Happy Monday, everyone!
After I wrote my last post about my setback, I received such wonderful comments from you. Some responses praised me for keeping my rage under wraps from my precious girls. I can’t tell you how much your support meant to me. The affirming remarks made me feel so good, but after my excitement dissipated, I became too complacent. While I spoke with my counselor about what happened (we planned that I’d call her if I needed to when the next setback occurred) in the back of my mind, I assumed I’d have a good, long reprieve. I certainly didn’t think I’d be tested so soon.
Enter the phrase “pride goeth before a fall“.
Here’s the Dictionary.com definition:
Pride goeth before a fall:
Up until a few weeks ago, I thought that I was in recovery mode.
I had concrete signs:
I regained trust from relatives I hurt while I was manic.
I received some heady (perhaps head-swelling is more fitting!) recognition by members of the bipolar community who I admired.
The International Bipolar Foundation asked me to be a “Story of Hope & Recovery”.
The bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson nominated this blog for the WEGO Health Activist “Best in Show Blog” Award.
These were heady achievements indeed. Even better, I was becoming enthused to once again create a free support group for women with bipolar disorder. To top off this groovy stuff, I was featured by Greg Archer in his Huffington Post article “Inspiring Agents of Change”.
None of those wonderful things came to mind when I had Setback #2 last week.
Last Thursday night I got more bad news that triggered me big-time. I should have called my therapist according to our action plan, right?
Well, I didn’t I call her. I think I was in shock that I got another chunk of bad news so quickly. Moreover, I had just taken my three meds after a long day. One of those medications, quetiapine (Seroquel) is for sleep, and it was kicking in. Take my word for it, the stuff is powerful!
As my eyelids grew heavy, I told myself that I’d handle my reaction to this bad news way better than I did during Setback #1. Then I repressed everything and fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up groggy, since surprise, surprise, I didn’t sleep too well. Despite my brain haze, I remembered what I had been told the previous night and, like a death or a break-up, I wanted to rewind back to ignorance.
Running late due to my sluggishness, I frantically helped my children get ready for school. We were almost out the door into the pouring rain. The finish line was close! There was only one final task that needed to be done, and that was for one of my girls to brush her hair. She petulantly refused, and that silly thing was enough to set me off.
All parents lose their tempers in front of their children. However, I passed the point of no return into a major tantrum that was not appropriate in response to a child refusing to brush her tangles. At least I knew that I needed to sequester myself immediately and calm myself the hell down. I went into the bathroom and locked the door. I called out to Craig, who thank God was home, and to the girls that I was giving myself a “time-out”.
I sobbed loudly for ten minutes. To my own ears I sounded hysterical – I guess I should have grabbed a pillow on my way into the bathroom. Then I stopped crying and took some deep breaths. I felt ashamed for losing control and especially for needing to separate myself from my family. I opened the door to find that our girls stood close by. They asked me what was wrong and I was vague in my reply – luckily they weren’t in their typical interrogation modes and they didn’t press for details.
I enfolded them in my arms and told them how sorry I was for getting so upset. I told them that I loved them more than anyone in the world. To my surprise, they didn’t seem that disturbed.
In the past I would’ve asked Craig to take them to school, which I used to do frequently during my seemingly never-ending depression. This time I didn’t want to delegate and, anyway, he needed to work. I wanted to show our girls that despite the fact that I had to remove myself for a while, I could calm down enough to safely drive them to their classes. I dabbed some “Serenity” doTERRA essential oil on my wrists, which is supposed to have calming properties. (I was tempted to use half of the bottle, but I didn’t…everyone in this family hates its smell except for me!) It helped on a subtle level.
In the bumper-to-bumper traffic, I checked in with my daughters to see how they were doing. “I’m fine!” said my eldest. “Yes!” echoed my younger one. They didn’t seem to be overly upset about anything, and they were chattering and laughing during the commute. That was the high point of my day.
I returned home, and all my emotions came back to the surface. I still didn’t call my therapist. I was utterly exhausted, and I wanted to escape and take a nap to escape the world instead of doing my usual routine of writing, emails, laundry, dishes and other exciting housework.
When we first met, my psychiatrist told me that if I ever had a daytime crisis, I could take 25 mg of my Seroquel. Despite being tempted a few times, I never wanted to take it due to several reasons. Even at the relatively low dose of 25 mg, the medication is super-powerful, and taking it would zombify me during day.
I hemmed and hawed about taking the tiny, innocuous-looking beige orb. At least I gave some thought to the consequences of taking the pill, whereas years before I would have popped one without any reservation.
Even so…I took the Seroquel.
Next I crawled into bed and got my puppy Lucy to join me for some much-wanted comfort.
As I write about that awful day just a mere seventy-two hours later, I’m already forgetting about how terrible I felt. I napped for a couple hours and when I got up I felt the claws of depression grip and squeeze my soul.
“NOOOOOOOO!” I thought. “Not again – I can’t go back to this hell!!! Not now! Just when I thought I was finally doing better, I’m back in this hole again!”
My sobs returned. Lucy licked away my tears, and for the zillionith time I was so glad we had this furry beast in our family.
I shuffled over to the coffee machine and made a pot of French Roast. (Note – I don’t advise mixing coffee and Seroquel…I know it can’t be healthy!) After two cups I felt more coherent and I got through the rest of the day in one piece. I picked up the girls at school and I even worked out in the late afternoon, which was a minor miracle. My depression had already begun to subside. Yes, the bad news was still there to deal with, but between the Seroquel and the exercise, my anger had melted along with my depression.
The next day I woke up more groggy than usual. I took a long, hot shower, which always makes me feel better. That afternoon I had a serendipitous visit with one of my best friends who I hadn’t seen for far too long. Our friendship has lasted over twenty-five years. She’s one of the few friends who visited me in the hospital when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Hanging out with her in a nice sushi restaurant last Saturday reminded me of the happy times we shared before the word “bipolar” entered my vocabulary. I was even able to talk with her about my bad news, and I put it into a healthier perspective. While I was still daunted by my reaction on Friday, I was SO grateful that my depression had gone away. In the past, it would have stuck around like glue to a shoe.
Now, I can’t take Seroquel every time I flip out. Believe me, as someone with an addictive personality, I know that. I wish I could have simply napped without taking the damn pill.
I have appointments with my counselor and psychiatrist coming up next week – they’ll be earning their fees, that’s for sure. I wish I had wise words to share with you, but I don’t. I almost didn’t publish this post, but I wanted to let you know where I’m at: that not everything has been peachy-keen after my last setback, and I’m still stumbling.
Sending you love, strength and hope this week…and see you next Monday,
Could you please endorse me for the WEGO Health Activist “Best In Show: Blog” Award? Visit the link below – it’s quick and easy to do. I want to thank bestselling author Wendy K. Williamson (“I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar” and “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival”) for nominating me.