Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Mental LIfe (1)

I have been trying to settle in to the "Mental life" that has been my lot for over a year or so. This last week or so finds me battling some very low lows and some suicidal ideation. As I mentioned in my former blog, my depression has a mind of its own. It comes and goes when it pleases. Sometimes it arrives when situations are stressing me out, but it can almost as easily come when I am just generally in a low mood. I really close off from people when I'm in this condition. My depression is serious and takes some serious application of my bag of tricks to fight it. Just when I think I'm improving,,, BAAM ! it hits again.

I have what is called "double depression", or so I am told. My general mood, for almost as long as I can remember has been of the character of a low grade depression. This is the staple of my feelings. I can't remember when I have not had a low grade depression. It goes back to the early days of my youth ... never a real happy camper. This is no to say that I am not totally happy at any time... this is a usual and customary feeling. It means my happy level is lower than a healthy person who does not have chronic low grade depression.

Added to this is a depression of the type that drops me way below the healthy level. Think of a horizontal line across a page. Go down and draw a line one half inch below it (this is my low grade depression. Then go one half inch below this and draw another line. This will give you some idea where I go to find suicidal ideation. This is frequent of late. This is a feeling that I will never dig myself out. I've certainly had some circumstances that have lent themselves to this, but I can go there as naturally as anything else with little or no stress. This is astounding to me. "Dropping into a hole" without accompanying stress to push me in! I hate this. If you are in a similar boat as me, you hate it too.

There is no permanent answer to this for me at this point. I pray, I meditate, I do what needs to be done whether I feel like it or not, I distract myself, I talk to myself, I physically exercise pretty regularly, etc. Still depression dances and plays in my mind and this is NOT like sugarplums dancing in my head. It is painful and leaves me feeling hopeless for long periods of time. I try to help myself the best I can. I am not just lying down and taking it. I am really working at this.

My anxiety also comes along for the ride. It has not disappeared. I follows the ebb and flow of my depression, cheering it on as it assails me with nervous stomach, anxiety laden thinking, and being anxious about so many things, Its like depression and anxiety are doing their dance together as a relationship made in somewhere else besides heaven ... You can think of one place, I'm sure. I suppose they are having fun but I'm not.

Well I'm tired of writing for now. I will drift off to sleep with my CD playing positive and spiritual ideas to me to relieve the anxiety of this time of night.

God Be With You!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Have You Gone Mental? (101)

The idea of working sounded good at the time, but it turned out to be a poor decision. I realized I was unable to hold a job, but stayed in denial. I apppied for a job a month ago. I was called and told I would not be interviewed. That kind of broke through my denial. I needed to realize that now is not a time to look for work. My depression and anxiety are just too powerful. I try to hold it together, but they are relentless.

A couple of weeks ago I received word that my mental health disability had been granted. I experienced joy and sorrow. Joy because it would provide a small income in addition to Janet's and sad because it was like a door slamming on the past 50+ years of my life. I began to feel like a loser... Look at me, I'm feeding off the government! I processed this with my therapist and have come to terms with it. I've been paying into social security since I was 16 years old. This is like granting MYSELF the disability, as far as the money is concerned. I understand how lame this may sound, but it is where I am trying to be now ... to continue to work myself through the shame.

This is as far as I've progressed. I still have my ups and downs they have been lower of late and I continue to take care of myself to lessen the pain. My supporters have been wonderful.

Thanks for listening.

Typos and all ... God Bless You.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (100)

The hospital stay was only the beginning of my hospital experience. I was referred to the Providence Day Treatment Center in Portland. As my anxiety and depression continued to "rage" I entered this program with great apprehension.
I was extremely anxious about going. Janet drove me there for the first three weeks. I did group and individual therapy, therapeutic art, and ate a "not-so-tasty lunch each day. I made some great acquaintances there during my stay with a whole range of problems. When I heard some of them it seemed mine were slight.

My suicidal ideation continued. Every day I awoke anxious and then the depression set in. I was feeing pretty hopeless for the first few weeks. I then found some hope through the mindfulness meditation I learned there. It helped me, in a small way to combat my depression.

When my three weeks had ended I was referred to a less intensive program that was still all day, but for those who were moving on in their recovery. I'm not sure I belonged in that program. I still felt the emotions I had been
feeling, but maybe not as deeply. I was asked to attend 3 days each week for groups and individual therapy and the food.

