When Your Support Network Vanishes

Two and a half months ago, I not only moved away from my job, family, and friends,  I moved out of the US.   This also means I moved away from my psychiatrist and therapist. Both of them have been very kind and agreed to do sessions via phone and Skype while I settled in.  Well, the insurance plan is changing and tonight is the last ‘session’ I will have with my psyc whom I’ve grown to like and trust.  Needless to say, this is causing a huge amount of anxiety and got me thinking about the fragility of my support network. It’s made me realize that because of the time difference (can’t text friends in the middle of their night) and losing my docs, except for my immediate family, I no longer have a support network.  It’s a pretty crappy realization.

Yeah, yeah.  It’s going to take time to build new relationships, etc. etc. etc.  My rational mind knows that.  But, my Bipolar agoraphobic side is sending a warning loud and clear that I am starting at square one and there are probably going to be setbacks when a new group of docs think they know it all better and start tweaking my med.  This terrifies me.  I’ve had some bad reactions to med in the past, and the last thing I want is to wind up in a hospital in a foreign country in a manic fit.

I try to have a point in mind when I write each blog that will hopefully inspire some conversation.  This time, I’m not sure I have one.  My support network is vanishing and I’m kinda freaked out.

That is all.

Over and out.

Oh, I’m so sorry you are struggling with these issues. I wish I could fly over to lend a shoulder and an ear. I’d like to be able to say something on the scale of genius, but not this week. Last week, I could have solved everything for you.

As I’ve done in the past when my cage has been rattled to deafening point, I’ve hunkered down, and avoided all unnecessary stress, but I’m sure you know that one already. Don’t forget deep breathing relaxation stuff. It sometimes works for me when I remember to do it. Be gentle on yourself. Remember one day at a time, or one hour at a time. I get into bad would, should, could states and get myself worked into a dither. It’s like I want to feel good again and I want it now, not yesterday. When I get in a state I need to be reminded. But then again, being told something I already know, ticks me off too. Agh! Try to get lost in something you really enjoy; it helps to get me grounded. I’m not sure how you are, but I have to be careful even with this as I have spun because I started to enjoy it too much. Perhaps a quiet activity that you enjoy. I’m sorry if I sound like I’m dispencing advice. Actually I am aren’t I? Oh well.

As for med tweaking, try to ride it out. Sometimes I wonder if the med messing thing is the right thing to do. I came pretty close to going back on something this past month, But in some ways, luckily I crashed before taking one of those pills. Now my brain is not working the way I’d like it, and I just feel mixed up. I sort of, well really miss it sort of. I miss the outrageous everything is funny belly laughing, but I also miss my serene calmness and the ability to accomplish real things. Too bad we can’t just pick ourselves from a restaurant order menu. “I will take a main dish of consistent calmness, with several sides of appropriate cognitive function, and certain anxieties that produce nice calm energy only without the body symptoms. On any given day, I could pick and choose how I wanted to feel that day. I see it sort of like an old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll jute box. I see myself pressing the buttom, Alrighty then, I’m done with that mood, I think I’d like to feel serious now. That would be button number B4.” If only……

Thinking of you on a wing and a prayer.
Laurie

Thanks so much, Laurie! It’s T minus 30 until my appointment and I’m definitely taking your advice. Deep breathing and trying to plan something enjoyable for after the session…and a Xanax 🙂 I love your analogy to the jukebox! Priceless. I hope you are doing well overall. Thanks again for the words of encouragement! I’m off to press B4.

Let me know how it all works out. Ya, every once in a while I have these light bulb moments. Glad I could share one with you.

You have every right to be terrified–and that’s not the illness emoting.
The only thing to do is be your own advocate. Stick up for yourself when you see those new docs, tell then exactly what you will and won’t tolerate. And if the first one is a poop, find another.

I want to give you my phone number, my email address, anything so you can have one more across-the-Pond ally. Will any of that help?

Goodness. That is really a change. I find little changes scary. But, on the positive side, it seems like you’re handling it better than other ways it could have gone.

