What Bender?

I don’t work Fridays.  Which meant that my Fourth of July weekend probably started earlier than others.

Can We Start, Start Over?

But my husband works Fridays, like normal folks with office jobs.  We had worked it out with my MIL to take our son for the evening so we could spend some quality time together.  When she offered to take him for the night, I was overjoyed.  I thought, “What a relaxing time we could have!  Just the two of us!”  I looked forward to it all week!

I should have gotten the point when I tried to send him cute emails from work that went unanswered an mostly unread.  It should have been pretty blunt when he started to go through all of the excuses that he could manage all week to get out of it.  But I was trying.  That was the point.  I guess I thought that if I really made the effort to be nice and romantic that we could rekindle our marriage.

I have never been so wrong.

Our son wasn’t even gone 30 minutes before my husband went into how we didn’t have any money for a date.  I said, “Remember when we were first together and very poor?  We took the neighborhood tour, sat by the trestle with a bottle of Old Crow, frequented parks and cemeteries after dark.”  It wasn’t enough.  He went into the hundreds of reasons why he didn’t want our son staying with his mother.  And I gave up.  It was clear.  He didn’t want to be alone with me.  I wasn’t going to force it.  I was done trying – I was met with too much opposition.

The Bender – Day 1

After the retrieval of our son, after dinner, after bedtime for toddlers, after dark, I took my journal and a drink out on the balcony.  I hadn’t done this in over four years; not since I was in an abusive relationship with my ex-fiance and had succumbed to alcoholism.  The plan was to get wasted.  I didn’t want to feel anymore.  My heart was broken, my illusions were shattered, and my hope was gone.  I wanted to erase everything.

It went largely unnoticed.  Not as if I was seeking the attention.  Mostly, I wanted him to leave me alone.  I wanted everyone to leave me alone.  Because “If I must be lonely, I think I’d rather be alone.”

I took precautions not to be hungover the next day.  As a previous alcoholic, I knew how to be a functional alcoholic.  Two ibuprofen, two Gatorades, and a slice of pizza always does the trick.  On the day of the second, I went about my business as usual.  Except, there was a great deal of Ativan involved.

The Bender – Day 2

The plan for this evening wasn’t to get wasted.  That wasn’t my intention.  I just wanted enough alcohol to sleep.  I couldn’t stand being conscious anymore.  But the later it got, the more I thought I needed.  Before I knew it, I was trashed.  Again.  I didn’t care.  I didn’t feel anything.  And I didn’t want to.  Not anymore.

The Bender – Day 3

More Ativan throughout the day.  More alcohol at night.  I hadn’t had a bender in over 4 years.  And I was losing control.  For once, it felt good.  No more control freak.  No more worry about things I couldn’t control.  I still cared for my son in the day.  I could function just fine.  I just didn’t care about the sham of a life I was living.  I didn’t care that my marriage was falling apart.  I stopped hating myself.  I stopped blaming myself, and mostly, I just stopped thinking.

The Bender – Day 4

By this time, it was Monday, July 4th.  More of the same.  Only this time, it was a work night.  I kept going.  I couldn’t stand it.  I couldn’t stand the idea of sobriety and finally having to face myself and what I had done and not done.  I wanted to keep living my life in a haze.  I wanted to keep the numbness going as long as I could.  Because I knew that this was the end of it.  In the morning, I’d have to return to my normal life.  I was like Cinderella and the midnight clause.  Except, it lasted until 2 am.

Returning to Normality?

Not quite.  By this time, I was in such a haze that I was slow and sluggish.  I wasn’t fatigued.  I was in a fog.  A blissful fog where I couldn’t see the problems.  I couldn’t feel the weight on my back.  And it was blissful, even if it was short lived.  I had a five day vacation from reality.

By Tuesday night, I had returned to my now typical state.  Hopeless, burdened, exhausted… depressed.  I hate even using that word anymore because it’s just so empty for me.  It can’t describe the depth of the sadness, mourning, soul-deadening emotion that I experienced.

At least I can escape at work.  Children hug me.  Adults treat me like I am valuable and human.  Co-workers respect me.  And no one even has a clue about anything underneath the surface.

They never will.

Shifting Gears

For the last two days, I have had the pleasure of describing to you bipolar depression through my very own eyes.  However, there has been a sudden shift.  And I’m actually terrified, for the first time, by a mood swing associated with my illness.

