Thursday, December 11, 2014

What Now?

I decided to stop doing the day thing since my posting is so very sporadic--both in timing and in subject.

I'm not really sure where to begin with this post, as is so often the case.  I just feel on the tip of some new bit of clarity and I felt prompted to try and sort it out here.

The thing is... I'm not doing very well.

This comes after having three totally stable days last week (no extreme ups, no extreme downs, just able to function like a "normal" person) and one 95% stable day.  It was fantastic.  I was able to get caught up on so many things I've fallen behind on over the past couple of months.  And HH had a bit of relief from worrying about me all the time.  And I got to help my kids with their school work and carry on normal conversations with them and even host a few playdates with their friends.

And then it all came crashing down.  Big time.

And I keep thinking I'm on my way back up.  And in some ways I am.  I don't feel overly depressed, or anxious, or any of that stuff.  For the most part, I feel okay.  Not great or happy, but okay.

But the problem is, the darkest of my thoughts just keep coming.

And I'm getting so tired of fighting them off.

In some ways, it's even harder to keep fighting when I'm doing *mostly* okay than it is when I'm severely depressed.  Because right now it just feels so unfair.  And inexplicable.  And I don't understand it.  And it scares me because it feels like this fight will never end.  Not even pause to give me a brief reprieve.

I'm exhausted from finding things to do to keep myself busy and distracted.

But, I've been thinking a lot about faith.

If you've read my prior posts, I hope you know that I most definitely have faith in Jesus Christ.  Somewhere I remember hearing or reading about the difference between believing in Jesus Christ, versus simply believing Him.

And I think that is where my struggles currently lie.  I believe in Christ and all of His promises.  But, I think there is something in the way of my believing that all of that actually applies to me too.  He says that He gives us weaknesses so we will humble ourselves and turn to Him, so He can make us strong and so we can sit down with Him in the place He has prepared for us in the mansions of His Father (Ether 12).

I believe that.

But, it's harder to believe in it.

Because believing in it means that I have to keep fighting.  It means that no matter how hard things get, I don't get to say that I'm quitting because I'm just not strong enough.  It means that I have to trust that I've been given the strength I need to keep fighting, no matter how dark or how scary or how much I want to just give in and give up.

And even though the alternative of trusting and persevering is pretty unthinkable, it still means I would finally get a break from all of my demons.

But I know that the reasons to keep fighting vastly outweigh the reasons to quit.

So, I choose to have faith.  The kind of faith that means truly trusting those promises.  That is the kind of faith that brings about hope.  I think that hope is what gives us the strength to face the challenges we'd rather not face.

Today HH told me that I'm a fighter and that he's grateful I keep fighting.

I don't feel like a fighter.  So, I'm going to start out by having faith in his faith and hope that that's enough to give me the strength I need to get through today.  And I'm going to be grateful that I have a man like HH in my life who never gives up on me and always believes in me and is often the source of strength I need to keep fighting.  And always encouraging me with the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 104: Personality Shift

I have to begin this with a bit of a disclaimer:  I am manic today.  I've been in what's called a "mixed state" for over a week now.  That means I'm both manic and depressed at the same time.  Which means it's just the miserable parts of mania going on.  I feel miserably down, hate myself, and can't sit still or calm down.  And I'm really angry and irritable.

Pretty much all things awesome.

But, today, I've left the depression behind and I've just got the mania.  Before you go feeling all sorry for me--Don't.

Being manic has its upsides.  Today I just feel really happy.  And excited.  About life.  About my future.  About my date with HH tonight.  It is really easy to get angry when I'm manic though, so I've had to reign myself in when my kids were not listening and obeying this morning.

But, I did.  For the most part.

And now, I'm back to being happy.

The problem with being manic and attempting a post, however, is that my mind is kind of all over the place and it's difficult to follow one train of thought to its completion.  But, you were all very kind in overlooking the numerous typos in my last post, so I'm trusting you will do the same if this post is a bit jumpy.

I just hope it makes sense.

The thing is, I think I've noticed some fairly significant positive changes in myself as I've started to "come back to life" since ending my ECT treatments.

