Keep fighting

321….BLAST OFF!   I am back. Just like a flip of the switch.  Last Tuesday I was planning my demise. I was distraught, hopeless.  The outpatient program I attend was threatening to call the police based on an email I sent. I reluctantly wandered to an evening process group and that’s when it all changed.  I was so shut down, unable to identify what my feelings were much less communicate them.  Lost in my head I was believing the lies.  Spiraling down further into the darkness I thought my only escape was  suicide.  But, my magical psychologist opened me up.  I could hear his words.  His words of forgiveness, self compassion seeped into me.  So much so, the very next day I had a bit of a skip in my step.

Suddenly I could listen to Christmas Carols and enjoy them. I wanted to wrap the few gifts I got my family.  I could feel myself laughing unconsciously. I looked at my husband and actually saw him.  That’s how Bipolar is for me..swoops in and knocks me down for a long time, then one day goes about its merry way.  But always, always hiding in the wings.

I am back in the trenches, as they say.  I returned to work. I am only part time for the month of January. It will be challenging for me to adhere to the only 20 hours per week my pdoc has recommended. My job is fast paced, deadline driven, and sometimes pressure filled.  If you add my perfectionism to the top of the work sundae it will eventually collapse. Its far too heavy and far too big.  But, I have a new philosophy which I have written about in the past. Before it was just an idea, a thought.  Its now time to put my money where my mouth is. I have a whole new approach towards work. The basic headline is:  throw yourself in, do the best you can, log your 8 hours and DONE.  I need to back away and think of it as just a job, not who I am. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, because I do tremendously. It just means its only a part of me, and it takes up only a part of my life. No more round the clock rumination about work. No more allowing mistakes to become bigger than they are.  I would just like to be mindful with every step I take.

Sitting at my desk wading through 350 emails I made the conscious choice to breathe through the process.  So much had changed with the projects I oversee. After 3 months it makes sense that I would be completely out of the loop. I often feel like I am fighting my own mind and this is a prime example. I was fighting thoughts that I was too sick, bipolar has made me too sick, to essentially get caught up to speed. I am no longer capable to do this job.

But, my coworkers reminded me why I work there.  They are such great people. I got a few hugs. Lots of smiles. Lots of welcome back. It wasn’t terribly awkward. I do have one coworker who is in recovery and has a brother with mental illness.  When she expressed concern for me and that she hoped all was okay, I felt comfortable sharing my “secret.”  I closed her office door and said the words, I have pretty severe bipolar disorder.  When it comes, it really takes me out.  I didn’t get into details. She was understanding and shared some things about her brother and that she has another friend who is a professor.  I thought, wow a Professor.  I think I have my own stigma around bipolar disorder sometimes.  Why not a professor?  Why not me?

In just a short week I got myself together and was able to return to work on the target date. I honestly didn’t think I could do it.  I was still lost in the depths of depression and the thought of being around coworkers and facing expectations and deadlines seemed impossible. But, I made.  I really made it. Granted its only been a few days and its quiet with the holidays, but its important for me to acknowledge perseverance and the willingness to fight.

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The Big Return

I can feel my anxiety rising. I can hear the questions dancing around in my head. A low level rumble in my stomach.  Racing thoughts.  This is how it goes.  I am going back to work on Monday after 3 months of bipolar madness.  I faced deep depression, wicked psychosis, and processed the suicide of a friend. My mind likes to take great detail in its torture.  I am wondering if I should say hi to people, like may an effort to say “I am back.” Or lay low and hover over my computer and let people slowly notice.  I don’t mean fan fare. I’m not looking for a big welcome back party.  I guess I am asking, how do I re-enter? I am the longest standing employee in my department. However, it feels like I will be new.

What do I tell people?  Will they ask?  Have they just made assumptions?  Will anyone even care? I am creating a scenario where it will most certainly be awkward.  We are project managers.  So I had 6-7 projects I was overseeing. Of course, someone had to take these over.  Will I get them back? Will people think I was doing a bad job?  Will I get all new projects? What the fuck is going to happen?  I need a crystal ball STAT!

