An old friend once said the hardest part is putting your feet on the floor. I remembered this as I laid in bed unable to move this morning. My alarm had been blaring for over 2 hours. I couldn’t will myself to throw back the covers. I insisted I get myself up right this minute so as not to be late for work. No movement. I stared blankly at the black out window shade in my bedroom. The clock ticked. The 8 o’clock hour passed me by. I should have been sitting at my desk. I had quite an important meeting w my supervisor at 1pm. I negotiated w myself that perhaps I could go in around 11. I was also supposed to run an errand first thing this morning for my husband. Important as well. Paralyzed. I just stared.
My phone was on my nightstand. I finally reached over about 8:45 and sent a text to my boss requesting to reschedule. Not 2 minutes later anger and guilt floods me. I “recalled” that text by sending another stating I would most definitely be in by 11am sharp. No response. Now I did it. I must get up. In one fell swoop I threw back the covers, put my feet on the floor and barreled into the shower. No energy to wash my hair. Looking presentable was the hope at this point.
Out of the shower I was trying to figure out how to proceed when I got her text. She replied, its okay. No problem to reschedule. I have personal things I need to take care of this afternoon. I don’t know if that was true or she was kindly letting me off the hook. I have been upfront with her, she knows I have bipolar disorder. I collapsed on the floor when I read her words. Relief. I crawled back under the covers wet hair and all. Slept for about 3 more hours.
The kindness and understanding of another can be so powerful. I cried on the floor out of shame, anger, relief and realizing my boss is on my side. Its not easy being honest with the outside world. Sharing vulnerabilities. Letting people in. But, today I am so grateful I did!
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
Watching tv. Trying to write. This has been the pattern for weeks. So much on my mind yet I can’t seem to catch my thoughts. I feel like a drifter. Its been just about 3 months since I left my full time job of 17 years. I was leaving many great working relationships behind in pursuit of a less stressful environment. The hope was in doing so I would have less depressive and manic episodes. I was averaging 2 hospitalizations a year. I guess i always forget even with “good” stress, such as a job change, the risk of an episode is high. I added to that statistic w a devastating manic episode.
On to greener pastures I am now in a part time position. A little slower pace. A smaller office. The only person I really talk to is my supervisor. I drift in and out of the office. Sit at my desk. I miss conversations w my old coworkers where I sat in a unit of 8 people, I the veteran. I the one most people came to for assistance. My cubbie mate and I on the verge of a real budding friendship-something I don’t seem to be good at. But, that world is gone. It seems out of sight out of mind.
I know. I know. Everyone is sooo busy. I don’t always reach out as often as I should. But I try. I think of other people daily and wonder how they are. I don’t just forget people. I feel confused when folks I thought were my friends don’t respond. When these same folks seemed so concerned after hearing about my possible suicide attempt (long story wrapped up in my mixed manic episode). Shared my business with others without my permission. I let go of all of that, as I thought they truly cared. Thought they were my friends..or at least more than acquaintances at this point.
Is it me that falls off the map or them? If anything, I keep in contact, albeit hiding, through texts. When they don’t get returned what am I to think? I am lonely. I feel so alone. I have very few friends. Can’t maintain the ones I *may* have. Lost some along the way.
At the same time I don’t want to beg people to be my friend. Surely it’s me, right? You know why I was unable to write this..because the truth hurts. The pain of isolation is grand. To be fair, I do have a husband. He is most certainly my friend. But, 2 people don’t make a circle. A circle of support is always shoved down my throat. If only I had one. If only I knew how to rally one.
I just drift along to and from work. Drift in and out of the grocery store. Drift from my bed to the couch. Drowning in loneliness and isolation. I think people like me. But that’s as far as it goes. I really don’t understand why it stops there. Surely it’s me, right?
I am walking with myself. Alongside myself. Accepting myself. Forgiving myself. A trusted friend believes in the power of a labyrinth. As each wave of emotion, shame, regret and fear continuously hit me last week, I reached out to said friend. A walk amongst the cluster of redwoods on a dedicated path where I put one foot in front of the other was needed. A place of release. A place to regain my footing. A place to begin trusting myself again. A place to move at my own pace in mind, body and breath.
