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.

I’m Game!

I didn’t realize that I had been tagged multiple times.  I should have!  As I was saying to Angel, events that occurred during my depressive fog kind of jumble together.  So, I’m still catching up.

So, I’ve arrived at Angel’s Questions.  Here’s the deal.  I’m not going to tag, because I’m sure everyone has been tagged by now.  If not, feel free to pick up the questions I leave at the bottom.

Angel’s Questions:

1) What is your favorite mini-series?

Hands down, “Pillars of the Earth”.  If you haven’t read the book, by Ken Follett that’s fine.  You can read the book before or after you watch the mini series.  In this case, it doesn’t really matter.

2) What song is currently stuck in your head?

Now that you mentioned it, one came to mind, “Teardrop” by Massive Attack.  It is also the “House” TV series theme song.

3) If you’re a girl, who would you pick as your girl-crush? Or if you’re a guy, who would you pick as your guy-crush? You have to choose at least one. Although I guess this question has a heteronormative bias. Whoops. Well, if you identify as homosexual, choose someone of the opposite sex as your answer. Okay, I’m amending this question to try to make it as bias-free as possible. Who’s one guy and one girl you have a crush on? You must choose one of each.

Literally, and this is going to sound hilarious.  I have a crush on my husband.  I’m not kidding.  Any and all males who bear a striking resemblance to my husband can be included.  That’s Robert Pattinson, (Edward Cullen from “Twilight”), and Tom Welling (Clark Kent from “Smallville”).

Women?  Kate Winslet!  She is gorgeous, no matter what color her hair.  She had the perfect figure.  She’s not rail thin, and she’s curvy.  She is a real woman.

4) If you got to choose any occupation you wanted and money wasn’t an issue, what would you choose and why?

Cheating.  My ideal occupations are teacher and writer.  Both of which I am doing, and both of which I am not making a whole lot of money at.

I love being an educator.  I really do.  It is fulfilling and thrilling.  It’s different each day.  I get to watch about 90 kids grow up each year.  And to think that I’m a part of their lives, even for that short time.  Some will be able to look back to that and think, “That’s Ms. Em.  She taught me music when I was a kid.”  I remember some of my favorite teachers, the ones who really touched my life.  And that’s what I try to do every day, is make a difference in a child’s life.

As a writer, I want to make a difference in the mental health community by lending my voice, support, and ideas.  I want this to become a serious public issue one day, not something that everyone just puts on the backburner, because they don’t want to talk about it.  Mental health is important.  Mental health disorders are real, and they have a real effect in people’s lives.  Untreated, there are serious consequences.  I want the world to see it, and know it.

5) When you’re using numbers to make a list, do you put periods, parentheses, or something else (if so, what), after the numbers? Why do you think you have this preference?

When I’m using numbers to make a list, there is the number, a period, and then a parentheses.  It would look like this 1.)  I have this preference because it looks neater and is easier on my eyes when I’m skimming the list.

6) What sorts of books do you like to read, and why?

I have favorite genres.  Personally, I love psychology books.  Psychology is my thing.  It could have been my career, but I decided education is where my heart was.  There’s a scientific way to figure out how anything works.  We can take all kinds of things apart and figure it out.  Even the human body.  But, we still haven’t figured out the brain.

That’s because the mechanisms that make the brain work aren’t physically apparent.  It’s a mysterious thing.  I want to know how people think.  I want to know why they are the way they are.  I want to be able to draw similarities and differences between them.  It’s just fascinating.  People are complex and fascinating creatures.

7) You’re driving for at least four hours by yourself. You don’t have a CD player, and you can’t hook up your mp3 player or smartphone to your stereo. How do you occupy yourself?

I’ve never thought about it.  I’ve never actually driven that kind of distance alone.  I guess I would have to start playing license plate games, or something. 

8) Do you believe in anything supernatural? If so, what?

Of course I believe in the supernatural!  I believe in ghosts, aliens, astrology, spirits, “God” (if you will), and all kinds of things.  Especially aliens and astrology.  Astrology is something that ties in closely with psychology when you look at it hard enough.

Anyone who is interested, I do natal astrology.  Mainly through the use of natal charts.  Go ahead, check out your chart and see how close to being correct it is.

