deleted [TW]

[This poem was written in the middle of the night when things were pretty dark and I was very unstable in February this year. I don’t feel the same way now, at least not in the stark and unflinching way as when I wrote this. I always think about death, no matter how light my mood is, but I rarely have concrete plans.]

If you are feeling hopeless and suicidal, please reach out to people or to a hotline. Depression lies to you. You are worth something to someone, and you will be missed forever.

TRIGGER WARNING – suicidal thoughts, death, hopelessness

 

 

 

 

memories I’ve deleted
wisps of smoke in the wind
disappearing vapor trails
something that was but is no more

people I’ve discarded
empty shells of flesh
devoid of substance and spirit
their essence is gone

places I’ve deserted
vistas left unseen
towns without a name
the spaces left behind

delusions I’ve denied
blind faith in gods
belief in myself
things that no longer matter

deleted
discarded
deserted
deluded

nothing to forget
no one to care for
nowhere to call home
nothing to believe in

maybe someday
I’ll delete myself

behind

I’m playing catch-up this week. I’m way behind on work projects, on reading blogs, on writing, on projects at home, on planning for the future, blah blah blah, yada yada. I made some progress on work stuff this week, so I feel a little better about that.

I also got my second vaccine shot, so I am fully juiced and ready to go. I’m ready to lick door handles and have someone cough on my airline food as I travel to a crowded city. Okay, maybe not, but I do feel more at ease knowing I have a little protection. I can see the possibility of everyone requiring a booster sometime in the next 12 months (I guess Pfizer has already indicated this). I was sore at the injection site until yesterday, and I was tired and achy for about 48 hours after the shot, which was about what I expected. Nothing serious, and I didn’t miss work.

I also saw my psychiatrist this week. I printed out part of this post and let him read it, and he said it was textbook OCD. (I also told him his “How are you doing” forms are crooked on the paper, and it mildly bothers me.) He said we can work on the anxiety first, and then see if the OCD symptoms need more attention. I agree with that, since the OCD gets worse with higher anxiety. In addition, he said I was much more stable when I was taking Abilify, so maybe we should go back to that. I had the same thought previously, so I told him that was fine. I’ll just have to eat better and get more exercise somehow. I’m also going to quit the Wellbutrin, since it can cause instability and maybe anxiety.

Last week I met with the therapist for the first time (same office as my p-doc). We got to know each other a little, and he was interested by some of my problems (social anxiety, lack of self-esteem, avoidant tendencies, inability to deal with stress, etc.) He said something that bothered me though: when I was explaining about being overwhelmed at work, he didn’t seem to accept the reality that I absolutely cannot take a week or more off work for my mental health right now – maybe an occasional day or two, but not an extended period. I also don’t feel like I can ask to have some work shifted to other people, because everyone I work with is swamped and unhappy and drowning in projects. The day after he suggested I ask for less work, I received two more projects. Yay. We’ll see what he has to say on Monday.

The weather is cool but nice, so I am going outside to enjoy some nature and not think about life for a while. But first, I need Second Breakfast (the best meal of the day).

running to stand still

Up. Down. Sideways.

Hopelessness. Defiance. Acceptance.

Spinning wheels, hit the brakes, stuck in first gear.

Restlessness. Depression. Mania. Fear. Anxiety. Psych meds with a whiskey chaser.

I don’t have a center right now. I can’t find balance. My brain is all over the place.

My doctor called me back tonight, and he is going to try a couple of things. My faith is wearing thin.

Work piling up, waiting for me to stop feeling overwhelmed and make my brain work properly. The forecast doesn’t look good for that at the moment.

I’m also calling a therapist tomorrow. Without help, I’m a train wreck waiting to happen, and I can’t crash right now. Actually I can’t ever, but that’s another discussion for later.

panic! at the home office

So Friday afternoon I may have had a little panic attack. Apparently I posted something here and then trashed it immediately. Then I started drinking.

I was trying to email a request form to someone for a project, but I didn’t know just what to say. But I got stuck thinking about it, and it never got sent. Then the 10 am department meeting happened, and the department manager started demanding more output than we have been producing lately. Just what I needed to hear. After the meeting, I froze up again.

I took a long lunch, thinking I would take a break and calm down, then get back to work. The getting back to work never happened, and instead of producing more, suddenly I’m producing less. Thinking about this made me start freaking out, and I gave up around 2 pm. I literally got into bed and covered up hoping I could calm down, but it just got worse. I briefly thought about calling my psychiatrist, but I don’t think I could have made it through the phone call, and I didn’t want to get sent to the hospital involuntarily.

