This transition is balls.
Realizing that I have copious amounts of free time and lack either the imagination or the resolve to fill it with meaningful activity makes me feel like I am worthless, even though I know, deep down, that is not the case. It is just so hard, after nearly 5 years of sitting on the couch or in bed, every day, whiling away the hours impeded by a seizure disorder that caused 5-10 seizures a day, to suddenly spring back into action like a normal adult.
Every day, my husband leaves for work, and I am left at home to do whatever I want to do until he gets home. He has told me, in no uncertain terms, what he wants me to do with that time: enjoy myself. And the worst thing in the whole world is feeling like I can’t.
There is a whole city out there that I could start to explore if I were willing to brave the buses and trains on my own. I’ve never lived in Chicago before. And yet, there is nothing that I want to go see.
There is so much here inside the house that I could do: practice piano or guitar, songwrite, read books, redesign this website, create menus for us, cook, clean, watch movies, wash dishes, fold laundry, play with the foster kitten, take Brisco for a walk, write letters to friends, scrapbook, dick around on Facebook, play some video games, make some jewelry, call some friends I’ve been meaning to catch up with… but I always revert to the things that I can do on the couch that I’ve done for the past 5 years: like I’m stuck in a loop.
I am making some progress. I’m showering, brushing my teeth, and getting fully dressed every day. That’s new this week. It’s a step in the right direction. You can’t rejoin the real world in your pajamas.
But everything seems so pointless. Nothing brings me any happiness. I am completely off of anti-depressants because we want to have a child… but who knows when that’s gonna happen? I question the sanity of even thinking of having a child with my depression being like this. You don’t have a kid to make you happy or to give you something to do. You have to be strong in yourself to teach a child how to be happy. I don’t even know if I remember how to be genuinely happy. I just remember how to look on the bright side and think positively… how to consistently tell yourself that ending your life is a bad idea and that things will be better tomorrow.
I honestly wonder what a day would be like without suicidal thoughts. Or if that’s even possible for me. Days like today, where the darkness is persistent, I wonder why I bother fighting the thoughts at all, and why I matter so much to the people who love me.
The thing is, I don’t have a good reason for suicidal thinking today. I’m not in great pain. I’m not having seizures. I’m not longing for escape from a body that has me trapped in some kind of physical hell. I have a husband and a family and friends who love me very much, who I love dearly and who I don’t want to hurt. So I don’t understand why the thoughts are present — but they’re very much there. And they bother the hell out of me.
But I acknowledge them, and I try to move on.
Sometimes, I feel like it takes so much energy just to not harm myself that I have no energy left to give to do anything at all, and all I want to do is crawl back into bed and disappear. I am so embarrassed about how much time has gone by since law school to now where I have done nothing of real value that I am ashamed to exist. I try to remind myself that I created the Paleo Compendium (which has over 750 followers) and wrote the Tao of Rae, but it doesn’t feel like enough when I’m busy beating up on myself.
And the only way that I can think of to live up to my own expectations is to pick up where I left off with no excuses and try again at being a lawyer, whether or not I currently think I can be one. I’ve got to stop being a crybaby and act like an empowered adult. The seizures may have thrown me off the horse, but I’ve got to get back on, or I’ll be the victim my whole life.
So my life, at least the one where I was making the decisions about where I was headed, got jacked by a seizure disorder when I was taking the bar exam for CA.
Maybe it’s time to start studying for one for IL.
4 thoughts on “Taking Back My Life – Right Where I Left Off”
A friend of mine just had a bad reaction to some new meds, and I’ve been reminded anew about what happens when the brain is running low on serotonin.
Don’t get too worked up trying to find ways to make yourself feel valuable or feel hopeful about the future or enjoy anything; if you haven’t got the serotonin, then your brain doesn’t have the basic resource that allows it to experience those feelings in the first place. You’re still valuable and you still have a future, there’s just no way to make yourself feel it until your reserves have had time to fill back up again.
In the longer term, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to recognize the serotonin spikes as the troughs, and the patterns of thinking that accompany them – OMG EVERYTHING IS SO GREAT RIGHT NOW is just as much a part of the unhealthy cycle as OMG I AM THE WORST. Chasing that high is the chemical equivalent of a heroin addiction, so recognizing those spikes and reeling it back is important too.
You want to aim for an even keel, and avoid serotonin-seeking behaviors. Sugar’s a big one, but so is anything that causes extremes of pain, stress, or emotional arousal – cutting, starting fights, and self-punishment, for instance. One of the things that makes suicidal ideation so attractive when you’re in a trough is that it’s a solid and reliable emotional stressor for squeezing out a couple last drops of serotonin when you’re running low.
Thanks, Mike. That would explain why the thoughts are present even when there’s no reason for them… and why studying for a freakin’ bar exam looks attractive. Talk about stress and self-punishment.
This is untrue: “I am so embarrassed about how much time has gone by since law school to now where I have done nothing of real value that I am ashamed to exist.” This statement is a perfect example of a chemically imbalanced thought.
I, too, have thoughts like this from time to time.
Just remember, your value is innate and not something you have to justify to anyone, including yourself. This is your life and experience, so forgive yourself for both the bad things you can’t control and the things in the past you could but didn’t. Draw a line so that you can judge your accomplishments and happiness from a different measuring point…
Obviously, this is all rational advice that may not be helpful in times of imbalance. But all you can do is the best you can do, right?
Love ya, Rach Bach.
I love you too, Bro. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I appreciate your rationality and your help in times like this.