Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 7 on Lamictal: Mini-meltdown

On Friday (day 7 of my new drug regimen) I had a meltdown that sort of caught me by surprise.

One of my closest friends has returned from a year-long graduate school program on the East Coast.  I missed my friend a lot, and was looking forward to her being a regular part of my life again.  On Friday I learned that she will not be returning home permanently, or at least not yet; she'll be in town for awhile, and then will be driving back to the East Coast for she's-not-sure-how-long.  It's something she strongly feels the need to do.

When I learned this I started crying and couldn't stop.  I'd had an intuition that something was up with my friend.  Now, it had been proven right.  She's leaving.  Like so many of the friends I've made in my adult life, since moving to California ... people just don't seem to stay here.  Everyone abandons me!  Wah!

And if that intuition has proven right, said the treacherous depressive part of my brain, maybe she's not the only one who's leaving.  What about M (my husband)?  Why shouldn't he leave you?  He's angry with you.  He resents you. You're holding him back.  You can't even hold down a job.  You constrain his choices because you're sick.

My basis for thinking this?  My husband and I had been instant messaging -- this was before I'd gotten the email from my friend -- and he'd been dealing with an extremely difficult political situation at work.  He grumbled about wanting to leave his current company, but that's not exactly an option because it would complicate his commute, and we can't really move closer, because moving is not an option for a lot of reasons.

Yup.  My brain went from learning that my friend was leaving the area, to deciding that my husband resented me and intended to divorce me.

I cried for an hour, trying to remind myself that my marriage is doing just fine, and that just because I was afraid of something happening didn't mean it would happen.  I also tried, in the interests of the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy class I started last week, to tell myself that I was feeling sad, and that's OK, but right now I'm focusing on my breath, and also on vacuuming (which I was doing to blow off steam).

Or whatever.  Maybe I don't quite have the hang of M-CBT yet.

To make a long story short, my husband got home and reassured me that we were OK, and then he made me eat something.  I was able to stop crying, but felt a bit hung over for the rest of the evening.  Lesson No. 1: When hitting the skids, stop and ask yourself when your last meal was!  You'd think I'd have that one down by now.

The next morning I was still somewhat tearful.  This persisted until I wrote back to my friend.  I told her that I was glad she was doing what she needed to do, but that I had missed her and hadn't realized how much I was looking forward to her moving back here until I found out that she wasn't, and that I figured I should tell her how much her friendship meant to me.

I hope I didn't sound too apocalyptic.

The thing is, I'm not usually that labile.  It would be a "normal" reaction for me to be sad, and think a bit about how much I missed my friend, but not to cry that much -- and not to be unable to stop.  I would usually have more room to feel glad that my friend knew what she needed to do in her life, and then have the guts to do it.

As for going all emo about my marriage, that's only happened to me when I've been unmedicated and in serious crisis.  It's as if my brain fixes on the worst possible thing that could happen in my life -- my partner, who I love and rely on, telling me I'm just too much work -- and tries to convince me that it's inevitable.

In the past, these sorts of thoughts have been persistent over the course of several days, and have been a signal that I need to get back on meds or increase my meds.  In fairness, I guess, I'm at nowhere near a therapeutic dose of lamictal.  I'll be going up to at least 150 mgs by the time I'm done (assuming The Rash doesn't get me between now and then) and I'm still at 25 mgs.

I take encouragement from the fact that I stabilized after writing to my friend.  While my emotional reaction to her leaving was definitely out of whack for me, it was still a simple and understandable response to a loss, and my feelings led me to do what I needed to do -- in this case, communicate to my friend that she's important to me.

I also must admit ... part of my feelings about my friend stem from simple jealousy.  She's leaping into her life without a net, doing as her heart bids, moving onto the next adventurous phase of her life.  And me?  I get to stay home and be mentally ill.  Which is a valid frustration, even if the thought is rather negative, but I acknowledge that negative thought, and accept that it's there, because I'm focusing on my breath, and on hitting "publish post".

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