Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Last week, friends set up a meal train for us to help me with my struggle to eat. It has been a lovely resource and quite effective. Dinner is handled most nights giving Laura a bit of breathing room with all the home stuff she has to manage in addition to her job and all of that. And I have lots of things to eat so – with effort – I am managing 3 meals a day most days. At least every other day?

Another good thing that happened was securing a triage intake appointment with UPMC Rheumatology. It was originally set for late April, but they had a cancellation so they offered it to me – yes, please. That intake was today and was fine. She told me I was eligible to receive care, but cautioned me that diagnosing autoimmune GI disorders is very hard and could take awhile.

So I was feeling a little good about things. Then I found out that the appointment wouldn’t be until the tip toe end of June. That’s three months away.

How on earth am I going to hang in there for three more months?

June is always a difficult month for me. My bipolar disorder is ‘reverse seasonal’ meaning I get a little elevated in the fall/winter and depressed in the spring/summer, especially June. That’s one reason I cannot participate in many Pride events. I have to be very gentle with myself and build in things to lift my mood that are realistic for me.

My mother had an annual routine with depression as well. Her dip began in February on her father’s birthday and went downhill from there until the anniversary of his death in May. She suffered a great deal in a time when there were no casseroles or real understanding of how depression and grief worked. She was often suicidal and usually ended up in the hospital. I wrote a post about it several years ago – The First Time I Called 911.

Bipolar depression is awful. It is one of the highest ranked risks of suicides. I had a very tough time of it in June 2020 and ended up with lithium toxicity because of the way we decided to treat it. It was truly awful even though the treatment worked so to speak. 2021 was better because I was so focused on managing this physical health crisis. This year, I intend to stay two steps ahead of it given my vulnerabilities from the weight loss, GI symptoms, low appetite.

Two steps forward, one step back is still one step forward. I’m going to lean into that step and hold steady during this tumultuous time until I get another step forward.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also visit their website for an online chat contact. If someone you love is living with mental illness and/or has mentioned suicidal thoughts, reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  at 800-950-NAMI.

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