I started being serious about taking medication for my depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and whatever else in September of 2015. I’d tried it on and off since I was a teenager, but I was never very motivated to take it and my compliance was incredibly low. I’d asked my primary care physician for anti-depressants once as an adult, but when it completely knocked out my sex drive I abandoned the whole idea.
Since then, I’ve seen a psychiatrist and two psychiatric nurse practitioners regularly. I also saw several different psychiatrists in the hospital and my stay in a psych ward last October. I currently have someone I see monthly who I respect and am confident in. Over the last month we’ve changed up my medications a little and seem to have landed on something that is working well for me. I am so incredibly grateful to my professional team and my prescription drugs. They changed everything. They saved me.
Nadine and I used to walk around Green Lake once a week. We’ve recently gotten out of the habit, but I’m sure we’ll fall back in. There were these two dogs who always seemed to be there the same time we were. Pitbull mixes with sharp ears and short legs, they walked around the lake as if they were on patrol. They owned that territory. One day, one of the dogs was missing. Then we stopped seeing them all together. But today on my run I saw both dogs back on duty. I couldn’t stop smiling.
My friend George–who I’ve known since I was thirteen–came to visit me the last couple days. Before he left today he tidied up the entire apartment and took care of a branch that was hanging right at eye level on our sidewalk. No wonder I’ve kept him around.
I have had this blog for over two years. This month I made it my mission to post once everyday. I thought it would challenge me as a writer, thought it would help build community. Thought it would be something that made me happy. A project to take my mind off of all the things that are going on in my life, in the world. But you know what it’s doing? It’s stressing me out. It’s making me feel like there is an unspoken barrier between me and the people I love. That somehow letting everyone in so much makes me not let anyone in at all. My blog has become substitute for actual vulnerability in my life. Maybe that’s what it always has been. Something I can point to to say that I share, that I talk about the things I’m feeling, that I’m open. But that’s not what this is. This is a way for me to distance myself from my own life. And maybe that’s fine. Maybe that’s exactly what I need it to do. But at some point along the way it stopped being fun.
It made writing into another thing that I just do for other people. Another way to bury myself. It turned into a way for my family and friends to keep tabs on me without ever having to actually ask me how I am. It reduced the week I spent in the psych ward to twelve paragraphs. It made me stop having those conversations we used to have. “Just read my blog.”
And all of a sudden everyone I work with knows I suffer from bipolar disorder and am a recovering alcoholic. And my partner’s parents know I want to kill myself. And the entire Internet doesn’t make you feel any less alone when you’re sitting on your porch at night.
So I’m shutting down this blog for the foreseeable future. I want to have real conversations. Want to write for myself because I like it. Want to learn how to let people in. Like, really in. Feel free to use the contact form to shoot me a message. I’d love to keep in touch.
Photo courtesy of Web Agency.
She reminds me that each day brings us closer to when the days start getting longer again. That in thirty-three days it will be as dark as it’s going to get. I try to remind myself of this when I’m outside smoking a cigarette at 4:30 PM and the sun is already sinking below the horizon. When I’m wrestling with my brain to get me out of bed to go running without light. We’re getting closer to it getting bright again.
Like every year, I take my vitamin D, I try to remember to eat, get enough sleep. And like every year I struggle to take care of my most basic needs while I’m living in the dark. All the things I know I need to do to feel better seem to be just out of reach.
My therapist tells me we’ll work on motivation. My psychiatrist tells me we’ll figure out if my medication is draining me. My sister tells me she’s only always a phone call away. My mom sets up my old apartment in case I need to be somewhere else. Chuck says I can stay “for a night, a week, forever”. Andrew checks in on my wellbeing over and over. Vinnie shares smoke breaks with me. We’re rallying.
There has to be a way to get through this again. I’ve managed it this long, it’s silly to think I won’t be able to this time. But every day my alarm clock goes off and I can’t make myself get out of bed. Today I slept until 9:45 when I had to be at work at 10:00. It’s hard. Everything is so hard. My mom tells me how much fight I have in me and follows it up with, “I just wish you didn’t have to use it all the time.” And I find myself wishing that, too.
I don’t want or need life to be easy. I just need it to be a little gentler with me. But I guess like anything it just comes with practice. It’s just muscle memory.
Photo courtesy of Jason Leem.