Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 98: Fake It Till You Break It

I can be really good at faking it.

And sometimes, that faking leads to making it.  Just as the adage says.  Sometimes, I fake a smile and go out with friends or family, and after a while, I really do feel happy and like smiling.

Sometimes, I fake it till I take it.

Okay, I'm not actually sure what that meant.

But, sometimes, I fake it until I just get through what ever "it" is.  The faking is just enough to allow me to keep my head above the water until the thing comes to a natural conclusion and, at some point, the waters recede and I discover that I survived.  Maybe not cheerfully, but I did survive.

And then there are the times that I fake it till I break it.

And that's when everything falls apart.

I know, I've spent a lot of time in therapy learning the pitfalls of that mindset and working hard on coming up with strategies to avoid it.  Having my safety plan with a list of people I can (should) call when the going gets tough.

But it's hard.

And most of the time, I can just have a private crash with a few days of feeling sad and despondent and then HH helps me pick up the pieces and pull through.

But, right now, we go back and forth between our parents' homes.  There isn't really a place to have a private crash.  At least, not with my few days to mourn whatever brought on the crash, and the following sadness.  I don't know how to really explain it, but that's what it feels like.

So, things have been getting worse and worse, as far as my mental state, but I couldn't bring myself to have such a public crash.  I didn't want people to worry about me.  Both for my sake and for theirs. 
So, I kept pushing it aside and telling myself I just had to get through until we moved into our new house.

But, I haven't really been sleeping well.

And I don't know if it's the mono, or the stress, but my physical health is deteriorating and I can barely exercise any more, even when I do find the time, which is rare.

And life away from home and after a move is stressful in general--for me and the kids.

And HH is working some longer hours, plus has an hour commute each way.

And then a week and a half ago, my grandpa died.  I was there when my dad found out.  And my mom was out of town at the time, so I felt like I needed to take care of him.  And I was really worried about him.  I still don't think I've sat down to deal with my own loss in this.

And then we drove out to the funeral, got to bed late, held the funeral,  I sang a duet with my sister (something I'm not really comfortable doing--the singing part, I'm happy to hang out with my sister), spent some time with my dad's family, and then we turned around and drove home.  I was feeling guilty because other people stayed to spend more time together, but we really needed to get back.  And we did, but in the wee early morning hours of Sunday.

And I was supposed to sleep in, but I barely slept at all, so that didn't happen.  I was so ridiculously tired.

But, we were throwing a birthday party for Darling A that evening.  With both sides of the family.  Because that's what you do when you live close to so much family.

I had spent quite a bit of the week prior stressing over it.  And then when I realized I was going to have a funeral right before, my stress went into double time.  And when one of the cakes came out of the pan in multiple pieces, I just about cried.

But, thanks to some help from my sister-in-law earlier in the week with some fondant cows plus a lot of frosting, the cakes actually turned out pretty cute.

Then my husband's grandma (who offered to let us throw the party at her house) got really stressed out and upset because of some poor planning on our part.  Which is kind of the story of my life right now.  There are so many things going on, I feel like I'm never organized enough to plan anything right.  I felt so guilty about causing her stress, that was when things really started to unravel for me.

I think the party went okay, but I felt like it should be perfect.  And it wasn't.  At least, not in the way I had hoped it would be.

And on the way home, HH and I began a discussion about my therapy and then kind of my prognosis.  And HH expressed some disappointment with the fact that he keeps thinking changing my circumstances will improve my mental health, but it really hasn't yet.  He wasn't saying this to hurt me, by any means.  I know being in his shoes must be a terrible place to be.  And sometimes, he allows himself to express that.  And I hate that he pretty much always feels guilty about it afterward.

The problem this time, is that that goes right along with a vein of thinking I've been following myself quite a bit lately.  Just that I'm never going to get better.

And I'm not talking about being cured from bipolar.  I'm just talking about rising above the pervasive depression that has been hanging over me (us) for the better part of the last year.  I don't think I've been stable for more than a week or two at a time, and even those have been rare.

I've been down so much that it's hard for HH to see that I'm trying to rise above it, and not just wallowing in it all the time.  It's hard for anyone who doesn't deal with this to understand what an effort it can be just to survive the day.  And that, these days, that's really the best I can do.  Having fun or laughing are sometimes luxuries that come at too high of an effort for me to afford.  And the art of "positive thinking" is just a distant dream.

