I Put My Hand in Yours

I kid myself. I set myself up with an art project and put on a favorite record. What could be more soothing, right? Connection. Connection with another human being. My curtains are drawn. Doors locked tight. I’m alone. And lonely. Isolation is dangerous. I can keep writing. I can wipe away the tears. I can take the razor blade to my wrist and numb out for awhile. But the fact remains my world is too small.
I went back to work yesterday after 2 weeks of outpatient treatment. I felt a flood of panic and overwhelm. I fought back tears in the restroom. At lunch I called my husband and the tears ran loose. I fear I can’t do this job anymore. I fear I have known that for some time and just keep pushing myself to the brink. What would it mean if I can’t work? I’m weak? I’m pathetic? I texted a friend who is distant but have some issues like me. He suggested I talk to a friend about it. While that’s what I thought I was doing by reaching out to him, it was yet a reminder I have no friends. My world is too small.
I’m entertaining changing jobs. It’s still in social services, which is all I know. But this would be part time. A good friend of mine left my agency and she is recruiting me. Truth is I already work with this agency as they are a vendor. So, there is some comfort in already knowing people. Plus my friend knows of my mental health issues.
Trust in myself is a big concern right now. I don’t trust I know how to make a decision. I don’t trust it’s not just the depression talking when I think I no longer can handle my current job. But, history speaks and I go out on leave about every 5 months and the trigger is often work stress. The trouble is I think it’s my own fault. I get in my own way. I care too much about my job performance. I have too high of expectations for myself. I don’t allow myself mental health days. It’s almost as if I push harder to prove I’m still good enough despite a mental illness. Funny thing though, almost no one at work knows of my diagnosis. So, who am I proving it to?
The constant chaos and chatter in my mind is overwhelming. I can’t collect my thoughts. There is “safety” in my job now in that I have been there for 16 yrs and have quite a bit of seniority. They have worked w me over the last 3 years since my bipolar diagnosis. My longest leave of absence was 3 months. It can’t be easy for an employer. But more often I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread. Would this feeling exist even if I didn’t have a job? Are the symptoms solely because of bipolar or exacerbated by work stress? How do I find the answer?
Uncertainty then fuels my anxiety. What an uncomfortable existence. Sometimes I think I want to run away. Pack a bag and drive. Sometimes I think I want to jump off a cliff into the ocean never to be found. Yet here I am trudging through the mud trying to figure out what’s best for me. If I do a face plant, my husband will help me up. He is my world. Something else I got to work on.
One step at a time with his hand in mine we are going to figure this out. He promises. If I can’t trust myself, maybe I can put my trust in him.

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The Weight of Secrets

Staring into the mirror
Glassied eyes blue
Wondering which hat to wear
To protect me from you
True it may only cover my eyes
But this way you can’t see through
To the real me
Cowering and afraid
The real me who can’t handle
The emotions of today
As the waves keep coming
My tears never give way
The all encapsulating sadness
The questions of who I am
The real me kept hidden
So you don’t see the fall
There is no grace in this broken body
No refinement in this tangled mind
Dancing around the devil
Constantly Trying to run and hide
Let’s add a feather boa
Pretend glamour is one step behind
Not too bright but enough to catch your eye
You fancy it, long for the touch
Yet, I wear it as a barrier
That grows heavier over time
My footsteps narrow
My breath more shallow
The weight of my secrets
Bring me to my knees
I lay down under my hat
Layered in my boa
Soft words whispered above
Glassy eyes closed

