Today I woke after having only a few hours of sleep. My body is running on the same energy that kept it sleepless last night. This is nothing out of the ordinary for me. This is regular.
But i have a feeling of darkness hovering over me and inside my belly. I shake. I haven't been eating very much because my pancreas keeps screaming out in pain at every meal. Something doesn't feel right physically or mentally.
So I sit and cry. And I can't stop the tears. I washed dishes and threw away some old papers. Finished a short story. Texted an old friend. Ate the rest of the cookies. But I'm crying. And I can't stop it.
My mom used to find me sitting alone and fussed at me to stop crying and wash my face. She always said, "You're making yourself sick." And, even though I couldn't stop the sickness - I couldn't stop the crying - I washed my face over and over again until the towel could dry both the water and my tears.
But today I'm alone. I'm alone in my house with dogs that are nipping at each other and cranky for whatever reasons dogs get cranky one with another, and with every movement of theirs, I'm shaking. But it's not because of them that I'm shaking. It's my insides. It's something that I feel in my belly today. Not physical. Not medical. It's not my pancreas today. And it doesn't even feel like my broken brain. I am hurting without any escalation of life situations. I am in unstoppable pain without any new blow to my person. I am not sad. I am alone. But this is crazy. This is madness.
I have a movie script I have been working on for a couple weeks (maybe months?) about madness and today when I opened the file to type in some notes I made on paper with pen, I couldn't. I couldn't transcribe words from one page to another. I was incapacitated by the very idea of coping with the madness today.
I see light piercing the blinds in the front window. I want the sky to cloud up and grow dark so that I can run an errand without being accosted by the sun. I have dark glasses that will hide my eyes, but still i don't think they hide enough. And today I'm hiding. Because I don't know how to cope with this unease inside me. I don't know what to do to cut it out of me. I don't know if it's a part of me that I can live without. How do people who don't have debilitating madness get through their days?
I'm sitting in tears alongside the brand of crazy labeled batshit hoping that no one will know but also hoping that someone will see and help me.
Suicidal. There’s that word again. There’s that feeling. It’s jarring. It’s frightening. It’s embarrassing. It’s dark and heavy and choking and in the past few weeks I’ve seen it’s invisible.
My psychiatrist asked me, as he always did, “how are you?” And i remember saying the word to him with a heavy sigh. “Suicidal.” His response was intriguing. He asked me, “What do you mean?”
Inside I puzzled. How curious he asked ME to tell HIM what I meant by this terrible word I was finally growing comfortable with saying, even if I still shied away from contentment at its presence. What did i mean? The room was silent while I reflected on it. How would my brain define this word if I was the wordsmith with a blank page? What words can explain to someone unfamiliar with the etymology of the word; Sui- meaning of one’s self + -Cida meaning to cut or kill?
The room was silent except for the white noise machine buzzing outside the door. The sun pierced through the undressed window and my doctor sat with obstinance waiting for the machine in my head to churn out an appropriate response. I refused to squint in the spotlight, but I was powerless against the tear pushing from my eye to move the plot of this story.
“Hopeless.” I said it aloud knowing that I have heard that word before. I never hope. I work my ass off to get the little bit i have. But hopeless may be acceptable. People say that. And I am not prepared to be so honest with myself to say the thing that I actually feel. I nodded. The room remained silent other than the faint scratch of ink to paper as the doctor made another note. His brow furrowed and he moved his chair closer to mine shifting the shadows of the sun, changing perspective of the spotlight upon my face. “What were you hoping for?” He called my bluff. I returned the silent treatment. “You said you are hopeless. What made you lose hope? What were you hoping for?” He challenged me with the idea I had used in untruth.
“It’s not hopelessness,” I confessed. “I feel,” I hesitated in sharing the word I had known from the beginning. “I feel useless.”
He nodded in confirmation of belief. He knew me well enough to know that the idea of having no use was the stupid feeling I had. He knew that I was breaking down, not because I couldn’t reason what contribution I had to make. This is not fitting in. This is not completion of a goal. This is not making someone smile. The only thing that could send me into that terrible feeling of CUTting my SELF from the world is not being useful. It’s terrifying.
That was around two years ago. And I go up and down with suicidal thoughts and ideations. I have thoughts. I have a plan. I have triggers. I have motivators to bring me back to the reality that this action is unacceptable. And I have some people to whom I can be honest about this stuff who don’t want to strap me down and numb it out of me.
But this current wave of - I’ve come to a point in acknowledgement of my mental illness where I take stock of my head in no more that one week blocks. It’s not a stringent meditation, but a passive meditative state that I fall into when I’m drawing in the aroma of a coffee, or stopped at a red light, or walking through the supermarket. It’s a semi-constant mental note of the state of my mood so I’m on the ready to respond to the very common question, “how are you?”
Since Sunday, five days ago, I was numb, manic, needy, depressed, suicidal. Not just one mood per day, although I see there are five for five there. But right there at the end is suicidal. I think I’m still in the wave. I don’t think it’s time to wipe the wave out of my eyes and reset with functionality. I don’t think suicidal is going to be the end of this wave. But, my stupid brain doesn’t give me foreshadowing clues.
I read an article about passive suicidal ideations. It suggested that although I’m not going to take a knife to an artery to bleed out, there are still thoughts of walking in front a speeding car - something that could be perceived to be an accident. These things have always been present for me. This passivity. This numbness. This apathetic mechanical cause and effect scenario.
