A Life in Perpetual Limbo

At the moment I feel as though my life is in limbo. I’m existing, but I’m not really living. I’m biding my time waiting. What exactly am I putting my life on hold waiting for?

Well there is a rather huge event coming up that has me excited about, impatient for, anxious over, frightened of, and a whole bunch of other positive and negative emotions rolled into a general feeling of unease.

My children and I will soon be moving into our very own home.

After a decade of renting, I will finally have my very own place. It’s currently still being built, almost but not quite finished. I don’t have a completion date yet, but it’s so close I can almost smell it. Mentally, I’ve already moved out of my existing place of residence. But I can’t motivate myself to start packing things up when there is no fixed date for settlement. And so I’m stuck in this limbo between a rental property I’ve come to hate (echoes of him have permanently tainted this once happy place) and the fear of embarking on the unknown at my new home. As a result, I’ve become somewhat lazy about keeping this place spick-and-span and of course that just depresses me.

The second thing keeping me in this limbo is my sons ADHD & ASD diagnosis. Now that we have a diagnosis, I have to wait until the next appointment (later this month) to start looking at treatment. It’s stressing me out no end, but at least thanks to the dosage increase to my meds I’m getting sleep at night. I know it’s a long road ahead, but I just want to actually step onto the path, not stand watching it from a distance.

Of course these are just a couple of things grounded in reality that keep me in limbo. Without them I still have the mental shackles that stop me from living my life. One of those is my indecision about my future. I’m 35 and I still haven’t decided “what I want to be when I grow up”. Well actually I have some idea, but I feel like I’m too old to be embarking on that path. Ok, so maybe I’m not too old as such. However financially I have to worry about my children, so I have to be careful of starting over so to speak.

And then there is just the whole notion in my head that I’m simply waiting for something. For what I am waiting, I have no idea. But I live half my life waiting, vaguely convinced that I’ll know it (what I’m waiting for) when I see it. I’ve always lived my life that way, and obviously “it” is never going to come. I have to decide for myself what “it” is and make it happen. But the most difficult part is deciding what “it” is.

I’m restless. I have all this unchannelled energy coursing through me. I’m wandering aimlessly. I have no idea what I want it is I really want to do. I’m like a bored child who wants to scream and kick up the leaves. And I’m paralysed by the fact that I don’t know what I want. I’m frightened because I have no passion, no desire, nothing to drive me, I don’t feel like I have any purpose. I’m terrified of making a decision, and so waste time and my life doing nothing.

I’ve been fearful my entire life, not taking any risks for fear of losing. And so I’ve led a life that I classify as boring and unfulfilling. You’d think I’d get sick of that, grow a pair, and get out there. But no. I wait. Time ticks on. I wait. I still don’t take any risks. I still don’t really live. I’m afraid to really live.

I tell myself that if I don’t risk a little in the game of life, then I’ll get to the end of it full of regret. But I can’t quite make myself believe that it’s better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. I can’t quite convince myself that a life without any risks is no life at all.

I still wait. For what? For a life filled with “what if’s”. That’s what.

Round and Round the Carousel of Hell.

I’ve been a lot more anxious recently. So much so that my psych has temporarily increased my meds dosage to help me get by and sleep at night. At least this time I know and understand what my trigger is – my 8 year old son. I mentioned a few posts ago that he’s recently been diagnosed with an overlap of ASD & ADHD, and that at least I know what I am working with now.

However recently his behaviour has been going backwards at home and most noticeably at school. He’s been devolving into very toddler like temper tantrums of crying and shouting and banging his head. He’d not done these things to this extent since the first half of the year. It coincides with his finishing up at a program held at another school last term. He spent 2 days a week for 2 school terms at the other school where they focussed on behaviour and social and emotional skills. It was a small group of six kids. There were 2 teachers plus a handful of helpers, so he had lots of one on one attention on those days.

During that time he’d really matured, and stopped having these ‘meltdowns’. But since the program ended he’s started to slip. I think it’s because at his school he doesn’t have someone dedicated to bringing back his focus when he loses it. It’s not possible for the teacher to give her undivided attention to him. So his excessive energy gets him out of control, he can’t come back down and it’s hell for him, his teacher and the rest of the class. And it’s showing at home too.

