the lingering rebellion

went to see my friend in the psych ward today. forgot just how rigid the rules there are. as i was leaving the house, i remembered to bring him some stuff — two books (including the book i inadvertently “stole” from the psych ward nearly nine years ago), a pen/journal, a daily AA meditation book, and some AA grapevine magazines. i made sure to tell his girlfriend (also a friend of mine) to tell other people that they wouldn’t be “overwhelming” him to come and visit. there’s nothing better than visitors in the psych ward.

for those of you who are LOST fans, the best way that i could describe it would be to say that your friends and family become your “constant.” they are the things that anchor you to your reality, the outside world, the things that are “normal.” the way things were and are before you became manic-depressive or before things got “broken.” besides, they only give you an hour and a half, so how much can it really be?

but when we went in, i had to give the nurse all the things i brought so she could look over them before she brought them in to give to andy. and i know there’s got to be a million reasons why they do it, but i just was so irritated. like “fuck off. he’s my friend. i love him. i know what i can give him. i’m not going to give him anything bad.” and it turns out she couldn’t even give him the journal because “of the spiral.” really? is this jail?

again, i get it. he could get psychotic, someone else could get psychotic and then they’re slashing and cutting with this spiral from a notebook. but it still felt shitty. that’s the stuff people don’t realize. i’ve never been to jail, but being “in an institution” is close enough. your personal rights are taken away and it’s not like you’ve committed any crime. that’s the worst part. when you go to jail, it’s because you’ve ostensibly committed and been convicted of doing something illegal; something harmful toward society. in a psych ward, all the crime you’ve committed is getting sick.

it was one of the things that hurt the most about having my friends drift away from me at this time. i couldn’t see outside of myself; couldn’t see the behaviors i was doing that were affecting them or causing them any pain, and so i just couldn’t understand why i was being “punished” for something that was already punishment enough in my mind. when i was telling my friend’s girlfriend about my experience with visitors, though, i did realize this — my one visitor when i was inpatient was my ex-boyfriend. he and i would go on to have a very sad, rocky, volatile and hurtful ending. but, at that moment, he truly was a friend to me. he came, visited me, brought me things (clothes, books). he stayed and visited, even though i know for a fact that he hated hospitals and lots of general situations brought him great anxiety. i had a great sense of gratitude for him today, and i wish i could just reach out and tell him that.

i also got to see the flip side of caring for someone who doesn’t have the best judgment. one of my obsessions when i am in a bad spot is that my friends hate me and that they are all talking about me behind my back. that paranoia can still creep in today when i am in a mixed episode or really depressed. now, when i was in the psych ward, the paranoia that people were talking about me really was a fear founded in fact — people *were* talking about me. but now going through this with my friend, i can see that people were just trying to figure out what the best things to do were. what the best ways to handle things were. i can only imagine they were doing things hoping to find my best interest, despite any personal problems they may have had with me at the time.

lastly, i can definitely see the big picture on this one. all the years of trial and error on meds and doctors and losing jobs and struggling to make heads or tails of my manic-depression have finally come to bear some fruit. i am finally getting to see how i can be of use to people — i had a couple of other people get in contact with me about similar issues this week as well. i can say with certainty that it was all worth the various stages of struggle if it means i have been able to help out people who are going through these things for the first time.

one of the things we talked about in our visit was starting a meeting for people who had mood disorders and were also recovering from alcoholism. i have thought about starting a meeting like that for years. looks like it’s finally time. i rebel against the rules of a psych ward. i rebel against the idea that i might still be manic-depressive. i rebel against the work i have to do to make changes in my life. but at the end of the day, i see pretty clearly what the “work i have to do” is. i just need to show up and do it.

flashbacks, flash-forwards, flash-sideways

i spent at least five hours in a locked, white room with an observation camera and padded walls last night. luckily for me, i wasn’t there for my own dark reasons, and i was in the company of friends. unfortunately, i was there to support a friend who is struggling, trying to find out why his brain is seemingly broken and his body is betraying him.

