Where is the Welcome Mat?

I hear them laughing
Whispering
connecting
Sharing
It could be stories
Secrets
Dreams
Fears
Where once I felt
I belonged
Could take part
Mattered
Now
So far removed
Alone
Broken
Unworthy
They carry on
Without me

I have been feeling this overwhelmingly painful sense of loneliness. Like the veil of darkness has wrapped itself around me so tight I cannot see the love or the light in my life. I don’t believe its actually there, but others tell me it is. Yesterday was a perfect metaphor for how I’m feeling. I was at a work event, more like a fair, when vendors have booths showcasing the accomplishments of their agency. As i walked around and saw comrarderie among people, laughing, touching, w genuine like for one another, it struck me I no longer have that. I’m the girl who gets asked to take the group photo. I’m on the outside capturing memories for others. I’m not in the memories, in the circle of laughter, in the circle at all. I am the lone aloof individual on the outside. So unsure of myself. I just feel unwelcome in this world right now. Its only getting darker.

Sorry is all I can think to say

My eyes drip w sadness
My body weak from the weight
Turbulent thoughts
Then no thoughts
Just numb
Shutting down
There is no explanation
I do not know the cause
Tears invade my space
I sit unable to express
The sudden pain
I can fight no more
I am tired
I try and try
Fulfill my role as wife, friend, worker
I hold my head high
For as long as I can
Smile for the camera
Dance for you
Now I weep
Broken
On the floor
And i want to say sorry
Sorry
I am not more
Sorry
I am not better
Sorry
I am this way
But the Words fall silent
The guilt remains tethered on the inside
I feel your disappointment
It scars me

Getting off this Ride

It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly my mood can drop. From Monday to today, i have fallen into a deep dark canyon.  On Monday, I was probably thinking I could jump over the canyon and through the woods.  But, somehow my feet have slipped and here I am at the bottom. Alone. Crying. It takes too much energy to look up. I just lie down in defeat.
Suicidal thoughts swirl in action. Ideas make their way into my mind. Plans are so easily formed. I’ve been here before. As my husband kisses me a voice reminds me that’s the last one. He is better off without me. As we cross over the bridge I look below to see if its high enough. I choke back silent tears and mentally begin to write a note. I combine medication bottles for an easy getaway.
I’ve said very few words to my husband in the last 48 hours. He asked me to smile. Half smile was all I could do. I’m supposed to be at a baseball game right now, last home game for the season. But I sit alone on my couch crying. Formulating. Realizing just how alone I am. I no longer have friends. I don’t know how to make them or keep them. I don’t know how to call anyone in moments like this. My world is caving in and I sent my support off to enjoy beer and baseball. I’m tired of holding him back.
My demons are never gone. Always waiting to pounce. Bipolar in the fall months is so hard for me. Symptoms greet me as the darkness of night closes in earlier and earlier.
If you ask me…pills no pills. Its all the same. I don’t actually ever find stability for more than 3-4 wks tops. I’m exhausted. My work demands are increasing and my ability to handle it decreasing. But, on the outside that’s not really seen. My appearance remains in tact. Key buzz words still show I know what I’m doing. Yet, at the end of the day I cry on my drive home. Releasing all that’s built up. My mind races when it hits the sheets either reminding me where I went wrong or demanding I remember something I cannot. Obsessively my mind churns and churns. Sleep escapes me. The alarm sounds and I’m supposed to do it all over again. Perfectionism ushers me through my office doors with anxiety in tow.
I step off and on the merry go round too often for my liking. Thrown around as I lose my balance. My place. Grab on hard to the handle for a short time and demand I push through..only to lose my balance and place over and over. I’m over this game.

