And then there was ONE

Today it’s too hard to navigate my marriage, my job, my cat, my house, my bills, and bipolar disorder. Thoughts flash: run! End it! Just cry it out! I start to plan all those things-pack a bag, grab all my medication & head to the bridge, snot all over myself. All this planning started from under the covers well past the time I was supposed to be at work. As I begged for continuous sleep far into the day, I found myself on the couch too soon. I have so many bottles of medication I haven’t taken. Kept promising myself I would turn them into my therapist or my psychiatrist, but secretly wanting the option for days like this.
My marriage is vulnerable right now. I’ve become too much. I no longer enhance this relationship. The words my husband is using today are sharp. Truth behind his pain. Pushed up against the wall he spouts them. Not to hurt me necessarily, but release himself. The burden that I am is heavy. He is strong. Maybe too strong for 18 years. He often tells me that I have no idea how all these episodes of depression, mania, suicide attempts, battles w the bottle affect him. Truly tear at him. Not only because it hurts to see a loved one in pain, but the insurmountable amount of powerlessness that follows for him. Sometimes feeling betrayed as I reach for the liquid courage instead of him. Sometimes confused why I fall into the dark abyss with no warning. Sometimes because emotions are simply too damn hard.
Its funny because on the inside I am proud of myself when I can be “normal” what I think of as a good wife. I wonder if he notices I’m doing well. I just keep on showing him, at least in my mind, how I’m trying to rise. But, its that day my smile isn’t as big. My silence is stronger. My demeanor changed that he notices. Yesterday he asked if I was feel down. At first I denied it and said I was just tired. After all we had a great start to the weekend. He asked me again a little while later and I decided to shake my head yes. His response reminds me how hard the roller coaster is from any seat. He said we will cancel plans for tomorrow because he doesn’t want to get me “started.” Tears. Instant tears. Started? Does this mean he truly doesn’t get me?
As the sun sparkled I went back to bed under the guise of a headache. Physical pain is easier to accept and has a cure in ibuprofen. I laid me down to sleep to escape. Escape disappointment. Escape depression. Escape having to perform.
The evening didn’t end so well. More truth hit the fan and sent daggers around the room. I yelled. He tried to ask me not to yell and I yelled more. Poor poor communication and coping skills. This is not the picture of a good wife. I excused myself back to bed at 7:45 pm hurt feelings in tow.
I think the trigger to all this is loneliness. I have no support system.i have no friends. More truth to pierce my soul. And where am I now? Alone on my couch in the middle of a Tuesday when I should be at work. It fills the room and I cannot breathe. But dammit I will not cancel those plans. Red eyed. Tired. Full of self hatred. I will smile and carry on.
I feel like I am a party of one dancing around the bigger party. I don’t know how to get in. Do I deserve to be in? Can I, we, lay the burden down?

You & I

The ties that bind
Unravel before my eyes
Your ring now rests
In some side drawer
Our once love swelled dialogue
Reduced to matter of fact
You keep later hours
Always briefcase in tow
Exhausted from office politics
No desire for in house drama
I keep earlier hours
The need for sleep paramount
Box of tissues in tow
Exhausted from the dance
Of mental illness and
Relationships

Instant Breakdown

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.

This is Real Life

I am not a fan of the question “how are you?” I just don’t know how to answer it. My therapist asked me this as i sat on the couch clutching the pillow. On my walk to her office i was all over the place. Praising myself for actually getting out and walking. Angry I am not working out at all. Trying to notice my surroundings. Fighting back tears. Giving in to tears. Perseverating over what i want to talk about…work, parents, fears, lack of relationships, crushing loneliness. Wanting to just turn around and go home. Smiling at passersby. All the while being cradled by music that carries me down the bike path. It was a somewhat grueling 30 min jaunt.
As i struggled to find words, the right words mind you, to express the chaos i wade through on a day to day basis she sat patiently. Just 2 weeks ago i had a breakthrough session where i felt i was there for the betterment of myself, not just to combat bipolar disorder. I was “ordered” to start therapy after a suicide attempt in Nov 2014 by my husband. I finally got around to finding someone in January 2015. I figured 6 months of obligatory therapy was all I needed. Well in those initial months, as we were getting to know each other, it was more like crisis management every 2 weeks. It still is to a certain extent. But as I was saying, last time I saw my therapist i was in a space where i was ready to focus on the me who isn’t bipolar. So much focuses on that damn diagnosis. I think I focus on it much more than i realize. I mean how could i not?
I saw her on Thursday, but just the Monday before I was planning my death. I was in such a dark hole. I simply could not communicate to my husband. I sat in lone silence while my mind plotted against me. And sure enough she and I were thrust back into crisis management. Angry, frustrated, hopeless tears fell onto that pillow as I held it in my lap. I was explaining i was giving up everything. Wasn’t going to pursue life any longer. What was the point? She listened. And listened. My voice rose and fell. Rose and ultimately i fell silent…lost. She honored every one of my feelings and then played devil’s advocate.
In my perseveration, I also guess how my therapist will respond to my woes. In a previous post i discussed the idea of always being behind the camera, watching others living life. I knew she would say something along the lines of, well we can’t always be in front of the camera. Life happens. She of course didn’t use those exact words, as i can’t truly read minds. Intellectually. Conceptually i TOTALLY agree with this notion. However, emotionally and all tied up in symptoms and mood swings I can’t untangle myself in the moment to see it this way. But, it was a gentle reminder that everyone has bad days, awful days and even more awful days. Everyone at some point probably feels the pangs of loneliness. Maybe not to the degree I do, or maybe they do. Who knows.
So, here’s the best part. I unloaded all that junk i was carrying for a week in 50 minutes. I was able to receive that gentle reminder. I was also able to hear that perhaps I shouldn’t give up on pursuing life. Its okay to have my art journal sit untouched for weeks at a time. Its there when i am ready. The even better part is that I got out into the world and literally kicked up my heels and danced. As i stood before one of my favorite musicians and listened to her sing out her own pain, i moved and swayed to the rhythm. In that moment, i wasn’t carrying the burden of bipolar. I didn’t even care i was the only one standing up and dancing. I was too busy pursuing real life.

