Daily Archives: June 19, 2013
I had been manic for the past several hours; I could practically feel my brain buzzing. In an attempt to calm myself down, I had sprayed my ritual mist, brushed my teeth, and prepared for sleep. But sleep did not come. Instead, the voices arrived.
It sounded like there was a family of four camped out in front of my closed bedroom door eating dinner. I could hear the clink of the glasses and cutlery, the murmur of conversation. I could distinguish the voice of a man, a woman, and at least two children, but I could not figure out what they were saying. I was terrified. In bare feet and an old t-shirt, I opened the door. The empty hallway greeted me with a sardonic smile. I crept around the house, searching for the source of the sounds. Was my mom watching TV in the guest room? Was my brother playing video games? There had to be a logical explanation for what I was hearing. I returned to bed, troubled and in tears. The silence reassured me and tempted me to back beneath my duvet.
I was in bed less than five minutes when the dinner resumed. I shut my eyes tightly, trying to block the noise out. After a few minutes, it went away. I relaxed, tried to fall asleep again. It returned. This game continued for a couple of hours. I was finally so exhausted that I was able to ignore the sounds outside my door.
This pattern repeated for several weeks. I didn’t always hear the voices. It usually only happened on nights when I was particularly stressed or upset (all of finals week). I didn’t tell anyone about what I was hearing. I was afraid that they would make me change my meds, restarting the lengthy process towards stabilization. I was afraid that they would change my diagnosis from bipolar to schizophrenic. I was afraid that people would think that I was just too crazy.
I finally summoned enough courage to tell Chris about what was happening. He agreed that it was spooky, but he didn’t reject me as I had feared. Confiding in him gave me confidence to tell my therapist and eventually my parents. My therapist reassured me that my medication levels would just be adjusted and that I wouldn’t have to start a new set of pills. She also gave me some surprising information.
Not just people with schizophrenia can experience auditory hallucinations. The phenomenon affects people with bipolar, depression, and anxiety as well.
So why do we label hallucinations as “crazy?”
I propose that there is no such thing as crazy. There is only misunderstood and under-researched. We don’t fully know what causes hallucinations, and I think that that causes fear. My friend, Steven, explained it to me as synapses misfiring in the part of the brain that processes sound (the auditory cortex). Unfortunately, we don’t yet know what causes these misfires. It bothers me that there is still so much about the brain that we don’t know. Everyone has one, yet they remain mysterious.
Right now, I can’t do neurological research. I can’t conduct studies and figure out why some people hear or see things that don’t exist. I can, however, help fight stigma. That’s why I’m writing this blog post. I’m still embarrassed about this most recent symptom. I’m still afraid I’ll lose friends because of it. I’m still worried that it might be a little too “crazy” for people to handle.
But: If this post helps even one person reconsider a judgment they’ve passed, a fear they have, or misconception they harbor, then it’s worth it. It’s worth the temporal discomfort and embarrassment. That is why I blog.
It’s that old saw in bipolar blogging — when you’re doing well, there’s almost nothing to say. If you’re like me, it’s in part ’cause you’re busy enjoying feeling good (or better — it’s all relative). I’m still feeling worn down physically, but that’s easier to tend to and baby than when the brain is acting up.
Having said that, Mister Scumbag Brain is continuing to try and find thing that annoy me with. It inspired me to write a poem this morning on the way to work:
The poison sting
Throbbing and pulsing beneath the skin
It never fades
I won’t go into specifics, but there’s a social aspect of my past that my brain is hellbent on remaining bitter about. I have to fight myself almost daily to not let it get a latch onto me. Because when it does, it makes me physically ill from anxiety and stress and all the negative chemicals and fixating my brain chooses to do about this bit of history. It drives me batty — I have all the desire in the world to put it past me, but it still bothers me. Time will heal this wound, but it’s been years already — get done with the healing, Scumbag Brain!
Still, on the upside… yay poetry? My brain has been spitting out bits and bobs of it in the past couple of weeks, which delights me. I used to be able to pull all sorts of little bits from my brain when I was in school… but that could be said of the entire school, ’cause performing arts school. We all fancied ourselves creative, naturally! There’s some available on a really old webpage of mine if anyone is bored enough to check it out (and be blinded by dear deity late 90s webpage ‘design’).
Anyhoos, life goes on. And me? I’m going to get back to le work grind!
I’m grateful for the meds I take that are making me a more productive member of society. On the other hand, they keep taking me away from my safety zone. As miserable as I was during my major bouts of depression at least my world was small. I only had to worry about the world in my tiny apartment. Getting sleep, eating, watching tv when I could. Hell, I didn’t even worry about the bills. I would just toss them into the bottom drawer of my dresser to wait for another day.
Today my world is bigger and brighter…and scary as hell. Dammit, I have to be responsible. I really don’t have that much on my plate, but it sure feels that way. The things I have going on are:
- Getting the apartment cleaned up because we’ll have a guest over tomorrow night
- Having that guest over tomorrow night
- Completing a committee report for church that was due last week
- Finish writing a sermon that I will be doing next month
- Choosing the correct music for the sermon I’ll be doing next month
- Continue over the next 8 weeks the class I’m taking at school
- Find the best way (lowest cost) to purchase my textbook
To the average bear this probably doesn’t look like much, but it hangs heavy on me. Sadly there is another component that is making this a much harder load than it should be; I had a talk last night, with my ex wife, regarding my daughters visitation. The positive is that there was no battle, no explosions, no screaming, no name calling. The conversation was amazingly civil, but, we did not come to an agreement. When it comes to my daughter I generally write very little. Partially for her safety and partially out of respect for her mother. Therefore, I won’t go into detail other than to say the discussion didn’t go my way and my heart hangs heavy.
It’s times like this that I wish I could close the blinds and curl up here in my tiny apartment and keep my world small. Sadly, that’s just not an option anymore.
It began as a good day.
I was fine for about four hours.
Then by hour 7 of my kid’s company being here, I was snapping and angry because it just stresses me out so much. Damiana eats our food, won’t pick up her mess, tattles every six seconds, and says my name more in an hour than it’s been spoken in my life. It drains me. And for an hour after I send her home, I have to listen to my kid whine and cry how she loves her friend with all her heart…
I need to do what’s best for me instead of taking the path of least resistance. A couple of hours with company, I am fine. More than that, I really start to spaz because it sets off my anxiety.
Soo…8 pm R calls.(And about that time, my stomach starts in with the stress stomach ache. Coincidence?) Tells me if I will just “pop” in for an hour tomorrow to order some parts, he’ll leave me alone. I asked if this was his way of telling me I have overstayed my welcome. He said, “You wanted to spend time with your kid, I am giving you what you want.”
For a moment, his sounds of disgust had me feeling guilty for being so difficult and unclear.
Then it hit me.
I have told him EXACTLY what I would like. He even said it would be fine if I came in two or three days a week.
Now he is acting like that conversation never took place and I told him I want to never come in. I need the car repair karma, and i need to get out of the house. I never said I didn’t want to come in at all. I said I just wanted to cut back because it’[s not like I am being paid, and in all fairness he had Kenny and Mark there today. And pointedly told me he did fine without me. Which after months of being told “no one can do what you do” kind of stung. Mr. Sensitivity. I knew he’d be fine without me. I just didn’t think he’d put it out there like some passive aggressive fuck you for speaking up.
He gave me the whole guilt trip about what do I want from him, and he’s just doing what I want…
I think he’s insane. Actually I know if I speak to him after 8pm there’s a good chance he won’t remember it in the morning even though he says I am wrong about that as well because, you know, his drinking 80 ounces of beer every night is not a problem.
I just don’t get it. I have been clear and concise but it’s like he’s picking out only what he wants to hear. How do I defend myself against that sort of mind set? And how is not going to be a trigger even for a non bipolar person? All any of us want is to be heard and yet I feel like I am being edited by his brain. I could really use some advice on how to “regulate” my emotions. It’s something the counselor told me I need to do, yet every time I ask her HOW, she never gives me an answer. And well, I have no friends to speak to, although Becca does listen to me even though I know my bitching gets very very old. (She is an extremely patient and wonderful wench <3.)
I know the simplest thing would be to just detach myself from the situation all together. Put R in the past. I deserve better than someone whose only purpose in my life has always been to make me feel bad. His self appointed purpose, while claiming to be a saint. Martyr complex. (He says he doesn’t play mind games but he’s the fucking grand master and I’d know considering how long I’ve been jerked around.)
But I don’t walk away entirely because as much as he is an ass, some of it is me too. I am mercurial due to the mood swings. I am easily stressed. I am socially awkward. I tend to run high on emotion, especially when the meds aren’t up to snuff, and it makes me more erratic. In plain terms, I am a difficult person even for myself to deal with. I’ve had the same problems with every job I have ever had. I always break down, crack up, and run away. That is on me, and I don’t want to do it again, even if it would probably be more emotionally healthy for me. I am just determined to not run away. I am trying to do better, be better, and break old cycles of behavior. Not everything is the bipolar’s fault, I have to take some responsibility.
Even if it comes with stomach aches and brain bleeds.