Foreword: Trigger Warning! The following topics include very sensitive subjects. If you suspect that you may have a trigger contained within, please refrain from reading. Reader discretion advised.
Blink. Blink. Blinking away. The cursor sits at a standstill while I stare ahead, poised, awaiting the words to flow out of my mind, through my arms, and out of my fingertips. Nifty title for some heavy stuff. And though there is plenty of content, I have no clue how to provide an introduction. A part of me flinches, and I find my fingers stiffening in hesitation.
No, you’re going to do this today.
Awhile ago, The Voice emerged from the jumbled noise in my head and spoke to me again. The Voice was back at feeding my paranoia and preying on my fears. I cannot understand how this conflicting persona came to be, though I tried to make sense of it in a theoretical psychology essay entitled, “Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious”. I can only recall the emergence in my early teens, probably nearly coinciding with the onset of symptoms.
The Voice had never become external to myself. Until late April, mentioned in Lulu-Lunacy. Moments in time started happening where The Voice had taken on a complete audio hallucination. It had gone beyond paranoid delusion into a complete distortion of my reality. I would have believed that The Voice was a real external entity. It sounded as real as someone sitting next to me on the bus, whispering in my ear. The words were loud, crisp, and clear. But, there was no body to go with it.
I knew it wasn’t real, because I had been hearing it for as long as I could remember. However, I’ve always been able to identify it as a part of my conscious mind. This was detached. The words coming out were not words that came out of a deep, dark place. I had never considered going off of my medication. I had always regarded them as something that made me better. Instead, The Voice was telling me that the medication made me dumb, like cattle, so I could be led around by the neck.
That was my first experience with solid psychosis.
I started to believe that some kind of external source was putting The Voice in my head, and had been doing so for years. I just couldn’t hear it, because I was purposefully not listening. This reason The Voice was always one step ahead of me was because that external source had been monitoring me for years. I was chosen. And it was at this point that they wanted me to finally step up to take back my life from others who were trying to steal it for their own gain.
Yes, it was that real. Do I still think that? I have no idea.
Here’s the truth. I am not one solid person, as I began to mention in Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious. I have a post drafted about my various personas and how some differ greatly from others. Really, it’s more of a spectrum. It’s almost dissociative, but not quite. A part of me is still present as a spectator while other personas take the wheel. But, I am almost in a disembodied kind of state. Sometimes, it feels like I am in a third person kind of state completely outside of myself. Other times, I don’t feel like I am present at all, and clearly I wasn’t. Chunks of time go missing and events get hazy.
Sometimes I feel like I am struggling for control of my own consciousness.
Then, there are the pararealities. I describe them in many of my more lucid, vague sounding posts. Most of the time, I feel like I am a time traveler. Except, I am not really akin to Doctor Who or Marty McFly or other time travelers. I don’t really go from this time period to other time periods. I live in pararealities. These pararealities run alongside and often overlap the linear continuum most people reside in. Here’s a visual representation of reality and pararealities:
To put it in words, I do not experience life and time in a linear way, though I do experience it in the same direction as others. Time speeds up and slows down. Some moments last forever, and sometimes days go by with a blink.
The parareality is a reality that is similar to our own, but doesn’t quite operate in the same way. It’s like living life a millisecond off of everyone else, either faster or slower. Sometimes, the parareality is a little more detached, like in the farther regions of the red and blue zones. But, they are adjacent realities overlapping in areas. More than two pararealities cannot be experienced at once, and although a spectrum may exist, it’s not like a theory of parallel dimensions where there could be dozens totally different from one another. They are much the same, but it’s often like putting a different lens on a pair of goggles.
I realize that what I am saying is complete insanity. It’s the realization alone that prompted me to stop writing and start dodging. Silence fell over me, because nothing I was thinking or feeling really made any sense when propped up against facts. And then The Voice says, “Or maybe it does.”
It’s a rabbit hole situation. I am Neo, and I’m opting for the red pill, though I am not entirely sure whether it is going to lead me to the real reality, or deeper into the delusions and hallucinations. It just feels like I’ve been taking the blue pills too long. Everything feels so forced. Life shouldn’t be forced, right?
Now, we get to the sick parts.
I have been keeping secrets. Apparently, it is what I do the best of all. I am so skilled at illusion that I can deceive myself without even knowing it to begin with.
Enough with the pomp and circumstance. Get on with it.
I am still taking my medication, though I do not want to. I don’t want to drink alcohol anymore, not because alcohol is bad for me and it makes me feel bad. (It is and it does). Alcohol is distorting a reality that my mind is already challenging as being real. That’s all good right?
No, I have ulterior motives.
I am continuing to take my medication and to stop drinking alcohol for a very disturbing reason. These are all efforts to continue to sustain an obvious mania that has been going on for – since at least late March, but it was a component of a mixed episode at that point. It didn’t become clear mania until late May.
I am also doing these things to keep my weight down. Did you know that Wellbutrin has been known to exacerbate symptoms of eating disorders?
Wait, Lulu. You don’t have an eating disorder.
It’s probably pretty clear to those that have ED. The restrictive diet, the compulsive exercise, talk of negative body image. It’s never been something I wanted to admit. First, I didn’t think that it was a problem. It’s not, not physically anyway. Second, even if it was a problem, I didn’t want anyone to catch on to the behavior. First, because I so fear obesity. I didn’t want anyone to stop me. And second, because I didn’t want anyone to look down on me anymore than they already do. It’s bad enough that I hate me most of the time. (Unless, I’m manic when I love me).
