It’s been a rough few days. I wanted to decrease the Wellbutrin because I’m taking a prescription form of folate that is formulated to cross the blood brain barrier. The folate helps keep me above suicidal but doesn’t cause brain dropouts. I tried cutting the Wellbutrin pill in half. Nope. Bad idea. I felt myself sinking below center. The rate of suicide for people who are bipolar is 20 times that of the rest of the population. I find that terrifying. I’ve been suicidal 5 times in my life. How many times can I walk up to the edge of the cliff and not jump off? I’m back to the dosages I was on and much closer to center.
Bipolar disorder means having moods that have minds of their own. I’m in a foul mood, but there’s no reason why I should feel this way. Working on art helped, but I’m still not at center. I had ordered some impression jasper. It’s a stone that gives the impression of jasper. Except it’s not jasper. These two are dyed. I liked the color, so I’ve been playing around.
I don’t usually just have a pendant on a silver chain, but this particular Swavorski crystal would be overwhelmed if I added any beads.
I played a bit with making a book mark.
I can’t just sit and watch TV; I have to be doing something. I’ve been crocheting circles. Eventually, I’ll roll out a slab of clay, arrange the circles on the slab, press them in, and cut out little trays.
I wanted to make a quilt to commemorate the murders at the temple in Pittsburgh last October. I’m not sure I’m all that happy with the chai, but I’m not about to wash this piece. I had to figure out how to make blood spatter for this piece and I can’t remember if I set the blood spatter.
I’m trying to force myself to relax and have fun with my classes, immunology and cell biology. I spent college having to be the best in my classes. I spent law school having to be the best. I spent a career practicing law having to be the best. Now, I’m taking classes that interest me. I’m not going for another degree. The grade doesn’t matter…..except it does matter. I’m feeling burnt out because I’m putting emphasis on getting a good grade rather than putting emphasis on enjoying the class.
I’m depressed today. There’s a reason for the depression. On Friday, while eating French toast at Denny’s, a crown came off. That’s annoying. I called my dentist’s office wanting to ask for an appointment to glue the crown back on. My dentist is on vacation. The remaining tooth is sharp and has irritated my tongue. I have a hard time talking. I have a hard time swallowing. I’m stuck with a liquid diet. I tried eating a cracker, and had to eat like a chipmunk. Chew the cracker into dust with my front teeth. Then hope I could swallow it. Starbucks chai fappuccino helped. I’ll call my dentist’s office first thing Monday morning and take the earliest appointment I can get. I’ll be fine once the crown is back where it belongs.
Yesterday, I got out the clay, tools, and sat down to do some work. A few weeks back, I bought some fondant tools. Great tools for working with clay. I made little trays, cut out thin pieces with the fondant cutters, and put the cut pieces in the little trays. They need to be cleaned up. I’ve no idea how I’m going to glaze them.
We went to Tucson last week for a few days. On Tuesday, we went hiking in the state park and I played with the camera. I worked on moving around to find the best angle for a shot. I had some success. We came across a few critters and I tried photographing them. I would have liked to get down on the ground and shoot them at their level, but I was afraid they would move. I discovered something interesting. I started to have twinges in my leg as we started hiking. Not wanting to push a walker up a mountain, I decided to keep walking. The pain went away! And it didn’t come back!! Instead, I annoyed the achilles tendon in my left foot. After we got back to the hotel, I put my heel on ice for a bit. Then I soaked my heel in the hot tub. No more pain and it hasn’t come back. I’d like to go back to the park and explore more of the trails. Something to plan for the next trip.
I needed new oversized tee shirts to sleep in. It’s cheaper for me to buy from Dharma Trading than to make a tee shirt. That leaves me to experiment with color and dyeing technique. I wanted to shoot these experiments outside, but we are having WIND. Spring in the desert features wind gusts of 50 mph. One day, the wind got faster than 100 mph. Indoor shooting has restrictions because I put the experiment on a piece of white board and shoot while standing up. These are hardly great art.