i was there with his girlfriend and my other friend, who is one of his best friends. i have known that he’s been having a rough go for quite some time and we’ve been in close contact — i’ve received some late-night calls, talking to him when he’s walking around walgreens, wired and manic. i understand these things, and i believe with everything in me that part of my lonesome, terrifying, depressing journey the year i was diagnosed with manic-depression was all to serve as fodder for my upcoming service to people i would meet.

ditto on all the subsequent years of trial and error with meds and continued mixed episodes and going through doctors and just navigating and negotiating the world of mental illness and the systems and side doors of trying to get better. i have to believe this, otherwise i would start to think that i have a punishing god; or at least somewhere on the spectrum i would think i have a god who is apathetic or just doesn’t want to see me succeed. i don’t really know which is worse. probably the god who doesn’t give a fuck, because if i had a god who wanted to see me suffer, at least he’d be showing an interest in me, right?

existential digression aside, it was such a strange thing to watch him in his moment of trial and surrender. i just prayed that the doctors who would take care of him would get something right. that they’d get him stabilized fairly quickly. that they’d get the whole picture and really listen to what his girlfriend and i had said about what *we* had seen happening to him. i prayed that he’d be able to let go of some of the obsessions that he had — about school and work and having to still get things done — and be able to know that it was time to get well. that he’d come to peace with the idea that he was, in fact, ill.

honestly, that’s still something i struggle with. that i have an illness. that i have a chronic fucking illness — in my mind, somewhat akin to diabetes. it’s just not going anywhere. i have to constantly keep it at bay with a regimen of meds or hardcore life alterations or both. and even then, i seemingly can have flare-ups from time to time. it’s disappointing and heartbreaking sometimes. it makes me frustrated and irritated and sad, depending. on a bad day, i can get to “why me?” but when i really pull back, it makes me grateful that i can be there for my friend when he needed me.

i will say that i have always been distrustful of authority — medical authorities, in particular. people who want you to wait here, or sit here, or not let you in here. people who try to keep you out or cut you off or want you to do things a certain way. i’m sure it stems from all the years of my dad being in hospitals, being sick, being so little and not being able to do anything about any of it. although, even as an adult, i see how helpless people are. how they feel so meek and mild and unable to advocate for themselves — the patients’ own families get shut out, confused, feel like they can’t or shouldn’t ask questions or stand up for themselves.

so, i always get a little jacked up in hospitals. but i also always try to keep that singing, ringing energy i have somewhere on the back burner. see, i also know that you can’t outright belligerent, either. it’s like i’m in a movie and i’m trying to spy — sneak — get things/intel/information. you have to know when to make your move or when to put on the charm and when to get crazy up in there. mostly, you keep the crazy down and the charm high. i always feel like i’m putting one over on people, because i kind of feel sort of crazy in hospitals; like you can never get what you need, so you always have to be scheming.

and the fact of the matter is, no matter how paranoid that sounds, a lot of times, it’s true. there’s some ridiculous protocol that makes no sense. there’s some stupid rule that just is crying out to be broken. there’s something they’re asking you to do that just is worthless. that they *know* is worthless, but they’re doing like a robot, as if they’ve forgotten how to think for themselves. i’m always on the lookout for these things.

one of these things sort of was getting put in this room last night. if my friend had been by himself, i could see putting him in this locked room — you’re busy, you can’t watch people. but, there were three of us with him. but, we all got to get locked in there with him. and the minute we walked in there, i felt like we were in some sort of LOSTian room. somewhere, people from the Others or the Dharma Initiative were watching us.

at one point, my friend’s girlfriend (also a friend of mine), sort of put her head back and bumped her head on the wall — she noticed that her head wasn’t encountering a hard, concrete wall. she sort of tested her theory again by bumping her head against the wall again. nope, it kind of had some give. subtly bouncy. mildly … padded? aaahh! weird. we had no clue that it was, and we all assumed if you were in a padded room, it was so much more obvious than this. there were all sorts of strange silver faceplates in the wall that seemed awful ominous to me. what were they hiding/covering?

