And Just Like That…

I think my mania is over.

Suddenly, a few days ago, i couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings. I mean, i did, because there were things for me to do, but i had to mentally drag my butt outta bed. The last 2 mornings i’ve gotten my husband fed and off to work with his lunch, taken a couple of pain relievers, and crawled back under my blanket. I hide in old dreams, told over and over again. Only the faces change; all the situations are familiar ones. Then it wakes me around 9:30 or 10 – the pull inside to get out of bed and do something, but i’ve been resisting until 11 or 12. Today i got up at noon, pottied myself and my dog, took a phone call and a text with tears streaming down my face, grabbed a mug of tea, and plodded back to bed.

I am here now, writing. It’s something i should do, and i’m glad that i can.
I’m so low, and i feel nothing inside but despair. I’m so sad and so alone. That empty, sucking maw has opened up inside me, but instead of it being in my guts, today it’s in my chest. My heart hurts. My throat is clenched and reaching out at my shoulders, gathering them in. My eyes keep filling with tears. I feel weighted down, heavy and lethargic.
I think this is depression.

This last mania is the first i’ve been mindful through, so i cannot think/write these things with full assurance, but it did seem to be particularly mired in irritability. Everything and everyone annoyed me. I immediately went as news-free as i was able, and dialed back my social media presence, which is what i’ve learned to do, and it’s a smart thing to do. Anything can amp me up; my emotions can go from baseline to off the charts in literal seconds. I’ve been wound very tightly, which was intensified by the mania, but its origins were in legitimate situations.

It’s hard to say for sure, but i feel a bit like a tiger in a cage. Yes, i’m more of an introvert than i ever would have guessed, but i still love my fellow humans, a few of them in more than a kum by yah kinda way, even. I’ve got 1 real life BFF that i can go to for intimate talks and deep connection, but the pandemic… She was the only person i could have had as my cohort, but she needed someone other than me to meet her needs. I live with 2 adult males, so i could go to them for connection and commiseration and comfort… Except i couldn’t. I’m having serious issues with my 2 primary relationships, and that’s where things started to get big and burdensome. I could go to my husband about my son, except things are strained for me there, and of course i cannot go to my son about any of my marriage problems. I have a therapist, and she is the best therapist i have ever had, but we’re financially strapped, and she hasn’t been as receptive as i’ve needed when it comes to my problems with him. I had 1 very close and special online friend queued up for this specifically, but she’s suddenly got a lot on her plate. I am alone, and i feel this in my bones.

I will not be blogging about my marriage issues. I never have, and anyone who knows me would probably be surprised to know that i even have any. But i do, and they are not insignificant ones. My mental illness, my multiplicity, and my struggle for literal survival, and then day-to-day functionality, has taken precedence over all. But once things got markedly better for me and i became fairly functional, the problems were more obvious. I didn’t go to anyone for help, because i didn’t feel worthy. >>I<< was clearly the fucked up crazy woman, and he was the obvious long-suffering saint. Who would believe me? Who would hear me out as anything but histrionic and unreasonable (and ungrateful)? My therapist didn’t. Fortunately, my medical doctor did, and walked me through 2 particularly terrible years. I found my BFF around that time, and she supported me 100%, which i desperately needed. It saved me from the depths and kept me from pulling the trigger on the marriage.

The healthier i get though, the less willing i am to settle, and the less likely i am to be controlled by guilt and shame and the old programming that tells me everything is my fault. I’ve been easily controlled by the aggression of one, and the distance of the other. I back down, i pull inside, i blame myself. And i dissociate, naturally. These interactions and their implications are too frightening and painful to feel – so i check out. Yeah, i’ve felt like i’ve been in a cage, but upon reflection while writing this, i don’t think i am the tiger. I am the prey, hiding in the corner, with 2 big tigers who could eat me at any time. So far, as long as i’m quiet, they only torment me in the hours before feeding time. But if the zookeeper was ever late, or i tried to get out…

Personal growth + mania = not tolerating any bullshit.
I’ve been standing up for myself more and more. It’s been difficult, because in the past, i let various parts of my system handle confrontations and the spectrum of anger. Even those closest to me might be surprised to know how meek and compliant i actually am. I can be a lot of bark, but i have no real bite. Yes, i have a history of being caustic and cruel and cold, but it was a rarity. And it was me, but it wasn’t quite me. Most of the time, behind closed doors, i was easily cowed by anyone who wished to. I was sailing rudderless, on an ocean made of the past, speckled with childlike flotsam and jetsam. Now that i have the helm on this crazy ship, those huge crashing waves that once tossed me hither and yon, have calmed considerably as i navigate more confidently. I look up, to the stars, and i’m charting a course.

It takes a great deal of energy and intent to stand up to someone in a healthy way. I must trust myself, in order to put down the tried and true methods of fight, flight, freeze, fawn, and feint. This applies to anyone and everyone, but especially those i hold most dear. I walked a tightrope through this (shortest ever!) mania, aware that i had to keep a tight leash on my emotions, not make any decisions, but still find a way to take good care, and not allow myself to be harmed.*

Some of my boundaries have become more clear over the last few weeks. Some by virtue of having been crossed, others i have pointed out for the purpose of their edification. One has pushed back a little, but not more than i can take, and the other has upped their passive-aggressive game. I can and will handle both, but i am scraping the bottom of the barrel, here. I don’t have much left.

Still and always, there is cause for hope. This is the quickest and most consciously i’ve ever gone through a mania. There is zero wreckage to clean up. My relationships are all still standing, much the same as they were when it started. Nothing has fallen by the wayside. I’m in my second year of feeling exhausted most of the time, and i’m still managing to learn and grow and move forward. I think i’ve walked away from a mania relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, i fear i’ve walked smack into a depression. I’m not certain, though. Time will tell. If i can yank out enough weeds to see where i’m going, i should be okay. I’m no longer tolerating the intolerable. I will assume responsibility where appropriate, but i will only carry the burdens that are mine. I’m not shouldering the blame for anyone else any longer. Their stuff is their stuff, regardless of who i am and what i do.