This time it feels different though. I still feel useless. I really feel useless. I don’t feel like the world would be better without me - i feel like it would be completely the same. And that’s okay. So, what’s the difference? Well, in the past few years, I have reflected on the differences of chemical and situational. There is so much of psychology that is not understood. And I believe a great deal of this misunderstanding, misdiagnosis, missing the mark on making people well from within - I believe some of this mis- is from a lack of understanding if the disorder resulted from situational or chemical roots. Is my brain malfunctioning? Am I lacking a hormone, or enzyme? Or is it effect from a situational cause? Is my bad mood because I introduced something physically or emotionally detrimental?
If that makes sense, then this may - I’m in a situational mood. I may have chemical deficiencies right now, and I’m positive my shakiness and dizziness and intolerance for light and smell may be chemical. That seems like droplets of the current wave of uncontrollable chemical shift in my brain goo. But yesterday I stopped the standoff in silence, using the wrong words, and confessed that I am choking under the weight of suicidal thoughts right now because this time, I jumped into it. This is situational. Maybe I was pushed? Maybe I’m being held down, but I think if I fight I can get out of it and wipe it out of my eyes? I just feel like I haven’t got much fight left. I haven’t got anything this time.
Today I’m fine. I’m not fighting to get out of it, but I’m fine. I have some times for which I have to hold myself together. I’m fine. I’m suicidal, but I’m fine. I’m going to make it to the sunset, probably. I’m going to make it to the sunrise again, probably. And if I don’t, that’s okay too. Today I am probably not going to do any fighting - mainly because I don’t know how to. I think it’s important to say the word situational. I am trying to dissect that. I am trying to decipher what that is for me.
I lost someone this week. I lost another someone this week. Someone who I am better having known is no longer here. I lost this someone, not to death, but to life.
And for sure, I could write a chapter in my memoirs listing those I have lost in my life. It is not new, but recently, it seems more important.
Initial reaction, I’m certain, is going to be something in the vein of, ‘if they’re not dead, they are not gone forever’. But I’m still grieving now. So, that’s not true. And I understand I sit in selfishness wanting everyone I think is important to want to give me their time and their thoughts and their words. I understand how terribly myopic and self-serving I truly am.
I started thinking about the words I’m using with this situation. I am grieving another relationship. Interaction I have in relation to another human being. This word grief is defined as a deep sorrow. Depending on the source, it is frequently accompanied with the qualifier, especially when caused by death. I’m not going to mince words and spirit, but it did seem easy for me to hyperbolically use the word grief. Admittedly, I use shock value to emphasize my words. But something finally feels erroneous about tossing grief around. I went a little deeper. Sorrow is defined as a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or misfortune suffered by oneself or others. That’s almost it. The synonym dejection was on the page. Dejection is sad and depressed state, low spirits. I think I am dejected. And perhaps it is so close to seeing the word rejected on the page that I’m connecting to it. I am in a state of dejection.
In the past couple months, I have lost a couple people. And it’s not the first little bit of my life that I have lost people, but it’s been a significant couple who are either gone for good, or gone for a bit, and without being too much of a myopic baby, I shed days of tears.
I probably should not zero in too deep, but one of the people I lost was one of my children. I am in a predicament with her that I cannot fix. I am trying to find a mediator for the situation, and have been a failure. And here I considered using the word unsuccessful, but truly I have failed. I have failed over and over again and perhaps have never been successful with providing any life skills to this child. It is deeper than a lack of success, but a complete and utter failure.
I have a friend who moves in and out of my life with periods of silence, but never has it been deafening before. He is not even telling me that he needs a break from me, which is different than it had been in the past.
Someone left this past summertime over a misunderstanding of words. I’m too stubborn to try to clarify. (There is an expression about burning bridges and a response about unwillingness to grab a fire extinguisher- Maybe I’m the one with the match, and maybe I’m the one with the fire extinguisher?)
This most recent one is hard. And maybe I’m just not finished crying about the loss of my daughter, so this one compounded my feelings of dejection? It is not my intention to cause anyone pain and the reasoning that someone separates with or without notice may or may not come with weighty thought?
So then yesterday, tears were dry for a couple hours and my brain was trying to unravel these feelings to make sense of them. My head was trying to define words so that I could lay out all the intellect amongst the emotional and reason how to honor the feelings but use rationale to return to functionality. And when I say functionality, I mean to say that it could be restoring some or all of these relationships, or very much severing ties so that neither party needs to be in a situation causing pain.
So, what is the point of all this? Boo-hoo! I’m fucking sad!? I’m mad at myself for feeling it and irate that I have to say it. I have caused this. Through a series of events, I am ultimately responsible for me. I live in the consequence, which is sometimes not pleasant.
I suppose that is all. I have work to do. Physical, emotional, and intellectual. I don’t feel better having gotten these words out of my head. I don’t feel better for having obsessed over the tears I have cried for the past month and a half. I don’t feel better for any of it. I am selfish and I want it fixed. I want to feel better, but more than that, I want to know that those people for whom I care know that they are valued and valuable.
Stupid losing battle with dejection.
Yesterday was bananas for me. I started with mania and ended with anxiety. I've been dealing with a a dull headache for days. I'm keeping the migraine at bay with meds. i know if i just let it take over I will be under a shroud of comforters in the dark for days.
i wrote 10 pages over the weekend. (i think i worked on my website too? more words.) I want to continue the momentum of writing, even though i know it's the mania. Having this constant pull of up and down is exhausting.
Details: Yesterday I woke and made coffee in my home. My daughter texted and asked if we could go through the drive through on the way to her work. Of course. But i had a conscious struggle with my head that I had just made coffee and should take her a cup. I was both annoyed with myself for wasting the coffee and not meeting her needs. I literally had just poured the coffee into my to-go cup and had plenty of time to finish it before I even had to dress for the drive. I finished the coffee I made at home and then picked her up. Stopped at the drive through and bought her the coffee she wanted. I refrained from the outside coffee.
