Television

Since coming back from Virginia I have had a terrible time dealing with TV. At my parents house the TV is almost always running and usually pretty loud. My mom helped me by moving my chair out from under the TV so that I didn’t have it blaring directly behind my head. That definitely made a difference. But the constant TV is still leaving me with this uncomfortable feeling every time the TV is on at my house. I keep leaving the room to find someplace quiet. Of course this isn’t really fair to everyone else who lives here. Both my husband and my daughter like watching shows. I definitely don’t begrudge them that. I just don’t want to be in the same room as the running television. But me leaving makes them feel like they can’t watch TV, which is not what I want. It’s just overstimulating. And I can’t hear myself think so that I can write or read or create anything or even just enjoy some quiet.

I have a love-hate relationship with television. There are some shows that I really like, but even then I don’t like to watch them all the time. Overall I actually hate television. I’ve gotten better at watching movies. I went through a period of time where movies were too stimulating and I didn’t even like to go see them in the theater, but I improved. The TV has some really interesting documentaries that I like and some very artistic shows that I enjoy, but yet truthfully for me it is just a big box of noise and speed and anxiety. I secretly hate the TV. I tried to spend some time by myself when I was at my parents house. A lot of that is just that since I am bipolar and I have anxiety I need some time to myself in general. I cannot function if I am being social 24/7. But part of why I went back to the room I was staying in was just to get away from that TV. Everyone else has a right to watch as much TV as they want. I just can’t stand to listen to it.

I am diving deeper into art and writing. I still have all these great books to read, and I have begun with a book of persona poetry. And of course the book about homemaking that I have been writing about.

I got up early this morning and went for a drive. I like to do that, to just get out and put on some music I like and enjoy some space.

I am trying to get rid of my social exhaustion but so far I have not been very successful. I enjoy being back in my little nest with my little family, but I just don’t really want to talk that much. I keep to myself with my books or magazines or paints. I blog because for some reason I seem to be able to pour thoughts out on the page better than I can to another person. I have some friends that I would like to get together with but I just don’t seem to have it in me right now.

Truthfully I wish I could take a separate trip. All alone in a quiet little room with books to read and paints to use and a pen for writing. Just absolute silence except for the rare occasion I want to play some music. No TV. No interruptions. No conversation. Just me alone.

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My Husband, After My Suicide

At the bottom of the blue river

(What I meant to write was head of the river)

is a rich red vein.

So easily the tube can be cut,

the water purpled.

But then all the fish would flee for other tributaries,

except one,

searching this river over and over for blue water.

Diet, Freedom, Clock

As of the Saturday before last, I have been on a serious diet! I lost six pounds in 8 or 9 days. I love my diet because it is based purely on the idea of calorie deficit. No going to the gym, which I hate. No taking long walks, which hurts horribly because of my bad foot, although if someone ever fixes my foot I’ll be taking five mile walks every day in no time. I don’t have to give up any foods that I really like. I just have to eat much less of them. I take in 1,000 calories a day most days, occasionally going up to 1200 or 1300 for a special meal out or just to keep my metabolism up. It’s great because I’m realizing I actually feel better and more awake when I eat less. And I’m not missing any foods or drinks. I can have a cup of juice or a Soda Stream soda. I just have to deduct it from my daily calorie count on the MyFitnessPal app. I love that app. The only function I really use is the calorie counter, but it is so useful. It has the calorie content of many foods in its database, so you can usually just search for something and the calories will pop right up, even for many restaurants. And even when they don’t have the specific brand or restaurant, you can find the general, approximate calorie count by searching for the generic name of the food.

I really hope the weight loss continues. I’m on a diet for several reasons. The first, and what inspired me to start last week,  is clothes. I ordered some beautiful dresses from a British company I love, and of the six that I bought only two fit. That lit a fire under my ass! Fundamentally, I don’t mind my weight. But I love clothes and when I can’t fit in clothes it is time to lose weight. Especially since these were not small clothes. They were size 18.

Another benefit is that losing weight makes me less likely to have a flare up of diverticulitis again and end up with another hole in my intestines and another major surgery. Not to mention the misery of wearing a colostomy bag. Doctors aren’t sure why extra weight contributes to diverticulitis, but studies have shown that it does.

Anyways, wish me luck. So far it is going really well. I hope it doesn’t stop.

