Sometimes I lean on dirt roads to carry me through the anxiety. Pounding of the hiking path grounding me turn for turn. Easing my agitation. Some people do yoga. Maybe I should try it. I tend to want to run. Maybe try and outrun the demon, at least for an hour or two. Huffing and puffing through the trees. Racing through brush. Just not stopping. Heart racing for all the right reasons.
The walls were closing in this morning. Same damn job search routine. Alarm rings. Rip myself from the bedsheets. Grab some coffee and settle in. Today the self doubt ran rampant. I applied for 3 jobs in the last 2 weeks. Not a peep from any potential employers. My resume sucks! I don’t have any marketable skills! I should have never left my job of over 17 years despite every ounce of me needing to get out. All the signs. Red flags waving. I should have stuck it out. I should have changed. Surely it was all my doing. Me! Me! me. Big fat failure screaming back with each scroll through the job boards.
Desire to not feel these things-CHECK CHECK
In a matter of moments I flew around my house. I need a water bottle. I need my headphones. Where’s my hiking backpack. Who am I talking to? Doesn’t matter. I knew I needed to get out of the house and out of my mind. I needed to breathe. Not filtered gym air, but mother nature’s healing powers. Escape in its purest, healthiest form. At least for me. For this alcoholic.
Music overshadowing “the neighborhood” I charged up the hill. I didn’t look back. Only forward. Step after step marveling in the fact I can do that next right thing, if I choose to. It was more than a choice. It was a want. I wanted to feel the grace that lies outside my front door. So many days I shut in. Cower in fear alone. Not noticing a thing but the heart palpitations that bring me to my knees.
Today I ran in the wind. Through yellow mustard. Stomped in mud. Heard the lyrics of songs that sometimes just pass me by. Most importantly I was in charge of my breath. Fast or slow. It was my doing. I chose to make the sprint to the next bench. I chose to meander near that bee hive…just to watch a community at large be in harmony.
Walking back to the car I felt the sweat down my back. What I didn’t feel was anxiety. Or agitation. I went to check my watch. My barometer of success at times. Did I run long enough or fast enough? I refrained. In that moment my self worth wasn’t to be defined by minutes or miles. It also wasn’t going to be defined by buzz words on resumes. I rested in the peace of mind I rescued myself in a precarious moment. A personal success if I say so myself.
Let’s talk about reaching out. More importantly my seemingly inability to do so. I have been in the social services profession for over half my life. My sole purpose is to be there when others reach out to me. I can attest to the relief it can bring for the other person. The so-called burden has an opportunity to be lifted by the very virtue of sharing with someone else. Releasing what’s typically rolling around in the “wrong neighborhood” of the mind can be cathartic.
Armed with this information and actually witnessing it to be true, you’d think I would jump at the chance to fill someone’s ear with my stuff. Not the case. Well, not entirely accurate. The idea of this prospect is wonderful. Unleashing the demons that constantly plague me would be so beneficial. But, knowing this is not enough. Speaking my truth is so scary and difficult, I prefer to hide behind my written words. I mean conveying my pain in some form or fashion is helpful. But, again, not enough. Realistically, some days all I’m able to do is furiously type on this computer and hope to be brave enough to send it out into cyberspace.
What is this fear? Fear of being a burden. Misunderstood. Unable to express what ails my mind, body and soul. The questions you might ask to clarify. Statements you might make to “help” me. Having to dive into deep shit I don’t know how or want to. Having to admit I have bipolar disorder and all the chaos it has created. The manic and depressive episodes that have rocked me to my core. Rocked my marriage possibly to its breaking point. Wanting to expel the details from my memory, but also not dredge up the pain it encompasses. Wondering if you could possibly understand. Or, maybe you do so much that I must then console you. What a selfish thought that is! Baggage I guess is part of the fear.
Just the other day I was quite distraught the whole day. Many many tears shed in the confines of my home. Well, and into the dark black fur of my kitty. Back to bed I went after 2 cups of coffee. I had received news the prior evening I did not get a job I felt highly qualified for. The interview had gone very well in my opinion. I even brought up a few ideas and sparked a discussion. Does it get better than that? I was able to speak to my weakness within the proposed position, but more so self myself as an asset. I recounted this experience to a few friends and they agreed it sounded positive. Case Management is in my bones, I told them. 15 years of direct experience..successful experience. Over 20 years in a social service delivery model in general. I could learn the “ins and outs” of the agency.
I suppose I could have picked up the phone that day and relayed my utter disappointment. But, I just couldn’t. We could argue didn’t or couldn’t. For me it was a could not. I sent out a few rushed texts. One to my husband and one to my brother. Both expressed sympathy, but just to move on to the next one. Typical advice. But, I’m not a typical person. I guess no one is. My bipolar brain was beating me up through and through. How does anyone know that if I don’t share? I keep it all locked inside. Tears fell on the couch and into the bedroom. My husband asked if I was crying as we nestled under the covers in the darkness. I said no. We both knew I was lying. I can’t share pain in the moment of pain. It feels physically impossible. My body will not let me. My mind won’t allow words to come out of my mouth. I just shutdown.
I have the opportunity to share my ups, downs and in- betweens with a woman who is willing to be my sponsor in AA. This equates to another human being willing to hear what ails my mind, body and soul. Can I lay down the walls and accept this possibility? Leave the baggage at the door and honor this for what it is..space to learn how to share myself. Space to learn about myself. Space to forgive myself.
Let’s face it. I don’t need space. I need connection. Honest emotional interaction. So, let’s talk about reaching out. How do you do it?
