Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Unknown

 

Dear Friends, this is a revised post.

I decided to share it again today because I still suffer with that insidious, dreadful “shoe dropping” feeling. Thanks for reading!

 

Ever since my severe bipolar depression lifted, 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.  When my depression lifted in 2013, it correlated with my adding the “controversial” MAOI (monamine oxidase inhibitor) drug Parnate to the 900 mg/night of lithium I was taking.  I call my MAOI controversial because it’s an old-school drug that many psychiatrists “poo poo” because it has dietary restrictions. (Those restrictions are no big deal, because the benefit far outweighs them!) MAO’s don’t work for everyone, like all meds, but they have been studied and found to help with treatment-resistant bipolar depression, especially in combination with lithium.

In tandem with the depression I had a terrible, agitated insomnia resulting in barely any sleep for two nights. My psychiatrist suggested I take Seroquel for the insomnia.  I took 100 mg/night and I was able to sleep again. (Update: I gradually tapered down to 25 mg and then stopped taking Seroquel  few months ago.)

Once again I am walking pharmacy.  I’ve come a long way from being medication-free (which resulted in relapse, including suicidal ideation and hospitalization), 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 meds the rest of my life, but I’m definitely resigned to it.  My psychiatrist and therapist believe I can eventually 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’ve always been an anxious person, and once bipolar disorder entered my life, the anxiety skyrocketed.  I became addicted to benzodiazepines (that’s a section in my book; it wasn’t pretty) but I was able to successfully wean myself of the benzos.  Books like the rock climber Matt Samet’s Death Grip, which chronicled his benzodiazepine addiction, inspired me to cut those drugs out of my life for good.

I suspect I hold my breath in part so I can 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 Dr. D. advises me to add meditation 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’d call myself spiritual and believe in a higher power which I usually refer to as God, and sometimes (gasp) with four-letter words I’ll spare you reading about here. (No offense to those of you who are deeply religious!)

All my troubles were put into perspective yesterday when I reported for jury duty selection for the first time in my life.  I was 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. That felt wrong. 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: 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 Craig 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 sometimes tedious. I realized that the reason I was so resistant to attending the jury 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.  

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. Now that’s no longer the case, not one bit.

It turns out I figured out everything I needed to do, and I wasn’t quizzed in court; in fact, I was excused.  To my amazement, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get to participate on the jury!  

Sitting in that sterile court room, I watched a young person on trial for a crime, and the intense scene triggered a deep 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 a serious, almost scary energy, and I was relieved that I was simply an observer, not someone on trial.  I also noticed the anxiety of some of the prospective jurors who didn’t 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 the beautiful, sunny day, I was grateful.  I was on my way home to a loving family. They were proud of me for facing my fear of the jury process.  I’m 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.

—————————-

Happy Friday, my friends!

I wish you all a good weekend.

Sending you my love as always, and I’ll be back here next Friday.

love, Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth) will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Unknown

Advertisements

33 thoughts on “Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

  1. I used to feel resigned to medications, but why do we see medicating mental illness as different to physical illnesses? ‘I am resigned to taking insulin for the rest of my life’. You are strong and loving beyond knowledge, to take the medication that saves your life.
    I had a friend who, when I said I was on medications for what was diagnosed as anxiety and depression at the time, assured me that they too had been depressed but didn’t ‘stoop to medication because they were strong enough to handle it on their own’. WTF?!? Would they say that to someone with a physical illness requiring medication?!? I think not.
    Go you, strong, loving you. You are amazing, brilliant and beautiful beyond.

    1. Thanks so *SO* much for your beautiful comment!!!!!! It totally made my day! I’m thankful I was able to change my attitude toward my pink and beige pills. I now feel love towards them instead of hate. I know that sounds hippy dippy (I do live in Santa Cruz which is the Granola Capital of California) but I think that my positive regard for my pills makes a difference and helps me.

      I hope one day mental illness cures are found so all the b.s. & fear & suffering connected with bipolar etc. becomes a moot point. Xo & thanks again for your lovely compliments and empathy! :))) Have a good New Year! Dy

      1. I hope one day that there is a society cure!! I think that mental health is attributed to society wellness. I know that when I live in close, small, family communities that my mental health is improved, even though the condition is present, it doesn’t have control.
        I hope you have a lovely New Year xx

  2. Wow, it seemed like you were writing about me, we must be twins separated at birth! 🙂 🙂 The anxiety, the unwillingness to take meds, did I say the anxiety, the fear of things going wrong, we are just especially finely tuned people, probably because of bipolar d/o, who react, to the world and the things in it, very sensitively. Which translates to always being wary, always anxious, fearful. So yes, breathing and meditation and prayer, anything that invokes the relaxation response is GREAT! Love you girl, so great you conquered your fears and went to the courthouse, and then of course found out it wasn’t so bad. Isn’t that always the way it is? We can do it, we just think we can’t. XXXXXOOOOO