We go back to the paediatrician in 3 weeks time, and hopefully she will have a strategy in place to help him deal with the ADHD (and as an extension hopefully also the ASD). But until then, having a diagnosis isn’t helping as much as I imagined it would.

I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been anxious, and stressed, losing my temper quickly. Unable to think straight. I’m exhausted. I’m snappy. I’ve been digging my fingernails into my palms, leaving them bruised and sore. The rubber band on my wrist hasn’t been helping me much. My wrist has dark shadows of bruising mixed with angry red welts where I’ve snapped the band so hard. But it’s not bringing the relief that it should. I’m one or two steps away from playing with knives … and I don’t want to go down that blackhole.

Hopefully the med increase will help me out. It had better because I’m getting closer and closer to the edge. I’ve told my ex that if he doesn’t help me more with the kids and what’s going on it will come to a point where I dump them on him and take off and never come back … or I end up in hospital, or dead. I love my kids with all my heart, but I can’t sustain the stress of raising them all on my own, of coping with the problems they have in addition to my own illness.

I hate that my threshold for coping under duress is so much lower than other people. But it’s just the way that I’m wired. I can’t change it, no matter how guilty I may feel about it. And I judge myself more harshly than anyone could ever judge me. And I’d never ever presume to judge anyone to the same degree of harshness I apply to myself.

And the stress of what’s going on with my kids, coupled with my inability to cope – triggers my guilt over my inability to cope. And round and round the carousel of hell goes. A never ending cycle of anxiety and self blame, triggering more anxiety and self blame.

et cetera. ad nauseam.

No Meds Make Karlee a very Agitated Girl.

Oh [insert expletives here] it’s 3:28am and I’m not asleep yet. It’s all my fault of course, I was distracted and forgot to take my medication. Through trial and error I have found the optimum time to take my medication is at 8:30pm. 1/2 an hour earlier than that and I wake up far too early (like 4am early). 1/2 an hour later than that and I’m too drowsy to wake up in the morning. And if I don’t take it at all – I don’t sleep.

I always assumed that the sleeplessness wouldn’t really occur unless there had been a prolonged period of withdrawal. But it seems that even missing one dose keeps me awake all night long. Which is painful when you have two darling children who always seem to require your full attention by 7am at the latest.

I’m so exhausted, I can’t stop yawning, I’m feeling nauseous, and my eyes are watering. But I lie in the dark and sleep just won’t come. My mind is racing, my body is agitated, I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. Like an addict I need the hit. But I can’t take my meds now – if I do it will mess me right up. I can’t afford to be drowsy all day, I have children that I cannot neglect.

So I have to hope that I can make it through the day, I just have to hold on long enough. If I can reach 8:30pm in one piece I can sleep through the night. Theoretically anyway.

The Ups and Downs of being UP

I’m not going to lie – there have been numerous times when I want to go off my medication because I want to bring on manic episodes. I know that’s a very dangerous thing to do – I learned some time ago just how critical it is for me to keep taking my medication regularly. So I wouldn’t intentionally stop taking them no matter how much I might think I want to.

But when I am feeling this way it is because I want the clarity, the feeling that I know the answer to everything, the certainty that I can save the world and bring peace. I long for the high of being connected to the universe, of feeling the energy of every living thing, the self assurance that I can change the world and make a difference. I know that these are delusions, that I don’t really have all the answers, that I can’t literally bring about world peace. But I crave the way the manic periods bring me a sense of purpose, of feeling good about myself, of feeling worthwhile.

Of course in reality it’s never as good as memory recalls. My high periods frequently included impulsive, reckless and downright dangerous behaviour, of an attitude of “fuck the consequences”, of a fools bravery that I was invincible. It also made me not a very nice person, as I lost the mind to mouth filter and said things without thinking or caring that they might hurt people. I would be irritable and annoying and pick fights – all for no reason other than to amuse myself at how easily I could push buttons and how angry I could make someone.