I binge sometimes when I’m sad. I purge it when I’m disgusted. I purge when I’m nervous. I purge when I feel self-destructive. I purge when the scale is giving me an unacceptable number. I restrict when I’m very sad and self-loathing. I run to run away from all of this, to run away from myself. I run to see that number plunge. I restrict to spite myself. I restrict to self-destruct.
I have an eating disorder(s).
Finally, I am still in the grips of self-injury.
I am not proud. I am not showing off. I am not crying out for help, because at this point, I don’t even think I really want help. I am being honest, because my dishonesty was killing me. I’m supposed to be discussing mental health topics. And here we are. The very start of everything. Honesty in the face of the monster.
I have always felt like I had a “base mood”, which is the state I’m in. Depressive, hypomanic, stable. I noticed that there was kind of an “atmospheric mood”, which was a wispy, temporary mood state that would come through. I’ve always characterized this as weather.
This emotional weather is just about as predictable as meteorological weather. Forecasts can go out based on current information and predictable outcomes. But, things can change quickly, and suddenly, storms crop up. Unfortunately, they don’t make an emotional barometer. There are no external instruments to sound an alarm on the emotional accuweather forecast.
I considered the weather to be just regular “moods”. I know one thing that is difficult for all people who have bipolar disorder is to draw the line between typical and symptomatic. It becomes a nearly impossible task when a person is actually symptomatic. That’s why it’s considered a disorder.
Over the last three years, I’ve become pretty familiar with episodic behavior. I cannot always identify it straight away. But, eventually, I tease it out. What I encountered in January was genuine symptoms, starting with an ultradian cycle I wasn’t even aware of until I reviewed my logs.
What I started to experience toward the end of that depressive episode was uncharacteristic. I hadn’t experienced those types of symptoms in some time. It didn’t look as if it was a coincidence that my mood chart started jumping at the same time my marriage got thrown on the rocks. And now, two months later, I’ve seem to hit some semblance of a period of stability coinciding with the start of my husband’s admissions and treatment.
He broke the silence. Now, I’m breaking it too.
Criteria 1: Fear of abandonment:
My fear of abandonment isn’t typically characterized, because of the keen awareness of the consequences. My fear is very real. The frantic efforts are a little unusual. It’s not outwardly frantic, because I know that behavior actually drives people away. Instead, I take huge strides to make myself more appealing. That feeds into the destabilization of self-image.
There’s a hidden switch, though. At some point, when I’m overloaded with anxiety, I shut down. I will shut down on a person, and it will be over. It will be difficult for me to feel anything for them until they have been out of my life for awhile, or they take a big leap of faith to me.
This disrupts my ability to make friends. I keep everyone at a distance, because I know that I will drive them away. I know that I am intense and strange. And I know that most people are passing ships in my life.
Criteria 2: Unstable Relationships and intense relationships:
I’ve been in a serious relationship with two different psychopaths, one diagnosed (Avi, the abusive one), and I’m now in a marriage with a man with MI. I always swore that these men found me. I think it was a little bit of both.
But, the catch about my marriage is however intense it is, it is stable. Go outside my romantic relationships. Looking at the intense dysfunction between my parents and me tells the tale.
Those people hurt me. And yet, I still love them. I hate them for everything, but I still vacillate between pandering for their affections and shutting them out. I know that they had their hand in this. And still, I blame it exclusively on myself.
Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance:
I used to dye my hair everytime I had a serious mood shift. When my first ex and I broke up, it shattered my whole world. And I said “F*ck the world.” At that point, I let go of everything. It was at that point in time that I started partying my life away.
That wasn’t me. I was a control freak. I always wanted control of my reality. I wanted control of the direction of my life and was always goal oriented.
My ex, Avi, was the worst agitation. I let him tell me who I was, what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and how I should live my life. I let him victimize me, because he told me I was a victim.
C.S. helped me find my way back to me. The me that I liked and was used to. The me that read, wrote, played music, and enjoyed artistic expression, not mindless video games. He helped me find my way back to goal-orientation and showed me that he could love me. That was the only reason I could even be me. Because that’s what he loved.
Criteria 4: Impulsivity:
After I had experienced sexual assault for the first time, I had come to the conclusion that I was a slut. So, I started to act like a slut by having sex with any man who looked at me sideways. I wanted to convince myself that I was at least good for something.
I have alcoholism. It is mostly controlled now. That’s no secret.
Now, here’s the big secret. I likely have an eating disorder. In times of serious distress, I deny myself food. I don’t deserve to eat. I’m a fatass. No one loves a fatass.
I have pindged and purged. It’s not often. In times of depression and self-depreciating behavior, I will binge to feel good. And then I’ll purge, because I worry about my weight. But worse than that. I’ll purge, because getting rid of that overstuffed feeling feels good. There is no better feeling than an empty belly.
I would excessively spend. But, you can’t spend without money in the bank. As a teen, I used to shoplift. And I got caught and got in the worst trouble of my life with my parents. I get the impulse now and again, but the fear and embarrassment is enough to keep me from doing it.
