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Please, don’t you give me false hope. You’re free to go.

28 Jan

I feel so fucking vacant.

I’m worn this week. I miss the little tiny trickles of love that a relationship gives-a warm body to lie against, fingers on the back of a neck, soft and forgetful. The sense and smell of another in your bed, the completeness of feeling drawn to another.

I dislike being alone. I feel unmoored, despite the confidence that chews me up. It’s not depression, it’s ache, like a phantom limb I miss the security and the safety of arms, warmth.

But do I miss my fantasy more than reality? Do I miss what I think I should I have, in place of what I did?

Getting back to that place, that place of absolute trust, of placing my heart in someone’s teeth-I don’t know if I can after this. With a back that craves simple touch, the pressure of someone who loves you, not just a lover.

I thought I’d die alone. So why aren’t I content so?

I’m tired. I’m 400 pounds of tired on my back in that overwhelming, I have things to do and no time or energy or will to do them, and perhaps later, perhaps soon I should pop those pills again, as I feel paranoia crawl up my back and I wodner, do you feel this too? Do you distrust the motives in all you meet, thinking their interest or open mouths, their words, are all an effort to find a way in to destroy? Do you stare out the sides of your eyes, constantly wary too? Or do you always expect only the best from people?

I assume that dating is going to be a problem with paranoia thrown in.

****

I think I have an appointment with my shrink tomorrow. I think, because when the reminder call came, we said the time but not the date and I was busy dealing with someone from work questioning abscenses from the past 7 MONTHS and worried, no, terrified that they were trying to find a way to pay me, while shovelling food into my mouth, shushing a 4 year old and consulting with my father about dishwashers. So i wasn’t really clear, and now I’m worried that THEY will stop seeing me since I already got a letter about missing my last appointment but then I wonder, exactly how pissy can you get with CRAZY PEOPLE who are on meds that make them forget almost everything?

Sigh. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. All I know is that I want to sleep again, real sleep, not the half sleep I’ve been getting lately, waking up every hour or so, lost. If being crazy is good for anything, it’s getting drugs that get you to sleep.

I want my clarity back, but I want it to be mine. I wanted to feel this, REALLY TRULY feel what’s been happening. I feel like I’m owed that at least, after years of not knowing where my needs ended and the battle really began, I needed to feel something for me. But the hope of living without those magical pills, some magical pills, it wavers as the darkness crawls near and whispers songs I know far too well.

And the drinking. I could drink myself into a hole at this point, and not care. I could pop whatever you handed me, and be glad to have done it. I could pour myself into oblivion and not care.

It’s time to get back.

Myth of the Manic Artist

26 Aug

A little girl with a little curl sits in the middle of her little bed. She writes and she writes, she rages, she cries. She takes things to make the sky the color of a warm fuzzy peach, and stays up for days, the pen trailing neon through the night.

The little girl with the curl would then collapse, spent and sad, moving little, sluggish from the bed, her muse, her voice stolen, locked in her wrists! How dare they steal her song!

The little girl shied away from the doctors, from the talkers, from the big people who looked down and knew her for what she was. She ran from them, even as she hurt, her song more important, the beauty they would steal, it was MORE important! It’s technicolor loveliness so achingly perfect.

Then something happened. The little girl hit a wall, and the colors left. Her world, baring a few hours, a day here and there, dribbled down to greys and blacks, muted landscapes about her. That world narrowed, constricted, wrapped around her. The words stopped. They weren’t easy anymore. They weren’t there.

Then, the bad time. When it all turned black and the words turned against her and walked echoing through her head, accusingly. The ghost in her eyes very nearly came true. The ghost who stole her words.

The world compressed, and seized, wrapped her in it’s hands and throttled.  She glared back, the little curl refusing this last gift to it, this little girl. The black world receded, pouting, recoiling from the gift in her hands, the light brought to the darkness.

The little girl with the little curl climbed back up on that bed, pen in hand, to work, to find her voice. She smiles there.

***********************

Nothing irritates me more than the cult of the myth of the manic artist. Nothing, not even people more concerned with purses than the news or the overabundance of olives at sub shops.

I recently had this conversation with a friend, or rather, I had a snarky monologue prepared.  Any talents I had, or have, were never because of my manic depression. They have never been a gift of my perspective.

This is the line many people will sell you-that Kurt Cobain wouldn’t have had the same voice without whatever was supposedly wrong in his head, Van Gogh wouldn’t have been so brilliant. We would have lost so much.

Which always makes me wonder-do artists have an unknown debt to society no one has told me about anyway?

Perhaps being sick in my head makes me more willing to speak about it, more willing to sit and look at my condition, at everyone’s condition. But it’s never made me more talented-if anything, since I am NOT blessed with extended periods of mania, it’s taken any talents I may have and widdled them down to nearly nothing. Only now, medicated, do I begin to approach a place of clear and pure creativity I never once came near before, even during the one longish manic period I hit. My writing has never been enhanced by my crazy. Not once.

I’ve run into people who wish they were bipolar, that then they would write/sing/paint/etc better, that they would suddenly have some oracle into another world. But it’s not the case. There is nothing magical about this crazy, nothing that will enhance who and what you write for, or sing for. There’s a cold empty in it’s place, devoid of energy.

10 years ago I would have just assumed I had nothing left to say. Before that, I would have said I was writing brilliantly. Looking back, I was writing total crap. I just thought it was brilliant.

But should the tradeoff be my brilliance for my stability, if my madness was linked to my creativity? Should I toss my lithium down the river in the hopes that 2 half started novels might suddenly jump into life? Should I sacrifice my life for my muse, for any muse? What price life?

When we spend lives hiding who we are, the thought that we’re only valid when acting as something supersonic, this perfect being who spouts eloquence and beauty, don’t we become just another cliche? Don’t we become less than human then, shoved to the corner as another ideal that someone likes to keep in play?

I am not an ideal.

Must remember the rabbit.

30 Jun

There’s a particular head cracking, throbbing pain that sends me immediately to my knees, an ache so fierce that sitting at a computer for longer than 10 minutes becomes unbearable.

sleep

my head whispers

I need to sleep

so I sleep longer. Harder. More. I could sleep for days.

The gift this summer won’t be mania. It shall be depression it seems.

It seeps in when you least expect it. Your schedule changes and your body doesn’t respond like it did when you were 22. The small voices start again, whispering paranoid delusions and crazy talk, mixing your world up with a stir and a spoon, causing fraction and friction.  Rubbing the skin right off. The “those” thoughts come back, the bad ones, the scary ones, the snickering demon voices daring me to live, daring me to ignore what they consider obvious. That I’m nothing more than flesh. That my life is borrowed, and pithy, and really quite meaningless. That those in my life would be better without me.

I fight them off. I struggle, the heaving sigh of breath from my chest which pulls me inside myself more and more, that keeps me locked in my home, that cuts me off even from most of you, here in this place that was so vital and vivid before.

It’s all turning into muddled black and white, grey upon grey. A struggle to move from the bed to the bathroom, to smile for those who find happiness so much easier than I do. I’m struggling, and it’s happened so fast I can barely blink to greet this doom.