Stuck at the dysfunction junction

Growing up, I always thought I had an incredibly dysfunctional family. And, by my own definition I did. I had a BFF in middle school and just loved her parents. The way they interacted with their children. The way they hugged them and gushed about how much my friend was loved. Their soft compassionate demeanor towards me. EVERTHING. I wanted to be their daughter.
My folks were distant, emotionally detached. Quick to punish and spank with anything handy…belt, wooden spoon, fly swatter. Sent off to my room to “think about what I did.” Never a follow up question regarding my thoughts. Never reassurance it was still okay, i was okay. Not much love floating in the airwaves. I was a shy awkward young girl who could use some guidance, but none was available. When I mustered up all my bravery and asked for some help, i was quickly shut down. Up went the wall!
My husband has helped me to break down the wall and communicate my feelings. Some days i can do this, some days i simply can’t. Either the words don’t come, i don’t know the words, or I’m afraid of the words I should be saying. Throw my therapist in the mix and we are working on it!
On his side of the family, big mean derogatory words can come barreling at you seemingly out of nowhere. Or you get the silent treatment. The in laws reside in Western NY, which you would think would be a blessing. It is, but it really isn’t. Distance can kill any kind of relationship, even if you work at it. When there is no consistent communication, the ship can go down in a hurry. My mother in law is the only tether to the sinking ship. We hang on, get bounced around and ejected over and over by his brother. But, his frail mother who sits slumped over in her wheelchair waits for my husband’s phone call twice per day.
Just in the last few days, she has been too weak to manipulate the cell phone. Too weak to eat and not terribly responsive. When you are 3000 miles away and the only link is an old flip phone its hard to know what’s happening. We find ourselves having to rely on the brother for information as he is power of attorney and the ungrateful boots on the ground in NY. The word “strained” keeps popping up in my mind to describe the relationship of these two men, but it really doesn’t do it justice.
Last year i stood my ground after i visited and had a subsequent hospitalization. I was out of work for 3 months. I am a highly sensitive being with bipolar I, some situations i just cannot handle. I delicately told my husband the environment was not good for me and my mental health. He agreed and declared I never have to go there again. Not realistic.
So here I am. mother in Law not doing well. Brother in law sparing with his medical information. Husband terrified if he doesn’t jump now he may never have a positive interaction with his mother again. what a freakin dilemma. How do i be of support to him and validate my own struggles with the family. Honor my own mental health. Be a doting wife full of empathy and love. How?

Caught in a Manic Moment

I felt my smile today. My cheeks widened. My eyes sparkled. A confident giggle just emerged. A sarcastic, witty statement fell off my tongue. My body was loose. I chose “provocative” clothing for the evening. A skip in my step turned into a slight twist and sashay of hips. I wanted attention. Craved it.
My previous slow wonderment was a blistering set of somewhat inappropriate questions. Firing off w out my recollection. At first they were at home, a big enough space to house them all. But when we moved to the car, my husband felt like he was under attack. He gave me that look..care, concern and annoyance all rolled into one. With a loud sigh he said the three words that signal something might be awry: are you okay? The underlying tone of urgency. Of, why now. Of, now I have to stay alert, floated in one ear and out the other.
I fired inquiries as to why he was ruining my vibe. It’s a good day. Nope, it’s an awesome day. Here I am, finally, completely available to you and you can’t handle it? It’s my gift to you. In return I receive an urgent follow up set of words: are you moving fast? Fast! Schmast! My energy is fluid. Pulsing through my mind, body and spirit. I tilt my head and become a little flirty. Suggest if he is a good boy he just might get an out of this world invitation to bliss. These are not my words. But they are delivered in such a way all questions ceased. Like a dripping candle, I was sizzling his skin with my heat.
I strutted around in my cowboy boots and overly tight shirt. Certain every man in the restaurant and later the bar, took notice. I sipped on water as if it was the finest vodka made in all of the land. I was careful to touch my husbands face, long hair and hands. But only for a moment. A tease. I don’t remember feeling my body until he caressed me. I think I was floating above. Alternating between sensual presence and depersonalization. An awkward shift was taking place.
I motioned him to the dance floor. Stomping my boots to feel the ground was just what I needed. He draped his arms across my shoulders and was pressing into me from behind. Once again I could feel him. Our juices flowing. Our need for each other growing. A sharp, and I mean, sharp laser pierced my mind. A lightning bolt of desire infiltrated me. But, not just for my husband. My eyes darted around the room looking for another man. Wait a minute. Please stop this madness. This is most certainly not me, not my line of thinking.
I break free and dance w wild abandon. Maybe if another comes to me it’s not the same thing. No initiation on my part. Trouble is, we were watching a solo acoustic singer songwriter. My husbands hands held me still. Perhaps reminding me wrong place, wrong time. I couldn’t stop moving. He hugged me and asked if I needed some air. I needed to be set free! This fierce drive was nothing I’ve ever felt before. I was alive. Awake. Fuck wonderment. This was decadent curiosity. This was out of bounds and enticing. Modest caution out the window.
My wise husband misses no signs. This was not his self effacing red haired freckled faced shy wife standing next to him. He held me close, but didn’t smother me. At first I resisted. He whispered he loved me over and over. We made our way back to the car unscathed. My body electric. The moon and the stars, warm dog days of summer nights ignited my insides. Typically my particular cocktail of meds ushers me to bed around 9:30. I was up well past 2 am. Brilliance encapsulating me. The race of ideas with no context or goal ricocheted around the room. They skidded along my blank page but left only an indiscernible mess.
I reached into the cavernous black hole of my medication shelf and pulled out the bottle “for emergencies.” It wasn’t critical mass, but maybe on the cusp. This newfound me felt risky. Exhilarating. But still risky. I washed them down with some shame, guilt and unsung empowerment. It’s for the best I told myself.
Late morning here I sit. Trying to piece it all together. I missed the signs. I just thought, for the first time in a long time, I was out in the world. Being seen. Being heard. In my body. And I was, for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t me embracing myself. I was succumbing, unknowingly, to symptoms. I think there might be a difference.

