Survival is the Ability to Swim in Strange Water*

The willow submits to the wind and prospers until one day it is many willows – a wall against the wind. ~Dune

I’m utterly broken. I have nothing left. This is going to be a complete fucking downer, so be warned.
I thought i could do this, but so far, i’m living in a shit show. I’ve been in the hospital a couple of times since i last posted. The first time they suggested a few days in the Bin, the next time a nice long stay at a dual diagnosis facility. But guess what, i’ve done all that before and none of it worked. I found what worked for me, and i still have it all in play and they’re still helping me – it’s just messy and ugly right now.
The police have been to my property twice now, so by my old metric i’m a total fuckup. Do i change my metric? I have no idea. Both times they’ve left after determining i know what’s happening to me and i’m handling it the best i can.
Am i, though?

My home is in tatters. I finally stood up to being gaslit and controlled with aggression and non-physical violence on my person, though there was more than enough damage done to my house. It culminated 2 nights ago in fisticuffs with 2 loved ones and 2 doors being obliterated. I left the home because i couldn’t be involved in what was happening, but the violence followed me onto the road and i suddenly, just realised i’m done with it. I’ve been controlled by guilt, shame, and gaslighting for the last 3 or 4yrs, and i’ve had zero support with even acknowledging it, let alone support handling it.
Sometimes the people i love are assholes.
Sometimes the people i love fail me spectacularly.

I did the best i could to put off this work i have to do, but it couldn’t wait any longer – and now i couldn’t stop it if i wanted to. The thing is though, that i don’t want to and i won’t even try – not for any of them. So i’m trying to find another living situation, one where i can be safe and alone and focus on myself. It’s not going to be easy, but i can do it.
There may be a chance i can stay, but i’m not hopeful. Nothing’s changed in 4yrs, and me having the source of the violence removed from the property isn’t likely to change much.
He’ll be back, things will be back to how they were in less than 2mos, and i will be alone, with no protection.

I’m in constant, and intense physical pain, which i’m trying to soothe and treat as well as i can, because to be honest, most of it is not real. These are memories of things that happened to me when i child. Lozenges for my throat, Poise pads i keep in the freezer for my girl parts. I wrap myself tight in a sheet, i put pillows over my crotch area so no one can look, i wrap my head tightly in scarves when it throbs. I’m grinding my teeth again, so hard i need more Botox, which i’ll try to arrange this week, but it’ll be hard, because i can’t stand being around other people. Plus, having my face touched sends me instantly into a full-on anxiety attack.

I woke this morning with leaden legs, knees, arms. Head so heavy i could barely hold it up. I try to speak but the thoughts are slow, which make the words so much slower.
Can you tell by reading my blog i’m a fast talker? Because i am, even though i meander constantly down side roads and take detours. But today my tongue is slow, and my movements not unzombielike.
It’s depression. Depression is flowing through my veins. To think i was fighting a mania, just a few short weeks ago. My body screams in pain too, but at least now i know what the pain means and from whence it comes. I live with it every day, all day, trying to interact with friends i’ve made and people i know, and even though i can see – hell, EVERYONE/ANYONE can see i’m not doing well, yet it still drains me.

The stores i’d built up so carefully, with so much labour.
Waiting to unleash water upon the desert of Arrakis.

And then i had to have a loved one removed from my home, and i’m not sure there’s anything left of what i’d saved. I poured it over myself, trying to cool the hot parts and quench the thirst of the ones that live inside me and only know pain.

But the voices remain. Not just those of the ones i made to survive, but the ones they programmed into me to keep me their secrets safe.
When all seems lost – go home.
When people find out – go home.
And if you can’t get home, you must leave some other way.

I guess that’s why the doctors want to commit me and the police keep popping by to check on me. It’s all very kind of them, really.
I do not feel as if i can make it through this time. That i am thoroughly used up and finished.
But fear not, reader, for this is no goodbye piece.

I look back instead, at all the work i’ve done, all the times i’ve survived the unsurvivable, all the times i’ve pulled myself up out of the quagmire, and all the people who’ve stepped in to help me, too – to help me save my life.
And so i say to myself, this is just a feeling, and feelings have heretofore been transient in my life. If i give it long enough, if i can hang on long enough, i WILL feel something else.