It’s been a long road

I am 42 years old and stuck on the longest road. There have been a few breaks and reprieves, but mostly, lately, it just sucks. I was diagnosed w major depression in 2007 while I was trying to get sober. In 2013 after a series of hospitalizations I was diagnosed w bipolar disorder. Just yesterday, 2016, I was diagnosed w schizoaffective disorder. I’ve been through about 20 different medications, my hair has fallen out and I got a painfully itchy rash.
I, at times, am plagued by voices and hallucinations. Believe the devil is coming to kill me. Burst out of bed thinking I am on fire, smelling my own flesh burning. Can’t sleep. Sleep to much. Overly motivated and creative. Am a zombie on the couch.
I have a full time job, but periodically I have to take time off. This is one of those times. I cannot explain the guilt I feel missing work and the extra work it’s causing others. I try to keep a lid on my symptoms but there comes a point they are too much to manage by myself. I have to seek extra treatment.
Having a new diagnosis to swallow and “accept” is challenging. It is just lately I have told maybe up to 5 people I had bipolar disorder. I am so scared no one will even know what schizoaffective dx is. To explain it gives out such personal information in itself. I don’t understand what to expect with this label. Before, when I experienced hallucinations it was cause for concern. Now it seems like it’s almost expected as they can come outside of a mood episode. Am I now just supposed to live side by side with what can be violent satanic voices and delusions. In essence there is nothing anyone can do? I already take meds to “treat” it. But the voices and visuals still come.
I feel like I’m letting myself go. I’m just a drifter on my long road. No direction. No purpose. Barely able to get out of bed in the morning. No exercise. No connection. Just blowing in the wind. I stay within the four corners of my house and clean. Then I’m resentful all I can seem to do is straighten up our house a little every day. I used to be so much more. Sometimes I hear static, very loud disjointed static, in my mind and I must wear headphones to drown it out. It makes me dizzy. Sometimes the voices suggest suicide.
I guess I could allow sadness to engulf me as I would never want my life to turn out this way. I am starting to wonder if full time work is too much pressure, too stressful. It’s all I’ve ever known since I was 18. Of course admitting these things, as a perfectionist takes a bat to my ego. All I hear is I need to get back out there. Shine my shoes and carry on. It’s especially tough determining when you should go back after a break. This week, because I have several important meetings, or next week because I’ll hopefully feel that much better? I constantly feel like I am letting people down. My boss, coworkers, vendors and esp my husband the longer I stay out.
I’m not always sick, but when I am it’s usually pretty bad. Combine this w a new diagnosis and I feel even more lost. When the bigger picture is too much I am left w breaking it down. For the next 20 minutes I’ll focus on writing and drinking coffee. And in the next…? I’ll wait and see.

Who Do you See

To you I’m electric
All over the map
Quick to the fast
Fast to the quick
I can’t feel my body
is there lightning
I cannot see it
I’m dull
Lifeless
Wishing
Wanting
To be a rainbow
Having impact
Perpetuating change
Internal
External
Intentional
Hands clasped
Eyes closed
Heaven in arms reach
Subliminal at best
Regards to you and me
Waves of passion
Sands of time
All give way
To rose petals
Beauty held endless
Mistakes with no flaw
Time can only count
Seconds into dust
The prism held solid
Firm to the touch
Just who am I
Anyway

In Sickness and in Health

I am caught in a viscous thinking pattern. I’ve kept my husband up late w night terrors, anxiety attacks and tears. I’ve threatened suicide in the past and been hospitalized several times for my safety. I sometimes hear voices telling me I don’t belong here or the time is now!
I feel like he is better off without me. He knew I had issues, but didn’t really sign up for THIS. He too lives on the edge wondering if I’m okay. There are nights, several nights, I just don’t move off the couch. Meanwhile he paces the house eager to be out and about. It doesn’t seem fair to him. I feel like I’m holding him back or ruin g his life. I know he loves me. I love him so very much. But our love cannot conquer my demons.
I had a terrible dream last night where I was carrying out steps to end my life. Went as far as writing a note to my husband. I woke in the middle of the night and her voices outside repeating the time is now. I stared out that window and listened to those voices for far too long.
How do I break this loop? How do I believe in myself and the fact that I’m still a good person despite my symptoms?

