Theories on the Development of Disorder

When something, an emotion, an urge, an impulse, is so severely suppressed that a person becomes oppressed, we can often observe extreme opposite reactions. This is consistent with the laws of physics and the universe, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Except, one thing. I believe when it comes to emotions and behaviors, the opposing reaction is more like equal plus. The plus being an x-value holding place for a value with the meaning “a little more.” Determining that exact value in numerical terms may be difficult, since there is no numerical value for emotions.

It basically conveys the message that the situation perpetuates itself. Any potential absence of behavior or action can still be perceived as a positive value. Inaction can still be considered an action in this case, because there isn’t really such a thing as a complete absence of behavior.

This is potentially a huge factor in mental illness. Obviously, we are aware of the psychological damage abuse and neglect in childhood can cause, even throughout adulthood. It is thought to manifest in anxiety disorders, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. However, that does not account for people who did not experience what is typically considered childhood trauma.

Even as adults, we are susceptible to psychological damage. This is a fact that is well established through research involving war veteran and victims of sexual assault. However, we only consider extreme forms of trauma as something qualifies as such. Such is also true of childhood trauma.

Other qualifying trauma often happens over a period of time, and goes consciously unrecognized. This does not mean that it is also subconsciously unrecognized as well. In fact, the subconscious is likely keenly aware, but unable to translate to the conscious mind.

Once the conscious mind becomes aware that there is something amiss, the traumatizing behavior seems commonplace. The person has likely become desensitized to what was once a subtle, but generally constant external stressor. By then, it becomes internalized and often mistaken as an internal stressor.

Those are the seeds for maladaptive behaviors in both children and adults. At this point, unhealthy coping mechanisms have already been adopted as part of a person’s behavioral repertoire. This is directly the result of an extreme reaction to the accumulation of what may be considered subtle long term stressor(s).

The maladaptive behaviors are recognized as such, and perpetuate trauma through mistreatment of oneself. It can be behaviorally observed by an unusual response to certain unpleasant stimuli. Unfortunately, the subject is often unaware that their responses are abnormal. By the time it is either pointed out or realized by oneself, the original cause is well buried under layers of self-abuse / neglect.

The result of this is much larger than anxiety disorders. It reaches out to grab behaviors typical of a variety of psychological disorders. Behavior repertoires are often observed in personality disorders and mood disorders. it would stand to reason this is true, due to the nature of long-term external stressors, particularly subtle abuse and neglect.

Notes, Vicodin, and Wounds

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.

Grey suicide.

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’m not.

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.

The Rage

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.

A Spectrum of Depression

Blank.

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.

Blank.  Again.

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:

Perhaps a more accurate model

Pause. Skip. Fast-Forward.

Pause.  Suspended in reality.  There is only today.  No yesterday.  And no tomorrow.  Just today.  Time thought of as a linear concept becomes only that. A concept.

Life on pause.

 

In the pause, I see pieces strewn about.  Some torn from other realities, others borrowed, and some with no known origin.  The tapestry weaves itself using these bits, with all of it’s snags and imperfections.  The universe, in itself, is imperfect.

Shifted, a nanosecond’s beat off of the pounding drum.  Syncopated, life in the eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds – meshing two different time signatures.  A skip, skip, skip, the record bounces the needle about, as it tries to navigate through the scar, marring the sleek grooves. Re-re-re-repeating passages, repeating the same phrases.

Gaining momentum. G-gai-gaining, racing, and a burst, blasting forward. Time breaks up into less than moments to reside in. Reality has no fluidity, it’s cohesion being pulled at the seams. Each second is independent of another. In between are blurred strands, a plethora of life within life. Scarce are discernible planes of time that can sustain this particular consciousness.

Planes, islands unto their own, in the continuum. Each contained within their own space, intersecting reality when a ripple passes through the line. Magnetic, they pull the scraps from the currents of light and energy coursing through the invisible stream. Thoughts are whole, yet fragmented when fished from that stream.