I’m scared. I’m angry, no, I’m, pissed off that I’m facing this, again. I’m tired of facing my dragon, an exhaustion that trickles in my veins and weighs me down. I’m sick of being fucking unable to smile, of weeping at every conceivable turn. At feeling very much like a liability, and a problem to be dealt with.

I am so tired of failing at this, of flailing for a solution. Of telling myself I’m a good and worthy person who will get there, who will find her place in this world, come hell or high water.

I’m also sick of being the girl who forgets her medication every now and then, sending her stumbling down the rabbit’s hole. Remains to be seen how long it will take to bounce back from one day’s worth of inattention.

Just one more thing I can’t get right.

Everybody’s got plans…until they get hit.

3 Apr

She fears fire.

Vividly, it encapsulates her, and she’s trapped in the terrified thrall. What if’s, what of’s, they fill the air around us until I almost cannot breathe anymore and I’ve run out of words to say, out of words with meanings deeper than this one thing:

“I will always save you. I will always be there.”

She imagines she can’t get out, she can’t break the window, the doorknob is hot, she can’t go out barefoot. Yet she can’t remember our escape plan, our meeting place. I ask her what she would do if there was smoke.

“The school” she tells me, “said to go slowly.”

The school has created this monster, this giant fear worming it’s way through her head, eating at her, slowly. A fear of fire is an elemental thing, especially for a child. “Where would we live?” she asks, “What about all my things?” We fear the cleansing of the growing, growling beast.

“Would snow put it out?” she asks, but only after asking if brick would catch fire. So many thoughts for someone so small and young. Such a weight on her back.

I look her in the eyes. “You are safe. We are here. We will always come for you. You think a little fire will keep your mother away? Pfft.” I hold her gaze for a little while, so she can be weak, then strong again. She gets it.

A plan, I tell her, keeps away the fear. And we have a damn good plan.

*****************

I fear my own fires, but it’s not one that burns in the real world, eating timbers and dolls. I’ve been feeling good-damn good, that good that terrifies me because it’s almost TOO good, a meandering steady that leads irrevocably into madness and mania. I glimpse my own potential, and see it’s shunted and cornered by this fire, my normal fear, my hideous lecture. I fear myself. I fear the fire that eventually tries to eat me from the inside.

I have all the hope and joy in the world for my future right now, but it’s tempered by the knowledge that sometimes, my own brain, my very own self, kicks my ass back down to be burned and scarred. It scares me, and it saddens me, and it sucks the hope right back out of me. I could fly, if only my wings would work for longer than a fledgling. I can’t get off the ground, and the smoke and flames threaten.

I worry just as much as Viv. I just keep it hidden, stuffed down, where I almost don’t feel it, where it almost doesn’t bother anyone, where I can mostly pretend it doesn’t exist. But it does. The terror of a hidden soul can only stay hidden for so long. Then it creeps and smolders up into my chest, down around my heart, until I paralyzed and gleeful, all at once.

I worry that one of these days, I won’t be able to control the fire, to put it out, and the flames will drain me.

I don’t have a plan, I don’t have an escape, and I can’t help but wonder about the fire extinguishers.

“how do i explain bipolar disorder to someone?”

24 Feb

Sometimes I start talking to stranger, acquaintances, friends about this wonderful defect, this twitching glitch in my brain. I’ll candidly mention “the second time I tried to kill myself” or “when I was on the psych ward” or even, “last time I was at the mall, I kept hearing things calling my name. heh.” I’ll keep talking, glad to be open and rational about my disorder, until I glance up and notice the looks of horror or fear on the faces before me. The sheer inability to understand.

Explaining bipolar to a “normal” is difficult. I have noticed that first off the “oh, I get depressed sometimes too” line will come out, about 70% of the time.

This line irritates me so much I want to spoon out their eyeballs and make soup. I know it’s an attempt to relate and empathize. But it comes of as condescending and like they wish to minimize what I’ve been through.

Some people have relatives with bipolar though, or DID, or other disorders, and they will quietly admit to this, as if they’re the family demons and by speaking of them they get stronger. Like it’s something to be ashamed of.

It’s rare that anyone actually wants to hear the truth, the story behind it. What happens, and why.

I’ve had the chance, the odd time, to really explain what happens. And I’m as pointed and clear and realistic as I can be.

I explain the huge variations in mood, like summer to winter, with no chance for spring. My head can wrap itself around and convince itself that those I love hate me, or that I hate them, or that they’re spying on me, or plotting against me.

I can become paranoid, even when medicated. Patterns which would otherwise be meaningless can make me question what I’m seeing. I worry that attention not paid to me is not friendship, but betrayal.

Sometimes, all I want, more than anything, is to die. Or rather, to just not exist. It’s not a matter of wanting to die-it’s when the pain is so bad, so all consuming that it colors every.single.thing. in your world, being numb, being sterile and white and blinding sounds like SUCH a good idea, even if you need to get there to die. It’s a drive, a mission to find a dry place, a soundproof place where the voices in your head have nothing to say, and you don’t ache with the pain you imagine a star could be borne of.

The death part is the hardest to understand. A rational, normal person thinks of suicide as anathema, as well they should. But I’ve always found the suicidal urges to be the simplest. Wake up, have pancakes, pick out a shirt, maybe today I’ll do it, maybe not, ham would be nice for dinner. Just the endless loop of “just maybe”. No one likes to know about this part. (Incidentally, this has been the bit that’s most isolating, and I just really don’t have anyone to talk to about it, which is how I usually work through stuff. It’s pretty much a conversation killer)

I might talk about my mania. Thankfully mine isn’t so bad, especially medicated, but I still become infuriated when normal people talk about “how manic!” they are after a cup of coffee. (The word is hyper. Not manic) I’ve explained my black rages to people, those where I can barely rein in my anger, looking through bloody, lidded eyes. I’ve explained the agitation, akin to having creatures crawling underneath and through my skin, inability to sit still, be quiet, keep money in my pocket.

People think mania sounds “neat”.

I don’t know if you can explain away that theory. To them, mania is being happy and fun. Even for me, who rarely gets very manic, especially on the meds, it’s not fun. It’s scary. A few months back, I had a week where I was insanely manic, for me, considering I’ m medicated. I could have sworn I was floating for a few days, I was so euphoric. I couldn’t focus, I could barely see straight. I vibrated.

Not neat. But to the outsider, there aren’t enough adjectives to convey the sense of slow plodding insanity mania can give you.

I always take pain to point out that I’m otherwise normal. That with the exception of my bad moments, on medication, I’m mostly like others. Sure, I still need to work harder at some things. I’ll never be as organized as a lot of people, I’ll never be able to focus as clearly as I did before I got sick. But I still get the flu. I laugh at fart jokes. I have baggage. I’m still human.

And really, that’s what this always boils down to. Conveying to people our humanity-that mental illness hasn’t stripped that away. Sure, I’m sick. But that doesn’t make me less of a wife, or mother, or friend. If anything, I’m more human, as the experience, the internal experiences I’ve been through make me fuller than any trip or purchase could make me. I have a wealth of knowledge and living behind me, something that’s made me, even sick me, so much more of a person than I would have been.