You know I've always been a perfectionist.  To the extreme.  How I would go to any lengths to be perfectly in shape, have a perfectly clean house, be the perfect wife and mom, live my religion perfectly, and so on.  Or, at least to appear to be perfect in each of those areas.

And then I'd hate myself for falling short.  And for being a fake and a hypocrite.

So, a friend gave me an audio book just before I moved, called Daring Greatly.  I'd only just begun listening to it shortly before ECT began.  Which of course means that I completely forgot everything I'd read.

So, I picked it up again this past week and just started over at the beginning.  While I don't really remember having read it before, I do remember the feeling I had while listening to it.  Mostly, I just remember cringing with shame and fear as I listened to it the first time.

The author talks all about the value of being vulnerable.  And of letting go of the feeling of "not being _____ enough".

It was like she had been watching me go about my life and she was talking straight to me.

What she said made sense.  I knew she was right.  And that my life would be better if I made the changes she was talking about.

And it terrified me.

And then I went through ECT and completely forgot everything.  But, as I've been listening to it over again this week, I'm remembering those feelings and discovering that they aren't there this time.

Last week, while I was out for a run, I had a little epiphany.  It was as cars were driving past me while I ran at my current about-45-seconds-slower-than-before pace and I realized that I didn't feel the desperate need to speed up, so they would know how fast I can be.  I mean, the thought to do so briefly popped into my head, but then I had this little conversation with myself:

"If they stopped and I told them what I've been through over the last month and a half, they would not only not judge me for being slow, but they would think I am totally awesome for all that I am doing."

A little conceited?  Perhaps.  But, it's actually a conversation I've had with myself numerous times before and since that moment.

But, it was while I was running that I gave pause to acknowledge how incredibly out of character that is for me, and then to ponder why it's happening and why I am okay with all of this.  And the truth is, I haven't really come up with a satisfactory answer yet.

But, I think a part of it is this--for one reason or another, I've found myself opening up and being honest about how I'm doing and what's going on with me since we decided to do ECT.  I think that is in part because we had to tell so many people what was happening because it required so much help.  And then my friend asked me to write this post for her website, and suddenly, it seemed like everyone knew.

And not one person judged me poorly.

No one came to me with any negative feedback.  No one questioned why I was so messed up.  No one told me I was wrong in any way.  No one was mean.

Not one person.

Instead, I received this overwhelming outpouring of love and kindness and support.  And, this is something that still baffles me, I received an overwhelming expression of admiration and even appreciation.


And I think that (plus, the epiphany shared in my last post) is a big part of why I'm finding it easier to be kind to myself.  And to let go of the need to constantly impress everyone.

And now that I've begun being honest and everyone knows that my life is not perfect, I feel like I have to continue being honest.  Because no one is going to believe that all of the sudden my life is magically okay and I am doing everything perfectly again.  So, it's kind of like I'm being forced into this vulnerability.  And I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that being vulnerable is awesome all of the time.  It's still scary.  I still come away from most social situations questioning much of what I said and did.  But then the feedback comes in, and it's still positive.

So, my plan is to just keep on keeping on.  Because, even though it's still scary (I'm hopeful that it won't always be), it's also still easier.  I get to spend my time focusing on the things that I need to be doing, that are most important in my recovery, or for my family.  I used to have to spend my time working on all of those surface issues, so that it would appear to everyone else that everything was perfect with perfect me.

I have to tell you that this way of living is so much more comfortable.  And I am pretty sure it also leaves a lot more room for finding happiness and for sharing that happiness with the people I love the most.

I like this personality shift.  Wherever it came from, I'm grateful for it.  Maybe ECT didn't work the way it's supposed to, but it would appear that it's made a difference in my life for the better anyway.

A difference that is good enough, it's even worth losing the last several months of my life to amnesia.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 103: Reluctantly

I'm not sure where to begin today.  I feel like I have been going through a very personal experience and broadcasting it to the world all along the way.  For the most part, that has been because I have felt prompted too, or because many people have been asking questions.  Sometimes though, I think it's just because my new meds are making me a little manic, and I don't have much of a filter when I'm in this state.

