Upbeat

Well let’s try something a little more upbeat, shall we?

– Amy Adams, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

Time for some good news, don’t you think? The last 2 week’s blogs have been a tad depressing. But then again, that’s what we’re dealing with; depression. And it is depressing!

But, time for some good news. Just as long as you don’t think that’s how it actually works in real life. Good news following bad in a nice little ratio. It doesn’t happen neatly like that. The depressing topics can go on for quite a while without relief!

Thanks to my amazing psychiatrist I actually am feeling quite a bit better this week. My meds have been upped again and within 3 days of increasing the dose I was coming up from the depths and feeling better, and my energy and mood have kept on coming up. Thank goodness!

My belief has been renewed that it is possible to get properly medicated and live a reasonably normal life. I stopped believing over the last little while, thinking I was living a doomed life. I have been reminded how closely the analogy of diabetes fits my disease. When a diabetic’s sugar levels go off, they feel awful but they go to the doctor and the doctor changes the level of medication. I just forgot that I need to go to the doctor and ask for more meds when I start sinking; I tend to think it’s on me to fix myself, as if I could! I’ve been reminded very clearly this time that when I’m struggling, it’s not just that I’m struggling, but that there’s something chemical going on in my brain that needs a doctor to sort out. I need to recognize it, and ask for help. That sounds obvious, but it’s not obvious to me, not when I’m sick. I just blame myself, feel like I’m not doing enough to be better, and I hibernate.  So I’m reminded it’s the level of chemicals in my brain that are dictating how I’m going, and when I need more, I need more and I need to ask for it. I’ll try to remember for next time…

I have faith again now, faith that things can be better, and will get better, and will be better. Something I lost lately.

But if I wasn’t feeling better, I was planning to write something “positive” anyway.

You know, so you wouldn’t worry. So you wouldn’t think it was all bleak and dark. To balance out the last two posts. To alleviate your concerns and to reassure you that everything is okay. Because that’s what we do, or at least that’s what I do. People who are emotionally and mentally unwell.

I want you to know when things aren’t going well because I believe in my friends and family knowing the truth. I want you to know, I really do. I think it’s good for a lot of people to know how these things work; so you understand, and maybe so it’ll help you help someone else.

Until all the condolences roll in and everyone is so worried. Until dear friends get scared, and fret about how I am going. Then I think about you, and how it’s affecting you and it makes me anxious, thinking of more questions and concerns, and I back peddle. So sometimes I tell you its all good so you can relax. And so I can relax, and I’m no longer fielding afraid questions from loved ones. My husband says this is insulting to people. To coddle them, and not let them in on the whole truth. To decide what they can handle and what they can’t. To give them the amount of truth that I believe won’t overload them, and by extension, me.

I’m sorry to do this! I don’t mean to take control of the information stream, or insult you, or lie. But it quickly becomes too much for me. Despite this, I don’t want you to change a thing. Please don’t stop feeling concern, or asking me about what’s going on. I’m just letting you in on my crazy brain!

But I think this is a very common thing in people with mental illness. I read a piece recently about “smiling depression” and so many times it IS easier to smile. I try not to be fake, but it’s still my fall back, the easier option.

It’s not about restricting your access to information about my illness and how I’m going. Like I said, I want you to know; at least theoretically. I have a limited capacity for emotion, including other people’s, when I’m not well. This is why sometimes I still say “fine”, “okay”, “not bad”, “good thanks” to skirt the question of how I’m going. Because when I’m really not well, just a simple “how are you?” is enough to bring me to tears, and have I mentioned how much I hate crying? Especially in front of anyone else! But I’m trying to be honest and open, so bear with me.

Sometimes I want you to think I’m okay, or not so bad so I can slink back to bed without attention.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate your concern.

I want to promote understanding of mental illness, but sometimes the kind concern and loving questions, while so touching, are a lot to deal with when I’m operating at low emotional capacity! When I’m better it’s a lot easier to process and when I’m well it’s easy, just the same as you or anyone, but of course the same thoughts and  questions don’t apply then.

But I am well this week. I’ve got energy, motivation, stamina. I feel good! Everything is easier. I’m doing more, and it’s draining me less, and not exhausting me just to move. My husband is happy, the house is in a little bit shape, things are just good. So none of this is fake. These are the real positives that I can see clearly with my eyes right now. Yay!

  • I’ve gotten out of bed every day this week, and sometimes before noon! Really!
  • I’ve talked to a potential employer via email and on the phone, and done an in-person job interview
  • I’ve done groceries, dropped off some clothes to be mended, washed and dried sheets, posted some clothes for refund, tidied up my side of the bedroom, even cooked dinner one night! Don’t get your hopes too high though, that’s about all I’ve done!
  • I’ve been to my GP for an appointment, to a doctor for an ultrasound, to a careers counsellor for help getting a job, and to KFC when I couldn’t figure out what to eat for lunch! That’s a lot of outings and socialising for me! On the days I went out, I went to bed when I got home, usually for an hour and a half…but I didn’t nap on the days that I didn’t go out, so that’s something
  • All this out and about meant I got some sunshine on 2 separate days. Actually on the skin sunshine!

So that’s me for this week. It’s not a lot from the viewpoint of my old life, but these days I take whatever I can take, and this is relatively awesome!

How about you? How are you? I’d love to hear from you.

