I Made a Promise

There is no escape.

There is no escape.

I made a promise. And I don’t make promises that I can’t keep.

(Stream of consciousness. It has to come out quickly.)

Knock on wood. I think I might be turning a corner!

A corner in the labyrinth of depression may lead one to –

* a straight and narrow path, brightening as one draws near to the exit.

* deeper into the dark, twisted heart of the very malevolent creature we whisper of.

And there are moments, moments such as these, where we are thrust into a corridor by an errant –

Force. Something completely unseen. Others go completely undisturbed, maybe slightly gusted, but completely unharmed. And they walk along.

The world is upside down and I am inside out. In this place, there are no rules. Gravity? Puh. Things are magnetised to another without reason. But, there is always causation. Life, living, any plane of existence is contingent upon cause and effect. The question why goes largely unfulfilled. Is there ever a complete answer?

I want to eradicate why from my vocabulary, and live as if it never existed. I want to be. But, that is deeply nested within the strong desire not to be. Again, nested, rooted deeply within one another, life-death, life-death, life-death.

I died so I could live, and I lived so I could die.

Dozens, upon dozens, upon dozens of times.

Why always the threes? Psychologically, three is the liars number.

It’s true. Interrogation of a liar will prove it. Lies. 3AM. Only 3 times. Even for someone to remember something, it will have to be repeated six times. Six divide two (because there are usually two people in that situation) is three. It happens in threes. Everything in the whole world happens in threes. Births. Deaths. Bad luck. Good luck. Two people plus an outside catalyst is three. We live in a sea of threes.

But, for me, it’s not a sea anymore. I stared blankly for awhile, overcome by it all, drowning in it. I watched it break apart, like fractured, old drywall. Piece by piece, with the reality of it still flickering within the shattering images, I watched it fall away.

My head hurts. I have this funny feeling in my head, and my words on this screen are as loud as a stadium speaker system in my head. The whole thing makes me tender and nauseous, completely fucking raw, blistered, and splintering.

I am loading up on benzos. I don’t want to do anything regrettable. I am twitching, and the air is being vacuumed out of my lungs. I am in a silent room, save for the overburdened furnace. I need to know if this is real.

My head is blank. The stadium is completely empty, while I blair into it. On my soapbox, spinning whimsical tales that the Grimm Brothers would envy. My life, all of this, the various realities I live in are stranger than any fiction. I don’t lie. That’s the strangest fact of them all. The threes are some sick obsession, some fact that keeps me grounded. Maybe I am a liar. Maybe I lie to myself.

I know the pieces fit, because I watched them fall away.

I need to cry, but the tears won’t come. I admonish my mother for being stoic, and yet, I will not release whatever this is. When did I stop being good at any of this? When did I stop being good at my life? My chest aches as it caves around my withering heart.

I want to blurt everything out, vulgarity intact. I need to smoke a cigarette before I come apart. Before this disintegration pulls the stitching right out. Because, you know that’s all that I am made of, right? Leftover parts, stitched and stuffed. Ragdoll to rule the ragdolls. I’m hardly fit to be the dog’s chew toy.

Now, I will write the words I fear will be true. But worse, I fear the reproach from others, and all of the criticisms that I cannot sustain.

I do not make this world a better place. It is futile for me to try, not because one person can’t make a difference. Because I am not the person who can lead the way.

I am of little worth outside of my tangible self. And not so much in the other respect. I earn money. I care for my son. I clean house. I cook. And all of those are just plain piss poor jobs.

I may never actually believe that I am worthy of love, admiration, affection, or any of the sort. That is why I don’t take compliments well. I cannot believe them, not for the sake of worrying about ulterior motives. It’s worse when they are truth, and I simply cannot absorb them.

I will never get out of this. I rarely use the word never, but it is appropriate here. I may cycle up, but only to tumble back down. I will spend my whole life doing this. I will fail at everything because of this. Or, I will shuffle through everything, doing a half-assed job, because I don’t have it in me. I am kidding myself when I think that there is something besides this.

And if I could wish myself out of existence now, I would use the first two wishes to bless my dearest of friends. All of you. Each encouraging message, lovely compliment, endearing sentiment, and empathetic passage. They have been my world in the last nine months.

There is no way out. And I want to feel. I want to feel the pain I cannot express. I want the punishment of what I have done and have failed to do. I want the streaming tears and the rooftop screams.