So, I am frequently worrying that I have shared too much.  That I am making some people uncomfortable and sharing things that no one really wants to know.  But then, someone approaches me to thank me for being courageous and honest and expresses some way in which it has helped them.  Honestly, this surprises me every time and I don't really understand how it is helping, but I am grateful for the opportunity to help anyone else going through a hard time.

That being said, what I am about to share is something that feels very personal.  I shared it with HH this morning, bawling the entire time, and then oddly enough, which actually discussed my sharing this with someone else.  I told him I couldn't.  It's just too close to the heart.

And then I was sitting in church a couple hours later and I felt so strongly that I need to share it.  However, I think I can do that without sharing the part that is most personal that I think actually would be too much.  We'll see how my filter does. :)

I have really been struggling the past couple months with the issue of faith.  Not in the way I typically would.  Usually, under my current circumstances I would be doubting everything.  Thinking that God might exist, but He can't possibly love me or He would never allow me to wade through so much struggle, or make HH be stuck with so much misery and stress.

But, I have surprised myself by remaining faithful.  I know that God exists and I know that He loves me.  I know that He has a plan for me and that this is a part of it.  I know that I am learning and growing things that there must be no better way for me to learn than to go through all of this mess.

The problem arises when I feel that no progress is being made.  That in a lot of ways, things are actually getting worse.  So, my conclusion has been that I must be lacking in someway.  I felt that my even though my faith is intact, it must still be incomplete because I have had so many blessings (in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in Priesthood blessings just like those given by the Savior and His disciples, and His prophets throughout the scriptures), prayed so many prayers, and had so many prayers prayed on my behalf--and yet, things are not improving.

So, I have been praying the past couple of months, asking what more I can/should be doing.  How I can increase my faith and what actions I can be taking to make things better.

But, the answer hasn't really come.  I've just felt confused and frustrated and inadequate.  And discouraged.  So discouraged.

Fast forward to this morning.  HH and I teach the 12-year old Sunday School class at church.  Normally, we prepare well in advance.  But, lately HH has been so busy taking care of me and everything else, he doesn't always remember.  And I just plain don't remember, plus this week I've been manic, so every time I think about preparing our lesson, my mind has moved on to something else within about 45 seconds.  So, we were doing our last minute preparations of putting it all together, this morning.  This paragraph was me trying to assuage my guilt--can you tell?

Anyway, as a part of it, I was reading Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk from October 2013 General Conference, "Lord, I Believe".  I strongly encourage you to click on that link and either listen to or read his address.  It hit me profoundly the day he first delivered it and it hit me profoundly today.

It was the answer to my months of pleading and praying.  He shares the account found in St. Mark, about the father of a young boy who I am convinced has a mental illness of some sort.  He is constantly putting himself in danger and it is terrifyingly stressful for his parents.  His father pleads with the Lord to heal his son, or to at least help them in any small way.  (I was reading this talk out loud to HH, and I was bawling already by this point, as I have prayed the same prayer so many times.)

“If thou canst do any thing,” he said, “have compassion on us, and help us.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”1
And that was my answer.  Elder Holland goes on to use this example to teach us how we should handle our faith and our questions.  He teaches that it is completely okay to have limited faith.  I could seriously just quote his whole talk here.  I'll just share the quotes that helped me the most this morning.

 "In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited...When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”6 The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know."

"...Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle."

"...So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. "

And in that moment I knew that what I am doing is enough.  My faith is enough.  I don't need to feel frantic, or stressed that I am somehow failing the Lord in His expectations of me.  I am so far from perfect.  And my efforts to live the gospel the way I normally strive to and to serve others have fallen very very short of what I would like, or even what I have managed in the past.  But the Lord is satisfied with where I am at right now.  The fact that my struggles are not finding a resolution is not a reflection on lacking on my part.  He knows that things are hard and all He wants right now is to comfort and carry me through this.  But He can't do that when I am keeping a distance because I feel inadequate and undeserving.

The truth is, I will always be inadequate and undeserving.  Even if I was capable of living the way I would like to be right now, I would still fall hopelessly short.  But that is irrelevant.  He loves me and He offers His love and acceptance and approval, regardless of whether I deserve it, or not.

I am enough.  My worth is 100% separate from the status of my mental health and the progress (or lack thereof) at finding wellness again.

