This fragile soul
So wrapped up in shame
Lifeless under these covers
Begging for the darkness
Haunting memories cling
To her mind
Play and replay
Of her fall from grace
Of her loss of sanity
Not a shred of perspective
To her name
Muted as the burden
Of the damage done
Continually slaps her
Embarrassed red face
Self forgiveness. I understand this concept in a broader context. I don’t get it when having to relate to myself. A week after my destructive manic episode I’m still trying to pick up the pieces. Mostly I’m pissed off. How could I have done the things I did? How could I treat people the way I did? Again, conceptually I know I was sick and not in my right mind. But when bits of memories jolt me I am ashamed. It’s stings so deep. I don’t remember everything that happened. Almost everyday there is a new revelation. A new stinger inserted in my heart. A new shameful discovery.
Yesterday while visiting my primary doctor, he read me the psychiatrist notes from my brief ER stay. I almost lodged a complaint because I believed no pdoc bothered to talk to me. I was sure I could plead my case and avoid hospitalization if given a chance. Turns out I refused to talk to anyone. Stated I was being wrongfully judged based on past events. I was argumentative and agitated. Hospital bound. There was much more in those notes. I am mostly disturbed I have absolutely no recollection of this interaction. Rather at 4:30 am after arriving at midnight I demanded to know when I would speak to the doc. We spoke at 12:30am. So scary!
This whole disaster plays out in my mind..what I can remember of it. It’s hard for me to reconcile just how out there I really was. I can’t seem to forgive myself..for the phone calls, the worry I caused, my aggressive behavior & demeanor.
I’m supposed to start a new job on 4/18. I just don’t think I’m ready. My memory and recall is so extremely poor. Processing. Decision making. Forget it. I had to send a request to move my start date. I am so embarrassed and disappointed. Why did this have to happen? I don’t know how my future employer is going to respond.
The only way out is self forgiveness. I can’t even begin to know where to start. I try to breathe, but that’s a struggle. I guess I don’t know what self forgiveness truly is.
Dysphoric mania landed me in the back of a police car pleading not to be 5150’d. It was a helluva day on Tuesday. Come Wednesday morning I was shuffling in the halls of the psych hospital. I was full of shame and tears fell on their own accord. Here’s the story….
I’m not exactly sure when it started. Three or four nights of intense agitation that had me yelling at my husband, criticizing him for anything and everything. Then only moments later literally laying on the floor in complete despair. Moments later running around the house not able to figure out what to do w myself. I was supposed to go to Outpatient on Monday but couldn’t get out of bed.
Tuesday played out like a horrible nightmare. I got up begrudgingly around 8am. I was back in bed by 10:30am. I’m not sure if I slept or not, but emerged again at 12:30. I was feeling guilty about how unproductive I was. I remembered my husband’s request I move my clothes from one closet to another. So I launched in to this project. Somewhere in the midst of walking my clothes from one room to another, I got the brilliant idea to go to the beach. I don’t mean for an afternoon. I mean for a few days. My memory is quite fuzzy. I can only tell you what I think happened. I ran around the house filling a bag with necessities. I brought some meds, but not all. Forgot my birth control pills. Didn’t pack a jacket. Honestly I don’t know what I did remember to bring. I guess I left a window open at the house and our cat outside.
On the road within minutes of my brilliant decision. I think I was headed for Seaside, about 2.5 hours away. However, the freeway I actually landed on would not be how I normally go. I’m about 1.5 hours down the road and it dawns on me I don’t have a phone cord. I also forgot my wallet. My gas tank was getting low. I pull over in a restaurant parking lot that overlooks the bay. Moments upon exiting the car I proceed to crawl down the rocks that line the banks of San Francisco Bay. My shoes are in the water.
What I did next, I can only recall bits and pieces. I called a friend and yelled into the phone something along the lines of…I’m here at the banks of the bay. I’m sorry I’m not a better friend. Goodbye! I then hung up. I called my therapist, thanked her for trying to help me. Said Goodbye! Hung up the phone. Then called my husband. I told him it was meant to be that I am sitting on the banks of the bay. I loved him, but it was time to go. Hung up. I think I texted some people too.
What’s important here is that whenever I have a meltdown/breakdown I keep it a secret. Usually my husband is the only one who is privy to my falling apart. I will be hospitalized and not tell anyone. So, to be reaching out like this was certainly a sign something was very wrong.
Little did I know my husband had called the police. So had my friend. I had no choice but to return home as I had no money. Soon my cellphone would be dead. I raced home. I was convinced a white Chrysler 300 was following me despite the fact I was the only one changing lanes. I drove recklessly and too fast.
As I approached home, about 20 min out, I called my husband. I could tell by the way he was talking to me something was up. I just knew the police were at my house and there was going to be some kind of standoff. I accused him of conspiring against me. I refused to tell him where I was and hung up. For whatever reason I decided to pull over, maybe to figure out my next move. I don’t even think I was sitting in my car for 5 minutes when 2 police cars rolled up on me.