Criteria 5: Recurrent Suicidal / Self-Injurious Behavior:
Admittedly, as a teen, I was more satisfied with cutting with a steak knife than a razor. A razor was too easy, and the cuts were always thin, sleek, and healed without incident. The serrated knife left jagged cuts that never healed right.
I used to pick at the scabs. I only recently started scraping them with a luffa.
I take scalding showers for two reasons. First, there is the whole germ part. But, secondly, sensitive skin burns easily. Scrub it with a luffa, and it flakes and peels. It hurts so nicely, I can’t think about anything else.
I don’t ever threaten. I warn. Because I know certain stressors will set it off.
I used to attempt suicide. I have probably a dozen serious attempts under my belt. I probably have about a dozen more half-assed attempts where I hoped I’d die of alcohol poisoning. Or, if I let an infection go long enough, I’d cause organ failure. (I almost did that with my kidneys that started as a UTI).
I don’t anymore. It’s pointless. I have never come close to succeeding. And I’m convinced that there is a reason for that. Besides, I’m not so cruel as to leave my husband and son like that. Not now. My son is old enough to remember me. My husband might actually go down with me, although he’s never indicated as much.
Criteria 6: Affective Instability
Rage. I’m almost always irritable. I’ve always thought that irritability and reactivity were hallmarks of bipolar disorder. I was wrong.
I have bouts of intense anxiety. Especially when I feel like I’m not in control. It is expressed in OCD-like symptoms when it goes critical. I start hoarding. Or purging items. I check constantly. I do mental checks. I fear contamination.
Dysphoric moods. It’s always been suicidal ideation in the past. It’s only recently that I’ve had homicidal ideation, and it’s enough to scare me. But, I don’t imagine harming loved ones. No, I imagine harming people who are a perceived threat to my family and me.
That emotional weather, that was affective instability. When it produces serious storms, it becomes separate from bipolar disorder completely. Layered moods.
Criteria 7: Chronic Feelings of Emptiness:
Curiously, I don’t have the typical definition of this. Most of the time, I feel too full. I’m full of emotion, turmoil, life. I’m bursting at the seams.
But, if you examine the criteria a little closer, it can be characterized by never feeling good enough. I’m bad. I have never achieved anything noteworthy. No one really loves me. I feel as if I am worthless, rather than empty.
Criteria 8: Inappropriate Anger / Difficulty Controlling Anger
Sometimes, yes. I have a temper. I try to be careful at expressing this anger. It’s usually restricted to times when I am alone. I scream. I break things.
I don’t want to scare my family. I don’t want the shame and guilt I would suffer from such impulsive, inappropriate behavior. I don’t want anyone to leave me, because they fear me. I try so hard to practice restraint. I’m not always very successful.
Criteria 9: Transient, Stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions, or severe dissociation symptoms
This was the key to finally prove the potential for BPD to me. I’ve always had delusions. I’ve always had the berating voice. But, my paranoia has always turned out to be justified in the end.
When C.S. and I were very rocky, I was convinced that a man, who I would never otherwise suspect, was cheating on me. The voice separated into a an auditory hallucination, free of any rational mind, feeding me horrible things. I had my first real break from reality.
But, it was in fits that never lasted longer than a few hours to maybe a few days. And it could be broken by immediate distraction.
I’m nowhere near as volatile as I used to be. Medication has tamed my symptoms, and nearly domesticated me. There are a lot of behaviors that I don’t engage in anymore.
But, I am a far cry from ridding myself of all of them. And if I keep going on this course of alienating people, disabling my supports, and self-sabatoging, I’m going to end up in a very bad place.
So, I made an impulsive move yesterday morning. Finally, a good one. I called and made an appointment to start meeting with a qualified professional with an objective eye. I could’ve gotten in today, but my hours are restricted right now due to work.
So, next Thursday. In one week, I will take my first baby steps back into the world of therapy. Honestly, I don’t have high hopes. Thankfully, I have a number of therapists to choose from. And if it doesn’t work out, at least I gave it a try.
I want to keep trying and not get discouraged. But, I’m so picky about my professionals. I know there has to be some hope for recovery.
I have always thought of myself as a pretty open book. I don’t flat out lie. If I am asked a question, I will always try to answer it honestly and to the best of my ability. Any misinformation is either from a miscommunication or an accidental omission.
I have been having symptoms far enough outside of the scope of BP II that it made me start challenging my diagnosis.
A diagnosis is a label. A label is just a label, and it shouldn’t make much of a difference, right? The point is that I’m gulping down pills of every color that should apply to every disorder under the sun.
At first, I didn’t want to question it, and I prayed that the extreme symptoms would subside. I had hoped they were circumstantial and as soon as the situation was resolved, the symptoms would resolve. Somehow, I forgot a key element of disorder. It doesn’t resolve when a situation resolves. That’s why it’s termed “disorder” instead of “moodiness”.
C.S’s appointment came and went without change. No relief came for either of us. In fact, we were both more distraught than ever with the news that we would be waiting another five weeks until there was a definitive diagnosis. And even then, that’s just the start a treatment. It could be years before things start to turn around.
In the meantime, I’ve found myself in agony, like a person huddled in a cold cave, waiting out the storm. I have always been in the habit of putting others first, because they rely on me in times of need. I know what it’s like to have the rug pulled out from under me when I’m in the most desperate of need. I’d never leave a person near and dear to me to fend for themselves. Especially when they have explicitly asked for my help.