  3. This is a totally awesome post Dyane! I identify so much with your fears of not knowing what to do or where to park. Having social anxiety, when I get jury duty I’ll probably be the same way but it’s good to know it worked out well for you and that you learned from it. I’ll try to remember that if I get jury duty. Thanks for this post! 😀

  4. I feel the same, I am finally on meds that are working but I’m always wondering when the depression will come back. I also worry about long term side effects like tardive dyskinesia and I don’t know if I could handle that. I’m almost resigned to a life of meds but then I wonder how I will have children. Just too much to think about at times. Thank you for another wonderful post ❤

    1. Hey there bettyrocker18! (18 is my lucky number!)
      Both my dog Lucy & I share the same b-day: March 18.

      I’m SO SO SO glad that you’re on meds that are working – that’s HUGELY awesome.
      I’m sure you know that!

      As far as tardive dyskinesia goes, I hope with all my heart you never have that as a side effect, but just in case, here’s some info. – my blogging pal Allison Strong knows a ton about T.D. and she found something to help her – if you ever want info. on it check out this link & you can contact her too via her own blog Bipolar Brainiac – she just wrote the T.D. post for the International Bipolar Foundation’s blog:

      http://ibpf.org/blog/move-over-movement-disorder

      On a separate note, I did finally accept that I can handle taking meds indefinitely. I’m still hoping for a cure all the same…

      Children – well, they were here before the bipolar, so there was no return policy. 😉 (KIDDING!)
      You will be fine! That’s what my gut tells me.

      Thanks for your kind words & please take good care of yourself!!!!!!
      ❤️
      Dyane

      1. Thank you Dyane! I will check out Allison’s post on T.D. I wish we did not have to have such horrible trade offs to be well. I mean, how can I choose between depression and mania or the possibility of T.D.?? I know that bipolar symptoms are probably more dangerous than the cosmetic/social difficulties of T.D. But that doesn’t make it any easier 😔 Anyways, on a more fun note, my bday is May 18! My dog was born in January and I chose the 18th for him too hehe 😊

    2. I’m afraid of things like tardive dyskinesia, too. I’ve been on psych meds for about 12 years and it’s always in the back of my mind. Periodically I try to taper off on my meds only to fall into a long depression. I’m not the real me on meds but much worse off them. I hope that someday I can have a med-free mind and heart and regain my true self.

      1. That is good to hear though that you’ve been on psych meds for 12 years and haven’t developed tardive dyskinesia. I hope too that I can get off meds someday and find my true self. Whatever that may be…? You are in my prayers.

    1. Thanks so much, Kitt! I got the Stigma Fighters Anthology from you yesterday –
      you look so beautiful in your selfie!!
      Prayers going out to you , your Mom & family….much love!

  5. I, too, have the tendency to always be waiting for that stupid other shoe. “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is how I rationalize it, but of course I don’t always do the “hoping for the best” part.

    1. Hey there Leslie! I like what Vic wrote,

      “Even if the shoe were to drop, you have the capability to pick it up, put it on and continue on your journey.
      Just don’t let anyone tie your shoe laces together!”

      I know we can’t magically do that overnight, but it would be nice to inch closer to making it happen even once, eh? I think you’re wise to try to follow the adage “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”!

      Take care, Leslie, thanks so much for commenting, and I wish you a nice, drama-free weekend!!!!
      💐🌅
      Dyane

    1. I’m so sorry you suffered panic attacks too, Tessa. 😞
      Good for you for taking care of yourself and getting the doctor’s note!
      Next time I’m called for jury duty, I’m not going to force myself if I’m not up for it. I only hope I don’t leave anything to the last minute.

      Take care & thanks so much for stopping by my blog!
      hugs,
      Dyane

      1. Get a note right away and send it in or whatever you directions say. I actually got an acknowledgement in the mail saying I was excuse.

      2. My dr had a note all ready and he just filled in patient, diagnosis or reason you can’t do it and signed it. You are welcome.xxx

    1. I know, right? Make that a double-trouble sigh!
      I’m hoping it gets a little easier, just a touch would be nice! 😉
      Have a good weekend, Claya!
      Thanks for stopping by…
      XO Dy

    1. Awwww, thanks, SuperMommyofTwins!
      Did you see I retweeted your most recent post?
      Now I plan on getting over there this weekend for a look-see.
      You rock! Thanks again for your kindness! You’re an….👼
      Dyane, who finally discovered how to use emojis on WordPress

  6. Keeping an eye on the future is probably advisable, but having your focus firmly in the present should probably be a priority.

    Even if the shoe were to drop, you have the capability to pick it up, put it on and continue on your journey.

    Just don’t let anyone tie your shoe laces together! 😉

    1. Thanks for reminding me that I can pick up that shoe if it drops & put it right back on & keep going. It won’t have superglue on the sole, right?
      (I hope!)
      You got a good chuckle out of me with the shoe laces comment, Vic! That’s always more than welcome!
      Wishing you a good weekend, my friend.
      Dy

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s