Sorry is all I can think to say

My eyes drip w sadness
My body weak from the weight
Turbulent thoughts
Then no thoughts
Just numb
Shutting down
There is no explanation
I do not know the cause
Tears invade my space
I sit unable to express
The sudden pain
I can fight no more
I am tired
I try and try
Fulfill my role as wife, friend, worker
I hold my head high
For as long as I can
Smile for the camera
Dance for you
Now I weep
Broken
On the floor
And i want to say sorry
Sorry
I am not more
Sorry
I am not better
Sorry
I am this way
But the Words fall silent
The guilt remains tethered on the inside
I feel your disappointment
It scars me

Getting off this Ride

It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly my mood can drop. From Monday to today, i have fallen into a deep dark canyon.  On Monday, I was probably thinking I could jump over the canyon and through the woods.  But, somehow my feet have slipped and here I am at the bottom. Alone. Crying. It takes too much energy to look up. I just lie down in defeat.
Suicidal thoughts swirl in action. Ideas make their way into my mind. Plans are so easily formed. I’ve been here before. As my husband kisses me a voice reminds me that’s the last one. He is better off without me. As we cross over the bridge I look below to see if its high enough. I choke back silent tears and mentally begin to write a note. I combine medication bottles for an easy getaway.
I’ve said very few words to my husband in the last 48 hours. He asked me to smile. Half smile was all I could do. I’m supposed to be at a baseball game right now, last home game for the season. But I sit alone on my couch crying. Formulating. Realizing just how alone I am. I no longer have friends. I don’t know how to make them or keep them. I don’t know how to call anyone in moments like this. My world is caving in and I sent my support off to enjoy beer and baseball. I’m tired of holding him back.
My demons are never gone. Always waiting to pounce. Bipolar in the fall months is so hard for me. Symptoms greet me as the darkness of night closes in earlier and earlier.
If you ask me…pills no pills. Its all the same. I don’t actually ever find stability for more than 3-4 wks tops. I’m exhausted. My work demands are increasing and my ability to handle it decreasing. But, on the outside that’s not really seen. My appearance remains in tact. Key buzz words still show I know what I’m doing. Yet, at the end of the day I cry on my drive home. Releasing all that’s built up. My mind races when it hits the sheets either reminding me where I went wrong or demanding I remember something I cannot. Obsessively my mind churns and churns. Sleep escapes me. The alarm sounds and I’m supposed to do it all over again. Perfectionism ushers me through my office doors with anxiety in tow.
I step off and on the merry go round too often for my liking. Thrown around as I lose my balance. My place. Grab on hard to the handle for a short time and demand I push through..only to lose my balance and place over and over. I’m over this game.

Medication Chronicles

My medication shelf is overwhelming. I’m on the cusp of running out of the small pills that fill BIG plastic bottles. I receive more bottles of my small pills in anticipation of running out. I am too tired to combine, at least right now, and it looks like I have a million pill bottles in my possession. So a million thoughts fill my head all at once. I capture this much:
1. I’m well taken care off
2. There are FAR too many pills for me to manage
3. I can’t possibly need this many. I’m overprescribed
4. I can always keep my stockpile of pills going for my ultimate plan
5. I could take them all and just end this now
6. Just for today I will take what I am prescribed

Struggle. Struggle to accept this is where I am. Struggle to accept its okay. Pills for sleep. Yep I so need that. Pills for mood, without question. For psychosis. For agitation/anxiety. I acquiesce. Pause. Remember the circumstances that follow my rebellion. Never good.
It ain’t pretty when I don’t take em. It’s not always rosy just because I do. I’m still here. That says a lot. The shelf itself is unmanageable. But I don’t have to solve everything right now.
It occurs to me I just have to do the next right thing. You might know this lingo. Sometimes it applies to all circumstances. Actually almost always. If you are open to it.