And I can have peace in the midst of the most awful and horrifying circumstances.  I can wade through darkness I could have never imagined possible and know that somehow, someday, somewhere it will be okay.  His hand is outstretched, waiting to take mine, and to walk with me through it all, even at the scariest of times.

And my faith is enough that I can take His hand.  I can turn to Him when I feel confused and hopeless and scared.  I can say to Him, "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on [me], and help [me]...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."  And I know that He will.

The answer to this prayer was painfully long in coming.  But I'm so grateful for it.  I was reaching a point where I didn't know how I would be able to continue.  But now I have what I need to keep pressing on.  And it is enough.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 102: Remember Me?

Because I don't.

Not really.

I've forgotten just about everything that has happened since we moved back in May.  For real.  I keep discovering new things in my house.  And I have to re-meet people who live around here.  And the kids have to keep reminding me of things that have happened in our life.

Yesterday, I discovered that we have a swing set in our backyard.

So fun.

And we're not sure how well the ECT worked.  We think it still needs to clear out of my head a bit and then we'll notice more benefit from it.  But, I haven't made the drastic turn around that some people get.

It has been a neat experience in that I have never felt so cared for and connected to the rest of society.  Everywhere I go people are asking how I'm doing and telling me they are praying for me.  And I truly have felt all of the prayers.  So, to those who have been a part of that, thank you.

It's also been nice because we've just kept being honest and open about everything.  No more secrets. And as awkward and uncomfortable as that can be, it's also nice to just be open.  It's easier to laugh at where I'm at that to cover up the pain and pretend that my life is perfect.

But, I am really looking forward to getting all of this anesthesia out of my system, so I can tell how much the process worked.  So I can stop forgetting everything the moment after it happens.  And so I can stop needing a long nap in the middle of every day.

I am just really ready to be a capable person again!  At least somewhat.  I want to not be totally overwhelmed by the prospect of being a mom to my kids.  Or making dinner.  Or laundry soap.  Or grocery shopping.

But mostly, I just want to be happy.  So, I'm trying really hard to practice patience.  With my life and myself.  I'm trying hard to tell myself that it is okay to be this new me.  To be flawed and to not get everything done.  And this is all going to be just fine, right?  I am going to get through this okay.  Because I have this amazing support group behind me every step of the way and, miraculously, they don't appear to have any intentions of giving up on me.

How did I get to be so very blessed?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 101: 10-12 Seizures This Month? Sign Me Up!

You may have noticed (but probably didn't because I unintentionally do this all the time) that I skipped a day.  That's because I've been working on a different post for a month now.  But, it's a really... I'm not finding a word to describe it.  It's just that it's not something I'm sure I want to share.  Not because it's awful or horrifying.  Mostly, just because it's not happy.  In an irreconcilable way.

On to this post.

And seizures!

Induced seizures!

There.  I just wanted you to read something enthusiastic on this blog for a change.

Here's the nitty gritty of it:

Medication isn't working for me.  I've been on a quite a few.  It's pretty much somewhat informed guesswork.  There are so many meds and every individual is so different and usually it's a combination of drugs that ends up working--it's just a matter of finding the right cocktail for me.  Since this is a relatively new ride for me to be on, I was assuming that I was traveling the normal path, headed the right direction, and there really wasn't an alternative, so we had to just keep adding, dropping, and switching doses around on my meds.

Don't get me wrong--this has been a lot of fun.  We found out (through, surprise, guesswork!) that two of my medications taken at certain levels caused my limbs and extremities to go numb and tingly.  So bad that one night I woke up to go to the bathroom and fell on the floor because my leg was gone completely.  After the blood panel and MRI turned up normal, we decided to adjust the meds.  And honestly, I'm grateful it was such a simple fix.

There have been a lot of other fun side effects.  But, I won't make you all jealous by going into detail here.

All the while, my actual bipolar symptoms seem to be getting worse.  We don't know how much is circumstantial and how much could be from meds, because this is all guesswork, in case you didn't know.

My last few appointments with my psychiatrist were interspersed with several pauses of him just looking at me for a while before saying, "I'm really worried about you."

Which pretty much just made me feel awkward.  And I always feel that most things said by psychiatrists and therapists (except my current therapist who is anything but typical), are kind of meant to make me think or feel something that they think will fix me.

I'm pretty sure I'm a really fun patient to treat.

Anyway, it turns out that he actually meant it, and he started to push for something called ECT.  I told my therapist and he thought it was too extreme and tried to kind of persuade me against it.

Fast forward, and apparently everyone agrees that I really need it.

ECT is basically induced seizures.  3 times a week for around 4 weeks.  Because someone somewhere noticed that people with epilepsy frequently experience an elevated mood after the worst of the aftermath is over.

Who knew, right?

I'll be under general anesthesia and given a muscle relaxant, so I'll be spared the worst of it.  But, I'll have really bad headaches and feel nauseated.  And I can't drive.  And I'm supposed to have round the clock care.  Even on my off days.

Oh, and I probably won't remember much of the month of October.  And other memories from my past might become hazy, as well.

A part of me is desperate for this and sad and scared that I have to wait until this weekend to begin.  Medication has about a 40% success rate, while ECT has a 70-90% success rate.  It won't cure me, but it will take the worst of it away and possibly make me more receptive to meds.  I can't imagine how great it would be to feel better than I do right now.  And to not have to fight so hard against dark things.

But, I'm also sort of totally terrified.  Not really of the seizures themselves.  But, what if it doesn't work?  What if I'm in that 10-30% who don't respond?  Where do we go after that?  There are a couple other procedures, but they sound freaky.  As in actually inserting stuff into your brain, freaky.

And I don't want to disappoint anyone else.  People are making some really big sacrifices to help us be able to make this happen.  I don't want it to be a waste.

And HH has had his hopes pinned all over this pretty much since he found out about it.  I don't know how I'll handle his disappointment if this doesn't help as much as he's hoping it will.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 99: Lethargy

I've written so many blog posts in my head over the past month or two.  But I would have had to write them from my phone.  And I never felt up to that effort.

And now that I'm here, I'm not sure what to write.

But I feel like I have to because I've wanted to for so long.  There's something about typing it all down that just helps.

It's been a long road.  I guess it will continue to be.  And maybe it is for everyone.

It's been so many ups and downs.  Well, mostly downs.  But, it's been kind of a crazy ride since I left the hospital.  They've changed my meds a few times and I'm learning that that can be a difficult transition.  I just got put on a medication that kind of knocks me out.  Which is awesome at night (I've slept through the night every night since I started it--that NEVER happens.  Usually I'm up several times).  But I have to take it at morning and noon as well.  And that's rough.

It's been building every day and the past couple of days it has left me completely lethargic.  I don't want to get up.  Showering is a chore.  And doing my hair and make up?  Bleh.  Forget cleaning and cooking, too.

It's kind of a mess.

We have a few really big things going on this week and I just don't want to have anything to do with them.

I just want to do nothing.

There's not much of the depression involved in this.  Which is a good thing.  Because that would probably push me over the edge.

But I feel the depression creeping in.  And I'm worried what will happen.  I talked to my doctor about it, and he said I can switch up how I take it--more at night, less during the day.  I forgot to do that today.  And at some point, the benefits of the medication will kick in.  And the sleepiness factor might lessen.

And maybe I'll be okay.

I did have a few good days last week.  Not really the hypomania.  Just normal, stable happiness.  I don't really know how to describe how fabulous it was.  I'm so sad it's over.

My new therapist (I have a new new therapist) is an expert on bipolar and bipolar II.  This is fantastic because he is teaching me so much and it's amazing to understand why I think and behave the way I do, and to learn ways to mitigate the negative to some degree.

But, sometimes the information is hard to take.

Like when he told me that someone with Bipolar II typically spends 90% of life in the depression phase and 10% in the hypomanic.

So, I'm hoping that my good days aren't really over yet, but that they're just being overshadowed by my new med.  I don't want to be headed down again.  I just came from there.  And I don't like it.

I better close this super cheery post because it's almost dinner time and I'm the only one here who can make it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 98: Fake It Till You Break It

I can be really good at faking it.

And sometimes, that faking leads to making it.  Just as the adage says.  Sometimes, I fake a smile and go out with friends or family, and after a while, I really do feel happy and like smiling.

Sometimes, I fake it till I take it.

