Please note this is today's second post. I've not had a lot to say and suddenly I have tons. Today was a long day. I drive 2 hours each way to the psychiatrist and traffic was heavier than usual with lots of construction today. The doctor was late by about 45 minutes, and as usual my appointment was over an hour long. Then I had to go to the pharmacy and wait an hour. I got home almost 8 hours after I left and that was all I did (well I went to the garden center for 5 minutes).
As I've mentioned I'm working really hard in therapy right now on dealing with anxiety better. (And I guess after my psychiatrist's appointment today we're working on this with meds as well). Anxiety triggers mania for me, and I tend to get upset about something, become anxious, and ultimately that leads to a manic attack that was triggered by something stupid. I can feel I'm doing this, but I can't stop it. I also force myself to become anxious and use manic energy to propel myself when I am very depressed. It doesn't work all that well or for very long, but for the 8 hours of work I need it gets me through.
One of the things we talked about was what percentage of time I feel anxious. It was really sad to realize that the vast majority of my time is spent worrying. It's not exactly fun. It's not good for me and it doesn't make my life any easier overall.
I realized that it is a very complex issue for me because as a child it was not safe in my life to not worry. I NEEDED to protect myself at all times. My childhood had enough significantly bad things in it that I actually can't explain much about it because it would be identifying to some people; my family was not only abusive, in the area I grew up in it was notorious. I would not enjoy being identified by that. So that's all I will say: worrying was imperative.
I did get better for a while after I was away from home. Then as I became ill worry became important again. I did not realize this until a few days ago, but worrying and being excessively careful is the only thing that I can totally rely on to prevent the monsters in my head from lashing out. Constantly being aware that I am quite paranoid and always making myself consider possibilties keeps paranoia from controlling me. Worrying about whether buying something is impulsive or needed prevents crazy spending. I am getting less extreme with this; I finally have reached a point that I am buying things like clothing without fretting. Worrying about interactions with people prevent me from being nasty when I am manic. That's a major thing for me. I hate that out-of-control-I-just-screamed-at-someone-innocent feeling so much. I am not a screamer. I have major assertiveness issues. But when I'm manic I'm mean. Not so much any more, but that's because I'm hypervigilant to control it.
I do realize that there are probably better ways to cope and I'm all for learning them. However, somewhere in the midst of this discussion (all this is a series of 3 or 4 visits because it's not a fast topic when also handling my being very manic thanks to the lack of medication) the psychologist felt some random urge to bring up something I find horribly painful: friends and my lack there-of. I've discussed this before here and I'm not going to re-hash it because it makes me cry. But the truth is that I'm too difficult to be friends with, I don't have the energy to be a good friend, and I just don't have the strength to be hurt again. I'm still grieving the loss of the last person who said she'd be my friend always--until I got sick and wasn't quite the same anymore. I'm well aware of a lot of reasons I'm difficult to handle being with, much less being friends with, and that isn't exactly inspirational.
Frankly I was extremely angry with the psychologist last week. Angry enough to make me want to never go back and I have never felt that way with him before. I felt like he was picking on me. Does he not realize how aware I am of how obnoxious I can be? Do he not realize that I just want to protect myself? Where does he think I have energy to have friends?
Tonight I realized that it's the same thing. I worry to protect myself from being more out of control than I already am. I don't have friends because it is fewer people to subject to me when I am out of control. The more people involved in my life the more people (and the more time) I have to spend worrying about not hurting them. The only way I know to control my illness is to live in a shell.
When I think/write about both of these issues I sound like I have really low self-esteem. It's not that, it's that I'm realistic. It is not easy to deal with someone cycling every 5 minutes to few days. It is not easy to deal with someone whose predominant mood is "bad". It's not easy to handle someone who will always cry and who finds the strangest things very funny. The intensity that was part of my personality anyway and which is magnified a thousand times now is not easy to deal with. And that's before you even begin to get into the standard bipolar stuff like mood swings, no energy, high energy, impulsiveness, irrational thinking from time to time, and the vast difference between my life with its focus on medication, eating right, sleep patterns, etc. and theirs with marriages, families, etc.
Add to all that the simple fact I have enormous trust issues and it's kind of easy to see why I don't have many friends and why I really wasn't that worried about it until the person who is trying to teach me not to worry made me worried.