my friends were convinced that there was no audio to their video, but honestly, i wasn’t. however, we were pretty fucking hilarious at times. that was the absolute joy of it all. as per usual, me and my recovering alcoholic friends covered the gamut — serious talks about mental illness, joking about our mutual friend’s romantic dilemma, talking about our run ins with sugar-free candy, describing a typical day in a psychiatric ward (me), discussing scientific “happiness literature” (my friend), going over potential hilarious scenarios that we could act out between us and the hospital staff (me and my friend who was there to visit), my friend who was there to visit running out to various convenience/drugstores to get us rations while we waited, and doing a whole lot of laughing. lots and lots of laughing.

at one point, i read from the big book. at one point, we talked about movies. at one point, we talked about procreation (literally — having kids to carry on genes). at one point, we talked about casinos. at one point, we sat quietly. at one point, i was laughing so hard about having diarrhea, the kind of laughter where you can’t even breathe/make a sound, that i banged my hand on the wall and they thought we needed to be let out.

it was so much different than the day i checked myself into the hospital, beaten, broken down, tired and confused. it was 10 in the morning vs 10 at night . i took a bus there; they drove. it was late spring; this was mid-winter. i was all by myself; he was surrounded by friends. i hadn’t yet gotten sober; he’s been sober 7 years. i had an ex-boyfriend and no support network; he has a live-in girlfriend and a support network that’s deep and wide. they knew i was manic-depressive; technically, they’re not quite sure what’s wrong with him yet. my obsession was that i was convinced people were talking about me and hated me; he just wants to make sure he gets all of his work and schoolwork done.

our similarities are that we were at the end of our collective ropes; we couldn’t manage to fix ourselves anymore, and we couldn’t go on living the way we had been. we couldn’t see fit to walk through life in the state of mind we were currently in. i don’t think either one of us were standing right next to the door of suicide, but i think we just were wanting to turn off the world for a good long while. while sobriety is the very best thing that ever happened to me, spending a week in that psych ward was the first step toward that journey.

however, i’ll tell you this: now that i’m sober and stabilized, i have no desire to go back. there’s something about not being able to get out of somewhere upon immediate desire that is beyond disconcerting. sometimes, it’s the best solution to a dire situation, but i find that i will take whatever means necessary to avoid that situation in the future. if you’ve never been in a situation like it, you won’t know what i’m talking about until you do. my experience was by no means terrible, but it’s something i will absolutely never forget.

i’m as fucking cliche as they come

if it’s not freud and your father, it’s something fucking else.  let’s talk transference this week, shall we?  so, i’m back in therapy.  fucking swell.  to catch y’all up to speed (it’s y’all. not ya’ll.  you all. not … what the fuck would ya’ll be short for? ya all?  okay, in the south maybe that’s actually relevant with a drawl.), it’s emotions emotions emotions.  at least, that’s how i’m seeing it.

where are mine? why am i afraid of them? why do i have a hard time accepting other people’s toward me? when do mine come out? where? how? why? in what amounts?  why aren’t my mind (thinking) and body (emotions) linked?  why did i just start to grab my head there?

anyway … in the short time i’ve been back in therapy, i’ve started to think about these things a lot — but started to feel a lot because of them, too.  i’m hearing my therapist’s questions in my head (i *do* want to change and i want answers — my good student side convinces me it’s because i need to impress him or i’m doing this for him or i need to please him, look good for him, something _____ him.  it’s directed outward, for sure.) and i’m searching for answers.

meanwhile, all these opportunities keep being put in my path.  people “randomly” telling me what they think of me — complimenting me on my fashion, telling me they admire something about my personality, etc. etc.  giving me another chance to stop and actually try and listen and open myself up to what they are giving me — not just intellectually, but emotionally as well.  it’s hard.

and then wednesday night, i get thrown another piece of my emotionally strained pie.  a very quick exchange of heated words with a friend in front of a small group of other friends leaves me FURIOUS. fucking FURIOUS. the things i have floating around in my head to say back are ringing with rage, when i can grab words — mostly, i am shellshocked with emotions and can barely think.  this is one of my best friends in the world, mind you, and i can’t believe this is happening.  THIS is what strong emotions are like.  

