Sometimes even really good insurance sucks.
The title really says it all.
It’s been uneventful as winter lingers and springtime teases. It’s not a particularly cheery season for me. The time change screwed up me, as usual, and I think I had bronchitis for the last 2.5 weeks. But it’s much better now.
I got a major work project wrapped up, but it actually makes my worry a bit more vague since it’s no longer attached to that project. The truth is that my work is suffering due to time lost to illness and treatment, which makes me even more anxious. Far too much of my time goes to doctor’s appointments, therapy, and being sick. I’m also finding that I can’t really make the time up on weekends and evenings. It just doesn’t work – I simply have to spend time on things like groceries, DBT and yoga classes, and household management. These are necessary things. Plus let’s face it: my brain shuts down after about 7 PM, so working late only happens under the strictest deadlines anymore. So I’m actually putting in less than 40 hours, which is part of why I feel so damn guilty about it.
Meantime, there’s just a lot of uncertainty and worrying. I’m trying really hard to manage that as proactively as possible. I recently read a fantastic book, Self-Compassion, by Kristine Neff, and I’m trying to figure out how to put that wisdom into practice.
Diagnostically, I don’t know where things are anymore, which is frustrating. There’s the PMDD thing, a theory which seems to hold water, so let’s take that as a given. As I discussed with my PNP, and she agrees, the ADHD Dx is likely to stick around. It’s not just the horrendous inattention associated with parts of the menstrual cycle but the overall everyday inattentiveness, and the evidence going back to childhood – way before puberty.
So now we’re up to PMDD and ADHD. The generic labels on my charts from my primary care providers have included Anxiety Disorder and Mood Disorder – both NOS – but that’s not based on recent evaluation.
The PNP doesn’t think bipolar fits – apparently I don’t exhibit the level of irritability usually seen in others with Bipolar II. I don’t know what to believe myself, which is an uncomfortable place to be with respect to acceptance, and yes, identity. Maybe I’ve convinced myself that I experience hypomania when I really don’t. The Mood Disorder Questionnaire resoundingly indicates otherwise, but I just don’t know anymore.
Anyway, it all goes in circles, like a neurotic dog chasing its tail. I feel like there’s no resolution, no end in sight, and only the small hope that the next oral contraceptive will help better regulate my system. I’ve had lower back cramps with ongoing spotting for over a month now, and that can stop anytime.
We’re reducing my dosage on lamotrigine from 200mg to 150mg, starting today, so we’ll see how that goes. It would be great if I could eliminate a drug from the mix, so I’m willing to try. At this point, I don’t feel particularly optimistic, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Hey, well, we all make this post at some point. You know, the one that says, “I haven’t been posting much or replying to your comments, because of X, Y, and Z, but I am reading them! And I will get caught up eventually!”
Yeah, that. Except that if I’m being honest with myself, it’s hard to feel like I’ll get caught up, at least not anytime soon. It’s a struggle to keep up with posts from the relatively small handful of blogs that I follow. I’m not getting as much writing done because I’m working, but I’m not getting as much work done as I feel like I ought either, for a whole host of reasons. It’s frustrating. I want to feel like I’m keeping up, but whenever I start to tip even a little bit toward depression, I start thinking that I’ll always be behind, there’s no way to ever catch up, so what’s the point in worrying, hurrying, or (eventually) even bothering? It quickly becomes a self-fulfilling downward spiral.
We’re having a lot of gray weather and rain as we move into cooler fall days. After a few weeks of mostly sunny destinations and the serial hypomania of extended travel, it was a shock to the system to come home to days and days of overcast weather. The shorter days are making it harder to get up in the morning. I can feel the weight of the change of seasons starting to press down on me. But it won’t be allowed to become a problem this year, dammit! Well, that’s the idea, anyway.
It pains me to admit that I’m struggling with cognitive limitations a bit more lately. As always, having a hard time organizing and prioritizing my work introduces extra challenges. I work really hard at it, and that’s really all I can do, but it definitely creates extra stress and anxiety. Recently I’m also noticing worsening memory problems. I can’t remember names worth a damn anymore and while yes, many people have a hard time with names, it has gotten much worse in the last few months. I’m also having more aphasic moments where I can’t find the right words, and the effects last longer than they used to — so instead of remembering the right turn of phrase sometime later, the words just never come.
So I do have all the best intentions for getting caught up, keeping my life balanced and moving along smoothly on an even keel, blogging regularly, not falling behind on my work responsibilities, etc. Of course, we all know that reality doesn’t work the way we imagine it should.
I was glad on Monday that I had missed the prior week of DBT, because we’re still reviewing mindfulness. And probably for another week yet.
When I was a kid, I complained bitterly about review in classes. I hated it more than anything else in school. Every year, the teachers repeated about half of the content from the year before – what a phenomenal waste of time. This is much the same, except I’m even more impatient because I’m paying for it and I don’t have the time to fritter away. I could have bought 3 packs of cigarettes with the money and gotten a couple blog posts written in that time. I could have gotten to bed earlier, which is something I really ought to be doing.
Yes, I know. I clearly need more practice with mindfulness and being non-judgmental. But.
With a group of 10 people, the whole group dynamic seems to break down. Only a few people get to “share” and inevitably someone hogs the time. This week the people who have been in the group the longest spoke the least. Make way for the newbies, I guess. But I wanted to strangle them. All of them.
The belly-crawling approval-seeking Wilted Violet continues to trigger homicidal urges every time she opens her mouth. A different newbie went off on a lengthy Christian affirmation, complete with reading aloud several verses, which triggered some serious irritation. Another new person ripped huge farts throughout the session, interrupting the ending mindfulness bit with a loud one.
