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?

Surely It’s Me, Right?!

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?

So Painfully Aware

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.

Where is the Welcome Mat?

I hear them laughing
Whispering
connecting
Sharing
It could be stories
Secrets
Dreams
Fears
Where once I felt
I belonged
Could take part
Mattered
Now
So far removed
Alone
Broken
Unworthy
They carry on
Without me

I have been feeling this overwhelmingly painful sense of loneliness. Like the veil of darkness has wrapped itself around me so tight I cannot see the love or the light in my life. I don’t believe its actually there, but others tell me it is. Yesterday was a perfect metaphor for how I’m feeling. I was at a work event, more like a fair, when vendors have booths showcasing the accomplishments of their agency. As i walked around and saw comrarderie among people, laughing, touching, w genuine like for one another, it struck me I no longer have that. I’m the girl who gets asked to take the group photo. I’m on the outside capturing memories for others. I’m not in the memories, in the circle of laughter, in the circle at all. I am the lone aloof individual on the outside. So unsure of myself. I just feel unwelcome in this world right now. Its only getting darker.

We are Worth It

I could no longer handle the emotional pain.  The swells of sadness, agitation, anxiety threatened to take me away.  I had to pick up that phone and ask for help.  I knew exactly who to call. I knew the exact number to dial. Yet, I didn’t make a move. I sat paralyzed on my couch with a soaked pajama shirt stained from tears.  The outpatient program I have attended several times following a hospitalization has always maintained and open door policy for me.  I have never been the one to call to ask for help. I have never been able to halt the episodes off at the pass.  Here is my opportunity, why am I not calling?

I choked back more tears as I left a message. I explained I needed more structure. I was falling apart. I was impulsive and scared.  I could barely utter the words, not functioning since the suicide of my friend. I was spirally pretty quick and knew it. I could no longer do this alone.

The reason I was “alone” at this point was because I had a return to work date. I was set free from outpatient to get my affairs in order and attend groups in the evening.  These would be the same groups available to me while working. I did pretty well the first week. I got up at the same time as if I was working with the plan to workout. So I got up about 5:30. I was keeping pace with the things I wanted to get accomplished. I would schedule my day with activities but not overload myself. I was fairly successful.  But, by the second week I was getting up so my husband would see, but then immediately go back to bed once he left for work, and typically sleep til noon. I was no longer keeping the house clean. I wasn’t really showering. The working out also fell off.

When I received the text message about my friend I had a hard time believing it.  The person who texted me was also in the Depression in Sobriety group with us.  He and I were good friends, til we weren’t. I think I lost him in a manic episode.  So, it was sent to me as news.  There was no discussion.  I had to sit with this information by myself. I really had no one to call.  My husband didn’t know the man.  But, in reality, I didn’t know how to talk about it anyway.  What could I say other than, I can’t fucking believe it! It took about 2 days before it really knocked the wind out of my sails.

On this day, the day I pick up the heaviest phone to call for help I was having intrusive thoughts of harming myself.  I gave into these notions the previous night.  I put myself in a dangerous position. I was so overwhelmed with emotion it was like I didn’t know any other way to contain myself.  The drive to end the pain was so high I couldn’t control it.  The same feeling crashed into me as I sat with the phone. Once I finally spoke my truth and asked if I could return to the safe haven, I was able to channel my energy into working out.  I don’t know how. I just know I did. While doing so, a message was left for me saying of course I could come back.  She also added she was so glad I reached out.

The following day I walked down the hallowed hall I had walked down only weeks prior. I admitted I felt like I was on a slippery slope.  I was already sinking, but the news of my friend took me under. I was the one who made the decision to end my participation in the depression in sobriety group, knowing it could mean the group would fall apart.  Not because I am so important, but because a meeting can hardly survive on 4 people, much less 3. I somehow think its my fault. Perhaps if I had stayed the course, stayed in the meeting for others, wasn’t so selfish he would still be with us.  He always said how safe he felt at our meeting. It was the only place he could really be himself without judgement. I think the meeting provided that for all of us.  However, I was growing less comfortable.  I could feel myself not wanting to attend.  It has always been the philosophy of AA that there are many meetings, so if you don’t like one you can certainly find another.  Maybe it was just time for me to go.  It happens all the time.  But why, oh why, did it have to happen this way.

As the day progressed I became increasingly depressed. I was feeling quite suicidal. I felt broken beyond repair. Bipolar disorder had really thrown me around this time. Between the psychosis for nearly 2 months, 3 med changes, depression, my friend’s suicide I was feeling done.  I was hearing voices that whispered, it should be you.  I was having nightmares in the midnight hour and hallucinations by day. I no longer had any strength or desire to carry on. I didn’t disagree with the voices. I am terribly disappointed in myself that I did not reach out to my friend once I left that meeting.  What kind of friend does that make me? I knew his struggle. I walked his walk.  Yet, I just sorta dropped out.  Out of sight out of mind.  I was so lost in myself I didn’t make time for others. This is not the person I want to be. This is not the person I used to be.

Sitting at my kitchen table I felt myself to be in a precarious mindset. Husband not home. No one would know for quite some time if I just took one too many pills.  If I made a quick drive and a quick jump off the bridge. So many thoughts swirling in my mind. Feeling alone. Feeling desperate.  Feeling tired.  I don’t remember picking up the phone. I do remember saying something into the receiver.  I do remember breaking down as I spoke. I hung up the phone knowing I left a message, not knowing if I would get a return call or if I wanted one.

The return call came about 20 minutes later.  I could not answer it. I just stared at my phone as it rang. I didn’t think I could talk. I didn’t know what to say. I love the therapist I chose to call. He is so kind and calm and caring. I have known him for several years as he runs the outpatient program.  His words to me were, please call me back I really want to talk to you.  I did not call him back.  But an hour later he called me again.  This time I answered.  He was very concerned about me and the level of suicidal thinking I was displaying. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I remember saying how complicated everything felt.  Here I am completely torn up about my friend and the pain it was causing me, his suicide was eating me up.  In response I am thinking about suicide because I can’t handle the pain.  What about my husband?  Exactly!  I would never want to hurt him or cause him pain, but I can’t endure the pain I am feeling.  “Its so fucking complicated!” I yelled into the phone. He softly answered, I know.  He told me I was really riding the edge and he was inclined to call 911.  I told him I had plans in just a little while for the rest of the evening with my husband. I promised to follow through.  He reluctantly agreed and said, alright. I will see you bright and early Monday morning.

Just when I think I can’t go on. Just when the voices draw me in enough I listen. I do somehow find some strength to carry on. I pick up the 500lb phone and make an important call to save my life. I did that.  This journey is full of ups and downs for anyone.  Just by virtue of being alive its challenging.  Folks with mental illness face mountains and cliffs sometimes. I know I do.  The will to stay tends to be greater than the will to leave, despite the recent loss of my friend.  I just have to surrender and believe.  We have to believe we are worth it.