 

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I can’t seem to find my balance

I can’t seem to find my balance, by Danika Sanderson, written 28/1/2014

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Between living and dying, between singing and sighing,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Between coming and going, from keeping to throwing,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Between laughing and crying, between loving and fighting,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From grinning to frowning, from swimming to drowning,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I’m here and I’m there, “have to” be everywhere,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I’m up and I’m down then I’m flat on the ground,

I’m carrying the weight of the world around,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From gorging on food to soothe my mood,

From guilting myself about eating that food,

From kicking myself to the curb and back

For eating too much and getting too fat,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From “too tired to care” and “life is not fair”

To “how lucky am I to have such a great guy”

To “what if I fail?” and “what if they hate me”

To “I am so happy” and “they must all rate me”,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From being a friend to hiding away

And avoiding the customary “how was your day?”,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From confident speaker to introvert girl,

From stomach of steel to wanting to hurl,

From conscientious to “that’ll do fine”,

I’m “stressed out I’m late” but still never on time,

From anything for anyone to “sod them all”,

From standing up straight to curled in a ball,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

My logic says go but my heart rate is thunder,

My sane brain agrees but the renting asunder

Of nerves once so stable but now run amuck,

Is leaving me feeling like one sitting duck!

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Can’t walk in the dark, but running’s okay,

“Just push through the barriers and all’s well”, they say,

“Just exercise, eat well, sleep well and drink tea”,

“Avoid caffeine and sugar and alcohol’s three”,

“Just keep a good attitude, you’ll be alright”,

But what if they’re wrong and I lose this huge fight?

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

“What if…?”, “What then…?”, “What next?” I wonder,

The evils, the outcomes, the dark side I ponder.

I can’t see the good, the pleasant, the happy,

But then all at once, I become happy chappy!

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I’m inspired; I’m keen as mustard to learn,

Then gloom, disappointment, my hopes they burn,

Again motivated; success I now yearn,

But failure still looms at every turn.

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Why cannot I just for ONE day be level?

What would it feel like to sing and to marvel?

Instead of dwelling on doom and gloom

And walking around restless from room to room,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I remember now often the days gone past,

When balance was normal, expected to last

All day every day and all life through,

I’d never have thought I’d be like this, did you?

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

And yet there’s still hope at the bottom of the jar,

That “one day”, “ONE day”, maybe not far,

Maybe real close, maybe real soon,

I’ll be singing my song to a different tune.

 

A tune that thrills, and lilts, and strains,

To glorify One who holds the reigns,

Who shows to me His Love and Care

And helps me realise the burden’s to share.

Who shows me that balance is always found,

When God comes first and is followed around,

By everything else, that’s solid ground

For finally gaining my balance.

Copyright Danika Sanderson, 2014 – reproduction only with written permission from the author.

I wrote this poem all in an afternoon on my way home from work one day.

I was getting sick of my mood swings, of depression, of anxiety, and was dearly wanting to go back in time to when life was running on an even keel.

I’d never realised what a privilege it was just to live life with regular emotions, regular response to stress and plenty of serotonin and noradrenaline.

So I started thinking this thought in my mind; I can’t seem to find my balance.

I can’t seem to find my balance. Sometimes I’m full of life and running around, sometimes I’m suffering from suicidal thoughts and wanting to escape life. But I seem to be missing the middle ground where life is straightforward and easier.

I started thinking, I can’t seem to find my balance – I’m up and I’m down…what rhymes with down? Around, ground, mound…what works with I’m up and I’m down? I’m flat on the ground! Boo Yeah! I’ve got myself one verse.

And so it went on. I raced home and grabbed out an old school book and started scribbling. I wrote most of this poem exactly as it appears here; somehow I just got on a roll. Some verses needed some tinkering to make more sense. Some verses got put together, some got taken apart.

I’m really proud of this poem. Not only do I find it a fun rhyming scheme, based partially on limericks and partially on Dr Seuss-type rhyme, but I’m really pleased with how the lines came together to tell the story of where I was at this time. The fun rhyming contrasts with the serious content, and helps me feel better about how I’m feeling.

I’m still kind of in this space now, even though it’s nearly 4 months later. Balance takes a long time to achieve, as it turns out. I have good days, I have bad days. I had a couple of weeks up to last Sunday when I got ahead of myself with how well I was feeling and how much I was achieving and thought I was cured! Then the last week sucker punched me and landed me in bed for most of the week, having 2 naps a day every day!!

So balance, a tricky thing to achieve. Elusive, delicate, difficult, like walking along a fence or tightrope. A fickle wind blowing one way, a strong breeze blowing the other way and off you go smashing down and breaking apart on the ground! Then it takes time and effort and emotion to get back up, brush off the debris, clamber all the way back up onto the fence, gather together your scraps of confidence and faith that there is a happy ending awaiting up ahead, and take the first step again! Nursing your injuries and disappointments, carrying baggage from previous attempts, trying hard to have hope and enthusiasm again.

So today is Day One after that long week of tiredness, total lack of enthusiasm and motivation, crippling lack of energy and a fat lot of blergh!!

We’re putting that behind, pushing on to find a new plan, a new way forward to try to get up on the fence, hands out balancing my weight, eyes fixed forward, trying for hope.

A great friend gave me this awesome print to go with my poem that I now have framed next to my dining table:

just balancing, girl on rocks in heels

A gorgeous print that I have framed in my living room

Onwards and upwards!! Balance, it’s time. I’m here waiting, I’m ready. Let’s go!!