A Forever Balancing Act

I’m going to share something that is so counterintuitive my credibility will probably be in question. I had a travel day for work today. It was only a little over an hour away I had to drive to my appointment. It was a beautiful crisp morning. By the time I had to get on the road, all the frost had disappeared in the glistening sun. My iPod was plugged in and I was ready. My impending appointment wasn’t stressful, so my anxiety was rather low.
I live in Northern California in what many people would probably define as a rural area. I was able to travel this distance without getting on the freeway. I took notice of the black, brown and Oreo cows standing on the hillside. I could see reflections in the standing pond water off to the side of the road. I felt the sunshine insulating my car window. Dare I say, I felt at peace.
I’ve been focusing on being grateful. Forging a connection with a higher power. Allowing myself to believe I belong in this world. Just about 4 weeks ago I didn’t believe this and landed in the psychiatric hospital. Just about 4 weeks ago I had a solid plan I was ready and prepared to carry out. But 4 long weeks later I’m back at work and enjoying this drive. Bipolar disorder has got nothin on me.
As I leisurely take in the view up ahead, I picture myself take my hands of the wheel and glide through the air. Arms out to the side like one might do on a bicycle. I think I want to feel this contentment forever. The only possible way that could happen is to veer into oblivion.
The urge to carry out this fantasy becomes overwhelming. My heart start racing. My thoughts start racing. My vision blurry. Panic attack. I pull over as soon as I can to gather myself and my breathing. I always always leave early. I’m sure you can understand why.
Soon, I turn on my signal and begin my road trip again. I practice what I will say when I arrive. I practice what they will say. I turn on some mellow music. Sink into my seat and remind myself I’m OK.
After my appointment I meet a co-worker for lunch. I do not mention the earlier incident. I prepare for my return drive home. I reach out to my higher power and mumble a few words into the car. Again some sort of comfort comes over me. I notice my surroundings. I take it slow and don’t feel rushed to get home. Its that feeling of peace surrounding me, enticing me, promising me what I perceive as freedom. If I died right now, I could actually say I was at peace. Seconds later I pulled in front of a semi truck barreling down the road. He blared his horn as i narrowly made it through the intersection. I didn’t panic. I didn’t seem to care.
Holding on to a positive feeling can be challenging in this world. For my bipolar brain it’s seemingly impossible. I shoot up, then careen down. With all that lies in between. This was all in the span of 6 hours.
How could someone who thinks they feel “at peace,” such a coveted feeling, put herself in harms way at the same time? I don’t really know. Its completely counterintuitive. I’ll tell ya its the truth. Its not hard to want to feel good. Content. At peace. But, with bipolar disorder, everything is a balancing act.

Save me from Myself

Brazenly stepping across the
Threshold of reality
Dangerously dangling into
The realm of insanity
You see chemicals have
Left my body
Brain left to fend for itself
Transmitters and sparks
Light up the synapses
Cosmic chaos ensues
Dazzling bright lights blur
My vision
My course
Altering the direction
Of what I perceive
Of what I think I know
Shadows lurk
But become my friends
Lead me into a dance of
Sinister behavior
The timeless projector
Plays the movie of my life
My character full of
Force
Precision
On a collision course with
Misunderstood passion
I call to the white knight
Of rescue
Please save me from
Myself

Saturday Morning Musings

The tide has turned
In the wee hours of the night
Darkness began to fade
Only to usher in light
Vibrancy filled my veins
Sustenance filled my soul
An angel graced my bedside
While I slumbered
My penance had been atoned
Forgiveness sprinkled over me
Manic agitated being
Lifted from my weary bones
Rest had finally entered
Mercy granted
Simple
But not so simply
Were my actions condoned
Upon the rising of the sun
I had much work to do
Not only a self pardon
But apology to you
A mere gesture
That faith has been restored

Swings and Arrows

Monday I was filled with anxiety, but that was to be expected  as I returned to work after a 3  week leave of absence. In that span of time I was hospitalized, had a med change,attended outpatient, and tried to stay stress free. The only goal for the day was to wade through all my emails.

