Someone through the looking glass

17 Jan

When I went nutso in July, it was like the world stopped and I was finally able to get off. Everything tunneled into one single decision-help myself.

I still remember leaving the house to go. The solid faith I had in my decision, the fear that they wouldn’t be able to fix me. It was pouring rain, so I stood under a tree while I waited for the bus. The rain fell through the leaves, and I was grateful, because I could then pretend it was merely water from the sky coursing down my face, not tears of agony as they were.

Facing my demon, facing ME-it’s the hardest and yet most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. No one can take away from me the fact that I pushed past my illness, pushed past the easy road, the simple road, and helped myself. I had help from those around me, but at the end of that day, it was I who stepped into that ER, and nervously said “I think I’m going to hurt myself. Please help me.” as I trembled, cold and frightened. I was raw-one giant exposed nerve which frayed when the nurses and doctors treated me with kindness. Such solemn gentle kindness they showed that night, such that still makes me tear up a little.

I haven’t spoken much of my experience in there. It was only a week or so, and I spent most of that time in my doorless cubby, crocheting or thinking or writing in sporadic waves about the people around me. The people who were also trying to beat their demons, but possibly not succeeding.

I stood in the grocery line tonight, looking for my favorite magazines to feed my addiction. Everywhere I looked was the face of Britney Spears, and headlines reading ‘INSANE!’ “Family wants her COMMITTED!” “What the boys saw!” like it’s our business or something. I want to look away but I can’t because it’s everywhere. A woman’s demon is on display and we blame her-she must want it there since she goes out in public, and dressed like that! She has it coming.

Not to long ago we thought the same of rape victims as well.

If she’s having a psychotic break, a vast manic state, then she’d be like the dude who kept staring at my boobs on the ward who claimed god spoke to him, or the little bastard that talking about hand jobs during lunch and thought he was a wrestling champ. They put it out there, because they were sick.

Difference is, I didn’t have to look. I could walk away. But I cannot get away from Britney, or her face, or the thought of a mother losing custody, or the thought of a mother helpless to help her daughter.

Maybe she is just being an asshole. But what if she isn’t? And what if she’s unable to wring her demon by the neck and carry it to the hospital until someone else subdues it for her as well? What if she comes through this, comes out of it, and has to look full in the face what she has done, because the media archive will be huge….what happens then?

The main lesson I learned last year was that interdependence is not a bad thing. Asking for help, needing help does not make me weak.

It makes me human, fallible.

My time on that ward reminded me that my life could be worse. I could be crippled by anxiety, delusional, full of rage, a danger to myself and others. I could be more than just moderately crazy.

So why can’t we stop looking?

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16 Responses to “Someone through the looking glass”

  1. Kathy January 17, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    Those magazines bother me more than I expected. She’s still someone’s daughter; someone’s mother. Sales or not, the gossip rags should have shown some compassion.

    (I hate to think I’d ever defend People magazine, but at least they used a plain old publicity shot on the cover, and not one of her being carted away, shackled to a gurney.)

  2. sara January 18, 2008 at 12:05 am #

    I’m with you there. I get so angry at what they write what other bloggers have written. Bless her heart. It could very well be me. Has been very damn close at times.

    Anyway, Thordora, I’ve been looking for your email address a few times but haven’t found it. I was just wondering if you could post, or email me if youd rather, how you’ve been able, if you have, or had to face that, the endless questions about the bipolar.

    My mother and father drive me crazy. I’ve been on Lithium (therefor somewhat normalish with some moodswings but not the drastic ones I used to have) since November 06 and Haldol since July, and Just started a new med to help me with sleep issues. Anyway, I’d been on numours drugs the last 4 years trying to find some stable ground, and its been a rocky road so I understand where they are coming from I’ve been hospitalized more times than I care to admit.

    Though, I seem to be doing okay now and it seems my parents still can’t get that someone doesnt have to die, or other major thing happen for me to be depressed. They also drive me crazy if I’m even the tiniest bit manic.

    My mom’s a nurse, and I think they both have some knowledge of Bipolar from things I”ve had them read, but do you have any other suggestions to stop the “have you taken your meds” questions that stem everytime I have a mood swing. It just hurts, it feels like they don’t get it, that it doesn’t always have to be some reason. Sometimes its just life.

    Sorry that this is so long…I read you everyday, your an inspiration, to another mommy, that just happens to have bipolar.

  3. marcelarhodus January 18, 2008 at 12:16 am #

    like kathy says, those magazines should show some compassion… but they don’t care. Like you say, its impossible not to watch, her face, her struggle everywhere for everyone to see.
    I think people read about her cause in some way they want to feel better about themselves or about their choices.

    Like you said, when she comes through all these, how will she deal with all this bad talk. Those two boys and Britney herself need to be left alone. Maybe out of this limelight she’d be able to find a way out.

    We should show her the compassion we want for ourselves, if our every mistake were on all the magazines, I’m sure it would not help us at all to move forward.

  4. juliepippert January 18, 2008 at 8:24 am #

    I hate the sick fascination and judgment. I have nothing but anger and sympathy. She needs help, compassion and support…not evil papparazzi glorying in her unraveling and a celebrity-obsessed public assuming that because they read stories about her they *know* her. She is everyone else’s means to an end and that’s tragic.

    As for you, thanks for sharing your story. Hope and courage.

