Note: This is the second in a series of posts from sunny Florida. Yup, I’m in Florida on a self-imposed respite and retreat to focus on getting healthy — mentally and physically. Hopefully it works!
This post was intended to be the first of “My self-imposed respite and retreat” posts, but since I’ve given myself permission to relax and just let things BE, it didn’t work out that way. So here it is, my second post. And I’m OK with that.
So let me take a step back and tell you all about why I am now sitting at my parents kitchen table in their empty Florida house (except for their toy poodle Sammy and me), and not griping about the few feet of snow just dumped on my hometown yesterday or waking up to below freezing temperatures.
If you are a frequent follower you will know I was recently diagnosed with bipolar depression, had to wean off the meds I was taking for depression (Celexa) and begin a new drug to treat the bipolar (Trileptal). This is never a fun thing to do with any type of medication be it for a mental illness, blood pressure, etc.
The good news: With this change in meds the obsessive thoughts have all but disappeared from my brain, and I finally find my mind quiet for the first time in … probably years.
I no longer find myself waking up in the middle of the night half way through a to-do list and in the middle of telling someone off in my head (someone who I’ve wished to tell off in my awakened state but haven’t because I know it will do no good, but man I so want to).
In the past three weeks on trileptal, I have not been prone to sit in my office and manically attack a week’s worth of work in a day and half, and FINALLY I feel organized enough to tackle writing and creative projects — and complete them.
Oh, and speaking of creative projects … On this new medication, I am actually creative again. Thus, my ability to complete said creative projects above. Ahhh. Feels good.
Now the bad news.
As I weaned from Celexa I experienced panic attacks and anxiety like never before, and was afraid to take the Ativan the psychiatrist had prescribed for fear that I might like it too much and begin popping them like candy. Therefore, I was left breathless, shaking and hiding in a girls bathroom because I couldn’t get the tears to stop at one of my daughter’s recent basketball games (and several other inconvenient places around town).
These crying jags weren’t specific to basketball. They appeared in the middle of conversations with anyone, at work meetings, in the shower, on hikes with family or friends, and basically anywhere and anytime they felt like showing up. I had no control over when or where the floodgates would open, so I began to fear public places and talking to people and anything else social altogether, which made me fear becoming agoraphobic if something didn’t change.
My moods were unpredictable and went from zero to pissed off in 30 seconds. What fun for my family and me.
Routine became very important to me and although my obsessive thoughts had disappeared, my OCD tendencies to need everything in order and in its place or else a meltdown would ensue, became unbearable for myself and anyone associated with me (mainly my husband and kids).
I was becoming lost and often would hide in my room crying and staving off a panic attack, which is where my kids would find me many days when they came home from school. My husband was beginning to look and treat me like I was a crazy person, to be avoided as much as possible and not disturbed or spoken to for fear of bringing down a “tsunami of crazy” on the household.
Something had to change.
This situation wasn’t good for anyone, especially me, and I feared my kids’ only memories of their mother would be of the poor, weak, unpredictable, bedridden, lunatic I was becoming.
So, I left.
Not right away, but within two days of mentioning to my therapist that I just wanted to get away from my family, from my house, my town and friends, to find myself again. I had my roundtrip plane tickets booked (only $11 with points we had saved); and a plan to stay at my parents’ Florida home while they were celebrating my mom’s 65th birthday in Key West.
Two days later, I left my house at 4 a.m., drove to the airport, and here I am.
And it is such a relief!
I have no responsibilities, no one walking on egg shells around me for fear I will blow like Mt. Saint Helen, and I am loving every minute of it.
I’m sure my family is loving it too, as evidenced by the lack of phone calls, texts and the brush off from my husband on the phone yesterday morning. But who can blame them. I wouldn’t want to live with that version of me either.
So, I am here to get healthy — mentally and physically.
I will meditate.
I will write.
I will eat well and I will relax.
I will take walks.
I will do some yoga.
I will ride the bike I borrowed from a neighbor.
I will nap when I want to and I will relish the sunshine.
I might even take a day trip to the beach, but only if I feel like it.
But most of all, I will learn to live with myself … warts and all as my mom says, and hope that that is enough for my family when I get home.
After all, as my therapist said, “The theme of this week is self-acceptance,” and thus far, I am successfully embracing this theme.
It’s only been four days and my parents just left, so we will see what five days of living with just myself, and a miniature dog brings.
Wish me luck.