Yesterday was one of those days that I took a step back in therapy. Karen doesn’t see it that way. She feels that my ability to see what’s happening, even if I can’t stop it, is a good small step. I know she’s right but I don’t really care right now.
I want to work. I want to go back to work. I want to be productive outside the house. The list of diagnoses I have must be wrong. Three doctors must be wrong. I must be exaggerating or lying (not intentionally) to hide laziness. Because, if I just can get out of my house during the day and go to work I will feel better. It can’t be possible that at 46 this is my daily reality.
Where is the woman who used to go out with friends for dinner every Friday night, no matter how hard the day was? Where is the woman who used to throw formal Christmas parties every year, because it was nice to see everyone dressed up once in awhile? Where is the woman who took her dogs to the dog park and talked to the people there? Where is the woman who went to work early, stayed late and went home feeling accomplished? Where is the woman who used to make an excellent living and had the moxy to go out and buy a house on her own? (no sense waiting for a man to do what you want to do)
According to the therapist, psychiatrist and psychologist, that woman was suffering from a prolonged bout of hypomania
But, if that’s true then it means that the person I was, the person I want to return to, was sick. She just didn’t know it.
Looking more closely, I see the lack of patience, the quick temper, and my extreme frustration. But, in those days, I would walk away and smoke a cigarette. Or two. Calm down, chill out. Everything is cool. And back to work.
Ok, so fine. Let’s go back a little further. Let’s shoot for the woman who left college when faced with untenable circumstances. Brave. Got an apartment alone, then moved in with a friend. Worked hard. Didn’t make much money, but still socialized with friends constantly. Made ends meet on a wing and a prayer, but did it. Went to music festivals. Dressed like a hippie.
Was always on the watch for who might not like her. Put so much energy into dressing and acting in such a way that others will love her. Took even minor disappointments very hard.
Massive codependency anyone? Maybe some depression thrown in for good measure?
Then I have to remember that this woman, no matter which version I look at, sought out therapy even then. The younger woman went a few times and quit. Nothing wrong with her except her parents and she should just suck that shit up. You’re a grown up, get a grip.
The older version of me went to therapy at the behest of my GP. Because I got sick. I may have been sicker when I had mono but that was more of a quick sick and then a few months of severe exhaustion. This was a sickness that lasted over a year. My symptoms cycled. By the time the doctors thought they might have an idea about what caused the dizziness (fell down a flight of steps twice in two weeks…awesome) it was gone. A couple weeks later, my joints hurt so bad I could barely stand up, let alone type or sign documents, which is pretty much what I did all day at work. But a week later those symptoms were gone as fast as they arrived. I cycled through other symptoms until suddenly I was hospitalized. High fever, severe joint pain, swollen gallbladder and liver, constant vomiting, general pain all over, jaundice and some other things. I was seen by nearly every doctor in the hospital including the infectious disease doctor and the doctor they call in when the other doctors have no clue. Lupus, lyme disease, hepatitis, gallstones, and I don’t even know what else they tested me for. All negative. One week later I felt good. Tired but good. The only diagnosis that was ever given was one that no test was going to pick up.
Severe anxiety. The kind that will not resolve without some medication. My body was shutting down because it just could not cope with what I was putting it through. So, I went to therapy. And a few months later I agreed to start the meds since the therapist also thought it was a good idea.
Is THAT the person I want to get back to?
No, of course not. I want back that person without the sickness. Without the hypomania or the anxiety which would eventually lead me to my first nervous breakdown and hospitalizations.
That person doesn’t exist. That person is a figment of my imagination. Nearly everything that person touched was tainted by anxiety, hypomania, depression or codependency.
So, I have circled around to mourning the person that I used to be. Karen says that if I get a job, no matter how menial, it’s not if, but when, I will have my next severe depressive episode. The psychologist and psychiatrist concur.
My life has been defined by my work. Without it, I have no idea who I am. I’m 46 and I don’t know who I really am.
I know I have positive traits. I’m kind, some would say I’m funny. Given the time I now need, I can problem solve. I can be organized, but it takes a lot of time to get there.
But, how do those things tie together into a functional human being?
The problem is that no matter how many good traits I have, the hypomania, depression, codependency, agoraphobia, and whatever else is on that list of diagnosis are part of that human being.
And I don’t know how to integrate all of it into one person. Not a person that I want to be anyway. (I’m safe, just frustrated and sad)
The person I’m mourning is a person lit by the happy lights of selective memory. I’m remembering the good things, forgetting the bad things. I’ve put my old self on a pedestal and am trying to meet those completely unrealistic standards.
So, right now, I’m sad. I’m in mourning for myself. I’m in the denial phase and have been for years.
I need to figure out who I am at my core, without a job. The job cannot tie all the personality traits together because I can’t have the job. Something else has to stick these personality traits together into a new woman that I can accept as a decent replacement. A woman who accepts the daily handful of pills as necessary and integrates that into her life as just one of those things that I have to deal with. A woman that accepts the ebb and flow of her moods and does what is necessary to deal with it as it’s happening without beating herself up.
But accepting that ebb and flow, I don’t really think that the way bipolar works.
And I have bipolar disorder.
I actually think it might be easier if I had a headstone somewhere that I could go to mourn that woman who used to exist.
Maybe that’s part of the answer. Maybe I need to find a way to compartmentalize the grief and anger over who I used to be and put it somewhere.
Here lies Leslie, age 1 through 40. She was fun and cool, but completely unaware of the issues that plagued her and eventually brought her down. We mourn her here as we try to separate the person that was from the person that is, so that the person that is can figure out who she wants to be.