Friday, June 20, 2008

8:08 a.m. Med Check

I took my meds. I didn't yesterday. The IBS has been on flare-up all week; that's five days now. I read an article that described the link between IBS and depression. It comes down to a scenario of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Most gastro doctors, including my own, consider IBS to be linked to mental health problems (i.e. depression causes IBS, so if the depression is treated, IBS should go away). However, it's easily argued that having IBS in the first place can make a person depressed. I can attest to this. It certainly does not make it easier or make you feel better about yourself. There is even some possibility, apparently, that IBS and mental health share a genetic link. A Mayo Clinic study show that people with IBS also tended to have a family history of alcoholism and mental illness. Since IBS, alcoholism, and mental illness share a genetic link, if a person isn't an alcoholic, there's a good chance they'll have IBS instead. Both alcoholism and mental illness run in my family, which, I suppose makes me a shoe-in for IBS since I'm not an alcoholic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

1:27 p.m. Breakdown & Death

It was inevitable, I guess. Last night, we watched CSI and House M.D. It was like a one-two punch. CSI focused around the "death" of a girl with bipolar. House spun around a dying man and the concept of life after death. The rest of the night, I couldn't stop thinking about death and whether there was actually anything to think about. Are near death experiences merely the last hurrah of nerve endings firing in your head, your brain flooding with endorphins, creating delusions? Is there anything out there?

At my bleakest, I am sure that religion, mythology, and spiritual beliefs are all stories we make up to convince ourselves that life is worth living, that there is some reason and reward beyond ourselves. After all, why is it easy to look back on the ancient Greeks, to throw stones at their gods, without being aware of the hypocrisy of our own belief systems. The peasants in Medieval times seem uneducated and desperate for some hope of release and reward in an unconscionably hard existence, but how much more uneducated and desperate will we seem to those who look back at us a thousand years from now?

This is where I become lost. If there is no sense to living hand-to-mouth, to spending so much time at work that we see more of our colleagues than we do our families, to death and decay and poverty and injustice and hunger, then why--why--bother? Your parents raise you, as best they can, to be a productive member in society, but what happens when that conditioning no longer rings true to you? What happens when it begins to slip? For me, I despair of having to fill countless hours with things I have to do for other people, things which have no meaning whatsoever in the grand scheme of things. Why? Why work? Why sell your life to someone else? Why struggle? Why continue on in such pain and misery and anxiety?

I spent last night grieving my wet-headed, ninja kitty again, though it's been over a year. But there's such guilt there. I knew something was wrong with him. I could tell he wasn't making his jumps, his balance was off, he was sleeping all day... And we laughed at him for being clumsy. And we didn't take him to the vet for over a week because we didn't have the money to spare. And by then, he was so sick. There was nothing we could do, except make the difficult decision, stand by him until his heart stopped. I was hysterical with tears, and was again last night, remembering it. What is it that we do here? That we can believe in to weather such things? What can we do except make up stories to give us hope, to ease the grief, to find some explanation.

But there is no explanation. There is no knowing. We are robots: our body working in set sequences until it can't anymore. We are conscious, yes, and we have free will, but what does it lead us to? So, individually, we choose what we live for: the love of family and friends, the love of a partner, the satisfaction of living life on our own terms, the pride of being successful. Each of us must find some reason to go on, else why bother? And it's during times like this I can understand those who choose suicide. What is it all for in this shallow, shadow world we live in? Tired, and alone, and depressed, how can we choose to go on when we see so clearly? What if we cannot find that one thing worth living for?

And despite this, there are moments I want to believe, but I catch myself. Even in my dreams, when I die, there is nothing. I'm alive, and then I'm not, and everything is blackness. Only once did I dream that I died, and having died in one existence, found myself in another, parallel existence, living another life in another consciousness that was like my own, but not. And perhaps we live that way, on parallel plans of existence, time meaning nothing. Or maybe the true blackness is inside of me, an empty void of loneliness. And maybe I'm grieving for myself as much as I am for my cat, my marriage, my father, my grandmother. All I know is that I cannot understand the struggle, and that I am lonely in my lack of belief.

Monday, June 16, 2008

1:28 p.m. Better?

I haven't written here in days. I have no desire to and feel as if I have nothing to say. I've been med compliant, and despite a lack of motivation, I feel as if I'm better. And with that comes this sense of "I can't imagine what all that fuss was about." There's a part of me that can't even comprehend how I ended up in such a state as to need a hospitalization. The days of being unable to get out of bed, the panic attacks, the throwing up and nausea, the IBS flare-ups due to anxiety, the inability to sleep, or sleeping too much, the constant worry and thinking, the slow fall of that thinking as I fumbled for darker places, away from the constant stress, anxiety, and depression--these are all gone. Given, I had a bad year or three: separated from my husband, moved in with a new boyfriend, supported that boyfriend through three different periods of unemployment, found out my father had a tumor that was possibly cancerous (but was able to be removed, thankfully), and had my cat of seven years, who I loved dearly, die a week after my father's diagnosis. On top of this, I'd moved positions at work to a very tedious new position that did not have any of the interest I thought it would. The perks didn't outweigh the boredom.

This combined with all the other stress and anxiety in my life, and surely, I can see why depression and sickness might have crawled up on me. It looks rational now. There were things I needed to grieve, too much change, and I wasn't able to keep up with the constant transitions. This is a pattern I've followed in the past. But this time, I went so much deeper. My body refused to cooperate with my constant efforts to hold onto my job until, finally, I was literally unable to. And that's when I went into the hospital. And as selfish as this might be, I think I needed it. I think I needed that safe environment where all I was responsible for was myself: showering, eating, meds. group, group, eating, napping, group, eating, me time, visiting, meds, snacking, then sleeping. No bills. No other person to take care of. No nothing. There was freedom in being caged in the ward, strangely enough. I didn't have to be polite, or happy, or productive, or friendly, or rational, or well. I could be just who I was as I was.

Now, more and more, I feel like it's coming time for me to get back out into life. To do something, bring in some money, be productive, help Jb since he's been helping me this whole time. Even as I write that, though, I can feel my stomach clenching, the anxiety rising. My stomach is starting to hurt, so is my gut. There's fear there. Fear I'll have to do and be what I don't want to do or be anymore, simply for a paycheck. Jb was able to find a job he truly enjoys. I'm afraid I'll be forced to take a job simply to have a job, and I'll be right back in the position that put me in the hospital. I didn't like my job, but I had to keep it because I had to support myself and Jb. It was a necessity, an evil one, and it made me sick. I don't want to do that to myself again, but I don't know how to get around the fact that we need money. It's an awful Catch-22. And there are questions of insurance, and how to keep receiving the treatment I need. I start thinking about it and it all becomes overwhelming.

* * *

Jb just called to ask me about my day. I tell him what I've been writing and thinking on, and I'm starting to actually tear up on the phone. Clearly, I'm not completely better yet. I had thought I was past such things. Granted, there was no hysterical breakdown, no sobbing--just the start of tears, a little mistiness. And the IBS has been in flare-up since yesterday. There are obvious things here that need to be dealt with, anxieties that I'm not seeing, or don't want to see. Perhaps that's why I haven't written. Perhaps I felt as if I was feeling better, so I didn't want to examine that feeling too closely. I wanted to be better. I wanted to be done with all of this. I wanted to be able to move on, but I can't. I'm not quite there just yet. And it's hard to be in this limbo, this half-life, where I'm not horribly sick and I'm not overly well. It's the med-compliant purgatory of those getting well, where we sit and wait, probing old fears and anxieties tentatively and with great reservation, less we break the seal of some emotional dam.