Explain our humanity. It’s all up hill from there.

8 Ways to help your Bipolar Loved One Cope

22 Feb

Great article from World of Psychology. Basic stuff really, but all items that can get lost in the shuffle.

If you do not hear reason she will rap you on the knuckles.

2 Feb

Her voice is smooth as I stare at the new nail polish on my fingers, “Electric Strawberry” (Affair in Red Square, you have competition. Grrrrrrrowl.) She is calm, and measured, and not at all the 53 she professes to be. I worry about starting into all of it, all of IT, my life. Not nearly so bad by some measures, but in Canada, it’s bad enough.

Sometimes I feel like I’m making it all up, wish that I was, when I begin to recount the events of my life, spoken of in “oh, and then this” or “well, I think that maybe it started when…” When what? When my mother died? When the neighbour couldn’t keep his hands off me? Or when my father didn’t know what to do with me, and left me to my own devices, left to wither, until he was angry drunk and felt like yelling.

She listens. She does what no one else ever does-tells me I’m strong for doing this every day, reminds me that sickness is still sickness even if it’s only in my head. Validates my stress, my anger, my depression. Suggests that maybe my medication isn’t working quite as well as I think.

She doesn’t laugh when I tell her I’m a bitch. She knows that sometimes I am, and that I’m calling to please, please help me figure out when to stop the train when it leaves the station. Please help me try and stop the anger that doesn’t mean anything, the anger that isn’t real. She listens and believes me when I tell her I can’t help it, that I’m powerless behind it, despite what anyone might think.

Think of yourself as an alcoholic she tells me. The path is the same. Name calling, anger, judgement, sins from the past, screaming, then crying, begging for forgiveness. It’s the exact same thing, but I have no excuse aside from my brain and who I’ve become, some small child unable to grow up, unable to be loved without drama, without something huge looming in the background.

She believes me when I tell her I want to be different, that I want to learn how to be happy, I want to know what happy people look like, how they eat, what they wear. That I want to be happy. She believes me.

Her voice is soothing, makes me want to tell her my secrets. The pity I can do without, yes, losing my mother was horrible but I’ve lived with it for 20 years and now, now I just want to leave it behind, package it and put it in a cubbyhole where it’s only taken out on holiday, petted, cried over, but ultimately left alone. I want all of it put away, I want to be left with the me who is behind everything else.

I fear there’s not much there, she’s been buried underneath all this stuff for so long, these things done to her or done in spite of her.

She worth digging for, right?

**************

I want to change. I do. But how? How do you change after years of knee jerk response and a brain that’s like a separate person altogether?

I want answers this time. I want real answers on how to move past a lifetime of things I’ve “thought” I was over. I want answers on how to be less of a bitch and more of a real person.

I just want, after all this time, to be reasonable for once.

2 Sides

6 Jan

Every few weeks I wait for my shrink.

And I wait. Every few weeks I take an afternoon off work and spend 40 minutes waiting for my appointment.

Once, when I expressed my frustration I was told that “her time was valuable”-the insinuation being that mine wasn’t.

I have a job I reminded her-one that I need, and can’t afford to take multiple afternoons off because of delays, delays which are constant.

The dismissive wave of the hand? The pitiful “why aren’t you on disability anyway? look…the assumption that because I am mentally different, diseased I will just sit and wait like a good puppy.

This is living with mental illness. This is one part of every day of my life.

**********************

I take the drugs. I take them because they bring me closer to you-closer to people who perhaps don’t see music in color, women who didn’t sob uncontrollably whenever her breasts let down milk, men who don’t get really paranoid and worry obsessively about some idiot pushing that red button that says “BAD MONKEY! NUCLEAR BOMB BAD!”. People who do cry one minute, and smile at a world who loves them the next.

I live with worry. With fear. That someone will judge me not worthy, that someone with call my crazy and mean it. That the words and thoughts of another will be the basis for how good a mother I am, that someone else can judge how fantastic my daughters are.

I live daily with judgement, because I am not afraid of who I am. I have a biological disorder not yet fully understood by the medical establishment. I have my theories on how mine has manifested, but they’re theories. I have a sickness, a chronic illness that can be controlled, but as of right now, not cured.

I am not a famous artist. As a friend has said, there is no art in manic depression.

I am lucky, because I am not full bipolar. When I say I’m manic, I’m flighty, agitated, easy to annoy. Not the manic you think of when someone talks about the fat guy tasered at Denny’s last year. Hypo manic. Full of energy. I write a lot then. When I am sad, I am sad. But no longer at the expense of my own life. Now, I just get sad. Like you.

But because I have this sickness, I can be sat in judgement-I can be evaluated, scored, reviewed. When my mother was being treated for cancer, and short, often mean to me, no one judged her. She was sick! Because of my illness, my honesty is judged as a failure to mother, a failure to be some archetype of woman that frankly? Even if I was sick I couldn’t be.

I’ve lived with this for awhile, quietly, this building sense of entrapment by the people who are aware of what’s different about me. I can feel it-eyes waiting because they don’t understand.

You pass by us every day. You speak with us, possibly even love us. We might BE you.

Many individuals are closeted with their disorders because the world isn’t a safe one to be honest in-be it online, or at the dinner table. The world would rather hear “I’m dying of dysentery” than “I have a mental illness.” Seems, the world can understand diarrhea, but not variation in mood. Many people can’t grow and survive their illness because they have no room to move within it.

Because no one stops to listen.

I’ve been angered these few days, by the gross assumptions that being bipolar means I will hurt someone. See, the media likes to fill you up with OMG! TEH CRAZY PEOPLE WILL EAT US!!!! stories. I suppose it’s easier to hear than the multitude of plain old “just hurt someone” news stories you see day after day after day.

Frankly, I think we should be more afraid of all you normal people.

Many of us have survived abuse, neglect, death, almost anything you can describe. Yet so many of us are also drawn to survive, to try and fix ourselves, love our families, become better.

We, I am not what you think when you speak of mental illness, when you think “wow, she’s NUTS.” You wouldn’t know there was a thing wrong with me if I passed you in the street. Who knows. Maybe I already have.

****************

I’ve been doing this since the summer of 2005 or so, and in that time have had many mothers, ill or just tired, cranky or frustrated reach out and say THANK YOU. Because I am brutally honest, even to the point of disturbing the more fragile of us. Because I am not afraid that something being a parent sucks. Because sometimes being sick is horrid, and I want it to stop. Because sometimes, I give voice to the thoughts that circle for but a moment.

Because who knows what could be made better with a little compassion, mercy and empathy.

Because who knows what reaching into the darkness could do, even if just for one woman, scared and alone far from here.

*****************

If you’d like to know more about bipolar or mental illness, a few good places to start:

CMHA

NAMI

Salted Lithium-Gabe has been a support and a resource more times than I can count. Plus, lots of links to other bloggers of similar mental persuasion…

” Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever… “

31 Dec

In about 12 hours, it will be a new year on my neck of the woods.