They asked me to get out of my car and I said I didn’t do anything wrong. They politely asked me again. As they put me in the back of the car my husband appeared. The police officer at our home drove him to get my car. I was crying hysterically and apologizing to the officer for wasting his time. They took me to the crisis clinic.
At the crisis clinic I became very agitated. I was yelling and making demands. I was insulting people. The crisis counselor said she did not feel comfortable releasing me. I told her she didn’t even know me. My husband agreed with her and said the way I was acting was not me. He was also concerned. There you have it. The 72 hour hold started.
It wasn’t until the next day, talking to my husband on the phone at the hospital did I learn of what I did. Who I called. What I said. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I reached out to all those people. I don’t reach out. I keep my bipolar disorder pretty private. I felt like I had created wreckage from my manic episode. I felt so guilty I put people in the position of needing to call the police.
When I left the house, I had no intention of hurting myself. Had I remembered my wallet I could have bought a new phone cord. I could have made it to the beach. Had I taken my IPad, my husband would not have been able to locate me. Its such a strange day when I look back on it.
I am constantly humbled by bipolar disorder. In the past, I have known myself when it’s time to seek out the hospital. On this day, I truly didn’t know. Being driven away in the back of a police car, not even sure why. It was very scary. Its still scary when I think about it.
I lay here curled under the covers at 1pm. Motionless I stare at the curtain blocking the world out. Sometimes I think it ripples feeling the breeze against the window. The overnight rain has subsided but I guess there’s more to come. The dark cloud of depression has settled itself in my room. Stretching out. Getting comfortable. The air feels thinner now. It’s a struggle to breath. In fact, everything is a struggle.
This thick veil of blankets used to weigh me down. But in this moment I think it’s my very existence causing undue pressure. I repeat over and over how sorry I am. Sorry for the burden I’ve become. The trouble I seem to cause. The constant worry you shoulder. The fear of not knowing who I’m going to be when you arrive home: angry or agitated or manic or depressed. Or worse yet,cycling through them all.
My voice 12 octaves higher signaling I’m manic. Not to mention all the projects I’ve started in the last 8 hours. Honey! Honey I wrote a song today. It’s really good. You are going to like it. Racing around w paint in my hair. Look at the colors in this. I don’t know how I did it. Came out great, right?
My lifeless body on the couch. Can barely muster a hello. Can’t muster a how was your day dear. This is where I was when you left this morning. No, I haven’t eaten. I’m just not hungry. No I didn’t shower again, I’m so tired.
The echo throughout the house of my rage shakes the pictures. Scares the cat. Nothing you say is right. I’m not fucking hungry alright. Leave it alone. Why don’t you cook once in a while for gods sakes! I clean and I clean and look at this mess. I don’t know why I bother.
You wipe away the never ending tears fielding my questions: what happened? I was doing everything right. I mean, wasn’t I? I’m a good person, aren’t I? I don’t mean to be this way, cause so much pain. I don’t understand. Why now? Why? I don’t think I can live like this anymore
The many faces of bipolar.
Is it possible to have a friend in the wind?
Not that the breeze carries me to him
Not that a north easterly brings me closer
Rather as the days fold into nights
Stars brilliantly sashay around the moon
Til sunrise comes a callin
A new day breeds a claim
To a simple whisper in the pines
Or an all out cry to you
Many things waiver in the wind
Many things set sail
Yet I still try to hold you close
I look for some sense of old permanence
Sharing of our despair
Sitting on broken down couches
At the same time mending a different fence
Shadow lights from up above
Unknowingly causing distance
Tangible notes on the phonograph
Repeating notes and words we both know
Comfort creatures feeling restless
Sadly unable to bury the load
Memories traipse across the threshold
Invite themselves in
Come bearing witness of the truth
Unlucky as a daisy can be
This saturated old cold house
Rotten maybe to its core
Once provided me refuge
I truly never knew before
But in my earnest
Listening for a new miracle
I heard just a faint whisper in distant voice
Enchantingly lying on the wind
As it brushes past my forever red hair
Chills my ocean blue eyes
I instinctually sit up as I used too
To embrace your proper despair
Friends we sat in anticipation
Ready to share the pain
Its in the still nights
I wonder where you are
Wonder if my burden
Carried you too far
And you felt your own delicacy
When the precious wind comes my way
I want to believe you are with me
In your own way
I feel so lost. So confused. Unraveling. Tears and more tears fall unanswered. Just hours before I was sitting tall espousing on how I was going to really help turn the agency I’m going to work for around. With my working knowledge of both systems, I was just the right person for the job. Yet, hours later I’m pacing around hysterical. Yelling at my husband..I really don’t remember about what. Feeling so out of control.
Thoughts of suicide careen around in my mind. Pure chaos takes over. Demands that I take a PRN to help calm down feel like daggers. I don’t know why. Its the right suggestion. Its a good idea. But I kick, yell and scream about how unfair this all is. Poor poor me.