I came home believing i could continue the writing momentum that i had. (fully aware that it was mania and using it to my advantage.) I looked at my laptop and thought about the dishes in my sink that needed to be cleaned, the counter top next to the sink that could use a scrubbing, my floors that also need to be touched by bleach and the hunger in my belly. i had ten words added to my manuscript. I made eggs, cleaned the sink and swept the floor. Realizing that I was avoiding writing, I refrained from pulling out the mop and bucket and sat again to write. The sounds of cars driving down my street were deafening. I knew I needed to refill the dog's food container and should care for that. Also ran out of paper towels while cleaning the counter. I should run out and get paper towels and dog food and then come right back to write. I should go early because then I can get parking in front of my house. After a half hour of working out the pros and cons of running errands, I walked out the door in my slippers and drove to get paper towels. One more stop, just dog food. My car needed gas. If i pick up my daughter and the gas is low, she expresses concern. I have to ensure there is gas in the tank. I run to the gas station. one more stop. dog food. I go to the pet store and the shelves are empty. Rewind. the shelves containing my brand of dog food are empty. I question if there was a recall. The staff of my pet store is unaware and look up the listing of alerts they have at their aide. I'm looking on my phone to the world wide web for any notice on this brand. I find nothing. They find nothing. After twenty minutes of this panic i have vomited into the air, the csr asks, "Where did you hear of a recall?" i said, "The shelves are empty." She told me the delivery truck was delayed. It should be in later in the day.
I sit in my car. I know I am dead in the middle of the mania. But as in all the manic episodes I have, I have no idea when it started and I'm unclear if the bell curve would even indicate when I can expect it to end. I breathe deeply and weigh if I should just go home with my paper towels or if I should find dog food in another store. I take my car tot he car wash with intention to vacuum. I pulled into a space and when pulling the hose over to the car, I remember I just vacuumed it two days before and there really is nothing to clean. I move the paper towels to the way back of the jeep so the back seat is clear.
I look up the nearest pet store with the brand of food my dogs eat. My eye chooses a store and I plug in the address into the gps app I use. Drive through to get another coffee for the journey and drive. (By this point I considered going home and driving back around the corner, but decided with the madness I may be so engulfed in writing, i miss closing time. And what if the delivery truck doesn't come still today?)
The store is 15 miles away. Not a problem. I love driving and perhaps it will calm my thoughts to listen to music and drive mid-day? My thoughts were filled with collective consciousness and I had both sides of a conversation with a friend who seems to be taking a break from philosophical discussions. I wondered what two other friends thought and sent requests to see them for drinks so i could share with them my musings.
GPS wanted me to take toll roads. My brain screamed, "For Dog Food? Negative!" I wound up on the street m parents met. I never knew the exact houses in which they lived but they were next door neighbors 1968-1970. I drove slow looking at the houses and came across the historic society and police station (same building) of the rural town. I pulled into the parking lot and then reminded myself that I was just picking up dog food and had to write today. At this time, it is over two hours since I ran down the street to get the big pack of paper towels and a fifty pound bag of dog food.
I get back on the road I know will take me back to Philly and cut through a road I believe takes me in the vicinity of the suburb where this pet food store is. Once I am away from the turnpike (toll road), I plug in the address again to GPS. I am taken into a neighborhood that friend who is taking a break from discussions with me. Every coffee shop that I pass screams at me to pull in and send a text that I'm at so and so, to see if he will talk to me. I resist and stay in the car. (The thought of interacting with someone, even to order a medium coffee with almond milk was frightening just then)
I pull into the parking lot of the dog food store and see that the store is closing. I sigh heavily believing they have already closed. But then, the door opens and the brand I am looking for is in there, with a discount from the store closing. I pull out my phone to text a friend who works at a shelter to inform of the discount and hesitate. I cannot handle the responsibility of waiting at the store for a list of his needs. I just cannot do it at the moment. I take the bag of dog food I want to the counter to pay and there are two people in front of me. They are standing too close to me and I really have not explored the sparse inventory to figure if I can get a good deal on something I would buy anyway. I put the bag of dog food down and walk through the store again. I am doing math for the 10-75% discount weighing if I want/need/can afford/cannot afford to pass up a deal like this! ... my brain is full of noise and I worry that someone is going to come to the counter and take the bag of food I selected. I return to the counter and pay for the bag of food. done.
I open the back door and put in the food on the seat. I open the way back and move the big pack of paper towels to the back seat, understanding that if the things aren't together, I'm going to forget and have to go out to the car for the second item. I need to spend as much time on writing as I can so running to the car a second time is going to interrupt that. I pat myself on the back for having this forethought and after turning on the engine, I move both the dog food and the paper towels into the way back in case someone calls and needs a ride. There is no need to have groceries on the seats when i have a cargo space in the way back.
I drive home. I know the way home. I don't have to GPS. Except I didn't know the way home. I was driving away from home and was lost in cul de sacs and school campuses with whole sports teams running together to my right. I plugged in the word home into the GPS app and found i was 18 miles from home. 18. So, I was going to a place 15 miles from home, had been out for four hours at this time and 18 miles from my home by the time I realized I was in the wrong direction. I found my way back to familiar streets while ice decided to fall from the sky.
The parking I believed would be available in front of my house was taken by a neighbor. Which is fine, but instead of unloading the 50 lb bag of food and awkward pack of towels while I was at my door, I parked and then beat myself up for not thinking about what I was doing. But I had a different focus then. I had to get in to my home without talking to any neighbor. I could not endure words.
I fell down on my couch after pushing the dog food against the inside of the door. I was exhausted, but pleased that I got the errand done and had the rest of the day to write. I made a cup of tea and realized I had spent six hours picking up dog food.