It slows, screeching to a near halt. Reality takes on a certain buoyancy, a fermata punctuating the melodies and rhythms. This is the closest any entity may approach the void without being consumed. A near stop, the world around keeps pace all around, though it appears in slow motion. Each minute is an accented passage. It is one moment for several eternities.

Living a disjointed reality, time being nonsequential, so contorted that it becomes ethereal. Double exposed film, putting images over images. One within another, shifting, overlapping, separating.

It’s almost as if I am a time traveler, but I am the vessel. This is ultradian cycling. Passing between these realities in incohesive skips and discontinuatations causes heavy destabilization of every molecule, every tip of each nerve, each overloaded synapse. Worse for the wear, much more intense than individuals episodes with any width, length, or depth.

Fourteen days today. At least since I had my first suspicions.

It’s all been swimming around my head for at least a week now. I’m moving at a breakneck pace and it doesn’t feel like I’m even going anywhere. I thought I walked the tighrope, but I was wrong. I’m grasping the pendulum with all of my might, trying not to fly, trying not to fall.

A swing upward puts me in zero gravity. It’s that split second suspended in time for an hour, a day. And I’m flying – it’s thrilling! Everyone is my best friend. I want to share all of my joy and stability with the world. I want everyone to have this incredible feeling for a moment, even just for once I their lives.

The highs are beyond high, so high that it is starting to go beyond distorting my memory to erasing it. I live a whole lifetime in a day that ceases to exist in the others that follow. Yet, there are physical remnants. If there were no evidence, those thin, wispy snapshots could be too transparent to stand as memories. And only a gaping hole in time would remain.

The downward swing inevitably comes. There are too many words to attribute to that experience. There is the terror of the fall. The air rushes out of my lungs and completely deflates me. I’m less than flat, I’m sunken. And all I want is to disappear. To implode into myself, leaving no remnants of my existence at all. But, that’s impossible. My prints exist everywhere now, far and wide.

Sometimes, when a building has been wounded, there is a question of whether it will implode, explode, or topple. That is my question. There is clearly a raging fire going, roaring into my own ears, dizzying my senses. Plumes of smoke. Are they signals? What does it mean?

What do I f@*!#ing want with myself? How do I get off this ride!?!?

Ultradian cycling they call it. Why? After so long, after almost three months of stability, or maybe just hibernation or stagnation, why this all of a sudden?

I’m in love. I’m in hate. There is black, inky, onxy and there is white, pure, fresh pearls, and the biggest smear of grey in between. Striped in monochrome, paint streaks of different textures. It all feels different and still the same.

All the shades of grey.

Invitations to Narnia : 30 Days of Truth

Day 05 : Something you hope to do in your life.

As it stands, one can find me within the wardrobe amongst the coats, between the real world and my Narnia. This is not the Narnia as others know it. It is the absolutely surreal, ever shifting landscape, containing both horrific monsters and beautiful, majestic creatures. All of that world is tucked away, within a wardrobe, in an innocuous cranny of my home. Many unsuspecting people could stroll up to it, jam their coat in, and never give this unassuming wardrobe another thought.

Lunaria

But, this world is not meant to exist tucked away.  This world lives inside of me, wrapped up in an old world map, tied with a satin ribbon.  It waits to unfurl for all of the world to see.

Snapshots of this map are contained within every word, in each piece that I carefully create.  Some have been privy to view them, scanning the terrain, gazing upon the horrors and magesty.  Others have been lucky enough to set foot on the Terra Amici, The Land of Friends, specifically set aside to welcome guests who have braved the Sea of Aliquim.  And others, those closest to me, have journeyed through the deepest, darkest places of Lunaria.

I dream of the day that I allow Lunaria to emerge from the wardrobe.  This is the day that the earth will quake around me to birth Lunaria from within.  I will invite others to explore at will, without the requirement of the confines to Terra Amici.  To brave the fiery mountains, volcanoes spewing molten rock,shifting and shaping the landscape daily.  The mountains grow higher, only to be whittled away by the erosion.  Bask in Bad Wolf Bay.  Peer deeply into Mare Demersi, but still fear to tread too closely.  Lose themselves in Vac Saltus, and navigate the sullen, sunken lands of Val Mergullado.