Tuesday I had an unexpected “run in” with my supervisor.  She did not follow through on something for me as she had said she would.  In fact she almost looked like a deer in headlights. She vaguely remembered our brief exchange around my request. I suggested I had emailed it to her the 1st day I was on leave.  She then said, no she must have “missed that.” Within a half hour she shot me a series of emails telling me she did not receive such email from me. She scoured the special email folder she has for me.  This began the email war.  She demanded I send the actual forwarded email to her. Well, I didn’t have it.

Wednesday morning she sent an email at 6:23am stating, thank goodness for text records.  It was through text I had requested assistance on a few items, not email. But, no mention of the billing.  Awesome idea…texts!  I also have text records. Which indicated among the texts she recalled, I also sent one regarding the billing and she said she would email the vendor and request it be sent to her for processing.  The war ended here. But I still felt thrown under the bus. She didn’t admit or even acknowledge she dropped the ball and I had to let the vendor know it wouldn’t be done.  All this drama may have sparked a touch of hypomania. I was so obnoxious and sarcastic and witty and just over the top silly the entire work day. So much so that I apologized to a few people.

Thursday I couldn’t get out of bed.  My body was so heavy. I lied to my supervisor and said my car wouldn’t start, I’d be late. I got there a little after 10. I had no energy.  I couldn’t get my brain to work.  I can’t understand what this unspoken tension is with my supervisor. I have been at my agency for 17 yrs, had countless supervisors and never any trouble.  I feel like I have a target on my back.

Today, Friday, our entire team is supposed to participate in a panel interview for a potential vendor. Its an immense and important project. I am the only one who has experience with this vendor. I have been excused in order to work on an emergency situation.  Confused is what I am.

Thing is, I’m a good worker. Probably try too hard. I know my stuff. In fact, know more and have done way more than her. I don’t care about that. I just think a little respect goes a long way.  I’m becoming paranoid because I have divulged my illness to her. What if she tries to use it against me? Is there an arrow pointed at me?

 

Funny thing…Bipolar disorder

Funny thing
Having a mood disorder
When energy is low
Face is withdrawn
Language is sparse
Duh, depression
But..
When energy is good
Fluid even
Projects are complete
House is clean
Polaroid comes out for the moon
Vivid words used to describe
The actual moment at hand
I’m asked…
Are you moving fast
Or is it just me?
Gee.
I don’t fucking know
I’m over here just feeling
Pretty
Damn
Great
For a change
Pardon me for trying
To
Just live
Not merely survive

Is this “Normal?”

Its so hard to explain the obsessive loop I get into. My brain just cannot rest. You would think creative ideas are a good thing. And they are, until they interrupt what’s supposed to be a casual stress free night of watching tv.  I couldn’t stop until what was in my head was on the canvass.  Sounds like a luxury problem, but it’s actually uncomfortable.  Instead of hearing voices, I see images of what I should try to create over and over.  Is this part of mental illness too?  I really don’t know.

More than a good ol College try

I’m trying my hand at art. I hesitate to call it that. Maybe it’s more like I’m trying to explore a creative outlet. I seem to be drawn to collage and mixed media. My loving husband often suggests it’s about the process, not so much the outcome. My perfectionism can get in the way of my enjoyment of things. I’m practicing letting go. Anything I’m doing, and I mean anything…laundry, washing my face, remembering medication, attempt at creativity..is more than I was doing pre-hospital.
I return to work tomorrow after 3 weeks off at one of the busiest times. I’m going to practice letting go. I can only do what I can do. One thing st a time. Whatever damn Mantra i can carry through the day. I want to return. I just want my response to the return to be healthy and productive. Fingers crossed!

