Tag Archives: Depression

School shootings

“There have been at least 288 school shootings in the US since 1/1/09, 57 times more than the other six G7 countries combined.”   –CNN

These numbers are, unfortunately, no surprise to me. Our culture has been steadily shifting to one of violence and our young people are caught in the crosshairs.  The rhetoric perpetuates, spinning round and round as the NRA spins the mental health issue and our politicians take their sides without paying much attention to what their constituents feel. And here I am, spinning my own rhetoric.

What I can’t wrap my head around is how this perpetuates in such a vacuum.  Parents don’t know what is going on in the minds of their children, don’t check their internet pages, don’t look at those others their sons hang out with, or whether they have friends at all, don’t know if they have guns and don’t secure guns in locked safes.

I don’t mean to be ragging on the parents.  Sometimes their sons externalize very differently than what they internalize, but certainly, parents can determine if their children are depressed or angry or manifesting signs of mental illness.  Perhaps one problem is they don’t know what to look for.  Mental illness isn’t covered in most parenting books, that is if they read those books.

Schools are also part of the problem as are the communities.  The “not in our town”, mentality is a pervasive glitch in our psyche.  There aren’t enough instructors to demonstrate what to look for and how to prepare for it.  Police departments are also not involved enough, although in many towns there just aren’t enough police officers and perhaps not enough budgeted funds to train them adequately, particularly in small towns.

But, I think the greatest problem is that there is a lack of Hope in these young people, and in those who perpetrate mass shootings at concerts and movie theaters, or wherever crowds merge. They lack the foresight to see there are better ways to handle their feelings, that going out in a blaze of rage is not the answer. They are, too often, left to their own devices.  Nobody is wondering why a person is acting strangely or if it’s their responsibility to do something about the warning signs they see.  And young people who see what is emerging in another classmate keep that tight-lipped stalemate of not acting in protection of one of their own, even one who no one wants to be near.

I had a dear friend who had an arsenal of over 200 weapons, including cannons he had built himself.  Everyone looked on it as a quirky obsession and hobby.  He grew depressed and was so hateful to his family that they avoided dealings with him – left him to his devices.  I can’t blame them, dealing with his rage and depression filled them with despair. I talked with his wife about the possibility of therapy but he wouldn’t hear of it.  In the end, he blew his brains out. In front of a son. The guns are his sons’ legacy.  It makes me crazy thinking about it.  They should be sold and the money’s used to start their adult lives with.  I mentioned it to my friend, but that is where my advice ended.  Guns are just part of her reality even though she doesn’t touch them.

Hope is strangely lacking in so many of our lives.  We huddle in masses of despair.  Those who have church may find comfort there; therapy is a God-send to many. But to those who have no real support in their lives, whose lifestyle and decisions seem to have no awareness in those around them hope is just 4 letters strung together.  And they are already strung too tight.  And we stand by, hands dangling at our sides, vacant expressions on our faces, saving “Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.”

 

 

 

Dark is the soul

Dark is the soul that hides
sniveling and whining
behind bolted doors
of fear and remorse –
Barring entry of
kindly words –
to open to love
is to open to fear

Hunkered down, sniffing
fetid smells from spaces
too far removed
from fresh Spring breezes –
a mildewed room
holding only memories
of one long passed away –
the soul shivers
fends off silent enemies,
looks always to others
lest the truth be shown
and waits for answers
too long in coming
for escape from its
dismal corridors,
for the scent of hope
to find its way
through rusted shut doors.

Lulled into a stupor
the soul awaits –
too dimwitted to realize
the greatest enemy of all
is only a mirror away,
silently congratulating itself
for the safety
its prison bars bring

Disappointment

Disappointment is the muck I drag myself through.  It eats my days into brown sludge.  I am mired in the cloying, pervasive debris as it washes over me and search as I might, sometimes I can’t find my way clear of it.  For many, the Holiday Season is cloaked in it.  What might be a time of Joy is a quagmire of dusty dreams and disappointed disheartenment.

The days to come bring dollar signs and an unconscious acknowledgement the coming days will bring low lights, not highlights.  Even though   my family and friends love me, they are wrapped in their own dynasties and can’t make time to comprehend my place in their worlds.  The wet blanket covering me is off putting. I need to remember that.  They are a reflection of what they see in me.  They glance at me and their eyes slide away.  I’m barely there or perhaps too much there, soaking in their perceived rejection, whether real or not.

As the leaves dance merrily as they flit down to the road I am driving, I have to give homage to the day when life glowed.  Although always the quiet, guarded one, I once found joy in the Holidays.  Thanksgiving meant the “Macy’s Parade”, “Babes in Toyland”, and finally “Miracle on 42nd Street” as a child.  Then I would join my people for a feast.  Mom would always invite others in need to join us.  I’d help with the mountain of dishes.  Night would bring a turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce sandwich before bed. Some years we would pile into the car and head over to my Aunt’s.  One year my sister and I were in the back of the station wagon.  I had on a peasant dress I loved.  Dawn got car sick and threw up all over my front.  I jerked back, falling into the pies. As a Mother myself, I took pleasure in fulfilling some of those memories with my own family.