All of this, one day will be accessible to all.  Lunaria will rise.  I can openly narrate the tales and history of Lunaria without fear of persecution and ostracism.  I hope to accomplish my quest of bringing this all out of the wardrobe.  I want others to see what my world, one world of a woman with Bipolar Disorder looks like.  It possibly connects to other places, to weave a global patchwork of personal worlds, connecting us all, to encompass every single person who has been hiding their own Narnia.

I hope to have a voice that can bring this all to the world.  And I hope to build the strength to do it.

I Ain’t Afraid of No SOPA

Emblazoned on the frontpage of Wikipedia:

Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge

It didn’t take a lot of imagination yesterday. When you went to Google, there is a giant black censor block. I logged onto WordPress, and found myself staring at a page filled with censored blogs, where there should have been featured blogs. Upon clicking, this headline sits before me:

You may not be aware of the pending legislation called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act).  It sounds good in theory.  I would know, because Representative Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania got to me first.  He declared it to be in our best interest to stop cyber terrorism.  This legislation is heralded as the great protector of our sensitive information in banks, hospitals, etc.  After I had several fraudulent charges on my joint bank account within two days of each other, two sliced and diced debit cards and no way for easy access to my money, I considered this a great thing!

Until yesterday, January 18th, 2012.  Until I was forced to open my eyes and do my civic duty by actually reading what these bills are all about.  (Thank you, President Obama for the Freedom of Information Act).

As usual, we’ve been duped.  Essentially, these bills equate to the US Patriot Act, in a manner of speaking.  The US Patriot Act is there to deny civil liberties guaranteed by our Amendments, if they suspect you as a terrorist.  They’ve set it up so that if you speak out, it can be very easy for you to disappear.

This is another step toward totalitarianism.  SOPA and PIPA seek to criminalize our freedom for information.  By doing that, they also grossly violate our First Amendment rights to write, create, and pass on information as we wish.  It grants permission to Internet Service Providers to block any information they wish.

Doesn’t this seem suspicious that these were pushed on the dawn of the Occupy Movement?  The Occupy Movement consists of local grassroots organizations that rely on the internet to make international connections between them.  What happens to all of the grassroots organizations, such as Occupy and Blog for Mental Health 2012, when our voice is stifled?

And that’s what Pendulum would look like if certain politicians had their way.  It is bad enough that many of the mental health bloggers feel the societal pressure to take refuge behind glowing monitors and clever pseudonyms.  Now, our medium and content are being threatened.  Extreme discrimination could take place.  If one party, just one, find our content to be vile, disturbing, irresponsible, or amoral, then we are likely to get shut down.

I won’t stand for that.  Personally, I want to stop this thing dead in it’s tracks.  This is my own forum to discuss mental health.  In the days of old, families would lock up their “insane” in basements, cellars, and attics.  What we would experience would be the modern equivalent.  I was tired of hiding and being disguised.  That’s why, exactly seven months ago today, I came here to be on display for all of the world to see.

It saved my life.  And, I wouldn’t know what to do without it.

If you feel that your civil liberties to talk about your mental health and special concerns are in danger of being violated, take a stand.  Do it now before it’s too late.

Google wants you to take action.

Even certain parties in the White House want you to take action.

Around the world, in the UK, individuals are taking action.

And millions of others all want you to take action against SOPA and PIPA.

Every signature on every petition counts.  Shout it out, loud and clear!

SOPA WON’T SILENCE ME!

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?

The Heath Ledger Paradox

Warning: This post has contents that may be hazardous to mental health.  It contains strong themes of suicide, suicidal behavior, and substance abuse.  Reader discretion is advised.

Have you ever had a moment where you heard the distinct and deafening sound of your own clock ticking down?

I have only heard this sound a handful of times. The first few times, it was difficult to distinguish from the other garble in my mind. But, the last time this occurred, the sound was unmistakable.

Tick.
Tock.