9) Why do you visit my blog? (How’s that for a nosy self-promoting question? No, you don’t need to answer this second question. It’s rhetorical.)

I’ll answer it, because I don’t think it’s important information.  I visit your blog for a number of reasons.  At first, it was interesting to see how events unfold in your life.  It was kind of like piecing together a character in a story.  What has happened?  What will happen?  Things of that nature.

But, with every story, I find myself getting involved.  Except, with a character in a book, there is no way of two was communication.  However, here, you’re not a character.  You are a person.  And I have become involved with you as a person.

I want to know about your life.  I want to know how you are feeling and what you are doing.  I want to hear your ideas, your feelings, your thoughts, musings, whatever you have to give.  There is a certain investment there.  It’s interesting, and it’s a two way street.

10) If you have a smartphone, which 5 apps do you use the most? If you don’t have a smartphone, why not?

Pandora, WordPress, Twitter, Weather Channel, and my email client.  Does that count as an app?  If not, then I’d name Tumblr as my fifth.

11) What is the most important principle for you to live your life by, and why?

Altruism.  Pay it forward.  I want to be as selfless as I can possibly be without passing myself over completely.  I have needs and wants.  I cannot forget that.  However, I know that I want to balance that with my desire to provide support roles to others.

In my entire life, I’ve always played a support role.  In school, I played in the orchestra pit during musicals.  No one ever saw my face.  I sang alto and tenor, harmony parts that enrich the melody.  Most of the time, when I sang tenor parts, no one in the crowd realized that it was me, a woman, who carried that part.

Today, I’m the woman behind a brilliant man.  I’m the teacher that is building students up to be incredible people in their lives.  I’m the music director in productions.  No one ever sees my face.  That’s fine.  I was the one who designed and hand stapled all of those programs, without any billing in the liner notes.

I am the mother behind an incredible boy.  My son is truly something else.  I know all mothers say that, but he’s so curious.  He has limited communication skills.  But, he’s three.  He can do math.  He knows the Fibonacci sequence (to a certain point), without ever having been taught.  He knows his alphabet, and can sight read.  I didn’t teach him to sight read, but he just started doing it one day.  All of these things, besides counting the alphabet, were things I thought he was too young or impaired to do.  I guess I was wrong.

And I know that with some help, and a lot of love, encouragement, and work on both of our parts, he is going to be a brilliant man, maybe more so than his father one day.

All of that.  What about what I want?  I want a lot of things, believe me.  But, I’m willing to sacrifice all of the things that I want to see others succeed.

Optional Questions:

  1. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of your gender are?
  2. You’re kicked out of the country you currently reside in.  Where do you go?
  3. What do you do with your change?
  4. What is your favorite beverage and why?
  5. What would be your ideal vacation spot?  Why?
  6. Do you have pictures around your house?  Of what?
  7. Do you think that if I were to walk into your house right now that I would have any idea about who lived there?  Why, or why not?
  8. Doomsday Scenario:  A solar storm knocks power grids out worldwide.  There is no way to know when power will be restored, or if it will.  What is the first thing you do, and why?
  9. What do you think is the meaning of life?
  10. Another Doomsday Scenario:  A few servers malfunctioned and the internet is going to be down indefinitely.  What do you see yourself doing to entertain yourself?
  11. Are you superstitious?  What are some of your superstitions?

Why Self-injuious Behavior?

A response to carlanee’s post about self-destructive behavior. It expands upon the basic concepts noted in the reply.


Most of the time, in the clinical world, it’s referred to as “self-injurious behavior”. That includes all kinds of harmful behaviors directed toward oneself across all diagnoses.

It’s fact that SIB (self-injurious behavior) is often a behavioral expression for emotions that have no other outlet. Many children with autism spectrum disorder engage in SIB. Most often, it is because they are developmentally delayed in the social and language domains. However, many times it does have the function of attention seeking behavior – but not in the way that some perceive it. It does not carry sole intentions of “acting out” in the role of negative reinforcement. It is a way of communicating, “I’m hurting. Please attend to the situation.”

