I’ve stalled out in a mixed-state depression. It’s nothing new, not even very noteworthy, but I’m always surprised by how it changes everything. My perception becomes bleak and twisted, my body slow and creaky. I miscommunicate and send mixed messages, because every part of my brain is mixed. I’m confused and confusing.
Depression with rage is so uncomfortable, and so isolating. I hate everyone. Or am scared of them. Ancient resentments and regrets rise up like specters out of unholy ground. This is the part of my bipolarly existence that sees a life as a hermit as the only option.
I have a couple of mantras during these times:
Keep Your Mouth Shut
It Will Shift Soon
So, I’m muttering mantras. And looking at pretty magazines.
Permeates the air
Heart beats of anger
Its not a soft beating
Trapped in this cage
Of childhood assaults
Broken brain chemistry
The crashing of our bodies
Clashing of our minds
Staunch ego and
Thrash around the room
Your sheer man power
Not at all chivalrous
Yet the weight of my own burden
Unabashedly I beg for more
In the dirty warehouse of unworthy
Warnings for: the usual really – whinging, swearing, self pity
“If I only could / I’d make a deal with God …” – Kate Bush
Today’s song is, of course, this one. Lately, I’ve been absent from this blog, due partly to depression, and partly because of other commitments. One of those commitments is National Short Story Week, which ended yesterdat. This is at least the third year that Sine FM and my show, Book It! has been involved. It’s hard work at times, but also good fun.
If you fancy hearing some cracking stories, you can listen to the podcast.
I’ve also been running up that work hill: night shifts, plus changes to work patterns, mean it’s been more of a struggle than usual, at times. I’ve written before about my tendency to feckin’ swear, sometimes at considerable length, and with additional blasphemy. This can upset listeners, and passersby. Which is fair enough, even if swearing helps relieve my stress.
Recently, I’ve been running up another hill, as well as the sort of thing which, given I’m fat, in my late 50s, and have a knackered left knee, might as well be hills:
Over the bridge, & far away: Doncaster, Nov 2016
Many fellow Doncastrians will recognise the bridge above: it’s at the non-shopping bit of Lakeside. The internet tells me that the artificial lake was created in the mid 90s, which helps explain why the small hills which were created in the process are looking more and more, well, natural.
A plethora of plants: Nov 2016
I’ve started jogging for a variety of reasons: training for a race in March 2017; hopes of using that race to raise money for mental health charities; a desire to get fit, and – cross fingers – lose weight, plus, I know being out in Nature helps me.
In addition, I was inspired by a young man with bipolar, talking about how running helps him. He was one of several people, including Alistair Campbell, and Frank Bruno, who spoke frankly about their mental health, in a recent programme on Channel 5. While there were at least two who talked about bipolar, it was this (formerly) angry young man who I identified with the most. If running helps him with his anger, highs, and lows, why not me, too?
Thanks, mate. I wish I remembered your name. Because, so far, so good.
A clay snail I made in the ward years ago, and gave to a friend, symbolizes my current running pace
My computer came home today, perkier, but still not firing on all cylinders. The tech-docs did their best and will continue to monitor vitals. At least I don’t have to create posts on my phone anymore.
Perhaps now my vague disquietude will ease up. I feel like I’m constantly patting my mental pockets to make sure I have my keys. What am I forgetting? I start out the day with my gym bag and art tote, then forget my purse. Once back in the car, I realize I’ve forgotten the letter I need to mail. Then, my coffee. Or like yesterday, I left my coat somewhere and still haven’t found it.
I’m discombobulated, constantly ticking important stuff off on my fingers. Cats alive? Gas in the car? Shoes on? I check my calendar, then look at it again because I can’t remember what was there. I’m guessing my anxiety is a little spiky.
I’ve been getting about two hours of sleep at night for several months —even taking Xanax, which is usually all I need. So, my med provider switched me to Clonazepam—same pharm family (anti-anxiety), but with a longer duration. I still wake up three or four times a night, but go back to sleep, which I wasn’t able to do on Xanax. And I’m not waking up furious. That alone is a huge relief. Any morning I can get out of bed not pissed off or in PTSD flashback-mode is already a success—no matter what else follows.
Before Anthony, the tech-surgeon, made his house call this afternoon, I vacuumed and dusted a little—something I haven’t done since summer. I told a friend, “You know it’s time to vacuum when the carpet is crunchy.”
Like my computer, I’m still not firing on all cylinders, but we’re both making progress. Two addled brains are better than one, I guess. It’s a good thing the cats are in charge.
Sad, angry, happy, irritable, hostile, giddy, appearing stable, sad, lonely, panicked, giddy, irritable, hostile.
Mad, sad, crying, hysterical, eerie calm, thankfulness, slow descent back to an impressive depression, then just a big solid block of sadness, quickly surpassed by feelings of irritation at every spoken word, movement, gesture, genuinely baffled by how ugly people can be.
All of this turning into genuine anger, first directed at the self, stabbing words into my skin as if with a knife, getting myself so unsettled again that I go through crying, more anger, hostility, to anger at other people/things/objects/ideas, and again circling back to hating everything about myself and secure in the knowledge that I am ruining the life of myself and everyone in it.
This gets old and it gets tiresome and it gets lonely. My feelings all are over the place, some of which I am accustomed to, but the anger, the hostility, the sharp tongue — I never get used to that. I never get used to the piece of me that can and will tear another down with words, hurling just the right ones in the most sensitive spots for maximum damage. The difference between before and now, is that I am depressed enough, I don’t really care that I am hurting other people. That is not good. Every jab looks to land a mat-dropping blow.
I can control it to an extent, but there are times when I feel so bad, that I don’t control it and I let my mouth run wild and I hurt people. For the most part, it is brushed off because the other person knows it isn’t really the Rosa inside who is saying these things. Sometimes it doesn’t get fixed that easily.
I deleted over thirty people from my Facebook over the last week, because I am convinced someone is leaking information about me to my ex step-father. To be clear, I am done, done, DONE with that relationship and any relationship I may have ever had with that ENTIRE side of the family. It’s a shame, because there was one or two people that were somewhat decent, but for the sake of my mental health, I can have NO contact. I want him to forget I exist. Let him think I went to Alaska to can salmon or something. Rosa, disappeared from his world, never ever again going back. I have my reasons, many reasons which are really not worth spelling out here, because I don’t care to embarrass anyone, but done, just done. Goodbye. Again. Stay gone.
I started this post shaking with anger, and that was after I wrote a long, ranting email to a friend of mine. I need a way to get over this anger, to make it stop, to do something productive with it, if it isn’t just going to go away nicely. Suggestions, as always, are welcome in the comments. And even if I get mad about a comment, I won’t attack anyone, and that is a promise (that I feel that I can keep right now at 9:45PM on a Friday night). That’s the best I can do for now.
I’ve completed six days in the Lutheran Hospital outpatient program, and I can’t tell yet if it’s making me better or worse.
There are two designations—IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) 1 and 2. None of the literature explains the difference between the groups, but, basically IOP1 is for more functional, more acutely symptomatic folk. IOP2 is for more severely ill folk who maybe require other services (caseworkers, etc.).
The first two days I attended IOP1. The group was HUGE, 14-18 people with the usual one or two who dominated every conversation and folks talking over each other. I thought I would lose what little mind I had left.
I watched my intolerance and irritation skyrocket. My Libra penchant for fairness blew up into a neurotic need to silence the blabbermouths so that the silent suffers might get a second to squeak out a comment. But I also realized this was all my shit. If the facilitators felt no need to shut down the usurpers or redirect the tangential wanderers, then it wasn’t my place to step in. Instead I clutched my purse to my chest and took deep breaths.
After the second day (and no sleep that night), I knew I needed to talk to my designated handler. I told her through bitey, frantic, tear-and-snot laden spew that I couldn’t take another day of it. She listened with a beatific smile and commented in a don’t-spook-the-Tasmanian Devil gentle voice. Perhaps I should move to the other group. And feel free to find a quiet place to breathe whenever the desire to punch a talky-talker in the face arose.
My first day at “the other end of the hall” felt restful in comparison. There were only five of us in group, and I learned things about PTSD—one of my diagnoses, though something my therapist and I have never really explored. We usually have other immediate shinola to deal with, so we’ve only ever just touched on it. THIS was what I was hoping for—some new information, some new tools, a direction.
But, the next day the group expanded to 13, and the whole issue of blatherers and time sucks reappeared on a crazier level. I tried to be compassionate, but that well seems to be dry at the moment. I know folks talk out of nervousness, insecurity, etc., so I tried to reason with myself. I still ended up out in the hall with my earbuds firmly in place, listening to Billy Joel sing “Innocent Man.”
I blame the insurance industry and our butt-head Governor, Terry Branstad. Most insurance coverage only allows three days a week in outpatient care, so Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays end up with twice the group size as Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s stressful to go from a small, intimate group where folks feel safe enough to open up, to a mob where everyone talks at the same time.
And because our Governor closed most of the mental health hospitals, took away funding for behavioral services, and basically told folks with mental illness to “get over it,” the programs that are left are bursting at the seams.
I watch the kind and knowledgable staff at Lutheran ruin around like headless chickens, trying to accommodate everyone’s needs, shore up folks enough to leave so that those who have been waiting a month for an opening in the program can take their place. The nurse practitioner who talked to me about medication laughed long and loud when I called it “a three-ring shit show.” This seems to be my new favorite phrase.
I came home every day more exhausted and people-avoidant than ever. I feel like an Introvert In Extremis, only able to function after hours of silent cat time, a couple episodes of Fringe and a frozen pizza from Costco (they have the best thin crust sausage pizzas…). Even then, “functional” may mean taking a four-hour nap or washing the dishes.
Yesterday I did my laundry at 3:00 in the morning, because I couldn’t stand the thought of going to the laundromat on the weekend when everyone else goes there. So, because I was already awake at 3:00, I did laundry for the first time in my apartment complex’s washer/dryer. Granted, one is not supposed to use the machines until 8:00 out of respect for the tenants who live next to the Common Room. But since I hate people right now, I didn’t care. And I tried to be quiet. No one came after me with a knife, and no one slashed my tires later, so I think I got away with it.
In between tippy-toeing, I sat at the nice dining table and worked on my journal. Along with my wheeled laundry hamper, I brought my traveling studio (everything should be on wheels) and a big mug of hot chai. I sat at my own little coffee shop with my earbuds in and the smell of clean wafting around me, and even through the itchy buzz of being up at 3:00 doing something illicit, I could feel my mind smooth out.
The same nurse practitioner who laughed so hard with me suggested a new strategy for next week. Bring my wheely cart and when group bugs me too much, take it to this out-of-the-way lounge I found and do art until I feel like coming back. I tried that on Friday, and I left the hospital less drained. I met my two meditation buddies for lunch and lasted about 30 minutes before I completely faded. My well is dry. That’s all there is to it.
I think the trick is to not panic. I feel myself considering the new drugs this kindly nurse practitioner suggests, even though I sat with my own NP before I started IOP and recounted my long list of Drugs Tried and why they didn’t work. She reminded me that there really is nothing new in psychotropics, just tweaks to the same old formulas. If they didn’t work then, they won’t now.
I’m grateful that the Lutheran staff is so willing to work with me. It’s ironic that the adaptability and flexibility I need from them is part of what makes me so irritable there. It’s a very loose, laissez-faire set-up for people who have different special needs. I must try to give my Libran craving for fairness, order and rules a rest. Maybe I can give her a Xanax.
Warnings for: Anger; lots of feckin’ swearing; brief mention of suicide; PIP
This is a blog about being a bipolar writer. Or a wannabe bipolar writer. Or a wannabe writer who happens to be bipolar.
Make up your own goddamn minds. I don’t bloody care.
Or so I am telling myself, in an effort to get myself going, again. I’ve managed to drag my sorry arse back out of bed, despite feeling like the veritable bag of useless, despairing shite. This is known as fueling the Muse with anger.
It’s cheaper than chocolate.
Once more into the cat tray of life, elusive readers/listeners, once more
Cutting to the chase: I died last night, at a spoken word gig. You couldn’t see the beer for the tumbleweeds which went rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ past, as I read an allegedly comic, admittedly surreal, story.
Honestly, it was the longest 646 words of my life. I got more laughs talking about suicide to some students at a mental health event earlier this week.
In a previous blog, I asked whether I could be an author pimp, writer, or both. Well, at the moment, the world and its literate dog is telling me that I should stick to author pimping, shove my writing in a drawer, and spending spoken word nights in front of the telly.
In other shitty news:
1) The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) people are on my tail: oh, be joyful.
2) A recent team meeting was more packed with drama than your average soap
3) An author who’s far more successful than me (1) told me one of my stories was “nice and inoffensive” (2)
4) Got yet another rejection from the Daily Science Fiction (3)
5) I’ve apparently pissed off a dear friend, probably by being overly needy
6) I cannot afford a feckin’ day out, let alone a bloody holiday, because my house needs more work than could be completed or paid for in one averagely paid lifetime, plus my paid work continues to look shaky
7) I do not deal well with dark nights.
8) Or cold in a house with no central heating.
9) A presidential candidate has been boasting about a) assaulting women, and b) not paying tax. Plus, someone actually asked me if I support that arse! Oh endless, endless floods of tears from sweet baby bejesus!!
Oh, and I’m worried that one of my favourite bipolar bloggers is dead. Which, after all, is not outside of the range of possibilities.
Brief, thankful pause:If you are one of the 60 or so people who took advantage of the free offer of my e-book, “Koi Carpe Diem“, thank you!
Brief plug which may sound arrogant but isn’t: if you like Terry Pratchett, and Jasper Fforde, you may like my stuff. I am *not* claiming to have anything approaching their talent, or wit. If however you prefer your fantasy served up with more surrealism and humour, than shiny swords, and unicorns, I may be your woman.
Although, so there is a unicorn.
Lance the unicorn, from “The St Jude Care Home for Mythical Creatures”. Art by the fabulous Tom Brown
(1) Aren’t they all?
(2) A friend says I shouldn’t be discouraged or upset by this comment. Huh.
(3) Not that bothered, to be honest. I’ve had almost as much short fic rejected by them as poetry by “The North”.
Today I woke up depressed as usual. Hubby decided to put New Girl on Netflix and we watched several episodes and while I wasn’t laughing like him, I felt things lighten a little. Then I got hungry and he went out and picked me up something to eat. He really is a dear even though he can piss me off like no one else. Speaking of which when he came home he did something that pissed me off. I couldn’t let go of it and right now the pissed off feeling still lingers.
Thing is it was something stupid and trivial. I know I should just let it go but my body really loves to hold on the that anger. Or is it the brain? Probably both. I know I’ll calm down eventually but for now I am just pissed that I almost felt good and it’s gone now. FUCK!
Today I woke up in a bad mood. It just seems to be getting worse again .. I’m bitchy as hell and of course I’m taking it out on the one person who is always in my corner. He’s really pissing me off though.
45 mins to midnight and I remembered to write my blog, woot! Okay so no actual woot. I’m feeling super bitchy. I’m sitting here eating cotton candy and just feeling very frustrated.
I thought I might be coming out of my depression but I’m still finding it hard to find happiness. You know there are dribs and drabs here and there and I probably should just enjoy what I’ve got, but I’m greedy and want to feel more than a moment of happiness. I want a day, maybe a week. That would be awesome.
I think I need to have more meds added back in. I was hoping that I wouldn’t need to do that, but I can’t deal with bitchy. It makes me push away the person I love in the world. Tomorrow is another day.