I am trying fiercely to combat all these thoughts and questions.  I really have no idea how my boss is going to handle things.  She is the boss. Not me. I shall leave it up to her to decide. I feel guilty that I have been gone so long. I feel angry that people have taken over what I started and worked so hard towards.  Yet, I am also grateful the projects have been taken care of.  You see, my agency works with individual with developmental disabilities. My role is to work with vendors to secure new resources. I help create new care homes, day programs, work programs and resources for mental health, dental. The population we serve is so vulnerable. I’ve worked at my agency for 16 years. 13 of those years was case management.  I know how the whole operation works, how the wheel spins.  How it all ties together.

Here I am scared to walk through that door again.  This is not new. I have taken months off at a time several times since my diagnosis. But, going back after a long lay off is never easy.  The fact that I have bipolar disorder is not known by most at my work. My boss knows and 2 other people.  I have chosen to keep it private.

My benefits run out December 31st if I do not return.  This has spawned a faster re-entry than I think my doctor preferred.  I will only be working part time for the entire month of January.  I was graciously reminded that the positions at my work are full time, and I am welcomed back at that capacity sooner if possible.  I hope to take it slow. I hope to listen to my doctor and not give in to the pressure of my HR department.  Its really important to be successful. To me, this means taking it slow and making it through the month with no need to take time off. I have to be honest, I do fear I am no longer capable of handling the pressure and stress of my job.  I fear I will push myself too far, too fast trying to keep up with what I used to produce.  I have ideas on ways to stay grounded and remind myself I am still in recovery. The task is to follow through on those ideas and not feel guilty/less than due to the pace others are working.  This is not a race.  I will do the best I can.

He Reached into Me

DON’T believe everything you think! My husband said to me with a hint of frustration.  My mind is a scramble right now. I keep picturing a ball of yarn. Just a mess of string coming and going every which way.  To unravel it would take great strength and patience.  This is how I would like to approach my life at this point in time.  Getting out of bed proved too much for me this morning. I couldn’t even make it to my outpatient program, which really has no expectations.  Thoughts of taking a shower, getting dressed and driving 20 min plunged me deeper into the mattress with a pillow over my head.  Facing the world in any capacity was just too much.  So I stayed in the comforts of my blankets.  Plus, when I am asleep I don’t have to think. I don’t have intrusive thoughts.

However, the countdown to work has also begun. I really can’t afford financially not to start back on Monday as my benefits will be cut up and I cannot afford mentally to sit in this house alone much longer.  I know these things. I want these things.  Yet, depression was like a ton of bricks holding my body down. I am still processing the suicide of my friend.  Rather, I think more importantly what I am doing is shutting down because I cannot handle that processing. I barely talk in group. I barely talk to my husband. I barely leave the house. I barely eat. And I haven’t worked out for 5 days straight. These are big red flags for me.

I finally got up about 11am. The only reason, and I repeat the only reason, is because my husband asked me to cook something which takes a bit of time.  I already feel like I am letting him down, so I wanted to follow through on his request.  Luckily, it’s an easy recipe and one I have made before, so not much thinking or measuring involved.  Somewhere in there I sent an email to my pdoc. I guess it was somewhat distressing. Moistly I was expressing my disdain for myself and failure as a person, wife, daughter. I don’t remember what else.  I put the lid on the pot and went back to bed.  Not 10 minutes later my phone rang from the hospital. I did not answer.  The message left for me was I am very concerned about the email you sent and if you do not respond in 10 minutes I will send the police for a welfare check.

Well that got me moving. I immediately called me case manager back, and got her voicemail.  I repeated very calmly the police did not need to be called, not check was necessary. At the same time, I was getting dressed. My inclination was to run.  If the police arrived at my house and asked me questions, and I was honest in the slightest, I would end up in the hospital for Christmas. I quickly threw on some clothes and headed to the busiest place I know: Target.

