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J.R. Buchanan


Me, My Thoughts, and I

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April 23, 2015


Bipolar really sucks at times. Then again, so does life in general.

A few weeks ago I found myself envying the dead. I wasn't actually considering suicide, but I was eagerly looking forward to the relief of some day dying.

About a month ago, I posted about my daughter leaving in the post Leaving the Nest. Things have not gotten better since then. We've hardly heard from her. She posts on Facebook, and once messaged me, but disappeared very shortly into the conversation. Update: while writing this I've had some more contact, but her biological father has banned her from talking to her sister.

A few days after she left we discovered, that as a parting gift, she had brought home bed bugs from school. She had a habit of sharing clothes with kids in her class, and had brought home lice before, but this just topped it.

It turns out that not only are bed bugs disgusting and stigmatizing, but that getting rid of them is an immensely expensive and very labor intensive task. We had to pack the entire house as if we were moving out before the first spraying. Remember the last time you moved? How much work was all that packing? How long was it before you were unpacked at the new house/apartment? We're still unpacking things weeks later (after moving all the furniture back from the center of the rooms). We had to wash/dry every item of clothing in the house. We're still unbagging the clothes and putting them up. My T-Shirt collection alone has been a massive undertaking. (but everyone needs a hobby...)

Did I mention that it was expensive? Very expensive for each treatment, and there are three treatments required. And wouldn't you know it, but we got hit with a massive drop in our monthly income at the same time.

Then a tire blew out on the truck, and we needed to replace the front tires. With no money.

Lots of stress.

But there was more coming, a few weeks ago, I unloaded about 600lb of concrete from the back of my truck. By the time I was done, I was having trouble breathing, a lot of chest pain. I thought asthma, and used my inhaler. It didn't help, all it did was speed up my heart (normal for albuterol).

This started to happen more and more often, and every time it happened my anxiety went up. With more anxiety, I got more pain. It was a vicious cycle, started whenever I exercised, and the loop could be started by anxiety as easily as by exercise.

I told my wife about this, and off to the hospital we were. When they heard chest pain, I was back in the ER having an EKG and labs done. They admitted me and had me on a wireless heart monitor all night.

My heart turned out to be fine, it was pleurisy, no fun, and they said that all that could be done was to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killers and wait. But after 4 days I had to stop the pain killers, as they were eating up my stomach even though I was taking them with food and a lot of water. I just had to live with the pain. So even though it was not a heart problem, it still wasn't good.

All this while, I was going to college full time. (Taking Medical Assisting at Ivy Tech Community College), and the work load was piling up and I was having less and less motivation to tackle it.

After a lot of thought, I decided to lower my stress and drop one of the classes I was taking. I did this, and it help in a way, but I found that I felt bad, as if I was running from a problem instead of facing it.

Our other daughter was not taking her sister leaving well at all, and was acting out. Lots of family stress.

Well, this would be enough for anyone, but with bipolar, it set my mood swinging downward. I found myself sleeping a lot and overeating badly. A lot of comfort food, including regular Cokes, which has led to a lot of weight gain.

I realized it was bad when I found myself envying the dead, and thinking about what a relief it would be when I finally died. I felt lost and hopeless. Fortunately I did not wind up actively suicidal this time, as I have in the past.

My wife got me in to see my counselor at the mental health center.

I keep a journal about what's going on in my life and how I'm feeling, and update it whenever I feel the need. Years ago I used to take the latest entries from this journal into my counseling appointments, and we would read them together. My first and second therapist loved this, but when I had to find a new counselor a few years ago, she didn't like this. I got the idea that she thought it was stupid. So I stopped taking in journal entries to therapy sessions. Well, I'd been seeing my current counselor for some time now, and I thought that I'd try again.

I wrote a journal entry that started with, "I feel like my life is crumbling around me". I printed it out and showed it to him, and he loved the idea of bringing in journal entries.

He had a lot of practical advice, and he started me going to his "Graduate DBT" group. I highly recommend Dialectical Behavior Therapy by the way, it has helped me a lot over the years since I first took it in 2004.

Where am I now? Well, I still have bad anxiety and I'm still depressed. But it's getting better, I haven't been thinking about death for at least a week now, and I've not been drinking as many regular Cokes. I'm still eating and sleeping too much, and I'm still putting off school work.

I'm happy that it's better though, and, as well as therapy, I find that writing about it here and in my journal, as well as talking to my wife and friends has helped me out a lot.

As usual, I'll post future updates to my Facebook and Twitter pages. Feel free to follow or friend or message me.

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