Things get better. Things get worse. It is rollercoaster of daily twists and turns, ups and downs. And I couldn’t understand why my mood and behavior were so unstable. The medication works when I’m not particularly sensitive to external stressors. The inner turmoil doesn’t exist without it. But once a person has stirred the pot, it puts things in motion.
I started my excavation. I started reading old journals, some as far back as twelve years ago. Certain recurring symptoms emerged, and these were exactly the ones plaguing me now. The ones I find exist somewhere outside of BP II.
I examined my mood chart that I began in the tail end of my most recent depressive episode. Consistently low scores. And then, suddenly, the points were very high one day, and very low the next. I am careful to chart at the same time each day, so that the scores can be considered consistent.
When I noticed the trend as it was happening, I termed it “dysphoric hypomania”. The lows weren’t sadness, it was rage and anxiety. That was, until it went beyond the definition of “hypomania”.
Energetic despair. That’s the only way I can describe it in retrospect. I started running to burn off some energy, anxiety, and emotion. I clung so hard to anger, because I couldn’t cry. And when I did cry, it was in unpredictable bouts. I would start, and everything would come flooding out.
Then, there were the fits of rage. I would find myself beyond irritable – extremely agitated is closer to the term. I became more obsessive than usual. Things had to be a certain way. My anxiety was so far through the roof that I found myself trembling at times. Chunks of memory started to fall away, and I began frequently misplacing important items. It was a recipe for recurring explosions and tantrums.
Then, I began terming what I was seeing as a “mixed episode”. Impossible for BP II, right? So, BP I? It shouldn’t matter.
The question plagued me again. Why has my medicine afforded me shorter episodes and longer stability if I’m “getting worse”? Why all of a sudden?
It didn’t add up. Obsessions and compulsions, as they were happening, were not within the criteria for anything on the BP spectrum. I started having full-blown psychotic episodes in short bursts. But, I still didn’t quite meet the criteria for a full blown “manic” episode, required in a mixed state.
As things became rockier between C.S. and I, old, very painful memories started emerging. I’d feel the pang of the emotional reaction to a situation that was “familiar”, and then I’d have the flashback. But, the flash wasn’t always strong enough for me to pin it down completely. For a millisecond, I was in that moment in my past. Not always long enough to identify it.
But, they were plaguing me at times unprovoked. Times that I allowed my mind to wander. Awful feelings would come out of acts that hardly pinged me in the past. But then again, I had been drunk and numb.
That’s not BP anything. Not even close.
I had been wanting so desperately to solve this on my own. There are so many things I can’t imagine speaking out loud to anyone. Even harboring the flicker of the memory and the attached emotion is hard enough.
I took some inventories online. I started to put labels on things.
OCD – for the obsessions, the thoughts that kept recurring, the compulsive need to check, wash, count, have certain items on my person, etc.
PTSD – for all of the flickers and flashes of things in that dark closet. For all of the things rattling the inside of the Pandora’s box that has been dormant for so long. For all of the hurt, neglect, and abuse I had never spoken a word to any professional about.
BP I – to cover the “mixed” behavior and paranoid delusions, and auditory hallucinations.
Then, there was a label for the jar that shocked me.
Borderline Personality Disorder???? What?
Most of my research in the past has been centered around affective disorders, theories surrounding the causation of dysfunction, and the cognition / behaviors that sustain it. I am broadening my horizons to include many mental health disorders and developmental disorder, particularly autism.
I have had a theory for awhile that hinged almost completely on curious connections I’ve made between bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder. Doctors ruminated on the potential for my father and bipolar disorder. By the way my parents describe his mother, it didn’t seem surprising.
We’ve always assumed that my “affective disorder” (assumed Major Depressive Disorder in my teens) was a result of my father. Assumptions are changing around parents house in light of serious mental health symptoms popping up on my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother has “dementia”, politely termed to describe her psychosis. And my aunt who cares for her has developed paranoid delusions. She has isolated herself, because she is sure that the family is “against” her and consorting with one another behind her back.
These things don’t come out of nowhere. They become present after certain events happen, whether they are biochemical or a result of external stressors.
So, why is it that two parents with suspected “affective” disorders bear one child with moderately severe classical autism and another with bipolar disorder? Another generation passes. Two parents, one with an affective disorder and another with a mental health disorder, both with psychotic features, bear a child with mild Autism Spectrum Disorder : Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified?
I’m not at liberty to speak in detail about my husband’s disorder. I have determined that it is up to him; it is his own business, and it is best for his mental health to know that I am only vaguely referring to it as a “disorder”. I will leave it at that.
We have actually been speaking now, sometimes at great length concerning symptoms, dysfunction, and identifying with one another. Many of these symptoms seem to revolve around sensory disturbances. For me, I’ve gone to great length to describe times of sensory overload caused by a removal of a “sensory filter”. It’s a chicken and the egg conundrum. Does the emotional disturbance make me more susceptible to the sensory integration and processing dysfunction or vice versa?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal of literature on sensory integration dysfunction and mental health disorders. However, there is a wealth of it, as it is considered a component of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
It is thought that the main feature, besides pervasive behaviors, is sensory integration dysfunction / disorder. It is observed that children with ASD fall into categories of sensory “seekers” or “avoiders”. Seekers are thought to have dampeners on sensory imput. Avoiders are opposite and have a sensory overload. But, in most cases, there is usually a combination of the two. Some seeking and some avoidance. Unfortunately, avoidance is considered the most recognized behavior, as it is considered the most dysfunctional.