For my Shibori experiments, I tied one tee shirt in knots, used bulldog clips on another tee shirt, and clothespins on a knitted piece. Shibori is traditionally dyed indigo blue. Not my Shibori. I’m a color junkie and need to be surrounded by lots and lots of different colors. Fortunately, color is legal and doesn’t affect my ability to drive.
For hand dyed yarn, I knit a blank from 100% cotton yarn, dye the piece, unravel the piece, then knit something. I’m curious to see what happens when I knit a piece from the Shibori experiment.
I made the mistake of rinsing out the orange piece with the purple piece. It’s going to be interesting to see how this knits up because this isn’t the only purple spot on this piece.
I have mixed feelings about the oversized tee shirts. Manipulations were only on the bottom of the red tee shirt. I like that idea and I’m thinking about how to expand on it. The purple tee shirt was a surprise. I didn’t realize the dye was going to separate and dye the tied parts a light red. I like the effect, but I’m not sure I want to have clothing that resembles tie dye.
There are six more clothing blanks to dye – 1 tee shirt, 2 caftans, 2 blouses. I’ve been thinking about how I want to fold the fabric and what I want to use as a resist. Clothespins are nice, but once the clothespins are dyed, they shouldn’t be used to hang laundry. I’m afraid if I used dyed clothespins to hang wet clothes the dye would bleed into the clothing.
Once I finish dyeing the rest of the blanks, I’ll work on dyeing yardage and I’m thinking of folding the fabric on the diagonal. A Shibori scrub top could be interesting. So could a pair of boxers for Jim made from the leftover fabric. The blanks and the yardage are from Dharma Trading. The quality is good, but the blanks and fabric aren’t pre-shrunk. This time, I’m going to be hanging the tee shirts on the line each time I wash them. Maybe that will keep the shrinkage to a minimum.
I’m not in a chatty mood today and I’m not sure why. I may be just a bit below center – a bit depressed. Earlier, I was doing some online research for the novel and found some sad pieces. Thus, the depression. This isn’t a serious depression and I’ve no suicidal thoughts.
After the last major depressive event wherein I found myself thinking that being dead wouldn’t be so bad, I talked to my doctor about tweaking my meds. She doubled the dosage for both Lamictal and Wellbutrin. That solved the depression problem, but left me stoned out of my mind. I’d be driving and wonder where I was. I went back down on both prescriptions and felt weird feelings in my head. It took a couple days to figure out I was going into withdrawal. I went back up to my previous dosages for both meds. That eliminated the withdrawal symptoms but left me snarling at Jim and the cats. I doubled the dose for Wellbutrin putting me back on the dosage my doctor recommended. I’m not snarling, but my brain isn’t working all that well. Words get lost in my head and I haven’t figured out where they hide. One time, I couldn’t remember “body wash.” I described the word I wanted by saying it’s a liquid and you use it to wash yourself. Today, Jim was driving us home, and I was bewildered. I couldn’t figure out where we were or how we got there. I may have to cut the Wellbutrin back to one and a half pills a day rather than two pills.
I’ve been going to the gym a couple times a week and doing yoga on the non-gym days. It’s helping and I feel like soon I won’t have to worry about a relapse. Which is dangerous because this is the time when I push myself too far and cause a relapse. It’s hard to know what I shouldn’t be doing until I do it and start to hurt.
I’ll be back up to center tomorrow. Or maybe after I start working on my new gym shorts later today. I’m using a cotton/lycra blend with 4-way stretch and I’ve got the fabric cut out. Just need to start sewing the pieces together. The gym shorts are necessary because the management of the gym I go to hired a man to clean the locker rooms. He’s the world’s slowest man and he’s always cleaning the locker room when I get to the gym. My solution was to wear gym clothes to the gym, work out, and go back home to shower. It’s a good solution, but I need pockets to hold my keys while I work out and to carry my iPod to and from the gym. I have two pairs of shorts that are both stretchy and have pockets. I’d like to not have to do laundry each time I go to the gym so I’m making gym shorts.