But, SIB has many different functions in other diagnoses. SIB is absolutely complex in development, function, and reinforcement. Some people engage in the behavior as an outward expression of inward suffering, others do it for the adrenaline that it releases. But, most people who engage in SIB are never aware of the root cause that sparks the behavior, nor are they aware of the function.


Reader beware: The following section may be disturbing and trigger inducing. Discretion is advised.

I have been engaging in SIB since the onset of symptoms in my early teens. Nowadays, SIB is a widely covered social issue through media outlets. So, it is pretty easy for children and teens to get some ideas and tips. However, when I was young, SIB was very hush-hush. I did not get the idea from anywhere in particular. It just occurred to me.

It became a regular and highly ritualized behavior. Dark room, so it would look like I was sleeping. Music in the background, nothing in particular. Just some background noise not to raise suspicions. My knife and me. Because, it was easier to get a hold of a kitchen knife than it was to obtain a razor. Besides, that didn’t occur to me until later on.

I will refrain from detailing it any further. The development is obvious, and needs little explanation. However, I will explain the function and reinforcement. I have had well over a decade to study it and witness it in for myself, through myself.

SIB has multiple functions for me. First, for me alone, it is a physical manifestation of the pain I experience. Sometimes, there are no words to pair with it. There are no words in the world to make the feeling go away, and the behavior has become an impulse, rather than a carefully planned, ritualistic behavior.

Second, it is a form of self-punishment. This is the behavioral response to emotional neglect and abuse as a child. I had no confidants. There were no adults that existed in my life that I could relate this awful depression to. And when I attempted to do so with my own parents, it was dismissed. PMS, a phase, attention seeking behavior, imaginary, excuses. I’ve heard all of the rationalizations there are for depressive symptoms.

As a form of self-punishment, much like those of the clergy in the old church, it represented all of the punishment I deserved for being a bad person. A failure. For being insignificant and terrible enough to be unworthy of love. All that a despicable person like myself deserves is wounds. Terrible wounds that will bleed, and scab, and scar so that I might be reminded every time I look upon them.

SIB also serves as a mechanism for control. I have always noticed a pattern about the stimuli that prompts this behavioral reaction. I get to a point where I am overwhelmed, and my life is spinning out of control. I feel helpless and hopeless. The only thing I have control over is my own body, even when I cannot temper my emotions. This mechanism is dangerous, because it is the gateway to an abundance of other methods of SIB.

It is also a small part of the lingering, highly romanticized desire for death. Suicide is something else entirely, so I will leave that at that for the moment. In a way, it is like blood letting of the barbaric medicine practiced in medieval times. When a person was afflicted, blood letting was a common practice. It was though to purge toxins and evil from the body and mind.

And lastly, and most importantly is the addictive component. The act of SIB releases endorphins in the body. It allows the mind to focus on the most immediate pain it perceives, distracting from emotional suffering. Instead of being trapped with those emotions, the mind can be set free from that cage. It focuses on the real pain and the real injury. These endorphins, once the climax of the pain has been reached, take over. For a moment, a brief moment in time, the mind is empty. Everything is numb, with the exception of the radiating pain from the wound. It is similar to taking a drug to escape.

SIB is really a dangerous behavior for all of those reasons, and many more in the realm of somatic damage. I have incredible amounts of scar tissue, some still visible more than ten years later. Other bloggers have related worse to me. Nerve damage, lasting pain, etc. For those that engage in other types of SIB, the risk becomes even greater. Especially with ED and promiscuous behaviors. I am typically a very faithful person, remaining monogamous. (I am completely monogamous in my marriage. Don’t get the wrong idea. That was then, and this is now.) And I still ended up with HPV, causing me to have cervical cancer and two surgeries. The more partners, the higher the risk.

In summation, SIB has an seriously addictive component, and is not a substance, so it makes it harder to control. With a substance, a person can refrain from the substance itself. SIB is a little different because devices of self-harm exist everywhere, and can be carried out in a variety of ways. SIB can be most effectively treated with ABA techniques, mostly behavioral replacement with positive reinforcement. It is a long and difficult process, but it can be accomplished.

A Proper Name

I have never fancied myself a writer.  This is much the same as I have never imagined myself a musician, a vocalist, and many other things that I have come to find as truth in my life.  In all honesty, I’ve considered myself to be a dabbler, more of a Jack-of-all-Tradesmaster of none.  Yes, there is an emphasis.  This is not because I’m getting down on myself.