I quickly became impatient to the point of wanting to jump out of my skin. Psychomotor agitation hardly describes it – continual motion (jiggling a leg, twiddling fingers, tapping feet, doodling, etc) was all I could do to keep from getting up and leaving. I had walked in feeling pretty good, but left feeling irritable, angry, and frustrated – and then woke up feeling that way the next day. Counterproductive much?
Between the content review factor and the overload of newbies, by the end of the night I was thinking I should quit DBT. I’ll give it a few more weeks and see if getting into the next module helps, though the one I really need (emotion regulation) is months off still. But there’s no skipping around and selectively choosing what to attend and what to blow off.
The content focus was again on being nonjudgmental and moving on to one-mindfulness. I need to practice doing something one-mindfully again for homework, which is no biggie. I’ve come to realize I actually do it quite a lot. Next week we will doubtless go over effectiveness, which we barely skimmed last time, so perhaps it’ll be less painfully dull and remedial for me. My fingers are crossed to start interpersonal effectiveness next week, just to end the misery of review.
I got more out of discovering this new addition to my Soothe Playlist: chillout.
Two weeks ago, I was just starting this new job as a postdoc. It was exciting! I was very optimistic, with high hopes for getting a running start.
Transitions like this are hard for me. I’ve managed to forget that over and over. Seems like I seriously underestimated this one. Getting set up with both of my universities has been proceeding extremely slowly. It’s been a tough couple of weeks.
Last week was alright – challenging because I felt I was getting nowhere and just trying to find my way. Then the damn womanly hormones kicked in and totally wrecked this week. I always get at least a day of non-functional from PMS. Sometimes a week or so. This appears to be one of those months. Monday went alright but it was all downhill from there.
Little things made me lose my temper; frustration and irritability have been constant and overwhelming. I’ve made a different wrong turn on my back-road route to the office every single time I’ve taken it. My aging 2007 MacBook Pro has been choking on Lion big time, slowing me down when I’m at the office. Lack of tangible progress on practically everything makes me feel hopeless and anxious. It quickly becomes a negative spiral.
Let’s just say I’ve managed, yet again, to massively underestimate the impact of a major transition. All the stress is kicking my brain in.
Tuesday through Thursday were a total loss, work-wise. Crying on and off all day has been a feature of most of the week. The longer this goes on, the more distressed about it I become. As I was driving home from the office on Wednesday – about 5 hours early, because I just couldn’t function – I even tried to use DBT skills, but I couldn’t remember what the acronyms meant. Half-smiling made my lower lip quiver. Deep breathing made me yawn (seriously, every time!) and then the tears welled up again.
Once those overemotional tears start, there’s no end to it. Everything makes me feel bad. I don’t want to tell Mr. Chickadee how bad I feel because I don’t want to make him worry. To be honest, I’m embarrassed that I can’t stop crying. I’m ashamed not to be in more control than this. I share my mood scores on Moodscope with him, though, so he has some idea of how bad (or good) I’m feeling without my having to say something when I should but wouldn’t. If that makes any sense.
My therapist suggested calling the psych and trying to get an emergency appointment, which surprised me. No, I don’t think it’s quite that bad yet. His main recommendation was the same as everyone else: just take it easy until this passes, as we know it will. Don’t even try to work, as that seems to make things worse, and I can make up for the lull when I’m feeling better. Hippie Dude said I should go to the mountains, take a hike, and leave behind all my worries and stress. It’s a good suggestion – I’ve been looking at Adirondack trail maps all week – and something to look forward to usually helps pull me out of these moods.
Getting through the dissertation defense was a major accomplishment. After getting completely smashed afterward, I had to go back to bed in the morning to recover from the celebration.
Now I just have to finish up revisions. Easier said than done. While considered “minor”, my revision list is still “extensive”. Minor only means that my committee thinks I can actually accomplish the necessary fixes. Although I had high hopes for completing the needed work by the deadline for May graduation, I don’t think I can do it. That’s partly because I have 9 days of travel in the next 14, at which point the completed document would be due. But it’s also due to the depth of the required revisions.
After the high of getting through the whole defense rigamarole, reading through the revision list was sobering. More so as it coincided with my natural “freak-out” day from PMS. Dropping hormone levels always make me hypersensitive at this time of month, making something like this especially hard.
How very bipolar to go from flying high to down in the dumps on the turn of a dime… Revisions are expected, but their nature and difficulty is widely variable. These are harder than I had hoped would be leveraged on me. At the moment, it negates the accomplishment, makes me feel awful about the work that I sunk into it, and has robbed me of the slim hope of graduating this year. This is what happens when I get my hopes up, and this is why I have trained myself to keep my expectations low. It’s just crushing to have been allowed to think that it was possible to actually graduate in May when it wasn’t that realistic. Knowing that I can’t hit that deadline means there’s no point in getting started on those revisions today. I am as unmotivated today as I was motivated at the start of the week, and angry about some of the revisions, which are nothing short of stupid and pointless – but it’s not something I can negotiate.
There are worse possible outcomes, and I really did accomplish something big. It’s just hard to keep that in perspective when my brain refuses to see the good and fixates on the bad. At the moment, all the congratulations seem hollow and I feel like an imposter because I’m not really done. Technically, it’s still Almost-Dr. The dissertation is still clinging to my back like some kind of rabid overweight baboon, and I just want to kill the horrid thing.
I will probably feel better about this after another night or two, after I’ve started working on the revisions, after seeing my comrades next week in California, and after going to DC to serve as an expert adviser to the Smithsonian the week after. But right now, I’m just frustrated.