And then the anxiety hit. One of my favorites texted me. And I was talking to her about the positivity we are both trying to nourish for 2019. She had it harnessed. My positivity was scrambling to cover it's ass in yoga pants and provide some illusion it was holding itself together. My chest was pounding and my vision blurred. I sipped my tea and looked at her words, wishing she was closer, because I needed a run to a diner for a coffee and slice of pie so i could look at her breath when I can't. I hate feeling the crazy. And I know how much it hurts me to see her turn into the moods of her mental illness. I feel guilty about giving her this chaotic energy and just go quiet on my phone. She'll understand later. Just then, I had nothing more in me.
The anxiety didn't stop. I took my seroquel and fell alseep, completely believing, although unprepared to deal again today with it. I woke today with relief of the anxiety. The mania is gone too. I have a dull ache behind my eye and I wrote half a scene this morning. (writing a trial and took the change of witnesses to recess myself) I'm breathing today. I'm exhausted and hiding still. I'm feeling productive. If a friend calls for a bite of food and to see their face, I will be able to shower and change and drive as the crow flies.
I once asked my doctor if this is what 'normal' feels like. He suggested i use the word 'functional'. i'll take functional. i no longer believe I'm ever going to be free from these episodes. And I'm no more equipped now to cope with them than at any other point in my life. But, it does feel like a small victory to have gotten through the day of bananas with my breath.
I walked a mile in my own shoes today. Not another’s. Mine.
I thought initially about writing of mud and mushrooms, reflecting on the trek through muck in order to get to some unexpected nourishment. But then I walked on.
Rocks and Roots. It was definitely an afternoon of rocks and roots. I walked a mile in my own shoes among the rocks and roots.
Yesterday I spoke with a friend who is the rock of his family. I too have been accused of being the same.
Rocks are steady. They are the firm and strong. And somehow, they are expected to hold things together; until, crisis is over and then they feel unnecessary. Just a big heavy thing, crumbling into gravel with every use and walked on without much thought to the support they provide.
I walked along a path that didn’t appear to be a path at all. It appeared as though I was treading lightly over the natural formation of stones that in some manner resembled stairs up and down into the woods. I followed it along to a space called Devil’s Pool. The Lenape Tribe believed the space to be where good and evil converge. And as I sat on a rock entwined with roots of a tree that towered above me, I saw some things in the rocks I would have overlooked had I walked upon them without the moment of convening with them.
I saw the sun glint off the phosphorescent rocks twinkling in the air; and on a warmer day I may have been drawn to get closer and fall on the slippery bits into the pool the Lenape warned of in their legends.
Rock. Folks around rocks break down. And rocks do what they can to hold them together, nourishing their roots. The rock is ground down with every step. Every bit of growth that occurs through that root is nourished by that rock and credit is given to the sunshine and to the breath and to the water. Never the rock. Never the dirty muck the rock sinks in to allow the root to reach high with beauty into the light. Never the minerals, the very basic nutrients that chaff off without notice every time the rain falls or the wind blows.
My friend told me his crisis was under control and as a result, he felt…. When my rocky situations were over in my own life – After being given credit for having been a rock, there was a time for me to sink back into the dirt. Into my dirt. Into the dark and thick muck of me. Rocks don’t have rocks. It’s just how it is.
I used to believe that it was very simply being distracted by someone else, so I didn’t have to be with myself. So I didn’t have to feel what I felt, but I could fix what others wanted to feel. I believed it was easier to live in someone else’s story, because it put mine in perspective and I regained gratitude for what I have while realizing things could be worse.
But I have this friend now. I have this friend who seemed deflated after caring for someone who needed his rock persona. And in a very clear visualization, I said it’s because rocks are, by nature, stepped on. And until that moment, I hadn’t ever thought about being a rock or being stepped upon.
I realized then that I may have had it wrong. I may have had it wrong the whole time. The abused brain apologizes for everything and cannot fathom being important to anyone. And the elation of having someone need the rock reasonably has to have the corresponding reaction of deflation while feeling useless.
And none of this is to say that rocks are better than roots, or the other way ‘round. But it has me thinking about the very nature of a rock. How it cannot pull from others. A rock relies on itself to sink into the muck and pull nutrients as it can so it is sturdy and ready to support others in their journey.
I went to a show months ago with a panel of brave folks talking about their mental illness. One girl struck me in particular as she opened her speech with, “I have been diagnosed with ten mental illnesses. I can talk about nine of them.” And then she proceeded to talk about the tenth.
First, I sighed a breath of relief. I long have felt that I have more than bipolar 1. I have other things wrong with me that don’t fit into the symptom list of bipolar disorder. But I’ve finally grown comfortable saying I am bipolar, so I stopped with that diagnosis, believing if there was real scrutiny of my broken brain, it would be more a diagnosis of ‘batshit crazy’ than anything else.
So, without any more hiding, I’m going to say it. I hallucinate. I see things that other people do not see. I hallucinate. I have reasoned out what the shapes are in my periphery and how the message from my eye to brain missed up the air before me with a tangible thing. I hallucinate.
I remember the first time I hallucinated, and it scared the poop out of me. I was not alone and I realized it was not normal when my companion furrowed his brow and gave me that look only a normal could give. And now – actually weeks ago, there was another step in this terrifying brainial thing. I didn’t know it was a hallucination.
It was more than just misinterpretation of a something. It was not a long thing. I just could not tell if it was something that others saw or just me. I looked around deciding whom I could trust with the question, to which my anxiety screamed, ‘not these folks!’ And when I looked back, it was gone. A breath of clarity later, and I knew I had to disclose this development to my psychiatrist. I haven’t even told him I hallucinate, and now I’m going to have to escalate it.