But of course time and distance always makes us gloss over the negative aspects of a memory. When I am longing for the manic periods it’s because my mind is choosing to only hold onto the more palatable aspects of those times. It remembers the allure of the self confidence but conveniently chooses to ignore the unpleasantness of the arrogance. It remembers the feeling of seeking thrills, but blatantly forgets the troubles recklessness brings.

If I knew I could control myself, if I could know how far to go and when to stop – I would embrace the mania. It makes me feel so good. But I know I don’t have control, and that’s the whole dangerous problem. So even though I wish I had the exhilaration of self assurance, I take comfort from the fact that lacking it means I don’t take stupid and unnecessary risks for the hell of it.

Still sometimes I miss that brave (and stupid) manic me – because I see my “normal” self as being too much Clark Kent and not enough Superman. Except in reality when without the meds I’m more like Jekyll and Hyde and I know that’s definitely not something to aspire to.

No Words…

Today I have no words of honesty to write.

It’s not that I have writer’s block, or don’t know what to say. It’s that I don’t know how to say it, not to this blog, not even to myself.

Words swim around my head aimlessly, and I can’t ascribe any meaning to them. Just when I think I’ve about grabbed a thought by the coattails, it slinks around the corner, slipping into the shadows, gone before I could get a proper hold. Gone before I could stare into the revelations of my soul.

I’m trying to sort out how I am feeling, but it’s as though I have put a wall around my own insight, blindfolded myself from knowledge of me.

I just don’t know about anything today.

The Negative Spiral

Oh joy of joys. I’m headed towards a depression again. I fucking hate the fact that I can see my mood swings ahead of time – because even though I know they are coming, I am powerless to stop them. In many ways ignorance is bliss. But I can see the train wreck coming, and there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it.

It starts. I’ve been grudgingly getting up in the mornings with just enough time to get ready for work. I do as little work as possible so that I avoid trouble. I come home and go straight to my bed where I lie around until I have to get up to get dinner for the monsters. And it’s straight back to lazing on the bed until I fall asleep. I’m letting the house get messy again, I just don’t have the motivation to tidy up. Worse yet I haven’t even started packing up my belonging even though there are only weeks left until I move house.

Instead of being productive – I have been retreating from the world and spending way too much time in the dark place of my mind. The unhealthy, unhappy section where I evaluate my life so far and realise I’ve wasted it. I haven’t done any of the things I would measure success by.

I thought I had all the time in the world, to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m 35 and I’ve fucking wasted my life and have next to nothing to show for it. Now I’m sitting here wishing I could go back in time, return to the time I finished high school and choose a different life path. I feel like my life is over and I’ve zero to show for the effort (or lack thereof).

I’ve been told “you’re only 35, you’ve still got the rest of life ahead of you”. Right. My stupid brain says I’m 35 with personal neuroses that have totally fucked up my mind. I’m a single parent of an 8 year old and a 7 year old – it’s not like I can make life changing decisions without being concerned with what impact it will have on them. Even if I didn’t have them binding me here – I’m so far introverted that I don’t actually have any friends. I have work colleagues (all interactions stay at work) and family (who I try to avoid where possible). How could I go out into the world and do anything when I can’t even deal normally with people around me?

In my mind it becomes so dire that I even take to wishing, genuinely wishing that I could be anyone else. If I had one wish in this entire world – I wouldn’t wish for money, or fame, or love, or whatever makes people happy. I wouldn’t even wish to be free of my mental illness. No. I would wish to be someone else. To be a completely different person in a completely different life. I’m so unhappy in this one, and don’t see anyway to make it change, to make it better. I’d like to give up and begin again. I wish life was like a video game – where if you got stuck, or fucked up you could just start again. Totally erase the save game and begin fresh.

I don’t like being 35 and full of regret. It’s really sad and pathetic. But I’m too afraid to change. My fear holds me back from doing the things that I really want to do. I’m terrified of making the wrong choice and fucking things up – so I make no choices and fuck things up anyway. Yeah I know it’s not particularly logical. But that’s how it is in my overcrowded brain.

