Identifying Issues In Real Time

Like i wrote yesterday in my hey-let’s-blog-through-a-mania-and-see-what-happens! post, i can see evidence that i am, indeed, in a manic state. While proofreading i became progressively more wound up and irritated, until i snapped at both my husband and my son for no particular reason. I apologised immediately and arranged to be alone, so as to avoid any further stress. The extra awareness i have from blogging enabled me to mark my churlishness in real time. While the words and the tone were leaving my mouth i knew they were inappropriate for the situation, and had to do with me and my mental state, and nothing whatever to do with my husband or son.
That’s kind of awesome.
As a highly dissociative person i’ve spent more time cleaning up relationship messes than most. My Bits N’ Pieces can slide into the face and do all sorts of damage, but it’s not just parts of my system. I’ve spent a great deal of my life floating around, not entirely focused on other people, my surroundings, or my situations. I’m sure i came off as rather vapid sometimes, but i was distancing myself out of fear. I expected to be hurt, and between home and school, i was right to expect it.

Yesterday, i knew i’d spoken out of turn.
I knew it was about my mental state and not about them.
I apologised, and made amends by changing the situation to reduce stress. I took some time alone to ground and centre myself.
I reaffirmed that Yeah, i’m acting manic, but i know it.
I can identify the behaviours as they’re happening:
– i saw it in my blog post;
– i saw it in my interactions with my family;
– i marked it in my racing thoughts;
– i felt it in my intense emotions.
I reminded myself how much work i’ve done and that i’ve accumulated many coping skills.
I told myself that it’s gonna be okay and i can handle this –and if i can’t– i know i can and will seek help. I know what to do, i know where to go, and i have excellent, completely trustworthy support.

Today my pinched nerve flared up and it was hard to breathe and move around. I reached out to friends and asked for support by way of funny and/or lovely distractions, which were quickly provided. I took some pain relievers and rested in bed, reading and watching a movie. I easily banished any guilty feelings. When i felt able to, i got up, made my bed, got dressed, did my skin care and slapped on some makeup. I was able to be there for a friend who needed to talk. I taught my son how to make homemade tomato soup.

My husband came home from work early, so we grabbed a drive-thru coffee and talked about our day.
I can still feel irritation bubbling around inside me, but i know it’s coming from me and not anyone else. I’M the cause of my hair trigger annoyance, not anyone or anything else. The knowledge gives me enough inner strength to stand down, take a step back, and breathe through it until it passes. I was inexplicably gripped by panic a few times today too, and i handled it the same way. I acknowledged it, i knew where it was coming from, and i took some time to breathe and tell myself positive and encouraging things until the feeling passed.

Now i’m going to make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with the soup, and i’m going to spend time with my guys and shnuggle my pets.
Today was a fine day.
Looking forward to tomorrow.

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Jennifer Burk

Diggin’ Around in My Toolkit

Okay, so… Physically, i ain’t doin’ so hot.

For months now, my fibromyalgia pain has been intensifying, and radiating to other areas. My RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) has worsened, spreading to my arms and back, coming on during the day as well as night, and increasing in frequency until it’s most days i’ll have at least a short episode or even 2. My headaches have moved from a band squeezing across my temples, to originating at the base of my skull and pulsing out in electric lightning bolts over one side only. My hands are stiff and painful, my forearms regularly numb, and my sciatica has returned after years, although thankfully it’s intermittent. I have a pinched nerve near my right shoulder which was further limiting my mobility and ability to complete simple housework and hygiene. I can explain it all with fibro and its accompanying issues (IBS, RLS, chronic headaches), plus having osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis), severe Bruxism, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (diagnosed many years ago and whose symptoms mostly disappeared due to significant weight loss). However, the rise in severity and frequency of these issues is seriously affecting my quality of life.

I’ve been avoiding my doctor (whom i generally see every 3-6mos), the ER, all of it, due to extreme anxiety – practically instant panic attacks at the mere suggestion of going there. Finally, it became such an impediment to my daily life that i mustered my nerve and went in to see her. She ordered a bunch of tests, as i’d known she would. Before i could get them done, i managed to mess myself up even worse.

I’ve had terrible balance my entire life. I think it’s partly due to being so dissociative, but also a result of the type of epilepsy i have (dormant for years, no meds), which affected my inner ear and hence, my balance. I’m incredibly clumsy. Not that sort of oh-i’m-such-a-klutz that so many deal with. I know that’s a thing, and it can be problematic, but what i deal with is significantly more than that. I’ve broken my ankle, my coccyx, my finger, my nose, and my leg in 3 places. I’ve had multiple concussions, hundreds of stitches, and i’m sporting a few bruises at any given time. My ears can start ringing so badly i can’t do anything but sit down and wait for it to pass. I also have vertigo. All this to say i don’t know which of these played a part in what happened, but it could have been any or all. Or perhaps something else.