As I was outside locking my door, my case manager had called back. She thanked me for responding.  The email I sent was not even to her, it was to my pdoc. I guess she has forwarded it on. We had a 10 minute conversation where I know she was sizing me up.  She is new to me. She is just covering for my usual case manager who is on vacation. She knows me VERY well and perhaps the police threat might not have come.

I was very agitated but answered her questions. She asked if I understood why she had to make the demand. I said no the email I sent wasn’t to her and I made no threats to harm myself, I only expressed how I was feeling. I didn’t state that I had a plan.  She reminded me I wrote the previous night I went to bed with a plan, and I reminded her neither of which I followed through on..clearly stated in the email. I didn’t want to argue. I told her I was having trouble talking about my feelings, I don’t know what they are right now. I just know I feel like shit inside. I started to get emotional.  She reiterated how much they care and want to make sure I am safe.

She wanted to me to explain what the rest of the day looked like. I had looked like a long stay in bed before I got scared. I didn’t have a plan. I have kickboxing class tonite, or I know there is a group tonite. She then demanded I attend the group tonite and the outpatient program the next day. I told her it wasn’t fair to put extra pressure on me. I didn’t need the weight of letting more people down if I couldn’t get myself there.  She is still in training, not yet fully a doctor, and I knew she couldn’t order me to do things. She said she would confer with the director (who I Love) and call me back with a plan.   So, she did stating they prefer I come to the group since I missed the morning session, but it was up to me.  She emphasized she really hopes to see me tomorrow morning.

With great hesitancy I went to the evening group. I just wanted to be left alone. It was too hard and too painful to process my feelings. I didn’t know where to start or what was truly bothering me: sadness, anger, guilt.  The lead psychologist is amazing. He has known me for 7 years or so. He is so very kind, gentle and just soothing when he talks to you.  I find that he is magical.  Just when I thought for sure I would be mute and unable to speak he approached me in a way that allowed me to take my time and say what I needed to say.  He prompted me quite a bit, just resonated with me with one of his own experiences. I took tissue after tissue. I couldn’t look up at him. I felt like I was going to explode, yet I felt safe with him.  The room was quiet and his words were soft. I have always appreciated the way he works with people. He can reach anyone.  He reached me when I was so closed up and closed off I was ready to bolt for the door.

He helped me see it wasn’t my fault. It’s understandable to have survivor’s guilt, but not carry it around for too long.  I have to trust I did what was best for me at that time.  Just 3 weeks after quitting the group I entered the hospital with profound depression and psychosis. The journey has been long and almost too much to bare.  He suggested I could give in to the voices and cause another tragedy and ripple effect by taking my life OR I could move forward and just keep doing the best I can.  When I can be there for friends, I will be.  If I want to check on them more, I can. But, I need to be kind and compassionate towards myself in this moment. He always shows me I can rest my hand on my check and just hold it there for a few minutes reminding myself I am okay and I deserve love, time and attention too.

I just learned the magic psychologist is moving on. He has taken a Clinical Director job at another facility. I will miss him.  He is the heart and soul of the outpatient program.  He has such heart.  He reminds us how brave we are each and every day to face our inner battles. To look inward and want to make changes takes such strength and perseverance.  To come to a group full of strangers and air our issues and feelings takes courage.  He always made me feel warm and safe even at my lowest, even lost in psychosis.  He is a remarkable man and I will miss him.

We are Worth It

I could no longer handle the emotional pain.  The swells of sadness, agitation, anxiety threatened to take me away.  I had to pick up that phone and ask for help.  I knew exactly who to call. I knew the exact number to dial. Yet, I didn’t make a move. I sat paralyzed on my couch with a soaked pajama shirt stained from tears.  The outpatient program I have attended several times following a hospitalization has always maintained and open door policy for me.  I have never been the one to call to ask for help. I have never been able to halt the episodes off at the pass.  Here is my opportunity, why am I not calling?