at one point, my therapist asked me if i was hesitant to be involved with my emotions because of my bipolar. at the time, i was sort of offended at the suggestion.  god, what did he think, i was some fucking out of control wackjob?  did he think i was completely off the handle, rapid cycling like a freak?  i somewhat summarily dismissed the concept out of hand.  however, i should have known better — any time something gets at me like that, there’s usually something to it. 

i have VERY VERY strong emotions, people.  i know you have seen me be passionate about this or that. i know that’s part of my character. i am glad for my love of things and my ability to fight for things when it’s called for.  and i also think part of all of it is my “old soulness.”  i think my sensitivity to psychic energies and feeling situations around me all play into my emotional scene.  but, let’s face it.  i’m coming to find out that yes, i can flip on a dime.  and yes, my emotions come hard and fast sometimes. and yes, they are what my high school friend used to call “deep and wide.” they’re extensive. they’re huge. they’re of monstrous proportions.  i don’t know that other people feel the way i do. i don’t know that other people go the places i do.  think the things i do.  it’s fucking scary, honestly.

now, i’m not wont to get into details, because let’s face it.  i’m not killing myself, i’m not killing anyone else. i’ve never even come close. i’m a fucking pacifist.  but, the FEELINGS that accompany some of these situations are fucking hardcore. serious insane rage — coming from that exchange of words.  rage.  hateful fucking over the top rage.  i wanted to smash, punch, rage, kick, freakthefuckout on something or someone.  but i didn’t. i just didn’t.  and it’s like … what the motherfuck? what did i sign up for here?  did i really say i wanted to change? deal with emotions? get into this shit really deep?

cause i wanted to leave the therapist a voicemail (here’s the transference part, kids) and give him holy hell. i still kind of want to go in there on monday and rip his fucking face off.  nice, hey? it’s not his fault. he didn’t do anything.  he’s just sitting there, doing his deal, trying to help me out.  he’s just probably working his ass off for nothing and trying to make a difference in this world.  but i wanted to leave him a horrible message on wednesday night and tell him what a fuck i thought he was. how dare he lead me here and leave me stuck with nothing against all of this. leave me wondering what to do with all this denial and suppressing rage, motherfucker.

and even as i’m having this fucking daymare about leaving this wretched message — of which would have been at least 50% choked out of ragged breath and bitter sobs — i am knowing what a fucking cliche it is to be pissed off at your therapist for nothing.  for being mad and angry and afraid and never ever ever having the time or the energy or the wherewithal to do these emotions with any sort of normal concentration or dose or release and now being left with some crazy ass amalgam of improvisation and desperate need and forced reaction when even the slightest bit of pressure is put upon me.  it’s like having a structure that has held up in whatever sort of condition for whatever amount of time, but the second a slight crack is exposed, it starts to fall apart in short order.

all i can think is: i never signed up for this. i never signed up to be manic-depressive or grow up in that house. never signed up to be an alcoholic.  never signed up to be codependent. never signed up to have a precocious fucking head that runs all the fucking time. never signed up to feel everyone’s fucking pain.  never signed up to be psychic and intuitive. never signed up to be so fucking alone.  how the fuck did i get myself here? how did i manage to find myself here at this stage in the game?  for fuck’s sake!? and he has to listen to me and he can’t tell anyone else and he seems smart enough and so i want to tell him what a fucking fuck he is.

