the weekend update

Job update: I found out who was chosen for the job I interviewed for. She has no field experience and no design experience, but she was well known by the hiring manager. I was lied to, because I was told by that manager that they wanted someone with more field experience. I think I didn’t get the job because they didn’t know me personally and because I’m a middle-aged white male. I hate to be that way, but that’s the company culture. It’s not what you know, but who you know. I wasn’t bitter before, but I’m a little salty now.

Psych update: I saw the p-doc this week and told him I wasn’t having mood swings, but I’ve had a pretty good depression for weeks now. In addition, the Abilify makes me want to eat everything in sight. We are going to try a newer brand-name drug, Vraylar, because it treats both depression and mania, and weight gain is much less common. Hopefully I will have some good news to report.

Mindfulness update: I’m going to tell the therapist I want to concentrate on some other method of treatment. I’ve lost interest in the book, I can’t seem to get started on the exercises, and I don’t believe it will work for more than a few moments. What I need is to find a way to fight the social anxiety enough that I can actually exercise without thinking that everyone is looking at the fat guy trying to exercise.

Baseball update: I’m hoping the Giants can win today so they don’t have to play in the wild card game. I also hope the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in the wild card game. Fuck the Dodgers. If the Giants get to the World Series and lose, I’m afraid I will go into a deep depression like I did in 2002. It sounds silly, but I feel like I’m in a precarious place right now, and all I need is a trigger to push me into a spiral.

out of touch

I have been so busy in the past couple of months that I haven’t had time to think. Maybe that is a good thing, but I feel like I’m out of touch with myself. I’m not taking my emotional temperature, thinking deep thoughts, or working on feeling better. I’m not doing anything to improve my state of being. I’m just standing in place, waiting for the next storm to come through and buffet me with fear and self-loathing.

I don’t like my house anymore, but there’s nothing wrong with it. I don’t like my conservative friends or family, but they aren’t bad people. I don’t like my job, but it’s the best one I’ve had. There comes a point where I start hating everything and everyone and I start making changes just for the sake of changing things. I move to a new place, change houses, change cars, change jobs, change clothes, discard some people and meet others. When the dust settles, I realize I’ve changed nothing, because the one constant in my life is me.

I feel so damaged and defective right now. I am unable to solve my problems, or even some of them, and therapy isn’t helping. I can’t solve other people’s problems either, even though I keep trying. There is no one here who can cast a spell to keep the dementors away.

Ugh. Excuse me while I wallow for a while.

doors and rubber rooms

What’s the old saying? When one door closes, it hits you in the ass, then you’re stuck in a dark room and you’ve misplaced the key? That’s how my life feels now.

I didn’t get the job I was hoping for, but I’m not really too shattered about it. My hopes were tempered significantly a few days ago based on a conversation I had at the office with a former coworker. He told me some behind-the-scenes info which made it pretty clear the hiring manager was looking for someone from the field to fill the job. At least I know for sure now, and I can stop thinking about it.

But then another door opens. A new job posting appeared on the job board, one which I am definitely qualified for. I’m not sure if I actually want the job, but I am looking for a change; I can’t continue with what I’m doing for another 15 years. There would be a modest pay increase and more responsibility. It might be another bang-your-head-on-the-wall type of job, but it would be a different and more lucrative wall than the one I am banging on now. Maybe it will have padding. Maybe I belong in a rubber room without doors. That remains to be seen.

Speaking of mental health, we finally have a psychiatrist appointment for my daughter. Now I just have to get her out of bed and get her to the office for the appointment. She understands now that she is totally empty on meds and I can’t give her any more of mine. I’ve cut back a little on my lamictal for two weeks now to be able to give her enough to wean her slowly off the drug rather than have nasty withdrawal symptoms. I’m feeling a little funny, nothing serious, but I need my full dosage again, and she gets it now.

Everyone needs things from me. Fuck I get tired of doing things for other people all the time. I don’t mind helping people, but the steady stream is wearing me down at work and at home. I took my little vacation in May all for myself, and it was wonderful. Unfortunately I can’t do another getaway right now. Instead, I eat my feelings.