So when my shift ended at 3:30, I poured a glass full of scotch whiskey and started drinking with the intent of knocking myself out as quickly as possible. After an hour I was successful, and I slept until about 8 pm.


I fear the manic episode from January has permanently damaged something in my already defective brain. I can’t organize tasks, I can’t follow through, I can’t regulate my mood, I can’t control the anxiety. I can’t stop thinking that I will no longer be able to do my job, and that I will have to find something less stressful for much less pay and worse benefits.

Before the manic episode I was relatively unhappy at work but I was able to cope with the stress and managed to produce work in a timely manner. Now I am completely unable to deal with my mental state. I have no coping skills; I have nothing in the toolbox that I can use to improve my situation. My fight-or-flight instinct has been engaged, but I have nothing to fight with. The urge to flee is overwhelming.

The only thing that helps me relax is when I am doing something new, like yesterday when I drove new roads for a few hours and walked at a park for over an hour. But there are only so many roads within a reasonable distance, and I can’t do that every day. Eventually I have to come back home to my life, and start thinking about everything again.

I will call my doctor on Monday when I am relatively calm and explain the situation, and see if he can recommend something.

instability

I’m used to my brain throwing curveballs now and then, but since the most recent manic episode something seems to have permanently changed for the worse. I’ve lost whatever stability I had in the previous year, and it has been replaced by rapidly changing highs and lows.

Since quitting the Latuda, I have had significant OCD and anxiety problems (see this previous post). I started taking Klonopin a week ago, just a small dosage, and I don’t think it has helped very much. Most days I have been edgy and frazzled, like I am just barely in control of things.

I have slept okay some nights, then not so much on other nights. There have been a couple of days where I was so tired I was falling asleep at my desk (one benefit of working from home). I had to nap during my lunchtime to feel better. Then I wasn’t tired at bedtime, and I had to self-medicate with a little whiskey to fall asleep.

On two days this past week I have been so wound up at the end of the day that I have to get out of the house. I ended up driving about 2+ hours both times. Friday night I just had to get on the freeway and go fast; yesterday I wandered aimlessly through Amish country before finding a freeway and coming home.

Another thing wrong with my brain is my reaction to caffeine. Apparently I can only drink decaf coffee, because when I have regular coffee the tics and shakes increase within an hour. Soda seems to have a lesser effect, but I still feel it. It fucking sucks because I love coffee, and decaf usually tastes bad.

I’m glad I am dealing with this now and not at an office full of people (another benefit of working from home). I don’t have to hide my daily roller-coaster from everyone and pretend to be “fine”, whatever the fuck that is. My wife knows I am abby-normal right now, and she’s concerned, but is mostly just trying to stay out of my way. I have been telling her I’m not in any danger, which is true.

I don’t want to admit it, but maybe I should go back to the meds I was taking six months ago and see what happens. I was stable, I was sleeping, and I felt like I was mostly in control. However, I was depressed most of the time, so that wasn’t good. Now, I’m just feeling exhausted and hyperactive at the same time.

Sorry if this is rambling; I’m just spewing this out and not editing at all. Just like my thoughts right now. It’s bedtime, so I’ll see if I can get some sleep. Bye for now.

tics

I’m not talking about blood-sucking arthropods, but the little movements and rituals that are the major symptom of OCD or maybe Tourette’s. I’ve had little tics and quirks since I can remember, but usually they were only present during stressful times. The rest of the time, they didn’t have control over me and I could ignore them.

During the most recent manic episode brought on by taking Latuda, I started having uncontrollable “tic seizures” where I would be lost for seconds to minutes at a time, then only by force of will could I stop them for a few moments. I could maintain calm stillness if I really concentrated (which is the opposite of being calm), but eventually I would surrender to the urge.

I tap or flick things repeatedly with my fingers. I blink my eyes forcefully, way more than necessary. I blow air on my fingers. I tap my mouse on the desk over and over. I click my teeth. I scratch my chin or my head. I wiggle my feet or my toes. All of this is fueled by the need to “get it right” – the right sound, the right amount of force, the right number of times, or the right rhythm. If I don’t get it right, I feel like I have to keep doing it until I succeed, and I never do. These rituals are not involuntary, I’m doing them purposefully and I’m fully aware I’m doing them.

I quit taking Latuda two weeks ago, and my psychiatrist tells me it should take no more than a week for the drug to wash out of my system, but the tics remain worse than ever before. I find them in control much of the day, every day, and only when my brain is fully occupied can I really prevent them from happening. I have had difficulty with concentration and focus over the past year or so, and when my mind is spinning or drifting, the tics are more difficult to control. They get worse with stress, and my anxiety is feeding them. They get worse with caffeine, which is bad because I need my coffee in the morning.

