Is It the Holidays or Am I Just Blue?

When it comes to the holidays and how I feel emotionally from my various mental health disorders (chiefly my bipolar, but also my anxiety, PTSD, and other issues), sometimes it is hard to tell what is responsible for what. On the one hand, I have been down for several days now but on the other hand, it’s Christmas Eve today and I’m having a hard time telling if I have the holiday blues or the depression blues.

This morning, all I wanted to do was sleep. I had to drag myself out of bed to take care of the pets and then to get ready to go to the church I work at to perform a duet with my little cousin in the Christmas Program. This should have been a really fun event for me as I adore my cousin and I have always loved playing my flute. But instead I was trying not to look as tired as I was and I was really trying to fight off a panic attack that was threatening to rear its ugly head.

Now, I am back home and all I want to do is go to sleep. But I know that that will affect my ability to sleep tonight and that my sleeping to avoid life and to avoid being awake and dealing with my emotional state is not the best way to go about things. So, here I sit, watching a horror movie (my personal favorite genre), trying to stay awake and get some work done today. I guess we will see how it goes today as I am on my own until tomorrow. Hopefully, things will work out for the better and I can get some work done in spite of this depression.


Trying to Be Thankful

When you are in the midst of a depression, holidays can be tough. And that is what is happening to me today. I am trying to feel thankful and get into the spirit of the holiday, but it is really difficult for me to do so when I feel down, unmotivated, and even have been having some suicidal thoughts. But I am a stubborn person and I am determined to at least think about what I am thankful and grateful for.

Firstly, even though I am struggling right now, I am thankful to have an amazing doctor and an incredible therapist. They are the reason I am not doing a whole lot worse than I currently am. They are keeping me moving forward, even if I don’t think I can take a single step forward sometimes. And that being said, I feel grateful for my diagnosis as well because knowing what is going on with me is a major part of the battle and I finally feel like I do have a handle on that part of things.

I am also thankful for the rest of my support system including my two best friends, my mom, my aunts, uncles, grandparents, my cousins, and even my dogs and cats. They are my heart and they will do anything for me to help me feel better and get things back on track.

I am thankful for the fact that I have a roof over my head because I know many people that struggle with mental illnesses like mine do not have that luxury. Even if I am not where I want to be right now, it is better than being on the streets.

Well, I think that is all I have for now. I hope everyone is having a decent holiday, and whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I hope you have a great day!


I Don’t Know What to Do When Depression Triggers Cannot Be Avoided

Being bipolar can be tough at times. And for me, the worst part of it is the depression. My depression gets so deep and dark that I cannot function for days, weeks, and even months at a time. And what is especially hard is when I know certain things will likely trigger a depressive episode but I can’t do anything to avoid them. This happened to me recently, specifically in my trip to see my grandparents and subsequently my dad.

My relationship with my father is not nor will it likely ever be close. He has not and will not give up drinking in order to have a healthy father-daughter relationship with me. This makes me feel horrible, to say the least, but I have to accept it and walk away as much as I can. However, he is my father and I cannot avoid him completely when he is in the same small town of 600 or so people as my grandparents.

I went up to help when my grandfather was recently hospitalized which is triggering enough for depression, seeing a strong, proud man like my grandpa in the hospital bed fighting pneumonia. Add to that my grandmother, who is the sweetest woman in the world, worried about my grandfather and suffering in her own right. These are tough things to deal with in and of themselves.

I have no problem helping care for my grandparents. In fact, I value the opportunity and every minute I get to spend with them. But when I am there I feel guilty. Guilty that I cannot do more, that I am not a good enough granddaughter, that there should be something more that I am doing for them. I drive myself crazy with self-doubt, self-loathing, and worry.

And then there is my dad, a constant source of anxiety any time I have to deal with him directly. While his attitude changed when I left to come home (earlier than I planned, by the way) and he was nicer to me, I still did not feel comfortable around him. He kept bringing up the letter I wrote to him and how we need to talk about it.

All of these factors together are a recipe for depression for me. The extreme guilt is something I have always had to deal with as long as I can remember. It leads me down a dark path where I feel as though I am worthless and should not even bother getting out of bed. On top of that, when my relationship with my father is thrown in the mix, my emotions become devastatingly low.

