Running into open air

Sometimes I lean on dirt roads to carry me through the anxiety. Pounding of the hiking path grounding me turn for turn. Easing my agitation. Some people do yoga. Maybe I should try it. I tend to want to run. Maybe try and outrun the demon, at least for an hour or two. Huffing and puffing through the trees. Racing through brush. Just not stopping. Heart racing for all the right reasons.
The walls were closing in this morning. Same damn job search routine. Alarm rings. Rip myself from the bedsheets. Grab some coffee and settle in. Today the self doubt ran rampant. I applied for 3 jobs in the last 2 weeks. Not a peep from any potential employers. My resume sucks! I don’t have any marketable skills! I should have never left my job of over 17 years despite every ounce of me needing to get out. All the signs. Red flags waving. I should have stuck it out. I should have changed. Surely it was all my doing. Me! Me! me. Big fat failure screaming back with each scroll through the job boards.
Financial insecurity-check.
Fear-check
Isolation-check
Desire to not feel these things-CHECK CHECK
In a matter of moments I flew around my house. I need a water bottle. I need my headphones. Where’s my hiking backpack. Who am I talking to? Doesn’t matter. I knew I needed to get out of the house and out of my mind. I needed to breathe. Not filtered gym air, but mother nature’s healing powers. Escape in its purest, healthiest form. At least for me. For this alcoholic.
Music overshadowing “the neighborhood” I charged up the hill. I didn’t look back. Only forward. Step after step marveling in the fact I can do that next right thing, if I choose to. It was more than a choice. It was a want. I wanted to feel the grace that lies outside my front door. So many days I shut in. Cower in fear alone. Not noticing a thing but the heart palpitations that bring me to my knees.
Today I ran in the wind. Through yellow mustard. Stomped in mud. Heard the lyrics of songs that sometimes just pass me by. Most importantly I was in charge of my breath. Fast or slow. It was my doing. I chose to make the sprint to the next bench. I chose to meander near that bee hive…just to watch a community at large be in harmony.
Walking back to the car I felt the sweat down my back. What I didn’t feel was anxiety. Or agitation. I went to check my watch. My barometer of success at times. Did I run long enough or fast enough? I refrained. In that moment my self worth wasn’t to be defined by minutes or miles. It also wasn’t going to be defined by buzz words on resumes. I rested in the peace of mind I rescued myself in a precarious moment. A personal success if I say so myself.

 

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Home is Where the Pain Is

Sadness seems to grip me on the ride home. The vacation. The escape from reality is over. I was a guest in someone else’s world. They knew nothing of my recent manic episode or that I have bipolar disorder. There I am simply a daughter in law. Sister in law. Red hair, freckles and bubbly. 3000 miles away that’s all they have ever known.
I come home to medical bills of my ambulance ride to the ER. Remembrances of sitting in a police car more agitated and out of control than ever. Yelling, no screaming, at psych emergency services. Pacing. Pointing fingers at everyone else. Accusing my husband of collusion and conspiracy. Simply out of my mind.
I had to ask the brand new job I had yet to start to delay my hire date. My brain not able to process information. Not able to remember. Not able to form sentences at times. It didn’t seem fair to them or me to keep the original date. Shame and embarrassment filled me as I wrote the email. They politely agreed. Thank god.
Now, I need to re-enter my world. It feels like there is wreckage in the wake of the episode. Do I make amends to those I may have hurt or worried? While I don’t remember, the truth still remains I called people and told them goodbye. I upset them to the point of calling the police. They feared for me.
Worried people called worried people. My traumatic business is getting batted around through the phone lines. People care,I was told. I used to work with these people and will have to interface w them in my new role. Will there be an elephant in the room? Do I explain what happened? Do I just ignore what happened and move on?
I don’t know how to handle this situation. Then I question if there is really a situation to handle. In AA I would make amends. Is it the same with Bipolar disorder?

Well….that happened! A visit by the police.

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.

The Many Faces of Bipolar

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.

Let me apologize in advance

I am wrestling with myself. So agitated. Every noise and every light grating on me. Every email I read sets off rage. I hate everyone. In the next moment I am cowering in the bathroom crying. Uncomfortable. Disgruntled. But then just overwhelmed and sad.  A lovely mixed episode according to my doc. What did I do to deserve this?

I think this started last night. I was wanting to peel my skin off out of disgust. I have just let myself go. Any semblance of a workout routine gone.  I used to be so fit and dedicated. Now I’m a sloth.  I curse myself, but do nothing about it. I set my alarm last night to exercise this morning before work. I got my out of shape butt on the treadmill by 6 am.