Our frustrations hang in the air and wrestle with our unspoken words. Everything hurts. What you say. What you don’t say. The darkness I can see coming for me. The relentless noise in my head. What am I doing wrong I shout! I’m a good person I insist! Apologies fly out of my mouth laced with fear. Please don’t give up on me. I’m so sorry. I know you deserve better. I want to give you better but I’m all tied up. Bipolar disorder has me in knots. Angry knots. If only I could untangle myself. Then. Then I could just end it all. Now, that’s a good idea.
Finally, red faced and ashamed I slink off to bed. The tornado of emotions has passed. I didn’t see it coming. Seems lately I never do. No capacity for self awareness. I lay my head on my pillow and ask for forgiveness. I do not wish to be a storm in our lives. I really don’t!
I walk through the motions
I smile when it seems appropriate
Yet, i feel nothing
The atmosphere in my mind is complete chaos
Critics in an uproar
Yet, i walk softly
Slow and soft
No footprints can be seen
I don’t feel like i exist
Perhaps I’m just a ghost roaming about
I watched my feet walk a labyrinth today
Weaving in and out of the stone path
Wandering but not lost
An entrance and an exit
Leading me not to salvation
But reminders to breathe
Each conscious step
Filling my lungs
Not of expectation
But forgiveness and grace
I sat beaming on my therapists couch as I recounted the final days at my job. I put 17 years of growth, failure, tears and triumph to bed. As a fresh faced 25 year old I bounded into work each day because my clients needed me. Going full circle, in my mind at least, I was bounding out the door having given guidance and direction to the eventual service providers that would care for those clients 24 hours a day. I shared all my historical knowledge w the “newbies” in my unit. I bid my colleagues goodbye. Handed in my keys. Drove slowly out of the parking lot. The view in the rear view mirror bittersweet.
How do you feel, she said, bringing me back to the present. With only two days of “freedom” under my belt, I wasn’t sure I knew. It was all still surreal. I had worked really hard over the last two weeks to close out projects, so my final days (Monday & Tuesday) allowed me some space. I didn’t want to be riddled w anxiety and running around frantically. I also didn’t want to just stop being productive and leave things to other people. I was successful in my endeavor. Even solidifying one last project only hours before my departure.
As an Air Force Brat, saying goodbye was commonplace but I never became good at it. I work with some wonderful people. Not Spending 40 hours a week w them was hard to imagine. The laughter. The shared frustrations. The collaboration. The cohesiveness. All will be missed.
I reported that I learned a valuable lesson. Since my dramatic fall into bipolar disorder and subsequent diagnosis in the last 4 years, I have had to take significant time off. If I had to guess, all told, I would say maybe 12 months worth. I would hold on to the idea they absolutely need me at work and I couldn’t possibly go to the hospital. Inevitably I would push myself too hard and symptoms would become too extreme to stay safe. Hospital here I come, again and again.
The lesson, as I cleaned out my desk or passed along projects to coworkers, was the agency will most certainly go on without me. It never stopped while I was gone. The phone still rang. Emails were sent. Deadlines were met or they simply weren’t. I was but a spoke in the wheel. Helpful. Well liked. But at the end of the day, not necessary. So, in my wake, if any projects fall apart or if they are heralded, it’s not my fault.
A new work week has started. Here I am sitting on the couch drinking coffee when normally I would be checking emails. I feel a little empty. I had a massive panic attack over the weekend..seemingly out of no where. It was a great week of goodbyes, my birthday, sunshine, spending time w my husband. Saturday rolls around. Another good day. Did some gardening, some errands. Plans to make dinner. In the midst of that dinner making, my brain flipped.
The music was too loud. The lights too bright. The kitchen fan sounded like a helicopter hovering. I was dizzy. Seeing black. Breath shorter and shorter. Panic. Pure panic. Now on the floor trying to bring air into my body slowly. My husband was talking to me, but it was muffled noise. I was so confused. What had I done wrong? Everything felt right. Of course, it passed. 20-30 min later. I ate a bit of dinner and then my husband put me to bed..at 8 pm.
I have a month off in between jobs. Most people marveled at that. I mean how often does this opportunity present itself. I was so proactive. I restrung my tennis rackets as I used to be quite a competitor, until Bipolar came along. I fixed up my mountain bike. I made some plans with people. I bought some new running shoes. Got my paints out. This is my time to “figure out what I like to do.”
Yet, here I sit. Alone. Not moving. So scared. Scared of what? Time. Empty space in the minutes, hours, weeks and month ahead.
The vessel that carried me through the day
Collected hours of my existence
Gave me voice
Afforded me the gift
Genuine desire for advocacy
At one time
Well just yesterday
Was the very definition
Of who I am
Has washed ashore
I walked on fresh sand
Made new imprints
Carved a new path
Pebbles in my shoes
Follow me in the car
In my home
Stuck in my socks
Of the open road
That lay ahead
A new chapter
A new reason to get out of bed
A new job title
A new definition
Or maybe just me
In a new space