I choked back more tears as I left a message. I explained I needed more structure. I was falling apart. I was impulsive and scared.  I could barely utter the words, not functioning since the suicide of my friend. I was spirally pretty quick and knew it. I could no longer do this alone.

The reason I was “alone” at this point was because I had a return to work date. I was set free from outpatient to get my affairs in order and attend groups in the evening.  These would be the same groups available to me while working. I did pretty well the first week. I got up at the same time as if I was working with the plan to workout. So I got up about 5:30. I was keeping pace with the things I wanted to get accomplished. I would schedule my day with activities but not overload myself. I was fairly successful.  But, by the second week I was getting up so my husband would see, but then immediately go back to bed once he left for work, and typically sleep til noon. I was no longer keeping the house clean. I wasn’t really showering. The working out also fell off.

When I received the text message about my friend I had a hard time believing it.  The person who texted me was also in the Depression in Sobriety group with us.  He and I were good friends, til we weren’t. I think I lost him in a manic episode.  So, it was sent to me as news.  There was no discussion.  I had to sit with this information by myself. I really had no one to call.  My husband didn’t know the man.  But, in reality, I didn’t know how to talk about it anyway.  What could I say other than, I can’t fucking believe it! It took about 2 days before it really knocked the wind out of my sails.

On this day, the day I pick up the heaviest phone to call for help I was having intrusive thoughts of harming myself.  I gave into these notions the previous night.  I put myself in a dangerous position. I was so overwhelmed with emotion it was like I didn’t know any other way to contain myself.  The drive to end the pain was so high I couldn’t control it.  The same feeling crashed into me as I sat with the phone. Once I finally spoke my truth and asked if I could return to the safe haven, I was able to channel my energy into working out.  I don’t know how. I just know I did. While doing so, a message was left for me saying of course I could come back.  She also added she was so glad I reached out.

The following day I walked down the hallowed hall I had walked down only weeks prior. I admitted I felt like I was on a slippery slope.  I was already sinking, but the news of my friend took me under. I was the one who made the decision to end my participation in the depression in sobriety group, knowing it could mean the group would fall apart.  Not because I am so important, but because a meeting can hardly survive on 4 people, much less 3. I somehow think its my fault. Perhaps if I had stayed the course, stayed in the meeting for others, wasn’t so selfish he would still be with us.  He always said how safe he felt at our meeting. It was the only place he could really be himself without judgement. I think the meeting provided that for all of us.  However, I was growing less comfortable.  I could feel myself not wanting to attend.  It has always been the philosophy of AA that there are many meetings, so if you don’t like one you can certainly find another.  Maybe it was just time for me to go.  It happens all the time.  But why, oh why, did it have to happen this way.

As the day progressed I became increasingly depressed. I was feeling quite suicidal. I felt broken beyond repair. Bipolar disorder had really thrown me around this time. Between the psychosis for nearly 2 months, 3 med changes, depression, my friend’s suicide I was feeling done.  I was hearing voices that whispered, it should be you.  I was having nightmares in the midnight hour and hallucinations by day. I no longer had any strength or desire to carry on. I didn’t disagree with the voices. I am terribly disappointed in myself that I did not reach out to my friend once I left that meeting.  What kind of friend does that make me? I knew his struggle. I walked his walk.  Yet, I just sorta dropped out.  Out of sight out of mind.  I was so lost in myself I didn’t make time for others. This is not the person I want to be. This is not the person I used to be.

Sitting at my kitchen table I felt myself to be in a precarious mindset. Husband not home. No one would know for quite some time if I just took one too many pills.  If I made a quick drive and a quick jump off the bridge. So many thoughts swirling in my mind. Feeling alone. Feeling desperate.  Feeling tired.  I don’t remember picking up the phone. I do remember saying something into the receiver.  I do remember breaking down as I spoke. I hung up the phone knowing I left a message, not knowing if I would get a return call or if I wanted one.