I had begun therapy on the "outside" with my psychologist which continues to the present. I had a prescriber of medication all along. When my insurance ran out I had to leave the Providence Program and see my therapist and my prescriber only. They gave me a tremendous break on the cost. This has turned out to be ok. I applied for a mental health disability and was denied on my first attempt. I knew I was in no shape to work, although I was in denial of this. I didn't want to be useless ...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (99)

The loss of my job sent me into a downward spiral, I felt devalued, and very sad. Anger didn't enter into it. I so wanted to retire from there, but it was not to be. After my "RIFFING" I kind of sat at home and stewed in my own juices. I applied for a job, had an interview and then turned down a second interview when my depression and anxiety intervened. I was unable to do this job or any other. I just had to accept that at the time. The depression and anxiety (from a year or so before) came to the surface, as I already said.

I began to take walks each day, write in my journal, read, and sleep. I was exhausted. I needed to be driven every place I went. My anxiety was just too strong at the time and I had lost my confidence even to drive my car. I was feeling increasingly suicidal. This feeling came to fruition at the end of May. I drove my car, against advice, headed to church, and traveled along Marine Drive looking for a place to turn my wheel and plunge into the river. I was very serious about this. Car after car kept coming in the westward direction and I was prevented from turning across the lane of oncoming traffic. I ended up at church and this meeting with my faith community gave me some relief. I, on the way home, took the same route along the river. The more suicidal I felt the more it gave me pause. I thought of nothing but my wife and children. This and nothing else kept my car on the road.

When I told my wife about my ideation she called my prescriber and she was told to take me to the hospital. I met with a counselor there who hospitalized me. I stayed there four days until I was more stable and my new meds were introduced. However, my suicidal ideation was not over by a long shot.
To be continued...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (98)

The story of my demise.
My story began over a year and 1/2 ago when I began to have anxiety "attacks" while working. It resulted in cancelled meetings, cancelled appointments, cancelled or rescheduled speaking engagements and a lot of shame. As I tried to negotiate those long months, it seems looking back, I did so in vain.

I went to a nurse prationer who prescribed an anti-anxiety medication I could use when these were coming on or in circumstanes in which I anticipted anxiety. This worked marginally for a few months until my anxiety was joined by a deeper depression. Although the mixture of anxiety and depression all but immobilized me I was trying hard to cover up at work. My job was so important to me. I was mostly successful at this at first. I was aware my work was beginning to suffer but I was trying not to let it show. Most things I did for my job were done in the face of my anxiety and were increasingly difficult. I was extremely anxious about the meetings I had with my staff and my boss. As time went on the anti-anxiety meds were not working so I began to use some of the interventions I had prescribed for others, but with little result for me.

It was this time in which my illness continued to increase with me going deeper and deeper as the months wore on. In December 2009 it came to a head and I tried with all that was within me to go on as if nothing was happening. I was fooling others but not myself. By mid January 2010 I was under the worse emotionsl illness I had ever experienced (or more to the point) thought I could experience. I ended up taking 2 months off work to go to therapy and a psychiatrist to have my medication adjusted. My nurse practitioner told me I needed a psychiatrist as my case had become increasingly complicated during that two month period of time.

When I returned to work on March 23rd I was invited into a meeting. In this meeting I was officially "RIFFED". RIF is the term for a "reduction in force". My termoil for the past year or so crashed down on me. I had lost my job. My evaluation, given me at this meeting, was supposedly not flattering. I don't remember much about it as I knew the human resources person must have been on the premises. I suspected this because the evaluation was given in front of my boss AND the other director. This was my clue that things were not going to go well for me. As painful as this was I look at this more now with acceptance. The employer had been good to me my entire 15 years. Upon my RIF, my employer offered a package to take care of me for a short time. I look back with a degree of thanksgiving for these events although I didn't feel that way at the time. In fact, I was thrust into a downward spiral...


Typos and all God Bless You!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Have You Gone Mental (97)

I saw my counselor today and gained some perspective on the last year (+) of my life. I was depressed with serious anxiety beginning (in my memory) around January 2010. This condition affected each area of my life family, work, social, financial etc. I really noticed myself slipping long before I took two months off on leave for mental health reasons.

When I was riffed, it was long after (one year and three months)the beginning of my problems. I need to write the story for myself to address the guilt and shame which is part and parcel of my job loss. I have been ill for a long time and it finally hit me and sent me "down for the count" in January 2011. I enter 2011 having applied for disablity and still concentrating on getting better. I have my ups and downs and hope the ups will outweigh the downs as time goes on. I am still, in some ways, immobilized. I greatly appreciate the prayers and well wishes of many people. I received three wonderful cards, a box of Snickers and a magazine with encouraging stories last week. They really picked me up during a difficult week (the Snickers were a wonderful gift).

As for my story, I don't think I'll blog about the last year of my life and my job loss. This is extremely personal and very difficult to think about let alone write.
I am practicing "radical acceptance" of this loss in my life. I'll let you know how the story goes.

Typos and all ... God Bless You!