Between the manic episode and the increasing control of the tics, It has been mentally exhausting for the past three weeks or so. My work is suffering, and because I am working remotely it is too easy to take time away from the computer to try to relax. It has been difficult to work a full day every day, I am taking too long on projects, and I am struggling to meet deadlines. After work I just want to drink myself to sleep, but I have (mostly) avoided that so far.

My p-doc wants to put me on Klonopin or Ativan to calm down a little and hopefully reduce the tics, but my employer’s safety requirements and drug policy might be a problem. We are randomly tested to federal standards for opioids, marijuana, PCP, cocaine, and heroin. In addition, I’m not supposed to take any drug which might affect my “ability to perform” safety-related tasks. Klonopin is on that list, so if I do take it, I have to demonstrate to the safety police that it doesn’t affect me during work hours. Hopefully I can work with the company on this problem. I won’t ask my p-doc to be untruthful, but I wonder what will happen when they find out I have bipolar and anxiety disorders.

I don’t know if the manic episode or the Latuda triggered something in my defective brain, but something has changed, and I hope the effects are not permanent. I’m actually concerned for my future because of this. I am worried that my mental health problems will cost me the best job I’ve ever had, and send me into an uncertain future of trying to find a new job at my age. I’m not that old, and I can do good work when things are under control, but age discrimination still exists. I hope I’m just overthinking everything.

In the meantime, I’m exhausted, and I’m struggling.

manic word dump

I wrote this in about two minutes last week when I wasn’t sleeping. I think this stream-of-consciousness rant sums up what was going on in my brain at the time. Thankfully, I’m feeling more calm now, and I’ve been sleeping all night for past three nights.

===

I might be a little manic I don’t know why well maybe I do it’s because of fucking chemistry my brain is a mess I’m not wired right I listen to my doc I take my meds like a good patient but they make me even worse depression sucks but being manic sucks a little harder and not in a good way billy joel said too high or too low there ain’t no in between and that’s how I’m feeling this month get on the roller coaster riding the colossus spinning off to every extreme I was in this state once and tore apart all my computers just for fun now I am up all night reading blogs and doing word searches and disturbing the cats who wonder why the fuck I’m up every night one moment I’m asleep and then my eyelids open and my train of thought is like the japanese bullet train the shinkansen I think and there’s no going back to sleep now and it’s fucking exhausting so I have to wait for the offending drug to clear my system and then we’ll see if I get depressed again it’s the great circle of bipolar and what comes around goes around the block and down the freeway and out of town until one of these days when I crash

withdrawal symptoms

Latuda is marketed as a treatment for bipolar depression, but they don’t tell you that it prevents depression by placing you into a constant manic or mixed state. I had to stop taking it last week because I had been manic for about three weeks.

The withdrawal symptoms of Latuda are significant and apparently long-lasting. I got more sleep last night, but I’m still waking up in the middle of the night for extended periods. In addition, my brain is still restless even though my body is tired. I sat all day yesterday and fidgeted because I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Finally, the akathisia effects continue; the “twitchyness” is still causing me to blink my eyes and tap on things with my fingers repeatedly and shake my feet almost constantly. I’m hoping these symptoms will decrease this week.

Several years ago I had bad luck coming off a high dose of Effexor, but those effects were completely different: auditory hallucinations, nausea, and dizziness. I’m not having any of those now.

latuda update

I started taking Latuda at the end of November, then increased the dose in late December. At 40 mg, you just say “Latuda”. At 80 mg. when you’re manic and haven’t slept through the night in two weeks, you say “LA-TUUUUUUUU-DA!”

I talked to the psychiatrist yesterday. He couldn’t keep my appointment because he was sick, but he called me to discuss the medication. I told him of my manic symptoms, and he said it was a side effect of the medication. Yeah, I guess so. He suggested I drop back to the lower dose for a couple of weeks and call him back to see how it goes.

I didn’t tell him that I dropped down to the lower dose about five days ago, and I’m still having side effects, so I plan on dropping the dosage to zero in about 3 or 4 days. I can feel how the medication is still causing me problems. I have the choice what to do, and it just doesn’t feel right.

Basically for about 3 weeks now I have had elevated mood, racing brain activity, a lack of sleep, and increased blood pressure. I told the Dr. C that in addition to those side effects I was “twitchy”, meaning I couldn’t stop fidgeting and blinking my eyes and tapping my fingers (things that happen without Latuda but which were made much worse with it). He said that sounded like akathisia, and he hoped it would go away with the lower dosage. I don’t think it will stop until the drug is completely out of my system, because the twitchiness hasn’t slowed down at half dose.