It may suck a bucketful of maggots, but at least it’ll be something else.
And maybe the next feeling won’t suck.
Maybe it’ll be something full of light and hope.

I’m all over the place, and everywhere i look people want to put me in one of those sweaters with the extra long sleeves that tie up in the back.
But i am here, and i’m doing my veryveryVERY best to stay.
I promise.
Hang on to me a little, in your heart, will ya?
I’d really appreciate it.

Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and it has power.
~Tuek, Dune

With Love,
~H~
*Quote from, you guessed it, DUNE.

Sleeping Women and Pockets Full of Tears

Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.
~ Alain de Botton

Today was an exercise in doing what i know can work, if I can just bloody do it. My lack of proper sleep is making daily functioning progressively more difficult:

– I’m getting nervous and overwrought, and having trouble regulating the intensity of my emotions. I can zerotosixty in seconds, without being aware that my foot was on the pedal;

– My internal world commands more of my attention than i’d like, and more easily, too. Talk amongst the Peanut Gallery is leaking out, in public places, in front of other people. Someone will be looking at me quizzically, or ask me to repeat myself, when i had no idea i’d said anything;

– I don’t have the energy required to do all or even a lot of the things that help keep depression and mania at bay, like walking the dogs and keeping the house shipshape. I’m exhausted when i wake up, and each morning a bit more so.

I’m functioning at a bare minimum right now, and i worry how much worse it will get before it gets better.
I go back to basics, though. I know to cut back until things are manageable. If the house and i don’t stink, and my family gets fed and has clean clothes – it’s enough. One day i can spend some time with a friend. One day i can give myself a pedicure. One day i make a nice dessert to follow supper.

I’m trying to make writing as close to a must as i can, without making me hate it like i hate mopping floors or talking on the phone. You know, an unavoidable drudgery. I’ll tell you what though, this piece is like pulling teeth and i don’t like how it’s coming together (or not – it’s not coming together for me). I don’t want to post it, but i will.
I’m not here to blow you away with how great my writing skills are.
As you can clearly see by that last sentence, they are not great.
What i have to offer, indeed, what i very much want to blow you away with, as it were, is how alike we are, you and i.
How you struggle, and i struggle. How you feel alone in it and you worry that no one will understand. Maybe you’ve tried to share about your struggles and the responses were not what you’d hoped, wanted, or needed. Maybe, like me, you’ve bought the books and attended the seminars and planted your ass in so many fruitless chairs, spending money and energy that you could ill afford.
And they’re all telling you how to do the thing to arrive at the place.

And maybe you’re like me and you don’t know if that’s the thing you need or the place you want to go, but what you’ve got and where you’re at ain’t it -you fucking know that- so you listen and you try and you hope…

I appreciate, so much, that most of those working in the mental health field seem to truly want to help. Their enthusiasm and sincerity seem legit, and nearly every person/place/thing i went to for help had something i could take away with me and use, but it was never quite right. Not alltheway right anyway – a little bit right, here and there. Little treats and treasures that i secreted in my pockets as i edged out the door.

It all helped me to know myself better:
I like this. I don’t like that.
I want this. I don’t want that.
This speaks to me. This sounds like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon.
I can work with this person. I’d rather chew someone else’s gum than work with this one.

Knowing myself, plus finding a professional i can work with, has been the basic recipe for my success so far.
I have no idea what will work for you, but after all the searching for help and answers that i’ve done over the decades, i think i have something to offer that may help someone (YOU?) to figure some things out – maybe get one step closer.

I offer a glimpse into how my brain works. What i think about what’s happened to me, what i think about my childhood and what i survived, and how i got through it. My thoughts about being bipolar, being multiple, and much more important than that – my thought processes as a person living with these particular challenges. I’ll share what i think about the people who hurt me and those who’ve helped – how i process their impact and how i package it all up and decide what shelf to keep it on.

I’m hoping you’ll see bits of yourself in me, not so that you can do what i did, but so you know that it can be done. I’m sharing my insides so you can see that i’m fucked up and flawed, and some of it was done to me, and some of it i did to myself. I’m probably more screwed up than you in some ways, and less than in others, but we’re both varying degrees of messy in various areas.
And i know full well that a lot of this mess ain’t mine, but if i don’t clean it up, no one will.

