One of the first things you learn in therapy for a severe mental illness is to track your moods. Track them in relation to food. Track them in relation to days of the week, weeks of the month, months of the year. Track them in relation to exercise. Track them in relation to caffeine or alcohol consumption. Sometimes it’s as specific as track them in relation to consumption of Red 40, or gluten, or waking up after 8:00 or wearing blue. It’s ridiculous. When I’m doing well I have good intentions of tracking all these things, but I’m lazy. If I remember to do laundry or dishes it’s a good day. Tracking calories, exercise, or slight fluctuations in my mood will never be something I’m good at completing. Hell, I can’t even keep a budget.
Because I never track anything, in spite of the best efforts from my therapists the best I have about what causes triggers are end of semester (finals stress, even though I’ve been out of school for almost 4 years), excessive caffeine consumption (usually in the form of extremely sugary soft drinks…is it really the caffeine?), and extreme stress (usually brought on by change). Those might seem specific, but they are no where near as specific as I need. When I get busy (stress) I usually choose quick meals on the go (fast food) where I choose to buy the meal, the meal comes with soda so that’s what I drink. A little planning ahead would fix this, but for someone that generally doesn’t get dishes or laundry done on schedule planning ahead for anything feels insurmountable.
This past winter has been a nightmare. My medication was changed in October, this was amazing, except my insurance caused me problems with refilling the medicine until the end of December. Without the medication a dark spiral started just as the days were getting shorter and colder. I got sick, really sick; bronchitis, the flu, a kidney infection. I slipped away as my brain started to call the shots. The voices started, hallucinations increased, I woke up later and later every day as my dreams consumed all my energy. I made this goal to become a marketing expert for my husband’s business, to blog regularly, learn how to create and edit videos…every big aspiration felt more and more impossible as the days wore on. Even talking to my son became a huge chore.
Getting out of the grave my brain dug for me was no easy task. My voices are me, meaning it’s my voice speaking in an authoritarian tone. It tells me people are tracking me, not just people, those who I rely on most. I can’t talk to anyone about it because they will lie. They all lie. These things are repeated to me until I understand how true they are. My job isn’t important. People don’t need me. My family would be better off without me. I hit this episode’s rock bottom last week.
I was rescued by my coworkers the day my world would have fallen apart. Completely out of the blue, they had stories to share with me. Silly stories, serious stories, it was from so many different sources there was no way it had been orchestrated the way my brain was desperately telling me. That day logic won and I started crawling from the depths. This week has been good so far. My planner is in use, my world is getting more orderly. I made it to the gym yesterday and I can’t remember how long it’s been since I felt that good. With spring comes rebirth, and this year I am being reborn.