A Promise and a Contract

I ended up telling him about the contents of A Sweater Worn Too Thin.  (If you still need the password, please leave me a note and I’ll email it to you.  Beware, it has some serious triggers in it.)

It was at the very last moment of our night.  I said to him, “Wait, before you put on Netflix, can I tell you something?”

Him:  “What?”

“Before I tell you, you have to promise not to be angry with me.”

Him:  “Well, it depends on what you did.”

“I can’t tell you without you making this promise.  Please, promise not to be angry.”

Him:  “Like I said, it depends on what you did.  Did you sleep with someone else?”

“God no!!!  I . . . “

Him:  “Hurt yourself?”

“Yeah,” I sighed with my head down.

Him:  “I thought so.  What did you cut yourself with?”

“A razor.  Don’t worry about it, I disposed of it, and I don’t ever want to do this again.  How did you know?”

Him:  “There was blood in the bathroom, and you didn’t sleep the night before.  And the next day, you weren’t all there.”

“I don’t ever, ever want to do this again.  It’s pretty bad.”

Him:  “Is it infected?  Let me see.”

I was stunned.  He had never really wanted to see an injury before.  Not even out of concern, curiosity, nothing.  Occasionally, he flat out refused to purchase bandages and things of the like, because he had wanted me to suffer the shame of it.  I stood up slowly and said to him, “Don’t laugh.”

Him:  “Why?”

I pulled down the band of my pants and underwear to reveal a rigged up maxi pad.  He snickered a little, and I did too.  It’s so like us to be able to find the humor in a very dark situation.  I pulled it back, and he inspected it.

“I’ve been taking care of it, washing it out several times a day with antibacterial soap, putting neosporin on it, and covering it back up again.”

Him:  “No, I don’t think it’s infected,” he remarked, “We’ll have my mom (a nurse) take a look when we go up there tomorrow.”

My eyes grew wide, “We can’t show her that!  There has to be at least 20 lacerations there!”

Him:  “I know, I can see them.  We’re going to have to.  She has all of the first aid supplies we need to patch you up properly,” he insisted.

And for a moment, I felt safe again.  I did this to myself, and he was using terms like “we”.  We’re in this together.  But, then, ruined by a pang of shame.  Then, the fear hit me.

“I’m really ashamed.  And I’m really scared.  Are you going to stop talking to me?”

Him:  “No, I’m not going to stop talking to you.”

“I know that you have to be hurt and angry and frustrated.  I didn’t do this because of you.  I did this because I was so overwhelmed about everything that was going on, and all of those stupid voices in my head that I’ve been telling you about.  Please, don’t be angry with me.  I need you.”

Him:  “I know.  I’m not angry.  I’m not anything, but just overwhelmed too.  I’m being pulled in so many different directions that I don’t even know what to feel.  Everything is changing all at once.”

“Change isn’t bad.  I think it’s an opportunity to get a fresh start.”

Him:  “Yeah.  Can we turn on a show and go to bed?”

“I’d like that.  Can I ask you for something, really quick?”

Him:  “What?”

“Can we keep having these brief talks?  Brief, I mean, no more than fifteen minutes, a half an hour if it’s something really serious.  I mean, I want to be able to put it in as terms in my self-injury contract.”

Him:  “Yes.  We’ll work on it.  Let’s go to bed.”

We did.  I must have been moving too much, and I was in a very light sleep.  He asked, “What’s wrong?”

I answered, “I’m cold.”

“Come here.”

We both moved into the middle of the bed, and he draped his blanket over me.  In that moment, I was the little spoon, and he was my big spoon.  It had been the first time we slept together like that since before my pregnancy.  And there was no better feeling in the world.  Our first steps back toward each other.

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I’m Going To Give All My Secrets Away

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.


Serious trigger warning ahead.  Pictures.

This one is old. An example of how some wounds just never really heal.

The newest in the collection.

This is the result of what I described in Notes, Vicodin, and Wounds

And I’ve found new ways that don’t involve scarring. I don’t recommend it. It didn’t achieve it’s purpose anyway.

I didn’t leave out the other side either.

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.

A Blog-o-versary!

I am in serious shock. Aside from my personal journal, I have never kept a project going for more than a year.

Truthfully, I can’t take all of the credit. If Pendulum didn’t have an audience, I would have been discouraged enough to abandon the blog. If I didn’t have such wonderful friends here, I might not be inclined, or even inspired to write. Thank everyone for their eyes, ears, fingers, minds, and hearts.

Now, for this blog-o-versary behind-the-scenes edition of Pendulum.

Little known fact #1:
Pendulum was not the first blog I created on WordPress. Some people know about the other one, but I’m not really supposed to directly give the secret away.

No, the inspiration for a blog actually came out of a kind of spite thing. An old, friend-turned-rival had a personal blog she used to keep updated with friends. It contained some cute antecdotes about her life and some concert and album reviews, nothing incredibly revealing. While I had no inclination to start a very personal blog, I did want to have a humor blog with some antecdotes about my own life.