I can’t tell if I’m depressed or just royally pissed off. The muscles around my hips got tight enough to effect the sciatic nerve. I can’t get around without using a walker. I can’t take my vitamins because they are in a cupboard and I can’t reach them. I can get a glass out of the cupboard, but I can’t carry the glass to the sink to fill it with water. I can’t bring a drink from the kitchen to any part of the house because I need both hands to use the walker. My cupholder for the walker will arrive in a few days.
I didn’t go to school last week because I was waiting for my walker to be delivered. I won’t be going to school this week because about 98% of the buildings are inaccessible. I only know of one restroom that’s accessible. There’s an office set up to “help” accommodate students who have disabilities. Yeah, right. The office is only to protect the university in the event of a lawsuit. Even if the office actually gave a shit about students, they couldn’t help me. I’d need someone with me all day to open doors for me. The someone would have to be a woman so I could use the restroom. The restroom by my first class has two doors. One door gets you into a sitting room. The second door gets you into where the toilets are. There isn’t a handicap stall so I would be forced to use the toilet with the stall door open.
I’ve been working on a bag to tie onto the walker so I could carry stuff. I used three placemats piled onto my cutting mat so I could iron the seams. I am not sure I can put the bag together. I need to cut out a backing, cut out batting, and sew the whole works together. But…the batting is not in the sewing room. It’s in the guest room. I bought 10 yards a few years ago so I’d always have batting when I needed it. I can’t lug the batting to the sewing room because I need two hands on the walker. I can only walk a few steps without the walker. Cutting out an 18” x 36” piece of fabric requires standing up. I can only stand on my own for a minute or two before the pain in my leg becomes unbearable.
I need to photograph a scarf I knitted so I can put the scarf in my on-line store. But I can’t get the white board out of the closet and get it over to the sliding glass door and I can’t stand up while I focus the camera. This is the best I can do…and it’s not very good.
So much of my life right now is restricted. I see the world in terms of what I can’t do. I can’t make the bed. I can’t change the sheets. I can’t do laundry. I can’t put away my clothes after Jim washes them. I can’t stand while brushing my teeth or blowing my hair dry. I can’t bake because I can’t get the mixer or the ingredients out of the pantry.
My appointment with my doctor arrived before my walker was delivered. I got as far as the reception area where I could check in and doubled over from the pain. I think I may have traumatized the poor woman who asked if I was all right. No, I’m not all right. She offered to get me a wheelchair. Did you know that driving a wheelchair is a whole lot harder than it looks? I found that out real fast.
I found videos on Youtube for exercises to help with the pain of sciatica. The exercises work. I had a deep tissue massage yesterday and that helped. I have rice bags that I made. I put them in the microwave, then wrap the hot bags in a dishtowel. I put the bags under my right hip and right calf. That helps. I thought when we had the house built that a ledge in the shower was luxury. I thought it would only be used when I shave my legs. Now, I sit on that luxurious ledge in order to take a shower. Jim put a chair in the bathroom so I could brush my teeth and dry my hair.
Still, even with all the help, I can’t do so many things. I can’t fix myself a cup of tea and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t fix myself a bagel and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t cook because I can’t get ingredients out of the pantry. I can’t open a can of soup and nuke it. I can get up to nuking it if I can reach the proper size container, but I can’t carry my soup to the table.
This misery came about after two major depressive episodes within three weeks. The pain started last Sunday and got worse over the next few days. My doctor tweaked my meds with the hope that the new doses will keep the depressive episodes away.
I never let bipolar disorder or PTSD stop me from doing what I want to do. I almost never run from my PTSD triggers. The two exceptions are a series on Amazon Prime that deals with treatment of veterans who have PTSD. I could see a problem starting as we watched the show. Fortunately, the show sucked and we switched the channel before I had an attack. The other time I ran was watching the news. I couldn’t bear to hear a teenager express her admiration of her parents because they got her help when she was suicidal. I had to mute the TV.