I was gifted “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher this year, and have been reading it in bits. It’s painful, too painful. The mirror of who I was, who I could be, how bad it could get, could have been, sometimes is. How absolutely difficult this all is somedays, how heavy the burden I am.

I can’t read it all in one sitting. Hearing my thoughts echoed, but by someone even sicker than I will (hopefully) ever be-it’s salt in a wound I fear won’t heal.

I nearly died this year, by my own hand. I nearly lost my family, by my own doing, sowing the seeds years ago by refusing treatment, by neglecting myself, by not learning.

I have bipolar. And I have let it get to where it’s been.

Someone with cancer doesn’t get better by just laying back and hoping, by only taking the chemo, and still eating garbage and sleeping too little. They rest. They follow the doctor’s advice. The try and fix what they can fix, those things within their power. They play an active role in their recovery.

I spent time believing that my meds were all I needed to worry about-that if I took them religiously, all the voices would stop, my anxieties about cars and people would diminish, my paranoia’s would trickle away to nothing. I believed that i would suddenly know how to handle all the problems that had festered in my mind, hidden by 3 years of madness, and years prior by the onset of all this mess. I thought 4 pink pills would solve everything, and I’d be happy, fun and easy to love. I thought, I thought…maybe I figured I could hold the box open so long as I wasn’t the one looking in it.

2008 wasn’t a happy year. Or in many respects even a good year. It’s been the hardest I’ve had things in a long while-full of fear, loathing. I’ve seen my own death in my hands for the first time since about 1993, closer than ever, fluttering behind the lights in an ER. I’ve sat alone in the aftermath, with only voices reaching from a distance to sustain, to hold me.

Lessons are learned from this. Lessons are cobbled together-that yes, it’s good to have people to fall back on, who support you. But it’s even better to learn how to support yourself, how to learn to live a good, honest, worthwhile life that draws people to you, that draws you to yourself.

It’s ok to love yourself as much as anyone else.

I don’t think I truly wanted to die this year. I don’t think that’s what I’ve ever really wanted. I just wanted it all to end-the noise in my head, the chaos that has surrounded me, the crushing weight of real life-the things people do everyday, without pause or fear. These things are not easy for me, and may never be easy.

And that is ok. I can work with that.

But you know? It’s not all bad.

I have two fabulous daughters-daughters who continually delight, frustrate, awe and move me. Their love-their joy, the incredible wonder they provide me every day-it reminds me why I fight, why I struggle with this, why I don’t just lay down and let it take me. I see the women they will become, and know that they deserve the best me I can possibly be, even if she’s still not enough when they’re 16. I have a husband that loves and advocates for me, even when I can’t. Even after a tough year, I know that love is there, regardless of how muddled and difficult I’ve made that. I know I am fought for.

But love isn’t always enough, and 2008 has brought me that realization-that love is a fine, wonderful thing, but so is respect, courtesy, care, gentleness, the things I cannot be-the things I can write but have trouble acting or saying. I have to be better. I have to find the kinder, better version of me that had been buried for so very long.

Tonight, weather permitting, I will go out to a club for New Years Eve for the first time ever, and out for NYE period for the first time since 1998. I want to bounce and dance and sing with fever and joy at finally being able to do what everyone else has accepted and done for so long-go out and have fun. I can do this now-now, finally at 31, I can set foot out that door and just have fun.

It’s been a long time coming, and a hard road. It’s still uphill, and always may be. But without the land mines and lions and tigers and bears, I’ll take it.

Happy Year my friends. Fill it with all kinda of awesome, will you? That’s my plan.

Dear Bipolar

11 Dec

GO FUCK YOURSELF.

I’m tired of this. TIRED. Capital everything tired. I’ve spent today so fucking agitated I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t focus, my brain full of static and goo, heavy and wilted, after spending last night away and hearing music no one ever wrote in my ears before falling into a drugged stupor.

I’m really tired of you and my period doing this little dance of satan to ruin a perfectly good month. I’m completely sick of feeling at your mercy, at wondering when you’ll take over completely and knock me from the drivers seat.

I wonder when my daughters will know for sure that something is wrong with me.

I want a fucking normal life, normal relationships with people, normal dreams. Lately I’ve imagined just selling everything, and moving my family to some beach in Mexico or Bali, to just live without things, and it’s incredible-to dream! To have a thought not full of angst or foulness. But this is threatened and I can’t stop it and fighting is wearing me down, the headaches piling on each other until I cannot see and I fantasize about being laid off so I could just piss around the house for a little while.

I’m tired of being weak, of having to make excuses, or having to apologize, of having to point at my head and shrug. I’m sick of apologizing for the chemistry inside I can’t do a thing about! I’m tired of hurting people because of that chemistry.

I’m sick to death of not being able to get to my doctor, and weighing the options of going to emerg. I’m tired of that feeling that my world will crumble around me, any second, that it’s held up by the thinnest of threads and then every single thing I’ve worked for will be gone.

It would be my fucking luck.

I want to have normal problems, normal concerns. I want to have anything but this.

Fuck you.

This rant brought to you by the letters “M” and “P”

26 Nov

My brain has been whispering madness to me all day.

I’m tired.

I spend days convincing myself I deserve love, that the world and the people in it aren’t just watching and waiting to pull the rug out from under me. I spend hours repeating to myself that it’s not an agenda-my job status is my own doing. I guard myself from completing magnum opus’ in my head about accidents and how I’d save everyone, or how I’d react if it was the end of the world or someone tried to take that woman’s purse 3 seats ahead of me.

It’s fucking tiring. It’s exhausting, staying on top of my own shit, and maintaining the happy facade, being friendly and caring and nice when all I want to do is start screaming and not stop until Thursday.

These are the things that trigger the bad thoughts, the end game thoughts-this incessant argument inside me. It weighs on me, like a death or a hung jury. The knowledge that the rest of my life will include this, a bipolar monkey chilling out on my back, slowly strangling me. Being allowed to see normal every so often? It makes me want to crawl back into the safety of crazy, and allow it to swallow me whole.

Being conscious of my petty delusions and paranoias is 10X worse than just being completely bat shit. Because I’m mostly normal. I’m mostly ok, and I know when I’m not and then I have to wrestle and I hate wrestling and I hate being humourless and boring and ugly and I hate that I can’t stop any of it and I’m possessed by it, driven almost, and trapped by the knowledge that I can’t make it stop, and eventually, all things in my life will fall away, scared or tired or angry or just plain old done with it.

I would run away from me if I could.

There is no glory in this fucking monkey, as someone else I know as said, no art in it. It is a glacial landscape, worn smooth and sterile by waves and white-oceans of bleached cold. I live there, I huddle there, fighting of the worms of thought that try and settle. It’s cold and lonely, and it wears me out. There is nothing remotely awesome about what’s wrong with me. I’m sick. I’m ill and I’m getting so fucking sick of being so close, so close to normal I can nearly touch it, only to feel myself being pulled back by hands I can barely, if ever control. So close to the life so many people live without thought, and yet not there.

I have to be so careful. I need to hold close my thoughts and feelings, analyze what I’m feeling, dissect how I’m going to react to others, bite my tongue from the horridness I hold inside me, the utter cunt that I have been. So fucking cautious, so brittle.