Okay, I'm not actually sure what that meant.

But, sometimes, I fake it until I just get through what ever "it" is.  The faking is just enough to allow me to keep my head above the water until the thing comes to a natural conclusion and, at some point, the waters recede and I discover that I survived.  Maybe not cheerfully, but I did survive.

And then there are the times that I fake it till I break it.

And that's when everything falls apart.

I know, I've spent a lot of time in therapy learning the pitfalls of that mindset and working hard on coming up with strategies to avoid it.  Having my safety plan with a list of people I can (should) call when the going gets tough.

But it's hard.

And most of the time, I can just have a private crash with a few days of feeling sad and despondent and then HH helps me pick up the pieces and pull through.

But, right now, we go back and forth between our parents' homes.  There isn't really a place to have a private crash.  At least, not with my few days to mourn whatever brought on the crash, and the following sadness.  I don't know how to really explain it, but that's what it feels like.

So, things have been getting worse and worse, as far as my mental state, but I couldn't bring myself to have such a public crash.  I didn't want people to worry about me.  Both for my sake and for theirs. 
So, I kept pushing it aside and telling myself I just had to get through until we moved into our new house.

But, I haven't really been sleeping well.

And I don't know if it's the mono, or the stress, but my physical health is deteriorating and I can barely exercise any more, even when I do find the time, which is rare.

And life away from home and after a move is stressful in general--for me and the kids.

And HH is working some longer hours, plus has an hour commute each way.

And then a week and a half ago, my grandpa died.  I was there when my dad found out.  And my mom was out of town at the time, so I felt like I needed to take care of him.  And I was really worried about him.  I still don't think I've sat down to deal with my own loss in this.

And then we drove out to the funeral, got to bed late, held the funeral,  I sang a duet with my sister (something I'm not really comfortable doing--the singing part, I'm happy to hang out with my sister), spent some time with my dad's family, and then we turned around and drove home.  I was feeling guilty because other people stayed to spend more time together, but we really needed to get back.  And we did, but in the wee early morning hours of Sunday.

And I was supposed to sleep in, but I barely slept at all, so that didn't happen.  I was so ridiculously tired.

But, we were throwing a birthday party for Darling A that evening.  With both sides of the family.  Because that's what you do when you live close to so much family.

I had spent quite a bit of the week prior stressing over it.  And then when I realized I was going to have a funeral right before, my stress went into double time.  And when one of the cakes came out of the pan in multiple pieces, I just about cried.

But, thanks to some help from my sister-in-law earlier in the week with some fondant cows plus a lot of frosting, the cakes actually turned out pretty cute.

Then my husband's grandma (who offered to let us throw the party at her house) got really stressed out and upset because of some poor planning on our part.  Which is kind of the story of my life right now.  There are so many things going on, I feel like I'm never organized enough to plan anything right.  I felt so guilty about causing her stress, that was when things really started to unravel for me.

I think the party went okay, but I felt like it should be perfect.  And it wasn't.  At least, not in the way I had hoped it would be.

And on the way home, HH and I began a discussion about my therapy and then kind of my prognosis.  And HH expressed some disappointment with the fact that he keeps thinking changing my circumstances will improve my mental health, but it really hasn't yet.  He wasn't saying this to hurt me, by any means.  I know being in his shoes must be a terrible place to be.  And sometimes, he allows himself to express that.  And I hate that he pretty much always feels guilty about it afterward.

The problem this time, is that that goes right along with a vein of thinking I've been following myself quite a bit lately.  Just that I'm never going to get better.

And I'm not talking about being cured from bipolar.  I'm just talking about rising above the pervasive depression that has been hanging over me (us) for the better part of the last year.  I don't think I've been stable for more than a week or two at a time, and even those have been rare.

I've been down so much that it's hard for HH to see that I'm trying to rise above it, and not just wallowing in it all the time.  It's hard for anyone who doesn't deal with this to understand what an effort it can be just to survive the day.  And that, these days, that's really the best I can do.  Having fun or laughing are sometimes luxuries that come at too high of an effort for me to afford.  And the art of "positive thinking" is just a distant dream.

