Its a cause for letting go
Your hand no longer fits mine
I’ve lost the sense of comfort
When you call my name
Special connection once so binding
Now severed at its core
Two persons passing
Is all that we are
Shadows in the same room
Crawling up a different wall
Laughter barely a rumble
Replies with a half smile
What we have yet to admit
Is we are broken
Its true. I have a mental illness. To be exact: bipolar disorder. When we first met I was euphoric. Invincible. Insatiable. We ate. We drank. Drank some more. The sex was amazing. In the park. In an elevator. In the backseat. My entire high school and college career I never exhibited this kind of behavior. Maybe I had finally found myself. Maybe I had never been in love. Maybe I never realized I was manic. Actually, I didn’t know that was even a symptom.
I remember our first “fight.” You threw my keys down the street in frustration. I was drunk. Very drunk and emotional. Okay, distraught and out of control. You had to call the police, despite my tearful pleas. Only 4 months in, we were still getting to know each other. Im still shocked you visited me in the hospital. You must have chosen me at this point.
We found freedom and further love when they let me loose nearly two weeks later. Music festivals. Sleeping in your van by the ocean. You had no money to spare. Lucky for us I had a savings account. I gladly, so gladly, swiped my first ATM card. Lucky in love.
Time passed. My moods alternated from love to hate to pack your bags to move in. My red hair and freckles swayed you every time. Something about me made you choose me. I was loyal. Free spirited. Rather innocent. Quite adventurous.
But riddled with issues. Some in the forefront: bulimia and depression. Others later to be revealed: bipolar and anxiety. Still you chose me.
We’re married now. Sometimes I sink into the couch. Sometimes I roar from the rooftops. Sometimes you bring me extra clothes in the hospital. You carry me more than I carry you. I do my absolute best when I can. You are a torch. I’m sure I don’t say that enough. You are a torch. My tether. When it’s dark you are crawling to find me. Even when I don’t want to be found. You still choose me.
Truth be told I always chose you. You understood me like no one else. Had patience for me like no one else. Reached into me and saw beyond the “issues.” Sat patiently as they checked me out of rehab or out of the hospital. There you were, in the waiting room, choosing me.
Gosh, its only 18 years later. You didn’t waiver as my anxiety over a new job prospect reared its ugly head. Panic attacks. Nightmares. Bursts of tears. Or my intermittent friend insomnia. The loop of obsessions fueling my extreme self doubt and fear. You sat patiently and listened, reminding me I’ll be okay. It will all be okay.
We chose this life together. When we met, I had no idea I would later be diagnosed w bipolar disorder. Experience psychosis and have multiple hospitalizations. I didn’t know how much pain and fear I would cause you. I, we, didn’t know a lot things about a lot of things. But, somehow you knew you wanted to be with me. Through it all. You are still here. We are still here.
Some days I battle this illness alone. Withdrawn. Isolating. But always, you let me know you are still here. Willing to battle with me.
I feel so empty
Yet so full
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
Not worthy of spirit
Not worthy of love
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
No will to keep on
Your fire is still bright
Mine has long grown tired
Keep warm dear one
Keep fighting the good fight
That moment you sit in group therapy with a bunch of strangers and admit you are hearing voices. You further admit there is a chanting of “join me in hell” “you are not welcome here anymore” that permeates the air you breathe. Nothing seems real, yet its all so overwhelming. The breaking point is near. I need to go to the hospital is lingering on my tongue. The badgering of ideas on ways to end my existence overfills the space between my ears. There are no more tears. Only tunnels. I feel like I’m crawling through a tunnel devoid of sound, touch, light. Is this what true darkness feels like. Perhaps just enough air, but not really. Its not easy, Peaceful breathing. Nor hard labored. My lungs aren’t expanding. New oxygen isn’t being received. Perhaps I am slowly suffocating. Makes sense. my world is so smal. yet my pain so big. And yet again..no big loss or tragedy has befallen me. Its my mere existence that causes the pain. My husband had the audacity to question my motives. Suggest maybe I am manipulating him. Holy fuck. To think I would righteously and purposely put my mental health in harms way to…to..what? Disrupt his life. If only he knew how much I feel relieving him of the stress&burden that is me plagues me everyday. One fatal shot. One tree. One belt. Bottle of pills.
The amount of IM SO SORRY that I carry is phenomenal. He loves me. God knows he does. I know he does. I wish it weren’t so and I need more love at the same time. Miss independent I walk around. I don’t need you or anyone else for that matter. Not true. So not true. I’m desperate for friends for connection. I just can’t seem to find it or maintain it.
As I admit the reality that I need the hospital. As I write these words. Hug someone close today. Tell that friend who struggles they matter. Important words everyone needs to hear.
The ties that bind
Unravel before my eyes
Your ring now rests
In some side drawer
Our once love swelled dialogue
Reduced to matter of fact
You keep later hours
Always briefcase in tow
Exhausted from office politics
No desire for in house drama
I keep earlier hours
The need for sleep paramount
Box of tissues in tow
Exhausted from the dance
Of mental illness and
I turn the music up. I turn it down. Turn it off. Turn it on. Change the station. Maybe I should focus on a task, so I set out to clean the house. I don’t know where to start. I roam around armed w cleanser and a towel. Eventually I just sit on the couch and stare out the window. I don’t know if I am actually looking at anything. My gaze is steady, but nothing registers. Perhaps I should take a shower. Perhaps I should take a nap. I SHOULD exercise. But, I do none of these things. I have no energy. No desire.
I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I need. My husband makes a suggestion but I cannot hear him. I see his lips move, his eyes impassioned. His words fall short. Don’t reach me. I miss his message. I’ve gone inward. I can only seem to hear the echo of the voice in my head, which is stunningly mean and decisive. But, also makes perfect sense.
I put on my trusted headphones to drown out the barrage in my mind. Meditation? Classical? Nature? I can’t make the simplest of decisions right now. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I need. Am i in a void? An abyss? Time is standing still. The lovely purple sage bush out my window is awash in the fog. The minutes creep by. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Its only 3 o’clock? How in the hell can it be 3 o’clock!
If only I knew how I felt. What I need. Maybe you could help me through this invisible pain.
There are many things i am painfully aware of, but have finally allowed to rest in the background. Until of course…a trigger. Its no secret I am an introvert. Masterful isolationist. Harbor secrets. Harbor despair. Have great difficulty opening up sooner rather than later. Sure, there are times I can’t fulfill my commitments. There are times that I don’t answer my phone. Long moments that crash into even longer moments where I lose my voice. Silent I sit and stare into nothingness, all the while the voice in my head is tearing me to shreds. No need to plead the fifth here. I am guilty of all the above.
i try so hard to forge friendships. I am thoughtful and kind. I’m attentive as much as I can be. I send texts just to say..thinking about you. If you had a bad day yesterday, most likely i will check to see how you are today. I try to make you laugh on any given day. I can be quite funny sometimes. I listen. I empathize. I encourage you to lean on me. So, what’s wrong with me that I have no friends? Seriously. Honestly. I have co-workers that I really like, and seem to like me inside the hours of 9-5. But, past that, I am alone. Before the point is made that my husband cares for me and is of invaluable support, i’ll just agree wholeheartedly. Without him, i wouldn’t still be here to write this.
So, today I am once again painfully aware. My husband leaves for his annual east coast trip to New York in just about 2 weeks. I gently stated to him his family causes me too much stress and I would prefer to stay home. I would be dishonest in this context not to admit that staying home alone for a week is also quite stressful for me. The obvious solution is to gather up my support network. Make plans to stay busy. Not completely isolate the entire week and either turn to booze, sleep the time away, or the worst case..swallow all my pills to just end all matters. You have to have friends to form a support network. If i understood what fatal flaw keeps me from bridging this gap, I would fix it. Are some people just meant for more of a lonely life?
My younger self had a consistent, yet small, circle of people I could call upon. I had a short stint in AA in my mid 30’s and had a sponsor and a few key characters that helped me stay sober. However, once I slipped into the land of bipolar and several subsequent hospitalizations, those people lost interest. Granted, my ability to be consistent in anyone’s life was diminished. Whatever the reason, I am no longer in touch with them. I was alone when I drank. Now I’m alone in sobriety with a cruel mental illness.
These are not new revelations. Its the truth of the situation. I care about people. I want connections. Even better if they could be meaningful. Here I sit writing anonymously to the cyber universe. Sharing what i have been unable to share thus far. Like I said, generally I can push it aside, its just that today I am painfully aware.
My eyes drip w sadness
My body weak from the weight
Then no thoughts
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
On the floor
And i want to say sorry
I am not more
I am not better
I am this way
But the Words fall silent
The guilt remains tethered on the inside
I feel your disappointment
It scars me
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.
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?