FREEDOM! The outpatient program was a good, supportive program. Peak View, at least the outpatient side, is good. I finished last Friday. But when Monday morning rolled around and I realized my time was my own and I could stay home with Angelica I was thrilled. It is so nice to have my mornings and my days free. I’m free! I’m free!

Craig bought a grandmother clock at a local furniture store and it got delivered and assembled this morning. Craig loves it. I’ll admit it is a good looking clock, but that constant chiming is going to take some real getting used to. I hope it ends up feeling homey and serene, rather than being an annoyance.

Vindicated

I have been on Depakote, with very few small breaks, for 8 years. The day I was put on it it made me tired. And on the rare occasion I was off Depakote I was often on something else have at least moderately sedating. But Depakote was always the worst. I have been sleeping in till 10 or 11 almost constantly for years. I would miss half the weekend with my family and miss out on going to church because I could not wake up. I would set all kinds of alarms. I would ask my husband to help me whenever he could. Everyone kept telling me that I needed to change my body clock, that I needed to get up early whether I was ready or not, that it was lazy not to be awake by 8, that I needed to start going to bed earlier, and all sorts of other advice or criticisms. But the thing is I tried to change my body clock. I went to bed between 8 and 9. When my husband would force me to get up while I was still that tired (usually at my request the night before) I would end up too exhausted to move all day and I would have a mood swing. And no matter how many days I did that my body still wanted to sleep and sleep.

Past a certain point I privately began to wonder if people were right. Maybe I was just lazy. I didn’t know anybody who laid in bed as much as I did. Everyone else got up in the morning. Not at noon. Some people get up for their jobs, some people to do activities with their kids which I was missing out on, and even the people who periodically sleep in as late as I was sleeping in were capable of getting up earlier and being functional people, especially when they needed to do something. For me it didn’t matter what I needed to do it was a nightmare to get up in the morning. But I seriously wondered if maybe I was lazy. I wondered if it was a character flaw.

Over the past week I have been vindicated. The doctors pulled me off Depakote. Initially that wasn’t good because I went manic, but since then the other drugs they have put me on have kicked in and they are much less sedating while still keeping me stable. I’ve been getting up naturally between 4:50 and 7 every morning without setting any kind of alarm. I get up and I spend time with my family or I do work around the house or I get ready for church. I spend a full busy day doing stuff and enjoying my life. I am not laying around in bed, and I feel great. I really hope this continues and that these drugs work as long as possible. But even if these burn out, as almost everything I have ever taken has, I have learned that I will refuse to go on Depakote again. I will never ever take that drug again. It’s heavy stabilizer and it prevents Mania, but that’s not worth what it does to you. You miss half your life sleeping.

I am just enjoying being awake so much! And it feels so good to know that it really was the medication and not something morally wrong with me. I felt so bad. I think a lot of people don’t realize just how strong some of these medications are and how many different bad side effects they can have. And sleeping all day is not even the worst thing that can happen to you. But long-term it’s a pretty serious consequence of the medication because sleeping 12 to 15 hours a day is no way to live. I will never go back to that again.

Mental Hospital Outpatient Program

After a couple of days of suicidal ideation and overdosing on anxiety drugs, I ended up in a psychiatric outpatient program which I still need to go to next week.

So as I wrote about last time I wasn’t feeling well on Easter and it continued to get worse. I went into the psychiatric nurse practitioner on Tuesday to ask her to please put me on some new medication because what I was on wasn’t working. Instead she told me that she would not write me any prescriptions, that she did not feel comfortable dealing with my case basically, and that I had to go to a psychiatric outpatient program. She didn’t even send me off with any meds to tie me over. I didn’t even have a babysitter to go to the program because my regular babysitter isn’t available early in the morning most days because she is a student. Needless to say I will not be going back to this nurse.

I then overdosed on anxiety drugs to calm down, and when Craig came home he took me over to the mental hospital to do the admissions process for the outpatient program. I started Wednesday morning and the doctor is changing my drugs to two drugs I have been on before. But they might still work because sometimes when drugs burn out and quit working for me if I wait awhile and give it some time they work again. One is a stabilizer and one is an anti-psychotic. There’s a lot of group therapy. I only go to the half day program so I only have to stay until noon. But in that time there’s two hours of group therapy. The first day I didn’t talk.

Then something happened the night before the second day. Instead of being depressed I swung the other way and went manic. It was not my most severe manic attack but I only got one hour of sleep, was hearing and perceiving things incorrectly, and I had poor impulse control. And the afternoon after the second day of therapy I ended up spending about $400 on crystal.