The return call came about 20 minutes later.  I could not answer it. I just stared at my phone as it rang. I didn’t think I could talk. I didn’t know what to say. I love the therapist I chose to call. He is so kind and calm and caring. I have known him for several years as he runs the outpatient program.  His words to me were, please call me back I really want to talk to you.  I did not call him back.  But an hour later he called me again.  This time I answered.  He was very concerned about me and the level of suicidal thinking I was displaying. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I remember saying how complicated everything felt.  Here I am completely torn up about my friend and the pain it was causing me, his suicide was eating me up.  In response I am thinking about suicide because I can’t handle the pain.  What about my husband?  Exactly!  I would never want to hurt him or cause him pain, but I can’t endure the pain I am feeling.  “Its so fucking complicated!” I yelled into the phone. He softly answered, I know.  He told me I was really riding the edge and he was inclined to call 911.  I told him I had plans in just a little while for the rest of the evening with my husband. I promised to follow through.  He reluctantly agreed and said, alright. I will see you bright and early Monday morning.

Just when I think I can’t go on. Just when the voices draw me in enough I listen. I do somehow find some strength to carry on. I pick up the 500lb phone and make an important call to save my life. I did that.  This journey is full of ups and downs for anyone.  Just by virtue of being alive its challenging.  Folks with mental illness face mountains and cliffs sometimes. I know I do.  The will to stay tends to be greater than the will to leave, despite the recent loss of my friend.  I just have to surrender and believe.  We have to believe we are worth it.

Relationship 101

Why are relationships so hard? I feel so very confused much of the time. What is my place? Where do I fit in the scheme of the relationship? Do I really matter? Do I have too many expectations? What is my role in the madness?  How long do I stay?  Am I just being a coward?  Am I actually standing up for myself.  Should I let more things go?

I am not a person who has a large social network. Rather, it is quite non-existent.  The circle has always been small by design, but now It’s hardly a circle. I feel safer and less confused this way. But oh so terribly lonely as well.  My husband is great. He’s my best friend. But there are times I need someone else to talk to, spend time with.  I joined a kickboxing class as a social activity. I suppose it can be labeled as such because there are several people involved, none of which I actually talk to. I may smile in acknowledgement, here we are again.  No lasting relationships will come out of my participating. I am  torching some calories, so that is a plus.  Also, its an hour I actually find I am out of my head. Jumping around to techno music for an hour, trying to follow moves and hear the instructor over the blaring volume is humorous.  I’m no slouch, I give it my all. I came to play.

Two relationships in my life are precarious right now. I don’t know if that’s my fault or anyone’s fault. Maybe it just is.  But, once again I do not understand why.  One fellow was a part of my Depression in Sobriety meeting and probably the first person I totally and completely opened up to after my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I dropped heavy bombs of emotion, suicidal plans, paranoia, psychosis, hospitalizations in a rather short time. He took it. He held it. He held me.  I could say anything to him and he would not flinch.  He would be there with me and remind me to breath. There were other times I would sit at his house for hours crying not able to say a word. Not one word. I was so distraught and bowled over.  He just let me be.  He never once tried to change me.  During a most recent mixed manic episode I took off to the beach. I was feeling quite depressed and suicidal.  I swore to my husband I was not going to hurt myself.  He begrudgingly “let” me go.  Before I would not tell a soul and once I arrived let you know.  I had made progress.

My friend texted me and wanted to know where I was.  At that moment, no joke, my phone froze. I couldn’t send a text message out. I tried several times, so several minutes went by. Once I turned it completely off for a few minutes it seemed to come back to its senses.  So, I sent the text of my location as I was not hiding from him.  He was upset with me it took me so long to get back to him. He told me it made him uncomfortable that he asked a question and I took my time to answer.  I got angry at this point. My yelling text replied, I did fucking tell you!  My texts would not go through. Its not my fault. I think some other words were exchanged until he halted communication.   That was 2 months ago.  The next thing I know I am getting a text from him letting me know our friend hung himself. No conversation around it. Just passing on information I guess.  I don’t know what to think. Maybe he’s processing. Maybe he felt obligated to let me know and wants to leave it at that. I don’t know.  Here I am confused. How do these friendships work? I don’t want to try too hard. I don’t want to seem like I care all that much. I had resigned myself that I needed to move on.  But, the truth is: of course I fucking care.  I have shared so many intimate moments with this man.  Plus, I just fucking care! Period.