I am afraid of birds. Anyone who knows me understands the sheer terror I have when they are around. There are a few exceptions to this fear. Hawks, Eagles, and Crows. I don’t know why. I am not an expert on ornithophobia or broken brains. So, it occurred to me that the fear of birds is somehow connected to the hallucinating. But then I realized that I do not react to somethings because I either know them to be, or believe they could be hallucinations.
I have bugs mostly. Bugs crawl in front of my fingers as I type and in my periphery. Crawling in the air, unlike the nature of a creepy crawly. Never spiders and perhaps that is the reason I adore arachnids and bug eaters. I have two praying mantises in my bathroom currently hanging out. (Real, not hallucinations – I sent a photo to a friend and she replied indicating she saw the critter.) I am not afraid of bugs. Is it because they are so frequently in my field of view? I don’t know – again, not an expert on broken brains.
I know this is not what people call normal. I don’t want anyone to tell me it’s okay not to be normal or that there is no normal. There most definitely is a normal and I’m not a part of it. What I have is regular stuff. It is regular for me to hallucinate. It is regular for me to sink and speed and cry and yell. It is not normal.
I feel I need to tear my skin off. This is something I have told some people close to me. This is something that, although abnormal, some other people have told me they experience too. I don’t know if it is the same, but it’s fucking weird when it happens and has me concerned for my safety. This week my wrists ache. The flesh beneath my skin is screaming to break free and want me to cut to free the meat within. I am fighting the noise in my brain and the need in my fingertips to scratch until there is a cut I can pick open.
I have bruises all over my body from places I try to cut with my fingertips that I keep wrapped in acrylic now to avoid the blood oozing out. And it worked. I reconditioned myself to NOT scratch myself open to bleed because I could not. Except in the past few months, I have felt the noise and the need so often and so loudly that I use an unbelievable amount of force to get under my own skin, resulting in bruises.
I’ve been physically assaulted and abused. I know what bruises feel like and I know it is not something I should do to myself. One may say that I’m mad enough to give the discoloration because I miss the pain it caused. I miss seeing the changing colors of healing and knowing how long they have to show from the purples, blues, greens, and yellows. And I don’t know if that is it or not, but I know that I see the bruises and I’m embarrassed at them. Not embarrassed enough to over them in shame, but if someone were to ask me what happened, I would respond – I have responded, ‘I was scratching,’ but not a detail of my madness and the need to remove my skin from my body.
I want to breathe. There are days I lay on the couch and I can envision myself with no skin at all. Letting the blood and muscles breathe. It is not normal. It is regular for me. There are days when I feel suffocated with this protective layer and wonder if I am so vulnerable, how is this façade of taut stretched tissue going to protect me at all?
I got punched in the heart this week. I should be offended at the words that were launched with apathy my way. I was crushed. I had tears leak out my face and was not ashamed of the emotion. It wasn’t this single act of apathism for my company, but an onslaught of all the times I’ve been discarded like trash in my relationships with my fellow man. I have said, the stronger one is, the harder they are beaten. I can only take solace in the fact that I must be strong as a fuck to have taken as many licks as I have and still hold it together enough to seem strong enough to be beaten down once again.
I wanted to write this to write. I wanted to share with whomever finds their eyes on my words the moments I feel my weaknesses. I wanted to get it out of my head and hopefully away from my body, so I stop hurting myself. I’m worried about the hallucinations, but so scared to discuss it with anyone, including my doctor. I am terrified of making myself bleed and not being able to recover. I am sickened by the thought that I have lived through much worse than the battle going on within me and I cannot give up regardless of how badly I want a respite from the abnormalities in my brain.
i took a shower today.
I said these words and thought these words when trying to quantify an achievement for the day. It wasn't today. I have not showered yet. It is one o'clock in the afternoon.
Depression has definitely been a factor for a few weeks and simple things like showering, washing dishes, even putting dog food in a bowl to care for the critters with whom i live - it's just exhausting.
And i've done stuff. i've gone to work, bought groceries, even went to a few social outings. And in all the minutes i'm [sleep] walking through life, all i could think about was hiding under blankets again with or without eyes closed and with or without silence. when the blanket is the important bit, it matters not if i'm sleeping or awake.
And the blankets smell like dog. (because i have these monsters laying on me - which is quite lovely and i miss them when they nest up on the comforters they stole across the room.) So i smell like dog. Everything in my house is covered with dog hair and dog smell. A little one i work with said, "you smell like puppies and perfume." To which i replied, "Puppies is my perfume." It was enough of a jest to make her laugh and enough to convey that i hold no embarrassment about the fragrant scent wafting from my skin. But the cause of the smell is .... the cause of the dog smell is simply because i cannot do a simple thing like cleaning my skin some days.
I like being clean. i like lying in a tub of bubbles and smoothing oils and creams on my skin to soothe any ache in my muscles and open my pores to remove the grime of the world. And most days i am. Most days, i can get through a shower or bath and pull some clean clothes on my body, brush my hair and even get mascara all the way to my eyelashes. But on the days that i can't - the days i don't give a fuck if anyone can smell the stink i can. (my nose is closer to me than anyone else - i know i smell bad.) Those days are days of unease. again it's not embarrassment. i'm good with puppies being my perfume. But it's an unease. it's the cycle of why can't i function in a manner which i expect others? how can i have this derision in my thoughts manifesting itself with a crinkle of nose and a furrow of brow with the perplexing question of why can't they be clean? it ever occurs to me that on some days i am not.