I’m tired. Whispers, stories, nightmares in my head-I’m tired of all of it. So worn from it. Today, it’s won-it’s wearing me down and I’m alone with it and all I can do is succumb or fight.

I’m tired today.

You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.”

16 Oct

Never watch Law and Order SVU if there’s no plot synopsis.

Last night, that plot was bipolar, and I really wasn’t prepared.

I saw myself, fully, for the first time ever. Or as full as a healthy person can portray. I wish I could hate it, but I can only regret it while I use it, while I gladden myself with movement and change.

Stabler confronts his mother, speaking hard about his childhood, her threats to leave, to die, as she makes a sand castle, two planes, two people, one never listening, incapable of feeling for the people near to her.

Later, she says she’s lived the life she wanted, and paid a terrible price for it.

It’s cheesy to see one’s self on a TV, to face your demons on network television, but suddenly, vividly, I saw what I’ve been doing to my family, to the people in my life, for years. Sure, the TV version is always the most extreme, but what’s better? A slow death, or a fast one?

The voids I’ve left in lives, the utter wrung outness I give to people, squeezing them dry of everything inch of life, of passion, all the while demanding more, telling them they’ve stolen mine. I’ve made people raw, I’ve started down a path that would have destroyed everything in my life, made ruin of my children.  All because I circled on myself, my own orbit, my planet around I the sun.

Oh how I saw that last night. How my heart cracked and shuddered, with that awful realization of who I have been, what this disease makes me into. What it could become, who I could be. Who I do not ever want to be.

I could be worse. I’ve never spent thousands of dollars on a spending binge-I’ve been too poor for that. But I’ve ran multiple credit cards up to the edge, destroyed my credit. I never ran around sleeping with everyone, but hey, I was never that attractive. Likely, without marriage to tether me, I could have at times. I’ve always felt one step away from catastrophe.

Then I fell into it, and came out of it and now I’m sitting here wondering how anyone could last though all of that, how I could possibly be in anyway redeeming, worthy of lasting through the hell that I’ve been lo these many years.

How crushing to discover you’ve been not only bad, but horrid. Like a haze clearing from an early morning highway, I can see the road ahead, and the carnage I’ve left in my wake, and no amount of apologizing, no amount of trying could ever make it right.

And that scares me, as does the image of my future, bereft of those I love.

I’ve made changes. I know that if I stick to this path, my future is open and wide and full of love. But it’s hard, and I’m frightened of my very easy weakness. I’m frightened of myself.

“She would rather light candles than curse the darkness and her glow has warmed the world.”

8 Oct

Today I spoke with my shrink for the first time since I tried to take my life.

The last time I saw her, she was sitting in a chair next to my bed in Acute, making that sucking face people make when they’ve stepped in something unpleasant. The look you give an errant child making foolish mistakes.

I wasn’t really in a hurry to see her again today.

Surprisingly, she seemed happy to see me, happy that I was pulling me head out of my ass for what seems to be the first time ever.

I mentioned my paranoia’s, my delusions, my fears that I’m going, slipping slowly into that abyss truly called crazy. She asked if I could talk my way out of them.

I can.

No worries then she told me. Call if they escalate again, if they fill your head beyond what you can control, beyond what you can say “fuck off” to. We’ll check your lithium. We’ll watch.

I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in my life explaining something in my head, trying to explain that sometimes I have the sneaking suspicion that I was born to save this world, or that the way cars are parked is some sort of sign that something bad is about to happen. Trying to explain that I believe everyone in my life is out to get me, and is secretly snickering behind my back, in on some grand plan I’m the end product of.

It was, in it’s own way, mortifying and relieving to finally say it all out loud to a doctor and not worry about being committed. To try and give myself a chance, to be the one asking for drugs instead of denying them. To say, clearly “I worry that this will only get worse.”

She looked almost motherly, and reminded me that I’ve been highly stressed lately, and everything I was talking about sounded like normal reactions, given my mental state and the situations, and that once things were calm, I’d be ok.

But, I said, those thoughts are always there, hovering, waiting for me to slip and let them in. It’s exhausting. It’s tiring, arguing with yourself.

But you can shake it off, and remind yourself it isn’t real, most of the time, right? she asked.

Right…..

Then don’t worry. If you can still tell when you’re being paranoid, or delusional, and tell yourself that it’s a bunch of hooey, then like I said, you’re ok.

I’m ok.

I went into her office thinking I’d need more drugs, that I’d need to call myself more nuts to get some help and peace of mind. I never anticipated how warm it would feel to have her tell me that everything was (relatively) normal and that I was doing fine, if not better. I never anticipated how good it would feel to own up to what I was really feeling, and try and move past it.

I was fully prepared to start taking more drugs, but really, I’m glad I’m just me after all. I find no glory in taking drugs every single day, no magic. My pills don’t make me normal-they make me better, stable, clearer. But even that I’ll take.

 

*****************************************

When I was talking to her, my doctor, we were talking about my hypo manias, my mania’s. As I described how I get (rapid fire speech, grand thoughts, hyper sexual, spendthrift, merging into rage, paranoia, fear) I stumbled over a phrase

“When I’m hypo-manic, it’s like I’m….glowing. Like the air around me is golden.”

What a gift it can be, sometimes, once in awhile. Feeling like you’re on fire, that the air around you IS magic for your touch, even if it’s just something made up in your mind-it makes you feel alive, and perfect and larger than everyone around.

It makes you feel, for awhile, special, lighting up the rooms around you,

It’s all bunk. But it’s delicious, enthralling bunk nonetheless.

Sometimes, I do indeed pulsate.

Flashing Vision

13 Sep
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing or Abdominal Breathing — Breathing slowly through the nose using the diaphragm and abdomen. Do not breathe through the mouth. Focus on exhaling very slowly. This will correct or prevent an imbalance of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the blood stream.
  • Taking anti-anxiety medication — to be used under the guidance and direction of a physician.
  • Staying in the Present — rather than having “what if” thoughts that are future oriented asking yourself, “what is happening now” and “how do I wish to respond to it”. (Carbonell 2004)
  • Acceptance and Acknowledgement– accepting and acknowledging the panic attack. (Carbonell 2004)
  • Floating with the symptoms — allowing time to pass and floating with the symptoms rather than trying to make them better or fighting them. (Carbonell 2004)
  • Coping Statements — repeated as part of an internal monologue
    • “No one has ever died from an anxiety attack.”
    • “I will let my body do its thing. This will pass.”
    • “I can be anxious and still deal with this situation.”
    • “This does not feel great, but I can deal with it”.
    • “I am frightened of being frightened, therefore if I stop worrying about being frightened, then I have nothing to be scared of.”
  • Talking with a supportive person — someone who has experienced true panic attacks personally; someone who is highly trained in treating panic attacks; loved ones who can offer support and comfort.
  • One particularly helpful and effective form of therapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is the most generally accepted method of treatment.