I’ve never run from bipolar disorder.
Mental illness never kept me down. My sciatic nerve is keeping me from doing nearly all the things I want to do.
That’s why I don’t feel like slaying dragons today.
I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t feel like making art. I don’t feel like studying although I enjoy my two botany classes. I don’t feel like reading. I just looked at a recipe for banana cake with maple cream cheese frosting. Certainly a combination of flavors that will be wonderful. I don’t feel like making the cake although I could probably be convinced to make the frosting and eat it with a spoon.
This was bothering me until I thought about the cause for the lack of ambition. In the last year, I’ve been through:
Deciding to commit suicide and coming back from the edge
Going on Cymbalta which I did reluctantly
Four infections in five months
Severe nerve pain
Having to report sexual harassment to the campus police
Having the joy sucked out of life and realizing the problem was Cymbalta
Coming off Cymbalta and going through horrendous withdrawal
Having cognitive deficits from the withdrawal and not being able to find the street where I live
Having so many withdrawal problems that I was sure I was going to be hospitalized so I drafted an advance psychiatric directive and packed a bag before I went to my appointment with my doctor
Having breakthrough bleeding and doing the research to find the causes, treatments and incidence of uterine cancer
Having to wait a month for a biopsy and another week for the results
Having severe anxiety resulting in many cookies and scarves
The dishwasher broke just after Thanksgiving
Someone I knew committed suicide
No sane person would have any ambition after all that.
I look back, and wonder how I managed when I was working for the Public Defender Department. I think part of survival was to do what I really shouldn’t do – ignore what’s going on inside of me and keep myself busy so I don’t feel much. Now, I don’t have an extreme stress and adrenaline job. Now, I have time to take care of myself and no excuse not to take care of myself.
In Sylvia Plath’s book The Bell Jar, she compares depression to being under a bell jar. From time to time, the bell jar lifts, but she knows it will always come back down. I had a mental health crisis this week. I sort of saw it coming on Wednesday night when I found myself thinking about suicide. The suicide rate for people with bipolar disorder is 20 times the rate for people who aren’t bipolar.
I am 20 times as likely to commit suicide as you. That’s terrifying.
Thursday morning, the anxiety and depression increased. I cried a lot. I needed an extra ½ pill of Wellbutrin. I needed to take all three klonopin. I’ve been on the same dose for klonopin for the last 12 years. Sometimes I don’t need klonopin. Sometimes, I need one or two. Thursday, I needed three to stop the flutters in my chest.
Today, I feel the bell jar coming back down. On Monday, I’ll call my doctor and talk to her about increasing my meds. I don’t like living like this. Suicide terrifies me and I want to live.
Bipolar disorder: the ability to feel like crap 80% of the time.
I’m still knitting to keep the anxiety down. Here’s my latest scarf and it’s in my store: Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com
One of the tings I can do to make the bipolar crap go away is to immerse myself with art. Before, art was visual. This time, art is verbal. I’m working on the novel and just did a massive editing. I had Jim print out what I had written, and I went through the pages by hand. I’ll put all the changes into the computer when I finish editing. I’m playing around with an idea for something that I’ve never seen done before. Don’t know how well it’s going to work, but it’s an interesting exercise.
I’m also baking to keep the depression from getting any worse. I’m making croissants. Because of the time between turns and the amount of time the dough has to be in the refrigerator before I can turn it into croissants, I make the dough on Saturday and cut out, shape, and bake the croissants on Sunday morning.
I’m still woking my way to understanding and sanity. I’ve written more conversations that I’ll never say out loud and that no one will ever read. Maybe. Someday. Right now, the feelings are still too raw.
I’m closer to center, and I feel…solid. Like being centered is going to stay. Bipolar disorder is a lifetime full of mood surprises. I’ve no idea how long this solid feeling center will last. I do know that it won’t last. Sooner or late, I’ll have another mood surprise.