I can only speak for me. In episodes of hypomania, I become a seeker. One would think there should be an avoidance, but in hypomania, I cannot get enough. My brain eats it at hyperspeed and processes it just as fast.
However, mania is a different story. Often, sensory stimuli overloads an overly active mind. It makes manic symptoms worse. Sometimes, the racing thoughts become fragmented and my thinking becomes disordered. My speech becomes disrupted and incoherent, because the intergation of external stimuli cannot be effectively integrated. And an overload occurs.
In psychotic states, the sensory stimuli becomes confused and distorted. Places and people may become foreign and strange. Hallucinations can occur, distorting sensory stimuli even further. And delusions are fed by misinterpreted stimuli.
Mixed states are the worst. As everyone knows, a mixed state is probably the most unstable a person with bipolar disorder can get. Sensory stimuli is integrated, but poorly. The cognitive associations are often misinterpreted and can spark even worse symptoms.
A sensory overload is common in this state. The internal struggle is enough to shy away from anything stimulating, because of the cognitive inability to process it properly.
I’m still working on interpreting mixed states, the dysfunction, and how I experience it. The problem I face is that many new symptoms I did not expect surfaced at the same time.
Moving to depressive states. I find that I am often very easily overstimulated, though my mental state is dulled. My mind suffers a certain retardation of congitive and physical function. The problem the occurs is the foggy state makes the processing of stimuli difficult. It deepens emotional distress when presented with too much. I simply do not have the processing speed.
So, there are several functions that cause the dysfunction. There are a few facts that remain. I am an auditory avoider when I am unable to process external stimuli due to aggitated or foggy states. I am a tactile seeker in these states, with the explicit exception of psychosis. In (hypo)manic states, I am a motion seeker, as it calms. In depressive states, I am a motion avoider, but a visual seeker. Contrastingly, I am a visual avoider in (hypo)manic and psychotic states.
I could go on from there, but I won’t. I am more inclined to seek input from others. Examine your behaviors of seeking and avoidance. What do you find?
First, and foremost, I wanted to let all of my wonderful blogging friends know that I am alright. The gaps between posts keep getting larger, and I worry that others are worrying. I will make you a promise now that if something serious happens and there is a critical situation, I will not hesitate to inform everyone.
There are a lot of things that are happening in my life right now. Many personal matters need attending to. I’m probably getting laid off in three weeks, although my boss doesn’t seem like she wants to drop that bomb on me. Personally, I find that incredibly irresponsible. I could have been looking for other work. Well, in any usual situation.
Still, it creates a serious blow to my self-esteem at a time when it is not well received. I know everyone has been passed over for a job and has suffered layoffs before. It’s really unpleasant, to say the least about it. Then, there’s entire summer, twelve weeks ahead of me, where I have to sit on my hands and wonder if I’m getting recalled for the school year. Something tells me that I’m not.
There are an increased number of incidents that have been happening on my watch. I see my faults and flaws as a teacher, though I have little help on my end establishing my role and developing my skills. I feel as if I am not well accepted or even really respected at my job. I feel undervalued and underutilized. Each project I have suggested has been shot down. And, each time I volunteer for something, I am assured that my assistance is not needed.
I realize this could be the ever present paranoia that has been occurring where I get this idea that I am being persecuted in my life (including at my job). This includes ideas what someone / something is out to get me. Or, it could be the subconscious vibes I get from others. My immediate employees that are on the outer circle of the program seem to be unaware.
However, those on the internal circle are treating me as if I am a ghost. They mumble a sort of hello as I walk by, hardly acknowledging my presence. No one is keen on engaging me in conversation. And those that are my higher-ups have taken to lambasting me at every chance they get for things that aren’t entirely my doing.
I’ve always kept Xanax on my person at all times, in case I encounter a situation that flares the anxiety. Typically, this is an unexpectedly crowded area. Lately, Xanax has become part of my diet. I can’t fathom the idea of going back there. And I tick the days off of my calendar. Twenty-two left before I am unemployed. Twenty-two left before leaving my house becomes optional.
(I’m exhausted this morning and not very inspired. Please forgive the bland post.)
I had told my husband at one point, “I feel as if there are many things that have gone neglected in my personal life, especially my home life that other things are interfering with. Maybe it’s for the best.” I believe that there is a rhyme and a reason to everything, whether it is God or just the pattern of the universe. Choose whichever suits you.
My husband agreed. I’ve mentioned that he needs tended to more now than ever. I’m not the only one who thinks so. His best friend has been sending check-in messages, noting that C.S. “hasn’t been himself for awhile.” I am very focused on keeping my resolve so that I can be a part of his treatment. It’s difficult. He has always been my rock, the stable touchstone that I could rely on to keep me in check. Now, it seems, the tables have turned.
Six more days until the appointment. I’m checking the days off of my calendar, holding onto the wild ride as hard as I can to get us there.
Then, there is the matter of my son. Though he has made significant gains without therapy in the last six months, he still requires it. He still remains behind his peer group in terms of speaking and social interaction. And because of everything that has happened with his parents in the last six months, I have been unable to navigate the labyrinth of services.