10 bucks says come monday i won’t.  i don’t know what i’ll do. something has to give, though.  because i can’t stand feeling like this.  i guess i fucking go back to this ridiculous self-obsessive, diary, journal, blog.  where i make an ass out of myself and try to talk it out.  at least i don’t have anyone else to bring down with me this time. 

and they wonder why …

hey guys, thanks for giving me the encouragement to keep writing. that’s great … i think that it was just what i needed right now. i’d been neglecting the blog for quite some time and i think there was some some weird thing that i should tone it down due to looking for a job or wanting to transfer jobs or something. i don’t know. i think writing here on a regular basis keeps me motivated — keeps me a better writer — keeps me better informed on the world, on me, on life.  keeps me better connected.  thanks for the encouragement.

still struggling with this days/nights getting mixed up thing. it’s 2:13 and i already took my meds but i’m really not tired.  i just took another 1/2 a seroquel. i keep forgetting i need to take a whole 100mg these days.  therapist wasn’t that jazzed that i cut my 100mgs in 1/2 and use as needed.  not the use as needed part (i always forget if that’s PRN or PCN — it’s PRN), but the fact that i’m cutting them in half.  i’ve been doing it for years with no problems and doc knew i was doing it before, so i don’t see an issue with it, but i forget i’m new there and i can’t really blame him.  i appreciate where he’s coming from, at least.  

when friends of mine decide to wean themselves off meds or otherwise generally fuck around with their meds without telling doc first, i generally give them ‘the talk’ he gave me.  but the thing is — my old doc who knew me very well knew i was doing this — it’s not like i came up with this genius plan on my own, you know?  anyway, it’s weird, you know? one of the things that i have in the bathroom (this has a point, hang on here) is this book “inspiration — your ultimate calling” or something like that by dr. wayne dyer.  i figure i’ll start putting books like that in the bathroom so i’ll eventually get them read. it’s not like i am a long-term shitter, but even a minute here or there is worth something over the long haul.

anyway, he’s like a lot of people (conversations with god, etc.) in that he believes we chose our path here on earth — that we all do, even when it appears hard or fucked up.  when we choose alcoholic parents or addiction or … manic-depression, for instance.  and i’m finding that i definitely chose it, because i’m using it all the time to help people who also “suffer” from the illness as well.  i get to use my experience strength and hope in recovering from it and being stabilized in it and taking meds and all of that in sponsoring people and talking to people about all sorts of things — even people who just struggle with depression.  i think nearly all of my sponsees have had manic-depression and i’ve talked with other friends about it or depression or friends they know or what-have-you.  it’s really fascinating, and the more it happens, the more i know this is definitely part of my path that i am supposed to turn to good.

well, here we go a-blogging again, hey?  welcome back, everyone.  welcome back.

makes for good blog fodder, if nothing else

well, you guys get more blog posts when i’m in the grips. so that’s something.

i’m depressed. i really hate it. it’s so weird knowing what’s wrong with you and still not being able to fix it. and still not being able to change it. and still not being able to really do anything about it. it’s horrible.

it’s horrible because unlike cancer, which when people don’t understand what it’s like, they at least feel terribly sorry for you. i’m not saying that cancer patients are thrilled about that; i have no idea what it’s like to have cancer. but at least people don’t try and blame you for having cancer or try and give you all these suggestions about what you’re NOT doing to fix your own cancer or try and tell you that you DON’T HAVE CANCER.

and in AA it’s weird because aside from any back and forth people have about medications or what have you, i just feel so terribly alone and isolated. my own friends are just …. i don’t know. i don’t know what to do. i feel like either no one notices how horribly terribly awful i’m doing. that i’m suffering and i don’t know what to even say. i feel like everyone just goes about their business and doesn’t even care or notice. maybe they do, but they don’t know what to do, so they do nothing and that makes me feel terrible. like no one gives a shit what happens to me…

OR worse yet, and this really IS a pickle, sometimes people notice, and ask me what’s wrong and i try them out and i say things that are pretty general like … ‘oh, i’m not doing so well. i’m pretty depressed. january’s a really bad time for me.’ and they smile and nod and they try to commiserate, i guess. they are trying to be supportive. but i feel like they’re looking *through* me. like i could have said, ‘yeah, my weekend was okay.’ instead of ‘yeah, i’m really pretty depressed.’

