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!
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 hide away in a cocoon of blankets under the guise of a headache. But its depression that lures me here in the light of day. Depression snuggles next to me at first. Gives me time to get comfortable. Flipping and flopping. I’ve only been awake for 4 hours of the day. I guess I’m tired. I mean I feel exhausted but doubt sleep will afford me any true rest. Isolation is likely what I crave. No forced smiles or laughs.
Yesterday it took everything I had to leave the house to see one of my favorite bands. I have been waiting to see them for months. Over dinner my husband tried to pry out of me what’s wrong. The only answer I have is, I don’t know. Sometimes there isn’t a reason. I mumbled I think I have to take time off work. He asked me if I was going to hurt myself. Again my answer I don’t know. We ate in silence for a while as those words loomed over our table. I excused myself and took several moments in the restroom to let the tears run free.
We made our way to the music. The band said “this is the last night of the tour so we are going to let it all out and leave it all here. After several songs passed me by, I finally let the music take me as if I too was letting it all out. Stomping my feet, shaking my hips, singing the words. I felt like I was there. In the moment. Relishing the sounds and what it was doing to my body. No thoughts. No anxiety. One with crowd. Just another fan full of delight. But, then I burst into tears out of nowhere. A flood of forsaken anguish about what..I don’t know. I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe. I fell backwards into my husband who held me up. He took my hand and led me to a chair. He gave me as much time as I needed. I covered my face. Then my ears. Looked at him w eyes brimming with tears.
I felt betrayed. Heartbroken. I thought I was doing all the right things. Staring bipolar disorder in the face. I guess he got the last laugh because I had to leave. Get fresh air. Get home to my cocoon.
Depression is beating me down. I’m not sure I can get up. I’m not even sure I want to if I could. The cold tile floor is somehow soothing to my broken skin. I laid in bed for hours, exhausted. Beyond exhausted and sleep would not come. I tried to make a cup of tea and It slipped through my hands. Instant breakdown landed me face to face with earl grey. No more energy to spare to pull myself up I lingered, drenched from wicked emotional unrecognizable sobs. Thats a lie. Bipolar depression is no stranger.
As the clocks fell back so did my stamina, interest, desire, and purpose. Just a little more lifeless each day. Put my husband on a plane last night. Out from under my mask, I thought I could breathe easier. Take a load off. My body is so heavy. My breath shallow and forced. Voices echo from the corner of the room. I don’t want to be here anymore.
I can’t do this again. I can’t face another winter like this. I shout its not fair, but the words dissipate before they can be heard. No matter. No one is here to witness my disintegration. To stop it. To help me stop it. Earl and I on the floor alone. Again and again.
I am trapped inside my my mind. I shout. I rebel. I long for expression. Yet I sit silent. My words, my connection, with you is severed. I don’t think this is my fault. You see I need you to hear me. My voice, well, has “left the building.” My bipolar depression has wrapped itself around me. I am muffled at best.
The world spins. Days rise and set. I sit. Staring at the wall. Resting. Movement is slow and overwhelming. Getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Brushing my teeth over the top. Accolades do not resonate. Guilt hangs on my chest. Why can’t I do more. Go to work. Cook a simple meal. Even think about making coffee? I’m so exhausted yet I haven’t actually moved in days.
I left messages with my boss. With my therapist. With my psychiatrist. Not necessarily in that order. Explaining. Maybe it mostly sounding like excuses. The honesty I exuded was painful then. Admitting my cognition, stamina, memory was compromised took all I had. But, really looking back, it was probably obvious to others. I was barely hanging on. My face often flush, looking hung over. Raw. Fragile. The hangover was from emotion, floods of tears, uncertainty. White knuckling a mood disorder.
The darkness has moved in. Rented space without a lease. I didn’t know it was coming and I don’t know when it would leave. Scary synopsis for a person w bipolar disorder. The reality of daylight savings time this weekend has me quivering. Bold black night greeting me at 5pm. It affects me. Deeply.
My action plan, if I can muster the energy? Walks in the midday sunlight. Big cleansing breaths with sun on my face. Quiet time in the holiday craze. If that’s not possible, I steal just 5 minutes here and there. I have a you tube video w a song called “Breathe” I listen to in headphones. Just me and the music. Its a reminder and a reprieve at the same time.
Fall is a time of beauty. A cleansing as the rains come. For me personally, its a time to really take notice of my internal clock. My tolerance or intolerance of noise, light, crowds. As the leaves change so does my mood. Historically speaking, I’m vulnerable this time of year. Armed with this information I can do my best to manage all that comes.
Ponderosa Pine needles
stuck in my sock
Dust of the hiking trail falls
like chalk off my shoe
The magic of the mountains simultaneously
takes my breath away and
restores my ability to breathe
My pace just naturally slows.
undue pressure I constantly feel is lifted
The rat race that is my mind
is resting at the gate
Things seems simpler at 8,000 feet
Clear crystal blue lake water
Speaks to transparency of life
No secrets held here
From bottom to the top
All can be cherished for what it is
If only this fantasy could carry over
Guidiance in the notion
I too am free
to just be
The word suicide is hard to utter for me. Hell, just saying I need help takes all I got. I’ve stood on a bridge peering down to frigid waters wondering if it would truly seal the deal. The mist and moisture emanating from the water combined with my own salty tears kept me paralyzed for hours. I paced and I paced along that bridge. Full of despairing despair. Full of frightening fear. But also full of just enough perseverance I called someone. I used to refer to it as desperation. And maybe it was. But somewhere within, I have no idea where, I found the courage to utter the S word. Out loud. To someone else. I landed at my mental health clinic and was promptly admitted. This happened to be the same day Robin Williams took his life. I learned this in the hospital and was quite devastated.