Devils and Shamans be with You

After the fright of psychosis comes a bit of depression. I was wound so tight and so on edge, maybe this is my body’s way of letting go. Almost like a rag doll. I can follow you around. I can take direction. But, I cannot make a decision. I still have the nightmares. Literally jumping out of my sleep to fears of the devil seeking me. My husband corrals me and repeats I am safe. Falling limp over his chest I sob. This midnight escapade can be 2 minutes or 10 depending on how entrenched in the nightmare/terror I am. Last night I’d say 3 minutes tops.
There is no predicting it. I could lay in a bubble bath all day or have a stressful work day, doesn’t matter. I could be dead tired or wired having to take extra medication. There could be a reprieve for over a week lulling one to think they are over, only to writhe in bed with fear that next night. I’ve run to the kitchen grabbing a knife. I’ve cowered in the corner not recognizing my husband’s voice. I’ve raced to close all the windows as I feared the devil was trying to take all the air. It’s almost always the devil that is after me. Why? Why? What does that mean?
My loving, dutiful, patient husband suggests I need to look inward. Where is the discomfort coming from? I don’t know!!! I shout in my mind. I’m just trying to sleep. If I don’t sleep things get worse in my world and in turn his. It’s a big big deal to get proper sleep w bipolar disorder. I love to sleep, so it’s not for lack of trying.
I’m off work right now due to another psychotic episode. Devils and shamans this time. The symbol of shaman for me is a positive, as I have been tortured by only satanic hallucinations in the past. I still suffer through intrusive thoughts and voices telling me I don’t belong here. Suicidal ideation is a large part of my struggle.
I’m attending an outpatient program that happens to close on Thursdays. Having the whole day ahead of me on my own is daunting. I rely on structure. I typically have a full time job. I had some tasks to take care of today. Boy, did I knock them out in record fashion. Cleaned the kitchen, bathroom, folded laundry, worked out and completed a collage all by 10:30. Too early. With a full day ahead I just went back to bed. But sleep escaped me.
I filled my day with art. Something I haven’t done since the hospital. I listened to music in my headphones to help drown out the voices. I sat in the backyard w my coffee and walked around our garden foraging for “art supplies.” I pulled weeds, found bits from our pine tree, cut special words from a magazine. Feeling creative juices flowing I didn’t hold back.
Right around 3pm I found myself tearful, wanting to pull my hair out, AGITATED! How could this be? I had the most stress free day imaginable. I burst into tears. I tried to call someone on my clinical team but it seems everyone is off on Thursdays. How ludicrous. No groups and no access to someone to talk to?!
What do I do? First I bitch to my husband realizing that gets me nowhere. Then I take to typing my story. I lay it all out. I may send it into the universe. I may not. But writing, above all else, soothes me the most. I just have to sit still for it.
Nightmares, hallucinations, intrusive thoughts all claw at me. But when I choose the words I want to convey I am free. When I paint my story in type or black&white I am in control. That means the world to me.

What’s Wrong Baby Blue

The ripples of pain
Crash into my heart
My soul
Questions of existence
Of worth
Of belonging
Taunt my mind
When the voices come calling
It’s not decadent
It’s not comfortable
It’s deliberate
And
Fueled by hate
My ears ring
Reverberations
Of verbal assaults
Hauled at me from the darkness
Reminders
Suggestions
I do not belong here
This space is not mine to share
Not deserving of love and life
The visions intrude upon my psyche
Sightings of my body hanging n the wind
No more breath
Limp and alone
Swaying not out of beauty
But of demise
I sit motionless on the couch
Tears stream down my cheek
My baby blue eyes filled
With confusion
But mostly lies

The Blur of Psychosis

Is it possible
To fall through the cracks
Of your very own mind
Swept away by thoughts
Caught in a trance
Of deception and lies
It is not by chance
Nor on a whim
You wish on your last star
Or kiss someone goodbye
The plan has been in motion
Through smiles and tears
Finally the
Chaos
Fears
Confusion
Has proven too much
Broken beyond repair
An inward collapse
An outward stumble
Into psychosis