I was a bit switchy during and after my wedding anniversary. I wasn’t in the face when i fell, but i was thrust back in as soon as i hit the floor. From what my husband and i can gather i’d gotten up from bed for something, and slipped, hitting my face on the wall and then slamming down on the hardwood floor, with my arms at my sides, palms facing up. I had the wind knocked out of me and my arms were paralysed. I could not move them to push myself up off the floor (i’m size Amazon, so it was quite the feat for my husband to get me up and back on the bed). The next morning i had a Neanderthal brow, 2 black eyes, and a massive hematoma across my jawline, spreading up onto my cheek. I couldn’t look to the left or right, nor up or down. And my arms were basically useless – they felt like they were skinless and just a mass of screaming nerve endings. My brain felt like it might explode, and my skull as if it could shatter at any moment.

Since then, the bruises have faded and i enjoy some movements free from pain, but still, i’m relatively incapacitated. I rely on my son to help me cook and clean, and exercising (treadmill, elliptical, dog-walking) has had to be put on the back burner – again. GRR. And now my guts aren’t working well at all. No TMI, but i’m not digesting very much of what i ingest, and so i’m hungry all the time, but i can’t eat without pain and discomfort quickly following. ARGH.

As i blogged yesterday, i did go in to the city and get my tests done. Things are now in motion and we’ll have a better idea what’s going on in the next couple of weeks. Since my symptoms have become this level of debilitating, no one in this house goes into any building we don’t absolutely have to. No matter what, if indeed anything, is going on, my resistance is down due to sheer exhaustion, so we’re being extra careful. Drive-thrus, curbside pickups, and online shopping only.

It’s been incredibly frustrating. Since i fell i haven’t been able to have anything touch my arms without pain. Up until a couple of nights ago i couldn’t lay in any position without my nerves going all hyper-jangly, and i couldn’t shnuggle my husband or my pets for comfort. The day before yesterday i was finally able to –slowly and carefully– turn my head to the right. Yesterday i couldn’t turn my head to the left for most of the day (i had to laugh, because i woke up up saying Yay, i can look right! to swiftly and painfully realising that Boo, i can’t look left!), but the pinch lessened late in the evening. I was actually able to cuddle up to my man for the first night since it happened – heavenly. So comfort. Very sleep (3hrs straight, whee!). WOW.

This morning i woke to pain and exhaustion and worry. After slouching around feeling like a grouchy sack of poo, i made a decision. I took some of my frenetic energy, and channelled it into making my bed and getting out of my jammies. My son cleaned up the kitchen as i ate some food, and while i’m still having the same tummy issues, the act of eating is still pleasurable. I’m getting some nutrition, and i’m not in danger of starving. Heh. I put on an outfit that i’ve always saved for when spring is in full swing (spring is decidedly NOT swinging, mmkay?). I changed my jewellery out for some pretty pastel earrings and a silver atom necklace, and i’ve even managed to slap on some makeup. My son enjoys cooking, and i’m looking forward to my husband coming home, as he’s been working for 7 days without a break. I’m watching terrible found footage horror movies and i’m about to stuff my face full of popcorn.

I’m a seriously mentally ill human who’s haunted by a terrible childhood. I will always be this human. But here’s the thing: I am learning to live life on life’s terms, and make the most of what i have to work with. I’ve worked so hard and for so long to get here.
This morning i got up, and within 15mins i’d snapped at my husband and son for no reason. After sulking for a bit, i stopped and took to my room. I sat on my bed and took stock of myself, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m manic. My thoughts are racing and tough to catch. My emotions are running high and momentarily spiking higher. I’m physically exhausted and in a significant amount of pain.
I got up, left my room, and got myself properly caffeinated. While power slurping some freshly ground and french-pressed Irish Cream coffee, i asked myself how i wanted to handle today’s set of challenges. I knew how right then – as soon as i’d asked. I decided to use my mania to pull myself out of my funk and stiff-upper-lip it with regards to the pain and worry. Not to have a bunch of exciting interactions with other people online. Not to spring clean my house, not to make a 3-course supper, not to make myself up like a supermodel… Just to get dressed, do a bit of light housekeeping and self-care. Eat, read, learn something, have a low key convo with my Kiddo, pet my pets. And blog.
That’s not the only double-edged tool i have, though. I could dissociate from the pain if i wanted. But that tool stays in the box. If the pain was too much, either on its own or in combination with a bunch of other things, i might have picked it up and used it. But dissociation + mania = potential for disaster. That’s magical thinking. That’s mania unleashed. Not today, Satan.
Oh look, i’ve gone and done a blog post.

Now, for tea and popcorn.
Also, this movie SUCKS.
Blargh.

I’ll try to check in again tomorrow.
Monday-Funday.
Love and Peace,
~H~
P.S. It’s just another manic Monday, oh-ooh-oh… /lalala