It’s not only that you feel as if you are on the tightrope without a net. It’s the uncertainty of the future too. I know, as a woman with bipolar disorder, I like to keep things predictable. Then, I know what I’m in for. It’s natural to jump to panic. The trick is to not let it grip you. Whenever I’m in what I perceive to be a bad situation, I have mantras. “Breathe, keep breathing.” – is my one for anxiety. “It won’t be forever.” – is for depression. Nothing lasts forever. And for mania it’s – “Slow down. There is time for everything.”

It took me a long time to figure out what mantras would get through to me. Things like “calm down” aggrevate me. Cliche things sound fake and it’s not real enough to penetrate through. Like “it’s going to be ok.”

Try it out. Think of things you’d like other people to say to you when you feel a certain way. You might be surprised!

And don’t forget, we’re around. I know, I know, it’s not the same. But I’ve found that in some ways, it’s even better!

I’m so glad you brought up liking to keep things predictable! Every once in a while I kind of drive my husband crazy with this. I suppose with an illness like ours it’s OK to want some predictability when our moods could swing out of control at any moment. I will definitely work on that mantra thing, starting today. Great idea to come up with a mantra that doesn’t aggravate the hell out of me. God, I hate when people say stupid things like, “calm down,’ or (my personal favorite), ‘Don’t let it get the best of you.’ If I could do those things then I wouldn’t need a handful of pills every day, now would I? I think I’ll try something simple, like “It’s not forever,” or “The story doesn’t end here.” Thanks so much for the reply. And, thanks for being around 😉

No problem. I love being around. This feels like family to me. And that’s great, because there are a lot of different kinds of families that sometimes live very far away from one another. No big difference there!

Yeah, I drive my husband crazy with it too. I try to keep the same bedtime when he wants to stay up on weekends. Maybe sleep deprivation doesn’t do much to him, but it sends me flying!

Ugh. There are some things that people say to me that are trigger words. This is crap my mother used to tell me, “Suck it up.” or “This isn’t the end of the world.” “You don’t have to cry about it.” “It could have been worse.” “Stop moping around.” I want to strangle someone when they tell me to calm down. It’s enough to get me to scream in someone’s face. And I’m not usually that ill-tempered.

I like making myself focus on breathing when I have an anxiety attack. If I’m at home, I lie flat on my back with feet flat on the floor and my knees bent. I look at the ceiling and breathe. It’s kind of like a breathing exercise without the stupidness attached to it. I could never get over how lame it was, coming from someone who never experienced it!

These things have all been well said. I am in a learning curve. Unfortunately for the last number of years, I have gravitated to being catastrophic with unfavorable outcomes. It has been only in the past while that I am learning to do similar things to these mantras you speak of doing. Nicely put LunaSunshine. I have some relaxation tapes I’ve been using that help and others that deal with specific topics that I got from a personal Cognitive BT program. Hope you are feeling a bit better MM, we’re all here for you and each other.

Hi Laurie! I hear what you’re saying about unfavorable outcomes. I don’t know why, but I swear to (insert deity here) I must have done something unspeakable in a past life to have this kind of karma. I know some is my own doing, but some is really a matter of spinning the wheel. Stupid wheel. That thing is rigged!

I have had to take a shot at so many things. Mantra’s are especially good for the moment you’re in. It’s kind of like an emergency inhaler for freaking out. And then, there’s the obvious things like art therapy. I like to make graphics for the way I’m feeling. Incredibly time consuming and distracting. I work through a lot of my stuff in my personal journals. Some CBT techniques work for me and some don’t. It takes a lot of trial and error. And, unfortunately, sometimes it takes awhile to see the more profound effects of a CBT technique. I’ve really had to learn to keep an open mind, but stay realistic about my expectations.

I agree that mantras are helpful. One that I use a lot is “It’s just the illness talking” when my thoughts get twisted and distorted or, like in the Wizard of Oz, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” And similar to your “this won’t last forever” is my “this will pass” when either the depression or mania are big.

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