There is a bit of -- that which we don't like about others is the thing in which we hate about ourselves. i hate seeing bad parenting because i question my parental skills. I don't like talking to obstinate people without a clue because i fear that in my stubbornness, i'm dumb and bullying my way into acceptance of my opinions.
So what about this shower thing? i am a blamer. I say the words that i am explaining, not excusing; but, in contemplation [and among other mad folks] i can be honest with myself and use the word blame in relation to my behavior. I can blame not having time or energy to do this thing that seems regular. That's not true though. i have water. i have a hot water heater. i live alone, so i never have to wait for a turn. And yet?
It takes three minutes to shower and thirty seven to fret about the process. In the time it takes me to silently grouse about going through the process, i could have showered, made and drank a cup of coffee and read a short chapter of a book.
The shower is not the only thing. (and again, it's not every day) It's washing dishes and cleaning the floors and doing laundry and making dinner.... And to be clear, this is not a joke where it's like, by the time i get out the shampoo, conditioner, soap, razor, scrunchy sponge, face scrub, foot scrub, and sugar scrub for my relaxing bath i can only fall asleep in the tub. (not getting clean at all) This has never been a joke. When i think to myself, 'i took a shower today.' it's to reassure myself that i did something hard. i did something my brain was fighting against.
So right now, six hours after i woke up, i am lying on the couch on a dog-smelling blanket with my feet on a cane corso. i have not showered today. i have cleaned the floors and learned a new knitting stitch.
I don't know why mental illness beats us up so hard. I look at the pill bottles sitting on my coffee table and read the names to ensure i'm taking the right ones for the time of day and still it's excruciatin to remove the lids and count the pills while avoiding the slivers of light from the blinds covering the windows. I'm afraid if i go outside, someone will see that i am mad. Someone will know that i couldn't shower today. And truly there are days when i don't give a fuck. I'm not sure it matters with the dark cloud if i care or not. it's hard to appear normal. It's hard to do regular.
People cringe at the word. Unless it’s trending like last month when celebrities succumbed to their own hands and then there is a pseudo- what am I looking to say – care? People cared? Or they didn’t want to feel discomfort about something they don’t understand?
The first definition of the word suicidal per merriam-webster is dangerous; especially to life. The second is destructive to one’s own interests.
Negative. Whomever wrote that has not lived it.
This episode started Monday on my commute. Overwhelming anxiety and hallucinations in my periphery. Birds everywhere. It’s spring/summer. There are birds. But they have been sitting on the ground or in a flower bed – one was on the hood of a car as I walked along my street. I know what’s real and what only I can see. Hallucinations have been with me since I was twenty years old. It’s not premonitions or memories or ghosts – although there have been a few of those. They are just things I see outside of my head that no one else does. Frequently, it is the goat man who runs from corner to corner on the floor. Probably more than him, the bugs come around. Along my computer screen or on my hands as they type on the keyboard. Windowsills and doorframes. It’s just bugs. There was a head with a lot of make-up, but she was only there, inexplicably, once.
Anxiety. Anxiety is my temperature rising suddenly. People invade what I perceive as my personal space. They look at me hard. My heart pounds. My breath labors. I open my mouth wide to draw in breath to fill my lungs before exhaling in case it is my last breath. My dad did this too. Did he suffer from anxiety?
On auto-pilot I reached my office and sat my ass in my chair. Nine hours before I can make my way home again and get under the security of a blanket. A comforter. I needed comfort. I needed to be comforted. But immediately, I needed to isolate until this passed. I’ve been through it before; but, what if it doesn’t go away this time? What if my heart pounding and my temperature fluctuating is something requiring medical attention?
Still in auto-pilot I worked. Mid-morning showed up with weaponry to vanquish the anxiety. Quiet in my brain. Darkness in my thoughts. I took a walk around to get coffee. Blood pumping would prod thoughts. I’m suspicious when the chaotic noise hushes. It’s readying an attack. I take a breath as I smell the coffee. Still nothing inside me. I walk back to take my chair and the lighting seems dim. The sun shining through my window is not bright enough to be the ball of fire I know it to be. My vision blurs and I am seeing movement in the trees outside, now wondering if it is in my head or before my eyes. I check to ensure I’m wearing my prescription lenses and not my cheap sunglasses.
And then the breath happened. An inhalation of air that filled me with the darkness surrounding me. That ton of bricks I’ve mentioned before. That feeling of being so full of sorrow I can’t control the weeping and whimpering. And then I beat myself up for displaying weakness. I’m quiet, because I fear an explosion of uncertain mood. I fear someone knowing that I’m having an episode. I don’t even know if this is the bipolar 1. I don’t know what this is. It’s terrible. It’s an absolute war within me of anxiety and depression. It’s not sad. I don’t need a hug and I don’t need water. I’ve taken my meds and I’ve gotten enough vitamins. I just sink. Intolerance grows for anything not profound and from my mouth comes thoughts peppered with the profane.
Double medication on Monday night and then when waking in the middle of the night, I took another half a pill. I got collectively four hours of sleep (taking way more of my anti-psychotic than my body should have needed).
Tuesday morning. I was up at four am making coffee. I was sinking and while I blanketed up on the couch to watch the news while I caffeinated, I felt myself gasping for air. And at the same time, I couldn’t reason why I was trying to breathe so hard. The anxiety and depression weren’t passing. The sneaky bastards invited another to the party in that space disconnecting my brain from my body. Suicidal feelings. Separate from the anxiety and far different from depression. It's Thursday now. The thoughts are still present.
And I’ve been suicidal before. A new friend keeps calling me ‘an attempt survivor’. I suppose everyone survives something daily. I speak of myself when I say the following. It’s what I’ve noticed inside and out. If you experience something different, it’s no more or less than i.