My second, rather serious, brush with an attempt took place in my car. I always promised myself I would not end my life at home. At the very least, I would not traumatize my husband even further by being the one who found me. I don’t remember all that much honestly. A hopelessness I had never felt wrapped itself around my body and mind. The ups and downs, psychosis, worthlessness, searing emotional pain I didn’t know how to let out held me hostage. I could no longer see myself carrying on, navigating the world, being of any consequence to anyone. Burden was tattooed on my forehead when I looked in the mirror.
Without much thought I literally swiped all the medication bottles of my personal chemical shelf into a bag, slung it over my shoulder and headed for the river. I sat in my car with probably 20 medication bottles I had stockpiled on my lap. I sobbed. I sat up straight. Opened those bottles and poured pills down my throat. A friend new I was struggling. He sent me a text. I replied..it’s done. The emotional warfare was finally over. The mind is an interesting and amazing creature. My friend said he had no choice but to call 911. I freaked the fuck out. Begged him not to. Pleaded. Said it wasn’t fair. All this through frantic texts. I don’t know if I was suddenly filled with regret or shame. I know for sure I was terrified at what I had done.
I drove home. The river is 5 min from my house. I took more pills. I sat on the floor. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I wanted. I called my husband yelling incoherently into the phone that 911 had been called. I was sobbing uncontrollably. He was an hour away. By the grace of some higher power a friend of a friend was in my town. She too called 911 and came over. I asked her NOT to come over but she came anyway. I was slumped on the floor. Couldn’t hold my head up. I saw black boots. EMT boots. Heard a mans voice asking what I took, how many. I truly didn’t know or remember. They loaded me up into the ambulance. I couldn’t stay awake. They kept yelling my name. I couldn’t form words, but I wanted to say..please let me die. I was convinced I should exit the world. I woke up hours later in the hospital. In and out of consciousness I woke enough to squeeze my husbands hand. Then back out. Hours later I woke again needing to use the restroom. I could barely walk. I couldn’t support myself. It was scary. It was sad.
About 24 hrs later of IV fluids and whatever else they released me to the psych ward. I was angry I was still alive. Angry 911 intervened. I stayed angry for about a month. Angry at the thought of living with my private hell of bipolar one more day. But, as they do, things got better. Outpatient program, ind therapy, walks in nature, and the unconditional love of my husband slowly reached me. I returned to living.
I continue to battle suicidal thoughts. Just 2 weeks ago I wrote a post that couldn’t possibly explain what I was feeling. I was trying to figure out how to say goodbye. I was on my knees knees. The chatter in my mind screaming I don’t belong. My soul perishing. The concept that I matter to anyone shattered by the voices. I had a plan. A solid plan. I wrote a note to my husband. But, how to say goodbye? That stumped me. I sent that same friend another desperate text. Do you know his reply?! Wherever you are. Whatever you are doing. stop and just breathe. BREATHE. And I did. It took a minute or 2 but I found my breath. I slowed down. I could almost think. I was somehow allowed to rest.
On this particular day, World Suicide Prevention Day, I’m just going to breathe. Consciously draw air into my lungs and feel the expansion. Exhale all the invisible pain each of us feel in our own way. Be present for those suffering. Acknowledge those who lost the battle. Conjure up that sometimes elusive perseverance to make it through another day. To all my fellow warriors I squeeze your hand. You matter. We matter.
I had to give myself permission. Permission to be bipolar and unable to function at work today. I tried so many tools. But each time I found myself crying in the bathroom stall. I made some tea. I took 2 minutes to just breathe. I went for a walk. This was all before 10am. It started in my driveway at 7:30am when I had a panic attack while my car was defrosting. My mind became a whirling dervish out of nowhere. My breathing became shallow. You know all the symptoms of a panic attack…
I waited myself out for about 5 minutes just breathing. Focused breathing. I took off to work thinking, okay..I got through that. Then the tears started. Then a few all out sobs. Slowly I gathered myself by the time I reached the parking lot of my job. Even more slowly I walked to the door and entered.
I had one task for the day. I had to focus on a specific project. I wasn’t worried about it. It was just something I had to do. Hopefully TODAY. Then I got a follow up email that ignited a shit storm in my mind. I was just confused. I was disorganized. I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t think or process. I couldn’t’ breathe. I couldn’t stop the tears. Enter the tools I tried. They just weren’t working today. I just wasn’t functioning at a professional level today.
I have told only a select few I am bipolar. My office mate is not one of them. Perhaps if I had my own office and could just keep the door closed today I could have stayed. Perhaps if I tried to talk to someone at work who knows I could have stayed. Perhaps, I made the right decision by asking to work from home for the rest of the day.
I push back so hard sometimes when these symptoms creep up. I don’t allow myself the moment. I don’t acknowledge, gee okay..seems to be a rough day today for whatever reason. The dialogue in my head is more like, this is unacceptable. You are at work. No tears at work. Get it together woman. Did I mention I tried my tools? So, I’m home now. Feeling a bit beat up. Feeling a bit of shame. I brought work home so I can still feel productive in some way. Or at least try.