At first there are no photographs to go with this post because I’ve been struggling with on-and-off feelings of depression, anxiety and occasional agoraphobia and haven’t felt like making art, even with the enticement of my new camera. By the time I've finished, I've taken some pictures again. I am proud of this.
"I am learning that I am not my emotions. I am not my anxiety or my sadness or my fear; I am not my joy or my passion either. I’m a sky and my feelings are the weather. They come and they go. I embrace clear skies and I know that the storms will pass.
I have some wild weather patterns, that’s just how I’m wired. But I’m beginning to unravel the dark threads of brokenness that I have sewn my identity together with. I’m learning to step outside of my emotions and notice the way I’m feeding them or responding unhealthily to situations. To note negative patterns even when it painfully highlights how far I am from who I want to be. But that’s the point of all of this, isn’t it? To keep on growing.
The way I feel is important, but it doesn’t have to be my compass any more. I can let weather pass without being broken by it, without letting it rule my life. At least I can keep trying to."
These words are the ending of a post on Fire & Joy I read one night. I related to them so much - the "wiring" of having strong emotions, the major discomfort of trying to recognize my own negative/unhelpful patterns (or having them pointed out to me) because it highlights how far I still have to go in becoming who I want to be.
Edward has been studying almost all day everyday lately for his upcoming Step 1 Exam and it's been rough on both of us. It's an exam all medical students take at the end of their second year. It covers everything they've studied over the past two years and the score they get dictates the options (or lack thereof) they'll have in their careers for a long time after the exam is over. Edward is often drained and very stressed out about it, understandably, as is every other student we know who is preparing for the exam. He takes his on April 22nd. I want the time between now & then to pass both quickly and slowly - slowly so that he can get all of the studying in he can, quickly because this is a pretty miserable time for both of us. I miss him - he's around almost constantly but is almost always studying with his headphones on. I'm lonely but I know everything will be changing soon enough.
I feel immense guilt sometimes because I feel like he'd be less drained during this time if he weren't my husband. I know I'm sometimes a difficult person to be married to with my mental health problems and my particular personality. I feel like a burden when I need him to comfort me. I try to do what I can, when I'm feeling mentally stable enough, to make up for the stress/time/energy I cost him, but I can't stop thinking that I need to be better, do better, somehow make myself less mentally ill.
I think it's hard for people who don't have an anxiety/panic disorder or bipolar disorder to understand how difficult it is to stop or lessen the thoughts and feelings that come with these illnesses. I've spent so much time lately on my Klonopin in a hot bath, just laying in bed listening to an audiobook, trying to pass time, giving time for the emotions to pass, for this short phase of our life to pass, to feel normal and mentally healthy again. As "normal" and "mentally healthy" as I get, during my good times, at least.
I hate the feeling of just trying to pass time. I want to be doing something productive, but I don't have passion for much lately. It's hard for me to even motivate myself to go to the grocery store and stock up on food for us sometimes. My psychiatrist says grocery stores are the most commonly hated places among those with social anxiety.
One night, after Edward has fallen asleep, I am laying in bed and I begin to have a panic attack that he's going to die in his sleep - that I'll wake up next to him, dead. I can't sleep because of the intense anxiety. I think about how I couldn't cope with losing him. I wake him up because him being asleep is suddenly terrifying to me. I know, in my logical mind, that there is no reason he would suddenly die in his sleep - he's young and healthy. But it's this sick feeling I have, like I'm having some kind of premonition. He gets up and we cuddle on the couch and he reassures me he's fine but I can't calm back down for for a while. It used to be that when I'd have a panic attack I would become convinced that I was dying from some disease I didn't know I had and it would be too late for them to cure, that's how it's often been when I've had other panic attacks this intense before, but this time that paranoia transferred from me dying to Edward dying for some reason. I don't know what that means.
My doctor raises my dose of citalopram by 50% and tells me it may take a week to see the results.
I have a few good days. One day I spend with my Birmingham friend, who I've become very close with and who also lives with bipolar and anxiety, and we talk for hours then go on an adventure to each get a second set of piercings in our ears. I'm surprisingly nervous about the process for someone who has had type 1 diabetes for 24 years (I give myself at least 3 injections everyday) and who has nine tattoos. I ask her to go first and she's happy to. I had nothing to worry about - I barely felt the piercing gun, it hurt less than one of my daily injections. Another day I spend almost the whole day in bed finishing a mystery/psychological thriller book I've been reading and letting henna soak deep into my hair. On another I go over to my mother-in-law's house with Sam and Lena so they can run around her big backyard. It makes me happy how much she loves her grandoggies and I enjoy her company when we are one-on-one. They love her too - whenever we pull onto her street they get so excited they start happy whimpering in the car and looking around for her. Sam wants to play tug-of-war but he's getting too strong to be able to do it properly with anyone but Edward. I get a massive new air plant and a beautiful peach-gold orchid to add to my ever growing plant collection.