And here I am in the middle of the night again. I slept five hours yesterday and three so far tonight, when normally I need eight or more hours. Good times.

good night, loon

I took a short break from posting. I wrote a lot of words in a short time, most during the middle of the night, but the train stopped when I started getting sleep again. Of course now I’m up again at 2:30, so there you go.

I don’t think I can take Latuda anymore. I think it is responsible for the manic spell, and it made me nauseous every time I took the 80 mg dose. I was also extremely tired after taking it, as I was falling asleep within one hour after taking it (then not sleeping well when I needed to sleep). The 40 mg dose didn’t have these effects, but it also wasn’t relieving the depression. I see my psychiatrist Monday, so I’ll let him know the side effects are too much for me. Maybe I will go with just Wellbutrin and my old friend Lamictal and see what happens. By the way, my psychiatrist made a special appointment time for me after hours, which I really appreciate.

The other news is about my bad back. Nearly two weeks ago I was getting in my car when I felt something move in my spine, and I thought, “that’s not good.” I could hardly get out of the car when I returned due to the knife-like pain in my left side and lower back. I have been to my chiropractor twice, and each time the adjustment only lasted for about a day before the pain returned. He said I may have to return to the decompression table, aka the stretching rack. Whatever works, man. I’ll see him Monday as well, but in the meantime I’m alternating heat and ice.

I was happy to see the inauguration went off without problems. I don’t think there was ever a plan to create a disaster on Wednesday; I think the premeditated plot was for Congress to be stopped and for a hostage situation to ensue during the riot on the 6th. Chilling stories are surfacing in court documents about how some of the mob weren’t rioting, but moving purposefully around the capitol searching for a way to get to the legislators. Someone with inside information and detailed knowledge of the building (an “unnamed sender,” said the FBI) was sending messages on Facebook telling the hunters exactly where everyone was located. Speculation about one congresswoman had been rampant, but if the FBI knows anything, they aren’t revealing it yet. I think the true story of the riot will come out, eventually, and hopefully people go to prison for a long time.

Finally, someone recorded 200+ hits on my blog Thursday. Either someone really appreciates my posts, or a bot crawled my site. I don’t know how WordPress’ stats work when the bots come to visit, so I can’t explain the spike. I only have 57 posts, so I don’t see why a human would generate that many hits. If you did, however, say hi.

Over and out.

overload

Once again, it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. When I wake up it is from a dream, from my wife coming to bed late, or from my CPAP mask not fitting properly. Sometimes I can adjust and go back to sleep, but not this past week. My brain is instantly wide awake. I give it 30 minutes to try to go back to sleep, but if I don’t succeed, I get up.

During that 30 minutes tonight, my brain was on fire. I had fragments of up to 10 songs playing in my head. I started thinking of three or four blog posts I wanted to write. I remembered I need to call my doctor. I was thinking about medication side effects. I remembered an abusive voice from the past. I was still irritated about an unfinished word search puzzle. I was thinking about what snacks were in the kitchen. I can’t tell you any of the other 40 things on my mind, because they came and went so quickly that I barely had time to process them.

So I’ve been up for almost two hours now, snacking, listening to the music in my brain, and feverishly writing all my ideas before I forget them all.

I don’t know if this is mania or attention deficit disorder (a topic for another post), but it isn’t good for my sleeping schedule. I’ll stay awake until my brain slows down a little, then probably just sleep in my chair again until morning.

downslope

I think I’m on the downslope of the recent manic episode, and I’m hoping it has a soft landing this time. I’m getting fatigued and sleepy again, all day every day. I don’t have much interest in doing anything but sleeping and eating, which isn’t good. The weather and the virus are conspiring to keep me at home. My back has been really bothering me this week, so I don’t want to do anything physical. I could do something useful at home, but what’s the point? Ugh.

I need something to keep my interest in the evenings. My wife comes home from work worn out, and after dinner she just wants to zone out on her phone or by watching stuff on the web. I know I’m not that interesting, but even she finds me boring now. If she would talk to me, maybe I wouldn’t sit in my chair and drift off to sleep every night.

My mother sent me a late birthday present: a box full of old maps. I was still a little manic at the moment, and I thought “cool, all these maps I can look at!” But just two days later, I’m thinking I got a box of junk she wanted to get rid of, that I have no real interest in, and I will just throw them away someday. Maybe that’s a metaphor for my life: fascinating at first, just a curiosity a short time later, and eventually useless and disposable.