The manic residue was slowly fading away. I sat with my wonderful friend and recounted every detail. Let the words fly on the wind. Be absorbed into the soil beneath our feet. On my solitary walk I envisioned all the negative energy rushing from the top off my head high into the sky. Evaporating in the suns brilliant rays. I chanted I shall be released. I chanted I am full of forgiveness. Deep cleansing breaths carried me around the maze. I trusted my existence for the first time in several weeks. I tuned out the chaotic chatter that likes to keep me company focusing on the present moment. Hearing the crunch of leaves as I stepped left then right. The cool air under the giant trees was soothing. Calming. As the path continued to unfold and I reached the center, I truly felt centered.
I didn’t think about the episode, the people I affected, the guilt…what feels like consequences the rest of the day. This was no ordinary walk in the woods. It was a gift.
After the fire has long been expunged
My ashen feet charred w soot
The spiral smoke infested ceremony
Precariously Rests upon my skin
Paying homage to the damage you’ve done
They say let go of
What you cannot keep
I needed rid of you my love
Your stench hanging in the air
The enmeshment more than a charade
Your lines blurring into mine
Our step becoming too in line
I tried casting you off
You came back w a fever
bungee cords in place
My breath becomes yours
I severed the connection
Painfully and slowly
Disguised as independence
Disguised as a need to grow
Gasping for air
I lit the fire
Freedom flames erupted
And began to replenish my soul
Forgive me for the dance
Upon your demise
As I swayed
To a rhythm all my own
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.
I am constantly learning how to take care of myself. I’m not very good at it. Self compassion is a challenge. About a month ago I finally broke down and joined a hiking club. I had been contemplating joining for 5-6 months always coming up w excuses as to why it wouldn’t work out. The dominating factor was always fear. Fear they wouldn’t like me, fear I would fall into the darkness and stop going, fear I wouldn’t fit in.
The hikng commitment is Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. I have to say it’s going pretty good. The folks are a bit older than me and not quite in as good of shape. This group is meant to be social as well as physical. I have trouble slowing down and tend to run up ahead of the group. While this is encouraged, to get a good workout, I miss out on the real reason I joined. Connection. I am such a competitive person that when I get on the trail the all or nothing brain kicks in and I must go at least 5 miles. I have a watch that both spurns me on and scorns me when I don’t reach this distance.
Somewhere in finding my place within the hikng group I decided this level of activity is not enough and I joined a bootcamp class. I worked out with this bootcamp for years just prior to my epic fall into bipolar disorder. So now I’m doing bootcamp Monday, Wednesday, Friday on top of hiking. Gotta fill the void somehow right?! There are worse ways to fight isolation and loneliness.
Well, I gave in and took last night off from hiking. My body was so tired and sore. We did a rather rigorous workout on Wednesday. I could barely walk. I knew if I hiked I would have no energy for Friday. So I told myself it was okay to rest and take a day off. Me. I did that for me.
The lesson could also be more isn’t always better. I am happy to be off the couch. I’m happy to be physically active again. I hope to be more social in my group. But really I hope to take good care of myself one day at a time.
To have bipolar disorder is to always be on guard. On guard for symptoms and mood swings and side effects. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 w psychotic features for 3 years now. I still experience new and different symptoms. The spectrum is vast and wide.
Just recently I was experiencing this feeling of being separate, detached from my body and from you. It was if I was floating above myself watching interactions. I was physically shaking hands with people, but could not feel the touch. I saw my mouth to be moving, but could not understand the words I was uttering. Another time I felt like I was walking around in a glass box. I could see out but sights and sounds were muffled and tainted. The next day I felt like I was on a movie set. I was standing still, but all the world was scurrying around me. I wasn’t actually in the world, I was watching the world.
I could feel no connection, no tether to my environment. I was stumbling around a barren wasteland while seeing others thriving. I sat across from my husband in our living room but felt like I was in a dark cave far away.
This sudden way of being was scary and confusing. I contacted my doctor who told me I was experiencing derealisation. It can be a symptom of depression. I wasn’t necessarily feeling depressed. Mostly numb. I just didn’t feel in my body. Certainly not present. Even pounding the hiking trail I could not feel the ground below me.
My therapist recommended a grounding technique of tapping into my 5 senses. Looking for 5 things I could see. Listening for 5 sounds I could hear…etc. It worked somewhat.
Sometimes trying to explain these symptoms to a loved one is challenging because I don’t understand it myself. Invisible illnesses can be hard to put into words sometimes. For that reason, I try to keep a line of communication open with my doctor. She often helps to put things into perspective for me or puts a name to the chaos I am feeling. I find that super helpful as my mind likes to race around and create scenarios that most likely aren’t true. By reaching out, I can be armed with the correct information and hopefully get my symptoms under control.