Suicide. People are afraid to confront the word and the feelings. There is a guilt when experiencing thoughts and actions that could result in death. Others are struggling with things they have no control over. Things their bodies are fighting and they grow weak and medically they are nothing more than shells until their brain and their heart can no longer sustain communication one to another. What gives me the right to decide when my time is over? Well, I’m struggling too. I have a different fight, but it’s still a fight to keep brain and my blood working together.
It’s the ones left behind that suffers. To this, I say everyone dies and everyone grieves for something or someone. Frequently I find myself grieving for people who still exist, but not in my world. I call out for them with as much fervor as I cry at the cemetery when I talk to those I used to know, no longer able to walk beside me. I’m feeling internal guilt for the incapacity to suffer one more breath and one more heartbeat sounding like thumping drums in my chest and behind my eyes. External guilt by those who do not live it is not only unnecessary, but it’s impolite. There’s an arrogance in the sentiment that my medical condition, although different, is less than another. And without a doubt, there is not a range of severity with any other condition. Why should mental illness be so embarrassing? It’s not embarrassing. It’s misunderstood. It cannot be understood by everyone. And I had a hard time grasping this concept.
I have become open about my mental illness because I’m so tired of the internal attack that can’t be seen by others. I’m tired of being questioned when I don’t have the reason to lay out words to explain. I become incapacitated. I’m as frozen with any of these episodes as when a bird flies toward me or stands steady looking at me while I walk along the sidewalk. That passes in a moment. And people seem to understand that fear with either understanding or a laugh. But days on end without the ability to shower or cleaning obsessively or holding my mouth open in an effort to fill my lungs with breath- this is not understood?
Breathe. I cannot when my chest is closing and when the suicidal thoughts creep in, I can’t feel my chest or breath or heartbeat. And to the point, I don’t care.
Something to live for. [Something from my past] cannot be my legacy. Why the fuck not? What makes it so important that I contribute anything to a society that has devolved into a popularity contest and trending topics instead of the progression of a thoughtful and reasonable society. Words have lost their meaning. I fail to see the point in creating something significant that will be viewed as garbage.
My kids. See the bit about grieving. It pains me that I have passed this madness to them. I don’t know what to say about having them as collateral damage. I hesitate in writing this because I fear them reading it. I hesitate in sharing this, maybe because I don’t want to admit it’s affecting me as it is. My children are not responsible for my actions. I speak to one or all of my adult children daily. This is a big deal when none of them live with me and an even bigger deal knowing the lack of communication I had with my parents, even when I lived in the same house as they. In no way is suicidal thoughts ever because there is an absence of feeling toward those you are love.
It’s selfish. Absolutely not. I am hurting everyone in my path as it is. I’m not of any value. I can not care for myself or others. It’s no more selfish than removing myself from a situation in which I am no longer valuable. Again, see that bit about grieving.
Permanent solution to a temporary problem. This may be my least favorite of all the things people say when addressing suicidal thoughts. My bipolar is a permanent problem. Six years old I remember the mood swings. Eight years old was my first suicide attempt. Eleven years old i was possessed with mania and had such a mood swing that I had to be held down so I didn’t hurt myself. I’ve been hospitalized three times for bipolar disorder and have walked into emergency rooms several times for sedation without being admitted. I had no idea I would have made it forty-five years, but here I am, still living with this very permanent condition.
To digress, the first definition of the word suicidal per merriam-webster is dangerous; especially to life. The second is destructive to one’s own interests. I still can’t figure out how this is the definition. The only danger is an abnormality causing an uncomfortable discussion. Destructive to one’s interest? What if the interest is to stop suffering? I’m having a real hard time understanding why this topic is taboo. I’m having a harder time reasoning how words in a book to describe words could be so foreign from what I experience.
So, I sit among people without the ability or care to stop tears leaking out my face. And it has been said that this will pass as it has before. To my silent retort, ‘unless it doesn’t and it’s me who passes.’
A moment of illumination occurred last night when I said, ‘they can’t see how I feel.’ There is nothing that my body does to illustrate to others the turmoil occurring inside. It’s the same as looking at someone with a broken leg. I have a broken head. And I must remember that no one can see what I feel.
If you read this whole thing today, thank you. I know I’m all over the place with this free-writing I do. I suppose my words will not stop until that complete disconnect from my head to my heart is for real.
Last night, i left work relatively on time, took the train into the city, walked down the street to the bank, withdrew money from my account and walked down another street with intention to get a beer before watching a movie.
I knew the bar i intended to sit my ass on a stool to drink a pint and watch the minutes. It was one that is not real busy and i could definitely hide in there without talking to anyone. Still, i started about two blocks from the bank. Should i go to, a thousand others on my way? Should i text the remaining six people in the world i like to join me? Should i stay on target and just get to where I wanted to be?
It was already starting and i didn't see it. I went, ordered my beer, slid my dollars to the waitress and sat at a corner table alone. I sipped from the pint watching people pass the open window, others at the bar talking about whiskey and work. My heartbeat was calm. Temperature reasonable. Head at peace. I read some emails, exchanged some text messages and was relatively content.
I walked to the movie theatre and bought a vegan cookie to eat outside while i waited for more minutes to tick and tock. A sparrow dove at me from the tree under which i sat. I startled and moved. My heartbeat was still calm. My temperature reasonable. Head was at peace. I ate my cookie.
I checked in to the screening and took my commemorative magnet and pin before getting a seltzer and taking my seat five rows back and in the middle. Fifteen minutes to dark. I was still fine. People flooded in, but i had a buffer. Two seats to the left. Two seats the right. Two people directly behind me, but no one between me and the screen. Ten minutes to dark. I was fine.