Medication Chronicles

My medication shelf is overwhelming. I’m on the cusp of running out of the small pills that fill BIG plastic bottles. I receive more bottles of my small pills in anticipation of running out. I am too tired to combine, at least right now, and it looks like I have a million pill bottles in my possession. So a million thoughts fill my head all at once. I capture this much:
1. I’m well taken care off
2. There are FAR too many pills for me to manage
3. I can’t possibly need this many. I’m overprescribed
4. I can always keep my stockpile of pills going for my ultimate plan
5. I could take them all and just end this now
6. Just for today I will take what I am prescribed

Struggle. Struggle to accept this is where I am. Struggle to accept its okay. Pills for sleep. Yep I so need that. Pills for mood, without question. For psychosis. For agitation/anxiety. I acquiesce. Pause. Remember the circumstances that follow my rebellion. Never good.
It ain’t pretty when I don’t take em. It’s not always rosy just because I do. I’m still here. That says a lot. The shelf itself is unmanageable. But I don’t have to solve everything right now.
It occurs to me I just have to do the next right thing. You might know this lingo. Sometimes it applies to all circumstances. Actually almost always. If you are open to it.

What the F** am I doing?

I am scouring my house clean. I am blasting music to keep my “morale” up. I am pretending to try to dance. Let go. Release. Stop fighting. Yet, at the very same time I want to lie on the floor and tantrum. Pound my hands. Kick. Scream. Release. But I don’t. My doctors words floating in my mind…I see you as high functioning, going to work just about each day.
Yes. Yes I do present my body at work a majority of the time. My mind. Well, it’s a crap shoot. Today, I lost my cool in the restroom with a supervisor. Not mine. Thank goodness..I guess. I cursed like a sailor, tears in my eyes declaring I am fed up. Who exactly am I fed up with? Me or my supervisor? Great question.
I walk myself backwards through the day. Where is my voice? Not in my supervisors office. Not in my doctors office. In the bathroom, off line. In this blog post. But, not where it needs to be. Not in the proverbial light of day.
What a painful revelation. What a godsend. What in the hell do I do now?

Chaos, Confusion & Wonderment

I often wonder about myself. And even more often I have doubts about myself. When push comes to shove I have to ask others to help me define my reality. I spin round and round like a top on a table. It’s not joy I am feeling but chaos. Intervention is typically required. Could be a gentle prompt, like breathe, or a more serious proposition such as please take some klonopin to help yourself calm down. Mostly I oblige, but, if I’m honest, I can also be a little resentful.
So in my wonderment I ask my husband if I’m a people pleaser. He replies I’m a people worrier. We laugh gingerly both knowing he is right. My heart is big and wide. I’m a helper inside and out. Seems perfect I landed in social services. It was and it is. Until it isn’t. I’m burning out. Burning up. My energy stores are depleting. As a person with bipolar disorder, I really cannot afford to give energy away. I am finding helping and caring about others is becoming a blurred line. I care about my work. I care about the people I serve. But it has to end somewhere. I am giving myself away. When my defenses are down I am subject to psychosis in both depression and mania.
Delusions tip toe around my mind. I begin to think my boss is avoiding me. No longer wants to provide support to me. She secretly wants me to fail. She is discriminating against me. She is pushing me out. I have no allies. Im not part of the team. Never mind I have been there for 17 years and she barely 2 years. Never mind I know more than she does and could be an asset. The bottom line is she wants me gone. She has the ear of those that can make it happen.
I begin to worry about the people, the clients w developmental disabilities, who need my help in creating resources for them. I begin to worry about the people I am guiding in the process of developing such precious resources. Am I letting them down? Am I not working hard enough? Do I not play well with others anymore? Everything is blurry. I am so very tired. Confused. Worried.
Where in all this do I consider I am okay. Doing the best I can. Care, but not too much. Give, but leave some for myself. Unblur.
Truth is…..I don’t know. I’ll keep asking my husband questions of wonderment and hope somewhere along the way I’ll stumble upon answers.