I want out of my fucking tortured brain!

Instead, I will eat milligram after milligram of benzos until I am either numb enough to just be, or unconscious. It’s not really my choice.

But was any of this ever my choice?

Warning: Relapse

Honestly, I find the words evaporating before they can come into focus in my mind. I grasp at them, trying desperately to hold to just one. Please, just one to represent this. Let me have only one.

So, here I write. My first stream of consciousness entry since the very beginning of this blog.

Where to start? Is there really a starting point? The perfect place to run along the thread, coursing up and down, and through the fabric of my life. Maybe. Maybe not. I seem to get the idea that there is no beginning, and respectively, there is no end.

So, maybe I can begin with a narrative, rolling around in my mind, each time it stirs.


I am not perfect. My flaws are becoming more visible each time I look at myself. Painfully so. Everything feels so forced.

I make mistakes. I succumb to those words, the ones that usually just make a dull buzz in my head.

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In these times, the moments of darkness, it becomes louder, slower, more pronounced.

I. want. to. die.

A buried mantra, rising from dormancy.

My ears heard a beckon in my sleep. I rustled. I could sleep forever. Another summoning. In fact, I wanted to sleep forever. My eyes opened to dull grey haze, sunlight buried miles deep in cloud cover. And the words whispered to me, I want to die.

 

I had remembered my dream. It was a recurring dream, the same theme, different places, different faces. All but one. C.S.

In each dream, we are separated in some way, whether it be a wall or a world apart. We aren’t just separated, rather more like severed from one another. I am not whole. I feel that in the very depths of my shattered soul.

In this most recent recurrence, we were literally separated, not divorced, but not even living in the same place anymore. I shared an apartment with his ex-best friend. He was sick, and I took him to the hospital.

While there, I started to feel preterm labor. It was a child I hadn’t told C.S. about yet. Though we had T.D., I didn’t want him to feel obligated to stay in a marriage with me because of an unplanned pregnancy.

I just went back to the apartment. The same dingy, dark, trashed apartment that is always in my dreams. I must have done something really bad for him to discard and disregard me in such a way. I called him. I wanted nothing more than to be whole again. I needed him to come to my aid.

He refused. “Why would I want to come to that dump to see you?”

I begged. And he still refused.

I returned to the hospital, knowing that the labor would get worse. I just knew it wasn’t something that couldn’t be fixed.

Skip the labor scene. I don’t remember it, even if it did occur.

And, I went into a dark exam room, to lay on the bed with the paper sheet, in a paper gown. I saw a pad of paper sitting on an end table. I flipped through and it coldly read, “What seems to be your problem today?”

I threw it, and went to gather my belongings that were housed in a communal room, supposedly watched by a guard. Except when I went to look, they were nowhere in sight. I saw a woman sitting next to the man, holding my exact purse. I insisted it was my purse, and ripped it away from her. I pulled out my handmade keychain, looking for some proof I was who I said I was.

I got a nametag out and I had apparently been using a different last name since my separation. I went for my I’d in my wallet. A voice came from behind me.

“Her name is Em. I’m her husband.”

C.S. stood there, disappointed and disgruntled.

 

And I awoke, horrific feelings still intact. Worthlessness, abandonment, disappointment, heartache, soul-fractures, incompletely incomplete, with holes punctured through my being. I mourned that child. I mourned my broken marriage. And I wondered what lay in wait in my conscious life.

Noon. Lunch. Eggs and bacon for my son.

No excuses. Not, the infamous, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” I poured myself a shot of Wild Turkey and nursed it. The next, I gulped. Sunday is a terrible day to drink in Pennsylvania. When you’re out, you’re out. So, I moved on to vodka.

Anything. I would do anything to erase that awful gnawing feeling. That feeling that you are being dragged into the pit, clawing and screaming as the inky blackness envelopes you, curling like vines upward, and strangling the very life from you.

I’m not going to launch into this speech about how embarrassed or downtrodden I am for my shortcomings. Not because I feel justified in my action as a result of a faulty rationalization. Because I am human. I have some permissible margin or error, right?

But, I will make certain admissions based on very stark realizations.

I was starting to get ready for work, when I realized that not all of my laundry had been returned to me. T.D. had clothes. C.S. was fine for the week. But only a few articles returned to me.

