I wanted to drive right off the side of the mountain. The idea of flying through the air was so enticing. The ultimate escape. A sense of peace filled the wells of my existence. A sigh of relief almost. My right hand wanting to gently pull the steering wheel. Gently veer into the trees. Float on the air for just a moment. Tears fell. Not of sadness or joy. But of possibility. What if…
I find myself so confused and uncomfortable at home. My husband is trying to find his own footing for the first time. Bipolar disorder has ravaged our relationship. But, neither of us knew it. Call it codependency maybe. Call it the love of a husband trying to stand by his mentally ill wife. Don’t call it anything but a realization on his part. He hasn’t been taking care of himself. Always always worried about me. It takes its toll.
I flopped on the proverbial couch after an ultimatum. But, that’s not fair. What it really followed was a pretty bad manic episode and subsequent suicide attempt that left me hooked up to a machine in the emergency room for 24 hours. Therapy was a must. Something I have avoided for years. Reluctant and pissed off, I agreed. Somewhat selfishly suggesting I wasn’t the only one.
Just over 2 years later, and the most devastating manic episode to uproot our lives, broken he found his place on “the couch.” His sense of self possibly lost as mine is over and over. In any case, as he learns about himself, new coping skills, new whatever…his response to me is changing. For better? It feels worse to me. A discomfort I can’t seem to tolerate. So, I run.
It was a planned escape to Tahoe. My parents had extra room at their timeshare. I absolutely love it up there. Sometimes I feel like I remember to breathe in those mountains. Truly beholding the beauty of the lake. Nature therapy. But, I was also running. I knew it. He didn’t.
The three hour drive leaves lots of room for ruminating, guilt, fear, anxiety. My brain never stops. Ever. On a long drive by myself, which is rare, it could be deadly. Obviously I’m no stranger to suicidal ideation. It felt somewhat intrusive as I turned the radio up. Played songs I knew every word and could sing at the top of my lungs. But still, the thoughts of turning in front of a semi, veering off into a barrier or simply driving off the side of a cliff haunted me. However, then quickly turned into a glorious fantasy. Like Thelma and Louise, solo style. Perhaps just another accident on the overcrowded freeway.
I made my way up towards those mountains. Twists and turns called to me. I drove on through the tears. My parents were waiting for me after all. Tahoe is my chance to reset. Reboot this pained brain. Whispers of..there’s always the drive home too.
I traversed the roads alone. I persevered. Strengthened to face the discomfort as best I can.
I look around and wonder what I actually contribute to this world. My job. My marriage. The few relationships I barely can hold onto. To the blogosphere. Doesn’t feel like much. Doesn’t feel meaningful. Doesn’t feel necessary.
Yesterday we were on a busy freeway heading grocery shopping. We travel a bit to save money. We sat in silence during the 25-30 minute drive. My head cocked out the passenger window. My body language spewing…closed off. He drove pretending to look around. Commenting on a “site.” We have driven this same path every 2 weeks for years. Nothing new to see. Just trying to fill space. Meanwhile I’m trying to hold back tears.
I’m an alcoholic. Through and through. Had some amazing bouts of sobriety. But occasional slips..really relapses..have been more of the norm over the last year. I got caught w a bottle in my bag during dinner last night. I would have told you I was acting normal. Better than normal. Jovial. Inquisitive. Alive. Red flags I suppose. My husband knows me so well it’s actually scary. He said he could tell from the way i walked to the bathroom at the restaurant (to take a hearty swig) something was off. Unbelievable.
As we shuffled seats so I could watch the baseball game on the same side of the booth, he swiftly grabbed the bottle from my bag and slammed it on the top of the table. Next swift move was to flag anyone and get our bill. The meal not finished. Once paid up, he stormed out and left me to follow like a pathetic drunk. Which I did. Full of shame.
Our communication has been wrought w tension. I have voiced he no longer seems to want to listen. He seems to have invoked a “positive mentality.” A mindset change. So, nothing is that bad. Nothing should cause stress. Or anxiety. In his 48 years of life he finally reached out to a therapist. Basically because of my last mixed manic episode. He was traumatized. So, I guess he is learning how to protect himself. Probably a bit of codependency work. By the way this revelation of seeking therapy slipped out during an argument. Otherwise I’m not sure he was going to divulge this information. Honestly, it really hurt me he didn’t want to share that w me.