On this Day I Remember

The word suicide is hard to utter for me. Hell, just saying I need help takes all I got. I’ve stood on a bridge peering down to frigid waters wondering if it would truly seal the deal. The mist and moisture emanating from the water combined with my own salty tears kept me paralyzed for hours. I paced and I paced along that bridge. Full of despairing despair. Full of frightening fear. But also full of just enough perseverance I called someone. I used to refer to it as desperation. And maybe it was. But somewhere within, I have no idea where, I found the courage to utter the S word. Out loud. To someone else. I landed at my mental health clinic and was promptly admitted. This happened to be the same day Robin Williams took his life. I learned this in the hospital and was quite devastated.
My second, rather serious, brush with an attempt took place in my car. I always promised myself I would not end my life at home. At the very least, I would not traumatize my husband even further by being the one who found me. I don’t remember all that much honestly. A hopelessness I had never felt wrapped itself around my body and mind. The ups and downs, psychosis, worthlessness, searing emotional pain I didn’t know how to let out held me hostage. I could no longer see myself carrying on, navigating the world, being of any consequence to anyone. Burden was tattooed on my forehead when I looked in the mirror.
Without much thought I literally swiped all the medication bottles of my personal chemical shelf into a bag, slung it over my shoulder and headed for the river. I sat in my car with probably 20 medication bottles I had stockpiled on my lap. I sobbed. I sat up straight. Opened those bottles and poured pills down my throat. A friend new I was struggling. He sent me a text. I replied..it’s done. The emotional warfare was finally over. The mind is an interesting and amazing creature. My friend said he had no choice but to call 911. I freaked the fuck out. Begged him not to. Pleaded. Said it wasn’t fair. All this through frantic texts. I don’t know if I was suddenly filled with regret or shame. I know for sure I was terrified at what I had done.
I drove home. The river is 5 min from my house. I took more pills. I sat on the floor. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I wanted. I called my husband yelling incoherently into the phone that 911 had been called. I was sobbing uncontrollably. He was an hour away. By the grace of some higher power a friend of a friend was in my town. She too called 911 and came over. I asked her NOT to come over but she came anyway. I was slumped on the floor. Couldn’t hold my head up. I saw black boots. EMT boots. Heard a mans voice asking what I took, how many. I truly didn’t know or remember. They loaded me up into the ambulance. I couldn’t stay awake. They kept yelling my name. I couldn’t form words, but I wanted to say..please let me die. I was convinced I should exit the world. I woke up hours later in the hospital. In and out of consciousness I woke enough to squeeze my husbands hand. Then back out. Hours later I woke again needing to use the restroom. I could barely walk. I couldn’t support myself. It was scary. It was sad.
About 24 hrs later of IV fluids and whatever else they released me to the psych ward. I was angry I was still alive. Angry 911 intervened. I stayed angry for about a month. Angry at the thought of living with my private hell of bipolar one more day. But, as they do, things got better. Outpatient program, ind therapy, walks in nature, and the unconditional love of my husband slowly reached me. I returned to living.
I continue to battle suicidal thoughts. Just 2 weeks ago I wrote a post that couldn’t possibly explain what I was feeling. I was trying to figure out how to say goodbye. I was on my knees knees. The chatter in my mind screaming I don’t belong. My soul perishing. The concept that I matter to anyone shattered by the voices. I had a plan. A solid plan. I wrote a note to my husband. But, how to say goodbye? That stumped me. I sent that same friend another desperate text. Do you know his reply?! Wherever you are. Whatever you are doing. stop and just breathe. BREATHE. And I did. It took a minute or 2 but I found my breath. I slowed down. I could almost think. I was somehow allowed to rest.
On this particular day, World Suicide Prevention Day, I’m just going to breathe. Consciously draw air into my lungs and feel the expansion. Exhale all the invisible pain each of us feel in our own way. Be present for those suffering. Acknowledge those who lost the battle. Conjure up that sometimes elusive perseverance to make it through another day. To all my fellow warriors I squeeze your hand. You matter. We matter.

Tool Kit: Serenity Prayer

Crouched in the corner
My hands cover my ears
Looking for shelter from the voices
Forcing myself into a protective ball
To fend off the demons
Gravity has its way
And down here I remain
The weight of the world
Of bipolar
Of anxiety
Of perfectionism
Pushing in on my soul
Reaching into my very core
Testing me
Just how much can I take
Just how much can I stuff
Just how bright can my fake smile be
Just how much can my false bravado withstand
Pressure continues to mount
My fears too many to count
Dark clouds descending
My safe corner shrinking
Everything closing in
Heart beat rapid
Breath gone missing
Sweat now dripping
I repeat the serenity prayer silently
Over
Over
Over again
Until I feel my feet on the ground