I spent most of the day in bed. Staring at the shadows the bright bright sunshine, filtered through drawn curtains, created. I cried into the midnight black fur of my kitty. He nestled into me. Beating my neck as he likes to sit/lay on my shoulder. It was 1pm. I set my alarm for 2:30. Declaring I would get up and do SOMETHING today. I didn’t really sleep. I lay semi quietly listening to him breathe. Petting him. Loving him. Feeling like he is my only friend in the world.
Perhaps he is. I haven’t told him I have bipolar disorder. But, I think he notices my moods. He kept pushing his little head into my mine. Pets can be so comforting. He is an amazing addition to our household. I think he is good for me.
Being off work is not good for me. Having no structure is not good for me. So…one might suggest I build structure. I mean, man, to be able to create one’s own structure for the day..how marvelous. I can paint. I can hike. I can eat. I can watch TV. I can write. I can….but I don’t. Why its so damn hard for me I do not know. The sky is the limit right now! I can go to the beach. I can drive far and wide. Yet, retreat to my bedroom under my covers I go.
My husband is not like this. Not only does he not have bipolar disorder, he doesn’t really have a lazy bone in his body. He wakes at 5am no matter what day it is. I can hear him unloading the dishwasher by 5:15 if it needs it. He leaves in the dark and right now comes home in the dark. Then will make dinner when I haven’t made a plan. On weekends, he is up with headphones on working on quicken, making sure I don’t have a job doesn’t impact us. He can’t wait for the sun to come up so he can work in the garden. He looks around our house and thinks of ways to redecorate. I…am not like him.
When I was working full time, I had many excuses as to how tired I was. I couldn’t handle planning taking a shower, planning my work wardrobe, lunch and dinner for the week. Then I worked part time. Still, couldn’t pull off all the wifely duties seems I should. Now. I don’t work. Laundry in the dryer. dishes in the sink. No dinner planned.
I rush to judgement. I rush to shame. What in the world is wrong with me? I have basically 10 hours from the time my husband leaves to when he gets home from working all damn day to contribute. I choose to cuddle and shed tears with my kitty. Maybe not everyday. But too many days are spent like this. I do look for jobs over coffee. Diligently. I then tell myself I do not qualify for anything. I am a sham. I fake. A fraud. The title that was created for me in my last brief employment is really a lie. when I resigned, they did not ask why for a reason. They did not fight for me. They did not seem to care.
Funny thing, I played tennis on Tuesday after a very long layoff. I used to play competitively until..panic attacks, bipolar depression, hospitalizations. The overall inability to move for much of the time. I hit very well. I do have to say. I felt free. I hit the ball without abandon..or is that with abandon. I’m not sure. BUT! As with me, I have all or nothing thinking. Black and white thinking. I played for hours despite my body telling me otherwise. I kept going to prove I could. To prove..I’m still here. To prove I exercise for a reason. To prove bipolar disorder cant ruin everything.
I have a huge blister. probably a right of passage honestly. But, it just means I can’t play again. I wanted to play today. Had I taken it slow. Acknowledged I haven’t played in well over a year, with new shoes to boot, perhaps I could be on the court today. Not in bed. Perhaps, my husband wouldn’t have needed to remind me this is what I do. Self sabotage in a way. l have to have it all right now. Right this minute. Right. This. Fucking. Minute. I need to feel good right NOW!! and I did.
But, the crash after. The non movement yesterday sidelined by a blister that could be avoided if only I knew moderation. The crash still today. I am at a crossroads of sorts. I have choices still. I can choose to go to the beach tomorrow. I’m not so down that I need outpatient or the hospital. But, its a slippery slope. One day in bed, leads to two. Leads to…its not a good path. I know this. I have lived this. I have beaten this mindset before.
My only commitment for tomorrow, for right now, is to go to the gym. To sweat out this funky funk! The weather is amazing for February. I need to find shadows outside under trees, not in my curtain drawn bedroom. Here I go….tomorrow!
Depression knows it’s way around my mind like a bee in a hive. Knows exactly where to plant himself, his role, his goal. I set my alarm, but ignore it for almost 2 hours. My kitty wanders in and is my excuse for hiding longer. As he nestles himself on my shoulder I tell myself we are bonding. But, really I’m avoiding.
The days feel excruciatingly long right now. I’m searching for jobs each day, but haven’t applied to anything for 2 weeks. Of the 2 places I applied at the end of December, I have been invited to an interview. This Friday. I rehearse my smile. My enthusiasm. I hope I can muster it when the time comes. I am or was interested in this job prospect. But that damn devil of depression whispers I probably won’t get it. I have no practical experience. Why bother. If I don’t show, who will know. I can always say I thought I did great. That would not be good for my frail psyche!
So, today I have a lunch date and a hair appointment. This means I leave the house. I am without a car this week. My friend agreed to drop me off at my hair appointment and I will walk home. It’s several miles. Music in my ears and the sun on my face will be good medicine, along with exercise.
I have to keep fighting. It’s tiresome. Downright exhausting and daunting. I’ve been through it before. One foot in front of the other today. Reminding myself I’m doing the best I can.
My anger pulsates into my boots
Sitting Across the room
My raw naked toes
Stretch and reach for comfort
Warmth of a blanket
My heart has turned cold
The lies unfolding
Who are we
Turns out nothin I behold
Pretending for the sake
The stench of confusion
In my wake
How could I
Carry on knowing
So much to be untrue
As you tip toe
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?