Finding Life’s Purpose

For years I’ve been looking for an overwhelming theme for my life, a purpose. Years ago, I had a therapist tell me that people who felt like they have a life mission recover faster from depression and have less relapses. I wanted one. I read every life mission and life purpose statement I could find. None of them felt right.

Last week, I was working on another version of streamlining my life when it suddenly came to me, the theme of my life. It’s understanding. What do I love to do? I read a lot, I listen to podcasts, I read a bunch of blogs. I read to my kids, I deplore the lack of depth in their educations and try to fix it through supplemental reading, and that’s the entire push behind the idea to homeschool the new little one.

It’s the same with people. When I meet them, I want to know their story. It’s the writer in me, I think, but I see people and I think, how did you become a hipster therapist? How did you become yogi acupuncturist? Why do you go to religious services 6 days a week? I really want to know the answers. It’s not judgmental at all–hipster or holy man, it doesn’t matter to me–I just want to know. What was the story? What path brought you here?

I look at my own life. The path has been long and meandering and has covered several states. But I’m in a good place now. I’m managing my anxiety and my depression, I have the baby, I have my girls as much as I legally can at the moment, and now I know what the cornerstone of my life is. It’s all about understanding. Understanding people, understanding the world, understanding everything.

It’s nice when things finally come together after years of trying to force it. Don’t worry if you haven’t found yours. It’ll come when you are ready for it.

Love and blessings and light to you all. I am feeling particularly open hearted to the world at the moment. Love love.

Sleeping Pill Detox

I’ve been using things to help me sleep since the divorce, which was 9 years ago. Even when I was pregnant, I was ok because the nausea medication made me sleepy and helped me sleep.

But I can’t do this anymore. So I’m cutting myself off. I went cold turkey. Well. I went cold turkey off the real meds. No ambien, no unisom, but I’m taking melatonin and some sleepytime tea at night.

This is day 3. The first night I had trouble getting to sleep but did it eventually, but then was up at 2:30am and slept fitfully after that.

Last night I got to sleep pretty easily but also had some fitful sleep starting in the early morning. My sleep tracker says I only had 45 minutes of deep sleep last night.

Part of the problem is that the husband has a cold and is coughing, but fortunately the doctor gave him some good cough medicine today and that should reduce the problems going forward.

I feel really tired today. Not groggy like I often do on the meds, but tired and more depressed than usual. The internet says that’s a common reaction to going off the sleep medication, but that it should pass in a week or so.

It’s really hard, but it’s an important step to getting healthy and functional.

 

Adventures in Narcissism

I recently read Ann Rule’s true crime classic, The Stranger Beside Me. It’s the Ted Bundy story, which is so interesting to me. Specifically, I think it’s interesting that we all know Ted’s name, and John Wayne Gacy’s, and Dahmer’s, but we don’t know the names of other serial killers that had higher numbers of people killed, like Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer.

Why is that?

I’m not sure. But what was very interesting to me about the book was Ted Bundy’s narcissism. He’s often considered the prototypical narcissist. I have an interest in narcissism since my ex was listed as likely having narcissistic personality disorder and was referred for further testing, which he never did. And indeed, when you read about narcissism, it’s a portrait of my ex.

My ex is a terrible person and was abusive to me and to the children, but I do not believe that he is a serial killer, or even a killer at all. And I would be incredibly surprised if you told me that he was. His sense of self-preservation is stronger than his belief that he is too smart to catch, which doubtless saved my life many times.

Narcissism isn’t just self-centeredness. It’s more than that. It’s the absolute and unwavering belief that you are always right and never make mistakes. The shrink that diagnosed my ex said that therapy would be useless for him because he can’t admit he’s done anything wrong and as a result he can’t grow.

It’s the belief that you are different than other people. Better than other people.

Part of the fun for narcissists is to manipulate other people. Sometimes he would lie about things that were completely trivial, not worth lying about. I distinctly recall a lie about getting milk from the store, for example.

And he does this other thing I could never understand, and I got a chill when, near the end of the book, Bundy did the same thing.

My ex sometimes will tell you he’s thinking about doing something or about agreeing to something, when actually he had already done that thing. For example, earlier this year he cornered me at a school event to discuss the older child’s proposed science fair project, which he did not like, and he said, I think I might let her do it anyway, because she has to learn to fail if she makes bad choices. But I found out later that at the time he said that, he had spent several days emailing her science teacher expressly forbidding the project entirely.