And so Sunday night, I lost the will to keep trying.  I just couldn't do it any more.  The suicide ideations that drove me to the hospital last October had been slowing creeping back in over the past couple of months and I just grew too tired to fight them off.

I didn't sleep well again that night, so they were my constant companions.

I just happened to have a therapy appointment set up for that day.  And my therapist had requested that HH come with me so she could meet him.

For the first time, I actually cried in a therapy session.  I blame HH because he cried first.  And that's all I'll say about the session.  It was very painful.

My therapist knew I needed to go to the hospital.  I knew I needed it, but I didn't want to.  And HH knew that going to the hospital might just make things worse for me as it did when I went for a few days back in 2012.

But, I couldn't get myself to a place where I felt safe to be alone.  So, I had him check me in.  It's a long story, but we didn't get to the hospital until late that night and it was after 1 AM by the time I was shown my room.

It was a really nice facility.  Not actually a hospital.  The first day and a half I was on a very secure floor with patients who struggle with mental illness a lot worse than mine, but then a bed opened up for me upstairs and I was with people I had more in common with.  A lot of people with bipolar mostly.

And it was kind of really nice.  Except the nights.  And the not being able to shave my legs (razors were at the top of the list of everyday items that were now termed "contraband").

But, here were all of these people who understand me perfectly.  They know how even a great life can't stop bipolar depression.  And the pain of watching it hurt those you love.  And that we can't control it, no matter how hard we try.

Some of the conversations we carried might have been disturbing to those free from mental illness.  But, it was nice to be able to share and learn from each other.

It was also easier because when one of us was struggling, we knew how to offer support and when to give space.  I had a bit of a breakdown one night and into the next morning, and it was amazing how these friends of only a couple days were able to tell me what I needed to hear.  And then just allowed me the time to be by myself to work through the rest on my own.

It felt so safe there.  The suicide ideations were completely gone.  Replaced by peace and actually, happiness.

It helped that there was very little stress.  No meals to cook or clean up.  No messes.  No one needing me at all, really.  I didn't even have to remember when to take my own medications.  They took care of everything for us.  It was just a bunch of group therapy sessions which ranged from discussing coping skills and self-esteem, to making a rose out of clay and playing Name That Tune.  And then some free time to read a book or talk with friends.  Time to walk outside with a couple of friends.  And the occasional appointment with my arrogant but intelligent psychiatrist.

I wanted to leave Friday so I could join my family on an outing to Lagoon we'd planned weeks ago, so we could go with my sister's and my brother's families on Saturday.

Friday morning I woke up very depressed, so I all but made up my mind to stay another couple of days.  But, I sorted through the problem and started to feel better bit by bit.  Plus, the thought of my leg hair growing any longer was making me crazy.  Sad, but true.

So, I convinced everyone I was ready to go and we went back to Plan A.

The rest of the day was really great.  My new-found friends were so kind and complimentary and I began to feel like a total rock star.

I didn't realize it until I was on my way home with HH, but I had gone to the other extreme and was now hypomanic.  It felt so great.

Then we got back to my parents' house and all of the kids wanted my attention (understandably so) and everyone was talking and I couldn't focus.  I would blank out for minutes at a time.  And I felt so lost and terribly overwhelmed.

And I crashed again.  And rapid cycling like that is exhausting and painful.

I know this has been really hard on HH.  He wants to make me happy and when he can't, it tears him up.  But, I think it's all the worse when he sees that something else has made me happy, and then it doesn't last when we're together.

And I can see how painful that must be from his perspective.  But, I could never really have been happy in the hospital for long.  Because he wasn't there.  Cliche as it is, I really do feel incomplete without him.  As nice as it is to have someone understand me so well, I would never want him to experience the dark places my bipolar takes me to.  Never ever ever.

Some day, this has to get better.  This cloud has to life.  Right?  He can't always keep me from falling apart.  But, he helps me pick up the pieces and put them back together.  I wish we could make them fit in the way he wants.  The way that means I'm stronger and happier.  But, neither of us knows how to do that.

In the meantime, hopefully, I've learned my lesson and I actually will reach out to one of the many kind souls who tell me to "call anytime" I need someone.

I don't know.  Honestly, I can't really picture myself doing that.

But, I'll keep working on it.