I could still take the blame for things that aren’t my fault. I could still kiss ass and/or keep silent. I’m a stubborn, willful, tenacious human who is beyond determined to survive. Yes, i’m exhausted, but when i look back on the first 10yrs of my life i am emboldened and energised. Because if i can live through that, i can live through this. Yes, i’m so low today that i can barely raise my head, but i damn well raised it. My BFF went to the store for me and brought me something i needed more than the pain relievers that i’d run out of – she brought her loving, concerned face, and plenty of air-hugs. After she left i went to my room and cried, and then i changed out of my jammies and got supper planned. I washed my face and brushed my teeth. I’m taking a break from coffee, and only drinking water and tea. I ate something healthy. I wrote this.

Now i’m going to do nothing but watch telly and shnuggle the dogs.
My 2 problematic relationships are going to be what they’re going to be. My guys will think their thoughts and make their choices.
Whatever happens, i’mma keep on truckin’.
I hope you do the same.

Love and Peace,
~H~
* I’m referring to emotional harm, here. I’m not in any danger at all of being hurt physically.

Grumpasaurus Maniacus*

Woke up in a foul mood. Everything is irritating and i hate people. I want to throw things around and smash stuff up. I’m catching myself muttering under my breath. I am at YIKES level grumpy. This is mania. More than that though, i think this is mania under control and parts of me don’t like it much.

I can hear some of them bitching about everything up in my head. Mania makes sliding and switching easier and more frequent. Mania makes it more likely i’ll use drugs/alcohol, go out partying, and spend a lot of money. I’m not doing any of those things, and some of my Bits N’ Pieces are pretty worked up about it. They see handling mania as THEIR job, and an opportunity to get out and get some fresh air. Some parts like being in the face and in control, and they aren’t getting many chances to do that anymore. I think i’m feeling some resentment coming from up there. Pouting. There’s some serious pouting going on. Heh.

Yes, they’re me, but they’re parts of me that have been dissociated/disconnected for so long that i experience them as somewhat separate from me. I don’t know if that’s what others with this diagnosis experience. I don’t know if they’d relate to me much at all. It took so long and was so hard for me to accept this diagnosis, in part because, for whatever reason, i can’t tolerate being around other multiples. It triggers ALL of my childhood programming at once, i.e. i shut down and run. I was taught to denydenydeny from the start. I was indoctrinated to have an instantaneous and visceral hatred for any references to MPD (what it was called at the time), plus a deep distrust and need to get away from anyone who spoke of it.

That being said, one of the best friends i ever had was also diagnosed multiple. We met at a halfway house for women in crisis. I’d already been through the program, but came back regularly for visits with the ladies who ran the place. She mentioned DID when i was first getting to know her. I remember internally rolling my eyes, but liking her so much that i became friends with her anyway. I only remember her mentioning it once after that, and we still weren’t close. If she talked about it after we’d become besties (and she was without a doubt the closest girlfriend i ever had), i must have been in an altered state. (“Altered.” Okay, that’s funny to me.)

Back to my main point, which is my crappy mood and why that might be. Most of the “people” floating around in my brain are very flat characters: they’re an emotion, a moment in the past, or they’ve been created to handle or accomplish a specific task, e.g. talk to people in authority, take a shower, absorb a loved one’s anger, take care of children. However, there are a couple who are very well developed, and it is from them i think i’m getting the stomping around and grumbling. I can still feel and hear my various parts (a few have gone completely silent since i began therapy for DID), but they’ve become quieter, and carry less mental “weight,” over the last year or 2. If my brain is a ship, i am now truly the captain. I chart the course now – we’re no longer being tossed about on the waves, at the mercy of the weather.

This is an adjustment for me. When i finally acknowledged my multiplicity i was in the grips of a powerful mania, and i couldn’t control my dissociations. Later, when my mania had faded and i was deep in therapy and more depressed than i’d ever been, i didn’t bother even trying. I’d seen how my past had been spent in resistance to many truths, and i made the decision to just let things happen and see what was what. Once i had an accurate picture of myself and my past, i thought i could figure it all out from there. I was right, and that’s exactly what i’ve been doing. This is the most capable i’ve ever been during a mania, and i’m coming up against some internal resistance.

Today, i have a conscious and mindful experience of what it means to be a highly dissociative individual. The boundaries between me and my system are blurring more still, becoming nebulous and losing meaning. Today they are more me than not me. They always were all me all the time, i know that, but my clever and imaginative brain had created a house with many hidden rooms. It was to help me survive. It worked very well until the danger was over, at which time my house needed to be gutted and rebuilt, lest the foundation crack and the building be condemned. I’m a fixer-upper, but i’ve got great bones. So says i.

I don’t know if there’s anything i can do to improve my mood, but i’ll try. I have the ability to weather these thoughts and feelings if i can’t change them. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, but whatever it is, i’ll handle that, too.

Y’all Take Care,
Love and Peace,
~H~
*The Latin name for my current affliction.

IMAGE: Wonderlane

On To The Next (Processing)

Relationships are hard. Parenting is hard. Parenting a grown person is… also hard. I don’t think i’ve ever felt like i knew what i was doing with my kids. I affected a confidence i didn’t feel around others, and parroted the party line of the religion i belonged to. Within the constraints of my church and while still closely associated with family, i thought i was doing a decent job – a good job, even. However, when the progression of my mental problems and the deepening of my primary relationship began stripping me down to bare bones, i started questioning everything. For the first half dozen years as a mom i was functional, but mostly unemotional, save the couple of times i lost control with my oldest and abused him while in a rage. The details are private. He knows i’m available both for showing up for therapy and paying for it, but so far he hasn’t taken me up on my offer. Says he forgives me and seems to want it left in the past. I’m the type (obviously – i mean, if you’ve read even 2 of my blog posts you know) who wants to look at and understand everything, plus fix it all. Make it all better. Make ME feel better. Assuage my guilt.

To be fair to me, it’s also because i’m a decent human who has been rightfully convicted of my own wrongdoings, and genuinely wants to clean up my messes and make any amends possible, wherever possible. Heal the world? I’m in.
But the last couple of years i’ve learned that i was trying to force a fix on my grown children.
This last year i’ve focused on letting go and letting them be. They get to be who they are, think what they think, and feel what they feel.
Whether they forgive me or not isn’t even my business, unless they choose to make it so.

It’s the same with how they remember the past and my parenting and how they process that, which includes not processing it at all. Which includes not wanting much or even anything to do with me. Which in turn has included a lot of tears and feeling sorry for myself and moping around about it – but i think i’m through the worst of that. I just get hit with the odd wave of sadness and regret. Like today. Mania makes me ripe for emotional indulgences. I see that, and so i’m writing about it to help me cope.

These emotions are almost worse than the fear and pain from my childhood. That stuff isn’t my fault. My feelings here can be traced to my failures as a mother. Sure, there are mitigating circumstances: childhood abuse and mental illness. But that doesn’t change the fact that my sons were my responsibility, and there were many times when i didn’t meet basic standards of care.

Today, i’m not sure i truly know any of them, but i know that i want to, very badly. It’s a test of how much i’ve learned, of how grown up i actually am at this point, to wait quietly and calmly in the wings for a moment that i have no right to expect to come. I’m reaping what i’ve sown, which in this case, really sucks. (I’ve sown lots of good stuff too, but that’s not what this post today is about.) Today i’m struggling with one particular relationship. I don’t know where the lines are here. Where is my responsibility and where is his? How much do i tolerate? I’m shutting down and avoiding him and our issues, which is creating a shit environment around us. I’m still not great at setting boundaries – i tend towards all or none. I had the sense to talk it over with a friend of mine and i feel better about things, but just as i was relating that to her last night i experienced more of the same issue. The details are private. This blog is about me and my problems, not anyone i’m in a close relationship with. For that i go to my therapist, my husband (if it’s not about him), my BFF (if it’s not about her), and my treasured, internet group (it’s never about them).*

So, yesterday sucked, and today ain’t lookin’ much better. I’ll do the best i can. I checked in with my online friends and got some hugs and support. I’m blogging about what’s going on. I’m handling my continuing physical issues, and hope to have answers and relief soon. My primary relationship is solid. I’ve trimmed even further back on casual friendships and associations. I have an old piece called, “Tell Me Who You Are, And I’ll Believe You,” which i’m living out in a deeper way. I’ve kept some in my circle because i don’t like conflict and they’re nice to me, but the truth is they aren’t very good people when i take a hard look at their actions and how they treat others that aren’t me. It won’t matter to them, even if they notice (they won’t). I know a big announcement isn’t required, and i won’t be making one. My geriatric years aren’t far off, and i just don’t want to waste time with associations with cruddy humans.

I’ve danced around it, so let me be plain-speaking: For years i collected “friends” as a way of coping with my lonely and abusive upbringing. I thought it would be a wall of protection, i thought it would validate me, that it would prove to those that hurt me in the past that they were wrong, and that it would save me from future hurts. At the end of this practise, i saw that it had done none of those things. I saw that i’d been wildly indiscriminate in my choices in friends. I learned that a certain level of judgment is necessary when i’m deciding whom to have be a part of my life. And if i use “Based On Results,” (a couple of blog posts back), and “Tell Me Who You Are… ” as my units of measurement, there were a lot of people in my life that shouldn’t be. They aren’t now. They’ll probably never realise it, and i see that as good fortune.

In summation, today i am melancholy and full of regrets. I can, will, and am handling it. Today will be what it will be, and i’ll get through it as well as i can. I will take care of myself, my home, and my loved ones where i’m able. I will let go of what i can’t manage and try to be gentle where it’s good to be, and give myself a little push here and there where it’s okay to do so. It’s likely that i’ll make a mistake or 2. I’ll acknowledge it, do what i can if it can be put right, and move on. On to the next.

Bought the land, tore the motherfuckin’ house down
Bought the car, tore the motherfuckin’ roof off
Ride clean, I don’t never take th’shoes off
~ On To The Next One, Jay-Z (Swizz Beatz)

Happy Friday, and Here’s to a Good Weekend,
Love and Peace,
~H~

*Not to say i talk about these people behind their backs. I do to a certain extent, but only to process: to figure out what’s going on so i can properly address the issue; with them if it’s required/important. I handle things better if i can take a step back and get someone else’s eyes on the situation before i proceed.

IMAGE: Avinash Kumar

Identifying Issues In Real Time

Like i wrote yesterday in my hey-let’s-blog-through-a-mania-and-see-what-happens! post, i can see evidence that i am, indeed, in a manic state. While proofreading i became progressively more wound up and irritated, until i snapped at both my husband and my son for no particular reason. I apologised immediately and arranged to be alone, so as to avoid any further stress. The extra awareness i have from blogging enabled me to mark my churlishness in real time. While the words and the tone were leaving my mouth i knew they were inappropriate for the situation, and had to do with me and my mental state, and nothing whatever to do with my husband or son.
That’s kind of awesome.
As a highly dissociative person i’ve spent more time cleaning up relationship messes than most. My Bits N’ Pieces can slide into the face and do all sorts of damage, but it’s not just parts of my system. I’ve spent a great deal of my life floating around, not entirely focused on other people, my surroundings, or my situations. I’m sure i came off as rather vapid sometimes, but i was distancing myself out of fear. I expected to be hurt, and between home and school, i was right to expect it.

Yesterday, i knew i’d spoken out of turn.
I knew it was about my mental state and not about them.
I apologised, and made amends by changing the situation to reduce stress. I took some time alone to ground and centre myself.
I reaffirmed that Yeah, i’m acting manic, but i know it.
I can identify the behaviours as they’re happening:
– i saw it in my blog post;
– i saw it in my interactions with my family;
– i marked it in my racing thoughts;
– i felt it in my intense emotions.
I reminded myself how much work i’ve done and that i’ve accumulated many coping skills.
I told myself that it’s gonna be okay and i can handle this –and if i can’t– i know i can and will seek help. I know what to do, i know where to go, and i have excellent, completely trustworthy support.

Today my pinched nerve flared up and it was hard to breathe and move around. I reached out to friends and asked for support by way of funny and/or lovely distractions, which were quickly provided. I took some pain relievers and rested in bed, reading and watching a movie. I easily banished any guilty feelings. When i felt able to, i got up, made my bed, got dressed, did my skin care and slapped on some makeup. I was able to be there for a friend who needed to talk. I taught my son how to make homemade tomato soup.

My husband came home from work early, so we grabbed a drive-thru coffee and talked about our day.
I can still feel irritation bubbling around inside me, but i know it’s coming from me and not anyone else. I’M the cause of my hair trigger annoyance, not anyone or anything else. The knowledge gives me enough inner strength to stand down, take a step back, and breathe through it until it passes. I was inexplicably gripped by panic a few times today too, and i handled it the same way. I acknowledged it, i knew where it was coming from, and i took some time to breathe and tell myself positive and encouraging things until the feeling passed.

Now i’m going to make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with the soup, and i’m going to spend time with my guys and shnuggle my pets.
Today was a fine day.
Looking forward to tomorrow.

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Jennifer Burk

Based On Results

After my mother died, my stepfather was left with a lot to process, i’m sure. She’d gotten her hooks into him early, starting when she’d babysit him and his siblings when they were very small children, and then later, when he was an adolescent. I know the sexual abuse began quickly, and by the time he was 15 he’d quit high school and was living with us. When he turned off her life support (a car accident involving a drunk driver), she was 45 and he was 27.

Some time after she was gone, he came for a visit, and said he’d paid for my registration to attend this week long, group therapy/encounter session course. Told me it was transformative. I went, mostly because i did whatever he’d ask of me. That was back in the day when i put all the blame for the abuse on her alone, and didn’t hold him accountable. (It was always niggling around in the back of my mind, though. It was some years before i was able to see that childhood abuse doesn’t excuse one from committing child abuse.) I was still seeking acceptance and approval – especially from a person who’d functioned in a parental capacity for more than 12yrs.

The group was your typical encounter group (i say typical because i have a lot of experience with various forms of therapy, starting early in my childhood). They asked questions like, “What are you pretending not to know?” and yelled at us like they were drill sergeants. One phrase they repeated over and over was, “Based on results…”

For example:
– Based on results, you don’t think you’re worth anything better than getting hit every night;
– Based on results, you’re satisfied with the amount of money your boss pays you to do your job;
– Based on results, you’re exactly where you want to be in life.

In short – they were a bunch of jerks. I ate it up at the time, of course. I thought they were amazing, and even paid for the next level. Most of the instructors were arrogant and sarcastic, and talked to us like we were idiots. That’s just how my parents acted, so i ate that shit up.
But like my experiences with other courses, therapy/therapists, and programs (self help and not), i did learn some stuff i’ve been able to apply. One of those places actually taught me that when they told me, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
Thank you, i will.

Although the course came at their base concepts with a crappy tone, like, How could you not know this? Duh! i could see the wake up call it could provide me. It reminded me that most people wanted things in life, and they were setting goals and working towards them. I was starting to see that i wasn’t living, so much as being tossed about on the waters of life, no course, no rudder. I knew my situation wouldn’t change unless i took active steps to do so. I’m still being generous to them though, because all the courses ultimately were was what many might refer to as “common sense.” They couched it in the current pop psychology slang, revealed it to us in a strangely militaristic style within school play scenarios. Then they tempted and taunted us with promises of hidden, esoteric knowledge, and the thing i wanted most – to belong. This was an exclusive club, and all i had to do was come up with enough money to ascend to the upper echelons (where i could wear expensive suits and treat people like they were stupid, too!)

Right here is where i could become caustic in my commentary, suffice to say that i have a significant amount of experience with the pop psychology/self help world of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It’s probably obvious what my opinion is regarding such, so i’ll leave it there. It wasn’t all awful, and i was able to glean some things from all of the steps and levels and playacting. I’ve seen such programs do a great deal of good for a number of people. For me personally, i couldn’t share to the depth some required. I’d been raised to keep some things hidden, and as a multiple i’d done that so well that even i didn’t know a lot of things. Also, the complexity of my problems proved unmasterable by the quick fix, and my past full of religious issues never lent itself well to any membership requirements or steps to success or common referrals to anyone’s god/supernatural beliefs.*

Back to the oft-repeated phrase of my title. While the group’s liberal use of it seems like victim-blaming a bunch a variously broken and desperately seeking people –as i’ve done with so much of that psychological pablum– i’ve turned it into something i can use. Which, to put aside my obviously hurt and angry feelings for 1 darn second, may have been their intention. (Some of them. Others were just opportunistic dicks.)

I’ve recently suffered a fairly serious setback to my physical health. These days i’m limited in what i can accomplish along the lines of housework and exercise. Because these are 2 of the best things i do to feed and maintain my self-esteem, i’ve been feeling a bit down, emotionally speaking. I don’t feel useful, and worse, i feel like a burden on those i love most. I’ve felt like a pathetic slob. I knew if i didn’t address these thoughts and feelings soon, i’d find myself in a spiral.
So am i a useless layabout? Best way to handle the messages my brain is sending me is to meet them head on, so to speak. Heh.

If i were to judge how successful i am based on results… I am fairly successful. I have more than enough of everything i need to physically survive, emotionally thrive, and more than enough mental stimulation at my literal fingertips to keep learning and growing as a human. And i’m the one who built this life around me. A lot of the life i enjoy today is a direct result of choices i made and yes, the toil of my own hands. I have only the people in my life that i want to, and do only that which i want or am at least willing, to do. I am a living combination of fortunate and scrappy.

All to say i now find it occasionally useful to ask myself, Based on results:

– am i healthy;
– am i successful;
– am i happy/satisfied?

The questions, to my mind, encourage me to evaluate what i’m producing.
Am i putting out into the world what i intend?
Am i coming along well, progressing, moving along this path at a decent pace, achieving goals and racking up some accomplishments as i go?
Am i more the person i want to be?
Do i have more of what i want?

Perhaps i’m in the weeds emotionally/mentally. Maybe i’ve got some issues in one of my relationships. I might look inward and feel unhappy and/or dissatisfied. I might look in the mirror and have trouble focusing because i don’t like what i see. Then there are more questions:

Is this a result of either action or inaction on my part?
Is this just life doing what life does?
Is this just an uncomfortable and/or difficult part of an ongoing process?

Depending on the answers there are, of course, more questions.
Do i need to change something?
Do i need to work/work harder at something?
Have i missed something i could be doing, or dropped something i used to do, that has, or might help?

Today, was a slow, decent day. I had to kick my own ass a bit to get moving, but i had reasonable expectations that i based on my current situation. I had an idea, based on the time i’ve spent in this current situation, of how much energy i had to spend. I asked myself, based on that, what was most important to me to accomplish. Then i started at the top and worked my way down, stopping when, based on prior experience, i recognised my body telling me that to continue accomplishing more would likely cost me more spoons than i wanted to use. In other words, continuing to cross things off my to-do list might potentially intensify my pain and/or my manic state.

And so, based on what i know and what i wanted, i finished the day satisfied with how i’d conducted myself, and pleased with my results. Today was a good day. I’m still manic, and i’m dealing with a fair amount of physical pain, which limits what i can do, but i got enough done. Beyond basic hygiene and light housekeeping though, my interpersonal relationships were rewarding and nurturing and supportive for all parties involved. I’m pleased with my conduct, and the people i interacted with are satisfied with mine (i asked).

If i wasn’t satisfied with some aspect of how i’d lived the day, i’d take a look and try and figure out what went wrong or otherwise didn’t happen the way i wanted. From there i’d maybe try something different or try a bit harder or cut myself a bit more slack. Tweaking things here and there to see if i can improve on things.
Then based on results, i’ll change or alter something.
It’s all designed to get more of what i want and less of what i don’t.

Today was decent. As i proofread and edit, however, i can see strong evidence of my mania in this post. It’s a bit nonsensical and rambly, and i’m not sure there’s a cogent point here. I mean, i can see lots of good stuff, but it’s not put together particularly well.
I sat on it for a few hours while i decided whether or not to put it up.
I’ve decided to throw it up because, if nothing else, it can serve as a demonstration of my process through times when my brain function is particularly problematic. Maybe this doesn’t seem as frantic and lost to anyone else. There have been times before when i’ve posted something that i thought was a bit too far out, only to read it later and think it wasn’t that big a deal at all. This entry reads jumbled and meandering and very animated, to me.

So there you have it. I’m manic in a pandemic and this is how my brain’s handling it. I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. I have excellent support and i know that i’ll just keep on truckin’ until i’ve moved through whatever this is and on to the next adventure.
Is this what my grandmother would have called a dog’s breakfast?
Heh.

I’ll check in tomorrow if i can, and i guess we’ll see how it’s all going.
Until then, y’all hang in there.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*I will say, steps and programs and other people’s gods taught me something extremely important, and that is that my path is my own. I found the way to health and freedom and happiness by seeing that i was going my own way, and so is everyone else. They all helped me to know myself and find my voice, insofar as i understood that i want to tell the story of how i have learned to live and even thrive, with the circumstances of my birth and upbringing, and my overarching message is that it CAN be done, rather than HOW.

IMAGE: Amador Loureiro

Diggin’ Around in My Toolkit

Okay, so… Physically, i ain’t doin’ so hot.

For months now, my fibromyalgia pain has been intensifying, and radiating to other areas. My RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) has worsened, spreading to my arms and back, coming on during the day as well as night, and increasing in frequency until it’s most days i’ll have at least a short episode or even 2. My headaches have moved from a band squeezing across my temples, to originating at the base of my skull and pulsing out in electric lightning bolts over one side only. My hands are stiff and painful, my forearms regularly numb, and my sciatica has returned after years, although thankfully it’s intermittent. I have a pinched nerve near my right shoulder which was further limiting my mobility and ability to complete simple housework and hygiene. I can explain it all with fibro and its accompanying issues (IBS, RLS, chronic headaches), plus having osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis), severe Bruxism, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (diagnosed many years ago and whose symptoms mostly disappeared due to significant weight loss). However, the rise in severity and frequency of these issues is seriously affecting my quality of life.

I’ve been avoiding my doctor (whom i generally see every 3-6mos), the ER, all of it, due to extreme anxiety – practically instant panic attacks at the mere suggestion of going there. Finally, it became such an impediment to my daily life that i mustered my nerve and went in to see her. She ordered a bunch of tests, as i’d known she would. Before i could get them done, i managed to mess myself up even worse.

I’ve had terrible balance my entire life. I think it’s partly due to being so dissociative, but also a result of the type of epilepsy i have (dormant for years, no meds), which affected my inner ear and hence, my balance. I’m incredibly clumsy. Not that sort of oh-i’m-such-a-klutz that so many deal with. I know that’s a thing, and it can be problematic, but what i deal with is significantly more than that. I’ve broken my ankle, my coccyx, my finger, my nose, and my leg in 3 places. I’ve had multiple concussions, hundreds of stitches, and i’m sporting a few bruises at any given time. My ears can start ringing so badly i can’t do anything but sit down and wait for it to pass. I also have vertigo. All this to say i don’t know which of these played a part in what happened, but it could have been any or all. Or perhaps something else.

I was a bit switchy during and after my wedding anniversary. I wasn’t in the face when i fell, but i was thrust back in as soon as i hit the floor. From what my husband and i can gather i’d gotten up from bed for something, and slipped, hitting my face on the wall and then slamming down on the hardwood floor, with my arms at my sides, palms facing up. I had the wind knocked out of me and my arms were paralysed. I could not move them to push myself up off the floor (i’m size Amazon, so it was quite the feat for my husband to get me up and back on the bed). The next morning i had a Neanderthal brow, 2 black eyes, and a massive hematoma across my jawline, spreading up onto my cheek. I couldn’t look to the left or right, nor up or down. And my arms were basically useless – they felt like they were skinless and just a mass of screaming nerve endings. My brain felt like it might explode, and my skull as if it could shatter at any moment.

Since then, the bruises have faded and i enjoy some movements free from pain, but still, i’m relatively incapacitated. I rely on my son to help me cook and clean, and exercising (treadmill, elliptical, dog-walking) has had to be put on the back burner – again. GRR. And now my guts aren’t working well at all. No TMI, but i’m not digesting very much of what i ingest, and so i’m hungry all the time, but i can’t eat without pain and discomfort quickly following. ARGH.

As i blogged yesterday, i did go in to the city and get my tests done. Things are now in motion and we’ll have a better idea what’s going on in the next couple of weeks. Since my symptoms have become this level of debilitating, no one in this house goes into any building we don’t absolutely have to. No matter what, if indeed anything, is going on, my resistance is down due to sheer exhaustion, so we’re being extra careful. Drive-thrus, curbside pickups, and online shopping only.

It’s been incredibly frustrating. Since i fell i haven’t been able to have anything touch my arms without pain. Up until a couple of nights ago i couldn’t lay in any position without my nerves going all hyper-jangly, and i couldn’t shnuggle my husband or my pets for comfort. The day before yesterday i was finally able to –slowly and carefully– turn my head to the right. Yesterday i couldn’t turn my head to the left for most of the day (i had to laugh, because i woke up up saying Yay, i can look right! to swiftly and painfully realising that Boo, i can’t look left!), but the pinch lessened late in the evening. I was actually able to cuddle up to my man for the first night since it happened – heavenly. So comfort. Very sleep (3hrs straight, whee!). WOW.

This morning i woke to pain and exhaustion and worry. After slouching around feeling like a grouchy sack of poo, i made a decision. I took some of my frenetic energy, and channelled it into making my bed and getting out of my jammies. My son cleaned up the kitchen as i ate some food, and while i’m still having the same tummy issues, the act of eating is still pleasurable. I’m getting some nutrition, and i’m not in danger of starving. Heh. I put on an outfit that i’ve always saved for when spring is in full swing (spring is decidedly NOT swinging, mmkay?). I changed my jewellery out for some pretty pastel earrings and a silver atom necklace, and i’ve even managed to slap on some makeup. My son enjoys cooking, and i’m looking forward to my husband coming home, as he’s been working for 7 days without a break. I’m watching terrible found footage horror movies and i’m about to stuff my face full of popcorn.

I’m a seriously mentally ill human who’s haunted by a terrible childhood. I will always be this human. But here’s the thing: I am learning to live life on life’s terms, and make the most of what i have to work with. I’ve worked so hard and for so long to get here.
This morning i got up, and within 15mins i’d snapped at my husband and son for no reason. After sulking for a bit, i stopped and took to my room. I sat on my bed and took stock of myself, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m manic. My thoughts are racing and tough to catch. My emotions are running high and momentarily spiking higher. I’m physically exhausted and in a significant amount of pain.
I got up, left my room, and got myself properly caffeinated. While power slurping some freshly ground and french-pressed Irish Cream coffee, i asked myself how i wanted to handle today’s set of challenges. I knew how right then – as soon as i’d asked. I decided to use my mania to pull myself out of my funk and stiff-upper-lip it with regards to the pain and worry. Not to have a bunch of exciting interactions with other people online. Not to spring clean my house, not to make a 3-course supper, not to make myself up like a supermodel… Just to get dressed, do a bit of light housekeeping and self-care. Eat, read, learn something, have a low key convo with my Kiddo, pet my pets. And blog.
That’s not the only double-edged tool i have, though. I could dissociate from the pain if i wanted. But that tool stays in the box. If the pain was too much, either on its own or in combination with a bunch of other things, i might have picked it up and used it. But dissociation + mania = potential for disaster. That’s magical thinking. That’s mania unleashed. Not today, Satan.
Oh look, i’ve gone and done a blog post.

Now, for tea and popcorn.
Also, this movie SUCKS.
Blargh.

I’ll try to check in again tomorrow.
Monday-Funday.
Love and Peace,
~H~
P.S. It’s just another manic Monday, oh-ooh-oh… /lalala

Bloodwork and Bliss

Today i am even more aware that i’m in a manic state. Blogging about it yesterday helped make it that much more real for me. You know, like it’s supposed to do.

I’m mildly annoyed and easily infuriated from the moment i open my eyes in the morning until i close them at night. And they don’t remain closed, because i can’t sleep for more than an hour at a time. Even better (/s), those few precious hours are filled with emotionally draining dreams, like getting lost, losing the people i was with, my pets getting hurt or killed, and –my favourite– uncomfortable associations with estranged family members. UGH. While i’m very much at peace with my decision to pull away from all living family (on my side), save my kids and 1 cousin, i’m not immune to missing them. I am merely inured to reestablishing contact.

Yesterday when i was thinking and writing about my current mental/emotional state, i wondered if i fully qualified as manic, because i didn’t feel euphoric. Today, i realise i sure as heck do. It’s fleeting, but it’s occurring over and over. I was texting with some of my favourite people today, and while it was a brief interchange, i was blissed out the entire time. I had to get some blood work done today, and i was experiencing a wave of intense anxiety. I reached out to them, and as soon as someone replied, i wasn’t just not anxious any longer, i was wildly happy. I felt loved and accepted and suddenly the world was a beautiful place. I wanted to go buy doughnuts and coffee and give them out to everyone at the lab – and people on the street.

Thanks to the awareness i have now that i’m probably manic, i was able to see those thoughts and feelings as a red flag. I was able to step out of the way of the tidal wave coming at me. I said to myself, Whoa, H, this ain’t Woodstock. This is a pandemic. It grounded me very quickly. The awareness and confirmation it brought with it gave me extra power and control, as well. I also know there’s an insidious danger to the power i feel and the control i currently have. Mania makes it all like dancing on the head of a pin. It could easily morph into feeling 10ft tall and bulletproof – and that’s an unhealthy place for me. There is a constant danger that i’ll spin out of control.

At this moment i’m not freaked out about it. I am who i am and this is what it is and i’ll do what i must to get through it as well as i can.
Will try to post again tomorrow.

Y’all hang in there, y’hear?

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Sharon McCutcheon

Old and New Dogs

Today i feel like updating. Most of it’s positive, with a brief vignette of unhappiness that might yet turn out well. Off we go.

I worried for many years (especially when i read old journals) that i would never change. I saw the same problems cropping up and kept finding myself back at what i thought was square one. I know now that wasn’t true, it was only that i was blind to my progress. There were scales on my eyes that i needed help removing. I needed a saviour to bring revelation and healing, if you will. I’m being facetious, but religion put me through a LOT, so have mercy. Heh. My saving grace was finding the right therapist. She taught me things i needed to know, and shone a light on me. Today, i am my own saviour, and I AM my revelation. I’m being reborn. The scales have fallen from my eyes and I SEE.

I see that i have changed – i’ve changed plenty.

And so, a list!
Some are big, some small. Some are silly observances and some saved my dang life.

– I no longer flirt;
– I don’t fawn at people who i know don’t like me, or people who are gruff or rude;
– I’m far less of an approval/acceptance seeker;
– I let other people help me cook;
– I don’t hoard food;
– I don’t binge/purge;
– I’m no longer addicted to pain pills;
– Non-smoker for 20+yrs;
– Maintained a 200+lb weight loss for over 15yrs*;
– Happy apostate;
– I’m decorating my house;
– I can be around children (most of the time);
– I’m no longer physically or verbally abusive;
– I’m not constantly choking back rage;
– I’m happily estranged from my family;
– I’ve let someone in to truly know me;
– I’m creating my OWN style, fashion/makeup/hair wise;
– I haven’t been committed in 10yrs**;
– I stopped driving (i’ll tell that story one day);
– I’m learning to manage my life as a multiple***;
– I have goals and aspirations.

I’ve changed tremendously, and i intend to change even more, where required.

**********

Now for my story.

We have 2 dogs. I have a 10yr old Pomeranian that i’ve had since he was a puppy. He looks fancy, but he likes to be outside and get dirty and go for walks with me. He doesn’t need much attention, and he likes his alone time. He is my fur-person, and will come lie in bed with me, Cristina/Meredith style (Grey’s Anatomy) when i’m low, even though my waterbed is too warm for him. He’s not a lap dog, preferring to sit at my feet when my husband is home, or beside me when he isn’t. He doesn’t mind other people, but he ignores other animals – unless they get in his personal space, at which time he will quickly clue them in that he ain’t havin’ it. He is food-centric, so much so that he nearly died from bloat (a rarity for such a small dog) when he was young. We learned to soften his food because he’d just swallow the kibble whole, and we put a ball in the dish, because he’ll still eat the softened food so fast he chokes on it. Between all the mush he gets on his ruff, and his love of our farm and dusty country roads, he needs to see his groomer OFTEN.

My husband’s dog is his polar opposite. She’s a medium-sized, 7yr old mutt with definite Bully leanings, that he rescued at around 6mos. She’ll take all your attention, all the time if you want to give it, although she’s not needy about it. She loves her kennel, and will go there for comfort, and any time we tell her “kennel,” say, when people come over. We do this because she. loves. everybody. and will jump on you, knock you over, and lick you forever (we let her out when things are calmer). Like my Pom, she loves walks and all the sniffs. While my boy is often too warm, her fur is so sparse you can see her skin markings underneath so we have a coat for her to wear outside from early fall to late spring. Our road and the adjoining canal is a favourite place for dog-walking, and she’s always overjoyed meeting other doggos. When it comes to mealtime, she likes to eat, but other than trying to casually sniff the plate on her Daddy’s tv tray (Dumdeedum, i’m just stretching, and my nose just happens to be 10cm from your food – nothin’ to see here, don’t mind me, tralala…), she’s not a moocher or a garbage-raider. Her favourite things are zooming around the outside of our house at top speed, rolling in scat (especially deer), and rides with Daddy in his work van. For the last, if he opens the door, she will bound into the back seat, and sit and wait patiently until he’s ready to go.

I’m sharing this for one, because i’m a pet person and don’t most of us love to wax poetic on our beloved fur babies? And two, because our dear sweet girl has fallen ill. Over the last 4mos or so, her enthusiastic, ebullient puppy personality has done a complete 180. She began acting like a geriatric dog; she moped about, wanting to spend all day and night in her kennel. She walked like she was in pain, and began refusing food. She didn’t want play with my boy (who actually loves her so much he licks her nose). She didn’t even care for van rides.

We’ve seen the vet half a dozen times, had every test imaginable, and they’ve found nothing. Each time we went she perked up –because of course she LOVES going to vet– /exasperated. They never saw her flat affect as she stopped moping and gladly trotted into the office with them. Meanwhile, she’d deteriorated to the point where she was piddling and drooling, her ears were full of bloody muck, and she was refusing food and water. Finally a vet tech friend of mine suggested Lyme disease. We thought about how many deer we have around here, and her fondness for their droppings. In desperation we went in again, and got the test. Turns out it’s extremely rare where we live, which is why they didn’t suggest it.

We’re waiting for the results. In the meantime, they put her on an aggressive round of antibiotics (she’d been on a mild one for clostridium), and gave her steroids for her rash (she has skin sensitivities like a lot of Pit Bull types).

And then something quite wonderful happened – she began improving. Over the last 4 days or so, she’s been accepting food, drinking well, her ears have cleared up, as has her piddling and drooling. She willingly comes out of her kennel in the morning to go outside with her daddy, and has resumed trotting up to us for scritches and pets.

When we’d take her to the vet, she was so lethargic we had to lift her in, but 2days ago when hubby opened the side door, she jumped in herself. We’ve begun feeding her 2X a day, and when it’s time to eat, she’s right there in the kitchen watching us prepare it. Last night after dins, she was still following us around wherever we went. It took a bit before we realised that she wanted a second helping, which i happily gave her, as she has wasted away these last few months.

I’m so looking forward to taking her for walkies today.
These last few months have been frustrating, scary, and gut-wrenching. She’s too young and lovely for us to lose her yet. We’re not ready. We still don’t know what’s wrong with her, and there still may be sad, awful times coming. The next step is very expensive, and it’s to detect cancer (which doesn’t show up on her screens). We’ve already spent so much money, all the resources we have left would be to keep her as comfortable as possible until the time comes.

There is no money plea coming, and no gofundme or whatever, i would gratefully decline any such offers. We’ll do the best we can for our darling girl, but the thing is, she seems to be improving. I don’t want to hope too hard, because i know how these things can go. If she does fully recover, we may never know what was actually wrong with her, but i’ll take it.

I’ll take it and hug her and pet her and feed her and walk her until she actually gets tired of me.

No real reason for this, except i’m trying to write more, and i was inspired by one of my favourite blog writer’s recent posts. So that’s my storytime, and if you read all this way, thanks!

Have as good a day as you can. I hope things are looking up for you as they are for me.
Sending Out Peace and Love to All,
~H~

* I did lose over 300lbs, but regained after bipolar mania, meds, and multiplicity. I have around a third left before i’m back where i was. Yay me!

** I’ve gone for help on my own a couple of times.

*** I have a number of other diagnoses, but DID is primary, in my opinion.

IMAGE: Rebekah Howell
(This is my idea of heaven.)

Robinson Robinson?

Robinson Crusoe doesn’t quite fit, nor does Swiss Family Robinson.
But they get close enough.
To get where i’m coming from, i’ll include an exerpt from my recent social media post:

As many of you know who read my blog, i’ve been in the most intensive therapy of my life. The goal is to strip me down of all my harmful/distancing coping mechanisms (i.e. dissociation), and experience my life fully present and in the moment.

The issue is that i’m exhausted, and the vulnerability this brings is beyond terrifying to me. I’ve lived my life at some level of dissociation since i was a baby. I’ve missed out on so much because i wasn’t there. These last 2yrs have been nothing short of brutal, but i can and will do it.

The problem is – the world is breaking me. I’m becoming pessimistic and misanthropic. I didn’t strip myself down to find this soft and tender heart inside, one that i’m beginning to know and love, only to have politics and current events smash it to smithereens. I won’t let that happen.

To that end, i am cutting out EVERYTHING in the outside world. I’m going to be filling myself with only lovely and uplifting things (outside of my therapy).

In all my online interactions, i sometimes leave and then come back for a bit and then do it again. I keep getting sucked into things that, while i care deeply about them, i do not currently have the spoons to handle. I only have enough for me right now.

But my family deserves a better functioning human, and so does my community. I am going to be buckling up and knuckling down, and getting this shit done, and when i come back…

I will be better. More involved, more helpful, more truly interactive. I will be in the face, and i will be better able to be there for friends and family.

**********

I will still be reading blogs, but if it involves commentary on politics and/or current events, i’ll be ducking out. I intend to return to these things because they matter to me, and i care. I just need to nope all of that for a while. I’m still here for poems and musings, and even a bit of personal trauma and pain.
On the days that i can.
On the days i need to not be alone in all this.
I’m here for the past and the future, just not the present outside of my own little island and my day-to-days. One day, my little boat will be built, and i will sail back to the mainland.

My next post will be a bit on the TMI side, just a heads up (re: detoxing).
Or maybe i’ll write down 1 or 2 dreams that deserve a looksee.
Or, i’ve been reading a lot of Bukowski and might be inspired to try to be gum on the bottom of one his boots that were 3 sizes too small.
Heh.

Thanks for reading.
Hang in there everyone, as best you can.
I’m doin’ what i gotta do.
I hope you’re able to as well.
Love and Peace,
~H~

in my hand is the last bluebird.
the shades roar like lions and the walls
rattle, dance above my
head.
the eyes look at me, love breaks my
bones and I
laugh.
Fingernails; Nostrils; Shoelaces, Charles Bukowski


IMAGE: Sergio Jara

Stuck

I’ve spent the last week filled with dread and unable to write. Every time i click [+Write], i’m stuck. Initially i wasn’t sure what the problem was, but that’s not entirely true. Being as dissociative as i am, the knowledge was there, i was just afraid and instinctively pushing it away from my consciousness. By midweek i cried uncle and admitted to myself what’s going on…
Dream #2 is going on.

There is something there that i genuinely can’t access right now. Not without analysing it. And i have this feeling that i don’t want to know what it is. I call it a dream, but it was a nightmare. It’s the worst nightmare i’ve had in years, probably since i was going through disclosing my abuse history. The night after i had it, i had the first semi-lucid dream i’d had in weeks. I was in acres of lush green meadow grass, soft and warm and full of that incredible smell. The sun was high and gorgeous and golden, and i gazed up at it in awe.

Then something large and dark caught my eye. I could see it was falling towards me, and falling fast. It thunked heavily on the ground next to me and it was a man. And then suddenly, it was raining men, literally, and even as i write this, my dark sense of humour is not kicking in. It was horrific. They were coming down all around me, hitting the grass and making sounds like when you knock on a large melon, or drop a heavy stone on freshly laid sod. The meadow was filling with them and i knew 1 would eventually land on me.

Like i did when i’d first learned lucid dreaming as a child, i knelt down, put my head on my knees and cupped my hands around my face to keep the light/the sight of it all, out of even my peripheral vision. Then i squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as i could and i said, NO, i don’t want to be here. I’m going to WAKE UP RIGHT NOW!! And i willed myself awake. There is a literal pulling sensation inside me, like waking up from anaesthetic; i feel drugged and heavy-limbed.

When i was fully awake i felt the dread i’d felt the night before, and i knew they were connected. I felt sick to my stomach again. I felt that gnawing pit down inside me yawn wider.

I sit in front of this blank white screen and i sense doom approaching. The other shoe is about to drop. I can’t explain it, but i just KNOW. I never repressed my memories per se, my brain hid them from me, disguised as dreams/nightmares/night terrors. It has been my belief that i know everything i can know about my past at this point. It took a long time to separate dreams from memories, and then memories from drug-induced hallucinations and imaginings (i was often drugged during the abuse: alcohol, depressants, and even stimulants and hallucinogenics).

I keep myself busy and try to keep my spirits up during the day, but by the time my husband comes home from work i’m exhausted from the effort. I spend the evenings feeling myself slide around inside my brain, and have fully switched out a couple of nights. I decided that it’s got to come out, lest i find myself crawling back into a bottle.

I’m setting myself up for the best outcome. I won’t be tackling the dream/s until my husband has the day off. I’ve bribed my system with promises of things they like to do after it’s done. (They’re children after all, and i found bribery a very effective tool with my sons, on occasion.) I’m talking to my system more, and at peak mindfulness. I’m establishing trust, but also asserting my place as the mama/head monkey in charge of this circus. They live in my brain, and they are all me, so it’s no secret that i’m very afraid (not all are developed enough to know anything about anything – they are a feeling, or a moment in time), but i also have a solid reputation as one who can and will do the thing anyway. I remind myself (selves) that i lived through it, and if i can survive that, i can survive looking at it and thinking about it and dealing with all of the fallout. ALL of it. I’m hella capable, and so far in this life i have never given up – i don’t intend to start now.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, but i do know that if i try to run from this or quash it, it’s just gonna keep getting bigger and sucking more of my precious energies into that ever-widening maw in my gut. Eventually it will either drive me into more dangerous switched behaviours, or i will go on an epic bender and/or wind up hospitalised. I know how i work, so i’ve got that goin’ for me. Heh.

That was almost a joke.

I will stare this in the face and learn what it has to teach/tell me.
I’ll feel the pain, i’ll grip the rage tightly in my savage breast and roar my way through, and i’ll embrace the wrenching sobs that i know are coming after.
This is the process; to feel what i feel while knowing what i know.
(I’m my own life coach, woohoo!)

Ah, there’s my sense of humour.
It never leaves me for long.

Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Alex Iby