That is something that takes a lot of time. I recall from the first time we had to go through this. There were a lot of evaluations in places that were at least a half an hour’s drive from here. Even the ones in home took an hour at the least. There were meetings with counselors, social workers, specialists, and all manner of people. It took a great deal of time, effort, focus, and all of the things I’m sorely lacking in my position right now.
My lack of initiative makes me feel like a bad parent. It makes me feel as if I’ve robbed him of crucial developmental time. My self-absorption in my illness makes me feel as if I have precipitated and then ignored serious signs and symptoms in my husband. I find that I am destabilizing to the point where I don’t want to return to work. And the paranoia and the anxiety it produces when I think of all of this are too much to handle.
I’ve determined that I need a break. Please, don’t take this as I am self-isolating. I have been feeling this way for months now, starting in my depressive state. I wasn’t sure if it was the trickery of depression, or if it was a genuine need to crawl inside my shell for solace. My emotional reserves are tapped, and I’m really running on empty. My support system is crumbling, and I feel like I can’t run my life anymore.
I have even made the consideration to file for disability. Making the admission that I might not be of sound mind enough to work with any stability is very difficult for me. It’s difficult to think that I am having such a hard time managing my personal life. I do understand that things are unusual in the way of stress and function (or lack thereof). However, I seem to think that others who aren’t quite as affected may stand a better chance against life’s little upheavals.
For myself, to collect my own emotional fortitude, and to prioritize what little there is left to go around, I must limit my writing. This is so that I may stabilize my personal life, and have reflections that may be useful to those in my immediate vicinity. I would like to focus primarily on my personal journal at the moment, in order to keep a solid documentation of what is going on, free of any flare or censorship (yes, sadly, there is a little that happens here).
I adore each and every one of you. I am always available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org If you’d like to touch base with me, or just need to talk about something, I am always available and always willing.
Just for now. This is not a farewell.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I excused myself to “put Trent down for a nap”. And I curled up in the bathroom, blanket wrapped tightly around me. A safe cocoon. A straight jacket.
The intrusive thoughts came in the silence. At first, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the noise. Then, one came out very plainly, rolling as a hardly audiable murmur from my lips.
“Why?” the sobs welled in my throat as the tears poured down my face. I smalled the sobs for as long as I could.
“I am so alone,” I whispered. My face contorted. My jaw tightened as my top teeth extended out. An enormous sob was lodged in my throat. With all of the power of will that remained, I silenced it.
“He doesn’t love you. If he loved you, he would have tried.”
“Your marriage has failed.”
The voices barraged me relentlessly with intrusive thought that had no real evidence. But the absence, the distance, was enough for me to formulate theories.
I was no longer slow dancing in the burning room. I sat at the piano, alone, playing out the most sour of melodies. This had been evacuated a long time ago. I took in a lungful of dark, black smoke, and now I was choking on it.
“You should runaway. Leave your phone and just hide. It doesnt matter that it’s 30F and raining. Leave this place.”
“I won’t give up my son.”
“Break shit. Starting with dishes and glasses.”
“And then take more of a shit storm than I can handle.”
“Take handfuls of pills to make you numb.”
The crying ceased, and besides the stirring, turning wheel in my head, I was tapped out.
Desperate, as people get before they die in a tragedy, I slinked back up the stairs and into the room. The house was silent, heavy with slumber. I reached into the back of the drawer. I took a vicodin, the drug that almost killed me the last time. I didn’t care. Come what may.
After I let the drugs settle in, I started the note. i explained the fundamental problems. No affection, save for the verbal foreplay. Disinterest and dismissal. Isolation and alienation. A communication block. Walking on eggshells to keep him happy and sane. Oppressive states of living, impossible expectations. All of the things I could never say to his face.
And that was only an overview.
I decided to move forward with my impulse to leave. I planned on leaving my phone and hiding away at the trestle. Alone. A place of refuge where no one would think to look. Save for Chris, who would be unlikely to consider it.
I went into the bathroom donning only a bathrobe. It was warm. I discovered a boxcutter I had hidden nearly a year ago. the temptation was irresistible. It was the only way to make these thoughts go away. To make it all disappear and usher in the empty mind born only from numbess.
To my dismay, it was dull. I had to tear at the flesh on my still shishy hip. Five lines. One for each year we have been together. I could have kept going. I stared at the bleeding cuts, satisfied with the pain and the amount of blood I had drawn.
And I looked up into the mirror at the red nosed, disheveled girl with the wild look in her eyes. Something primal existed there. That girl wasn’t me. I was staring at a loathsome stranger.
I got up, ready to sear my skin with the hottest water I could withstand. I was ready to shave every inch of my body. I scrapped and scratched away the flesh staining me. I wanted to wash this day away.
It didn’t end there. I returned to the upstairs to find him awake. I questioned, “Have you read my note?”
“No, I’ll read it later.”
“You really should consider reading it now.”
Another excuse, “I have to make dinner,” while he continued to surf Facebook.
“It’s really important,” I pressed.
“Not right now,” he protested.
I was pushing now, “Then when?”
“I don’t know. Later,” he dismissed some more.
“A later that will never come.” I thought of all of the unread emails I had sent that went straight to archive. Not even remotely close to a priority.
