Waiting for the other shoe to drop

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Ever since my severe depression lifted for the second time within the past three months, I’ve felt like I’ve been tumbling around in my dryer.  Maybe that’s not the best analogy to use, but it has been a long, strange, emotional trip!  I’m not quite what to make of it from a medication perspective.  The first time the depression lifted on November 28, 2013, it correlated with my adding the MAOI drug Parnate to lithium.  I had a joyous three weeks, and then the evil depression returned.  In tandem with the depression I suffered a terrible, agitated insomnia resulting in barely any sleep for two nights, and my psychiatrist suggested I take Seroquel for the insomnia.  I took 100 mg/night and was not only able to sleep again – I noticed the depression lifted a few days after starting Seroquel.

Once again I am walking pharmacy.   I’ve come a long way from being medication-free last spring, and I am resigned to popping pills three times a day if it means I can function and be relatively depression-free.  I’m not thrilled about being dependent upon Big Pharma the rest of my life, but I’m resigned to it.  My psychiatrist and therapist believe I can reduce the dosages of some of my meds, but I don’t want to change anything right now.

I have been holding my breath both literally and figuratively.  I have always been an anxious person, and once the bipolar disorder entered my life, the anxiety skyrocketed.  I became addicted to benzodiazepines (that’s a chapter in my book) but I was able to successfully wean myself of the benzos over time.  Books like Matt Samet’s “Death Grip” , chronicling his benzodiazepine addiction, inspired me to cut those drugs out of my life for good.

I hold my breath in part to irrationally control something in my life and it’s a nasty, nasty habit.  I have also been holding my breath in the figurative sense because of my fear that the depression will return at any moment.  Growing up in a worrywart culture of Jews, I was taught to fear the very worst, and that tendency remains with me.  I think self-defeating thoughts such as, “Now that my damn depression is finally gone, something really bad is going to happen!”  This way of thinking is fruitless, and let’s face it – I can’t control the universe.  I don’t like that one bit!  Having a family obviously compounds my worrying, and gives me more to fret about.

My psychiatrist advises me to add meditation (not medication!) and to pray.  (Yes, pray.) I’m still not at the meditation point, but praying is easy, quick and free, so I sometimes do that.  I’ve never been a religious person, but I believe in a higher power which I usually refer to as God.

All my troubles were put into perspective yesterday when I had to report for jury duty selection for the first time in my life.  I had been completely freaking out about the process.  My worry was so strong that at the very last minute, I asked my doctor for an excuse note.  Then I listened to the jury commissioner’s phone recording explaining what would happen to those citizens who did not report for duty.  The penalty was a fine up to $1500.00 and up to five days in jail.  Hearing about those penalties sent me over the edge. Even though I had two sick kids home from school and I hadn’t showered for three days, I ran out the door in a dirty sweater and sweat pants with no makeup and messy hair and drove to the courthouse.  (Thankfully my husband was able to watch our children and work from home.  I felt very lucky to have that support.)

To my surprise, it turned out that it was a very interesting experience, although it was tedious at times.  I realized that the reason I was so resistant to attending the selection was my fear of the unknown.   I was scared I wouldn’t know where to park.  I was scared I wouldn’t find the right building.  I was scared I’d be grilled by the judge and lawyers in front of everyone.  In the past, before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, none of these logistics would have frightened me to such an extent that I felt paralyzed to act.

It turns out I did figure out everything I needed to do, and I was not quizzed in court; in fact, I was excused.  To my amazement, I was a little disappointed I did not get to participate on the jury.  Sitting in that sterile court room  and watching a young person who was on trial for a crime triggered sadness in me.  I pondered how the person’s family must have felt, and how such a serious allegation would affect his life forever.  It was sobering to witness, despite the fact that the judge had a sense of humor and he humanized the proceedings.  Moreover, the room had such an intense and scary energy, and I was relieved that I was simply an observer, not on trial.  I also could sense the anxiety of some of the prospective jurors who did not want to be there one bit – one of them even began to cry when she told the judge she had a financial hardship.

When I left the cave-like court room and walked outside into a beautiful, sunny day, I was grateful.  I was on my way home to a loving family who were all proud of me for facing my fear of the jury process.  I am glad that I have my freedom and that the “shoe” I’m so petrified of is still suspended in air for now.

Like everyone, I have no idea what the future will bring, but being in the moment as much as possible can only help.  In the weeks to come I will be adding meditation to reduce “the dropping shoe syndrome”, which I believe is related to the condition of “monkey mind” and I will share about it here in “Birth of a New Brain”.

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2 thoughts on “Waiting for the other shoe to drop

  1. It is possible to overcome your fear,the main thing I did in the mania that resulted in my being sectioned & finally diagnosed at age 25,was one that had me attempting to either sort my head out or destroy myself,I had spent the previous 10 months trying to work up the nerve to hang myself,after a failed attempt to do so(the fucking rope snapped,I was left lying on the ground in Goodmayes Park at 3am,with my hands tied together & looped through my belt)I had been harassed by some colleagues of my then ex girlfriend,who had joined the Metropolitan police,they policed the area around my university campus,their harassment & threats cost me my degree,which I was in the final 5 months of.I am not the type of person who takes being fucked over well,& I was planning to kill the 6 policemen I knew about,who had been threatening me,I was planning to convert Potassium Ferri cyanide to sodium cyanide & trying to work out how to make an aerosol delivery system,planning to kill both them & me,but this is not the type of man I am,& so it fed the self-hate that is part of this disorder.I decided to try to sort my head out by Psychedelic Psychotherapy (having just read Stanislav Grof’s book)so I embarked on a munching session,during the 1st 2 months I ate 300 tabs of quite strong LSD,with the following 4 months seeing another 300 used(purple Om’s & not as strong as the 1st ones)During this time I repeatedly jumped into levels that were very scarey,if I’d got used to 2 I’d double or treble it & often my mantra to myself,was fear,fuck the fear,let’s have it.
    This period was followed by being sectioned & finding out about my diagnosis & then the period of rebuilding my life with appropriate skills for managing this disorder,you have to become used to feeling like shit,you have to become adept at ignoring intrusive suicidal thoughts,you have to be able to ignore your feelings & then become adept at making your mind do what you want it to,the skill is being able to ignore the voice of Thanatos & only to listen to Eros.I found that I formulated a Shamanic perspective that I derived around the way of the warrior clown,as laughter,fun,joy & silliness are great ways to finish Thanatos’s influence.
    Be strong Dyanne,just because you are on the pills now,doesn’t mean you will always be on them,it is why I think we,the Bipolar community need to have a forum where we compare notes on self management strategies,one for those who need Big Pharma,one for those who want to minimise the use of Big Pharmas products,I don’t think it is possible to manage this disorder Bipolar 1 & GAD without their products,but this use can be minimal,as in my case.
    Don’t give up,I’m not with Dr Peter Breggin,Seth Farber,RD Laying etc,but the pharmaceutical industry is only good for some things.
    Love & Luck wished your way,Onward & Upward.
    Luv 1Wheel

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