On Friday I was only hypomanic but I actually talked during the group therapy. Both sessions. It was useful. I am glad I got to go that day. The only reason I got to go on Friday was because my next door neighbor was kind enough to watch Angelica for me. Otherwise I would not have been able to go. My regular babysitter Grace has class all day Fridays and the other lady that I had hired as an emergency hire quit on me.

I am supposed to be in the outpatient program every day this coming week. I am not sure when they will discharge me. I have mixed feelings. On one hand sometimes it can get really stifling just sitting there and I get Restless or agitated and have to get up and walk around. And it also leaves me tired because I have to get up earlier than I normally do, although that’s probably a good thing. At the same time once I get out of the program my days are kind of empty. I used to spend most of my free days, both on days I had Angelica and on days I had the babysitter, hanging out with my mom and visiting with my dad. Now I’m too far away and the days are just a blank canvas. At least the day program gets me around people and gets me out of the house.

 

Depression

The cessation of Fire

in me is like a white wall of Holy cold.

I manufacture crosses.

I carry most of them.

Others I strap to my man and my baby.

Suffering sleeps at the end of my bed,

takes up space.

drives me away in the middle of the night.

Sometimes I drive to a gold mine and wish for another God

if I cannot have another me.

I am on the Spectrum

I’ve never written about this before, but I am on the Spectrum – the autism spectrum. Autism often presents itself differently in females than in males, because women learn to mask it and copy social cues from other people better than most men do.

As a kid I would do what is called finger posturing, which is similar to hand flapping. Sometimes I would contort my hands in weird shapes for hours. As I got older I learned not to do it in front of other people, but the drive to stimulate or “stim” as autistic people call it, with my hands was still there.

I have other stims too. It is common for people on the spectrum to listen to the same song over and over again, or even the same 20 second section of a song, because it stimulates them. I’ve been doing this for years. I can play one song hundreds of times. My music library is small but well played.

Although I love feminine things like makeup, I have a hard time relating to other females and I always have. Autism is said to be an extreme male brain, and as a child I used to say I had a guy’s brain.

Special interests are important to most people on the spectrum, especially those on the high functioning end that until recently was called Asperger’s. I have always had special interests. In elementary and middle school I used to spend summer breaks researching history online all day long. As an adult, I still research certain parts of history meticulously, like art history and marriage. I’ve also always had collections. As an adult I collect Swarovski crystal figurines. As a child I collected toothpicks from Friendly’s. The staff actually knew me and would ask what color toothpicks I wanted when my family would come in.

I have a lot of anxiety and I get overstimulated, which is common in people on the spectrum. If I don’t get enough sensory input I get anxiety, but if I get too much I get overwhelmed and have an anxiety attack. The quiet dark is my friend.

Making friends has always been a struggle. I don’t relate to other people, particularly other females, that naturally. I’ve also been so obsessed by my special interests that it has sometimes been hard to connect with other people that aren’t interested in the same things. I’ve often preferred books to people.

I’m a poet, and that is actually commonly noted among high functioning females with autism. They like to write and they especially like poetry.

When I was a child, my mother suspected I was autistic and took me to the doctor. Many doctors were called in to look at me and it was obvious something was wrong given what I was doing with my hands, but in those days doctors were even worse at detecting autism in females than they are today, and no one knew what was wrong. So they sent my parents home with no help and no guidance, and throughout my childhood it damaged my relationship to my parents because they had normal child expectations of me but I was not normal. I used to get in trouble for being in the shower too long, but the problem was I’d get in the shower and start stiming and I’d forget where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. I was a hard child.

Now more information is coming out about autism in females and how overlooked it is and the info is right out there on the internet and it is pretty much certain that I’m autistic. This is a long, but only partial, list why. I’m approaching my doctor about it and she seems like she thinks I might be as well. In doesn’t change the past, but it does change the future. Maybe I can look at myself with more love. I’ve been wired differently since birth (I was stiming in my crib as a baby) and I’m just a little different. Finding out I’m autistic answers so many questions I’ve always had, helps me understand myself better, and can maybe help me be more okay being just myself.

Mood

Mood like a leaf,

a falling leaf beautiful and dead.

I appreciate normalcy because it’s gone.

Quickly my neurons shudder,

power plants going cold.

Please someone find a rake,

pull me together.

Light a candle so I can see my way out of this darkness.