In addition, I am having trouble w my supervisor at work. I’m trying to get a new job. The environment is making me unhealthy.  I’m frustrated and confused about her responses to me.  I came home upset last night and as a result could not sleep. My mind was in overdrive and I began obsessing.  Catastrophizing. Creating immense anxiety. Then my mind was scripting interactions and exactly what I should say, what they would say…on and on. Agonizing.  I had to take an additional medication to make it stop.

This post is nothing but a rant. No substance. Sorry.  I have nowhere else to go!! well except the bathroom to cry some more. Pitiful!

 

Reprise: Maybe I’m *not* Out of Ideas

On days like these I don’t know what to do. Noise is too much. I mean the lowest setting on the ceiling fan in the next room is too much. The light is too much. I mean the alarm clock in the farthest corner of the room is too much. I am sooo cold. But my head. My mind is burning up. I put my cold hands to my forehead over and over for relief. But none comes. I close all the shades. Put on noise cancelling headphones. Sit. Breathe in and out to a count of five. But I can’t sit. I can’t breathe.

So I pace. But I’m so tired. Yet, so agitated and restless. I send a desperate text as the tears begin to fall. I don’t know what to do. Terrible discomfort. I want to fall into bed. Escape with sleep. Rest. But I cannot. Neither my body nor my mind can fend off this intense desire to jump out of my skin or through a window.

I bounce around the room from couch, to kitchen stool, to the floor and back round again. Massage my neck. Put on loose clothing. Wrap myself in a blanket. I tried the ice in a bowl. Taking notice of my senses. Drinking hot tea. I am out of ideas.

I rush around my small house. Thoughts crash into me. Some big. Some small. Some disturbing. Some just silly. I pass by my “art box” in a frenzy. Back and forth until I think to pick up my paint brush. I pour some paint onto an already used canvas. Swoosh the color around. Aggressive at first. Then rhythmic. My body begins to sway as I see my brush dance. My breathing begins to soften as the paint collides into beautiful choreography. My story in the moment.

I never used to believe in “that rhetoric:” Feelings pass. Tomorrow is another day. Ride the wave. Blah blah blah. But, as I give myself a chance more and more. Let myself FEEL the moment more and more. Accept. I see the possibility in this language. The possibility in me.

I may not always have a canvas available. Paint at my disposal. But, luckily today my toolbox afforded me this option. Each toolbox is different. At home or on the go. The value of even the smallest hint of a tool box is evident. It, like me, can always be a work in progress.

I Am Out of Ideas

On days like these I don’t know what to do.  Noise is too much.  I mean the lowest setting on the ceiling fan in the next room is too much.  The light is too much. I mean the alarm clock in the farthest corner of the room is too much.  I am sooo cold. But my head. My mind is burning up. I put my cold hands to my forehead over and over for relief. But none comes. I close all the shades. Put on noise cancelling headphones. Sit. Breathe in and out to a count of five.  But I can’t sit. I can’t breathe.

So I pace.  But I’m so tired. Yet, so agitated and restless. I send a desperate text as the tears  begin to fall.  I don’t know what to do.  Terrible discomfort. I want to fall into bed.  Escape with sleep.  Rest.  But I cannot. Neither my body nor my mind can fend off this intense desire to jump out of my skin or through a window.

I bounce around the room from couch, to kitchen stool, to the floor and back round again. Massage my neck.  Put on loose clothing. Wrap myself in a blanket.  I tried the ice in a bowl.  Taking notice of my senses.  Drinking hot tea.  I am out of ideas.

The best prescription for agitation

When the agitation gets this high I seek destruction. I drive faster, I eat more, I kick things, I yell, scream, storm out. Ultimately I think I want to die. Crawling in my skin, crawling out of my skin. Sharp tongue. Raised voice. Constantly rubbing and pulling at the back of my neck..where the tension lies.
Tears roll and I scorn them. How could I be so weak and pathetic? What is this even about? Pacing around the house like a caged animal. The answer has to be somewhere. Although I’m not really looking, I just can’t sit still. I can’t find my breath. I don’t even want to breathe. Ultimately I think I want to die.
Pouring the medication into my hand last night I wanted to add more. If 3 is supposed to be the magic number, maybe 6 is even better. Perhaps it’s 9. Electric currents of impulsivity fueling my decision making. Each buzz hits my hand and jostles the bottle, one more pill fell into my hand. One more than is prescribed. And again. As I cup them in my hand I wonder if I find the right combo, maybe this time I won’t wake up. I won’t have to fight this intense agitation. Feel like some out of control monster that has to hide away from work, from society. The noise is too loud. The light is too bright. I am too raw to be in the world today. Yet I feel too broken to be alone.
I turn to social media for help, reassurance, something to tell me I’m okay. I’ve pushed friends away long ago. Some just not capable of understanding and some just lost patience as rapid cycling bipolar throws me up then throws me down. I am guilty of not picking up that phone. On days like today I am convinced no one would want to be around me. Hell, I don’t want to be around me.
My house is small. An echo chamber. Just like my mind. If I yell and scream into this space it just comes back at me. I feel trapped. Alone. My neck hurts, my head hurts, my heart hurts. I wouldn’t wish these feelings onto my worst enemy. How ironic because in reality I am my own worst enemy. The skill of self compassion is missing from my tool box. Truth is I kicked that box out of sight. So here I am. In pain. Raw.
Constantly fighting myself, my symptoms I forget I have tools. Calming techniques for agitation, or at the very least dispelling the negative energy. I think I am beyond sitting quietly for art. I need to blast some music and get this knotted up body moving. Quickly I make my way to the treadmill. Luckily the prescription for exercise is unlimited.