I know the signs.  I’ve been tracking them carefully for the last two years, meticulously recording them in journals.  I generally know the rhythm too.  A depressive episode will surely follow a manic episode.  That doesn’t not mean that I cannot have two depressive episodes in a row, but there is often a moratorium, varying in length that punctuates these episodes.  I have never experienced what I am experiencing now.

Yesterday, I described that the mood was lifting, little by little.  By midnight, I wasn’t tired.  It’s not too uncommon.  I’ve been known to pull longer evenings up until about 2 am.  But 2 am came and went and I was wide awake.  3 am passed without another thought.  I was caught in a flurry of ideas and determined to get them into some semblance of existence before they scurried away.  I wanted to share these ideas.  Yes, in the middle of the night.  4am came and I had to try to sleep.  I laid there, and laid there.  Finally, sleep came.

I jumped out of bed at 9am.  And for the first time in a very long time, I was ready to take on the world.  Although I was a little groggy at first, I was not at all missing the lost hours.  I was up for any challenge.  I felt like I was on top of the world!  I could finally finish everything I started and do everything that I never thought that I would find the time for.  I would spend time with my family and clean the house and cook dinner and… on and on.  I went to work with great enthusiasm for my students today and a firm hand at disciplining them.  I was in control.  I could do anything!

It hit me at about noon, when I wasn’t getting the least bit tired.  This may be the start of a manic episode.  The pieces were all there.  It was just up to me to put the picture together.

I often dread manic episodes when I see them coming.  I know that a debilitating depressive episode is on it’s way if the manic episode is particularly intense.  But once I’m in it, I don’t think of any of that.  I don’t think about tomorrow.  Nothing bad can happen to me.  Because I can handle it.  I can handle anything that comes my way.  And I’ll do it all while being charming and looking fabulous.  Besides, things, no matter how bleak, always seem to find a way to work out.  I can work it out without a doubt.

Reality ceases to exist in a manic episode.  Everyone is my best friend.  All new experiences are good experiences.  I require constant stimulation, and usually in the form of some creative outlet or though exchanging of ideas or information.  I become impulsive.  I’ll go somewhere for no reason.  I’ll call someone I haven’t talked to in ages for no reason. I’m so creative and alive!  I’M FINALLY ALIVE!

There’s rarely a downside to my manic episodes because they are usually hypomanic in nature.  I don’t gamble because I think it’s a waste of money.  I have the impulse to shop, but there’s never any money in my bank account anyway.  Sometimes, I’m hypersexual, but I won’t jeopardize my marriage if my husband isn’t willing to cooperate.  Sometimes I fantasize about it.  But that doesn’t hurt.  Usually, I just take care of business by myself.  It’s enough to tide me over until I can get the hubby to give in.

That’s not to say that there aren’t downsides at all.  If I am manic and in an extremely elevated mood, I have the tendency to become very irritable.  Especially when things start going wrong or someone tries to make me feel bad or antagonize me.   Believe me, it doesn’t take much.  And that’s when the impulsiveness becomes a problem.  I find myself compelled to do unreasonable things.  I’m pretty pissed at my husband right now.  We had a fight.  I’ll leave it at that.  He unfairly blames me and criticizes me.  I have a list a mile long for you, buddy.  I want to wake him up and pick a fight.  I want to start a riot.  I want to take a stand and pull out the couch downstairs so he can see that I’d rather sleep on a fold out couch than be remotely near him because I’m so disgusted.  I want to force these issues that he desperately wants to avoid.  Especially, my illness and our son’s special needs.  I want to get back at him for all of the times he made me feel bad and made my depression deepen.  I want to cut him out so that I don’t have to deal with his shit anymore.

I won’t.  I might if it keeps up.  Or if this manic episode gets any worse.  I don’t suppose that it will.  If it’s mixed, and I suspect that it might be, then I’ll be back in the throws of depression tomorrow.  But in the meantime, I’m not going to let him take me down.  I’m sick of it.  He’s a selfish. self-absorbed, arrogant, bastard-coasted bastard with bastard filling.  And one way or another, he will pay.

See?  Just two days ago I wouldn’t have been saying that.  I would’ve been moping and crying about how he yelled at me.  And how I love him and if he’s supposedly loves me, then why doesn’t he recognize my illness and why does he do things to make it worse?  I would’ve been trying to work it out instead of starting a war campaign.

We’ll see where this goes.  I love mania.  It helps me do all of the things I want, be a super person, and do the things I can’t when I’m just me.  And that’s what makes it dangerous.