And so Sunday night, I lost the will to keep trying.  I just couldn't do it any more.  The suicide ideations that drove me to the hospital last October had been slowing creeping back in over the past couple of months and I just grew too tired to fight them off.

I didn't sleep well again that night, so they were my constant companions.

I just happened to have a therapy appointment set up for that day.  And my therapist had requested that HH come with me so she could meet him.

For the first time, I actually cried in a therapy session.  I blame HH because he cried first.  And that's all I'll say about the session.  It was very painful.

My therapist knew I needed to go to the hospital.  I knew I needed it, but I didn't want to.  And HH knew that going to the hospital might just make things worse for me as it did when I went for a few days back in 2012.

But, I couldn't get myself to a place where I felt safe to be alone.  So, I had him check me in.  It's a long story, but we didn't get to the hospital until late that night and it was after 1 AM by the time I was shown my room.

It was a really nice facility.  Not actually a hospital.  The first day and a half I was on a very secure floor with patients who struggle with mental illness a lot worse than mine, but then a bed opened up for me upstairs and I was with people I had more in common with.  A lot of people with bipolar mostly.

And it was kind of really nice.  Except the nights.  And the not being able to shave my legs (razors were at the top of the list of everyday items that were now termed "contraband").

But, here were all of these people who understand me perfectly.  They know how even a great life can't stop bipolar depression.  And the pain of watching it hurt those you love.  And that we can't control it, no matter how hard we try.

Some of the conversations we carried might have been disturbing to those free from mental illness.  But, it was nice to be able to share and learn from each other.

It was also easier because when one of us was struggling, we knew how to offer support and when to give space.  I had a bit of a breakdown one night and into the next morning, and it was amazing how these friends of only a couple days were able to tell me what I needed to hear.  And then just allowed me the time to be by myself to work through the rest on my own.

It felt so safe there.  The suicide ideations were completely gone.  Replaced by peace and actually, happiness.

It helped that there was very little stress.  No meals to cook or clean up.  No messes.  No one needing me at all, really.  I didn't even have to remember when to take my own medications.  They took care of everything for us.  It was just a bunch of group therapy sessions which ranged from discussing coping skills and self-esteem, to making a rose out of clay and playing Name That Tune.  And then some free time to read a book or talk with friends.  Time to walk outside with a couple of friends.  And the occasional appointment with my arrogant but intelligent psychiatrist.

I wanted to leave Friday so I could join my family on an outing to Lagoon we'd planned weeks ago, so we could go with my sister's and my brother's families on Saturday.

Friday morning I woke up very depressed, so I all but made up my mind to stay another couple of days.  But, I sorted through the problem and started to feel better bit by bit.  Plus, the thought of my leg hair growing any longer was making me crazy.  Sad, but true.

So, I convinced everyone I was ready to go and we went back to Plan A.

The rest of the day was really great.  My new-found friends were so kind and complimentary and I began to feel like a total rock star.

I didn't realize it until I was on my way home with HH, but I had gone to the other extreme and was now hypomanic.  It felt so great.

Then we got back to my parents' house and all of the kids wanted my attention (understandably so) and everyone was talking and I couldn't focus.  I would blank out for minutes at a time.  And I felt so lost and terribly overwhelmed.

And I crashed again.  And rapid cycling like that is exhausting and painful.

I know this has been really hard on HH.  He wants to make me happy and when he can't, it tears him up.  But, I think it's all the worse when he sees that something else has made me happy, and then it doesn't last when we're together.

And I can see how painful that must be from his perspective.  But, I could never really have been happy in the hospital for long.  Because he wasn't there.  Cliche as it is, I really do feel incomplete without him.  As nice as it is to have someone understand me so well, I would never want him to experience the dark places my bipolar takes me to.  Never ever ever.

Some day, this has to get better.  This cloud has to life.  Right?  He can't always keep me from falling apart.  But, he helps me pick up the pieces and put them back together.  I wish we could make them fit in the way he wants.  The way that means I'm stronger and happier.  But, neither of us knows how to do that.

In the meantime, hopefully, I've learned my lesson and I actually will reach out to one of the many kind souls who tell me to "call anytime" I need someone.

I don't know.  Honestly, I can't really picture myself doing that.

But, I'll keep working on it.