I think my brain is a hoarder of the highest order. It keeps everything – nothing is ever thrown out. NOT EVER. It’s all here, and it was piled from floor to ceiling. Some rooms were so full i couldn’t get into them. There was trash everywhere, but i couldn’t just shovel it all into a bin and have it hauled away, because there were precious, vital things strewn about in the clutter and disarray. My brain cannot be cured of its hoarding, and it cannot cope alone. I’m the homeowner and i couldn’t turf this beautiful, troubled creature out into the street. Instead i came and helped, as it agonised over every scrap of paper and broken bit of pottery. What to keep, what to toss, and what to give away. I brought in professional organisers as it allowed, and we went go through each room and put it to rights, starting at the front door and working our way to the basement, which desperately needed some repairs to the foundation. We’ve progressed to the attic, and it’s time get started, but we both hesitate. I’m tired and my brain is scared. That’s where it keeps the feelings.

Which brings me to yesterday morning.
Because it’s taken me a day and a half to write this blasted thing.
Between the dreaming, the lack of restful sleep, and the anticipation and trepidation of what’s coming in therapy, it’s a sign and a wonder that i can put pants on and string together an intelligible sentence.

So yeah, yesterday i had to take Kiddo to the doctor, and because i no longer drive, and i couldn’t find someone free to help us out, we had to hitch a ride into the city with my husband, and then we had to find something to do until he was done for the day and could drive us home. Which means there would be people and i must do the peopling.

I woke at 5, bone tired and in a sour mood. I tried to keep it to myself, but it was taxing, and my anxiety level was rising as the hour of his appointment approached.
A little higher getting my coat and boots on.
A little higher on the highway heading in.
A little higher entering the city limits.

By the time my husband drops us off at the doctor’s office, i’m stretched so tight my face hurts, and i’m inexplicably furious at him – so much so i walk into the building without a kiss, because i know i’m irrational and i’m pretty sure i’d bark at him if i got close enough. My son can see the strain and he’s quiet and gentle with me, checking himself in and then sitting down without talking like we usually would. He looks at his phone and gives me space until his name is called.

Hubby texts and i’m anxious and still a bit miffed, so i’m terse in my replies. He tolerates me because he knows what it’s about. I’m cranky, not abusive. Kiddo is done and i don’t want to leave, because then it’s the bus and people, and then the library and more people, and then lunch at some restaurant full of people. And i know they’re not looking at me, but sharing space with them makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. My switching tics have returned recently, and i’ve even started vocalising some of the chatter that goes on in my head. Little blurts of other voices. After years of effort spent trying to marshal my inner forces, to win the trust and respect of my battle-worn soldiers, they’re a bit excitable and i fear they may break ranks.

I’m texting with a friend, trying to remain calm, but not having much luck. I can feel myself slipping and tell my husband. My son wants to get food before we take the bus downtown, and i’m starting to twitch and i want to scream -actually fucking scream- and i start mixing up who i’m texting with and my friend sends a ???
My husband texts again and has arranged with his boss to take 2hrs off and get me home. Which you’d think would be great news and a relief and holyfrackisitever! so why is my body shuddering and my face getting all squinchy like i’m gonna goddamn cry?

I don’t cry. I get choked up sometimes, but i don’t cry. I can tear up over other people’s lifestuffs – i’m an empathetic person. And if i’m going to actually cry about something in my life, you’d better believe that happens by myself around 90% of the time – the other 10% is with my husband and i’ve likely been drinking…

My son wraps his arms around my shoulders and pulls me to him and says it’s okay, that everything is going to be all right. My face is wet and i’m getting snotty and i can feel my most trusted alter coming through to take care of things, because i’m crying in a public place and people are looking at me and this cannot continue, and i can’t stop it.

She helped me until i could come back. I don’t know what made it so that i could, probably just getting back home and taking some time, but things were okay, as we all knew they would be: my husband, my son, my friend on the phone, and i knew, and even most of my system. I know why i can’t sleep and why i’m dreaming so much, just like i know that i will get through this chunk of therapy and be a happier, more effective and functional human when it’s done. We’re going up to the attic, my brain and i, and we’re going to take those feelings out of their boxes, and we’re going to hold them until we know where they go.