No, the focus of the emphasis is not on what I can’t do, but more of what I haven’t done.  I have dabbled in so many disciplines, some would think it akin to something attention deficit.  I have dedicated my focus, energy, and time (and sometimes some money) to the following:

  • Musical instruments
  • Music composition
  • Vocals
  • Music Education
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry
  • Prose
  • Essays
  • Informational writing and advocacy
  • Crocheting
  • Crafting
  • Eco-friendly and Green Crafting
  • Mental Health Advocacy
  • Community programs
  • Sewing
  • Musical theater directing and production
  • Autism Advocacy
  • Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Human Behavior
  • Computers
  • Networking
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Forensics
  • RPG’s / Gaming
  • Technology
  • Graphic Art
  • Photography
  • Running
  • Collecting
  • Blogging

Perhaps it’s some serendipitous byproduct of Bipolar Disorder, or just who I am.  I would be lying if I denied having the habit of starting things and not finishing them.  There are a great deal of factors that go into that: lack of focus, growing disinterest, a block of some sort, lack of motivation, and lack of enthusiasm at times.  It has given me a wealth of experience in many areas.  However, the steep downside is that I have not remained consistent enough with any of the aforementioned activities to develop a solid level of mastery.

But to me, they are hobbies.  Why would I need mastery in a hobby?  It doesn’t bring me any fortune, it is not my job , was not a keystone of a career.  What is the point of having the hobby if I have completely mastered it?  There is no joy, because there is no dabbling.  There is no sense of discovery.  The hobby becomes laborious, like a job.  A hobby is certainly what I would consider to be the opposite of a job.  Although I am one of those lucky people who took a hobby, a talent, a skill, and was able to turn it into gainful employment.

Back to my point.  Today, I received an email from an eager non-profit organization that was looking for me to assist in promoting their organization’s activities for mental health advocacy.  I thought to myself, “I did it.  I finally did it.  I found my way into the door of being a mental health advocate and coming out of this wardrobe.”  I reviewed the email several times to make sure I had the details right.  And I realized how it was addressed.  Dear Mrs. Lulu Sunshine,

I’ve been writing under the pseudonym “LunaSunshine” for awhile now.  Most have come to know me as Lulu, just a cute nickname that seems to fit perfectly, as if it were meant to personify me in realm.  It was worked out fine until this moment.  I have realized that if I want to get serious in the world of mental health advocacy through my writing, then I had better get a decent pseudonym that allows me to be professional.

Therefore, after much consideration, I am changing my pseudonym to something proper enough to be seen on a website or book.

I have decided on Tallulah “Lulu” Stark.

Lulu Stark - the new avatar

I have origins for this.  The name Tallulah has Native American origins in Georgia.  As do I.  The translation means leaping water, perfect for describing my own nature as fluid, changing states and shapes.  Tallulah is also of Gaelic origin, as am I.  The translation in Gaelic is abundance, princess, lady. I am no princess, for sure.  But, I am a woman with an abundance of emotion, that carries a wealth of experience.

Stark has a few meanings.  It can mean grim, representing depressive states.  It can be beyond reasonable limits, extreme, and the perfect representation of the hypomania.  And of course, it’s a play on the cliched phrase, “stark raving mad”.

There will be a few changes.  My email will change to reflect the new pseudonym.  tallulahlulustark@gmail.com is the new address.  Until everyone is used to the new address, I will have the old one forward into the new one.

My facebook is changed as well.  I will move Pendulum’s page over there tomorrow.  For now, add me on Facebook.

I will wait awhile to change the avatar.  To allow for the transition.  Please, continue calling me Lulu.  Nothing has changed in that realm.  I wanted to put the word out there.

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

Warning: Relapse

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I. want. to. die.

A buried mantra, rising from dormancy.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I begged. And he still refused.

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

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

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

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

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

“Her name is Em. I’m her husband.”

C.S. stood there, disappointed and disgruntled.

 

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

Noon. Lunch. Eggs and bacon for my son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want to die.

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

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

“Get yourself together,” my mother advised.