Then my eyes hurt. i took off my glasses. My head pounded. I grew hot. My heartbeat raced. My thoughts raced. My airway closed and my breathing became labored. I looked around and no one else was panicked. Nothing changed in the theatre. We were not under invisible attack. Well, I was being attacked. No one noticed and no one came to my rescue. I had to get out of my seat. i had to get to some place with more air. I had to get someplace where the force pressing against my ears and eyes had room to move away from me. I picked up my handbag and looked to my left, then to my right. I had to pass five people on the right and two on the left. The right was closer to the door. The right is the way i came into the theatre. The right way was the only way that made sense. I excused myself over their legs, purses and popcorn hoping i didn't bump anything or anyone, not for the embarrassment of spilling something, but because if anything touched my body i will have known i made the wrong directional choice and would have to turn back to go left.
I pushed the door open and tried to breathe the outside air. I still could not open my lungs. I walked away gasping and holding my bag wanting to fall on the ground in tears. I looked for my sunglasses to buffer my eyes from the setting sun in the overcast cloudy sky. Left on the coffee table at home. I told myself i could do this. I couldn't feel my legs beneath me. I couldn't see the traffic i walked into while i made my way to the bus. I took my seat and put my little bag on the seat next to me to indicate, no you may not sit next to me, and watched out the window as the streets moved to the back of my periphery.
I stepped onto the blacktop. Just two more blocks until home. i can do this. I walked in front of another car without apology. I turned the corner and looked up to a porch to a neighbors house that usually gets a hello. no neighbor. breath. i didn't have to choke out any words. Walked in the middle of the street to buffer myself from the kids playing on the sidewalk. Two more neighbors on their porch. Can i get away with a wave? I sighed heavily and made a noise as my hand went up into the air. Not a word, but enough of a salutation to pass. The Carolyns are sitting three doors down calling out to me. I try to just wave and pull my keys from my handbag. There's a red cup on my step with two ice cubes. i turn to the cat in the car behind me. "Is this your cup?" He looks at me as if I used foreign words - and who knows - maybe i did? I repeat myself using all my energy. "Is this your cup?" He responds, "nah, you can toss it." I place it upon the trash from the weekend in the trash bin i haven't had it in me to put away since last week. If it was his and he wants it, it's not spilled out, but it's not on my step to coax ants for a visit.
I turn the key, yell at my dog to stop jumping. She jumps on the couch with ears down because she knows she forgot we don't do that anymore. I shuffle to the kitchen to give her a cookie for remembering, even if she messed up at first, turned the container's lid to pull out food for her bowl. I put the other dog in another room to close the door and let him eat without her interest in his bowl. Turn on the tub and sink thinking the warm water will cycle through my pores and relieve the anxiety. It didn't. I'm not sure if the water made it worse, but it certainly didn't help. The steam was choking me. The pungent fragrance of rosemary and mint cut through my throat and I was mad at myself for buying that scent of shampoo. I let the water out beneath me and feared falling when i stepped out from the slippery ceramic.
Wrapped in a towel, i opened the door for my guy and sunk into the couch with two dogs at my feet. I just needed to breathe. I just needed air. I still was struggling. I took a quarter dose of my anti-psychotic, looking at the time, knowing it was too early in the evening to take the full dose. I considered that this was not anxiety. I could not reason why my body was shutting down although it was speeding up in every way. My skin was prickly. My eyes burned and tears fell from my cheeks. my nose felt swollen. I looked at the bottles of medication and knew none of them would help me.
A sweatshirt and underwear was excruciating to pull onto my body. I wrapped up in a comforter and smelled the moisture being pulled from the air by the machine in the window. I had to get out of the house, but outside was worse from what i remembered the evening to be.
It was that moment - when i wanted to be out of the house, but needed to be in it more - that i realized it was an anxiety attack. Or a panic attack. It was an attack. From the inside. I wanted to write then about it, wanted to get it out, but the thought of stringing words together in any cohesive form was overwhelming. I couldn't' even look at my laptop. I just sat there in silence helpless against the attack.
I know that was a long way to go. I know that was a lot of words. But that is what i experienced from the onset of the episode until i can't remember what happened to end it. I woke today exhausted. I can't remember my dreams which have been vivid since i started taking seroquel. I still feel like i'm walking through a cloud and i imagine today is going to be completely non-productive. I expect it.
On the train today, i considered the moments I survived last night. I labeled it anxiety. And then i remembered i used to use the words anxiety attack. i sometimes used the words panic attack. I used the word attack. Attack: an aggressive or violent act. Attacked from my insides. I keep saying it because i thought those words over and over while i sat sipping my iced coffee in my routine.
It's the kind of attack in which no one runs to rescue. And if they do, it sometimes makes it worse. It's the kind of attack one must battle on their own. It's the kind of attack that movie goers and bus drivers and neighbors can't even see. It's a forceful and viscous assault on my mind and body. It's a punch to my spirit and stability.
I don't know what i'm getting to with this - many times I don't. I suppose it's just another explanation of my madness. A journal of bedlam. I wish it ended here. i wish that will be the final attack I feel. It's doubtful that's true. And for those looking for a reason, or claiming there is something external that causes this, know that it strikes without warning. It happens while in a routine. Within the benign that i carry myself through a thousand times (and also when chaos is an external factor), there is an attack, and there is nothing i can do but fight to get to a safe place where i can heal before going back into battle.
When Sevy realizes the pharmaceuticals keeping their bodies young are weened from those deemed to have exhausted their usefulness, he believes he must delve into the purpose of this synthesized society believing it is not much different than the life he lived on earth.
Esther Elizabeth Buck
i'm halfway through my life with the stifled stories stirring. i should have done it earlier, but i am on the