good evening and here is the eight o’clock blues

(scheduled post & tw for grim, long-winded and self indulgent misery, as well as allusions to abuse, self harm and suicide), plus the usual effing and blinding.

I’m so down that it’s possible that the heaviness of my heart (as well as my amazing, long running role of Lead Balloon) could weigh me down enough to

s
i
n
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right down through the earth’s core and come out somewhere in the Marianas Trench, instantly dying of burns sustained on the way, plus collapsed lungs. Fun. Almost as much fun as I am right now, in fact.

As usual, I could easily make a list as long as my arm (in 8 point font) of plausible causes of depression, and the causes would all be legit contributing factors adding weight to the burden. But they wouldn’t actually be causes at all, just rocks in the pockets of the black dog that’s been at my heel since birth. (How’s that for a mixed metaphor, cocktail suckers?) I swear by all the incessant yet quiet burps of lamotrigine induced reflux, that depression birthed me and depression will kill me. The cause is motherfucking bipolar, the contributing factors aren’t far off its strength either.

The other thing, is that everything’s hitting me double today; it’s the day after the hallucination on the beach. I told an entire story about a wedding using the word ‘funeral’ instead. I put my sunglasses on upside down. I fell over from a standing (standing still nogal) position – twice. My ears are doing strange things. None of that is particularly noteworthy; the worst thing about the day has been (and still is) dizzying and nausea inducing headrushes. No big deal, just sliiighty off kilter. Depth perception juuust off, balance juuust off etc. It doesn’t hurt much, but it does make the day hard work in general.

If I can get anyone’s attention for longer than 15 minutes, I find myself babbling desperately to get my whining done. By the time the whine is whined, the poor listener either has a suddenly urgent appointment, or has gone deaf and then died. The neighbour still has her head firmly buried in her boyfriend (lol euw), the friend who’s emigrating is understandably freaked, sad and busy with the process (frankly right now, she needs my support more than I need hers) and local friend #3 is a drive away rather than a walk, and I haven’t trusted myself to drive yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Fucking mixed episodes though. This one needs to get its jaws out of my jugular and fuck the fucking fuck right off now. It’s on its way out, I’ll be fine very soon. I need to learn to identify and deal with the warning signs better (apparently they don’t have subthreshold auras the way migraine do; shit I think I mean prodromal symptoms). I’m not sure that I have obvious warning signs every time, but when they happen, it goes something like this… It starts off with something like PMS, not bad PMS I think, but then, I’ve never had bad PMS or period pains, or hectic blood loss etc. My cycle has always been rather insanely irregular and I don’t panic when I miss three in a row, so it makes identifying PMS at the wrong time pretty much impossible. Anyway, at first I weep for no reason, then I locate some reasons and it all feels finite and manageable. Then bam, I’m as agitated as fuck and getting thoroughly pissed off at the slightest provocation and my skin feels hot and the world begins to resemble a wind tunnel. I can feel my breathing, my heartbeat and every muscle; my eyes get blurred and/or my vision starts to telescope in and out. I clench and grind my teeth harder than usual, I get pins and needles. Self harm and suicidal ideations sneak in. There’s a permanent and intense scream in my head that gets really distracting. I’m extra sensitive and stressed and fragile and… you get the picture.

The real danger comes when part or all of the above become strong and chaotic enough to kick me and my actions and reactions completely out of control. Maybe one day I’ll have the balls to write down the worst of my fuckups – but it is not this day.

Things are a lot more contained these days. I live a very quiet life, with a solid routine, I do not drink and I don’t do drugs. I’m a goddamned saint (if there was a god, that phrase would be a literal one). Life is more stable, my decisions are better and on the whole, I’m as depressed as hell on a rainy Sunday and I would far rather be dead. (Disclaimer: ideation, not intention, I’ve been dealing with the ideations as far back as I can remember. Before I could write, I carved secret symbols into wood, about death and hatred – no prizes for guessing who the hatred was aimed at.) Right now, I’m emerging from the kind of shape in which my psychiatrist says gravely, “do we need to look at hospitalisation?” (no, I’m tough and broke and who would take care of my dog?), and into the kind of shape where the bleakness and flat affect cause my psychiatrist and I to have precisely the same exchange of questions. I swear I must be fucking bulletproof.

If the past couple of weeks had been manic, I’d feel as though I were coming down from an E or six now. I tend more towards mixed states than mania though, and so this phase is more like coming off a mean, neat whiskey drunk, sans vomit and headache. I’m sore, sad, snarling; soon I will be a whole lot more sad and sore and despairing. Although things hurt like fuckery emotionally then, they’re far safer than the violent and chaotic self harm and suicide that mixed episodes carry strapped to their waists like… er… the sort of gun Clint Eastwood uses while chewing a cigarette and gazing at dudes in black hats through narrowed eyes beneath a furrowed brow, and above the manliest stubble you ever saw in your life.

(Well if I can’t paint my prose purple to make you smile and mix a quaking shaker of metaphors to make you laugh, what fucking good am I to anyone? I got the devil chasing me and I’m dancing as fast as I can.)

The only difference between my thoughts now and my thoughts on most other days, is that I’m not using the filters, the whitewash or the candyfucking coating we all have to use sometimes to keep the people we love from getting caught up in us and following us into the abyss. I’m not a suicide risk at all, and sometimes I think that fact makes it all more desolate.

So I get up early, I walk the dog on the beach, my meals are regular, I take my meds the way I should, I make sure I’m not too reclusive and much of the time it all seems to make fuckall difference. And so with the time that is left over after all the routines are done, I go for another walk, do some house chores, some garden chores, I read, I write, I get online and everything distracts me from the pain until I pause and then the fucker is back. Sometimes one thing is more than enough to slap me way down. Sometimes I wonder if all the distraction is any way to live at all. Sleep, lather, rinse, repeat, and all I get is defeat.

None of it is any kind of conscious choice or a behavioural addiction. Here’s why. If we accept my psychiatrist’s analysis that my bipolar was unleashed at age five and diagnosed at age 44, we’re left with 39 years of untreated bipolar. If we add ADHD and C-PTSD to the mix, it gets a bit more complicated. If we look at the diagnosis now, it’s even less cheerful.

Bipolar 1
Continuous circular course
Rapid cycling
Psychotic features
Mixed features
ADHD
C-PTSD
Agoraphobia

All of that shit is far, far from the worst I could have wrong with me. The fact that I was medicated for depression for a decade or so means that some of the long term damage to the brain and so on will have been averted. The fact that one antidepressant triggered mania and that some other stuff triggered psychosis means that my butt was kicked hard towards finally getting an accurate diagnosis and some treatment. I am incredibly fortunate to live how and where I do. I am loved by some seriously wonderful people, I have a wonderful dog and I have a wonderful psychiatrist. There are many more things on my gratitude list; I have a metric fucktonne of things to be thankful for, and I am genuinely thankful.

Bob Dylan – Pay in Blood (2013)

My prognosis is poor, but not train smashingly so at all. We all pay in blood and “grief is the price we pay for love”* and without blood and love, life isn’t life at all.

Well I’ll be damned, I thought this post would be purely about putting emotional suffering into a readable form to make sense of it, but I was wrong. Instead, I cleared enough space to write my  long and winding way to a positive conclusion. Fuckit man, there goes my urban decay street cred.

We all pay in blood and “grief is the price we pay for love”* and without blood and love, life isn’t life at all.

I’m talking shit about the street cred, of course, but it isn’t a new conclusion and conclusions tend not to be solutions anyway. I’m still having headrushes, there’s screaming in my head again and I really want to punch myself hard. I won’t though. I’ve no idea whether I’ve ever said so on my blog, but the most important crutch that holds me up, is the fact that no matter how much agony is perpetrated by humanity, we shine too, we are beautiful too. And now I will go and swallow another six industrial strength pills and chase oblivion for a while.

*Queen Elizabeth II said that, apparently.

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Ode to Broken Things (Pablo Neruda)

Things get broken 
at home 
like they were pushed 
by an invisible, deliberate smasher. 
It’s not my hands 
or yours 
It wasn’t the girls 
with their hard fingernails 
or the motion of the planet. 
It wasn’t anything or anybody 
It wasn’t the wind 
It wasn’t the orange-colored noontime 
Or night over the earth 
It wasn’t even the nose or the elbow 
Or the hips getting bigger 
or the ankle 
or the air. 
The plate broke, the lamp fell 
All the flower pots tumbled over 
one by one. That pot 
which overflowed with scarlet 
in the middle of October, 
it got tired from all the violets 
and another empty one 
rolled round and round and round 
all through winter 
until it was only the powder 
of a flowerpot, 
a broken memory, shining dust. 

And that clock 
whose sound 
was 
the voice of our lives, 
the secret 
thread of our weeks, 
which released 
one by one, so many hours 
for honey and silence 
for so many births and jobs, 
that clock also 
fell 
and its delicate blue guts 
vibrated 
among the broken glass 
its wide heart 
unsprung. 

Life goes on grinding up 
glass, wearing out clothes 
making fragments 
breaking down 
forms 
and what lasts through time 
is like an island on a ship in the sea, 
perishable 
surrounded by dangerous fragility 
by merciless waters and threats. 

Let’s put all our treasures together 
— the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold — 
into a sack and carry them 
to the sea 
and let our possessions sink 
into one alarming breaker 
that sounds like a river. 
May whatever breaks 
be reconstructed by the sea 
with the long labor of its tides. 
So many useless things 
which nobody broke 
but which got broken anyway.

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