Lost that Lovin Feeling

I would like a friend who also has bipolar disorder in the real world. I have such a hard time figuring things out. I am always wondering if what I think or feel is akin to other bipolar folks.  I question whether some of my responses to things makes sense from a bipolar perspective.  In short, has my friend ever felt or thought the same crazy shit I do?  Oh, would that be so darn helpful.  I’m imagining it would help to ease my mind (sometimes).

The other thing I would like (I know Christmas has passed) is for a positive shift in my mood to last more than 4-5 days at a time.  It feels like forever and always I am good..then too good for a day or so, then crash.  Now on the spectrum of my disorder this is moderate.  But, I’d like a continuum of good days..you know a nice long stretch.  Yet, that just doesn’t seem to happen. Already this week I have cried my way to work. Yesterday I was on the way to an appointment which was an hour away and the tears were just flowing like a faucet. The agitation and anger is enormous.  I don’t want anyone to talk to me, look at me or pretend to look at me.  This includes my husband. I don’t want to hold his hand, tell him I love him or have him drape over me as we sleep. I need everyone to back the F up. Why? Why? Why?

I have no answers.  I really don’t have much to do at work, I know that will change. I have “free time” in the afternoon.  If I think about it, I am left alone much of the day.  My phone doesn’t ring. I don’t make any plans, because I have no one to make plans with everyone is at work. Nevermind the fact I really don’t have any friends.

This arena, friendship, has become such a source of contention with me. I find it sad really. I have a girlfriend, who is also friends with my husband. I knew her from work back in the day, and then she was in the circle of friends I had in my  late 20’S.  She lives over where my husband works.  So periodically they get together.  WITHOUT ME.  Is what I hear in my head.  My husband knows I am struggling to put myself out there more with her, actually call her, let her in my world a little more.  Here’s the thing, I can’t expect him to say no to her because of me.  I can’t expect him to suggest, hey why don’t you call the fanatic and go for a hike.  I need to do these things on my own.  But, here I sit with jealousy running through my veins. I am convinced she likes him more than me.  Tomorrow my husband is going to a going away party for an old coworker that is quitting his old agency.  Then he is going to a nice bar that has free live music with another old coworker whom I like very much.   Good for my husband, right.  Getting himself out there.  Look at him go.

Tears just stream down my face as I write this because I feel like I have lost that ability. I feel like bipolar disorder has stolen my sense of self, my self confidence, my ability to trust things as they are.  I don’t know how I fit into the world anymore.  Rather, I don’t think I do.  I don’t belong in any social circle. I don’t know how to be friends with people anymore.  I retreat, I isolate, I fall off the face of the earth too often for most people.  Then there is my evil mind reinforcing all this.  I’m no good. I’m no fun. Blah blah blah.

I have got to find a way to get some power back. I have to believe in myself. I have to believe people want to be around me.  I can’t wait around like a wall flower with my shades drawn and expect the world to come knocking. I’ve got to get up and out.  When I was hypomanic on Monday I was talking to everyone.  Smiling so big.  Laughing so loud. Cracking funny jokes.  I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home because I had so much to say. I had done so much during the day. I felt good.  How can I harness some of that?  Smile on my face, hi how ya doing kind of attitude.  Drop all this garbage I carry around.

Sometimes I think it isn’t easy to be a human being, much less one with bipolar disorder. I trudge through this life as best I can.  Some days I just get down. I want things to be better. I don’t want to be satisfied with what is.  Sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself doesn’t get me anywhere.  I just don’t know how to start.  How do I start living my life in a new way?  How do I let the wall down and explore?

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