It’s from the Mayo Clinic and I trust this website to have decent information. There’s a whole lot of inaccurate junk on the internet. So much of what is described in the article is an accurate description of what I felt and continue to feel. I’m troubled by the knowledge that I was brought back from the edge of suicide by a thin thread. Depending on your theology, this was either pure luck or divine intervention. Jim and I went hiking and I suddenly felt good. When we got home, the good feeling left and I realized I was depressed. I went on antidepressants immediately. I had no idea I was depressed. Yeah, right, Deb. How the heck can you be suicidal and not know you’re depressed. It’s easy. And that terrifies me. At the time I was aware that I was having a manic episode. I wasn’t aware I was having a mixed episode where both intense mania and intense depression coexist. Why am I allowed to continue life and John wasn’t? I want the world to make sense, and the world doesn’t make sense. The world has never made sense and will never make sense. I read murder mysteries and watch TV police dramas even though I know the shows are inaccurate. The world makes sense in murder mysteries and on television. Innocent people don’t go to prison in novels. Innocent people go to prison in courtrooms every day.
My world doesn’t make sense and I can’t figure out how to make the world make sense. And so I knit. And bake. This week, I made puff pastry. Um…..I’m not wild about puff pastry. I suppose it has its uses, but I don’t care for it.
I’ve made another scarf and bought yarn for four more scarves. So far, I’ve made 11 scarves and sold 5 of them. This one is listed in my store Deb Thuman Artwww.debthumanart.com
My psych meds keep me alive. Literally. After a depression so severe that I decided killing myself was a rational decision, had worked out how when and where, and by divine intervention realized I had to go back on antidepressants, I decided I’d never again discontinue Wellbutrin. I had good reasons for going off Wellbutrin. I was having hallucinations. I had left a toxic work environment three years prior. Maybe I could get by with just my mood stabilizer.
And then someone I knew killed himself. I’m still reeling. I’m not crying as much, but I haven’t recovered. I still have questions about why I’m alive and he isn’t. I still have no appetite. Fortunately, I’m seriously overweight so not having an appetite isn’t a health issue and won’t be for several more months.
Earlier this week, I tried writing out my feelings. It’s a written piece that I can’t share now and doubt I’ll ever share. It’s too personal. Too raw. It almost helped. Or rather it helped for a few days.
The depressive episode arrived this past Monday. I saw my psychologist on Tuesday. It didn’t help. The depression lifted – I though – on Wednesday. It came roaring back yesterday. The usual depression cures didn’t work. Jim and I went to a kitchen store in El Paso. Kitchen stores, even if I don’t buy anything, reliably lift the depression. Not this time.
I’m working on more scarves. Knitting the scarves helped me through the intense anxiety while waiting for doctors appointments, biopsy appointment, results showing I don’t have cancer. It’s not working this time.
I tried baking my way out of this depression. I found a recipe for chocolate cutout cookies and tried piping royal icing. I need to listen to myself. I thought that icing was too stiff. I was right but by then, the icing was in the pastry bag and there was no going back. And I was out of powdered sugar so I couldn’t start over.
I love botany. That’s what I concentrated on in college. Botany and microbiology. The smaller things get, the more fascinating things are. I am taking two botany classes this semester: structure and function of plants and plant physiology. Same text book for both classes. One set of studying for two classes. What could be better? Except I’m depressed and don’t care about the classes.
I have the blood spatter on the background fabric for a quilt about the murders in the synagog in Pittsburgh last fall. I can’t bring myself to work on the quilt.
So I sit here. Depressed. Knowing I need to read the textbook for my classes next week. Knowing I need to at least read over my notes for a test on Monday. Not wanting to do anything. Knowing I have to wait out this depressive episode. Knowing there’s no shortcut. No cure. No relief. Just tears.
At least I did laundry and will have clean underwear next week.