Archive for February 2013


It’s not easy being sober.

It seems like every time I go to the store, there’s a new ale, liquor, etc. that I’d have definitely bought when I still drank.  It’s like the alcohol section is taunting me.

I try to find new imaginative ways to have fun sober…it’s work.  It’s still hard for everyone around me to be drinking…and I can tell when they’re buzzed, and that’s when they’re on a different plane than I am.  We’re no longer at the same level of sobriety.  People ask me why I’m so quiet.  They ask what’s wrong.  Nothing’s really wrong…I’m just sober and they’re buzzed.  While they’re giggling at every little thing, I’m sober.  I’m sober.  I’m sober.

I wonder if I can keep this up forever.  I have dreams of being drunk.  They’re more like nightmares, though, because I wake up and am terrified and ashamed that I fell off the wagon.  I’m relieved when I discover it was just a dream.

I know I need to take this one day at a time.  I can’t worry about forever.  But I do.  And then…who am I?  Who is the sober me?  I, and I think my friends, are still figuring this out.

I know I’ve changed since I quit drinking…it’s been pointed out by several people.  I’ve changed for the better.  That doesn’t mean my demons are gone.  They’re still there…they’re just latent.  And I’m afraid of screwing it up.

All I can do is try.  Do my best.  Lots of people do this, right?

My Own Worst Enemy

I am without a doubt my own worst enemy.  It’s always been this way.  I don’t remember a life without depression, or anxiety, or addiction issues.  I’m a work in progress, always.  I am constantly working on myself.

The drinking compounded my issues to no end…and yet why couldn’t I see that?  I saw alcohol as a solution to my problems…when it was part of the root of them.  In hindsight, I can’t believe how ridiculous I was.  Some of the decisions I made…and they felt right, and valid at the time.  How is that possible?

Even though I’ve been alcohol-free for more than 16 months, I still beat myself up over things I did when I was drinking.  I haven’t forgiven myself for certain things.  I know I need to; I know it’s the healthy thing to do…maybe it’ll just take time.

I really wish I could stop hating myself for so many reasons…I carry a lot of guilt around.  Always have.  I have to instruct my inner monologue to shut up sometimes.  It doesn’t always listen.  I don’t know sometimes where my disorders end and I begin.  What characteristics are symptoms of being bipolar, and what traits are just me?  How do I know?  Who am I?  I ask myself this a lot.

I’m always complimenting and encouraging other people – and it’s genuine – so why is it so hard to do that for myself?  Am I alone here?  Does anyone else feel that you’re your own worst enemy?  I just wish I could get out of my way and accomplish all the things I want to in life.  Fear holds me back sometimes.  Why?  What is so crippling about failure?  And who am I afraid of failing?  Me.

So I just ultimately wonder if this is a side effect of a disorder or if this is me…either way, it is no surprise to me that I’m my own worst enemy.

Change a Mind About Mental Illness

There are lots of things people don’t understand about depression. 

 It debilitates to the point of becoming unable to perform the most menial of tasks.  In fact, the most menial tasks become insurmountable. Emptying the dishwasher.  What’s the point?  The thought of it is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.  Why even do it?  That’s how depression works.

My body weighs a thousand pounds.  Everything is heavy.  The weight of the world is on my shoulders.

Sometimes…some days…something happens.  It can be an unexpected phone call from a friend…a check in the mail…an image of large, fluffy snowflakes outside my window.  Suddenly, if only temporarily, I get a burst of energy.  I can clean out the dishwasher.  I can do the laundry.  I can do some writing.  The depression might return soon enough, so I try to get enough accomplished in that tiny spark of motivation to make it worthwhile.

You won’t understand unless you’ve had depression.  You just won’t. You won’t understand what it feels like to be bipolar unless you are.  That’s not your fault.  I won’t know what it feels like to have diabetes or fibromyalgia.  All we can do is try to educate ourselves.  The more empathy we can provide for one another in life, the better everyone’s life will be.  It’s not that hard.  We need to try harder.  We need to read, to research, to talk, to listen.
To try to understand.

We live in a very self-centered, me, me, me culture.  I think that can change.  But we all have to be willing to work together.  To hear each other out.  It doesn’t solve a problem by ignoring it.  It doesn’t go away.  I have a dream that one day mental illness will carry no stigma.  I think it can happen.  It can happen if we work at it together.

A Good Cry

I’m feeling a little better.

I had a complete breakdown this week, and I cried for hours.  Longer than I’ve ever cried.  I think I’ve just been bottling a lot of stuff up inside me (refer to last week’s blog) so that I was numb.  It just happened to all come out during a work meeting (sorry, Chad, and Laura) and I just couldn’t stop crying.