  5. bine January 18, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    i don’t know why it is such a fascination to see celebrities fall. we must envy them so much that we can’t wait to see them in shatters. i am not a britney fan, yet i am very, very sorry for her. i couldn’t care less about her in person, i have no interest in her music, or her fame, but i can’t bear to look at her torn apart.

    re-reading your story made me realise how proud i still am of you for taking that action. you felt like you were going to pieces, yet you managed to find enough sanity to ask for help. i think you must be the strongest woman i know.

  6. Hannah January 18, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    I don’t know why everyone is so caught up in watching her every move. I suppose it is easy for people to feel superior to someone that obviously in serious trouble.

    I can’t believe you put yourself on a bus to get help. Girl, that’s just… words fail me. You’re one tough chica.

    Thank all the gods that the staff at the ER were on their game that night.

  7. sweetsalty kate January 18, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    I would say, though, that it’s not just the evil paparazzi’s fault that she’s splattered everywhere. She courts them, goes places where they’re waiting for her, and does everything she can to make a spectacle of herself. I feel sorry for her, but I also can’t get past this undeniable truth.

    She does this to be reviled, and ridiculed, and hated – because she hates herself. That’s the only explanation I have for the latest, seen this morning without even intending to – Britney wearing no pants, deliberately flashing her period-stained crotch at the cameras. This must be the sickness, and this is what’s sad to me – that she seems abandoned by anyone who cares for her. Or is this the bipolar again? Has she made herself impossible to help? The only people she has around her now are vultures.

    Maybe her family are just waiting for her to hit bottom (which we all would have thought was ages ago, but she keeps sinking to new and increasingly humiliating lows) so they can then swoop in and peel her off the floor, and save her, but isn’t that a bit like playing chicken? What if she does too much damage to herself to even be saved while they wait for an opening?

    I can’t bear to look at her torn apart, either – and I’ve got no vested interest, either – but she makes herself unavoidable for all but desert-dwelling pygmies. You cannot choose to *not* bear witness to her downfall, if you visit grocery stores or have an internet connection. She is everywhere because she chooses to be – and gives the vultures reason to expect more and more spectacle the more they trail her. She has proven herself a ripe and willing subject. This is what mystifies me.

  8. sweetsalty kate January 18, 2008 at 10:43 am #

    Oh, and thor, you’ve taught me so much. I can picture you standing in the rain, and I think too how sensible and brave you are… thank you for your insight. Tough chica is right on.

    And I don’t mean to be heartless in my britney speculation. It feels like I am though, next to your words.

    I guess I feel like if you’re both bipolar, there’s something else that puts you on one side of some line, and her on another, that you live with it the way you do.

    Or maybe in her case it’s just everything amplified by fame.

  9. Gwen January 18, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    What kate said.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about sweet little Miley Cyrus and wondering when we’ll be looking at similar pictures of her, saying the same things about her. It seems inevitable, doesn’t it?

    I think your compassion for Britney is lovely, T, I really do.

  10. Jennifer January 18, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    You are finally giving yourself credit for how strong you were. I am very happy about that. People tend to think of mental illness as some sort of weakness, when in fact it is that persons personal version of hell most of the time. I feel so much sadness or Britney, the papparatzi and the “fans” are making it worse.

  11. Netter January 18, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    We like to think that this celebrity obsession is new and part of the media. But, in reality, people have gobbled gossip about their neighbors, their heroes, their royalty for about as long as we have language. What are the epic poems of past if not gossip about someone’s exploits. It’s wrong, though. To be taking so much schadenfreude from her illness. To wait breathlessly for her next outburst. I agree with Kate that’s she’s courted some of this, but to be driven away from a court appearance by these vultures? Shouldn’t an officer of the court have assisted her getting into the building? They do that for criminals on trial.

  12. thordora January 18, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    I was thinking about this earlier. What if it IS for show? What if she truly doesn’t want her children, and this is her out?

    I doubt it, but I keep thinking it. It seems like true mania in some ways-hell, when I’m hypomanic, I don’t give two shits about how I look, and I act out. If she’s full blown, then yeah, she’d be like this, and the media would be fanning the flames, She’s crave the attention like nothing else. That’s why I don’t get tooweird with the fact that she’s sorta asking for it. If she’s manic, that’s EXACTLY what she’s doing.

    And I’m not brave. Just very much into self preservation.

  13. thordora January 18, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    Kate-bipolar varies in severity. From what I understand, I’m basically Bipolar II, which is like, the diet version. It still can be (and is) problematic, is treated with drugs and can end badly, but it does not escalate into psychosis. WHile I may have some of the symptoms of it at times (auditory and/or visual hallucinations, grandiosity, paranoia) it never becomes that much bigger than me. I can, to some degree, control it.

    If it was Bipolar 1, I’d be at it’s mercy.

    I’m also not famous, and my family comes to my aid instead of trying to make money off me.

  14. landismom January 18, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    Yeah, it’s really hard to avoid this stuff. I’ve been skipping this story everywhere possible, because I really wish that everyone would just leave the poor woman alone.

  15. thordora January 18, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    Sara-the email is thordora AT gmail DOT com. But I’ll make that the subject of my post tomorrow. šŸ™‚

    It drives me batty too, the med question…

  16. Candy January 21, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    Incredibly well said. I have stopped reading blogs about Britney and in fact, when I read her name on yours, moved my hand towards my mouse to click away. I’m glad I didn’t. I agree with you completely.

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