I don’t know. Life seemed much more interesting and exciting this past week, and now it seems like such a chore. I feel like the only purpose for the day is making it to bedtime so I can sleep. Then I get up the next day and can’t wait for the day to be over so I can sleep again. Sitting around all day on the weekend seems so useless. At least working gives me a purpose (and income and insurance), even if I don’t enjoy it. I feel overwhelmed at work, at home, in the real world, and in my brain.

Maybe I need to be manic more often. You don’t overthink things, you don’t sleep a lot, and you just go-go-go. That’s how I got through college, after all.

manic wanna-be architect

I’ll preface this by saying I might be having a little manic episode, but it’s nothing to worry about, right? I’m not out of control or in any danger, I’m just riding the wave for a while. I’m mildly amused at my condition right now, but I hope I don’t have a crash in the next few days.

I haven’t slept a lot during the night for the past several days, yet I have fallen asleep at random times during the day and evening. My anxiety has been high due to work issues and problems with my daughter. I’ve had tension headaches which turned into a migraine on Thursday. I’m writing a lot, and trying to keep from posting it all. I went looking for a difficult word search, and ended up downloading and printing 40 different ones I need to stay off Fakebook and stay away from Amazon … or the car dealership.

Yesterday I got up at 7:30 on an off day, I was awake all day, and I went to bed at my typical 9:00 to 9:30. Then I woke up from dreaming at about 1:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was not a weird dream, but I remembered it very clearly when I woke up. I was in a different house, and I was designing it in my dream, arranging rooms and hallways.

I was laying there, completely awake, and I decided to get up and capture my dream house on paper. So I got up, got my graph paper, a scale, and my mechanical pencil (because geeks have those items handy in the middle of the night), and started drawing my house.

My daughter (whose sleep schedule is often backwards) comes upstairs and asks why I’m up, so I explain to her. Then we talked for a while, but the whole time I’m thinking about my house. Finally she went back to bed, and I started drawing again.

I realize I’ve lost track of time when my wife gets up at 5:30. I explain to her that I might be a little manic, and I spent most of the night designing a house. She said, “That’s not bad. At least there aren’t computer parts all over.” [That’s another story to tell someday.]

Here is the final sketch I came up with during the night:

I didn’t finish obviously. I still need to do a lot of details, and I might put it in Autocad today and work on it this week. Or I might do it online in Sketchup, since I don’t have architecture blocks for my Autocad installation. In fact, I have no architectural anything, because I don’t know how to design houses. I’ll post something when it is done.

they’re writing about me

There was a recent article about increasing depression and suicidal thoughts related to the coronavirus pandemic. The article suggested ways to spot people who are suffering from depression, loneliness, and mental fatigue by asking the following questions:

  • Are they getting up and taking a shower?
  • Are they brushing their teeth?
  • Are they changing their clothes?
  • Are they keeping their place clean?
  • Is their refrigerator filled with food or is it not?
  • Are they ignoring phone calls and text messages?
  • Are they not posting on social media as frequently as they used to?
  • Are they declining invitations to virtual holiday celebrations?

The article goes on to say these are people who might need help coping, and that you can show compassion and understanding by talking to people who are depressed and may be having suicidal thoughts.

Ummm, this sounds like me most of the time. I believe it is more from bipolar depression than being COVID-related, but anxiety over current events and the pandemic doesn’t help. I don’t have suicidal thoughts anymore, but sometimes it feels like life is too tiring to keep going. I don’t feel that way very often; usually it is more like a feeling of constant struggle to go on living.

Some days, I feel good, and it is worth the effort to keep living. I try to remember that feeling when I am at my worst.

more medication changes

I finally decided to make the effort to get an early appointment with my psychiatrist. I let him know my depression has worsened and is persistent, and I wanted off Abilify due to the weight gain. He listened to me (for which I am thankful), and suggested we try Latuda for the bipolar depression. It is an atypical antipsychotic but it works differently than Lamictal (that’s the limit of my knowledge at the moment).

I agreed to try it, despite the known side effects of nausea and possible vomiting. When I read the pamphlet, it said a small percentage of people have weight gain, as opposed to Abilify where everyone blows up. I can’t do any worse at this point.

I am still taking Wellbutrin for depression, but we will probably wean off that as soon as we know if the Latuda will work for me (and if I can afford it).

As I’ve said before, the bipolar changes and fluctuates over time, and stability is a moving target for me. That’s why I don’t believe anyone who says you can “recover” from bipolar. You can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.