I need to remind myself of things I am thankful for and be grateful for what I have. Maybe my attitude will be a little better if I can do that. The bipolar depression doesn’t help in this regard, but it’s something I can work toward.

Finally: I have a therapy appointment looming, and he wants to work through a mindfulness exercise with me. I’m still skeptical, but we’ll see how it goes. Update to follow.

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

lakeside letdown

I had a big emotional letdown yesterday, and I couldn’t get any work done after about 11 am. I get a little hypomanic when I go on adventures, and the depth of the depression is correlated to the anticipation of the adventure. I was feeling depressed and tired and especially worthless yesterday; I’m slightly better this morning, so we’ll see how the day goes.

I feel guilty anytime I do something for myself, because either I don’t deserve it, or I’m not doing something for someone else, or I’m abandoning my family. To be honest, I didn’t think about anyone but myself almost the entire time I was gone; not in a selfish way, just that I was wrapped up in my activities.

Mindfulness, I hear someone thinking. Yes, I was being mindful much of the time, living in the moment in the place I was. But when I come back from the mindfulness trip, I feel like I should have been doing or thinking something else other than living just for me.

There’s a whole bunch of things wrapped up here: self-esteem, anxiety, worry, feeling undeserving, and a lack of self care.

Ugh, my brain.

In the meantime, more pictures:

Lakeside

 

At the far edge of the lake

 

Downstream

 

Pileated woodpecker gulping down insects

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.

what do you want from me?

The problem with being a child genius is that everyone wants something from you.

The kid in 2nd grade wanted to cheat off my paper. The kid in 3rd grade wanted someone to be the butt of his joke. The girl in 5th grade wanted someone to manipulate. The teenager at church wanted to mock me as I performed for him. The school principal and the teacher wanted a spelling champion. Another teacher wanted an aide to help her teach the kids who didn’t understand. The kid in 6th grade wanted a partner in crime so he wouldn’t get in trouble all the time. The people at church wanted another fine young man to mold into someone who was less of a disappointment than their own kids.

The problem with being a child genius is that you want to prove how smart you are.

I let people cheat off my papers. I allowed people to bully, tease, and manipulate me. I performed for those who wanted entertainment from me. I spelled everything that was thrown at me. I gave answers and spread wisdom and behaved the way I was expected to. I believed the hype. I was full of myself.

The problem with being a child genius is that you believe you have everything figured out while you fail to realize you are socially and emotionally inept.

I couldn’t relate to my peers socially. I didn’t understand how to have meaningful friendships. My own depression was off the charts, even before the bipolar symptoms emerged. I kept my home life secret from everyone out of shame. I tried to use intelligence to buy acceptance and friendship. I would latch on to people hoping for understanding but receiving dismissal.

The problem with being a child genius is that eventually nobody gives a shit.

abusive memories

I started writing a different post, and it triggered a memory. It’s really important that I write this first.

I just heard a voice from the distant past saying, “don’t get too big for your pants.” That was always a code phrase for whenever this person was telling me I was too arrogant or full of myself; in other words, she was trying to tear me down anytime I felt a little bit of confidence.

Another one of her greatest hits was, “you’re breeding a scab on your nose,” which to me meant that I was setting myself up for embarrassment and failure. When I heard that code phrase, I would stop what I was doing because I was afraid to be seen as a failure. If she saw me as a failure, everyone else would too. This also made me want to succeed at things to spite her, and I’ve been told that spite is an ugly emotion.

I repeat those phrases in my head, and all I feel is negative emotions from the memory: anger at her for pulling a child into her bitter negativity; sadness for myself, who never learned to shake off the power her words had over me; and frustration at how badly this damaged my psyche to the point I would rarely have confidence in anything I do.

I can’t stress enough the effect this has had on me as a child, as a teen, and as an adult. My entire life has been filled with instances where I could have tried something new, but I didn’t have the fearlessness to try whatever it was because I thought it was predetermined that I would fail. I can’t count the times I might have been really good at something, but I was afraid to give it a shot for fear of embarrassment or ridicule.