This is why I love my job and am so thankful for the people I work with.  They are understanding and kind.  Not dismissive and condescending, like a lot of people I’ve worked with in the past.  I love everyone I work with.

So the moral of this is, it’s okay to have a complete mental and emotional breakdown.  Sometimes it needs to happen.  I needed it to happen.  It’s even better when you have it and there are nice people around who try to make you laugh and talk to you in a way that shows they understand.  I felt so much better after I cried.  I needed that release.  

I’ve been thinking of taking a little break from Facebook, too.  Anymore it just depresses me.  So many people just write hateful posts that bum me out.  I miss connecting with people on a more personal level…I miss hearing my friends’ voices on the phone and miss seeing them in person.  I won’t deactivate my account, but it’s getting a little old to me.

I subbed for junior high English two days this week…it went better than I expected.  I also had some beautiful flowers delivered on Valentine’s Day from the wonderful husband I don’t deserve.

I also had a great meeting with my counselor, which might have triggered my breakdown…just bringing everything up to the surface…but that’s good.  I feel emotionally cleansed.  I was pretty clogged.  The problems are still there, but I now feel like I have more insight, and I feel like I got a lot out of my system.

I love a good cry.

I Am Gray Today

I wish I could hang out with Eeyore.

I am very gray today.  I’ve been depressed for a couple weeks now.  I haven’t felt like this since we moved.  I know what started it; our basement flooded, and it was my favorite place to go.  I have nowhere to go and get away from my family now.  I am joking.  

Kind of.

Then my grandma died.  I am still super depressed about that, and I know that’s normal.  But it sucks.  My grief process was also interrupted in a way I can’t talk about here because it’ll only cause trouble.  I basically just feel like I’m not allowed to express my grief in the best way I know how.  Cryptic, I know.  The bottom line is, I’m depressed.

I don’t feel like showering.  I don’t feel like going anywhere or seeing anyone.  I feel like my body weighs a thousand pounds.  I cry.  I am forcing myself to write, even though I don’t want to.

I don’t feel like eating, and when I do, I want comfort food.  I sort of just wander aimlessly around the house or sit and stare.  I listen to music to drown out the world.

I don’t know when this will end.  

I know other things have contributed to it…I recently lost a friend, and that’s also complicated. I also witnessed another friend attempt suicide…or, at least, she hurt herself badly, in front of me…I want to help everyone and make all their problems go away, but I can’t.  How can I help anyone else right now when I can’t even help myself?

I’ve been looking for the silver linings every day.  We recently got a puppy; I wanted something happy to happen.  I named her Pollyana after the girl who sees the world through rose-colored glasses.  Our puppy, as all puppies are, is a lot of work.  It’s been exhausting.

My whole body aches right now.  It’s also my time of the month, so lucky for Andy, I’m extra emotional.  This all might be a little too much info, but that’s who I am, I guess.  The girl who over-shares.

I want to force myself to go outside.  To take a walk.  To try to look pretty.  But it’s so hard.  I don’t care right now.  Nothing seems to matter.  I know this will all go away in time, like it always does.  Until it does, I wish the people around me understood more how this feels.  How it feels every time.  How it feels impossible.

I am gray today.

I love my support group. It’s called Shelter From the Storm and it’s for bipolar and depressed individuals.  We meet Monday nights at 6:30 in the Delphos library basement.  

I started the group after I interviewed Jen Hanna, who I graduated with.  She’s a counselor, and I talked to her about starting the group.

The group has been great.  We have about 7 regular members, with new people showing up here and there.  We always have something to talk about.  Jen, although not a “member” like I am, is always very understanding, non-judgmental, and helpful in giving everyone feedback.  She is hilarious and caring.  She asks good questions to get everyone thinking on their own, instead of telling everyone what to do.

The group helps me not to feel so alone.  It lets me know there are people out there like me in some ways.  Everyone helps everyone else with whatever problems or issues we’re having in life, whether it be general depression, family members, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.  They understand me in a way unlike other people in my life, even family.  My family will never understand what I feel like as a bipolar person.  My group does.  It’s a great feeling, to feel understood.

The group is anonymous, so I can’t go into detail about who comes or exactly what is said, but I can say this:  I love each and every person who comes every week.  Everyone is so special in his or her own way, even if that sounds trite.  It’s true.  They are all brave souls for even showing up.  There is still a stigma associated with mental illness, and though I wish it weren’t so, I think we can all agree that it’s there.  These people defy that stigma and are trying to get help.  I applaud them.  It’s not easy to admit to having a problem, and they are doing just that, and getting help for it. It’s a safe haven.

I encourage anyone who experiences bipolar disorder or depression to check out the support group.  It will change your life.  It did mine. 

“Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
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