Christmas had a magic of its own.  On Christmas Eve Dad would read the miracle of Christ’s Birth from the Bible after Church.  One year I woke extremely early and tried to go downstairs but my Father made me come into their room and sleep next to them . . . when I tried to slip out, he put his leg over mine and went back to sleep.  Another year as I was a teenager, he was drunk and fell into the tree.  But most of the time it was precious.  We would excitedly open presents, although some years my parents had to make some last-minute changes since my sister would have switched the labels on mine and hers if she liked mine better.  There would be another feast and we’d loll away the rest of the day.  I delighted in bringing Christmas to my own family.  One year my husband and the kids fell asleep in the living room as I watched “The Nutcracker” and I felt such peace.

Now, older, living alone, and more tired, I don’t take pleasure in the Holidays as I used to.  I cook my side dishes and head over to my sister’s house and try to watch the Parade.  Sometimes I have to work instead of celebrating.  The Magic of the Holidays has faded under the mantle of my Depression.  Going through the motions would be a more accurate description.  Pleasure is rare for me, laughter even more.  The days are chores to be done gotten over, to fade into Disappointment.  I wish I could change my attitude but it is likely to end up as it has for some time now.  I have to accept my reality and go with the flow so I am not making waves.

Combatting Bipolar Disease on a daily basis

Do you know that old time hymn “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart . . . I’ve got the Peace of God, Peace of God Down in my Heart”? Well for me, and I suspect, most BiPolar people, that just doesn’t track. The cynic, and the disease, tug me away from those feelings.

For me, a wellspring of sadness and despair coat my linings, much like that Pepto Bismol commercial. Anxiety flavors the mix. My heart is treacly coated with the stuff. I can be laughing, giggling, joyful even, and still can touch that pain and despair, still feel the anxiety. There isn’t any distraction from it. Even with a stable medication regimen, anxiety pervades my consciousness and dreams. I am haunted by Depression.

Amnesty International’s latest annual report speaks to a paradigm shift worldwide into Depression and Despair writes Mark Kerstan on May 27, 2017. I suspect much of that is normal despair, not the kind of thing BiPolars’ experience, but still, it’s a frightening fact.

Moreover, we need to continually monitor our frustration and anger levels as they are two heads on the same coin. Our emotions can escalate and drop at alarming rates and anger is a seductive release from the pent-up pain we carry within.

Coping strategies that work for some, may not work for others. Know them, read up on the latest research and articles, but ultimately you may need to pick and choose among them to find out what works best for you. Millions globally find much relief in Mindfulness Meditation and even though I practiced it for a year, I just can’t slow down the chatter my mind offers up. I have found reading and writing work for me. So does housework. Repetitive activities comfort others – coloring, sewing, cooking. Music therapy is wonderful. Some swear by Affirmations – put a poster of them up on your wall for you to tap into.

I do try to observe negative coping strategies and reduce or eliminate them. Some practices simply serve to agitate me further. I look for something that works better. For instance, when the sorrow and anxiety grow too uncomfortable, I look for someone I trust to unburden myself upon. It sounds crappy, using someone like that, but I try to respect their decision to not listen when they choose or need to. If they accept that role, unburden away, get that pain out of you.

Ask yourself, Do I want to be in control? Is that what is making me squirrely? Antsy unrest, obsessive thinking, and nervous irritability are symptoms of Bipolar depression or mania, with possibly a co-existing anxiety disorder. Everything feels hopeless. The mountain is too hard to climb and I’ve run out of power bars and water. Or my body is too handicapped to even begin the walk, even on a flat surface I am limited. For me, its a sure reason for anxiety and depression. I hate my limitations. Fear builds because I see the never endingness of my life situation.

And don’t even get me started on Money, maintaining friendships, or dreamed of escaping, having sustainable, or any, social life. Seeing and being all those things I dreamed of escaping – sands through the hourglass – fear builds. Just the daily stress of life can prove too anxiety producing.

What it boils down to is relatively simple. Find coping strategies that work for you. Keep seeing a therapist. Talk to others about your feelings, keep on the right medication regimen for yourself. Practice Humility – give up the need to be in control. “Let Go and Let God”. Radical acceptance – forcing yourself to see things as they really are (although I sometimes prefer living in my fantasy world), and not as they should be, is a trending treatment. Pray – turn your burdens to a Higher Power. When I do that I experience a measure of peace for a while – and then have to start all over again.

Even with all the helpfulness available to us, we BiPolars have to realize that we have a Disease that is not going to magically disappear. There will be good times and bad. We just need to find our way through the morass and use the tools that work for us.

Shoveling the Crap

We all have experienced the tragedies, mania, depression and despair of this disease. Lately, I have been going through an extremely stressful time, regrettably of my own making. My mind is spinning like a top, panic attacks are frequent, almost daily. Depression is manifest, my sleeping patterns are erratic. More and more pressure and repercussions keep coming my way. And knowing I created this mess is truly devastating.