I’ve been having panic attacks up the ass lately, and you know what? I don’t like it. I morph from rationality to batshit crazy bitch, and feel like I’m standing on the sidelines, hyperventilating. I had one so bad at work yesterday I almost packed my shit up and left despite deadlines.

They scare me. The absolute overriding panic scares the shit out of me, and I don’t know if these are starting in earnest because I’m letting some things out in my head I never really have before or what. But the fear-the need to escape, the feeling cornered, the tightness in my chest and the fire that crawls up from my belly into my face…I’ve had anxiety before, but it’s been more social and situational-don’t go out in crowds-I’ll be fine. Now, it rears it’s head the minute I do anything, especially if thinking is involved. And out comes the Ativan.

I can feel one building as I sit here typing this, full of it’s wrong thoughts and fears, instead of the strength I know I have to weather anything life can throw at me. I know I’m strong as shit-why doesn’t my brain? The panic sits lightly on my diaphragm, waiting. Frankly it can wait all it wants since I’ll take a pill to head it off anyway…

Maybe this really has been my issue for a very long time, despite the lithium. Underlying anxiety and panic, all the things I just don’t talk about since I’ll look crazy or paranoid and mean. The little worries that pile up and pile up, the fears I shouldn’t worry about, since rationally, will the world end? Will I need to save someone trapped under a bus? Doubtful.

So I’ll take more pills, weather this storm till I see my pdoc again, and hope that maybe this time I’m on the right train.

In the meantime, if you hear of any brain transplants, do let me know. Mine seems to serve no one properly.

Paranoid Bipolar

1 Aug

They hate me.

They snicker and sneer behind my back. They can’t stand me. I’m too loud. Too fat. Too lazy. They think I’m wasteful, slothful, devious and mean. They wonder what I do all day. I will be fired, any moment. They tolerate me.

I stumble away from work, walk to the bus. Those people driving by are disgusted, staring at my fat, my face. I wait for the honk, the yell, the throw. The bus driver snickers when I get on the bus, as it moves with me. No one sits with me because I revolt them.

I come home, fight with all this to trust and love my husband, my kids. I fight these voices in my home, repeating silently that I am worthy of love, that he won’t destroy me, that I’m not wrong to love, that nothing will go wrong.

In my head I list them. He could die. He could fall for someone else. One of the kids could get sick. They could get lost. Snatched. Raped. Murdered. The house could burn down, the roof collapse, one of us could get TB, the bloating and the breathing could be ovarian cancer and I don’t have a will. The water-too much fluoride, too much chlorine. The things that could happen-Russia could use it’s nuclear weapons, Iran could attack, we’re much too close to the US for me to not worry-how would I survive with two kids through a nuclear winter with roving gangs-let these things not happen til they are very very older and able to understand why we scavenge for roots and things.

whew.

**********************************

When I was first diagnosed Bipolar, there were a few things I didn’t really “get”:

  • That I was anxious. I never connected the inability to go out in public, meet people inside clubs or meet new people period as a bad thing. This anxiety grew slowly through a few years, and really didn’t bother me much until the last few years before diagnosis. Then came the clarity of Lithium, and my horror at being so accustomed to being trapped within myself. Going out, even if just to a movie, without the resulting panic, is a sweet thing.
  • That I DID experience mania: I, like many other people, had this vision of mania/hypo-mania to be a crazy fun time-that if I was manic to any degree I would be happy. Since that never happened, I never truly considered bipolar. Until I read about Dysphoric Mania (or mixed states). Shortly before being hospitalized, I was blowing up into these terrific rages involving broken dishes and walls, where I’d hardly remember what had happened. I remember distinctly having to walk slowly away from my husband, my urge to HURTPAINBADNOW was so strong. That scared the hell out of me. But I didn’t believe any of this was mania. Mania was fun! Giggles and poops! I know better now, and realize that my brand of bipolar rarely errs on the side of fun. I might have 2-4 weeks of productive happy horny hypo-mania in a year.
  • That I’m paranoid. That I can be paranoid. I always assumed my paranoia was a natural outgrowth of events in my childhood. But as it gets worse for me, I realize it’s instead part of this disease. Doesn’t give me permission to let it win. But it lets me realize that I am indeed paranoid because of the kink in my brain.

Here’s the rub. When you’re paranoid, you don’t know what is legitimate, and what’s delusional. You actually feel NUTS instead of just ill. You don’t know if someone IS out to get you, or if you just think they are. It’s fucking annoying actually, and it’s messing with my bullshit meter.

I think. Or maybe the BS meter is right on target.

But I can’t tell.

Paranoia is like trying to walk on Jello. You know there’s a floor there somewhere, but everything under your feet has decided to be difficult, toddler like. You can’t truly explain any of it to someone because they’ll just give you “that” look, like the one I get about hating olives or wet wool. I can’t truly to talk to anyone about the delusions in my head. The constant weight of thought.

When I was pregnant with Vivian, I was completely convinced that someone was going to break into the house while I was home alone, so I refused to turn a fan on, and often stayed awake until Mogo got home. In hindsight, I should have thought a little harder about that. I have those thoughts a lot again now, with the saving grace that I’m never home alone. But I worry.

And I’m quiet.

Likely I should be louder about it. I tell my doctor, but she’s usually of a mind to leave things be until they are really intrusive. (and besides, after getting a long lecture about narrowly avoiding kidney failure when I put my lithium dose up by myself, I’m trying to be good) She doesn’t seem concerned about all this, and frankly, I’d like to avoid the anti-psychotics again, especially since I’m extremely sensitive to them. But this feels like it’s becoming a problem. I’m even turning away from the internet because I start thinking those same stupid bad thoughts that I do of people in real life. I thought you were all immune.

So yeah-Bipolar and Paranoia go hand in hand like me and slushies. Who knew.

Fix me.

4 Jul

 

Warning-this is very much a steam of consciousness, whining because I have no where to vent this kind of thing. Any desire to call me a whiny baby will be met with a STRONG desire to beat the fuck out of someone. This is the ONLY place I can deal with any of this-if you can’t either be supportive or silent, you aren’t welcome. I’m in absolutely NO mood for trolling.

 

 

It’s the emptiness inside that scares me.

Partially from events, partially from a likely imbalance with my meds and PMS, I have spent the majority of this week visualizing my death at my own hands. And I mean really-I’ve been having to catch myself from walking towards the cabinet where my medication menagerie lives. We’ve been here before. Really. About this time last year in fact.

I don’t think I’m in any real danger-I’m still rational enough, and I have an appointment soon, and besides, after you live for years playing out how exactly you’re going to die-what you’re going to do, where you’ll lie to sleep forever, what the note will say, you become rather callous towards the entire thing. Blase even. It’s just death after all.

My fierce curiosity to see what exactly does happen when I die helps me not worry much. At least dead I won’t have to deal with faulty brain chemistry. I hope. (man that would fucking SUCK if I die and wake up alive somewhere else with this POS brain of mine, wired crosseyed and burnt at the edges…)

But the emptiness, the soul sucking, blinding emptiness where I stare at those around me and believe, truly and utterly believe that they will leave me, that the intentionally hurt me by refusing to listen when I say things bother me, the void filled with an utter hatred for my body and a repulsion when I look myself in the face in the mirror-these are the things that scare me and leave me blasting out at anyone near me.