I put my tears away until i got home, when i emptied all my pockets out on this page for you. Take care of yourself as best you can and i’ll do the same.

~H~

Image: Die Jungfrau (1913), Gustav Klimt

Come With Me

Come with me, I said, and no one knew
where, or how my pain throbbed,
no carnations or barcaroles for me, 
only a wound that love had opened.
~Pablo Neruda, Come With Me, I Said, And No One Knew (VII)

Surprise twist movies have been done to death. I’m over them, especially when there’s nothing much going for it besides the twist, which is often the case these days. There are some that stand out because the story is masterfully told, the buildup too subtle to notice until it’s revealed. With them it’s like suddenly, the entire landscape of the story changes, becoming something you hadn’t foreseen, and looking back you almost can’t see what it once was. And now, oh! how you see all the little clues, and feel a fool, for you’re certainly clever enough and experienced enough in these things to have seen it coming.

I should have seen it coming.

I’m not exactly full of myself about it, but i am proud of all the hard work i’ve done. I’ve accomplished more than i’d thought i could, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that i was afraid that i wouldn’t be able to get this far. Yet i’m here. I stubbornly, doggedly, resolutely, and with no small amount of backing myself into a corner and its resultant terror, have managed to be able to navigate the day-to-days of an almost-normal life. I must do a great many things that most others do not in order to achieve this, but these things have become a part of my daily routine, my mental toilette, if you will. My life is ordinary and average, and by me being me and it being so, it is absolutely not.
Well! Heh. I guess i do sound a bit conceited.

It’s funny (peculiar AND haha), i’ve almost always guessed correctly and way ahead of time when the twist is that someone’s a multiple (what a sad, tired trope that is, UGH). Not only do i know personally what it’s like, but i’m a smug and jaded movie lover from way back who has pissed off many a friend and family member by guessing the end, and taking an annoying amount of satisfaction in how smart i am. (Don’t hate me – i don’t do it anymore unless i’m with my husband, who must legally tolerate it, or someone who also loves guessing.)

I see dead people.
Just kidding, i only hear people who aren’t actually real and am occasionally possessed by them. It’s no big deal. Not really. Not comparatively or relatively or even practically. I did all this work and now i have this life. There will very likely always be the odd hiccough here and there, but i have this life now and i made it, and i like it this way. I’ve had enough change, and turmoil, and chaos, and drama to choke a horse, feed an army, and slap your mama. I’m happy and satisfied with this quiet, bucolic existence.
I figured i’d plug along like this for the rest of my life. Well, i think that’s what i thought.

I try not to think too much on the future, as it tends to trigger anxiety and depression. Most of my long term successes have come from small tweaks to thinking or action, built upon slowly. Sweeping changes and massive lifestyle overhauls can easily kick me into mania, which usually finds me at least 3 steps back when the dust settles.
If life is Mario Bros., i play all the way through. I know i can skip through quickly and just ride that flag to the top, but i collect all the powerups and coins available before i level up. And I don’t skip any levels either, for the same reason. When i get up to those tougher levels (like Ice World – fuck that world, man), i know i’m going to need extra life, and all the mushrooms and stars i’ve got to make it out of there.
I need to be prepared with a strong foundation, and i need practise to succeed. I need to go slowly too, because i’m clumsy and i stumble – regularly, and hard.

I keep my eyes on the ground in front of me. I choose where to put my foot next. I do look up periodically, lest i walk off a cliff or run into a tree, but i’m more concerned with firm footing, and avoiding the odd stone or embedded root.
And i’m the type that does better by looking back and seeing how far i’ve come, rather than looking ahead to see how far i’ve yet to go.
I could see some potential for trouble up ahead, but what i couldn’t see was that i was slowly descending into a valley. The scenery changed very gradually, and it all looked fine until dusk. I look up and around me now, in all directions, and it’s all vaguely sinister. I’m standing here, trepidatious, afraid to take the next step. The warmth of the day is fading with the light, replaced with the chill that tags along with the bleeding of the night, seeping into my bones as dread.

I’m frozen here. I’m unable to move. I can’t tear my eyes away from what is ahead of me. It’s like the dirty snow on the screen of my tv when i was a child, at the end of the programming day. I’d stare at the funny coloured bars that would pop up after the playing of the national anthem. The fear would gather slowly in the pit of my stomach once the late night news was over. If i was lucky there’d be a movie, but often it was just some old cop show, like Barnaby Jones or Cannon. They scared me a little, but i suffered them because it was better than being alone. My mother would be out somewhere, doing whatever, and i was 4, 5, 6 (and older), and terrified of the dark and being alone. Of course i was, and that box filled with pictures and voices of people was company and distraction from the places my superpowered, mutant imagination could take me. Would take me. Even just with the snow, at least it was a beacon of light, and i’d stare at it, and imagine i could see figures and hear whispers… The movie Poltergeist triggered me so hard; those glowing, dancing specks were alive for me, too.

What i see before me is like that dirty snow – it buzzes fuzzily, like millions of bees crammed together yet still in flight. But it’s not greyish white with black flecks like that old tv with the foil wrapped bunny ears, it’s black. It’s dozens of shades of black, giving depth and detail, giving off heat like a fever or infected flesh. It’s insidious.

I can’t walk into that, let alone through it.

I can’t talk about the fear that’s in me and on me every day now. Sucking all my energy and wearing at my will, making me snappish and easily hurt. I hide and i switch and i often cannot get more than a half hour’s sleep at a time before dreams wake me. At least with dreams i can go back to sleep, but when the nightmares come i’m up, sometimes for an hour, sometimes until i get my family up and out for the day, when i’m sometimes able to nap a bit. I don’t know if i can do this work that’s presented itself for me to do.
I know myself and so i know i’m going to try – my hardest, my best – but i sincerely don’t know if i’ll succeed, or even if that’s possible.

Today i am leaning on my New Year’s Resolution to blog through the bad.
Sorry it’s mostly just a nonsensical mishmash of metaphor and analogy, seasoned liberally with histrionics, but it’s what i can do, for now.

the geysers flooding from deep in its vault:
in my mouth I felt the taste of fire again,
of blood and carnations, of rock and scald.
~Neruda

Image: Promotional poster from the movie Poltergeist (1982)

 

When Christmas and Gridiron Collide

 

The decision to continue my non-celebration of Christmas has already proven to be a wise one. I am struggling a little.

Because i’ve developed the habit of both preparing for the coming weeks and reviewing them after, i’ve been noticing a few things lately. I think about what goals i already have in place, and how other activities, including appointments and the day-to-days, may affect their furthering or accomplishment. For instance, while getting ready for the holidays, i thought about how i wanted to get through them without any crutches, including addictive behaviours and switching. I thought to myself, “It’s gonna be hard,”
And that’s it. That’s all i thought. I just glossed right over it and didn’t go any deeper. I mean, why would i need to, right? I’ve done all this work and i know myself pretty well. I know it’s going to be difficult.

It’s like running my fingers over the books on my shelves. As they run over the spines i remember each one’s content in my mind, and the general vibe briefly washes over me, like the breath of a lover between kisses. I’ve read it before and i know what it’s about, so why read it again? But it’s not like that with some books. Some i return to over and over, so many times that the spine is hopelessly cracked and flecks of laminate are missing from its paperboard cover. Some words are so beautifully, so importantly put together, that i must experience them many times; it’s simply not enough to know that they exist or to have visited them before. I cannot be satisfied with a fingertip-touch or a warm glance. And i should not be – some of the depth and the nuance and delicate intricacy is lost without at least an hour or two lost in its embrace.

Well, that was an interesting digression that i’m not sure fits entirely, but it is an insight into my mood most assuredly, so it stands.
I’m trying to relate it to my playbook for living with mental illness. I have a list of strategies and plays i’ve developed for handling what life throws my way. I don’t think sportsball teams simply commit the plays to memory and then just show up at gametime, ready to play. The players practise. They practise a LOT. They look to the coach for direction, for instruction, for guidance.
It’s a very good analogy because i’m multiple. I’m the coach, the quarterback, and the hungry rookie going slightly mad sitting on the bench, aching to get in the game. I’m the fans, both for and against, the colour commentator on the sidelines and the beloved announcer in the booth above it all. The opposing team is made up of people, places, and things, and the game is LIFE, of course.

Those players haven’t just memorised those plays. They’ve practised them so many times they’ve built muscle-memory reactions that work like breathing, so reflexive it’s like the OOF! that explodes out of them when they’re tackled.

Would a team that wanted to win against a tough competitor show up without practising plays designed specifically to deal with what that other team is known for being particularly good at? Hell NO.

I ran my fingers over the book on the shelf and remembered what was inside it, when i should have taken it down from the shelf, cracked it open, and read it again.
My players needed a coach to call them to practise, to scrawl the plays out on the board in class and to run them through on the field.
I wasn’t well-prepared so they weren’t, either.
This has been a rough game against a tough opponent.

I’m dealing with the depression part of living with Bipolar Disorder, which means i don’t have much energy or enthusiasm and i’m tired most of the time. Being depressed when most of the people, places, and things around me are happy and excited (or at least wanting and trying to be) saps what little reserves i have stored. And that makes me vulnerable. My patience is thin and my skin is thinner. My vision is blurry and my voice is a whisper.

What i mean is
**i can be easily hurt and i’m not great at interpreting what’s going on around me, and i’m shit at communicating what i’m thinking or how i feel**
That’s better. Sorry for all the attempts at various literary devices, as anyone reading this has certainly grasped more quickly than i have said – i’m still in the grips of all this.

So i let some things get to me that needn’t have, and i shut down a bit because of it.
Rejection is one of, if not the, primary issues/triggers i have. So i was worried and anxious and hurt and scared and it seeped into everything.

But here is where things get better, so don’t worry. There is no need to feel badly for me beyond this point. If you’re empathetic, you probably feel some sadness and anxiety for me, and thank you for that, but you can stop now, because i’ve developed coping skills and routines to help me live a reasonably happy and functional life.

While i do need to work on game preparation, i am already the queen of post-game analysis.

I’m a bit too emotional and that caused exhaustion, but i didn’t overindulge in anything and i didn’t switch. I slid around in the face from time to time, but i was able to tell my family that i wasn’t all there, and they know what that means. Looking back, even though i wasn’t fully aware of what was going on, my self-talk was quite gentle, and that is excellent progress. I didn’t tell myself i was being stupid or wrong for the feelings i was having or the actions i was taking – i just didn’t delve deep enough for full clarity. There were times i was irritated to the point where i could have spoken snappishly, but i didn’t. I had enough awareness that i knew the feelings were bigger than the situation, meaning something else was probably going on inside me at a deeper level.
I realised that whatever was happening inside of me wasn’t about what was occurring outside of me, and responded in a relatively reasonable fashion. I will take that, and any congratulations to be had go to the players.

I need to watch more games, both ours and theirs. I’ve got some great plays and some smart strategies, but we need better preparation and more practise. I’ve got this playbook, and i’m going to use it during practise, and the way my brain works (i.e. my Peanut Gallery) is the home team. They can split up and practise against each other. (Trust me – they already do, heh.) Upcoming situations will be the next visiting team and we’ll get together on practise days and watch footage of how those guys play before we show up, so we’ll be as ready as we can be to compete.

And we’ll still play for fun. It’ll be more like weekend flag football and all the players on the other side of the scrimmage line are my family and friends – it won’t be like the Grey Cup or anything.

This is a very weird way of saying that i wasn’t as prepared as i could have been for the Christmas season this year, but i will be next year.
I think. Heh.

 

Love and Peace,
~H~

Perseverance

I’m not sure what’s going on in my brain, so i’m gonna write a bit, and see if i can figure it out. Let me say plainly that this may be a dog’s breakfast, and it may not end up with any answers for me or insights for you, but it’s a coping skill that has helped in the past, and it’s one i’ve committed to using, regardless. So, even if we both wind up empty-handed, i’ll at least have the behaviour more ingrained, and i can glean some pride and self-esteem from my sticktoitiveness.

I lost my mother-in-law about a week and a half ago. I tried to write about it, but i didn’t see myself in the draft, so it’s sitting in my folder, waiting for me to find myself and tell the story that’s there.
I’m tired, though. I am so fucking tired, and i don’t know why.
Okay, well, it’s probably depression, but this one feels different. I’m trying to get through it without checking out – no booze, no drugs. Food and sex are handled for now, but i can still stumble with the other 2. And switching.
I want to make it through this depression (?)

