I still don’t know what’s wrong with me. I have a mood disorder or a chemical imbalance, perhaps both, for which I need medication, because my lifestyle certainly doesn’t support a sanity to which I could glom onto with a hope to assimilate.
I am crazy. I said these words when asked by another doctor why I was in his office. What was the intention of my visit? What was my expectation for him while I admit and understand that I’ve been undisciplined and unable to contribute in the past to my own mental health well-being?
I am unwell. I am the oddball, the weird one, the peculiar and the strange.
I have homework. I’ve been given the task of reading another’s account of their bipolar disorder. I made it through seven pages. The introductory paragraphs, I can tell, have the intent to shock. But, it’s just regular to me. I live this. I lived the exact same experience, save the PhD.
I just want to be better. I like who I am and I have a small circle of folks, who I believe, like the way I am. But I’m so tired of the crazy. And if I can be a hundred percent honest, being alone with it has me terrified - although I’m getting more comfortable with this aspect.
I guess I should warn readers right now- trigger warning or whatever the kool kids are saying. I’m going to open up about thoughts of suicide here. Please don’t call the authorities or my mom. It is because I’m getting through the murky abyss that I can talk about it. And I don’t know how this is going to go.
I’m exhausted. Physically I have a thing. Pancreatitis - I of course get struck with a thing that food doesn’t cure. So I’ve changed my eating and drinking habits and instead of merriment I have a general feeling of ennui. I am probably an alcoholic functioning less as the days pass with recommendations to cease and decease all operations of imbibing.
Here’s the thing with the alcohol. 1- I like the way alcohol tastes. I’m a whiskey on the rocks and a skunky beer kind of girl. 2- On the tv show Shameless, Lip says, ‘-it lowers the volume.’ - It definitely is a buffer from the noise - inside and out. SO, just as I have become an unintentional vegan, I have also become an infrequent drinker. That being said, given the choice between a cheeseburger and veggie burger, I will choose the veggie burger provided there is no avocado. However, if I’m hungry or sitting with friends and my choice is only cheeseburger with potato salad, please fill my plate. Alcohol has taken me longer to change, but I feel like I’m having drinks once or twice a week instead of daily and also drinking one or two an outing, as opposed to seven of nine. I’d like to report that I don’t drink alone anymore, but this week past I did. And it was delicious.
At any rate, I have this physical thing that, as I type, my belly appears as though I’m smuggling a basketball with the swelling and I’m in a little bit of pain. The only thing to fix this is fasting. Fasting. No food or drink. I’m already not absorbing nutrients from the food I’m eating.
Bottom line, I’m constantly hungry, hurty, and on edge.
Okay, so that’s physical. Emotional, I’m not ready to talk about. But mental - I’m ready to try to sort through it. (Perhaps?)
I am bipolar. I have a mood disorder. That’s what it is. A disorder. There is no order in my mood. My mood is out of order.
I looked up the words mood and disorder. The word mood is defined as the state of ones emotions. The word disorder is a lack of regularity. So my emotions are not regular. And I pause for a moment to make a joke that it’s regular for me. And I pause in annoyance because I think this bipolar disorder has little to do with emotions and more to do with chemistry.
But I digress to the commitment I made to myself when reading Redfield Jamison’s words. I’m going to share these things that have consumed me.
I’ve stepped away from a lot of people, but a few have seen my face in the past few weeks. I have gone to work most days. I’ve purchased dog food and cleaning products. I’ve continued to walk around my days, doing the things that need to be done. I’ve cried behind my sunglasses, on the train, and at my father’s gravestone. I keep the words, I’m fine, on the ready. And in every step, I’m ready to break.
My sister died. It’s hit me hard. She always took care of everyone, in the ways she knew how, and spoke of all the things she wanted to do. And now she’s dead. Dead. My mom wouldn’t let me attend my grandmother’s funeral because I upset everyone who is around me. I was 38 years old when she died. I could have crashed the funeral. But I took in the instruction, do not come, and the reasoning, because i have a way of upsetting people. And now my sister is dead. I am 44. I was here this time. Barely. I suppose that’s a different story. Or maybe the same one? I don’t really know.
Focus on me. I can’t see what the purpose is to hang on. I sleepwalk around and do the mechanical, only to feel exhaustion and crash into sleep when I have a minute to stop moving. If writing, I reason, was the intention… If the thing I’m contributing to society is my writing, and I no longer have it in me to string words together, then I’m done. And there doesn’t remain a purpose for me to be alive any longer. Someone can sort through my scrawlings when they go through my pants for loose change to make sense of it. Or an art show. Or fill a garbage bag. For all the Dorothy Parkers, there is a nobody whose name I don’t know to put here for comparison. I’m one of the nobodies anyway.
I’m not the suicide case who wants a bit of kindness on his way to the bridge as an ultimatum to life. I’m not someone who is at a cross roads with kids moving out and a terrifying prospective of being alone. I am this--
Physically I am sick. If I hang on for ten minutes, ten years, or ten thousand, what am I, if only awake, commute, work, asleep. I contribute nothing. Emotionally I am too much, living in a hyperbolic state of immobility. And mentally, I am broken.
Eight years ago when I was hospitalized for bipolar disorder, I was asked what I needed or wanted from the stay. I replied I needed the coping skills to remain alive. I knew I was crazy. I had long given up thoughts of being — whatever not crazy is. I just need to fit in. I have a friend (who I quote frequently), note that I say things as if they are normal when they never are. I corrected him, what they are is regular - never normal. I think that hospital stay was helpful. But still, I don’t fit in with the normal. And now I don’t even have regular anymore. I have swirling chaos. I’m constantly in a game of survival with life instead of - whatever it is that normal is.
My sister - the dead one - was envious of me. I hope that she came to terms with that before she died. I have nothing for which to be envious. I don’t understand envy for anything - especially for me? My sister struggled. And she fought. I’m not saying she had it better than I, because I know that she did not. But she did have it different. Her own brand of mental illness. Her own coping mechanisms. Her own physical health problems. And yes, suicidal thoughts and declarations. Knowing my brain and actions, I can assume the internal pain she was in by the time the words came from her mouth. I guess if anyone who knew her reads this, I should apologize for causing upset. I should stick with my own head.
My head. My brain. My - me.
There are some things broken that cannot be made right. I’m entering into this relationship with a new doctor with those words as the foundation of treatment. And a better woman may view it like I can put the past behind me and start again here. (and I do excel at starting over!) But I saw these words this morning, configured on the page as they were and it was confirmation of the destruction I create just by being as I am. I have no contribution to further the human race. And I’ve broken enough of it. If I am dead, there may be emotion about it, but not very much reason.
My sister was as sick as she could be and fought hard until the end. I feel like I’m as sick as I can stand. I don’t know how much fight I have left in me. And I can’t figure out why I’m fighting anyway.