However, I have picked up the shovel and am slowly digging myself out. It is time I became a solidly responsible adult. I try to project an image of competency but it isn’t always working and I am so embarrassed that I don’t want to talk about it much. I don’t want to put the burden on others so I only share with a couple of people. But I am sharing and that counts for something.
Being in that pile of poop is truly a tough time but I am trying really hard to do certain things:

1. I take courage in the fact that more bipolar people are creative than those in the regular population.
2. One Step at a Time – I can only succeed that way. Whether my mind is spinning out of control, I can only move one step at a time and doing it that way begins to slow my mind down
3. Compartmentalize – realize I can only do so much, in a certain order, and each hillock on the pile can be addressed without destroying the whole
4. Be good to myself. Bubble baths, oil treatments, kombucha, a good meal I took the time to prepare . . .
5. If all else fails, and I am worn to the nubbins’, take a nap, recharge.
6. Share with someone – it really does lighten the load

I have the ability to slow the spin, it takes a lot of effort, and the help of other people, but that pile of poop can become manageable.

We Are Not Our Disease

I was recently in California, visiting a dear friend. She was crushed because she realized the Depression she had lived with for years was, instead, Bipolar I. A lot of her feelings were based on the fact hat her husband of 11 years has severe Depression/Bipolar.   She was the one who always took care of everything. The previous several months had been very hard on her. She spent a lot of time in her bed; her therapist quit; she had her husband were building a house from the studs up. Her Mother of Conflict and her heavily drinking brother were making her life crazy and her Mother subsequently died.  Major factors were making her life miserable. However, I’m not the Doctor and while I think she’s right – she bought a 27 acre, beautiful property against the warnings of her husband – she needs a trained professional to verify she , indeed, has the condition.

However, all of this got me thinking.  I had been in a down mood prior to going to California, but was rejuvenated there.  My moods shift more often than before.  Sometimes I can’t tell what mood I am experiencing. I thought I was only Depressed for years but while looking back over journals 35 years old, I noticed I was definitely Bipolar then.  Next, I started thinking of being Bipolar in general.  There are all sorts of nuances, facets, depths and ambiguity in Bipolar people. It looks different in each person and from day to day. There are things you can do to limit intensity like staying on meds and eating right.

We struggle some days, bounce off the walls some days, and feel great and balanced on yet other days (which might really be you are on a manic high).  But largely, we are like a lot of people on the streets and in the stores.  Most people in this world have issues of one kind or another. We don’t have to minimize ourselves just because of our disease. We are not our disease! We are human beings with scars and wounds, just like so many others,  I, for one, will try like hell not to wear my disease as a cloak around me, because I want to be as healthy as possible.  And I know most of us feel the same way.

  

And the words they turn ’round and ’round

Just when I thought they were gone
(dirty, nasty things)
those little voices returned
like five year olds-
taunting their teacher
incessantly nagging in high
whiney voices,
to shatter any semblance
of peace and calm

Crushing new-found confidence
they tread on faltering egos
destroying all feelings
of worth, of respect
for myself.

Leaving the senses reeling,
Swaying on unsteady feet,
teetering at the brink
of an endless abyss
half-wishing to fall.

Those chattering images
of visions long stored
in deep recesses of the mind
negate a return to sanity.

Hopelessly forcing a surrender
through clenched teeth
to my defeat –
destroyed by voices of the past.

(I wrote this in 1981.  What sickens me is that so much is still the same.
But it is real, it is truth. Perhaps it deserves its day in the sun.
I was clearly Bipolar even then. As the days go by, I see the mask of
pain I wore, wear, still dragging at me – but now it makes me
nauseous to read, hopeful to grow, wanting more, so much more
than the banality of depression, starting to evolve – at 60 no less.)

Disabilities and Health

MOVEMENT

Tick, tick one finger straining upwards
teaching as it goes – how to do what it does
to the other nine who have forgotten.

Teaching me how to raise my arms
by trying to flip ice chips in my mouth
and laughing myself silly
at the picture I must make.

Rehabilitation home number one –
glaring light room – another joins me
Left alone, scared, confused, hours by myself
Moved to another room, roommate a schizophrenic
demensia ridden person screaming all night
for three nights – I can’t get away, don’t know what to do
feel like I’m loosing my mind.

Until she gets really sick and, right next to me, dies.

Rehab dept. – Bars – stand up and walk
are they crazy? Can’t even stand, can’t move legs
on my own or not, whichever.

Okay – lay here and raise five pound weights
Are they really that nuts?  Have they read my file?
I can’t even lift my arms.
Exit Rehab One

Carried like a lump of coal
entering rehab center two
living in bed, succession of roommates,
put in the frequent fallers club
just could not stay put
put an orange bracelet to
signify my disgrace?

Month after month
an eternity of exercises, the Sopranos
(Roommate number 2, or 3?)
finally took a shower
MY GOD! THE HAIR ON MY LEGS IS 6″ long!)

My own walker. deluxe RED with basket, seat.
Walking. Feels so good to move on my own.
Proud.

Home again. Visiting nurse says
I’m depressed. Is he kidding?
Look at me! Where do I go from here?
Of course I’m depressed.
Medications, Inertia, Agony,
Continuing Pain,
Endless thoughts.

All in all, a grand time.
Something to tell the grandchildren.