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

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

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

And my mother asked, “Did something happen?”

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

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

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

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

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

Decent into Hell : 30 Days of Truth

Day 08 : Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.

Avi.

Staring out the bus window into the grey oblivion, the words slid right down the slate of my mind, and were carried away by the light breeze. It’s not an uncommon occurrence. Many other times I will myself to think of him, it is as if he’s become a ghost, who haunts at the most unfortunate moments.

That’s why there are journal entries for these moments.  This was the first in the trinity, the one prior to Possibility and Ascension.  It was started and completed in the same week, nearly a year after the relationship ended.


The last days of that relationship are blurry; my memories are obscured by the drugs and alcohol intoxicating my mind.  The days blended together in a ritualistic, self-medicated loop, work.drink.sleep.work.drink.sleep.sleep.drink.sleep… suspended in agonizing slow motion.  The silence was deafening in the deep, dark hours of night, still, cold, indifferent.  We were two strangers, caged together with a thick glass section between us.  I glanced across the DMZ, through ripples space and time itself, eager and desperate to eradicate the great divide.  But even if I could manage to successfully navigate the minefield, a feat I had attempted in vain when feeling particularly masochistic despite the optimistic spin I put on it, I would be greeted by a stranger.  Or rather an animal, for he had regressed into a rather primitive state.  This animal was vicious and feral, seemingly ripped from the wild and unsuccessfully domesticated.

My realizations were like awaking from a coma.  How much time had passed?  Who are you?  Where am I?  Is this real? – each more dizzying than the coma itself.  Awakening is clarity, but the clearer things became, the more confusing the reality.    The chambers of my mind grew to accommodate my expanding thoughts but created a warehouse echo.  I spoke, my voice reverberated off the crumbling walls and returned with a different sound altogether.  Perhaps, instead it was an accurate reflection but one can never recognize oneself in a room of distortion.

So perhaps my lover had been a stranger all along, reflected through hopes and dreams to create a lovely distortion.  They certainly aren’t all hideous, like mirrors that make one look tall and slender.  Had that been entirely truth, how long had he been a projection of my mind’s eye onto the screen that set the stage for our drama?  I looked into the rabbit hole and tumbled down, spiraling out of control.  How can one count time based on a relative measure?

I searched farther, grasping for answers as if they were my life raft in the black waters of time.  Our relationship started with sparks and flares… – Were they real like fourth of July fireworks?  Or instead were they the result of strong hallucinogenics resulting from intense desire to feel something?  More dialogue and script flowed through the undertow, sucking me into the dark abyss.

You know how when someone says ‘I love you’, you feel obligated to reciprocate?

… Yes

I’ve always meant it with you.

My heart swelled with infection while it festered away every inch that loved him with each tides push and pull.  It was abundantly clear that his performance was increasingly scripted, as I deviated with my improvisation.  Obsessively, I went farther, feverishly searching, scanning, hoping that there would be salvage, or better even, treasure.

Heaven knows that I love you, I love you today.

Today, that day, the only day that might as well had even existed in three years.  I felt it in my soul, the answers becoming closer sending off the flares and sparks I had been trying to rekindle, leading me in my personal night.  Yet on closer inspection, they certainly differentiated from the ones in my memory.  Instead, they appeared to be a blazing inferno on the shoreline.  I clawed the beach, pulling myself in for survival, for myself, for my sanity and found the treasure I’d been seeking.

Fool’s gold.  The beautiful scenery warped into something more sinister.  Twisted, charred, black… a glorious fire to commemorate something that never was.

It reminded me of the last string I pulled in the tapestry of our relationship.  My hair was ruby colored in the dull late autumn sun, surrounded by the grey scenery of the city.  We were bound for better.  He was up but I was coming down.  A lovely romance played out in my head, on panes of fragile glass.  We were vines twisting together up a lattice in vivid green, in a dream.  He deviated, but my vision was obstructed.  I felt the support let loose, my vine withered and my fruit shriveled.  He vaguely explained and my vision returned to expose his transgression occurring.  Struck with immobilizing poison, I watched like an invalid.  And when I came to, I was convinced it was a dream.

Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors, I fell in love with the demon trickster himself.  A year and a half passed since the incident and all was voluntarily revealed.  The force pushed me outside myself, forced once again to watch this great tragedy unfold repeatedly.  Play.stop.rewind.play.

Just say yes, you little masochist.  

Addictions leave you little choice.

Help me tighten these chains.  Is that my voice?  My mind screamed to be released, for me to take the free ticket to ride and go.  But my heart without it’s limbs could not be freed from it’s vice.

The pleasant memories melted into the form of nightmares.  There was a double edged sword, turning the pleasurable jabs into horrific stabs.  My monologue’s narrator was raspy and exhausted.  Playful smiles turned to sinister grins just as loving chuckles morphed into maniacal laughter.  The blaze pushed forward, engulfing everything in sight.  It seared my flesh, leaving nothing but brittle bone.

Release me, for the love of god!!

It was morning following the apocalypse.  The war had been lost and I stood amongst it’s remains.  To my surprise, I was intact despite everything.  A wave of sorrow welled up inside me but nothing came.  I had finally been released but not by my captor.  He stood beside me, my caretaker, strong and silent like an angel.

I have always been beside you.  That wasn’t quite the truth, I was sure.  He had misspoke and instead meant, I have always been inside you… I felt those words resonating inside my soul which echoed it in perfect clarity.  This could only be made possible if they had the same dimensions… making them identical.  Twin souls!  It made perfect sense as the pieces seamlessly clicked together.  Only could twins never truly lose one another.  They were the only two that see each other through the deepest pits of hell and come out seemingly unscathed.

We were whole.  From the moment we met one another, five long years ago, we were whole.  And now we had the opportunity to experience it in our own realities..

Fighting Back : A Bus Story

This bus. This is the same bus I take to and from work all of the time. Same routes, same drivers, and generally the same people.

Not a whole lot changes in my life. Steady job, happily married, a resident of my neighborhood for more than two cumulative decades. It is not monotonous in the slightest. It is stable.

Because, regardless of the things that remain concrete, I am always evolving, always flowing, and fluctuating. I am up; I am down. I do not have the luxury of having a constant mental state, where everything is perceived exactly as is was yesterday, and the day before that. Also, I do not have consistency within myself and my emotions to risk tipping the scales.  The cost is too great. 

I am more than content to go on living my life in the same way, unlike many others.  Why?  Because I have endured so much and worked so hard to get to this point.  Right here, where I undoubtedly believe that there are concrete things to grab onto when I’m sliding, and I have at least a modicum of clarity about myself, my present, and my future.

It’s this clarity that keeps me intact.

The predictability that I am going to wake up next to my husband, poke around on WordPress, play with my son, feed us, walk down the street, and hop on the same bus, at the same time, with the same driver to go to the same place I went the day before.

I do that backward in the evening.

I wrote this to a friend, soon after I wrote Pause. Skip. Fast-Forward.

“My mind feels like it fell from a skyscraper and shattered on the ground, 100 stories below. That’s the kind of wreckage we’re talking about. Not only did I leave an impact crater, I’m practically dust at the bottom of it. I can’t think, and I’m overwhelmed by this horrid, damaged feeling.

. . . I was handling it pretty well from moment to moment because they were pretty pronounced from one another, and rather short. Now, I’m pretty sure something tipped me off of my precarious ledge. It doesn’t matter what the causation was, because it’s not going to act as an antidote.

It was coming anyway. Three months in the making.

. . . I can’t trust anything I say, think, or do right now . . .

A few nights ago, I found myself standing at my same stop, waiting for my same bus, having a conversation with C.S. about our respective days.  They had been rough ones.  C.S. was dealing with a defaulted loan, and several accounts that were flaming turds at work.  I had bombed an observation at work, and was dealing with a potential denial from unemployment regarding my lack of work over the summer.  Everything was off kilter, and I had been for several weeks prior to these events.

My way home.

In the 99 Quirks of Lulu, in #2 and #5, I describe certain phobias I have.  So, when I board a bus, I naturally take the seat right in front of the backdoor.  On these buses, there is a plexiglass barrier between that seat and the door.  I am positioned properly, and it alleviates claustrophobia.  I can see everyone who can get to me.  I am close enough to the front of the bus, near the driver, without occupying a disabled seat, and I have an easily accessible exit.