It happens when my physical state is badly threatened, but I’m not mentally aware. That is my defense mechanism that seems to be biologically programmed to protect me. It is what creates the Heath Ledger paradox.

And that’s what I experienced.

The Heath Ledger Paradox

Some things happen by accident

Personally, not proudly, I have attempted suicide between a half of a dozen and a dozen times in my life. I don’t really keep score; there is no tally anywhere. In fact, in total, I have only left a handful of notes behind. They don’t always correspond to the actual attempt, though.

I am not a violent woman. My method of choice was almost always centered around substances. My very first attempt landed me in a bathtub with a belly full of pills. It was an unintentional coincidence between Sylvia Plath’s and Virgina Woolf’s suicides. I know this to be truth, because I was only in my early teens at the time. I had yet to read about these authors. And despite these attempts, even some carefully orchestrated with blatant drug interactions, I never succeeded.

What was different about me that made me a survivor of my own wretched malice? Many a person has done these things accidentally! Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, Brittany Murphy, and many others are examples in our modern culture of how accidental overdose happens.

I met a guy in college that I stayed friends with. Eventually, we ended up working together. He was dismissed for failure to attend, and we all suspected he had a drug problem. A few days later, he was found dead in his apartment from a multiple-drug interaction. The guy ended his own existence with his own carelessness. How could he do it by accident and I couldn’t possibly do it on purpose?

That’s the Health Ledger Paradox. It is easier to succeed when the mind is unaware.

Last night, I accidentally set my foot onto the other side of the fence for a moment.

I still have impacted wisdom teeth on both the bottom left and right sides. These wisdom teeth have risen up partially in the back, causing skin pockets to form. Occasionally, I will get something trapped back there and a small infection will form. If I treat it immediately with a rinse and keep the pain manageable, I can usually escape a trip to the doctor and an antibiotic.

I detest going to the doctor to hear the same thing repeatedly. Yes, I know I need to have those teeth out. Though, I now have dental insurance, I do not have the money for a serious co-pay there. I just had a major surgery a month and a half ago. I don’t have the time or energy to spend in recovery. And I always feel worse on the “cillan” antibiotics than I did with the infection. Other women will feel me here. I usually end up with a worse infection in the end.

I had some Vicodin remaining from my surgery. Admittedly, I hadn’t taken many. I had a problem where the Vicodin would cancel the Temazepam out. I would be up for hours, sleepless and still aching. I decided that my body needed rest more than I needed pain relief. I had to heal. Last evening seemed like a good time to take it. I don’t know how I let the situation with my teeth go from uncomfortable to agonizing. But, it happened more quickly than my mind could have processed. So, I took the Vicodin.

Bad choice.

I spent the rest of the night staring at the white porcelain bottom of a toilet bowl. At first, it was akin to other bad reactions I had to other narcotics. I do not respond well to Oxycontin or Percocet. And this was a similar episode. But, by the sixth hour, I knew there was something terribly wrong. My stomach had already emptied itself twice and was going for a third. This time, only water remained.

By the seventh hour, it became clear to me. I leaned forward and wretched. It felt like my stomach was turning itself inside out, in hopes to vacate an invader. I literally felt empty, as if I had evacuated every ounce of anything I’d eaten in the last 36 hours. And it dawned on me. My body was having a reaction – but why? I had taken Vicodin before with great success. I took it after my surgery and this didn’t happen.

I couldn’t muster the strength until the morning. I had only slept five hours out of fear that I’d never awaken again. I decided to refer to the almighty Medscape Mutli-Drug Interaction Checker. I thought I remembered doing this. Typically, I screen all new medications coming in. As I was trying to rattle my brain for all of my prescriptions, it occurred to me. I did do this, but I had forgotten a very important medication, Wellbutrin.

Significant – Monitor Closely

bupropion + hydrocodone

bupropion will increase the level or effect of hydrocodone by affecting hepatic enzyme CYP2D6 metabolism. Significant – Monitor Closely.

lamotrigine + acetaminophen

lamotrigine decreases levels of acetaminophen by increasing metabolism. Minor or non-significant interaction. Enhanced metabolism incr levels of hepatotoxic metabolites.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg there. That’s among four additional interactions. Those are the most important though. That’s the reason I was hugging the toilet, wondering why my sedation was outrageous and my pain relief was minimal.

