Both And

I’ve been going through a lot of therapy to learn how to cope with and manage the symptoms of PTSD, Bipolar II Disorder, and Depression. I’ve been struggling since about mid-October 2018…six months. It’s what I call a low-level depression. It’s under the surface at all times. It’s enough to keep me on a “moderate” and intermittent binge eating episode. It saps my personal motivation to do more than the bare minimum of ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), unless I’m leaving the apartment to attend a group, appointment, or an obligatory errand. Then, I’m motivated to look (and smell) presentable, as well as be functioning at a higher level for the sake of the people I’ll be around. So, I’ve been scheduling or trying to schedule something each day to get me out of the apartment.

Mondays are my open days for scheduling random appointments. Tuesdays and Thursdays are DBT & Seeking Safety groups – DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is about developing skills to solve problems, navigate stressful/triggering events, improve interpersonal interactions, and basically manage everyday life. Seeking Safety is part education and part skills training regarding PTSD and Substance Abuse/Maladaptive Coping Behaviors. I also try to schedule my 1:1 appointments with my therapist and my daughter’s therapist. Wednesdays I try to meet with my Mental Health Case Manager for the Supported Employment Demonstration program, a study for the Social Security Administration. I also try to meet with the Employment Specialist on those days, if we have something to address. Fridays are my “on the go” days which include laundry, dealing with the ex, and transporting my daughter between school and her dad’s. On Saturdays I was going to a NAMI Family to Family class, a peer support group for family members who are support for someone experiencing mental health issues – meaning I’m not the only one in my family with mental health struggles. Sundays are my church days.

Anyway…most of these activities are about me working on my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I’m learning a lot about myself: I talk a good game; despite my knowledge and understanding of thinking errors and fallacies, I’m still operating under several of them; I’m the one in my own way and keeping myself “stuck.” I’m REALLY good at talking about my issues and what I need to do regarding them. However, I’m not good at following through. While I know on an intellectual level the truths and actualities of life as it is now, I’m still living as though I’m the same person and my life is the same way it’s been for the majority of the time I’ve been on this earth. Basically, I need to do the things, instead of just thinking and talking about doing the things.

One of the most important lessons I’m working through is that life isn’t an “either or” thing and that, often, it doesn’t have to be a “first, then” situation. Most of the time, I have been living and acting as if EITHER I’m operating in depression mode and unable to make progress OR I can only make progress if I’m not depressed. I’ve also been in “future tripping” mode: I can’t do C until A and B have been accomplished… ” I can’t write until I have a clean, uncluttered living space. Additionally acting as if I have to be in the “right mood” to get something done that I’m resistant to…like writing when I’m not feeling inspired to write.

Of course, neither of these things are usually true. I can be experiencing the symptoms of depression but still making progress. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing and have been doing over the past five years. Which has brought me to the point where I’m in daily “crisis mode” and must deal with the crisis in front of me before I can do anything else. So, the laundry doesn’t all have to be put away or the kitchen clean before I can sit down and write a blog post.

Easier said than done when I’ve lived nearly 50 years of my life in these ways. It’s time for a new way of thinking. I can be resistant to change, and still make the changes needed to be the me I want to be.