Remnants of Self

Slashing this pale freckled skin
Tearing at my own flesh
With red speckled hands
Down to the marrow
Down to the core
Where my soul is housed
I can only hope
The sacred window into myself
Has not closed
After the mania
After the depression
After the psychosis
I have lost sight of
Who I am
Through the looking glass
I see remnants
Of a past self
Through the mirror
I see remnants
Of a current self
Through the truth of dreams
I see remnants
Of a future self
Through the chaos of the kaleidoscope
The melded remnants leave me
Confused
Puzzle pieces
With no foundation to build upon

Emotional Upheaval

Feels like it all happened in slow motion. He was in the kitchen asking me a question about the day ahead. He says it was a simple question. I heard something entirely different. My body filled with heat and anger. I leaned forward on the couch and unloaded words of hatred. They shot across the room w venom. This is not who I am. I then rose to my feet and vile came spewing out of my mouth. This is not who I am. Shame surrounded me. I felt trapped. The only thing I knew to do was run. Out of control and desperate I fled the scene.
This emotional upheaval actually began the night before. My sponsor always told me we are as sick as our secrets. It’s not a new phenomenon that I withhold information. This time, I chose not to tell my husband I quit taking my meds. The funny part is, and this is the honest truth, I was cleaning the bathroom and declaring to myself I MUST tell him. I would absolutely find “the right time” this very weekend. I didn’t know the phone rang and I certainly didn’t know it was my psychiatrist calling at 6pm on a Friday night. Shit hit the fan fast.
She was in my ear saying how worried she was I am not taking any medication at all. He was in my sight worried I was receiving this phone call knowing something wasn’t right. I just wanted to yell at everyone to leave me alone. How very selfish of me to want people to not care about me. How very selfish of me to make an important decision about meds and not include my husband. It’s called keeping a secret. I need to get honest and real.
I am not a malicious person. My attempt to keep information secret was not meant to hurt him. Although, that’s exactly what it did.
Back against the wall I came clean. Stopped all meds cold turkey about a month ago. Ups and downs continue. Suicidal thoughts continue but I am making it through so far. I did not share that I had agonized all night about jumping off a bridge on my return home from my business trip. In my mind, no reason to take meds. If I die, I die. I am still selective in what I want to share.
Catching you back up..morning comes and we are both harboring feelings from last night. I yell and scream, grab my keys and bail. So many emotions fill my car..guilt, shame, fear, sadness. I drive around aimlessly for a while alone with my thoughts. Its time I take responsibility for this illness. For my one sided decisions. For my over reactions. The road laid ahead of me. My future in front of me. I know this much: this is not who I want to be. I drove until all those emotions no longer took up space.
I didn’t rush home to make amends, but I did eventually return. I’ll spare you all the details of what ensued upon my arrival home as it was not pretty. I am hopeful that it was productive. I shed many tears as I listened to how hurt he felt, how he wonders if at the root of all this disease is my unhappiness w him, how he worries everyday I am going to hurt myself. I was able to tell him I don’t know how to let him into my darkness. I told him I didn’t want him to know what I think, the places my mind goes.
After many minutes of intense silence, he said this is the most honest conversation we have had for months.
i think we have come to an unconscious don’t ask don’t tell mentality. We are both scared and dancing around each other. I do think I do much more dancing and juggling than he does.
There isn’t a lack of deep love between us. Darkness effects the family as a whole. While I’m in my pit trying hard to cover up my fall in an effort to “protect” him from me, all I’m doing is creating more space between us. That for sure is NOT productive.
I still have to figure out if medication is going to play a role in my recovery. What I learned today is that not including my husband in the equation is not an option. He wants to support me. But he simply can’t if I won’t let him. My task is to learn how to let him.

Consumed by the Darkness

I feel so empty
So alone
Yet so full
Of shame
And disgrace
Down by the river
I shed silent tears
No one understands
Please help me escape
This cumbersome pain
It’s not in solace
I find comfort
It’s not even in holding your hand
Depression whispers to me
Taunts me
Haunts me
Not worthy of spirit
Or space
Not worthy of love
Or embrace
Guilty of weakness
Creating wreckage in my wake
Quietly I slip away
As I’ve had all I can take
I can no longer hold this despair
I can no longer hold this fear
The whispers entice me and promise
It’s selfless to just disappear
The burden no longer heavy
My soul no longer lost
The battle no longer need waging
My tattered white flag barely waving
Please forgive me
As it’s best I don’t say goodbye
I love you dear one
Please try not to cry
Out the back door I slip
Consumed by the darkness
I have lost my grip
Its true I’ve let go
It’s me
No will to keep on
Your fire is still bright
Mine has long grown tired
Keep warm dear one
Keep fighting the good fight