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.
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?
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
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 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.
My eyes drip w sadness
My body weak from the weight
Then no thoughts
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
On the floor
And i want to say sorry
I am not more
I am not better
I am this way
But the Words fall silent
The guilt remains tethered on the inside
I feel your disappointment
It scars me
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.
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.
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.
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.