By the time June rolled around, I was in a very isolated place with my life affected by disorder. I felt like I was hiding behind some alter-ego (when am I not? Let’s be honest!), and I was suffering in silence. I always had been.

After a forum and a friend, Pendulum was born.

Little known fact #2:
Pendulum started with a self-injury post, To See if I Still Feel (a Nine Inch Nails lyric). But, what is lesser known is that it was accompanied by a half-hearted suicide attempt.  It’s coded throughout the post, but I never really came out and said it.

Pendulum literally saved my life that day.  That was the day that I really realized that there are other people out there who are like me, who have been what I have been through, and get it.  That’s always been the problem in my life.  There are few people who get it, and those that do only seem to want to have a pity-party competition.

It wasn’t followed up by comments right away.  But, it was a start.

Little known fact #3:
“As the Pendulum Swings” was not the original choice for a blog title.  However, the blog title that I wanted was already in use by my other account.  At that point, I was very much in hiding about bipolar disorder, so I had to sever from it.  I literally sat at my computer for a half an hour, staring at this blinking, expectant cursor.

It is not named after the Linkin Park song, “In the End“, though many times I use the full name of this blog, it does go through my mind.  All I could think about was my time ticking away, pendulum swinging back and forth, dragging my emotions with it, with all of the futility and loneliness of my existence.  And that’s how it came to me.  My life is like a pendulum.  With an upswing, there will be a downswing, and so on, and so forth.  There is no end until the clock runs out.  And then, you’re dead.  And no one knows when that’s going to be.  Today, tomorrow?  Old, young?  By my own hand, or by a stupid accident?

So, this blog was named to detail the swinging pendulum of my life, and go with the ups and downs.

Little known fact #4:
Tallulah grew out of several different names throughout this last year.  Those that have been with the blog prior to February will remember the screen name of LunaSunshine.  LunaSunshine was named for the tattoo on my back of a moon and sun, my own visual representation of the duality of my nature and the stark contrast of parts of my life.  I knew Luna was “Moon”.  I just couldn’t do any better for the “Sunshine” part.

Now, even lesser known fact.  At a job I worked over a year before this blog, I earned the nickname of Sunny, just because of my demeanor.  Believe me, it was really difficult some days.  Sunny was something that stuck with me, because no one had ever referenced me in such a manner before.  I didn’t know I could even be perceived in that context.

And during an episode, just before my son’s second birthday, I dyed my hair bleach blonde, a color I hadn’t worn since it was my natural color as a child.  I guess it marked some kind of stability for me, because I’ve managed to keep the same color for almost two years now.  Before that, it was bouncing between brown and red, based on the episode I was in at the time of the purchase of the hair color.

Now, back to the evolution of the name.  Another blogger started to refer to me as “Lulu”, and somehow, it fit.  It just stuck.  No real rhyme or reason in a real life context.  And maybe that was why.  A clean break, you know?

How did it evolve into Tallulah?  Actually, there is a post entitled, “A Proper Name” that gives explanation to that.  Tallulah has always been a name I wanted to name a daughter, if I ever had one.  I realize that’s not an option.  Tori Amos wrote a song called, “Talula”, which carried a special meaning for me.  To me, it spoke of the projection of the ideal woman, whether it was mine to begin with or not, and holding it as a standard, where if I don’t embody it, then I will be abandoned by the ones I love.  It’s kind of like “behave, or we’ll stop loving you”.

It fit with “Lulu” already, so that was that.  Stark was just something that paired well with it.  It was not intentional, as it just popped into my head, and it has nothing to do with Iron Man.  In fact, I have never seen the movie.  But, I will make a kind of weird admission that Robert Downey Jr. looks kind of hot in a GQ sort of way in the commercials.

Lesser known fact #5:
This is my first mental health blog, but not my first blog about my personal life.  In my younger years, I had been inclined to share things via short lived blogs on Livejournal, Darkjournal, Blogspot, Myspace, etc.  In fact, I have had flame wars with my husband via blog sites, obviously much prior to our relationship and subsequent marriage.  I found hard evidence that my ex had been cheating on me, via blog sites.  My husband found out he had a stalker (same woman as the one my ex cheated on me with).  And I’ve even had to end several friendships over flame wars on blogs.

The very last time I had a falling out on a blog site was when I was finished with blogging entirely.  I didn’t appreciate how a friend dragged an incident where she was completely in the wrong into a public light.  Then, she went as far as to try to spin it, and take the focus off facts and onto slanderous statements.  I quit after that.  We closed down all blogs, old email accounts, and most social networking sites.

And finally. . .

Lesser known fact #5:
My husband is well aware that I keep this blog.  He knows it has a public address.  He can access any and all of it’s content at any time.  We share passwords, and there aren’t supposed to be any secrets. Totally accessible. And he hasn’t read a word.

I’m amazed at the lack of curiosity. I don’t blame him though.

Happy blog-o-versary!

Sorting It Out

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.