“Because I don’t want to ruin my Sunday. The only time I have to relax before I have to go back to working 50 hours a week!”
In my mind, I said, “Which you *CHOOSE* to do.”
“Fine. If you do not care enough about our marriage enough to take time to read this, then I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. it can’t go on like this.”
“If you want me to read this so fucking badly, then I will.”
“No, just X it out. I’m done.” I meant it. I was finished with this marriage.
He did read it, mocking some parts of it, as I expected. I knew it wouldn’t be well received. If I spoke these words aloud, I’d suffer more dismissal and rationalizations. I’d suffer more pain through his outrage, pointing out my selfishness, neediness, clinginess, and what he considered to be my inability to see beyond myself.
We fought some more downstairs. Not tearing out throats this time. But in a heated argument. He quoted, “regarded coldy like a business associate”.
“Yes. Not even as basic as friendship. I am not a part of your personal life. I am never let in. In fact, I am pushed away, even physically.”
“I was sick, you know, after drinking more than half a bottle of tequila.”
“You’re always sick. Headache, stomach ache, body ache, anything that can hurt does.”
Sarcastically, he said, “What am I supposed to do. Go to the doctor and say, ‘My wife is pissed that I have pains’?”
“Yes, something. No more excuses. I will not except them.”
“How is it that one of us is perfectly happy? i am completely content.”
“Because the other person bends over backwards to make the other one is happy! I walk on eggshells to take your feelings into consideration and not upset you. It’s suffocating!”
He paused to think. Apparently, I had touched on something.
I know he’s going through something. But, this is no excuse. I don’t deserve this isolation. I do everything to satisfy. I don’t ask for anything out of the question.
I just want to be shown love. Satisfaction. I want him to want me. All of me. To recognize my efforts. To be delighted by my displays. To feel warm.
We reconciled. But, it’s Monday. Back to business as usual. No emails, texts. I didnt want to talk to him after work. I wanted him to suffer. To question if I was alright.
I thought it could be made up. I’m sure another disappointing date is upon us. He did take the time to set something up, likely out of guilt that he didn’t in advance. I wanted to spend some time on the sofa. And I was asked to sit on the floor in proximity to the sofa he laid on.
Daggers. I expected it. I wasn’t devestated. I was despondent. i warned him I was close to shutting down, just a day earlier. When I shut down, it’s over. i’ve given up. It would only be a matter of time before someone calls it quits.
Once a person is out, they are out. A wall will go up, impenetrable. And i will spend my time doing what I want, without any regard for his wants or needs. he violated mine. I may end up done with all of that.
Two more days. I’ll give him by the end of Thursday, the actual day of our wedding anniversary. After that, he’s on his own.
No more threats. Action.
I cannot suffer many more disappointments and rejections.
Even with the ever shifting moods of bipolar disorder, there remains two constants. Irritability and reactivity.
Countless times, I have relayed that to others. The potential for emotional reactions is a constant. These are the two trumpeters that herald an oncoming episode. Consider it a precursor to the earliest of symptoms on either side of the mood spectrum.
The Rage, as Clown on Fire termed it in his post On Mental Health: Rage, can be seen across the board as a nearly translucent thread that tethers the symptoms of this disorder together. From mania to depression, these two symptoms are ever present. They are the flint and tinder that spark the fire to fuel these episodes.
I am no saint.
The last few posts have been a testament of my failings to maintain my own grace and good intentions. It is a demonstration of how one simple provocation can cascade into a series of outrageous and vindictive actions. I can justify it all I want. “… had it coming.” “… should have known better.” But, the simple fact is that the provocation may have had good intentions with terrible wording, and I was in no place to be receptive to it.
Who becomes the victim to The Rage? Is it shared amongst those who were foolhardy enough to stand in my warpath? Or is it, in actuality, me who suffers? There is no consensus. Any opinions would be just that, opinions. The Rage is entirely subjective between victimizer and victimee, and even those who stand by the wayside to witness it. To determine who takes what role is like splitting hairs. It is my stance that we are one in the same when it comes to vindication and the crusade for justice.
With exception of course.
The Rage is something for me that is not confined to hypomania, as expected. Anger is an emotion that can perpetuate itself, once set into motion.
In hypomania, it is obvious how anger comes to surface. Dysphoric hypomania is notorious for unearthing the deadliest of firestorms. I find myself going on a warpath, slaying everyone who I determine has wronged me. I feel justified, without rationalization, and perhaps even complete conscious awareness, to execute the worst of all of my behaviors. In hypomania, if you’re not with me, you are against me. Sometimes, it turns to paranoia, where I am in the mindset that people are against me. But mostly, it is a matter of drawing lines.
The Rage exists in depression. It is something that stems from the original, seemingly benign irritability. However, it has a different function. Many people have cited that the opposite of love is hate. That is certainly not true. The opposite of any emotion is apathy. But, in this sense, anger is a life preserver that keeps me from slipping under the surface.
Have you ever found yourself suddenly driven by vengeance, resentment, or bitterness?
The Rage stands as a driving force when the world around me is grinding to a near halt. It becomes the glass cannon. As long as it can keep the muzzle aimed away from myself, I can keep from sinking. However, it is glass, and it cannot remain as it is forever.