For me, psychosis is the scariest symptom of my bipolar diagnosis. The lies of depression are a close second. Nothing is more disturbing than realizing I have lost control of my mind. The thoughts that roam around in my brain can turn to visual hallucinations without my realizing. I am not manic. I’m not sure I’m depressed. But if I had to choose I’d say I’m more on the depressed side. The delusions and hallucinations that take up space in my psyche can be very violent, very graphic…very confusing.
Just recently I was feeling very anxious and experiencing a high volume of work stress. I knew these things to be true. I was also experiencing insomnia. One morning after just about no sleep I called my boss and let her know I would be coming in late. I usually arrive at 7:30, which is about an hour before anyone else. This allows me to get settled if my anxiety is high before I have to pretend to be normal. So, I arrived about 9:30am on this morning.
The door to my office is in our courtyard where tables and chairs are available for breaks and lunch. As I approached the courtyard I noticed a Shaman sitting at a table gesturing me over. He took a big breath in-he was smelling my essence or aura I guess. He advised my blood was not pure. My system was compromised and I was toxic. He gave me a natural prescription w called for some fasting from food and medication. I felt relieved I had a solid lab I could follow. The last thing he said was my compromised system left me prey for the devil.
I noticed while I was standing there the air was so silent. No movement of trees, no coworkers passing by. Just stillness. He had a leathery face and a grisly voice. What stood out most was he barely opened his eyes the entire time. I was not sure if he was blind or what. I quickly went inside and sent a message to my husband. Of course he called w in 5 minutes declaring this interaction I just had was not real. I heard his voice, saw his face..I rebutted. He stated the “prescription” was not healthy. He asked me to please call my doctor. I stood my ground. I knew what I saw. What I heard.
The following day I had to travel about an hour to our sister office. I saw the Shaman twice. Once, again outside of the office and once in the park. This time he didn’t seem so calm, rather was chanting and moving his body. Over and over he repeated the devil is upon you. The devil is upon you. I was very scared and began to feel this dark presence near me, but could not see anything. It was just lurking.
I managed to get through my work day. Not sure how. I think because it ended up being a low stress day. I didn’t forget about the Shaman or the devil but was present enough to get some tasks completed. It was later it all would come back to haunt me.
Later on that evening I began to believe I was on the Devils hit list. I was inherently a bad person and therefore must die. As all this was happening, 2 men from the local church knocked on my door. Asked me a couple questions and I heard I was a sinner and I was going to hell. They gave me a brochure that clearly spelled out my dissent. This further ignited the delusion the devil was out to get me. I never felt so vulnerable and alone.
What I am forgetting to tell you is that I had a therapy appointment somewhere in here. I was verbal, but distracted, scared, and scattered. She asked me about crisis residential. I said no thank you. She asked me to keep it in mind.
Home alone w my thoughts, fears, delusions and hallucinations my mind turned to suicide. I could very easily commit an act I believe would solve all these terrors. Yet there is this innate resilience that keeps me here. I don’t remember dialing the phone, but I was connected to my psychiatrist asking about crisis residential. She
started the process right away. She promised I would go somewhere safe. She wished me a peaceful weekend and hung up. All that was left to do was wait. Oh and have faith my doctor would make good on her promise.

Forever in the Throes

The devil whispered in my ear
You do not belong here
The spit from his words
Still rustling the tiny hairs
I shot up like a rocket
My bedcovers in disarray
My husband quickly corralled me
So in the bed I would stay
He pulled me in tight
I nestled close
But the Devils breath
Still stinging my nose
I laid awake
while his message echoed
Suicidal chatter and I
Forever in the throes
Irony stares me in the face
So afraid you’ll pack your bag and go
Yet I in a constant state of planning
How can I leave without a trace
My intentions serve no malice
But to relieve you of my frenzied state
When the darkness enters
My body
My mind
My soul
I reach for my armor
I try to wage war
But it always proves to much for me
I just wish for these blue eyes to close
As I can’t fight no more