I feel undervalued, I feel jealous, I feel scared, I feel achingly lonely. I feel angry that I don’t know which feelings are real, which ones I’m allowed to have and which ones I’m not.

I have gone from having a relatively ok grip on my self image to have one that could be represented in negative values in about 2 weeks. It feels overwhelming-it clings to me, whispering that it will never go away, and that every step it will tell me how disgusting and horrid I am, how I’m silly to expect anyone to love me or want me, and that I should count myself lucky that anyone does, if they truly do. I have gone from trusting the things around me to waiting for them to collapse in on me, and I have begun that most awful of bipolar traits-pushing away the one person who loves me.

Even as I write that, the voice whispers “If it’s true that he does.” The paranoia won’t leave me, and it drives me to want to just break away from everyone around me and disappear. Disappear where no one can disappoint me or hurt me, snap my trust in half. The paranoia tells me that all things end as they have before-be it in 6 months or 15 years. Those voices tell me it’s just a matter of time before my heart is rent in two yet again.

Knowing as I do that I would never survive it, my brain leaps to suicide as a viable option for protection. What scary is the emptiness doesn’t even acknowledge my daughters. It only sees me, and the spiralling nothing I’m becoming, prone to hysterics lately, and not even knowing what to believe, what’s real, crying and crying and feeling a burning pain in my gut that’s likely an ulcer.

I don’t know what’s real.

I don’t know if I would know betrayal if it happened since I obviously can never tell happiness when it happens. I know I feel hollow and cold inside, and I’m playing a dangerous game with myself, keeping the exterior mundane and normal while the echoes repeat that they don’t care, and none of it matters.

I focus on telling myself, when I can, that it isn’t real, that I am worthy of at least some passing affection and respect. But I can’t doggie paddle for very long without wanting to just let go.

A lifetime of fighting myself, of telling myself I’m worthy, all coming back to one fucking bastard asshole who stole all of me, who stole my life and my innocence and my trust and happiness. It all centers on that theft, that betrayal, and I wait for people to take advantage and run from me. People have done it all my life-assumed I would be strong enough, assumed I didn’t care, assumed I was ok with it, assumed I was a fucking fool. I having trouble fighting this, my head taken over it seems by it, this ticking time bomb in my head reminding me of a 20-30% mortality rate, reminding me that I’ve limited my contacts to so little that literally no one would miss me if I were gone, my children given the chance to grow without their terror of a mother screaming at their heads, my husband free to do what he will without my shrewish needs and wants hollering in the back.

It was better for so long. I felt alive, and human and that terrifying question, that fucking horrifying thought of “what if the drugs have stopped working?” keeps rolling through my head now and I remember how I said I’d die if these ever stopped working I can’t go back I can’t go back and now…I’m back. I’m right there.

I want so badly to be like everyone else. Steal whatever middling ability I have with words-just erase this fuck up in my brain. Fix me. FIX ME. I don’t want this. It doesn’t make me interesting or strong. It makes a a royal fuck up who can’t get her life straight, who doesn’t know what she wants and who can’t even find the will to write half the time anymore.

I want to cry, and I just can’t. It’s stuck. I want to cry like a baby and wail and gnash my teeth and I can’t. It’s disappeared, into an ether with my joy.

I can’t go back. I just can’t.

Just can’t anymore….

21 Jun

 

It is always there, like a song he can’t stop humming. It plays in the background when he graduates from law school. When he hears “not guilty” in court. When he cheers his son William to victory in the big hockey game or hugs his daughter Sarah for winning the Grade 3 spelling bee. He left Toronto because standing on the subway platform cranked the volume. He tried to shock it out of his brain. For a time, Star Trek episodes muffled it. Drugs, at best, only dull it.

In nearly every moment of his life, Peter O’Neill thinks about killing himself. Sometimes, he makes plans. He buys rope. He sets a date. Mostly though, he is trapped between wanting to die and trying to live, while the same scenes run on a loop in his mind: a noose dangling in shadow, or his body hanging from a rope.

Have a glimpse into our heads. I haven’t lived with this for awhile-thankfully, my drugs are helping. But I remember the rending void of that constant whisper “just do it. Die you piece of shit” and the ache rips through me all over again.

I would die before going back to that.

Kudos to the Globe and Mail for doing this series. A good read for those of you dealing with us crazies, and a good kick in the ass for me to really look into doing some advocacy work.

If all else fails, color their world.

16 May

                          

Most mornings around here are hurried, irritated moments. I don’t rise early-I tend to stay in bed as long as possible, since I never shower in the morning (today being an exception so I don’t gross Mad out of the car). Hurrying to get dressed, eat, create a lunch etc etc with a three year old doing her best autistic imitation is very….charming to say the least, and generally leaves me in a foul mood. So much so that I’m looking forward to waking at 6:30 again in the hopes of sneaking out of the house. The fan we leave on in their room is for our benefit more than theirs after all.

This morning, in the interests of peace, no screaming and no repeat of yesterdays “yes I want eggs, actually no, I don’t, I want Krispies and I just dumped all the eggs in the garbage” I offered pancakes-something that takes just a little too much time and brainpower most mornings. I make them from scratch after all-and yes, it’s better this way, and no, it’s not that much harder. I wouldn’t have the brain for Aunt Jemima most days.

Rosalyn started howling “I want dem cowored!!” and I had no idea what the hell she meant until Vivian translated gibberish into “She wants them colored.

Ah. Food coloring. My friend.

It’s amazing that 3 drops of blue food coloring can make everything right in a preschooler’s world. A few pink drops in the milk makes it even better, and I feel a lot calmer than I do most mornings.

Although not having to go to work kinda helps too. 🙂

******************************************

So in a few hours, I am off to meet a fantastic group of women who blog. I’m not that anxious-sorta nervous, but excited to have a much needed weekend to clear my raging brain, and to meet some lovely ladies I’ve become so warmly acquainted with. My father said many warm things about Chester as well, so I look forward to that too. Something new-always a favorite.

So cheers for the long weekend folks (in Canada at least). It’s May 2-4-have a beer for me!

Bipolar and PMS-My personal Axis of Evil

11 May

The last few months have been unpleasant. 26 days of the month are normal, copacetic, happy, sometimes sorta down, tired days.

3-5 days of the month are not.

My natural state is one of fairly rapid cycling. I can, literally, go from giggling uncontrollably to crying in a minute. I’ve done this. I hate it. Mixed states are my favorite either-being agitated and manic, really not a great combination.

So lately, with my menstrual cycle being it’s usual insane clusterfuck, I haven’t been enjoying the accompanying swings. Vast swings. Yesterday I was peaceful getting a manicure, then panicked getting a pedicure, then wistful, the manic and happy dancing with the girls then sad and weepy, turning into full blown suicidal urges by 10pm. I kept hearing things and seeing things, flashes out the side of my eyes. I spent the day repeating “This isn’t real.”

