My anger pulsates into my boots
Sitting Across the room
My raw naked toes
Stretch and reach for comfort
Warmth of a blanket
My heart has turned cold
The lies unfolding
Who are we
Turns out nothin I behold
Pretending for the sake
The stench of confusion
In my wake
How could I
Carry on knowing
So much to be untrue
As you tip toe
An old friend once said the hardest part is putting your feet on the floor. I remembered this as I laid in bed unable to move this morning. My alarm had been blaring for over 2 hours. I couldn’t will myself to throw back the covers. I insisted I get myself up right this minute so as not to be late for work. No movement. I stared blankly at the black out window shade in my bedroom. The clock ticked. The 8 o’clock hour passed me by. I should have been sitting at my desk. I had quite an important meeting w my supervisor at 1pm. I negotiated w myself that perhaps I could go in around 11. I was also supposed to run an errand first thing this morning for my husband. Important as well. Paralyzed. I just stared.
My phone was on my nightstand. I finally reached over about 8:45 and sent a text to my boss requesting to reschedule. Not 2 minutes later anger and guilt floods me. I “recalled” that text by sending another stating I would most definitely be in by 11am sharp. No response. Now I did it. I must get up. In one fell swoop I threw back the covers, put my feet on the floor and barreled into the shower. No energy to wash my hair. Looking presentable was the hope at this point.
Out of the shower I was trying to figure out how to proceed when I got her text. She replied, its okay. No problem to reschedule. I have personal things I need to take care of this afternoon. I don’t know if that was true or she was kindly letting me off the hook. I have been upfront with her, she knows I have bipolar disorder. I collapsed on the floor when I read her words. Relief. I crawled back under the covers wet hair and all. Slept for about 3 more hours.
The kindness and understanding of another can be so powerful. I cried on the floor out of shame, anger, relief and realizing my boss is on my side. Its not easy being honest with the outside world. Sharing vulnerabilities. Letting people in. But, today I am so grateful I did!
“It’s an act of faith. It’s going on when you no longer believe. It’s walking right into that wilderness.” – Natalie Goldberg, “Wild Mind”
“I’ve had an elegant sufficiency, and anything else would be flippity floppity.” – my mum-in-law
What gives you comfort? And what do you believe in? How do you go forward when all you can see is failure, and grief, and loss? How do you walk “right into that wilderness“?
When it seems like all you ever do is fuck up, over, and over again? When we see that life is sad?
I write about loss a lot. Maybe it’s because I’m pushing 60, so close, ever so close now, and with what seems like precious little to show for it: and that what I do have, I don’t deserve. Or maybe it’s because I’m posting a card to an elderly relative, not knowing whether they’ll make it through their operation, or whether that card will go onto the doormat of someone who will never open it, never see it?
I write a lot about death, too.
True loss: London memorial to the women who also served.
Gods’ plural truths, I try and appeal to my better nature. Sometimes, though, it seems the “better” part just doesn’t exist. That god(s) created me, not in his/her/their image, but that of a maudy, angry old cow.
The quote from Natalie Goldberg is about writing. It was Goldberg’s response to a woman who had started several novels, got to around page 180 – no mean feat – then would “lose interest, or wouldn’t believe in the story anymore”.
I let the writing slats get kicked out of me, not long ago. No one’s fault but my own. I took something to read, but couldn’t face it. A waste? Not entirely: for one thing, it made me finally replace my printer cartridges. Cue much swearing, but I did it.
And so now more slats have been kicked out: and, once again, it’s down to me.
Time and time again, it is writing which helps restore me: which comforts me, and gives me hope. Am I writing the poem a loved one requested? Am I making my way to page 180 – and, gods help me, beyond – on my current work in progress (WIP)? Editing & publishing my next short story collection?
Nope, nope, & nope. I’m blogging. Which admittedly is better than putzing around on FB, Twitter, or YouTube: my usual refuges in times of stress, and anxiety, and sadness. Which, in turn, is at least better than hiding in bed, or being stuck to the settee.
Of course, my life isn’t all gloom and doom. For one thing, this merry traveller recently returned, after being missing for nearly a month:
Back in the camp chair again: Al, Beltane, 2017
All the things I love are still here: okay, not all of them. But there is enough: compared to many of the people I meet, I do indeed have “an elegant sufficiency”.
Some flash fiction for you.Warning: do not eat while reading.
I wanted that dress. I mean, brick through the pvc window; alarm goes off; blood on shattered glass, and hands, and frock; dress itself proper shredded as I drag that red, sequin covered beauty through the broken window, and make off with it.
Truth told, I didn’t so much want the dress, as I wanted to smash a window. Not just any window, but that one: the bay one that had “Pretty Things for Pretty Women” smeared above it, and the door. Not literally smeared: the sign was plastic, shiny letters, not scum, or shit.
A lovely sign, lovely place: Leeds, 2016
Okay, so the sign did have some vomit. Also, piss. I’d happened to find them the night before, and decided they were wasted on the pavement in front of the corner shop next door. But I didn’t put them on the main sign, oh no: they were on the one which read “Pretties by Karli” Only, instead of a dot, there was a love heart over the “i” in “Karli”.
I ask you, what sort of grown woman uses a heart instead of a dot? One who hadn’t properly progressed, mentally, physically, or emotionally, since she was a scrawny 14 year old, all long legs, and pouty lips, and make up, and the sort of notebook that has multiple “Karli luvs Jason” and “Karli + Jason 4 Eva” scrawled across the cover.
For starters, who the hell is Eva? And why is she in a three some with that bitch Karli?
The Elephant in the City: Sheffield, 2016
Ok, I know she really meant “forever”. Stupid cow. She doesn’t just deserve vomit paint, or a brick through the window. The woman’s simply crying out for English lessons.
You think this is about Jason, don’t you? Poncy git, I wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole. Thwack him with it, maybe. Touch him? Not even if he were the last man on the planet, and the universe was gagging for a fresh crop of human beings.
Miserable species, humans.
Why? Evidence one: Karli. Evidence two: her “love heart” dot. Evidence three: Jason, a man whose brain has evidently been replaced by a very small bowl of oatmeal.
I bet they start each morning by flossing between the ears.
I've been having extreme mood swings where days are radically different.
Whee! All aboard the shit coaster!
One day I'm upbeat, energetic, productive, grateful, and optimistic. The little things don't bother me. I'm confident I will tackle them and they are manageable. I will get things done. My thoughts are quick. They bubble up to the surface. It feels like basking in a relaxing hot spring. I want to spend time with my family. They are so supportive and they fill me with energy, hope, and love. I can feel my positive attitude affecting them. It feels so light and effortless. I feel lucky to have my job and my home.
Then, the very next day is the extreme opposite. There is a multi-day streak that feels as if I've been in a deep depression for months. I'm dejected, sad, and hopeless. At all times a crying jag is three minutes away. The household tasks I've procrastinated are overwhelming. I loathe myself for putting them off for so long. I want desperately to be alone. My family isn't loving, they are an insatiable obligation. They won't leave me alone. They want to spend time with me all day long. They are crushingly dependent on my job and my income. Our lives would completely fall apart if I lost my job. And I don't think I can take my job another day. I'm failing at it. I'm behind. I'm going to blow it. I start late, nap during lunch, and barely get anything done. I can't focus. My moods affect my family and I resent them. They aren't caring but instead are helplessly dependent. I feel their disappointment as they resign themselves to my sudden descent into negativity. The guilt is overwhelming. I feel pressured to maintain a stable mood and shield them from the hell that is consuming me. They see a "bad mood" and I don't think they realize the suicidal thoughts that just won't stop. They see "impatience" and not the rage I can barely suppress. Sometimes I want to hurt them in the most savage way I can imagine. The desperate desire to get away. Feeling trapped and helpless because there's no way to escape this pain without crushing their lives. So I feel even more alone and I want to avoid them even more. I don't have the energy to keep up the facade.
The irony is that it's all so tiresome. Somehow... the emotional whiplash just gets to be the new normal. Swinging from love to repulsion. It's exhausting. But it just isn't surprising anymore. Hurrah.
My 18 year old son did something stupid. First, a couple days ago he and a friend decided to drive on a road that was partially flooded from all the rain we have had. Then the water was higher when they came back and so of course he tried to drive through it anyway and got his car stuck. Now we don’t know the whole story. Only bits and pieces that he has shared that we are pretty confident isn’t the whole story. Anyway, yesterday they decided to go back and try to see if they could get his car out of the water at least and then get it out when the water goes down. And we are talking about 6-8 miles. We still aren’t sure how far down it was. So they left their car where the sign was that the road was closed and proceeded to walk through the water. At 8 or so I guess they stopped at a guys house and my son uses his phone to call my husband and tell him they were out there. Leaving out how much water and how far they were going. At 10pm the man whose phone my son used called my husband to say that the boys were last seen in very high water and that he had called the sheriff. But thought that we should call them as well. So he did that and we called family to let them know they were missing. My husbands friend came over and took him out to where the car was. By this time they had sheriff, state police, and game and fish out there looking for the boys. We got the call about 130am that they had found them but were having a hard time getting to them. They made it home and my husband said my son stuck his head in the door and was like “well operation get my car failed”.
Really?? I mean really?? That’s what you have to say. We talked to them this morning and when I told my son that I thought he was dead floating in the water somewhere. And that I had pictured him in a casket, he acted like it didn’t matter. He doesn’t seem to understand that this was a BIG deal. One of his friends has been staying with us and my husband told them they could both get out. I don’t know if that’s the right decision but I can’t stop picturing my baby floating in the water. And this is where the obsessive thoughts come in. I know I am supposed to be happy and overjoyed that they are ok and safe at home. And I am. But mostly I am stuck. I can’t stop thinking about how bad it could have been. I can’t stop seeing my baby in a casket. I can’t stop being mad at him. What a stupid stupid choice. And I just can’t seem to let it go. I have a rock sitting in my chest that won’t go away. And there’s no medication in this world that could take this away from me. He’s my baby!
I can’t stop thinking about what might have happened. I know it’s not good for me but when I can stop thinking about that then I just so mad at him. I have told him over and over that if anything ever happened and I didn’t know what he was doing I would be so mad. Well, he told us what he was doing but definitely didn’t make it seem as big a deal as it was. We went this morning and looked at where they started at and as far as you can see the road is covered in water. And not just a little bit of water. It was at least a couple feet deep and probably much deeper as they moved further into it. Why?? Why would they think that was something they should do? I don’t understand. And I don’t understand why they haven’t said I’m sorry. Or we shouldn’t have gone out there. All they want to do is tell “their” story. But the thing is that doesn’t matter because they never should have set on foot in that water to begin with. And I had just talked to them about how scary flood water is. It can get higher in a matter of seconds at times. I TOLD them how scary it can be and that you never know what can happen. And yet they walked right past the road closed sign into the water and proceeded to walk miles down the road. I can’t let it go. I’m sure I will eventually but I just can’t. I am so mad and I am so disappointed and ashamed. He made a bad choice and he doesnt car or think he did anything wrong.
I’m stuck. I’m stuck between to scenarios that both make me incredibly angry. I’m stuck because I can’t stop thinking about how he could have been dead. I have always wondered how people live when their children die. And I am hear to say that I got close enough last night. I would not be able to keep living the life I am now if one of my kids was to die. I can’t let it go. I can’t be joyful. It’s making me even more sad. I just can’t get past the anger and the stupidity of their actions. I can’t get past the fact that I don’t know how many people where out looking for my child because he made a massive mistake. I haven’t heard I’m sorry or we learned our lesson. All they want to do is tell their story. It’s stupid and there is no story. You should have never set foot in the water much less when it is starting to get dark and you know you have a long way to walk.
I can’t stop them. I can’t let it go.
I’m sorry this was repetitive. But I just can’t let it go. I’m sure I will one day not too far down the road. But those images will still be there. I know there will be times when it comes flooding back. I won’t be able to get rid of those thoughts. They will hit me out of no where and I will be frozen by them. I don’t know how you are supposed to forget thinking that your child was dead and that you have to bury them. I am so sad. And I am so mad.
I hate that bipolar makes me latch on to things. It’s like once I get it in my head I can’t get it out. It’s there forever. I don’t know if anyone around me really understands that. I don’t say the things I say just because I want to talk. When I tell you that if something bad happens and you lied or I didn’t know where you were I am going to mad. I don’t WANT to be mad. But that’s what happens. And it takes a few days before I can talk about it without being mad. I hate that I am this way. I want to change it. But how do you change thoughts that come out of no where. Your rolling along and BAM it comes back full force and you feel it all over again. I guess I will stop here so I don’t say the same things again and again anymore.
Thank you for reading! And as always be blessed today!!
Oddly, my bipolar and binge eating symptoms hibernated while I was sick with bronchitis, sinus and ear infections (Can my body not multi-task? Is my brain too small to hold it all?), so the return of mixed-state depression/rage must mean the other stuff is on the way out. Yaay (?)
While being physically sick is no fun, the vacation from mental shit-storms and out of control compulsion is heavenly. It’s like being normal, only full of snot and really, really tired.
I’m still tired and semi-full of snot, but yesterday I rode sad anger back to bed and built a nest of portable projects around me to keep the yammering in my head at bay.
Henry and Emmett attended, but even they knew not to poke the bipolar bear who had no fucks left to give.
One of the hard things about coming back to my normal state of mental abnormality is that I’ve done so much cool art stuff these past two months. When I could barely breathe, I read a bit in Susan Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy about collecting words, then made Word Cookies out of old art magazines.
I carry them in this little bag that fits nicely in my purse, and offer them like Fortune Cookies to whomever I’m with (which has mostly been people at the drug store, my therapist’s staff, and a few civilians willing to chance my germs).
I’ve been brave about drawing in my journal.
And I created a spread that fell together like a story. Poor Tom Hiddleston, dumped by the harlot Taylor Swift, gave a heart-wrenching interview in February’s GQ that reminded me of Sting’s song Why Should I Cry For You? A little research gave me details I’d missed just listening to the song, like “under the Dog Star sail,” which refers to Sirius, and “north, northeast, the Stones of Faroe,” which led me to the tiny cluster of Faroe Islands off the coast of Iceland. I loved the metaphor of a broken-hearted sailor on the bleak, Arctic seas. And I loved pulling together all the elements for the collage.
The wall quilt I started before I got sick is turning into a fabric collage—a place to try new skills like painting and stenciling on fabric. Tearing apart my old art magazines for the Word Cookies, I found wonderful tips and examples. When I gave a fuck, the possibilities thrilled me.
The materials to make three new art journals came out of my cupboard. I finished two. The third now languishes on my table, waiting for the fucks to come back.
The Buckaroo Banzai journal
My favorite quote from the movie by evil Emilio Lazardo.
Art by Andrea Matus DeMeng
I took a class with Andrea at ArtFest.
One week in therapy, Megan and I looked at commitment, not just making commitments to others, but also keeping promises to myself. I realized that my longterm goal of writing a book to be published carried no joy for me anymore. In fact, working on it was often painful. Why was I doing this again? So people at my funeral could get a party favor? Morbid, bipolar-based reasoning.
I don’t have to prove myself a writer anymore, or leave something “of substance” behind. I can spend my life pleasuring myself with weird art that practically falls out of me, instead of grunting over tortured prose. So, I let that ancient goal go. There are, my friend Sue tells me, only so many fucks a person can give.
Yesterday, in my Nest of Apathy and Rage, I emailed Megan, just to whine. I knew, eventually, that the anger and depression would shift, but it was big and ugly yesterday. Even if I had none, I wanted someone to give a fuck.
Have I mentioned that my therapist is awesome. And funny. She wrote back later:
It is not exactly official, but any therapist I have ever had, as well as my mother and numerous boyfriends have said that I am the queen of being hard on myself. Now, I like the idea of being a queen (Let them eat cake! Ha!), but I don’t think this is the sort of thing that I need to continue to be proud of.
There are tricks to not being so hard of yourself, and I learn and then unlearn and then relearn them about every three days. Or more often, if the circumstances merit. Just like the rest of life, your response to life will really vary based on hundreds of different factors.
I have been trying especially hard in the last ten days to be gentle with myself, because I have had some physical maladies (getting both toenails pulled surgically from my big toes) and rehab time with those maladies, and some psych med issues, not to mention being far off my routine (mostly because two toes have been keeping me at home, fairly immobile) — well, it was really too much for me to think that I wasn’t going to have a stumble or two.
Now, the beauty of getting older (and I mean, one of the MAIN beauties) is that, every once in awhile, you learn your lesson. Sometimes you have to repeat it two or three or five hundred times, but it gets learned and it sticks in your head and, every great once in awhile, the stars align just so and BAM! you work yourself through your issues without going into great drama and hysterics.
I say maybe, because although the last ten days was fairly manageable, I had some seriously hysterically tearful moments. Happily, I can say they were short-lived and didn’t put a damper on my entire life. I have found that there are things (things, yes, these things) that can be done to make life a bit easier.
For me, I have rediscovered that I need quiet/alone/introvert time at least a few hours every day, and if I don’t get it, I become very, very cranky. This has maybe been a hard lesson for LarBear to learn, but as an example, about thirty minutes ago, I yelled, or maybe just said loudly, “Ok, I’m going to the office,” and he (for once) didn’t take it personally. He is starting to “get” me, after all this time, thank goodness. So here I am, with my headphones on. I shut off my peripheral vision (just in my imagination), and have been sitting at my glorious desk, crafting this superb document for the interwebs (ha!) and doing my very best to stay in the moment.
It really does work, at least for me. A few of the other things that help me are music (loud in headphones, preferably), taking a drive, a shower, lighting a new candle, putting on makeup, sitting on my front porch, writing things down in my planner, and last, but most certainly not least, I do a lot of journaling in my altered art journals. I also make these little books out of scrap paper. I am going to end with a few pictures of altered art journals and the mini books so you can get an idea. They are pretty awesome, another amazing thing I have learned from art therapy.
I'm almost positive it's giving me terrible mood swings. It wasn't this bad when I first started taking it. At first it kind of went like this :
1) Take Vyvanse
2) After about 30 minutes it starts kicking in. 3) Feel upbeat and as if I will be able to accomplish all my goals 4) Stay focused for 6-8 hours 5) Effects slowly wear off followed by a period of irritability and low energy. Thoughts on the future and what I will be able to accomplish turn pessimistic.
Slowly over time the different mental states became more and more extreme while the transitions between those states became sudden and jarring.
NOTE: This is an older post. I am actually off the Vyvanse now and I think it was a good decision. I'll write more later!
It’s Week 2 of the latest Bronchitis Bout. Like bipolar disorder, there’s really nothing new about getting month-long lung crud. It happens.
Sorta amazing, really, this blasé acceptance of whatever the day brings. I’m not always this cool, but it’s such a gift when I can be. Seems to me I was raging right up to the point of chills and fever.
A physical shock often resets my bipolar rheostats. Two weeks ago, I was text-wailing at my friend Lily, taking offense wherever I could find it, and wrestling paranoid thoughts to the mat. Today, I did laundry and cleaned up cat barf with nary an emotion in sight.
Except a little glee. I started a goofy spread in my art journal based on something I cut out of an old magazine years ago: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” I worked on this one little piece while my laundry tumbled, and it just made me happy.