Posted on February 5, 2008

There is a battle raging within me. I feel like I am in chaos. It is so hard to focus.

This is what I’d described in the hospital years ago that the doctor thought might be a manic episode. I can tell as I sit here awash in the feelings that it is not. A very good friend stopped by today because she was concerned and I liked her description of mania versus what I am feeling.

Mania, she said, is GO!

What I am feeling is not linear. It spirals, swirls, but trapped, contained. Like vegetables in a pressure cooker and I don’t know how to release it without spraying carrots and potatos all over. I feel like I am about to crawl out of my skin. I have felt like this for two days now.

Every sudden sound makes me jump severely. I am so self-conscious that I feel embarrassed to even take up space. I feel that I must apologize for my existence. I am certain that everything I do or say somehow detracts from everyone else.

I want to be distracted, to focus on something other than what I’m feeling. The TV writers’ strike is not helping. I am reading but sometimes even focusing on the words and what they are saying is too much. I am constantly figdeting, using my hands, and I scratch and pick and rub without even being aware of it.

Sunday night I took a bath to relax but somehow I zoned out or something and I scratched parts of my shin until they bled. The pain and scabs now remind me that I am, in a way, disconnected from my body. I know this is dangerous. I know this is where the urge to cut can become so strong just so that I feel something on the outside, so that I can show others exactly how much it hurts inside.

Last night I managed to redirect this energy and gave myself a sort of manicure. It got me through an hour and now my nails look neat and shiny. But once I was done, I had to figure out how to get through the next hour. And the next.

Today I spent the day listening to the same six songs over and over again while cleaning my kitchen. I mopped a very dirty part of the floor and then I had to wash the walls and the baseboards in that corner. It is as if the only way to channel this chaotic energy is to focus on smaller and smaller detaisl. First it was the floor. Then the walls. Then the baseboards. Then I was on my knees scraping the tiny cracks where the floor meets the baseboard and the baseboard meets the walls. I was just shy of searching for a used toothbrush and a handful of toothpicks to do an even better job when my friend stopped by.

She asked me to try a yoga pose with her called Mountain. I tried. I managed to get myself to stand up straight but I couldn’t relax my shoulders or keep my hands down at my sides. When she asked me to take a deep breath, I couldn’t. It physically hurt in my chest. I was so self-conscious I was almost in tears. My hands won’t stop shaking. My chin trembles when I try to be still.

Curling up into a ball feels comfortable, wrapping my arms around me and tucking my chin into my chest. My husband calls it ‘turtling.’ I still cannot tell if I am too hot or too cold. I seem to bounce back and forth between the two.

Sunday I increased my Prozac from 50mg/day to 60mg, as the psychiatrist’s assistant recommended–when I saw her last she said if I needed to before she saw me again, I shouldn’t hesitate to go up to 60. I don’t know if I caught it in time. It will take a week or so for me to start feeling a difference, two weeks to really notice it.

In the meantime one of my children has a program at school and I will have to get myself together enough to go out and be in public. That terrifies me.

And I know what is coming next. Something small, insignificant will happen. I will hear something said or see someone look at me and interpret it all wrong and then will come the crash. All this spiraling chaos will turn into a maelstrom, pulling me down until I am submerged and drowning. I can hope that I increased the meds in time to avoid this or that it will be less severe but I am not convinced that hoping will do much good.

My husband wants me to call my counselor but I am so certain that there is nothing anyone can do. All I can do is ride it out, take it hour by hour or minute by minute and focus on what I can do–but not too much focus on too much detail–and keep taking my meds and try to be aware of my body and hold back the urge to scratch or cut. I am so certain of this that I see no point in calling.

It is what it is and I can’t see how anyone can help.


  1. Shira Salamone

    “I can’t see how anyone can help.” It’s possible that *you* can’t see how anyone can help, given your current state of mind, but perhaps someone *else* can. Seeing your counselor would be a good idea.

  2. Unknown

    Agree with all the comments above… also, take pride in just how much you’ve been able to fight it off even as you’re ‘chaotic’, as you put it.

    Ironically, I opened my drawer at work yesterday and found a fortune from an old fortune cookie sitting there: “The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you think you can do only a little.”

  3. Anonymous

    It sounds more like anxiety than mania to me. I also get so anxious that every sound makes me jump sometimes. The same goes for fidgeting and not being able to concentrate.

    I agree with everyone who said you should see your counsellor. Just being able to talk about it with someone who has a dispassionate view might help, even if he or she does not have anything unexpected to say.

    Also, try to remember that you have survived times like this in the past. I find that helps to keep me going when my depression is really bad.

  4. Leora

    a yoga pose
    Yoga is great stuff to know. Learn more when you are not as stressed. Years ago, when I was having anxiety attacks and could not sleep, my father taught me the sun pose. Now when my kids have any kind of discomfort here or there, I teach them a yoga pose.

    If you can afford it, I would recommend generally seeing your counselor more often. There were periods in my life when I lived for my therapy appointments.

  5. Jack Steiner


    You can do it. There are a lot of people out here who support you.

  6. Ayelet

    I can’t see how anyone can help.

    That doesn’t mean no one can help. Are you willing to concede that your view of things may be slightly distorted by how you feel and therefore you would not be the best judge of that? I definitely think you should follow your husband’s gut and talk to the counselor. Worst case scenario: She’ll tell you that you should just ride it out, etc. like you said. But this time the people who care about you would feel much better that an objective professional made the call.

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