Near the end of the book, Bundy says to Rule, I’m thinking of writing to the detectives in Seattle and offering my help with the Green River Killer case. That was said to her in 1986. Later it came out that he had been in contact with the police about the Green River Killer since 1984.

I don’t understand why. I don’t know what they get from that. Is it just another level of subterfuge? Another barrier between the world and their real life? I don’t know.

It’s just so creepy and disturbing to me to see correlations between the best known serial killer in history and the man I lived with for eight years.

 

Better Living Through Chemistry

The zoloft my doctor prescribed for me three weeks ago is finally working. I saw her again today and she upped my dosage on that and increased the frequency of my anxiety meds and I have real hopes for better day to day experiences.

Tomorrow I start the acupuncture and we shall see if it helps the insomnia. The insomnia keeps getting worse and worse. All last week I was randomly both having trouble getting to sleep and then waking up for no reason at 4am.

Do you know what it’s like to have less than 5 hours of sleep for an entire week? It is TERRIBLE. I thought I was going to die.

At least the zoloft is working. For a long time I didn’t even want to play with the baby and that was devastating to me. Now I enjoy him again. I see him and I smile again.

Just a brief update but like always I encourage people who are struggling to look into meds. Millions of years of human development culminated in really complex and advanced medical treatments, and I believe that we shouldn’t have to suffer when there’s an option available for us to use.

 

 

Oh hi, Anxiety. I did NOT miss You.

I’ve been struggling with some hard core depression for about a month now and last week that was joined by a return of the most hard core anxiety situation that I can remember, for a period of almost 4 days.

This was the real deal–chest pain, trouble breathing, digestive issues–for almost 4 days. Days during which I had to do things, like care for an infant and pick up older children and see people, which was incredibly difficult and made the anxiety much worse. Even with the buspar that I take when the anxiety gets rough I was not in any way ok. I found myself taking meds to make myself sleepier, not to sleep but to calm the anxiety.

It was terrible.

But after a mostly restful weekend I am doing better today, and I have minimal commitments this week, so hopefully that will continue to be true.

Tomorrow I’m scheduled to meet with the integrative medicine lady at my new therapist’s office. Apparently that’s largely acupuncture, which is (unbelievably) covered by my insurance?? I’m not convinced about the acupuncture but am willing to have that conversation, anyway.

I hope you all are doing better than I am these past few weeks.

Getting Help

I saw the doctor this morning. I asked for an increase in my wellbutrin dosage but instead she’s adding a second med into the current dosage, she thinks that will work better to help alleviate the depression. It’s true that for the last month or so, it has felt like the wellbutrin isn’t working at at all.

I saw the new therapist last week and I’ll see her again tomorrow. She seems fine. It’s a little early to know for sure if it’ll be a really good fit but I think it will. She has a therapy dog, which is nice, because I like dogs. Although I feel guilty about spending time with dogs when my own are not getting walked as much as I’d like.

The doctor also pushed really hard on the exercise concept, she wants me to be exercising far more, ostensibly for my mood. Which is fine, I believe that it is fairly well accepted that exercise helps with mood.

Although it’s obviously much harder to exercise when you’re mired in a depression that will not let go. It’s much easier to wallow and I very much would like to wallow. But I have a baby that needs constant care and that keeps me waking up every morning and doing basic life activities. I make him baby food, I wash dishes and laundry, I sweep the floor, basic things like that to keep him alive and in a good place.

It’s my sincere hope that in time, I will feel better and won’t have to force myself to do things every day.

Depression and Your Brain

This is what it’s like, when you have depression. You go through your life and you’re doing ok, and then depression sneaks up on you. It’s like when you watch nature shows and the lion takes out the gazelle.

I do not like being a gazelle in this situation.

What I’m having as an issue right now, though, is the mental paralysis.

You know when you’re smushed up against the side of the car because there’s too many people in it? Or when you’re sitting between two big people on an airplane? And you can’t move properly and you feel trapped?

That’s what my brain is doing.

Think about how hard it is to open your airline snacks when you’re trapped like that, and that’s how hard thinking has been for me this past week or so. It’s like I have to focus and work hard to complete a single thought of any value.

It’s exhausting.

And it’s frustrating, too.

Everything is much harder in this situation. Planning is hard. Talking is hard. Decision making is very hard. It’s all tricky.

The good news is that I have found a new therapist (the old one is not covered by this year’s insurance) and I start on Friday. I hope to have some better thought processes sometime soon.