Monday, May 12, 2014

Lithium, Part 3

I need to write more.

Let me restate that.  I need to write more here, on this blog.  Because if I write more here, maybe it will help me as I write more elsewhere.

First, an update on the lithium.  I visited my psychiatrist a few days ago (funny how I can say the word "psychiatrist" in reference to my own situation and not feel ashamed or embarrassed about it, when once upon a time I could not possibly do such a thing) and it was the first time I've been back since going on the lithium carbonate.  We agreed to the lesser dosage that I've been on the past two or so weeks.  The original - taken three times per day - was giving me a seriously funky comprehension of the world around me.  Downright overwhelming, even.  I had to lower it in order to function and be able to concentrate on my writing, both for my book and my work.

But now I'm in another bout with severe depression.  And despite doing my best to work through it, well... yesterday and today have especially been hell.

The lithium makes bearing through it easier.  And I can go up on it if I need to.  If I need to.  But it comes at a cost: lithium, I have found, takes a toll on my creativity.

I can either be stable (more or less) and lose touch with much of my imagination, or I can be operating on all cylinders and tempt the edge of madness.

There is a demonstrable correlation between extreme creativity and mental illness.  This is what that looks like in my own personal case.  I am bipolar and bifurcated.  Regardless of which side the coin lands upon, I am both blessed and cursed.

My depression is compounded with regret.  There were too many yesterday.  Mom has been gone for more than two years and... I'm trying, I'm really trying, to move past not just her passing but also things left unsaid between us.  I have tried avoiding them as best I can these past few years but now they hit hard, harder than ever.

Dear readers, please take away this if you take nothing else from me writing right now: don't leave things unsaid between you and the people you care about.  Leave no stone unturned.  If there is something between you and someone else, go to them and make things right.  Don't let pride come in the way of that.  Pride is the destroyer of relationships.  It works like a cancer to eat away at all love, and joy, and hope.  Pride keeps us from doing that which we know is right.  Pride shuts our hearts and stops our minds from comprehending things we do which we will... we will... come to regret, if not now then certainly years down the road.  And by then it will be too late.

At least once in my life, I have been shut out and away because of pride.  More times than that, I have been the one who has shut others aside because of my own pride.  And every single one of those times, I have come away with hurt that I will carry for the rest of my life.

I've hurt others because of my pride.  And I've also been hurt because of the pride of others.

There is no hurt like there is to have mental illness, and to be ignored and shunned and put aside by people you care about.  It means to be exiled from the community of friends and family you have built around you.  To be made to know in no uncertain terms "you aren't good enough.  You aren't worthy.  You don't belong with us."

It's not all because of mental illness, I know.  Losing the genetic lottery isn't the entire reason.  There are also the behaviors themselves stemming from mental illness.  It's a funny thing though: those behaviors are much the same as those of someone who acts irrationally because of drink or drugs.

I don't drink.  I don't do drugs.  And neither do a lot of people who have mental illness, be it bipolar disorder or whatever.

Maybe having a condition like that makes it easier to not forgive a person than it would if someone didn't have bipolar disorder.  No matter how much sincere regret, how much we beg forgiveness for the pain and grief we cause... the pain and grief that I have caused... by merit of having such a condition we are to be disregarded.

To long for, to cry out even for forgiveness and yet to never know it.

There is a word for that: "Hell".

I have written before that mental illness is Hell.  And that is the worst part of it.  It seriously, truly does feel at times like utter abandonment, with nothing but regret surrounding me.  Being abandoned by everyone, and at times that means sensing the vacuous absence of God Himself.

Mental illness has taught me a lot about pride.  It has taught me how pride has led me to hurt, and it has taught me how pride has led to being hurt by others.

I wish there had been no pride, on either Mom's part or my own.  And now that's all gone.  There is no hope for clearing away everything between us on this side of Heaven.

Did she have mental illness?  In retrospect... I think so.  She did some very horrible things.  Things that no loving mother should ever put her children through.  And I struggle with forgiving her for them.  I struggle because if she had mental illness, I need to forgive her just as I long for forgiveness.  From people who I have known and loved, and many of them are no longer in my life.

I long for forgiveness from others, though I wrestle to forgive one of the closest people in my life.

You can call me a hypocrite.  I know that's what I am.

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.  Don't let pride destroy the most precious thing we have in this world:

Love for one another.

So, I'm wrestling with deep depression, and still trying to achieve balance between the black dog (as Winston Churchill called his) of bipolar and the roaring engine of creativity.  Work on my book stalled out during the past several days because of the depression: it is a horrible thing to want to engage one's mind when it refuses to be interested in anything whatsoever.  However I am praying that passion will persist, and that perseverance will prevail and perceptively percolate as some profound product.

Incidentally, I have begun to take up painting.  And I am soon to start taking dulcimer lessons.  Maybe the lithium is having a more beneficial impact on my mind than I had anticipated.

Even so, I need to write more.  For my personal reflection and sharing what it is like to go through an especially rough period of bipolar depression (and a tad bit of mania) and also to keep my skills sharp.  If I can write here and elsewhere, then perhaps that will lend itself to writing my book.  Which has 14 chapters planned out so far, including one that will raise everybody's eyebrows.

(It's the chapter on sex.  Consider yourself warned.)

Two books which I have read recently which I must highly recommend to those with bipolar and/or depression, and to those people such as these in their lives: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison (who is herself a person with manic-depression disorder, aka bipolar) and Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch.  The latter was recommended to me by a dear friend, who I cannot thank enough for pointing me to this resource. Welch writes from a Christian perspective and his book has become a tremendous encouragement in regard to depression.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Lithium, Part 3

I need to write more.