I started to get upset. Dressing for Pennsylvania weather is tricky. When the sun is shining, but it’s 30, and you know that you be out after dark later, it complicates things. Some of my classrooms are hot, and some are cold. I need layers. My sweaters were too hot.

I lost all confidence in any choice, and became flustered. T.D. screamed in the background and C.S. preached at me on the phone. I wasn’t going to make it in time. I wasn’t going to make it.

How could I even walk out of that door like this, without any guarantees that I could make it intact?

I want to die.

My parents pounded on the door. I carried T.D. down the stairs and set him down. I was shaking so badly, it caused tremors in every single electrified muscle. Halfway through the living room, my legs gave out. My whole body fell limp, and I could no longer live in my mind. I crawled to the door, and opened it.

I pulled myself onto the sofa and curled into a ball. And I cried, “I can’t do it. I can’t go to work like this.”

“Get yourself together,” my mother advised.

I wasn’t talking anymore. I was on autopilot, hyperventilating, “I can’t. I can’t. I just can’t, I have to call off.”

I did. My boss could sense the extreme distress in my voice. I lied. I told her the sitter called off because she was sick. I couldn’t bear to tell her the truth.

I’m in no mental state, because I’m having a nervous breakdown related to a recent bout of ultradian cycling that hurled me into a long awaited depression. You’re better off without me today.

And my mother asked, “Did something happen?”

“No,” I answered in a fractured voice, holding back tears, “this is just the natural course of things. This was three months in the making. Three months, almost symptom free. And now this.”

The grand herald of my depressive episode, here to announce it’s presence. And to present a list of events, in no particular, predictable order, that will push me further into this hell. This hell. This is mine. Of my own making.

And I have to face it alone. Because as of today, everyone in my life has made it abundantly clear that they are, quote, “Tired of my shit, because I’m always like this.”

That’s me. Like this. Fucking up since the mid-eighties.

This post brought to you by Tallulah, my Blackberry Bold.

The Bipolar Language

How do you describe bipolar disorder to others who do not have it?

Most of the population experiencing bipolar disorder have heralded it as something “people can’t fully understand unless they have been through it.”  Being a member of that group, I can wholeheartedly agree. In my personal attempts to convey the complexity of bipolar disorder to a non-Dx person, I have found myself at a loss for words that would do it justice. Describing emotions is putting the intangible into context.

And so much more.

Even when I am successful at touching upon the idea, I am largely incapable of even scratching the surface. The intensity, duration, debilitation, and so many other aspects seem to get lost in translation. Non-Dx people are mystified. “I feel those things, too.” Every human being has emotions akin to those that are experienced within the spectrum of bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people cannot wrap their heads around the magnitude of what creates the dysfunction. “I can control them. Why can’t you?”

Frustration ensues. Such miscommunication is an extreme aggravation. Tempers may flare. “It’s not the same thing!” It’s the same animal of a different color. In essence, similarities can be drawn, but a fault line exists between the two.

I am empathetic to the plight of a person who suffers with bipolar disorder. I have experienced the rage that boils when I feel as if I a being dismissed or preemptively judged against an unjust standard. The words above send me into elevations, like a volcano spitting lava high into the sky. At this precise moment, communications break down entirely. All hope is lost. If the villagers don’t evacuate now, total destruction is eminent.

On the other hand, using descriptive language devoid of passion fails to drive the point home. To a non-Dx person, it is any regular conversation. Words are words. It does not have the demonstrative power of action. However, action is often misinterpreted more so than words. Too many questions arise. Why? Now, we’re right back where we started.

And extreme action is likely to be met with animosity or apathy. It is ironic that when a person has a severe bipolar episode, others often fall short of providing the appropriate responses. I’ve often encountered loved ones who laid certain claims; “I am not going to tolerate this behavior.” – “Get a grip.” – “I refuse to talk to you when you’re like this.” – “Get over it.” – “Are we going to go through this, again?” Resentment. That is what perpetuates throughout repeated episodes.

The schism between people with bipolar disorder an non-Dx people grows in breadth and depth. Communication is endangered, if not completely extinct. Isolation begins, and episodes worsen. Without a support system, a non-Dx person is likely to crumble. A support system that is non-existent in the life of a person with bipolar disorder is the quickest route to utter annihilation of oneself.

I have been there. Then, I managed to navigate my way back again.

Back to the original question. How do you describe bipolar disorder to a person that doesn’t have it?