He reached out this morning to say hello and ask how I am doing, just like old times.  He used to do that everyday.  I feel like the incident at the beach changed things.  Maybe that was the moment he no longer had patience.  The moment he decided I am too much.  The moment he decided the friendship wasn’t serving him anymore.  I don’t know if I will ever know as I am afraid to ask. I don’t want to upset an already upset apple cart.  But. My heart hurts. There is a hole he used to fill. For better or worse.  We bonded. We shared secrets.  We shared pain. We shared triumph no matter how big or small.  We shared space in a way I have never felt before.  Knowing it was difficult to express myself verbally, he encouraged me to write. I began writing for his blog a few years ago. It really gave me a voice and an outlet as I am quite an emotional being.  Then all the sudden, he stopped posting what I sent him. I obliged and stopped sending what I wrote. Eventually I started my own blog.  He is now asking for the address.  For some reason I am hesitant to give it to him. I’m not sure I want him to see that far into me anymore.  We are like driftwood in a slow moving river, occasionally bumping into each other, which then just sets us further apart.  He is asking.  But, why is he asking? I shared something I wrote about our friend that committed suicide a few days ago.  That sparked his desire to see the blog for some reason.  I am not ashamed, I can say that.  What I can’t label is whether its vulnerability, anger or wanting to protect myself.

My other friend can become a ghost as well.  She has drifted out of my life for years at a time. Her initial disappearance was upsetting, as I believed her to be a close friend.  But, I would settle into life without her.  It was almost to the point where she was never really a part of my life. Then poof she would reappear. She would find a way to come back into our lives. She is a woman of many moving parts.  She is intellectual. She is spiritual. She loves to laugh. She loves to dance.  She tries to honor the present moment.  She too can hold your emotion.  She can hold some of the darkness I carry. She professes to have darkness of her own and therein an inherent understanding is born.  She can be Jekyll and hyde. She can accuse you of not being spontaneous enough.  She is afraid to mark things on her calendar too far in advance.  I get the feeling she is afraid of missing out on other opportunities, so likes to “keep it open.”  What is subtle at first is her selfishness.  Trying to make plans for dinner, I may suggest a place I think would be great, only to be trumped by somewhere she rather go.  If I say let’s go east, she will say nah, how about west. One day she is fun loving and full of positive energy. The next day she is shrouded in the mire of her own mind and can barely come down to earth to be with you.  I don’t fault her for that, as I can easily be the same way.

We are 40 years old.  We are in a time of taking responsibility for self.  She doesn’t always seem to do that.  If I am rude or act out inappropriately, I have to own that.  Even if under the guise of bipolar disorder, those were my actions.  Events over the course of the last few weeks have left me feeling like she doesn’t truly think of others.  She arrives, takes off her jacket in dramatic fashion, and then the night begins.  No matter the night had already begun by all intents and purposes.

Maybe I do have expectations. Maybe I’m not allowing her to be who she is.  But, what if that, the supposed being who she is, is infringing upon who I am? Are you confused, because I am.  The tough part is when she mosey’s back into my life for a short time, I begin to like having her there.  I begin to trust again. I believe she is in it for us, as friends.  Ultimately I am left disappointed.  Sometimes, I don’t think she sees an “us”, more a her and them.   Is being a them okay with me?  Should I just roll with that premise, knowing it will probably change at some point.

