Saturday, May 24, 2008

Getting What YOU Need

It's been awhile since I last posted. Why? Because my life has been a maelstrom of work. And although I've have been taking my meds religiously, the stress of travel, of doing the work of two people, and the inability to focus on myself and my mental health needs, are taking their toll. I fear the slippage back into the maelstrom of illness.

This morning I went to an AA meeting with my friend N. I go sometimes with him, although I am not an alcoholic. I have, however, a very addictive personality, as I have discussed in previous entries, and this week, while waiting for hours in an airport trying to get home, I could feel the pull of oxycodone, my drug of choice. Oh, how I wanted the chemically induced sense of wellbeing, the high that allowed me to stop caring about myself and anything else.

During the meeting, listening to members' stories of their struggles, I realized that every day is a struggle for me too. No, I don't drink, although I came damned close to becoming an alcoholic years ago. And I stopped drinking completely. Big deal. I switched to oxy. Then there was a real problem. One that I somehow managed to overcome without a group because it never occurred to me that I could go to one. Hey, I didn't need the support of a group. So wrong. So very wrong.

What hit me hard this morning was my failure to take care of myself. Yes, I'm taking the meds. No, I'm not getting what I need nor am I making it so. All I can do these days is work myself into a greater danger of becoming ill. And that ends today, thanks to the AA members this morning, and N in particular. When I go off the beaten path, he takes me, shakes me, and tells me to take care of ME. As I do for him, when he sails off into depression.

It's so easy to ignore this disorder that we all share. Yeah, take some pills and you're managing. It doesn't stop there. We have a disease of the brain, one that never can be cured. But it can be managed with smarts. From now on, I will say no to those demands that will cause me to go over the edge. That means that I will insist that my health and wellbeing come before any job requirement.

I missed both my therapy and psychiatrist appointments this past week. Why? Because I put work before my health. A lesson learned. This will never happen again. And if the company doesn't like it, they can kiss my ass. Because they aren't going to help me stay well. I am.

As a reminder, this is Mental Health Month. If you know of someone who needs help, don't be afraid to say that to them. Send them to the links I have in the sidebar. And don't ever let go of them. Love them, listen to them, hug them, and know that they can fight the good fight, with help. And if it's you who has the disorder, please take good care of yourself. Because if nothing else, I care about you, as well as myself. We're all in this together, so let's be good to US.


Anonymous said...

Good for you, it took me 20 years to realize what you just put in your blog. Work is important & sustaining in its own way, but a little time out now to take care of your health will prevent disability later if you don't.
Stay strong. Lee

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

It's hard, isn't it? When you get way down, you have to keep on passing the open windows (not leaping out of them). Meds take care of that for me, thank God, but above that, is such a sea of effort and too much choice. I sound rough, but am actually doing fairly well right now. Knit on!

andersox said...

I give you a high five for learning this. Like you, I'm a technical writer. When the deadline for a release is near, I sometimes work 10 hour days, 7 days a week for a month. The rest of my life becomes unmanageable because I stop paying bills, doing housework, sleeping, knitting etc.

Earlier this year, I changed how I use my Franklin planner. Each day, I wrote a reasonable number of work tasks, one or two personal tasks, and one nurturing thing.

The nurturing thing could be as small as rubbing peppermint lotion on my feet or buying flowers for my desk. It could be as big as buying tickets for my next vacation or buying some cashmere yarn. The key was simply to do something nurturing. I have crappy self esteem, so choosing to do a nurturing thing EVERY DAY reminded me that I matter. And, it's helping me to live a bit more functionally.

Anonymous said...

My husband has recently been diagnosed as bi-polar...and he is in his second go around of alcohol out-patient rehab. Sigh. I appreciate your blog, and found it as a fellow knitter. You have helped me open up a window of understanding by allowing us to listen to your voice within the disease. Thank you for your honesty, generousity in sharing, and humor.

Lee Ann said...

Rock on, sister. The overwork, she is a sneaky bitch.

Anonymous said...

I'm a retired tech writer and doc manager. Formal being the word.

My psychiatrist, after treating me for year, says now that he's not sure I'm bipolar.

I'm still on Lamictal, but he's trying to figure out what else I should do. I'm asking my talk therapist for another recommendation Friday.

These seems like it never ends and I appreciate the reminder than I need to keep working on my own to manage my illness.

I haven't touched my quilting for knitting for several months. Tomorrow I'm going get one of them out and enjoy it for a while.

Thank you for your blog. I wish I still had mine going.


Anonymous said...

I have a different kind of illness, one that isn't recognized by half the medical profession. So no research dollars and really not much hope of me ever being functional again. Your post helped me too. Thank you.

marilynz99 on yahooooooo

mindy said...

Thank you. That is a much needed reminder right on time. Please keep reminding yourself- and us.

Sarah said...

I hope you continue to find the best ways to take care of yourself.