Daily Archives: June 2, 2012

prisoners of war

i am trembling and my stomach is in knots.

i just woke up and checked the time.  12:36 pm.  well that’s good, i’m well rested at least.  then i saw the missed call and my stomach dropped.  what’s the date?  what day  is it?  june 2nd…

shit.

it was my sister.  you would think a call from her would elicit a happy response but instead it represented something else: facing my family, who can be a real source of stress and trauma for me.  it was the day after my class ended, so i knew my aunt would be calling to get in touch.  i’d have to talk to my grandma about her new dog.  my mom has been calling.  oh god…

as it turns out, stress isn’t exactly my friend these days.  when i went to my psychiatrist yesterday we created a timeline of effects of lithium.  it turns out my hypomanic couple of days were right on time for when the lithium was expected to reach therapeutic blood levels.

(side note: i did ask her if that effect would occur in non-bipolar individuals taking lithium and she said no.  i am only reasonably confident in her response though; still it’s more support for me having bipolar.  bipolar: 1, me: 0)

then when i discovered my debit card number had been stolen and some bitch went on a beauty supply shopping spree, i made like a boomerang and went south. deep south.

suddenly i find myself imagining that suicide is painless.  i was getting ready for a movie date last night and decided to dress up, to celebrate leaving the house for the first time in a long time.  i put on a dress and styled my hair, took a look at myself and thought i looked nice enough to kill myself.  i actually thought that hanging myself wouldn’t be that bad.  mentally i started giving away my things.  i got to figuring out who would take my pets before i stopped myself and called my friend.  XBF was supposed to be there in 2 minutes but i didn’t feel safe telling him about it.

those feelings have dissipated, but i’ve now created a new rule for myself that i MUST be around people a few times a week.  socially.

the phone just rang again.  it was my sister calling me back.  she sounded cheery, relatively speaking and i thought that was good.  she asked how i was doing and i said, oh you know, up and down.  ha. ha. ha.

she let me know she would call in a few minutes when she got back to my grandma’s house because they were out running errands.  suddenly i’m starting to feel panicked.  i don’t want to face my sister AND the dog issue at the same time.  i start crying within seconds.  i can’t stop it.  tears are rolling down my face as i’m telling her she can call me back and that i’ll be available.

i don’t even know myself anymore.  something has clearly snapped.

i want to talk to my sister, don’t get me wrong.  but i don’t know what to say.  she’s sensitive to stress and clearly so am i.  what topics are safe?  do i ask her about her bipolar?  i heard she is only taking anti-depressants right now, and i want to tell her in a non-emergency mode kind of way that taking anti-depressants (plus going to VEGAS) can lead to a hypomanic episode.  she’s also not seeing a licensed therapist who deals with bipolar disorder on a regular basis.  i get that she likes the lady she’s been seeing for a long time now, but i think she’s MFT (marriage and family therapy), and i’m not confident in her qualifications to be treating my sister.  at least i hope she would have some kind of specialist available, who isn’t a psychiatrist.

i just got off the phone and now i am more stressed and sad and confused.  she has decided to throw out the bipolar diagnosis.  she is simply ignoring it.  i asked if she would consider getting a second opinion and she said she got one from her MFT counselor.  i tried not to sound as urgent as i felt, but every time i tried to take a different approach i reached a dead end.  my sister is really good at that, at stopping conversations she doesn’t want to have.  i could sense that she was starting to get irritated and defensive that i kept asking about it.

she told me she was taking antidepressants and felt great and that life was totally manageable (yeah, that sounds familiar) and i could hear her rapid speech (especially noticeable when compared to my own pace) and we both forgot what we were talking about several times.  i tried to be as delicate as possible when i mentioned that taking antidepressants when you’re bipolar can make the condition worse.  after i said they can lead to a hypomanic episode she caught on to what i was saying and it was clear she didn’t like it.

in the interest of keeping the peace i decided to take a more affiliative approach and to drop the subject.  silently i cursed my family members because i knew they were supporting her decision to forget the diagnosis.  how fucking irresponsible could they be?

she went on to tell me about her plans to get 1) a part time job, 2) a volunteer position, and 3) a second volunteer position, so she can “ease” back into being busy.  that doesn’t look anything like easing to me but clearly the bipolar subject was off limits for this conversation.

i found myself feeling increasingly stressed out so i made up an excuse and said i would call her back.

i can’t force her to do anything and she isn’t receptive to a second opinion from a QUALIFIED therapist.  her feelings are bolstered by the support of my family, whose opinions i suspect are rooted in fear.  the only thing to do is wait and see.

it brings a whole new meaning to the old saying, if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?


Telling the Tale (Someday)

Inspired by Alice’s biographical post of the other day, I feel inspired to follow suit. The problem with that? Focus. Focus focus, who’s got the focus? It’s not me, and that is a bit of a perennial problem. Writing things in advance is difficult for me because of this; I’m still amazed that I’ve managed to get anything into my notebook as per my clever plan. Maybe if I can get myself to jot an outline… maybe that would make a difference? As much as I hated them in school, they are sort of useful for getting points down to build off of. Hrm…

It also doesn’t help that I’m especially off in my head right now. I’ve neglected to do anything chore-like for the bulk of this week. My husband is an awesome trooper and gets things done faster than I can blink most times, for which I am grateful. I avoid spending my time beating myself up for what is because frankly? That seems like one of the quickest routes to Depressionville. I’ve managed to stay afloat for a few months now, and I am not going to let my mind’s nasty cheap tricks work their ill against me. That just means it will eventually find and try other ones… but I continue to thank zod/deity/science that my meds continue to mainly keep those unpleasant elements strapped down.

But still, I should see if I can muster an outline at least. It will be cathartic to write out things, especially if my family continues to neglect coming by; this frees me to be more honest without fear of being told that I am wrong about how I feel. I am not wrong about how I feel – my feelings are valid, period, end of. It’s doing me more good than I ever possibly realized to finally realize this… which is probably a redundant and obvious statement in the scheme of things.  But if it’s something you didn’t know, how could you have known? But it is good, and it is helping me, and it is making me stronger and less guilty.

And speaking of lack of guilt, back to some guilt-free Sims indulgence. It feels lovely to be trawling through a Legacy again. I might not get very far (the game is a glitchfest of shite coding, to be brutally honest), but that’s okay – as long as I’m having fun with my time.

<3

Insane in the Membrane, Sane in the Brain.

 

Somehow my thoughts about T’s suicide and my own way of dealing with madness have become entangled into a single pronouncement about How To Deal With Being Mentally Ill.

I’m good for pronouncements, it doesn’t mean that I don’t welcome other opinions though, so feel free.

T died from depression. That’s mostly how I see it. I also see that he made a choice, a choice I am angry about and sad about and a choice I respect as his to make (and yes, a choice I am envious of). I also think that he had no choice, that his depression took over and killed him. His death’s ripple effects are more akin to Genocide: it wiped out the tribe of all who loved him and those of us still alive are no longer who we were just before we found out, no longer who we could have been.We’ve all been changed into new people on new paths. Something that huge doesn’t happen for just one reason.

So I don’t blame him… not entirely. I think about it like someone with diabetes going on a 6 month sugar binge, someone with heart disease eating greasy, fatty foods… T didn’t take care of himself when he was “well enough to know better” and that part is his fault.

And that’s where I start winding around to my own life with my mental illness. I realized the other day that I have been horribly lax and let something happen that I never would have a few years ago: I have no health insurance. What. The. Hell. Was. I. Thinking? I quit my job for my sanity (woo hoo) but picked up a contract job with no health insurance and now I have a very narrow group of drugs I can purchase with my anemic prescription coverage. I stopped being vigilant. I let myself down. I gave in, gave up, allowed myself to look back on many years of relative stability and forget what can happen. I don’t get to have that luxury, ever.I must remain always and forever protective of myself and of those I love. I cannot allow my madness to win, to wipe me out, to wipe out who they are now and who they could be. I don’t get to be “normal”.

It seems to me that most of the people I know who can be said to be doing “well” with their mental illness have a particular gift for compartmentalization and holding multiple and contradictory threads of thought and emotion at once. Both T and my very close friend C (who also killed himself) were quite reluctant to imagine their Self as separate from their depression. I, on the other hand, am at war with my BiPolar. I loathe it, it wants to kill me. Sure, I enjoy the hypomania when I can get it but only as inadequate payback for the agony of depression and the clusterfuckery of mania. I am fragmented into so many pieces it is a wonder I am not MPD by now. But we all crowd into my head at once and I have lovely friends who I can get reality checks from (Crazy Brain says “X” but Sane Brain says “Y”, what do you think?). I am pretty good at noticing when I am not myself unless it sneaks up on me, slow frog boiling and whatnot and I then I see bank account is drained, the stranger seduced, the gun in my hand. Whoops. Luckily this time I caught myself at the hypo stage and reined in, no harm done. This time.

And that is why I can’t ever just relax. I can’t give into that siren song, “Maybe you aren’t crazy anymore; the only way to find out is to stop your meds…”. I can’t ignore it when I notice I am spending more money than usual (my hypomania usually starts with bizarre shopping habits and obsession over objects… right now I am desperate for hundreds of these brass buckle things and just spent 25 minutes looking for a picture to link here…). I can’t ignore it when I don’t sleep well and I am not tired or when I am suddenly forward and talkative to strangers.

The Sane Brain is old and has seen it all. The Sane Brain seems to manage to be always sober, always in control… a stodgy, stick in the mud ready to tell everyone else to stop having fun. And I don’t know how I do it, but I am still effing nuts sometimes and Sane Brain is there, letting me fly about in my little moth jar but never out, never into real danger. And sometimes Sane Brain is quiet and weak but always there, always at the edges ready to say “Careful!” or “Wait!”… it’s really damn hard to ever hit any kind of Oblivion because of that.

As you can see, if you have gotten this far, I am still somewhat in a hypo state – thoughts are goopy and quick and hard to hold onto but so far it’s been a good trip and I hope to stay where I am — just a little tipsy on the ol’ Brain Chemical Gumbo, not downright inebriated.

I am certain I had a point… I know I did which is why I sat down to write. I think it is this: if you think of your Self as inextricably tied in with your particular flavor of mental illness, you just might be doomed. To take medication in that frame of mind is tantamount to suicide – you’d be muffling, stifling, killing a huge part of your Self. If you don’t fragment/compartmentalize/distance your Self from the bits of your brain chemistry that want to destroy everything that isn’t them, then I don’t see how you can get better. Maybe there is a more “holistic” approach that I am not in touch with – a way to love and accept and embrace the full balance of your mental chemical gumbo as a sum of Who You Are. IF there is, I’d be interested to see if I could possibly try it, but I fear I simply no longer trust anyone in my head enough to believe that if there were only one Self in charge, I’d be okay. Even Sane Brain messes with me from time to time, putting on someone else’s scent and encouraging dangerous behavior with a wink and a smile and a shrug of the shoulders.

I guess that is really the heart of it all… it’s so damn hard to say “I can’t trust me” and so much easier and more comforting to say “This is who I am” and let the chips, relationships, jobs, lives fall where they may.

2 hours later… finally found the a picture of the damn thing I want to buy many of… and I still want to buy many.