Of course, I always survey my surroundings, without making eye contact.  There were five other people on the bus with me.  A larger, middle-aged man in jeans, who sat two seats in front of me.  A 50-something year old woman, with short poofy hair, dyed auburn, with grey roots coming in, seated a seat behind and across the aisle.  A man occupying a disabled seat in the front, and a male and a female in the very back.

I chatted with C.S., upset by the events that were simultaneously occurring.  It is the same ritual that occurs every night, usually minus the serious conversation.  And everything was in it’s right place.

I take notice of when anyone moves around on the bus.  I have been accosted more than once while en route, so I am always cautious.  The man had been casting me glances, obviously unaware that I had noticed.  The woman got up, and leaned across the aisle to speak with the man.  I continued on with C.S., still perfectly aware of what was going on around me.

She leaned in toward me, close enough for my eyes to focus in on her greyish, crooked front teeth, and scolded loudly, growling, “You know, there are other people on this bus.”

Seeing red again, seeing red again…

Typically, I go unprovoked. I would ignore such a person and prattle louder, in the attempt to defy the other person. But, something triggered. I could feel it in the millisecond before my response. It was like the click of hammer when a gun is fired. And the projectile came out.

“Oh don’t worry, I’ll be off soon enough,” I replied bitingly, knowing my stop was just a few minutes away.

She snarled, sinking back into her seat, “You know, you don’t have to talk so loudly.”  Funny thing was, I was not talking loudly.  I was speaking in my normal voice, on a bus quiet enough to rival a library.

“Actually, this is me talking loudly.  Just so you can tell,”  I retorted, even louder this time.  I did not swear, threaten, or get up.

“As if it’s all that important.”  Clearly, she was regarding me as some teenage idiot prattling idly to her boyfriend on her cell phone, gossiping nonsensically about this and that.  Looks are deceiving.  She should have learned already in her long life to never take anything at face value.

And I raged, speaking to her as if I were scolding a student for extraordinary misconduct, “Yeah, actually it is important.  This is about my life.  Not your life.  And if you were actually listening as you clearly indicated you could have been by the volume of my voice, you would know what I was talking about.  But no, you don’t, because it’s all about you.”  She didn’t have anything else to say.  Her body language indicated she was terrified, as she became smaller, and smaller in the corner of her seat.

Meanwhile, C.S. was in my earpiece talking me off the ledge.  “Stop talking.  Ignore her.  Just stop talking to her,”  he repeated.

I got home, and we were fixing dinner.  He said to me, “I didn’t tell you to back off because I thought it was the right thing to do.  I was sitting there, listening to this, thinking to myself, ‘What would I do if someone fired their mouth off to me after a bad day?’  And I thought, ‘I’d probably punch her in the face.’  Or at least, I’d want to.  I wasn’t about to bail you out of jail tonight.”

The thing was, physical violence didn’t occur to me until I was already home, ranting about that scene with C.S.  I said to him, “Her posture indicated that she was actually afraid of me.  She should have been.  She clearly didn’t know who she was dealing with.

I continued, “I’m going to go ahead and assume that she is near retirement age, by the greys in her hair, and likely had to stay late at work, in a job she hates, because I’ve never seen her on that bus before.  She had a bad day, was irritated, and was looking for someone to take it out on.  So, she is irritated by what looks like easy prey.  I hope she learned her lesson.”

After a few days of mulling this over, I realized what the click was.  I perceived her as a bully.  She matched multiple descriptions of my personal definition of a bully.  Clearly, she didn’t live in my lower-class neighborhood, because she was not even close to gathering her belongings for departure.  In all likelihood, she was riding to the Park N Ride two townships over, so she could drive the hill to the well-to-do part of town.  Match number one, someone with higher socioeconomic standing.  Match number two, she was older than me.  She had a sense of entitlement, as if I had to do what she said, just because she felt a certain way.  Match number three, some kind of social standing, or concept of authority.

Three strikes, you’re out.  I fought back.  Like I’ve been wanting to do my whole life.  And guess what?  I won.

Unfortunately, it took being severely unhinged to do it.