I was a really smart kid, but I had no answer for the verbal abuse that was inflicted on me every day. I was book smart, but I had no emotional intelligence. I say that as if I’m blaming myself, but how could I lean and grow emotionally when I was stifled by the pressure-cooker environment I lived in? I knew my life was messed up, but not once did it occur to me that I wasn’t at fault somehow. A lifetime of emotional depression was caused by one mentally ill person constantly abusing a child, passing that mental illness down as if it were genetic, and morphing it to fit my specific weaknesses.

Failure, shame, embarrassment, sadness, anger. It has taken me many, many years to attempt to put these thoughts behind me and move on with life. I haven’t succeeded yet.

mortality

I’ve been preoccupied with death lately. More specifically, my own mortality has been on my mind. I think about it during the day, and I dream about it at night. I worry about dying from COVID if I were to catch it, but there are many other ways to die: car crashes, falling trees, stepping in front of a bus, falling awkwardly and cracking your head on the pavement, falling off high places, having a heart attack or a stroke. I think of these things every day, and it has become tiring and unhealthy and obsessive.

There is so much to do before I die: wills, lists, preparing finances, helping secure my family’s future without me, and more. I feel like a squirrel with winter approaching, with so many nuts to gather and ever-dwindling time. I want to survive for many years still, despite the difficulty of life inside my brain, but I don’t know how long I can last.

I have been feeling pretty good mentally for the past few weeks, but this line of thought is trying to bring me down into another depressive spiral. Sometimes it is that easy for me to get sucked into a mood swing. I want to be free of bipolar depression and anxiety, but I believe that is an unattainable dream. I’ll settle for just eliminating this obsessive thinking pattern.

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.

positively negative thoughts

When I start feeling too positive about myself, I look for something negative to relieve the pressure. For example, this time I thought about multiple teenage social encounters with girls who didn’t have the slightest interest in me.

There was the girl I took to the company Christmas party because I worked with her older sister, but I was told later she found me boring. There was the “wingman” incident where my friend and his girlfriend got it on in her house, and I was left for an awkward hour with her disinterested friend. Then there was the time I was trying to talk to a girl in class, while she was trying to set up a “sleepover” with another person in class.

Remembering good times. I fucking love my brain.

drugs and depression

This is the depression that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends. I can pretend to be in a good place for everybody – family, work, psychiatrist – but I can’t fool myself. I can’t concentrate on work, I don’t enjoy anything, I don’t go anywhere, and all I do is eat comfort food. I don’t do anything for my own physical or mental health except keep popping pills. It sucks right now, and It. Is. Always. There.

I don’t want to tell my psychiatrist, because I’m afraid he would put me on more medication. I want fewer pills, not more. With his recommendation I slowly weaned myself from Topamax; I immediately gained 10 pounds, and I feel like a goddamn bloated walrus, but my brain is a little clearer and not as foggy. Next I would like to decrease the Abilify, which is the reason I can’t lose weight.

I would consider another drug if it would relieve the depression. I want to keep the Lamictal (my wonder drug) to prevent cycling, keep or add to the Wellbutrin for depression, and slowly wean from the Abilify. If my psych wants to replace Abilify with something else I might do it. Fuck it, better living through chemistry.

high inquisitor

I have questioned my memory of the person I was in the past. I think I was a decent person, but at the same time broken, awkward, and angry due to the years of abuse. I tend to remember the worst of who I was and how I treated people, and I remember the stupid things I did because of early-onset bipolar. These feelings happen during my depressive moods, and I have a difficult time escaping the darkness that envelops my thought processes.

I have this irrational desire to question my old friends to find out what I was like from their perspective and see how terrible a person I really was. I found something I wrote here during a depressive spiral in 2011:

I keep going back to my memory to try to find the answers on my own, but I need [old friends’] testimony as evidence to build the case against myself. I want to know if they remember everything the way I do, if their story checks out with the alleged facts in my mind. I have to know what they were thinking or feeling at the time, why they did what they did, why they cared about me in the first place, what I did to drive them away, … and why they decided they could no longer trust me. I need them to tell me how badly I hurt them, and if those scars remain, and if they think about those times with sadness or anger. I want them to confirm that I was really the monster I think I was.