Please Take Good Care

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.

Self Stigma at its Finest

Apparently it’s World Bipolar Day. I didn’t know this as I couldn’t get out of bed this morning. I clawed at the covers as the cold empty room closed in on me.  The sun was illuminating the window shade but the stale stench of darkness overcame the light.  I begged for sleep to take me away, but I laid  there wide eyed all day long cursing bipolar disorder.  Bipolar shouting back with vulgar memories, racing thoughts, tears, and hopelessness. I tossed and turned like a rag doll. I could find no comfort. Grateful to be alone and so damn lonely at the same time. I unabashedly screamed into my pillow at one point and hung my head in shame the next. You should be at work! You are worthless! These statements ricocheting of the walls of my bedroom. I close the door so they don’t escape as I feel I deserve them. We have 4 ceiling fans in our house and I wonder which one can hold my weight. I count pill bottles in my head as I lack the energy to trace my fingers over each one.
This day is designed to raise awareness around stigma. Stigma from society, the media, the movies. To help get the word out folks with bipolar disorder are first and foremost people. People with unfortunate symptoms of a sometimes debilitating mental illness. It could be your neighbor or coworker. It’s an invisible illness that does both invisible and visible damage.
It seems today I am promoting self stigma. I had to call off work.  I am not physically sick. I feel so unbelievably guilty that I can’t function in a professional environment today. I can’t think. I can’t move. Today I can’t get my job done. No one else knows this but me. It’s likely I could have the flu that’s going around. I’m not surrounded by tissues because I have allergies. I’m just displaying symptoms of bipolar that render me unable to be present at my job.  It’s happened before and will probably happen again.
For me, today, it’s more like bipolar acceptance day.  I would like to accept that these days come and they will go. I am still a good person. A good worker. Even though I couldn’t muster the energy to make dinner I am still a good wife. As the tears stream and stream some more for reasons unknown, I am reminded I am human.  Tomorrow is a new day. If I close out this day, World Bipolar Day, crying into my pillow it’s a testament to the realities of the disorder.  Sometimes each day is a struggle. Sometimes not. But ridding myself of my own stigma first will only make each day better.

Relationship 101

Why are relationships so hard? I feel so very confused much of the time. What is my place? Where do I fit in the scheme of the relationship? Do I really matter? Do I have too many expectations? What is my role in the madness?  How long do I stay?  Am I just being a coward?  Am I actually standing up for myself.  Should I let more things go?

I am not a person who has a large social network. Rather, it is quite non-existent.  The circle has always been small by design, but now It’s hardly a circle. I feel safer and less confused this way. But oh so terribly lonely as well.  My husband is great. He’s my best friend. But there are times I need someone else to talk to, spend time with.  I joined a kickboxing class as a social activity. I suppose it can be labeled as such because there are several people involved, none of which I actually talk to. I may smile in acknowledgement, here we are again.  No lasting relationships will come out of my participating. I am  torching some calories, so that is a plus.  Also, its an hour I actually find I am out of my head. Jumping around to techno music for an hour, trying to follow moves and hear the instructor over the blaring volume is humorous.  I’m no slouch, I give it my all. I came to play.

Two relationships in my life are precarious right now. I don’t know if that’s my fault or anyone’s fault. Maybe it just is.  But, once again I do not understand why.  One fellow was a part of my Depression in Sobriety meeting and probably the first person I totally and completely opened up to after my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I dropped heavy bombs of emotion, suicidal plans, paranoia, psychosis, hospitalizations in a rather short time. He took it. He held it. He held me.  I could say anything to him and he would not flinch.  He would be there with me and remind me to breath. There were other times I would sit at his house for hours crying not able to say a word. Not one word. I was so distraught and bowled over.  He just let me be.  He never once tried to change me.  During a most recent mixed manic episode I took off to the beach. I was feeling quite depressed and suicidal.  I swore to my husband I was not going to hurt myself.  He begrudgingly “let” me go.  Before I would not tell a soul and once I arrived let you know.  I had made progress.

My friend texted me and wanted to know where I was.  At that moment, no joke, my phone froze. I couldn’t send a text message out. I tried several times, so several minutes went by. Once I turned it completely off for a few minutes it seemed to come back to its senses.  So, I sent the text of my location as I was not hiding from him.  He was upset with me it took me so long to get back to him. He told me it made him uncomfortable that he asked a question and I took my time to answer.  I got angry at this point. My yelling text replied, I did fucking tell you!  My texts would not go through. Its not my fault. I think some other words were exchanged until he halted communication.   That was 2 months ago.  The next thing I know I am getting a text from him letting me know our friend hung himself. No conversation around it. Just passing on information I guess.  I don’t know what to think. Maybe he’s processing. Maybe he felt obligated to let me know and wants to leave it at that. I don’t know.  Here I am confused. How do these friendships work? I don’t want to try too hard. I don’t want to seem like I care all that much. I had resigned myself that I needed to move on.  But, the truth is: of course I fucking care.  I have shared so many intimate moments with this man.  Plus, I just fucking care! Period.

He reached out this morning to say hello and ask how I am doing, just like old times.  He used to do that everyday.  I feel like the incident at the beach changed things.  Maybe that was the moment he no longer had patience.  The moment he decided I am too much.  The moment he decided the friendship wasn’t serving him anymore.  I don’t know if I will ever know as I am afraid to ask. I don’t want to upset an already upset apple cart.  But. My heart hurts. There is a hole he used to fill. For better or worse.  We bonded. We shared secrets.  We shared pain. We shared triumph no matter how big or small.  We shared space in a way I have never felt before.  Knowing it was difficult to express myself verbally, he encouraged me to write. I began writing for his blog a few years ago. It really gave me a voice and an outlet as I am quite an emotional being.  Then all the sudden, he stopped posting what I sent him. I obliged and stopped sending what I wrote. Eventually I started my own blog.  He is now asking for the address.  For some reason I am hesitant to give it to him. I’m not sure I want him to see that far into me anymore.  We are like driftwood in a slow moving river, occasionally bumping into each other, which then just sets us further apart.  He is asking.  But, why is he asking? I shared something I wrote about our friend that committed suicide a few days ago.  That sparked his desire to see the blog for some reason.  I am not ashamed, I can say that.  What I can’t label is whether its vulnerability, anger or wanting to protect myself.

My other friend can become a ghost as well.  She has drifted out of my life for years at a time. Her initial disappearance was upsetting, as I believed her to be a close friend.  But, I would settle into life without her.  It was almost to the point where she was never really a part of my life. Then poof she would reappear. She would find a way to come back into our lives. She is a woman of many moving parts.  She is intellectual. She is spiritual. She loves to laugh. She loves to dance.  She tries to honor the present moment.  She too can hold your emotion.  She can hold some of the darkness I carry. She professes to have darkness of her own and therein an inherent understanding is born.  She can be Jekyll and hyde. She can accuse you of not being spontaneous enough.  She is afraid to mark things on her calendar too far in advance.  I get the feeling she is afraid of missing out on other opportunities, so likes to “keep it open.”  What is subtle at first is her selfishness.  Trying to make plans for dinner, I may suggest a place I think would be great, only to be trumped by somewhere she rather go.  If I say let’s go east, she will say nah, how about west. One day she is fun loving and full of positive energy. The next day she is shrouded in the mire of her own mind and can barely come down to earth to be with you.  I don’t fault her for that, as I can easily be the same way.

We are 40 years old.  We are in a time of taking responsibility for self.  She doesn’t always seem to do that.  If I am rude or act out inappropriately, I have to own that.  Even if under the guise of bipolar disorder, those were my actions.  Events over the course of the last few weeks have left me feeling like she doesn’t truly think of others.  She arrives, takes off her jacket in dramatic fashion, and then the night begins.  No matter the night had already begun by all intents and purposes.

Maybe I do have expectations. Maybe I’m not allowing her to be who she is.  But, what if that, the supposed being who she is, is infringing upon who I am? Are you confused, because I am.  The tough part is when she mosey’s back into my life for a short time, I begin to like having her there.  I begin to trust again. I believe she is in it for us, as friends.  Ultimately I am left disappointed.  Sometimes, I don’t think she sees an “us”, more a her and them.   Is being a them okay with me?  Should I just roll with that premise, knowing it will probably change at some point.

My relationships right now are fucked up.  But, I’m fucked up too.  So, shouldn’t I fit into the equation somehow.  Doesn’t A+B=C.  I don’t remember having this hard a time with friendships as a young adult. Maybe it was easier because we were all partying and living it up.  The real stuff, the shit storm of life, wasn’t upon us yet.  I don’t know where I belong. If I belong. If I want to belong.  I do know I am lonely. My house is cold and lonely.  The big bad world is cold and lonely.  The road I have travelled, my journey, has been traumatic as of late. A good friend would not only lighten my load, but allow me to  get out of my own head and be there for them as well.

Maybe I need to redefine my definition of friend.  Maybe I need more than people can give.  Maybe I don’t deserve to be here.  Maybe I’m the selfish one. So many maybe’s just fuel the confusion.