My relationships right now are fucked up.  But, I’m fucked up too.  So, shouldn’t I fit into the equation somehow.  Doesn’t A+B=C.  I don’t remember having this hard a time with friendships as a young adult. Maybe it was easier because we were all partying and living it up.  The real stuff, the shit storm of life, wasn’t upon us yet.  I don’t know where I belong. If I belong. If I want to belong.  I do know I am lonely. My house is cold and lonely.  The big bad world is cold and lonely.  The road I have travelled, my journey, has been traumatic as of late. A good friend would not only lighten my load, but allow me to  get out of my own head and be there for them as well.

Maybe I need to redefine my definition of friend.  Maybe I need more than people can give.  Maybe I don’t deserve to be here.  Maybe I’m the selfish one. So many maybe’s just fuel the confusion.

 

Agitation

Agitation traces a line up one side of my body
and down the other.
Little thorns are born
meant to snag you and
make you bleed.
I entice you to come close all the while
hoping you stay away.
The chaos runs deep.
Renders me vulnerable.
All I want is love I can’t bare
A soft subtle kiss
Mesmerizing my lips
I hiss and I scratch
Not knowing how to be close
Not believing I stand a chance
Sweet thorns protecting
Me from you
Yet later
You from me
My place in this world
Not withstanding
Madness comes a calling
I roam the empty streets
Barren and naked
But mostly just alone
Into your window I creep
Slide right in beside you
Red droplets on white satin
Outline my passion
For I do long for touch
For shared sensuality
I leave my eyes closed
So you don’t see into me
The luscious monster I am
Here to scorn you
Push and pull
Into smithereens

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

 

No sweet greetings today. I find myself mad at you.  What’s worse is that I don’t want to be and I am not sure I am supposed to be.  Sometimes the dynamics are odd. I am a rather kind person and tend to let things go easily, but I think you trigger me.  It was meant to be a good time for all who wanted to come. Technology being what it is, the message you received and then perhaps relayed didn’t go as planned. I guess I can see that. However, we talked in person several days prior.  We were all making plans, together. Each of us had a different idea of how the evening would unfold as we come from different directions.  That was understood.  No feelings were hurt at that time.  An open invitation was issued.

Then why? I don’t understand.  Why would you proceed to let me know that I had hurt our friend’s feelings by inadvertently excluding her from a text string.  You were on the string. You would be riding with her and making your own plans.  Why wouldn’t you just fill her in knowing, KNOWING, all was invited to our makeshift party?  In addition, and I think this is important, knowing I am not the kind of person to leave others out. To exclude. To dismiss. To overlook. To be downright rude.  I consider her to be my friend too, maybe not as good a friendship as you have. But a friend just the same.  I think you know that.

Fast forward. Several texts back and forth. Some not so kind. Confusion.  We get a text from her, saying she didn’t feel it was a big deal at all. She wasn’t really even feeling left out. She understood we all had different roads that would lead us to the venue. It would be at the venue the true party could start. She also explained it was an inference you made. An inference!  So the words, gee I feel excluded were not even uttered. Just more confusion.  Again what is your purpose in telling me?  Could you not have let her know, knowing me, that surely there was no exclusion.  Propped her up. Reminded her of the conversations we all had in person prior to this technological disaster.

Its funny to the think of all the times you have come in and out of my life over the years.  I mean its been a lot of zig and zag. And always, I am left feeling like I am not sure if I’m allowed to be mad at you.  You do this dance or trance. I’m not sure what happens. But I am left second guessing myself.  That seems like it can’t be good. But, who’s fault is it.  I am responsible for my own feelings and emotions.  I cannot control how you operate.  When you are not in my life I invariably miss you, but when you are I tend to feel more pain.  Pain isn’t necessarily bad. Maybe you here to remind me I am alive.  I already have my emotional challenges with bipolar disorder.  I suppose I zig and zag too with depression and mania.  You can just stand off to the side when these states happen.  But when your arrow hits me in the heart and I question myself, I’m not sure where to stand.  Alone on my side. Or lean toward your side.  I don’t have many friends who can handle my load, want to handle my load.  You seem to want to for the most part.  I do appreciate that.  Its just.  Its just something keeps holding me back.  Could it be my already confused and chaotic life just butts heads with yours?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know.

