So, as stated last post, I’m down to one session of therapy a week and it’s been a rough transition. I wanna say it’s been a surprisingly rough transition, but that’s not true because I knew it’d be hard and I just decided to ignore that reality. It’s hard. I hate it.
I had a little meltdown the night before last. I’d cut my hair that day. Which is to say that, deviating from my typical habit, I let a professional cut my hair. Like someone with many years of training and experience and very likely some kind of degree or certification in this shit. It’s short. Like just past my chin. I like it because I have to. I also like it because it’s cute. There was a dive bar on the first floor of the building where I got my hair cut. I asked the receptionist if it was a decent place to grab a drink and she said it was nothing fancy, but it was fine. I don’t know why I felt like having a drink. I mean I probably do know. It was probably because I lopped off like 5 inches of my hair after ~3 years of telling myself I was gonna let it grow out to an unreasonable, mermaid-like length. So I got a drink. I forgot that it was only 4:30ish so the bar was pretty empty except for the sweetest bartender ever and 2 middle-aged regulars. So I started talking to these guys about the mayoral election we’d all voted in earlier that day (my candidate lost). We talked about past mayors, political dynasties, school closings, citywide ethnic segregation, the mismanagement of public funds, the political machine of the good old days, the political machine of today. The word “reluctant” got used a lot. So did “the lesser of two evils”. This is the vocabulary of my hometown. We only get truly pissed off here when so many people get thrown under the bus that the bus can no longer run.
I get a little defensive of my intellect and my opinion when I have to deal with men who are older than I am. These dudes were actually really cool about not treating me like I’m 9. They asked me what I thought about the leadership of a mayor who left office before I was even born. At some point Nazis came up (like they do). One of these dudes was born in Argentina, so that took an interesting turn. I was having a really good time. I kept ordering beers. At one point, the bartender stopped charging me. Or I stopped paying. It’s not really clear. Since I can’t even remember the last time I got legitimately drunk before this, my tolerance, as you can imagine, was/is pretty fucking low. It got dark out, and I remembered I had to run an errand on the way home that required me to carry approx. 15lbs of stuff on the bus…a ream of printer paper, half a gallon of soy milk, baby food, contact solution, stuff that drunk people shouldn’t heft on public trans. So I cheerily left the bar and the nice people I’d met (which were in a neighborhood I almost never visit) and got on a bus headed somewhere and hopped off when I spotted a drug store. I had a list with me. I could only find 3 of the things on my list before I gave up because I was walking into shit. I put on my best “sober” face and, in my best “sober” voice, paid for my purchases and went looking for a bus line I actually knew how to navigate, which I found without much difficulty because it was right the fuck there the whole time and I can get myself lost walking around the damned block, so, as one might conclude, it’s even funnier and probably more hazardous when I’m three sheets.
So, I’m certain I’ve mentioned this before, but being drunk while bipolar is often a little different than being drunk without a mental illness. To begin with, when that first wave of booziness hits me, I start to talk loud and fast. I get tons of energy and I want to chat with everyone. I like meeting strangers anyway, so meeting strangers when I’m drunk is even easier. So I get temporarily a little hypomanic. That overly spirited sense of wellbeing and invincibility, though, almost always takes a freaky turn like 4 or 5 hours in to my drunkenness. While one the right bus, I started to feel very intensely about EVERYTHING. I texted my sister saying:
Right now I simultaneously feel like the most brilliant thing that ever lived and like I wanna die right this sec.
Which is the kind of thing that sparks alarm in most rational people. It’s also one of the reasons I don’t drive. Me behind the wheel is fine until it’s not. And it can turn into not on a dime, even though I feel very strongly about not driving drunk (don’t drive drunk. I was hit by a drunk driver when I was 5 and it FUCKING SUCKED. Don’t drive drunk). Anyway, my sister, several states away, was pretty concerned for my safety. I don’t know why I wanted to die. I felt high as a kite. I was pretty euphoric. Maybe too euphoric. There was so much going on inside my head that I think I thought, at the time, the only logical culmination to all this out of control effervescence was a big, glorious death. This is the kind of shit that makes total sense to me when I’m not in my right mind. Everything becomes gigantic.
The second part of this nonsense is probably the least flattering. I got my sister on the phone when I got into the house. I started crying and screaming and I absolutely cannot remember what I was upset about. I asked her, later, not to tell me because I think I’d rather not know, and, anyway, if I thought about it hard enough, I could probably just guess. She calmed me down, convinced me to take some Klonopin (see LBD: benzodiazepines) which I’d neglected to do at my scheduled time because I was busy knocking back Dogfish and discussing Nazi war criminals’ flight to South America with strange men. And by now, my pretty haircut was a masterful shitshow because I kept twisting and ruffling it frantically and I cried all of my makeup down to the wrong parts of my face and I was probably waxing wistful about everything I never did or won’t do or never knew I wanted to do until right that second and OH MY GOD my sister is a hero. But eventually I stopped crying and took my meds and got off the phone with my sister and texted my husband to come home.
My husband arrived just in time for part three which is, primarily, me despairing repetitively in barely audible monotone. I can’t remember if I was still drunk, which means I probably kind of was, but my thoughts followed a very logical if utterly unsound sequence. I used a lot of $10 words which is a thing I do when I feel like I have nothing else. And also because words make me feel better. I did that thing I always do where I took stock of my life and denigrated all of it as folly after mishap after plummet. The how-did-I-get-here-I-hate-my-life shit I do is pretty unfair to my husband seeing as he’s one of the biggest parts of my life. I punished myself, as usual (hi, Catholic upbringing!) for not taking pristine care of myself and for having the nerve to share a few drinks and good conversation with some new people (or, as I framed it: being reckless, getting drunk, putting myself in danger and then crying about it when, SURPRISE! I didn’t feel fantastic for having done those things). The point I kept harping on was that I know better (than what? was never clearly defined but it was probably that I know better than to get that drunk, though there was a strong implication that I should know better than to have such loud feelings, shame on me). I do know better, though. I can’t believe I actually got home that night. I can’t believe I didn’t puke. I considered the migraine I developed as I slowly sobered up over the course of the next few hours my just deserts. And then down and then more down and then downer and then at some point Laura passes out.
I was really sick, both in my head and my guts the next morning. I hadn’t slept very well that night and I was tossing so much much between 3:30 and 5:30 that I went to the guest room so I’d stop bothering my husband and I watched a nature documentary, drifting in and out of shallow sleep until the stupid sun came up and once the sun is up, I have a really hard time staying asleep, even if I’m really tired. Which I was. I was tired and headachey and sick to my stomach most of the morning, which was really a drop in the bucket because I was super fucking preoccupied with shame and self-loathing. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what happened or what I did wrong. I know I drank more than I should have, but beyond that, there was nothing that triggered my weird mood shift or my crying or my self-pitying. I know for sure that my self-flagellation was extremely disproportionate to my actions (oh hey, Catholic childhood, you’re still here…). I know that Silver Linings Laura would try to appreciate this shit as a learning experience rather than waste an entire day in my jammies watching cartoons and trying to rehydrate while questioning whether or not I even deserved water.
One of the things I find really frustrating about this situation is that, as far as these things go, I have pretty successfully treated bipolar. I haven’t had a serious episode in at least a year. I’m comfortable (for the most part) with my meds, I was starting to make some really good headway in therapy about non-bipolar shit that anyone would need therapy to deal with (dream-destroying mom, years and years of child abuse, dad dying way too early). Over the past year, I’ve been able to congratulate myself more than a few times for finally seeing the actions I’ve taken to make myself better come to fruition. But I won’t allow myself a single slip up. I’m too rigid for that. It’s definitely worth noting that, had this course of events taken place 2 or 3 years ago, I would’ve done more than just cry and pity myself. I would probably have had a full-blown panic attack and I very likely would have self-harmed. But I don’t think about progress that way. I don’t know why. After all the work I’ve done, I sure as hell should.
So, today, I feel fine. Good, even. I had a nice conversation with my sister about what to name her new kitten. I managed to erase my sleep deficit. I’m going grocery shopping later (not a huge deal, but at least it’s productive). And I have every intention of doing many pushups later to make up for not having MMA class last Sunday. Oh yeah, and I finally got my copy of the new Mountain Goats album in the mail (which I stupidly ordered in disc form for some fucking reason, but who the fuck cares because I am STOKED). So, I know it’s almost 2:30, but I’m at least going to try to make this a good day. Wish me luck.
Tagged: alcohol, bipolar disorder, Catholicism, Chicago, depression, doing stuff alone, guilt, hair, hypomania, learning experiences, migraines, Mountain Goats, politics, psychotherapy, self-pity, shame, sister, suicide, therapy