I’m lying flat on my back on my bed. I came in here a bit late – the light is leaving but my dogs are on the bed with me. Evening light is calming, magical, and then it’s gone.
I’ve been nursing a pain in my side. I wonder if I’m inventing the pain just so I can be near another human. Isolating, as a way of life, is not what I thought it would be. I was actually thinking that isolation would be golden; I would get a lot of work done. But, I’ve started a new drawing and haven’t finished it. I started writing a new chapter but it’s dangling.
I’ve been ‘picking’ down to blood, staring at nothing, watching movies for hours and watching the news. One thing happens when I watch the news: I begin to feel that out-of-body sensation, the feeling that none of this is true, that it’s just another TV show out of many. When I turn the news off I just sit and stare because I don’t want to believe what I’ve heard.
Does anyone else feel like that?
I haven’t ‘picked’ for a really long time but I’m picking now. Just like for many of us the pain is centering, until it gets out of control. And it always gets out of control, right? Better to not start.
Sleep feels good, I think. I feel good when I wake up anyway. I feel good when I snuggle up to my pillows and open the book I’m reading. Novels are good.
Stress is making me sick.
For the last two years or so I pulled myself away from the loud noise of living with mental illness. I stopped reading about it. I hooked up on LinkedIn to advocate with other mentally ill advocates but would inevitably stop pursuing any meaningful conversations and drop out.
I glance at my watch many times during the day but, for three of those times, I take medications. I had stopped talking about it; it’s a routine.
Mental illness has taken a backseat in my life, until now. Covid-19 has shown me that I’m still susceptible to the symptoms of Bipolar 1. I haven’t felt symptomatic like this for a very long time; I began medication in 2004 and, after a few years and medication tweaks, have led an active and productive life. But this stress is new, unpleasant and, for those of us who live with mental illness, dangerous.
We need to be extra careful with our exposure to stressful events. Being hit with Bipolar1 symptoms after all this time forced me to call my psychiatrist. I increased one of my medications by a half a few days ago and today I feel less dread, less fear of what my day will bring.
We must draw boundaries. I came up with a few rules for myself:
Do not watch the news or read the news for more than five minutes.
Walk my dogs.
Ride my bike.
Do my exercises.
Stop eating so much!
Get out of my pajamas by noon.
Limit my dot-to-dot time.
I think I can do those things. The last one, dot-to-dot time, is probably the most difficult to limit. I have found that dot-to-dot is very relaxing but it’s like eating chips – just one more, just one more!! Solitaire is relaxing too, but I play that on my computer and I’m trying to stay away from my computer as much as possible.
So, there you have it: take care of your mental health, and I will too. We might be feeling isolated but we can go outside. We can talk on the phone. But I think what’s most important is limiting our news intake, getting exercise and simply toning down stress by finding activities that kill stress. Let me know how it goes!! And send for a dot-to-dot book!!