Once the cannon turns on me, as it eventually does, there is no way to escape the constant barrage of blows it can dole out at me. I made the cannon. This glass cannon knows all of my secrets, and is well equipped to take me down and out, for good. I become hoisted by my own petard, a victim of myself and the very mechanisms I’ve created to ensure my own safety.
When everything lay in ruins, when the episode has subsided and the smoke has cleared, I am the only one remaining to survey the damages. I have no blame, no rationalizations. It was me, and my gun.
Believe me, I am far from trigger happy. Luckily, I fear the consequences of my actions more than am I compelled to carry out certain atrocities and revenge. And I am not typically compelled to carry out dire actions.
But, there are moments where I am beyond my own control. I often crusade in the name of justice, and often compelled to make an example out of someone. The same as public executions. Just like in the days of old when a faction would put the severed heads of enemies on spikes outside of a fortress. It stands as a warning. Do not cross this line. Or else.
That is when the worst of these impulses are carried out.
Otherwise, it is reactionary anger. I am curt. I am passive-aggressive. If someone is too close, I will self-sabotage by driving them out. For their protection, or my own? Maybe both.
But at the end of the day, when I look in that bathroom mirror, there is no one to answer to but myself.
Each time I go to write, I get a blank. Is it a blank, because I feel as if I don’t have anything important to say. Or is it a blank, because if I make a certain statement, then it is real. It becomes something tangible in this world, not only for me, but for others, and I will eventually have to come nose to nose with it.
I’ve grappled with this before. Making certain admissions. I do not lie as much as I turn a blind eye. I rationalize. I attempt to will it out of existence. But, it is just not that easy.
Simply – I am in the midst of a depressive episode.
Why was that so hard?
There is a certain hesitation for me to use the word depression. It is not a word that I use loosely; others use it as a part of their regular vernacular to describe sadness. Depression is not sadness. Depression has a depth beyond that of sadness, loneliness, isolation, self-loathing, or any other word. No amount of words arranged in any way can accurately depict depression, and do it any kind of justice.
The hesitation to term it as depression stems from the idea that, if it doesn’t feel like the worst I’ve ever felt, then it’s not depression. I have faced more gruesome depressions than this one. With the admission comes a certain fear. If I am to term it as a depressive episode, then it really will be such, in the worst sense of that word. It could worsen the episode itself by acknowledging it.
I have found it so interesting that Bipolar Disorder has this grandiose spectrum to encompass so many different types and symptoms. However, they are exclusive to mania. Depression is just depression, and it by itself is MDD, or unipolar depression. Except, now psychologists are starting to recognize symptoms that are related to atypical depression. However, by reading through these symptoms, it seems as if it may be exclusive to unipolar depression.
How much research has been done to distinguish unipolar depression from bipolar depression? So far, the only thing that separates the two is the existence of hypomania / mania. In theory, there wouldn’t be a difference. I get the feeling that there is, and it is significant enough to have a separation between the two.
So far, the mood spectrum looks like this:
But, I really think that’s being too broad about it. I fall smack dab in the middle of Bipolar II, no full on psychosis equals no full on mania, even if I have delusions. I wouldn’t even suspect that I have full on mania, anyway. Even with delusional thinking, I can honestly say that there has never been a time where I have been hypomanic where I lost touch with reality.
People with mood disorders are familiar with the depressive symptoms. But, I’ll sum them up:
Sadness, anxiety, irritability, Loss of energy, Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness, Loss of interest or enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable, Difficulty concentrating, Uncontrollable crying, Difficulty making decisions, Increased need for sleep, Insomnia, Change in appetite causing weight loss or gain, Suicidal ideation, and / or Attempting suicide.
Symptoms of atypical depression:
Increased appetite, Unintentional weight gain. Increased desire to sleep. Heavy, leaden feeling in the arms and legs, Sensitivity to rejection or criticism that interferes with your social life or job, Relationship conflicts. Trouble maintaining long-lasting relationships, Fear of rejection that leads to avoiding relationships, Having depression that temporarily lifts with good news or positive events but returns later
These are all familiar. I’ve bolded the ones that I’m experiencing at the moment. It seems that I’m bordering on the more atypical part of depression. This is the kind of depression that no one really tells you about.
I had mentioned my diagnosis of Bipolar II, resulting from non-psychotic “manias” clinically termed “hypomania”. Fair enough. Let me put a question out there. Has anyone ever experienced a psychotic depressive episode?
I have. And I have mentioned this to doctors on several occasions. I will have breaks with reality when I am depressed. I have severe delusions, almost completely the opposite of delusions of grandeur. I will have severe paranoid episodes – in fact, I just had one. I can have myself convinced that everyone hates me and is out to destroy my life. It makes me combative. I will sometimes invent conversations that never happened, just because my brain contorts a criticism.
Mayo Clinic appended this in fine print below their list of classical depressive symptoms:
When a person with psychosis is depressed, there may be delusions of guilt or worthlessness — perhaps there is an inaccurate belief of being ruined and penniless, or having committed a terrible crime.
Perhaps? I’m nearly positive that exists because not enough research on bipolar depression versus unipolar depression exists to accurately differentiate between the two.
There are a few questions that remain. Again, not to just the bipolar population but the unipolar population as well, have you ever experienced a psychotic depressive episode? Is this more commonly found in MDD, BP II, or BP I?
Because if this is common amongst all populations, then the mood spectrum should look more like this: