I Haven’t wanted to write much. The thought of opening myself up to others assumptions and judgements makes me dizzy. This may be influenced by the fact that I started working last August and most times I feel as though I’m sitting near the bottom rung on the ladder of fortitude and resolve. I’ve all but checked-out. I’m done psycho-analyzing. It’s redundant. It’s counter-productive; non-productive. At this point I don’t care why I am what I am. I only want to exist and try to be content while it’s happening. I’ve been told I’m an ‘easy mark’ and that this makes me fun. Fun for who? Not for me. Like I said, I’ve been hanging out at the bottom rung, kickin’ stones, sometimes stretching skyward for the next rung but always falling back to the ground. I don’t want to make myself an even ‘easier mark’ by writing too much about me or about my experiences. I still have things to share, they will just be meted out a little at a time. Sometimes this illness kicks me in the head and sometimes it whispers in my ear. When it whispers I always seem to be at the top of the ladder…
What do you do when you cannot reconcile the opinions people have of you based on others judgements and stories? I have been diagnosed as mentally ill since my late 20′s, I am now in my mid 40′s. However, not all of my life experiences during that time-frame have been related to mental illness. I am bipolar. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a female. I am a human being. It is disappointing to know that there are people unable to postulate their own conclusions based on their experiences. Do relationships need to be so complicated? I continually feel as though I am being blind-sided. I’m bouncing along in the slow lane when wham, I’m suddenly in a ditch. I read once that a common phrase uttered by bipolar people is ‘why does life have to be so difficult’? I choked on my own spit when I read that because I have used that expression too many times. I am currently in a depressive state. Sometimes I think we can all feel a little Cumbersome (song by Seven Mary Three) to others.
A few days ago my youngest son (he is 18, a college student) came home from staying the night at a friends. It was 7:30 a.m. I asked him why he was home so early, he simply stated he wanted to sleep in his own bed. Not unusual. We talked a bit about nothing, I told him I was heading to the shower, he told me he was heading to bed. With my back turned to him I heard a sob and pained words – my friend died. I spun around. He was looking down, one hand at the back of his head, his other hand steadying himself against the wall, his torso hunched over. I rushed to him and held him. I hadn’t heard him cry since he was eight or nine years old. What happened, I asked. Between broken breaths he told me his friend had killed himself, he put a f***ing bag over his head. My son’s words not mine. Suicide. What could have been so bad, he asked. I had no answer for him. As I consoled my son I felt like a fraud. As mentioned in previous posts I’ve had my own history of suicidal thoughts and landed on a psych unit because of them. Since the initial disclosure of his friend’s suicide I have tried to impart some insight regarding suicide to my son. However, when all is laid bare the only person who ultimately knows the reason for the act is the one who is gone. I have a friend who has two sons who were also friends with the young man who took his life. My friend asked if it was possible to live with someone and have no idea that they were contemplating suicide. In my opinion, the answer is yes and teenagers can be very impulsive. Impulsive to the point of irrationality. Which brings up disturbing thoughts. My boys. I have always been hyper-vigilant regarding the mental states of my boys. If they seem upset or down, I’ll ask if everything is okay or did something happen. My oldest gets annoyed, my youngest takes me in stride. Most of the time they will tell me they are just tired. But I know all too well that excuse. I’ve used it many, many times. Because of my history and current events, I’ll be on ‘suicide watch’. Yes, it’s excessive, obsessive but those who know me would expect nothing less.
Painting is a way to express my feelings in a non-violent, non-confrontational format. Looking back at my art through the years, my bipolar shifts are evident. Below are two of my paintings and what they represent to me.
Depression for me is not just ‘being blue’. If a color is to be attached then let it be blue but a multifaceted blue. My days of depression swirl into one another, each one slightly different than the other. One day may be surrounded by the black of self-hate. Another encircled by the pureness of spiritual white, pleading to a higher power to release me from the pain. Others are filled with drab blue-gray, lacking emotion, letting no light in or out, empty. Still others are tinged with green. The green of envy, paranoia and suspicion, eating away at the remains of my sanity, calling upon the circle of white for relief. But, always the perfect playmate, blue is the friend to all the other colors.
Paranoia is thought to be influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Unfortunately paranoia likes to body-slam me during anxiety and panic. When these two feelings subside so does the paranoia, sort of. I get to the point that even my family is ‘out to get me’. No one is safe from my thoughts. The problem is, I am always on the edge of anxiety with panic lurking around the corner and paranoia waiting patiently on the sidewalk.
An anxiety attack woke me last night. My eyes popped open to a body slick with sweat and a racing pulse. When this happens it seems to come out of a dead sleep. I am on the run. Not literally on the run. I didn’t physically move out of the bed. I stayed put with my thoughts flying and my body rocking while my fingers measured the thumps in my neck. My routine is to take 1.5mg of ativan around 6:00 p.m. every night. Yesterday I did not keep my routine. I was at work, it was 10:30 a.m. and things were becoming difficult. I couldn’t concentrate. I was shaky, trembling a bit and I could feel I was on the edge of having panic problem. I opened my pill case and plucked 2mg of ativan from Thursday’s chamber. I held the white disc between my thumb and index finger for a heart beat, tossed it in my mouth and washed it down with black coffee. Yep, all 2mg. Within an hour the blessed little pharmaceutical had taken my worries away. My day was snappy, breezy, maybe even a little fluffy. My sales calls were easier. Listening to my boss about her family was bearable (she said I was funny). Then…quitting time! 3:45 p.m. and no one should be home. I needed to rest my medicated body. I walked, or stumbled, in the door to find my youngest son sitting on the sofa with his laptop on his knees. Oh… um… I told him, ‘I didn’t think anyone was going to be home and I made plans to go to bed when I got home so I’m going to go lay down okay?’ He nodded and said, ‘it’s okay mom, go ahead.’ I teared up and began wondering, once again, what I must be doing to my kids (the subject of my next post). Guiltily I made my way to my room, pressed the bedroom door closed and dropped into an uneasy sleep filled with bizarre and disturbing dreams. I remember once taking darvocet for pneumonia and having dreams about a severed head in a brown grocery bag. These were the types of dreams I was having until I woke up to my husband’s hands roaming about my body. Apparently I had removed my all my clothing before sliding into bed. I abandoned my sleep around 6:30 p.m. to help with dinner and decided to forgo my routine night-time ativan. This was the reason for the middle of the night anxiety. I was in a fog the remainder of the evening. The thought of going back to my bed to sleep made me nauseous and for some reason angry. I stayed awake until 11:00 p.m. watching Family Guy with my son, fell asleep on our love seat, finally went to my bedroom at 12:18 a.m. when my son went out for a ‘late-night snack’ and well, then the anxiety attack at 3:23 a.m. Do you ever feel like one day is 72 hours long instead of 24?
Someone close to me had a full-blown panic attack – their first one. This happened a few weeks ago and I have been debating on whether or not to write about it. Outside of my husband I haven’t talked to anyone regarding the event. I realize now that I don’t want others to think this person is weak. I don’t want them to look at this person any differently than they do now and I know if they were to hear that a panic attack took-hold then the whispers would begin. What does this mean for me? I didn’t realize I was so protective of this disorder. Outsiders not allowed. If you haven’t had an attack you can’t be a member. I have encountered many people who’ve said they’ve had a panic attack but the words themselves have become watered down, used in every day language so as not to have the proper definition attached to them. I can tell the ones who have had real panic attacks and those who haven’t by the sound of their voice, their body language and their eye movement. The person I witnessed having the attack said it was the worst they have ever felt in their life. I watched as all the color drained out of their face and they asked me to not talk. Their lips turned white and sweat formed on their forehead. Their hands were shaking. Although these were the outward signs of the attack, I know that their physical and mental state were in silent chaos. It lasted ten minutes. Afterwards they told me of wanting to give in and pass out. A seemingly easy fix. We talked for a bit about the trigger and coping. We sat in silence for a bit and then fifteen minutes after the attack ended they were on their way as if nothing happened. Amazing. I would be waiting for the next one to occur. This is definitely not a weak person.