In my experience, I have worked it out. Non-Dx people do have strong emotions. These are in response to serious situations. To them, they are overwhelming; to me, it would knock me flat.

I allow the non-Dx person to draw the comparison between emotions. It is a good jumping point, although it is likely meant as a retort coming from their end. “This is not an argument. This is a discussion,” I remind myself repeatedly when tempers start to flare. I continue with the following points:

My brain chemistry is unique in the way that I become particularly reactive. That is one of many facets of bipolar disorder. Extreme sensitivity to situations that provoke strong emotion.

This may be met with a usual, “Grow a thicker skin.” or “Let it slide.”

I continue:

Recall a situation where you felt strongly about something. Like, when someone very close to you died. Or, you lost your job. Or, you found out that the love of your life cheated on you.

Okay.

Weren’t you very distraught? Even extremely sad?

Yes.

Imagine having those feelings arise without cause. Then, consider what it would be like to live months like that.

That is how I relate depression. Extreme feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and despair for long periods of time.

For hypomania, I continue like this:

Now, remember a time where you felt the best you ever did. You got a promotion or bought your first car or house. Maybe the day your spouse said yes to your proposal or the day you got married.

Yeah, those were some great times.

Now, think of what it would be like to feel that way for a long time.

That sounds awesome!

Sure, but think of a time where you were the most angry you could ever be. Someone you love lied to you or stole from you. A co-worker betrayed you and threw you under the bus. Your boss unjustly blamed you. Think of a time where you just wanted to scream and break things.

That’s the other side of the feeling good. It is being really irritable or angry constantly for a long time.

Oh, that’s not good.

No. But that’s not all. What would it be like to never really know for sure how you’re going to feel? Pretty scary, maybe? And worse, you may never know how long you’re going to feel that way.

That’s part of living life with bipolar disorder. Did you ever have a time that you did or said something you regret because you lost control for a minute?

Of course!

That’s what an episode is like. Struggling for control, every single day, because you can’t help the way you feel.

It puts the person in your shoes for a second. It helps them cultivate an understanding of the intensity and duration of human emotion that creates the dysfunction. This dysfunction has a name. It’s called bipolar disorder.

Now, I want to know. How have you gone about relating your disorder to others? It doesn’t have to limited to bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people and people of different Dx’s all have trouble relating to disorders. How do you explain what you experience?

Imaginary Enemies

Re-pressed from Imaginary Enemies on A Canvas of the Minds.

I should have figured that when the monologue became a dialogue that I was in some serious trouble. “The Voice” started to speak up again.

“The Voice” may be experienced uniquely for each individual. It may just be a whisper, a buzz, or a feeling. No matter, each person Dx or not has “The Voice”. In my personal experience, “The Voice” is literally that, a voice. It comes from within myself, as if I am host to two conscious minds in one physical being. It is not a hallucination, as I recognize the existence within myself. They coexist and are more than aware of the other “personality”, if you will.

I am familiar with my own conscious mind which produces these monologues that I translate to print. It forms the words milliseconds before they come to life. It repeats important information to commit it to short-term memory. It can take on a physical manifestation to transport me into the past, with all of my senses intact.

“The Voice” was born from the same conscious mechanisms that produces monologues. Suddenly, dialogues existed. These two conscious voices in my mind would deliberate everything. Sometimes, they would viciously argue. The noise was deafening. I was a woman divided.

“The Voice” fueled the fire. In depression, it perpetuates incredible delusions. It whispers, “You know you are worthless. Look at all of your failures. That’s why no one loves you, not even your family. Everyone is better off without you.”

It blames my action or inaction for all of the woes in the world. It convinces me that I am responsible for creating misery in and burden on my loved ones. All of my greatest fears are realized. My delusions are reinforced and substantiated as being reality.

In hypomania, it overcomes the other conscious voice. It is strong enough to occasionally be the only voice. It rationalizes each decision and refuses responsibility for the consequences. “I am the most awesome person in the world. They are only jealous, because I am superior. I am amazing at everything and have nothing to prove to everyone. This should be common knowledge by now.”

I become above the rules, because I alone am the exception. I am invincible, and “The Voice” reminds me at every impulse. I explode when enraged and it’s the other person’s fault. “We were having a good time and they had to be a jerk. Give it to them!” I go on a rampage because people have personally wronged me.

At one point, in the worst of the fits with The Voice, I deemed the dialogue as having three participants. The Voice had split and fused with a portion of my moral, conscious mind. And in between, there I was, watching the battle rage almost totally outside of my physical being.