My doctor claims it’s normal, and I believe she’s right. For years I’d have what we called “freakouts’, and they always coincided with that time of the month. I, in my paranoid state, always assumed it was Mogo’s way to not taking any blame. Now I know that isn’t the case.

It’s disorienting, because you think you’re ok. You feel ok, until you don’t, and suddenly the persecuted thoughts start, you start staring at yourself thinking you’re too fucking fat to live, you’re useless and it hurts to much and then suddenly you’re ok, like a tornado came and went and you’re laughing and you can’t believe you felt that way! except for the lingers delusion that something is going to go terribly terribly wrong.

The delusions I can handle. I have a grip on them, even though my doctor didn’t seem to care much when I mentioned them-maybe I didn’t make them clear to her. But these intermittent spurts of DIE DIE DIE I want to DIE! are a but much to handle, and they worry me. What if they linger long enough? What if the lithium stops working? What if the illness overcomes me and wins?

I shouldn’t fear as I do, but I can’t help it. Once you’re out of the storm, you cannot imagine going back in and surviving. Maybe if my manic periods were more satisfying, or longer, maybe then I’d not mind the thought. But they aren’t long enough to make anything feel good. They are short, and angry and brutal, and the depression always feels like it lasts for months anyway.

I want this to be easy. I want it to stay shut behind the lithium door and leave me be. But it won’t.

4 Pink Pills

24 Apr

 

Pretend for a minute that I’m holding 4 pills in my palm, 4 pale pink capsules containing the salt Li, 4 pale pink solutions to a problem that has plagued me for a long time.

I was scared to death of this drug, this innocuous looking pill, this wonder of our world, it’s inexplicable reason for ending the terror of bipolar in some people, in many people. I ran from it faster than I run from most.

It’s hard to look back at the me before this pretty pink friend. As Mogo and I talked, and he spoke of the relief of not worrying, day after day about me, and the freedom of not trying to hold down a swinging pendulum, I started thinking about my brain without this drug, this salty dog. The difference, I remarked, is like one day sitting in a screaming concert full of a million fans, all yelling at once while you try and do needlework, and the next day, being in a quiet, white room with only the sound of your breathing for company.

It’s that different. It’s that much Calgon take me away relief.

*************************************

When I was 17 or so, I returned to my original high school, a small catholic school in eastern Ontario. I had moved back in with my father as I understood something in a rare moment of clarity during a year of what I can only describe as highly manic behaviour. I knew that I had a choice-I could go down the road to nowhere, or I could try and claw back into a normal life. I chose my father, and normal.

I made friends with a boy, we’ll call him Marc. At first, everything was fine. We had fun, we joked around, he was fun and interesting to be around. He read a lot, and much of it was similar stuff. We had the same friends. We drove around, hung out, did drugs, had your normal teenage experience.

Marc and I developed a weird relationship-as far as I knew, and he told me, he was bisexual, but leaning at the time more towards guys. Typical teenage stuff right? Trying to place you identity. To an outsider, we seemed to have a “couple” vibe-people remarked that to me at the time, and each time I denied it. I had no real desire for the guy. Just a strong, almost loving friendship. We were close.

Marc was also bipolar.

I remember going with him to appointments at the mental hospital (and there was one where I went to school-I remember some guy escaping with an axe once-that wasn’t cool. I think it’s closed now) and him telling me about how useless his doctor was, and how he could get any drug he wanted but none of them helped. He even showed me the lithium, the lithium he hated from that first day he put it into his mouth.

Not understanding the disorder at the time, and likely wanting to distance myself from it since I had a vague understanding of what was and was not happening in my brain, I didn’t understand what was happening with Marc. He went one day from being happy and fun to the next day being sadistic and mean. He’d delight in saying horrible mean things to everyone around him, just to watch what happened. He’d shut you out, then let you back in again if you showed your devotion.

And we just lapped it up. It seems strange now, in hindsight, the pull this guy had. He was nothing to look at, but there was something about him I can’t even explain. Something compelling.

I found it strange, but was so locked in that what was happening didn’t even seem like a form of emotional abuse. It just seemed…normal. Not strange.

He’d rail at me about his pills, how they were making him crazy, how they weren’t happy and how he stopped taking them a few weeks after he started. He was enraged, and I tried to comfort him, tried to hold him, make him feel better.

That’s when he slapped me clear across the face.

I had never been hit like that in my life. I’ve been punched, but within context, or hit accidentally, but never, in a moment when I wasn’t defending myself, have I been hit like that.

I can still remember it. I can still remember just staring at him from the floor, and bracing myself for me. I can still feel the hated passivity that rose in my, the inability to fight against him. I felt helpless before him, and I couldn’t even figure out why.

If I didn’t move for a moment, if I didn’t speak, I figured it would blow over. I couldn’t stop the tears though.

He snapped out of it, and I watched the hate pour off his face as he bent to help me up, apologizing and apologizing. Never again he repeated Never again.

I told him to take his pills. He said it was the pills that made him like that.

What did I know?

Of course, things weren’t the same after that. I was scared of him, plain and simple. There was a glint in his eye I couldn’t place or understand. I was bigger than him, likely stronger than him, but I feared him. I feared him because I couldn’t anticipate him. I watched his rage burn through him for no reason at all, and lash out at me. I could never let my guard down.

Our phone calls went from being fun gentle calls to ones berating me. If I was having a bad day, zero support. I’d feel worse after speaking with him, yet compelled to call him. I felt suffocated, my chest constricted. I felt trapped, and scared and I couldn’t talk about it to anyone. No one would get it.

Yet finally, someone did. A new friend came into my life, observed what was happening, and told me flat out it was basically abuse, and it didn’t matter what was wrong with him, what pills he was taking for what or how they were affecting him. He was toxic.

With her behind me, I screwed up the courage to rid my life of him. I can still feel the anxiety in my gut when I called him from her house at the expected time and purged him from my life. The circles my stomach was making. The fear and the near relief, all at once.

And with that, he was gone.

*****************************************

I feared Lithium since then. I feared that I would become the monster he was becoming, the terror. I couldn’t separate the bipolar from the drug, I didn’t understand that his imbalance had nothing to do with Lithium itself. It was him, the manic swings, the rage he couldn’t control. I know that rage now, I’ve felt it’s embrace, and it’s coldly attractive. But ultimately destructive. If not for the Lithium, I would be him, the him that was, the creatures we call evil.

I live the aftermath that is unchecked bipolar. I never got to the point where I was a true threat to anyone other than myself. But I felt that capacity in myself, the roaring, empty void, the spastic need to lash. I began to understand Marc. Not forgive-I will never forgive him for the lesson in trust he gave me. But I understand now why I take my little pink pills every day without fail.

I see those reasons in the faces of the people I love, everyday. I struggle for those faces some days, knowing I swallow those drugs as much for them as for me. Maybe Marc never saw those reasons, maybe he didn’t truly have them. Maybe his parents left him alone in the basement far too often.

I’ll never know. My fear and anger still lives for him-I couldn’t bear to accept him on Facebook, and even the friend request sent pangs of pain through my chest. He likely doesn’t even know what he did, or remember.

If only I hadn’t feared so badly.