress in my environment, my social life, my home life… Well, you get the idea… in my head. You might say, “Robin, everyone experiences stress and might have cause junk to happen to them.” Fair enough.

I can only speak to my own experiences and circumstances as I interpret them. And it isn’t just that. I have to notice them too. Sometimes I get so preoccupied with something that I just don’t see what’s right in front of me.

Let me give you a quick example. I have battled IBS-d since I was married way back in 1989. Of course, it wasn’t a “thing” then. In fact, I never mentioned it to my doctor. There wasn’t a commercial on TV alerting me to the notion that I might have this thing, this real thing, called IBS-d.

Bipolar Disorder is supposed to be a “mood disorder.” Taking that at face value, let’s assume that stress is going to make managing my symptoms (the rolly-polly moods) incredibly more difficult. Let’s also assume that the stress and resulting crushing weight of experiencing increasingly intense stress (wow, too many words!).

Listen, in my experience as a person with Bipolar 1, ADHD and PTSD I can tell you with certainty (you know, because I experienced it and that makes it true) that stress caused me to have IBS-d. How do I know that and didn’t I notice myself making fun of myself just one sentence ago? Sure, I noticed. We’re talking about subjective emotions though. Think of it like that pain chart they use in the ER at any hospital in the US. “Rate your pain. Which smiley face??”

Seriously? You’re going to treat me based upon what I think my smiley face ought to be?

How are you feeling today Robin?
“My anxiety feels like it’s crushing me. I can’t sleep or think. I’ve started waking up violently angry. I’ve started yelling again and throwing things. I just can’t get it all to stop!”
Have you been able to focus?

Excuse me?

I graduated in June of last year (2018) and within two months of that time, my “IBS-d” disappeared. Creepy right? I know! Like aliens…

Alien, nigthmare, spirit...
Creepy… I think that guy might have had some comet!

Seriously though, haven’t had a blackout or eaten Comet since then. Well, I think there was one more blackout… but my memory can be sketchy at times so yes? No? Beats me.

We’re talking about emotions.

Emotions are NOT measured by drug tests.
Emotions cannot be quantified by subjective human talk therapy.
I can’t even relate to you my emotions so that you’ll understand what I mean.
In every single college class I’ve been in when the professor asks for opinions or invites discussion, no one ever agrees with everyone (sometimes anyone) across the board. Nope. Nadda.

Does this seem like a jumble? Am I talking about IBS-d or how to describe emotions? Actually, what am I talking about? Have I lost focus?

No, I haven’t. Not this time.

I no longer have any symptoms of IBS-d.

Is everything else better? Oh hell no! But, I’ll take this victory and I’ll hold onto it because I’m not locked in my house 24/7 every day anymore.

At least… not right now.

I Am . . . Afraid

I’m still depressed. My Lamictal dosage is rising steadily and is currently at 350 mg daily. Maybe it’s starting to work because I already was taking 200 mg daily. Maybe I realized how afraid I really am. Oh sure, I go to see my med provider every two weeks again (back up from once monthly) and my counselor weekly, but somehow I “feel” worse off. It’s almost as if having my mental/emotional needs addressed again with such intensity tripped me up really hard. I’m at a place in life where I am so afraid… it’s the kind of fear that sucks your brain out and leaves you stunned and unable to think straight. The depression, anxiety and anger seem like they are swarming about me. They suck at my soul. They lap at the fallen corner stone of my very being…

I’ve lost my purpose and I’m so afraid.

I was trying to think of an image that would demonstrate how I feel. It’s pretty hard to Google “afraid, depressed, anxious, without purpose” and expect anything helpful to pop up. I thought of Leonardo de Vinci  and some of they dramatic faces he drew. I looked at a few and this one seems to come kind of near to what I want you to see… my fear. The man is shouting. The setting is the Battle of Anghiari.

 

da_vinci_shouting_man

da Vinci’s “Shouting Man”

Let me try to explain to you my friend, what I mean. During some of my very dark periods I was able to hold on to one thing, one certainty, that kept me going and gave me purpose… a reason to live. That purpose was to be the best mom that I could be and raise my kids to be the best people they could be. Growth them strong.

Now, they are old enough to not need me to keep my hand locked firmly on the tiller of their lives. They steer themselves. They are moving on and I am lost. From the time my eldest was born in 1992 my passion, my calling, my purpose, was to be “Mom”. I’ve thought that I have had other purposes along the trail of my life, but somehow being “Mom” over shadowed them all and now I am fighting myself just to remember what I believed I needed and wanted passionately to do… to be.

I am afraid that I’m a failure. No one needs me any longer. I keep to myself mostly. My family and I are not particularly close. I don’t work or volunteer. Putting it short: I don’t feel that I have anything to contribute to the world.

My fear has driven me off my path. I allowed bushes and hedges to crowd my chosen path and completely obscure it from my vision. I know, well, I think I knew what my “vocation”, that is what my passion was. I feel empty and bruised. I don’t want life to touch me. I seem to think it will injure me by exposing my worthlessness to me.

I’m trying to pull together my wits and engage in the monumental fight with myself to reclaim who I am and what I’m about, my purpose.

And, my pain meds for chronic back pain (degenerating disks all up/down my spine have kicked my butt and I just nodded off. Tomorrow I’ll attempt to pull myself together enough to begin discussing with myself how to deal with myself this time. I’ve already worked it out in advanced, but this lack of purpose, this is new and frighting.

I’m letting the drug induced sleep take me away from the fear for a time. Starting physical therapy this last week had kicked up my pain, as I knew it would. It makes the whole of me even more difficult to deal with. At this particular moment I feel like in the morning I can begin to pull my will back together. That is, unless I conveniently forget what I intend on doing with myself, again.

Time to sleep.