My physical form started containing a world of it’s own. Everything from the outside went through a perceptual filter. It often came out too distorted to make heads or tails of what the truth actually was. How can one possibly know the reality of their own life when it Is completely relative?

The noise in my brain was overwhelming, sometimes to the point of maddening. Always, even when The Voice didn’t have an observation or remark, there was the background static of a detuned radio. Occasionally, it would pick something up, but it was always like being on the edge of a broadcast zone. Outside sounds would echo, a biting remark, a provocative line in a song, etc. It made focusing nearly impossible.

Eventually, these dialogues passed through my lips, as if they could no longer be contained in such a small space. I attempted to channel it into my writing, but I would have spent my entire day with my head buried in a journal. Sometimes, I did. I would allow these dialogues to exist in tangible world if it meant my head would be a little less noisy.

I made sure it always occurred while I was alone. At least I had that much control. I was always on foot in those days. Many of these conversations came to life en route to and from work – a brisk mile walk both ways. And I’m kind to call them conversations. Often, they were confrontations and / or arguments.

Sometimes, I, or at least some version of me, would beg it to shut up. Leave me alone!!!

How can I go away when I AM you?!

When I started Lamictal, my mind was suddenly silent. No static, or echos. I could actually fully be present in the moment I lived in. And The Voice suddenly disappeared. Oddly enough, I was scared. All of those things had been present for so long, I felt as if my brain had been deadened.

The Voice couldn’t be stifled. When I found myself engaging in silent dialogues once more, I knew something was amiss. More medication, and it was silent once more.

Today, The Voice plagues me occasionally. Typically, it is during a depressive episode, as it began before. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen during a hypomanic episode. But, The Voice has a low volume at best.

I now have clarity if thought and quality of reason to beat The Voice at it’s own game. You are not real, and I am not listening.

My Belle is a Thimble

I am the placeholder in my own life.

Tragically, circling the bastard love child of Monopoly and The Game of Life.

I walked the line before and after my surgery. I shuffled and wobbled. Would I fly though the air or land on my head? Carefully inching forward, I teetered into a four. I edged on a six. But, I always am able to keep one foot steady on that five we all strive for.

I am in between. I have a difficult time believing this is what stable is. This is some kind of limbo. It’s an indefinite layover on the way to who-knows-where. Or, perhaps, Lulu has already skipped town and left Em behind. Maybe the shell of someone, something. My existence is nameless at the moment.

I decided something important throughout the last five months. Lulu is not the alter ego. Em is. Em, the woman, who walks through the streets of Pittsburgh, with a stone face. Em, the woman limited by her physical existence and what it represents. She is the one who dashes on half-truths and skims denial. She created Lulu to free herself from that cage.

Lulu is the Belle. Em is the Thimble. What’s the difference? Think hard.

Honestly, I don’t feel like either. In limbo, some kind of dimensional fold, a crease in the fabric of time. It’s almost as if someone put my real life on pause and created a film loop of a typical week in my life. As if there is such a thing.

I’m not that girl. Who am I? What does it all mean? Why…? What if…?” *STOMP* Been there, done that, named it after me, then got the T-shirt. Puh-leaze.

How can I possibly ramble for 500 more words and still keep your attention?

Pin the tail on the donkey. Who can tell me what psychological term fits the scenario? No sarcasm, I’d like some opinions. This might be my strangest mood ever.

I’m almost fluidic, but my emotions are dampened. My mind wants to be let off it’s leash. It wants to roam freely, but report nothing. I have plenty of kindle and not enough spark. I am easily swayed along shallow emotions, enthusiasm, hostility, endearment… It should be excitement, rage, and love. I don’t feel, I experience.

I could describe it as apathy, but it’s even less shallow than that. I am almost detached, but holding by frayed, semi-conductive thread. I care enough to want to go to work, care for my son, and engage in my everyday life. I am interested. But, I am incredibly deficient in motivation.

I am distracted by nothing. Literally. I cannot focus. I am not motivated enough to want to. It is taking every last ounce of discipline to –

What was I saying?

Scavenger hunt. Today, I was photographed to be a poster girl for Luden’s Cough Drops. It will be up on the website. Correctly identify me, and you win. Win what? I guess my extreme surprise at your attention to detail. Ruby is automatically disqualified to keep this fair.