when i get that kind of response, i just do NOT feel safe going any further. because the fact of the matter is, when i get *really* real with people, they just get scared. and i’m not even talking about ‘i want to kill myself.’ cause i don’t. that’s NOT IT. that’s not it. it’s a terrible dread that nothing will ever be all right. that nothing will ever be fine. that no one cares about me. that nothing i do is right. everything is wrong. every sensation and thought is uncomfortable. stupid things make me want to scream and punch and beat the shit out of people. it’s horrible. and i could get more detailed. and then people start to really see in a way, and they start to get scared. they don’t want to know that part of me, period. and then i think they aren’t sure they want to know me. i’m not sure they want to be intimate with someone who thinks and feels and is like me.

and i know it’s all not true. i get that. i really do. but this is really physical. it’s chemical. despite this faint upper level knowledge that this will pass and that this isn’t really my main life, this is what is consuming it for now. and it’s just awful. and i just want people to make it okay or let me know it’s okay that it’s NOT okay right now. that it’s okay that i feel awful and they’ll be there for me while i grrrr it all the fuck out. and they’ll love me anyway even though it’s really hard for me and maybe for them.

it doesn’t even make sense to me, so i don’t know why i think it should make sense to anyone else. i saw my psychiatrist on tuesday, who i love, and it’s hard to explain. i tell him that i’m depressed, i have problems concentrating, etc. i tell him it’s seemingly manageable, that i’m still going to work, etc. he seems to think i’m fine. what’s bad about this is that i get this terrible doctor performance anxiety.

some people get what’s called whitecoat hypertension. they don’t really have high blood pressure, but get them around a person in a lab coat or with a stethoscope and they have crazy blood pressure. i’m the same way around docs. there would be no reason for me to believe my psy would just take me from his office and throw me into a psych ward, but i think there’s a subconscious part of me that is like, ‘tell the truth, but don’t be so crazy or sad or weak or fucked up that he’d feel the need to hospitalize you.’ i don’t know. it’s just what i’m telling you i know about myself. i remember being so ruined once and going in there and being all fine and then getting out and two blocks from his office just sobbing and calling and leaving a voice mail saying “i don’t care what i SOUND like. if i tell you i’m SAD and really bad, please just listen to my WORDS.”

so, that’s the thing. i am fine and showing up for work and eating and all of that. but i can tell that it’s harder for me to want to go to meetings and get out of bed and show up for commitments. i just bolted out of this NYE thing i was at tonight. i didn’t even say goodbye to anyone. i just had to get out NOW. and that was after two hours or so of random points of thinking that over and over again. the only thing that managed to keep me there was various acts of being of service.

anyway, i’m struggling. it’s better than it’s been. but it’s harder than life really ever needs to be. happy new year.


my casual reference to being back on the ‘max in my last post was kind of flip, it turns out. my teeth are crushed into my jaw, and my grand idea of staying home and taking care of myself tonight seems possibly washed out by the way my nerves are singing.

and the old topamax stupid is right there … i was like .. rattling? tingling? what’s the word i’m looking for … yeah, SINGING. fuck. oh well, i’ll eventually work past that. however, sometimes it makes me wonder what the FUCK it’s doing to my brain. anti-convulsant/epileptic … and they say pot is bad for me … 🙂

uh oh

i don’t know what to do. i don’t want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. i’m not sure how much i should be on guard and how much i should let go and just ignore things. but i’m thinking about having to go to work tomorrow, and i’m just dreading it. and the thing is … i’m not dreading it so much as i just don’t want to go. i want to stay home, sleep in, nest and clean.

and the thing is … i’m not dreading work. there’s nothing unusual going on there. nothing bad happening. nothing big. i just feel the change. the light. the dark. the dusk and the sunset happen way too early. and i should remember to take my meds RIGHT NOW because these days of staying up to 1 and 2 am and being able to pull it off are over. if not now, soon.

sigh. like i said, i am trying not to make it all “i know september is coming so i’m getting ruined on purpose.” but i just realized that i’m just not looking forward to work for no other reason than i don’t want to get out of bed. already. for fuck’s sake.

gotta get the SAD lamp with the next paycheck. pinky swear.