I’ve had people from the past tell me they remember me as a basically good person and a good friend who seemed to have things figured out. Maybe I really fooled them, which makes me a disingenuous fraud, or they aren’t being truthful; either way, I don’t believe them. I think they are trying to protect my feelings, trying to be supportive and kind rather than honest. That’s not what I want from them; I want the unvarnished facts, don’t pull your punches, give it to me straight … I can handle the truth.

I want to know … but I don’t know if I have the right to ask these questions. I want to put people I’ve loved through this insane line of questioning even though it might hurt them now more than I ever did before. Sometimes I’m prepared to torture my friends and family to get the truth, and fuck the consequences. … I know I shouldn’t do this, to myself or my loved ones, but I’m still obsessed. I still want to know, even if I have to hurt them to get the answers.

 

I have had to accept that people from my past grew up and let go; they’ve moved on, lived their life, and made their choices … while leaving me in their past. They have forgotten the exact details of that afternoon in 1986, or that weekend in 1989, or that evening in 1993. They don’t remember what song was playing, or what cookies we shared, or where we sat in the grass. They have done what adults do, leaving the details to fade into the background, just remembering the highlights, maybe feeling a little nostalgia when looking at an old yearbook, but then closing the yearbook and coming back to the present.

Sometimes I don’t know how to do that. Sometimes I want to punish myself by examining everything in painful detail, repeatedly analyzing what went wrong and what I could have done to fix it, wishing I could go back and just make a small revision or two, and wanting to find out how the story could have ended.

unhealthy nostalgia

I spend way too much time looking back at my past. I dwell on things I’ve done, both good and bad. I mentally escape to places I’ve visited. I think too much about people I’ve loved (or hated). I ruminate about the events that shaped my life.

Usually my brain is occupied with the tasks at hand, whether working, dealing with Nicole’s illness, or taking care of the house we live in. The trouble comes in those quiet moments when I’m by myself and my brain is caught in between processes. That’s when I revert to the rumination and dwelling on the past.

There have been times when I was unstable that I actually felt like my “current life” was not real, and I needed to run away from it to someone or something that was real. I felt like I had lost my true self with every decision I had made since events in 1989 and 1990. I felt like I could reverse time and fix those choices many years later, with no regard for the collateral damage it would cause to other people. Fortunately I escaped this distorted thinking and never followed through with any half-hearted plans I may have had.

I think my emotional depression promotes that dualistic, fork-in-the-road type of thinking where I ponder what might have been if I had made the other choice, or if fate had made the other choice for me. My bipolar depressive mood swings exacerbate this way of thinking. I have read the term “double depression”, and I believe this describes my state when I am at my worst. During these episodes it is difficult to concentrate on real life and stay engaged, but that is exactly what I need to avoid slipping back into those thought patterns.

It’s not good for me to be alone for long periods of time, because I think myself into a spiral of sorrow and regret for the life I have lived and the choices I have made. It was very bad when I was driving the big rig for days in a row, because my mind wandered during the long stretches of open road. While I was very creative during that time, I was also self-destructive in my introspection, and it shows in my writing from that period.

This behavior is unhealthy. I need to spend more time thinking about what is, and the choices I will make now and in the future, rather than dwelling in the past. It’s difficult for me to let go, like a story where you have grown so connected with the characters that you don’t want to let them go … but sometimes things need to fade into the distance.

quiet moments

What do you think about in those quiet moments you have to yourself? Just before you fall asleep, or waiting for someone to arrive, or drinking a morning cup of coffee?

For me? Lots of things: regrets, guilt, shame, bitterness, pessimism, and self-loathing. Sometimes people I used to love, or hate. Sometimes, if I’m feeling good, I think of places I’ve traveled or sights I’ve seen.

Mostly regrets, though – stupid things I’ve done, people I’ve hurt, choices I’ve made, and missed opportunities.

I’m pretty well broken emotionally, but for some reason I have this stubborn streak that keeps me from giving in. The melodrama of suffering in silence, but telling everyone here about it.

As if anyone cares. Save the drama for your llama.