I guess the one saving grace of my current situation is that I’m not in a full blown depression yet. Just heading there. I’ve still got feelings – even though they are negative ones – but just having those means I’m still present. It’s the numbness I hate, not feeling anything. Because when I don’t feel anything, when I just don’t care about anything – that is when I do the most damage to myself, and to the people around me. When I don’t feel anything, when I retreat into oblivion, I stop eating, I stop showering, I stop going to work, I stop getting out of bed. I stop everything – except thinking. Thinking about ending the nothingness and the urge to cause myself physical pain just so that I feel something, anything. Because at that point, even emotional torture has lost it effect, and I’ll need to make myself feel pain in other ways.

In my warped mental state if I feel pain, I can convince myself that I’m still here, that I haven’t slipped away into a sort of purgatory where there is no escape. But even more frightening than the self harm, is the notion of wanting it all to end. To slip away into nothingness, cease to exist. I’m not suicidal as such – I don’t actively want to die. But when I am numb I just want to cease to exist, to close my eyes and float away effortlessly and painlessly. I want to fade away, be forgotten, just a faint memory carried away on a breeze.

Right now I remember how bad it was the las time I felt that way, the last time I fell into the darkness so far I almost didn’t make it out alive. And that scares me more than anything – the thought of slipping back down there unable to save myself. I don’t want to go back there – but I’m terrified that I can’t stop myself. Because even now – there is that part of me the soul-eater who whispers in my ear that the dark pit is where I belong. She attempts to convince me that self destruction is inevitable and I should give up and give in. She’s urging me to let the darkness come, that this is what I deserve for whatever wrongs I’ve done to the universe.

It’s not true. It can’t be true. I know this, logically I know this. But knowing one thing and feeling something else makes my existence almost impossible. The conflict, the war, sometimes I think that self destruction is the only way to make the shouting in my head stop. The only way to bring peace of mind. That’s what I most desire: peace of mind.

Driving Me Out of My Mind

Ever been halfway through an action and wonder how you got there? Happens all the time, but the thing that scares me the most is it happens when I am driving (usually to work). Sometimes when I am driving I really wonder how the hell I’ve managed to get through the task without an accident.

My mind sometimes gets lost in a train of thought, and then I’ll come back to reality and wonder how I ended up this far up the road, when I don’t really recall crossing the past several intersections, or changing lanes, or turning left, or anything really. For several moments horror engulfs me because I don’t know if I’ve gone through red lights, or gone faster than the speed limit, or indicated when I switched lanes.

The scariest part is that I don’t always remember what was occupying my mind before I was snapped out of my reverie and brought back to reality. It’s like my mind has gone through the previous moments with a black marker and struck them off so I can’t read what was written. Sometimes I worry that I’ve blacked out. But since my car is still in its own lane, and no one is blaring their horn at me, it’s safe to say I’ve been conscious the whole time, if not aware.

I lose myself in my thoughts during other actions too, but none of them scare me in the way it does when it happens while I am driving. Each time I get in the car, I consciously remind myself how important it is to pay attention. I fight to keep my focus, to stay aware. Then it slips, and I’m gone for a couple of minutes, until I snap back to reality and fear is pooling in my stomach and chest.

Sometimes I wonder how on earth anyone would think it was okay to give me a drivers licence. I also wonder how anyone isn’t fazed at the thought of giving me any sort of responsibility. No one questions giving me important tasks at work (things that would have dire consequences if I got them wrong). No one worries about me being a single parent of 2 young children. Sometimes I think its a revelation that I’m even allowed to live by myself, let alone left in charge of other people.

I know I’m too hard on myself. But when I space out like I do, when I find it so easy to retreat into my head, I wonder. I wonder how I managed to get as far in life as I have without serious accidental injury, how I haven’t accidentally set the house on fire, or crashed my car. Sometimes I almost think that it’s a bloody miracle!

Like a Broken Record.

I have a tendency to obsess over things. Clearly, I obsess over my thought as I spend way too much time inside my head. But I obsess over little things too. Things that should have little to no relevance in my life.

When I visit my parents, sometimes I help my mum with hanging out the washing. I obsess over her peg basket – how it is filled with pegs of all different shapes, sizes, colours and different stages of bleaching by the sun. When I hang up an article of washing, I have to search for two pegs that match. They have to be identical – right down to how much they have faded by exposure to the weather. When we both lived at home, my brother used to deliberately use two pegs that were completely different. I’d have to spend time going around the washing line, fixing each piece of washing so that identical pegs were used.

If I get my hand “dirty” because I had to use it to touch a railing, or elevator button, or something else that is public access – my hand is effectively rendered useless until I have scrubbed it clean, or at the very least smothered it in antibacterial gel. Help me if I have to wait longer than a minute before I can do one or the other. By that time, I fancy I can actually feel the germs crawling over my skin, spreading up my arm.

All of the times I’ve had an intravenous drip in my hand/arm – within minutes of it being inserted I am fixated on it. Something in my mind snaps, and I have a singular focus on the drip, panic floods me and all I do is mutter repeatedly how it needs to come out, needs to come out now. It is as if I can simply will it out if I repeat the mantra enough times. I get hung up on the needle under my skin, and like a dog with a bone I just can’t let the obsession go.

I have been listening to the same 7 songs on repeat for the past 6 or so weeks. That should have driven me mad (maybe it has and I just don’t realise it!) But apparently my fixation on this band’s music has left no room for any other music in my life right now. I’m very familiar with this type of obsession, getting well keen into a band, or an actor, or something and saturating myself in nothing but said fixation. Eventually I’ll lose interest, but for now it’s like being in love – I can’t imagine not feeling so passionately and strongly as I do about said band right now.

If I have had even the tiniest most insignificant unpleasant or embarrassing interaction with a person – the event plays over and over in my mind like a broken record. There are several stages to this. The first 50,000+ mental replays are the embarrassment/anger phase – where I’m repeatedly reviewing the interaction trying to make sense of what happened. Stage 2 is the beating myself up about it – another 50,000+ replays chiding myself for not reacting appropriately, or saying the wrong thing, or not saying the right thing. Basically it’s about abusing myself relentlessly because I didn’t handle the situation in the “best” way. The final stage is trying to change the past in my head – recreating the scenario and imagining all the alternative outcomes that could have occurred. Inserting the snappiest comeback, or not reacting, or reacting differently. In my mind I am rewriting what happened in a manner that creates the best possible outcome for me. All in all, I will be hung up about a particular interaction for days and even weeks at a time, unable to move past it until I’ve played it out enough times in my head.

I have a ritual when I get in to work in the morning – I open my desk drawer to pull out my notebook, pen, highlighter, calculator and ruler and I have to line them all up on my desk parallel to the edge of the desk. My coworkers sometimes tease me by nudging things out of place when I leave my desk. Of course I notice, I always notice, and I have to realign them when I get back.

These are just a handful of things I obsess over. I kind of find them funny when I look at them through the eyes of “the scientist” because logically none of those things matter. The world won’t end if I use 2 different pegs, or don’t line up my pen to my notebook and make sure they are parallel to the desk edge. I won’t die if I don’t wash my hands immediately after pressing the elevator button, and the drip in my hand won’t kill me. But, for whatever silly reason in my head, if I don’t comply with these rules I’ve created for myself, it all seems to come crashing down around me and I can’t “keep calm and carry on”.

I put it down to my need for control. When my mind is running riot, at least I have these little things that I can control. I suppose they allow me to make sense of my strange and sometimes scary world.

Confessions of a Drama Queen

As a child I was called a “drama queen” by my family. It was because my emotional range was never mild. When I was happy I was over the moon, when I was sad it was like my world was ending, I could fly into a rage and out of it again at the drop of the hat. I never felt anything by halves.

The depth and range of my emotions allowed me to excel at performing arts because I could put myself emotionally into a characters shoes and genuinely act the part. From the beginning I loved the theatre, and I always thought that it was my interest in acting that influenced my melodramatic style. Of course now I realise my dramatic flair was what led to my love of the theatre.

I abused my acting skills – particularly when I was getting into trouble or wanted someone to feel bad for me. With a single thought I’d put on the water works in an instant, turning the tables and becoming the victim. I learned that lying was infinitely easier for me because I could make myself believe the lie just through feeling it. I became a master at manipulating the emotions of others.

When it came to strangers and people I wanted to keep at a distance – I was a human chameleon, forever changing my persona to suit whatever “role” I decided to play. I created different personas for different situations, complete with names, backstories, and particular traits. When I went out to a pub or club, if a guy came up to me to talk – I was “Nicky from London”, or “Jade from New York” always “in town for a few weeks” just for business. I would make up some fancy career and even put on the relevant accent to enhance the lie.

Of course I look back now and realise I wasn’t a very nice person. I obscured myself in layers and layers of bullshit. It made it impossible for anyone to get to know me, to understand me. I thought it was to protect me from being hurt, but really it was to gain the upper hand so that I could make people bend to my will. I was an expert at emotional blackmail, at lying to get my own way, and just manipulating outcomes to benefit me.

Hindsight is a bitch – and I see now that none of this made me happy. It made me lonely and alone. I didn’t form true friendships because I couldn’t be myself, I couldn’t give people a chance to see me. I was selfish, and self centred, and spoiled because I was used to getting my own way. It was my way, or tears and tantrums until I got my way. I broke people. I’m sad to say it, but I did.

Sure I know some of my behaviour it wasn’t entirely within the realm of my control, but I still hold myself accountable and feel bad about the things I did. Since being diagnosed with, and treated for Bipolar, I have learned what self control is. I no longer manipulate people or use emotional blackmail to get my own way. I still hide my true feelings, but I don’t falsify them to upset others, or make them feel bad for me.

I can still be a drama queen, but I keep it mostly within the realm of my mind, or in story telling. I don’t play with people’s emotions anymore, I’ve grown up and abandoned using people as toys.

A Peek into a Private Journal Entry.

I was looking through my notebook for something to write about (it seems writer’s block was upon me tonight). And I was reading a journal entry I had written last week when it was still school holidays and my children hadn’t returned from holidaying with their dad at his parents place in the country.

Whilst a lot of this particular entry contains rather embarrassing stuff that I would never share with anyone (which is why I write it in my private journal) there is part of it that I want to share. Clearly at the time I wrote it I wasn’t in the right state of mind (however that tends to be the only time I write in my journal).

But in this entry, even though I was having irrational reactionary thoughts – a part of my mind was still self aware that I was being moderately delusional. And even though it’s not really funny, the way I wrote down my train of thought kind of makes me laugh due to the absurdity.

Fuck I am losing my grip. I had thoughts before of not being here when the kids come home. Those thoughts then moved on to running away somewhere. And what actually went through my mind next was “Too bad I don’t have a current passport – I could buy a ticket to London and disappear”. Of course then I think “Thankfully I DON’T have a passport”. Then next thing I know I’m seriously considering applying for a passport just so I could do it. When I am considering shit like this in all seriousness – it is not a good sign. It is a sign I am cracking up.

It hasn’t been the only entry of this kind recently. The rest of this entry, and the others like it, are really too messed up to go into detail on. But lets just say I was on the verge of checking out of reality for a while. This isn’t the first, or last, time that I have had an irrational thought process like this. But sadly, in the past, I didn’t have that self aware part. The part that knew my thinking was irrational, and could stop me from following those thoughts into action. In the past I just used to follow my impulses for better or worse (usually the latter) without thinking about how this would impact the future.

Thankfully I now seem to have part of me that remains present and tethered to this world – even when my impulsive responses kick in. And for the time being this self aware part of me has a hold strong enough bring me back from the brink. It keeps me grounded. It also keeps me alive.

It’s times like these when I am actually glad for that “fracturing” of my mind into different aspects – because it means that my tendency towards internal conflict leads to indecision, and procrastination, and ultimately not following through on a lot of impulsive behaviour. The mood stabilizers help me not to get too extreme, so I can retain a modicum of self restraint. Even if the restraint isn’t a conscious effort, but rather simply due to those aspects of my mind failing to agree on a course of action.

They sit and argue it out, and ultimately I’m rendered immobile, until it washes over and I can think straight again. I guess it can be useful being a thinker rather than a doer.