And so, what can I do when I know that I have to face my triggers like I did recently? So far, there is not much that I can do. I cannot always avoid my father’s side of the family. At the very least, my grandparents do not deserve that. They are kind and caring people.

But now that I’m home, I am tired, feeling foggy and fuzzy, and generally down and sad…the usual suspects when I start to get depressed. I am trying to push through it and turn things around, but I am stuck in this mood. I hope that one day I can better handle it when I have to deal with my dad. I hope I can get rid of my constant guilt one of these days. I hope, I hope, I hope. But for now, I have to ask what should I do when I cannot avoid triggers? Do any of you have effective coping mechanisms to share? Leave your comments below if you suffer from bipolar or unipolar depression and have options that work for you (besides medication, which I already take).


My Father Shamed My Mental Health

When you have a mental health disorder, no matter what it is, you may experience what I did with my father regarding my mental health issues. But before I can get into the most recent of the events that occurred with my now estranged father, I want to go back to my youth.

My relationship with my father wasn’t always contentious. In fact, when I was very young, we got along great. He taught me to play board games, would read to me at night, and generally was a good dad in my eyes. However, eventually it changed. I became a person with opinions. I started to think for myself and I did not always think in the same way that my father did.

He didn’t like that. I was too much like my mother. I needed to be put in my place. Whatever, his rational behind it, he became more of a source of fear for me than a loving father. Part of this was because of his drinking problem. My father is an alcoholic (though he would never admit that to be true, which is the source of our estrangement today).

His drinking is, in my mind, his defining characteristic, which is sad and disturbing at the same time. The other characteristic is his emotional and mental absence from my life, from childhood through the bulk of my adulthood. And considering we are not even on speaking terms now, I doubt that will ever change.

Okay. Enough background. Now to the part about my mental health. As my post, “My Diagnosis” revealed, I have struggled with mental health issues pretty much all my life. At an early age, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was in therapy for about six months and then stopped going. But what I did not mention was why treatment was so short-lived.

You guessed it. My father was the reason. It was a fight for my mother (a school counselor with extensive psychological education) to even get my dad to agree to a short stint in counseling. He didn’t believe in therapy and counseling and thought it was all worthless. I can only imagine what my life would have been like later if I had had the opportunity to stick with those early sessions with my therapist (who was amazing and who did help me quite a bit).

Fast forwarding now to my teenage years and my eating disorder. I was sickly thin. I had inflammation in my pancreas and spleen (signs of organ damage and possible failure), and if I stood up quickly, I almost passed out. But my dad was against treatment for my eating disorder. He didn’t think I had a mental health issue. He didn’t think there was an issue at all. I was fine in his eyes. Nothing to worry about.

You can see how all of these points in my life were defining moments and how a different course of action would have changed my life in significant and lasting ways. If I had gotten eating disorder treatment, maybe I wouldn’t have a binge eating disorder today instead of anorexia. If I had gotten early treatment for my anxiety and depression, maybe my bipolar disorder would have been diagnosed and treated long before I was 32. If only.

When I recently started therapy as an adult and began also getting medical treatment for my anxiety and depression (before I was diagnosed with bipolar) and I finally told him after a few months in treatment, he acted okay with it. But, then the sideways shaming started. I went to visit my grandparents and he told me that he didn’t tell them I was struggling with anxiety and depression, all he said was that I was having a hard time with a physical condition I was diagnosed with (PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome). He didn’t want them to know I was in therapy or had a mental health diagnosis.

I was so hurt by his actions, I have no words. It was shameful to him that I was getting help for mental health. But if I was struggling with a physical health ailment, that was okay. It was literally easier to talk to my grandparents about my ovaries than my brain. His actions showed me that he would never accept me for me and would never accept that mental health conditions are legitimate and treatable through therapy and medical management.

That was the beginning of the end of our relationship and now, he doesn’t even know I have bipolar II, unless someone on that side of the family has read this blog and told him. I wish a lot of things about my father and our relationship, but most of all I wish that he hadn’t been so against counseling and therapy in general and that his opinions on those matters hadn’t so greatly shaped the course of my life. I can only imagine where I would be if I had an earlier diagnosis or long-term treatment for the mental health issues that affected me over the years.

Let me know what you think about my experiences. Do you have similar stories about people close to you? Have people in your life let you down? Leave comments or feel free to share this post if you like it! Thanks!