Its kinda sad. I always prided myself on being able to meet someone where they are. I can be flexible, bend at the hard places.  Perhaps there was a time I was like that.  Maybe I can’t be that person anymore as I have to protect myself now.  I can be fragile. I can be large. I can be in between.  But, I just can’t figure out where you fit in my journey. I’m not making any sudden moves. I’m just putting it out there.  Sometimes friends take different roads and that’s the way its meant to be.

A Lost Soul

I am in a bit of shock I think.  I didn’t cry when I received the news. I sat on the couch. The TV was still blaring but I heard nothing. I had fallen into an abyss. A friend of mine, though one that had become distant, hung himself. I saw him every Thursday night at our Depression in Sobriety meeting for nearly 2 years.  I had gone over to his house to watch the warriors win the championship, met his wife, played with his dogs.  I shared intimate stories of pain and strife surrounding bipolar disorder.  He never once judged me.  He always gave me a hug at the end of the meeting.

He had 30 plus years of sobriety. I am just coming up on 3. He had sponsored many a man, shared his experience strength and hope. When I knew him, he was not sponsoring. He was barely going to meetings. He felt misunderstood. He felt judged.  His hands tremored severely from the medications. If he didn’t clasp one hand in the other, it would shake uncontrollably. But, he always said he felt safe in our meeting.  We were a cozy group of 4 typically.  The realities of what it was like to live with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder spilled out onto the floor. We didn’t try to clean it up, or make it look pretty.  We just sat with each other. Listened. Empathized.

It was always said in these rooms it didn’t matter how much sobriety you had on the books. Mental Illness doesn’t discriminate.  These men I shared space with thought they had already let it all out. They had worked the steps numerous times in their 20-30+ years. They got down on their hands and knees. They told their sponsors deep dark secrets that pulled at the very core of their being.  They told truths of neglect and abuse in their younger days.  It’s almost backwards, as one gains more time sober it can cause more depression, more anxiety, more emotional pain.  My friend’s pink cloud has long evaporated.

I’m sure I drank for many of the same reasons they did, just in my own time.  The truths that I brought to the table were always welcome.  Or, if I needed to sit silent and not share, that was okay too. It was a pretty sacred space we created.  The words and sentiments expressed among the four of us could never be spoken at a traditional AA meeting.  My thoughts of suicide or the fears of the devil never fell on deaf ears. I was never told to go back and read the big book.  My emotions were held in the circle for as long as I needed them to be.

I think my friend really started to feel defeated.  He was no longer able to do many things that made him feel productive and full of worth. He couldn’t work anymore, which was a source of pride for him.  In his mind, his memory was failing him. He couldn’t read. He couldn’t remember directions.  The tremors from medications was an embarrassment and reminder of where he was. I don’t think he had faith he was going to get any better.  What an intolerable place to be.  I have been there.  I have been at the bridge, I have overdosed.  When that darkness stays just one minute too long and shades our thought process, there seems to be only one option.

Our dear friend took the option he thought best to remedy his pain and sorrow. I can picture him at his home watching the warriors surrounded by his wife and dogs.  That was the most joy I had seen in him for a while.  He was animated and yelling at the tv screen. He was able to laugh that night. I think he also felt surrounded by friends.  This is how I will remember him. I honor his struggle. I hope he can now find peace.

Taking Names

Today at 9:27 AM

Anchor

Can I be my own anchor
Sit still in a sea of madness
Find solid ground
Treasure the depth of my being
Handle myself with care
Embrace the eyes in the mirror
Endeavor to love my silhouette
Honor my flaws and imperfection
Banish secrets and lies
Sow the seeds of forgiveness
Listen when my soul speaks
Allow time to dictate the pace
Chip away at the wall
Slide the mask in a side drawer
Walk in place if need be
Acknowledge the injustice
Throw painful memories into the fire
Surrender to the unknown
Bond with my inner strength
Breathe into this existence
Salute the ongoing struggle
Cherish all of me