Let me restate that.  I need to write more here, on this blog.  Because if I write more here, maybe it will help me as I write more elsewhere.

First, an update on the lithium.  I visited my psychiatrist a few days ago (funny how I can say the word "psychiatrist" in reference to my own situation and not feel ashamed or embarrassed about it, when once upon a time I could not possibly do such a thing) and it was the first time I've been back since going on the lithium carbonate.  We agreed to the lesser dosage that I've been on the past two or so weeks.  The original - taken three times per day - was giving me a seriously funky comprehension of the world around me.  Downright overwhelming, even.  I had to lower it in order to function and be able to concentrate on my writing, both for my book and my work.

But now I'm in another bout with severe depression.  And despite doing my best to work through it, well... yesterday and today have especially been hell.

The lithium makes bearing through it easier.  And I can go up on it if I need to.  If I need to.  But it comes at a cost: lithium, I have found, takes a toll on my creativity.

I can either be stable (more or less) and lose touch with much of my imagination, or I can be operating on all cylinders and tempt the edge of madness.

There is a demonstrable correlation between extreme creativity and mental illness.  This is what that looks like in my own personal case.  I am bipolar and bifurcated.  Regardless of which side the coin lands upon, I am both blessed and cursed.

My depression is compounded with regret.  There were too many yesterday.  Mom has been gone for more than two years and... I'm trying, I'm really trying, to move past not just her passing but also things left unsaid between us.  I have tried avoiding them as best I can these past few years but now they hit hard, harder than ever.

Dear readers, please take away this if you take nothing else from me writing right now: don't leave things unsaid between you and the people you care about.  Leave no stone unturned.  If there is something between you and someone else, go to them and make things right.  Don't let pride come in the way of that.  Pride is the destroyer of relationships.  It works like a cancer to eat away at all love, and joy, and hope.  Pride keeps us from doing that which we know is right.  Pride shuts our hearts and stops our minds from comprehending things we do which we will... we will... come to regret, if not now then certainly years down the road.  And by then it will be too late.

At least once in my life, I have been shut out and away because of pride.  More times than that, I have been the one who has shut others aside because of my own pride.  And every single one of those times, I have come away with hurt that I will carry for the rest of my life.

I've hurt others because of my pride.  And I've also been hurt because of the pride of others.

There is no hurt like there is to have mental illness, and to be ignored and shunned and put aside by people you care about.  It means to be exiled from the community of friends and family you have built around you.  To be made to know in no uncertain terms "you aren't good enough.  You aren't worthy.  You don't belong with us."

It's not all because of mental illness, I know.  Losing the genetic lottery isn't the entire reason.  There are also the behaviors themselves stemming from mental illness.  It's a funny thing though: those behaviors are much the same as those of someone who acts irrationally because of drink or drugs.

I don't drink.  I don't do drugs.  And neither do a lot of people who have mental illness, be it bipolar disorder or whatever.

Maybe having a condition like that makes it easier to not forgive a person than it would if someone didn't have bipolar disorder.  No matter how much sincere regret, how much we beg forgiveness for the pain and grief we cause... the pain and grief that I have caused... by merit of having such a condition we are to be disregarded.

To long for, to cry out even for forgiveness and yet to never know it.

There is a word for that: "Hell".

I have written before that mental illness is Hell.  And that is the worst part of it.  It seriously, truly does feel at times like utter abandonment, with nothing but regret surrounding me.  Being abandoned by everyone, and at times that means sensing the vacuous absence of God Himself.

Mental illness has taught me a lot about pride.  It has taught me how pride has led me to hurt, and it has taught me how pride has led to being hurt by others.

I wish there had been no pride, on either Mom's part or my own.  And now that's all gone.  There is no hope for clearing away everything between us on this side of Heaven.

Did she have mental illness?  In retrospect... I think so.  She did some very horrible things.  Things that no loving mother should ever put her children through.  And I struggle with forgiving her for them.  I struggle because if she had mental illness, I need to forgive her just as I long for forgiveness.  From people who I have known and loved, and many of them are no longer in my life.

I long for forgiveness from others, though I wrestle to forgive one of the closest people in my life.

You can call me a hypocrite.  I know that's what I am.

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.  Don't let pride destroy the most precious thing we have in this world:

Love for one another.

So, I'm wrestling with deep depression, and still trying to achieve balance between the black dog (as Winston Churchill called his) of bipolar and the roaring engine of creativity.  Work on my book stalled out during the past several days because of the depression: it is a horrible thing to want to engage one's mind when it refuses to be interested in anything whatsoever.  However I am praying that passion will persist, and that perseverance will prevail and perceptively percolate as some profound product.

Incidentally, I have begun to take up painting.  And I am soon to start taking dulcimer lessons.  Maybe the lithium is having a more beneficial impact on my mind than I had anticipated.

Even so, I need to write more.  For my personal reflection and sharing what it is like to go through an especially rough period of bipolar depression (and a tad bit of mania) and also to keep my skills sharp.  If I can write here and elsewhere, then perhaps that will lend itself to writing my book.  Which has 14 chapters planned out so far, including one that will raise everybody's eyebrows.

(It's the chapter on sex.  Consider yourself warned.)

Two books which I have read recently which I must highly recommend to those with bipolar and/or depression, and to those people such as these in their lives: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison (who is herself a person with manic-depression disorder, aka bipolar) and Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch.  The latter was recommended to me by a dear friend, who I cannot thank enough for pointing me to this resource. Welch writes from a Christian perspective and his book has become a tremendous encouragement in regard to depression.

No comments: