My broken and narrow view
Keeps me perched
In the darkest of caverns
My mind can house
Shadows crowd along
These walls of discomfort
Start as a whisper
Only to ricochet
Through the cold stark
Conscious and unconscious
They are soft tears
I sit innocent
As they trickle
Just a trickle
A lasting reminder
I’m not in control
Often calling the shots
Television in the rears
Begging for distraction
Yet I stare
Yet memories blare
Yet anxiety taunts
Thoughts of despair
Wet cheeks in tow
I shuffle off to bed
My new gig is PT…24 hours…3 days a week. I used to work full time, probably more than full time. Its day 3. I’m done with my first week. I have friends who are my new bosses that support me. They set me up with a work area not heavily monitored by the cameras. At least they are not in my face and infiltrating my mind. What a blessing.
I feel quiet and distant. I guess just feeling out my role. I carved out this new position and expectation is high. Perhaps assumptions are high. Though I come to this agency with a lot of knowledge, Its still a new position. Which I think I can fulfill, eventually. Perfectionism casts a wide spell and I am certainly a sucker. I want to impress. I want to succeed. I want to be all things to all people. NOW. But, that gets me into trouble. EVERY! TIME!
So, I am trying really hard to take it slow. Ask foolish questions. Relax. Enjoy the ride. That’s not easy for me. I’m a need to know person. Need to know where I fit in. Need to know my role. Need to know ahead of time what is expected of me. Those things are not a given at a new job. I brought my calendar into my supervisor’s office and tried to secure dates and times of things..anything. I don’t think she is holding out on me. Rather I think she doesn’t know quite what to do with me. How to train me. Guide me. We are getting to know each other in the process. Which is fun.
I see old habits already forming. Not leaving my desk for lunch. Not going on breaks. Not taking walks. I am aware. I will address this with myself. I will!
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 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.
Close my eyes
Hear my breath
Feel my body respond
But not give up
Some fights are not
Meant to be won
But a lesson learned
Anxiety and I
Are at war
A battle for what feels like
It fancies itself powerful
But lest I forget
I too have power
True not every time
But this time
I wield my sword of
And make myself bigger
Than this fucking
Monster of anxiety
This house of courage
And appearing strong
Is actually toppling
The casual observer
Friend or foe
Cannot see the beginnings
Of a colossal crumple
Simply because I cannot let them
I’m really trying to be more open, honest and communicative w my husband. I start a new job in 58 days. My mind is almost constantly hurling obsessions and worries around on spin cycle. You see I have been at my current job for 17 years. 4 years ago I made the decision to switch positions within my same company..a promotion. I started in my new role on February 1st 2013. I was hospitalized April 5th after I stood on a bridge for several hours on the verge of jumping. By May, I was experiencing psychosis for the first time in my life and another round in the hospital. By June, I had a diagnosis of Bipolar I w psychotic features. To be fair, I was already being treated for major depression for several years. Delusions, hallucinations, serious suicide attempt, severe manic episode, and probably 7-8 hospitalizations later, here I am, getting ready to start a brand new job at a brand new company.
I can’t stop thinking about this tragic timeline. The safety net in that scenario was my 13 years of being a pretty damn good employee and a union. But now, I arrive w no years of service, on probation, no union. My anxiety is having a field day.
So, yesterday I unveiled my concerns. Recounted my initial descent into bipolar disorder. My husband suggested he has also been thinking about this. To which I was glad because my memory is terrible. Reaching back into history is difficult for me, especially if trying to attach it to a date. He remembered me to be drinking at this time. Did I mention I’m also an alcoholic? I didn’t think I was, but have a few relapses under my belt since my rehab stint in 2007. I honestly can’t keep it all straight. I went w his assumption alcohol was involved and therefore I was unstable and susceptible to such a breakdown. It was highly likely.
I agonized much of the night. Pushed my brain to walk back in time to 2013. I recalled going to depression in sobriety meetings. I was positive I was not imbibing at this time. I could also remember being present and able to learn things. A sign I wasn’t hungover. While this is good news, not only being able to remember something, that I was sober, but maybe it’s not. That “instability” my husband was referring to wasn’t there. Does that mean it was the stress of the new job alone was the culprit?
The wheels on this bus are going to begin to fall off if I don’t get ahold of my mind. Its a new day. Its a new year. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’m trying to be more open, honest and communicative…with myself…and others. Awareness is good. Reality checks are helpful. But, having some FAITH IN MYSELF is paramount.
I look down to see where my feet are. Right here. Right now. Not in 2013 and not 58 days from now.
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.