And I realized, I just set foot on the other side of The Heath Ledger Paradox. If it wasn’t for that mechanism, that beautiful inborn, DNA encoded device inside me, I would have been dead. Something in me told me not to take more medication when my pain relief was marginal. And that same thing kept me safe by alerting my body that there was a dangerous toxin that needed to be rejected from my stomach. There was still a tiny bit of knowledge encoded from some source that this was life-threatening.

Not everyone has that, and most people with it can bypass the safeties with enough of a loading dose. That’s the aim in a suicide – to get past the safety, just like a gun. Except, when most people knowingly stand on that ledge and look into the void, they turn back. The point with accidental overdose is that all of that is gone. It’s like playing with a gun without knowing if it’s loaded or if the safety is on.

That gun was loaded last night. Thank the powers that be in the universe that I have a safety.

Oh, Fluck!

With enough wits, a person might be clever enough to deduce the meaning of this Luluism without the aid of a definition.

Fluck (fah-lah-uck): a combination term used as an alternative to a swear. It is used to describe an intense negative reaction. Derived from “f***ing luck”.

As in: Oh, fluck! I forgot to pick up my Lamictal from the pharmacy! On a Sunday night. When they close early. And I won’t have enough time to grab them until after work on Monday.

Fluck.

This realization didn’t hit me until I was going to make the attempt to refill my weekly pill case. I finally broke down and started using one. A lot of good it did me. I ran out on a Saturday.

I stood there and stared at the empty container in disbelief that I could have forgotten something so very important. I have taken my Vitamin L daily, without fail for so long. I just plain forgot.

Understandably so. Production on Thursday, sleigh ride in the van-buggy on Saturday. I don’t believe I even called it in until Saturday night. Sunday morning mass and Sunday afternoon family function. In all of that travel, I passed the pharmacy at least four times!

Oh well. A day without Lamictal never hurt me before.

Quite reassuring now that I’m in the hot seat.

I woke up late, and seemingly amongst chaos. I could not wake up this morning for the life of me. I literally stumbled around, trying to get my footing. I never did find it, honestly.

C.S. left for work, and everything was mostly typical. I should have felt it happening. Slowly, the reigns slipped out of my grip. The horses started running more freely. The ride became bumpier. When I did notice, it was too late. Each time I’d made a solid grab, I opened my fist to have them fly further away.

I dare say that my emotional stability is crumbling under the very path I’m walking on!

By afternoon, I was spitting certain phrases like a bad taste in my mouth. “I hate my effing life!” “That irritates the hell out of me!” “Shut up!” It’s as if I were dangling by a flailing string. The wind would shift and suddenly, “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I hate myself for being so horrible.”

Over little things. T.D. got into my makeup and my jewelry again today. He has made a real mess of things in my room. I was infuriated. Makeup and jewelry are expensive!!! But – they are just stuff. The world was ending! I couldn’t find my good headphones where I can actually hear music and conversations on my Blackberry! And I carried on about it to C.S. for at least fifteen minutes of his break.

Yup, there are plenty of reasons to hate myself today.

Then, the ultimately bad phrase popped into my head. I want to kill myself. Red flag. And I threw it out there on my playing field, oh so silently. I don’t want to rouse suspicion. I am at work after all.

I should have realized this was going to be the result at the very time I skipped the dose. Not even an hour later, I had the best sex of my life. It was complete with saturation of every sense from every nerve. My brain was throwing out visual and auditory stimulation that it doesn’t usually do. I don’t know why I don’t find the clearest clues, right in front of my face.

Live and learn.

Don’t sound the alarm. I’ll be fine, but it is my top priority to get some medicine into me, fast. Something is going very, very wrong. But, until at least 7PM, I’m stuck in the hell of my own making.

Lesson learned. Don’t skip your medicine. Ever.