The Spice Girls of Depression

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Last night my back pain got so bad that I may have accidentally overdosed on muscle relaxers. I was thinking my prescription allowed me to take up to 3 muscle relaxers at a time, but I was wrong, apparently it was only 2 at a time…and I took 4. I’m not sure if there is actually much danger in that, but I probably should be more careful.

Yesterday was also a horrible depression day for me. I think the combination of physical pain and the despair I feel sometimes about the seeming meaninglessness of life makes for a perfect storm. It probably didn’t help that I attended a group early in the day that talked about the sometimes apparent pointlessness of life when you are agnostic or atheist.

So, last night I was watching YouTube videos (trying to distract myself from the depression) when I watched a video about the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls. While I was watching it, I started thinking that my depression is kind of like the extremely popular but somewhat annoying 90’s girl group. Instead of Sporty, Posh, Baby, Scary, and Ginger Spice, I have Paranoid Spice, Anxious Spice, Angry Spice, Sad Spice, and Hopeless Spice living in my head. Thinking about all these emotions personified in ridiculously dressed, cheesy girl group images did make me chuckle a bit. Imagine those dance routines!

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Rages and Paranoia

The past couple months I have been all over the place emotionally and mentally. I plan to go over all this with my psychiatrist when I see him later this month, but felt I would share here some of what I’ve been going through.

It is kind of weird because I have had several bouts of certain types of emotions/feelings that were overwhelming and lasted at least a few days to a week. For around a week last month, I had a real issue with rage. Not just anger, but pure rage. I hate it when I have these rages, because I normally end up taking it out on myself or my things because I don’t want to inflict it on anyone else but have to get it out somehow. Sometimes during these rages I destroy personal things that I later regret. I don’t cut or do anything physical that leaves real scars, but I do sometimes pinch myself or dig my nails into my skin as hard as I can, just to get the anger out and because acute physical pain can be a way to distract yourself from intense emotional pain.

A few weeks after the rage phase, I went through an odd type of paranoia. I just kept having nightmares every night, one after another. All of the nightmares were either about home intruders or something scary chasing me. The first night it started I had a full night of nightmares about home intruders. I became so paranoid I had to get up and double check all the locks in the house and make sure every door was closed and locked between the outside doors and my room. I was tempted to sleep with a knife nearby (which I actually have done in the past when I was afraid of something like this), but instead, I settled on sleeping with my phone next to me. I have never been a victim of a home invasion and currently live in a safe neighborhood, so this paranoia seems odd to me.

This past week I have actually had a positive upturn, where I have felt fairly happy and almost a little hopeful. These extremes of emotion I have felt recently do make me wonder if maybe the bipolar diagnosis is correct. I have never really understood why I had these rages and paranoia episodes, but if I am truly bipolar, that probably would explain it (although my PTSD could easily be a culprit as well I suppose). It is tempting once these episodes are over to make excuses for them or to try to convince myself they weren’t as bad as they really were, but that is being dishonest with myself and won’t help me learn to deal with these problems in a healthy way.

Art vs Mental & Chronic Illness – Please Give Feedback!

Hello everyone! I’ve actually had a few good days mentally, which has definitely been a welcome reprieve! Today I wanted to talk to my blog readers about whether they think I do a good balance of art vs mental or chronic illness posts. I have a passion both for art and for advocating and spreading awareness of mental and chronic physical illnesses. Sometimes I worry that maybe I am sharing too many posts about one subject or the other and may drive off readers who are interested more in the other topic.

So…it seems the best thing to do is to ask you guys. Do you think I strike a good balance? Do you have a preference for subject matter or do you just like to read whatever I share? I have thought about separating into two blogs, one focusing more on art and the other more on mental and physical illnesses, but I honestly don’t want to have to juggle two blogs. Sometimes I struggle just to keep up with one (mostly because of the chronic illnesses I suffer from).

Hallucinations in Childhood

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is hallucinations. As an adult, I haven’t really had a history of hallucinations. The closest things I can think of are a few times I have been awoken from my sleep by my husband or my mother’s voice loudly calling my name, only to find they are either not even at home or they swear they didn’t call for me. It is easy to assume this might be just weird remnants of a dream though, so I don’t consider it definitely a hallucination. There have also been a few times I hear a weird, high-pitched whining noise that no one else seems to hear. This could just be my autistic sensitivity though, picking up on something others don’t. It isn’t tinnitus, I have that as well, so I know the difference.

However, as a child I do have at least one vivid memory of a hallucination, maybe two. The first happened when I was around 5 or so, and it happened in the middle of a church service at my grandfather’s house (he was a pastor that ran his own church). In the middle of the service, this huge bird suddenly appeared next to my grandfather as he talked. It was a beautiful, rainbow colored bird, and I could physically see it, so it wasn’t like an imaginary friend (which I also had). I was excited by its appearance and made a bit of a fuss trying to tell my mom about it, but it became clear soon that she couldn’t see it and apparently no one else did either. I got in trouble for yelling out, so ended up sitting there staring at this huge bird and wondering what the heck was going on and why no one else could see it. To this day, I have no idea what happened that day or why. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life at the time, to see if I was under acute stress at the time, but I really don’t know.

The other possible hallucination happened when I was 12. It was soon after my father died and I was having the worst panic attack of my life up until that point. I was sitting on the bed, trying to breathe, feeling terrified and alone, when suddenly a bright figure appeared at the end of the bed. At first I was terrified, but the being told me not to be afraid and I immediately felt a calm I had never felt before in my life. The panic attack was gone and the bright figure somehow communicated to me that I was safe and protected before leaving. I assumed at the time it was my guardian angel, but now that I am no longer religious and not sure what I believe in, I wonder if it could have possibly been a hallucination brought on by grief and terror. I honestly don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a guardian angel, but if I do, why didn’t they protect me or show up during even more dangerous moments of my life, moments when my life was actually in danger?

These two experiences as a child makes me wonder if they were hallucinations, and if they were, is it normal for children to have hallucinations and then grow out of them? Or is this just a warning that if I am pushed too far emotionally or mentally, that something may break inside me and I could lose touch with reality? Could I someday have another hallucination out of nowhere? That is a scary thought. Has anyone else out there also had experiences like this as a kid and apparently grown out of them?

*Art by Maranda Russell

My Dead Sister’s Birthday

Today would have been my sister’s 41st birthday if she hadn’t committed suicide back when she was 35. It is really weird now because I am 35, so I am the exact same age she was when she died. For the first time ever, I will soon be older than my sister ever was. I won’t be the younger sister anymore…or at least that is how it feels.

Last night I didn’t sleep well at all, I had nightmare after nightmare after nightmare. None of them were specifically about my sister, but I can’t help but wonder if subconsciously the feelings I have about her birthday rolling around might not have affected my state of mind. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it being her birthday until a few minutes ago when I looked at the date on my computer clock and it hit me. Of course, this time of year I often think about her, but I am not good at keeping track of days. When you don’t work outside the home, it is easy to forget what day it is.

I’m sorry if this entry is a bit of a ramble, but I have so many mixed emotions and still so much pain about it all that it might not come out as orderly as my normal posts. Days like this really get to me, even if I don’t consciously think about them. It is like a lurking shadow hanging over the entire week or month. I’m sad today and now I’ve remembered why.

Flaking Out Due to Sickness

Yesterday I was supposed to go to therapy, but I was feeling really sick and ended up calling off. Whenever I have to do that, I always end up feeling bad, like it is my fault that I have these health problems and often have to cancel appointments or activities.

Honestly, nowadays I don’t even schedule much of anything outside of medical appointments because I would rather not plan anything than have to feel like I’m letting myself or others down if I’m too sick, depressed, or anxious to go. It really isn’t a fun way to live, and it frustrates me. I often feel like I’ve almost given up on living a normal life and that saddens me.

On the plus side, I am fortunate to have a supportive husband and still have a place to live and food to eat even though I am too sick to work a regular job. I really don’t know how people like me make it without support, especially since it can often take years to get any help from disability. If I had tons of money, I would spend it helping out those who are in similar predicaments, whether they struggle with autism, mental illness, physical illness, or a combination of all of the above like me.

Suicide Isn’t My Biggest Fear

Recently I had kind of a weird realization. If you follow my blog closely, you probably know that I have written posts about how I fear I would be driven to suicide if I lost my husband, mainly because I fear I wouldn’t be able to support myself with all my health problems, and if I lost him I feel like I would lose 90% of my support system.

The other day though I realized something that rather shocked me at first, even though it may not seem such a big thing to others. And that realization was that my real fear isn’t that I WILL commit suicide if I were alone, it is my fear that I WON’T. Maybe that sounds crazy on the surface, but let me explain further. If my husband were to die, that would leave me utterly alone, and I honestly do not believe I could continue to live this life all by myself. If I found myself in that situation, I would have to either A) Give up and commit suicide or B) Find others to trust and rely on.

Option A isn’t my real fear, it is option B. I am terrified of trusting others and letting others in. I don’t trust my ability to choose people who will not take advantage of me or end up abusing me. I feel it is almost a kind of luck that I avoided marrying an abuser in the first place. Most people who grow up like I did, in horrific abuse scenarios (physical, sexual, emotional, or mental) tend to end up surrounding themselves with people who perpetuate the cycle of abuse. I also fear that if any of my past abusers are still around, if I found myself all alone, I would be so weak that I would turn to them. Which horrifies me more than anything. It took me a long time to get free from it all (and I’m still not 100% there), but the thought of returning to hell is far more frightening than the thought of death.

However, deep down I doubt my ability to actually take my own life. I do have a strong survival instinct and an immense amount of anxiety when it comes to any form of danger. Perhaps that is why I always told myself that if I did commit suicide, it would have to be a form that is instant and leaves no chance for reconsideration, because I know if I gave myself time to rethink it I would freak out and seek help.

So, with this odd realization, what is the point of it all? I guess it is some reassurance that maybe I am stronger and more resilient than I always told myself. But more importantly, I need to work on my fear of opening up to and trusting others. It is funny that here on this blog I can be so open and bluntly honest, but in interpersonal relationships I tend to build walls and push people away before they can get too close. Somehow I need to learn to trust myself to be a good enough judge of character to give people a chance. But I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to trust myself, let alone others.