I know what the real reason behind the drinking is, but I chose to use the bathroom remodel is stressful routine. You…you..go off to work while I have to listen about all the problems the contractor is facing. Believe me there are many. Our plumbing is a mess. Then, I come home and hear about mishaps. I have to get up at 5am to get to the gym, mostly for a shower. Do you not know I need sleep. 6 hours of sleep per night is not enough. On and on I yell. Louder and louder.
The truth of why this bottle is in my bag today and yesterday and the day before is because I am ferociously lonely. I lost friends due to the episode. Some who didn’t know about it at the time, have now also fallen off. Texts and calls go unreturned. Or I get, maybe next week..after this deadline..we will definitely go for a hike. Weeks go by. People just don’t think of me. Or remember me. Or want to hang out w me. Its painful. I don’t understand why. I’m willing to look at it. But, in the interim I am a lonely mofo.
Following suit w the new positive mentality pilot I keep things locked up. Its not my husband’s fault. He deserves to figure out his survival too. But, I have no one to talk to. No support. So I feed myself w liquid courage. Super justified right!
Its awful. The secrets. The lies. The shame. The denial. Its no way to live. I know this. I believe this. Yet here I am.
Nothing to offer here. Not even to myself. So, yesterday on that highway. We were cruising along. Traffic had stopped but I think my husband was lost in his own mind. For a split second I wasn’t going to warn him. Hoping I would careen through the windshield and it would be over. Epitome of selfishness. But, he didn’t deserve to get hurt. Much less the folks in front of us paying attention. So I yelled…honey! and we swerved a bit. But collision averted.
We made our way through the day w few words said between us. Remember that book, how to make friends and influence people ( I apologize for not giving proper respect)? I need the cliff notes. Don’t even want the influence piece. A bit of guidance. A hint of hope. Something. I used to think I was a good person. But, now I wonder.
I tell ya. Loneliness is going to kill me.
The passing of time
Is not flawless
Minutes on the hour
Can be torturous
The ticking in the air
Is never serendipitous
The movement of my hand
Or a voice incredulous
Can contort heart rates
Its when the sunshine dissipates
And sometimes sets fate
That I am most afraid
Fear my breath is stolen
Depression lingers and waits
For if my guard sets down
The devil somehow anticipates
My weakened and fragile state
The clock on the mantle
The watch on my wrist
The very existence I emulate
Much to my dismay
The second hand has now
Made me a slave
I cannot count the seconds
Left in my life
By all accounts
They are for whatever reason
Keeping me alive
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 just need to jump start this engine
It mostly stops
Sometimes it sputters
But ultimately quits
Not only scientific
Rotting in guilt
Do not be fooled
It is not resistance
It is not choice
Neither is it rest
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.
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.
I went to bed at 9pm last night and got out of bed at 10am this morning. Deep deep depression has set in. I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work. Told him I was also going to work. 2 hrs later I texted my boss and let her know I couldn’t handle an office setting today.
I warmed up my coffee and checked email. I turned on the tv. Something I hate to do before 5pm. But, I need to check out. In a big way. I alternated between my email, Facebook, and writing. But honestly I tried to get lost in television. I won’t reveal the show as it’s probably not in the arena of self compassion, but holds my attention.
I sent a text to my old friend that read: so many moments come and go where a hello and goodbye are but a blimp in the day, weeks, months. I remember our first hello. I felt so bold. But now as I ponder a goodbye I feel so fragile. So alone. I don’t even know what I truly want to say. I’m thinking of you, Steve and Jerry.
These are folks who have long time sobriety and battle depression. Jerry took his life while sober unable to battle anymore.
My mind is not sound. My pain is bigger than me no matter how hard I try. I open my laptop to feel important. Answer work matters that demand my attention. Pretend I matter. Pretend I have an impact. I guess I’m trying to believe as much as pretend.
It’s not a good day. I isolate and spare me from you. I have no words. My smile and nod at a tilt. Socks don’t keep me warm. Pills don’t keep me well. Love doesn’t keep me fed. Faith may not keep me alive.
I’m hunkered down. Curtains closed. Darkness. Forever darkness barricades me. Alarms sound in my head. Warning shots fired. I’m not okay. Simple as that.
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.