Yeah okay, it’s a fucking depression. It is. I know it is. Just because it feels different doesn’t mean it’s not a depression. I’m tired all the time, i have no oomph, no joy, no passion, and i have absolutely no fucks to give about anything.
It’s a depression.

I want to make it through this depression without alcohol, drugs, or switching. I’m okay with a bit of sliding (meaning i’m not in the face, but i can observe what’s happening – kinda like watching myself on telly), but no losing time.
If i don’t make it, i won’t punish myself or hate myself – i’ll give my performance a proper critique, tweak my technique, and prepare for the matinee showing.
That was poetic. Or at least a bit precious, eh?

My legs are heavy, leaden. My head feels like it’s filled with fresh cement that’s in the process of hardening. I went back to bed at 10 this morning, and i’ve only been up since noon and i already want to go back to bed at 2:30. The fibro has settled into my neck and shoulders, my forearms too. It’s moved down into my thighs, which almost never happens. My back feels out of place like it hasn’t in years. My sinuses are acting like they’re infected. I’ve broken my retainer and we’re too broke to afford a new one, so i’m grinding and clenching all night and the pain in my face is excruciating.
I have no sense of time.
My head is a burden, my thoughts are tribulation.
I want chocolate and bourbon and media distractions.
I want to hide in my dreams.
I do NOT want people.
A cabin in the deep woods with books and DVDs and enough fresh snow and firewood would be pure heaven.

As i type this out i can see the truth of it; this is something tangible and it helps to look at it. While i may be feeling heavy, i am not at all grounded. I am the lead balloon. I need my feet back down on earth. I must keep moving, even if it’s a plod, plod, shuffle-stumble, plod… My feet on the ground, the smell of the earth, the pricking grip of the frigid air…

YES.
I know what i’ll do.
I will take some strong pain reliever right now. Then the vacuuming and dusting. I will throw something in a pot for supper. Then i will drink some very hot tea -not my usual black- herb. Something soothing. I like Chamomile, or some delicate mint. Then i will watch a feel-good movie. A happy-cry movie. While i’m watching, i’ll finish up the ironing that’s making me feel bad by sitting there undone, and when that’s finished i will brush out my doggy. After that i will do nothing remotely productive until i must feed my family. I’m going to retire early with a good book.

Tomorrow i’m going to return to my walks. I’m not paranoid due to mania anymore. No hallucinations.
It was the metaphors about continuing on my path. The bite of the winter air.
Ohhh, THAT’S what i need! It’s what i’m now missing.
It’s time to start walking again. I have no doubt that it’s going to help.
Holy shit, i’m excited about something.

I am marking in words on this page made of technology and ether –

Writing works for me.
My thoughts are seeds. The harmful thoughts are born in fertile ground: isolation, darkness, fear. The helpful thoughts must be planted outside, under the open sky. In the sun, with the rain and the air and the other helpful thoughts that came before, that are already growing and blooming and bearing sweet fruits.

I’m going for a walk tomorrow, before breakfast.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
~Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Swerve

There were many times before i was diagnosed, when not knowing how to handle my thoughts and feelings caused some wreckage. I don’t like looking at them, because they’re mostly mortifying, and because often when they occurred my multiplicity would be in play, so the details can be hard to recall. This week though, my mind keeps turning to some of these events, and i haven’t been able to shake the feeling that i need to examine them now, or i’m risking a return to those behaviours.

What i’m referring to is somewhat hard to define for a couple of reasons. One reason is because the emotions are so intense, the people who live in my brain take over, which often leaves me with little or no memory of what’s happened. Another is that scrutiny can be difficult just because the events precipitating them are unpleasant to recall, and my behaviour is so embarrassing to me that i must fight dissociation to even examine it. I’m sitting here with my morning cup of tea, my husband is beside me doing his morning guided meditation, and i’m struggling hard to concentrate. I was feeling out of sorts yesterday around suppertime, and so i went to bed early, thinking i’d read to relax and try to get some extra sleep in.
Ha. I woke every hour or so all night.

I’ve been going back to bed after the guys head off to work/school for this last week. I’m tired and not sleeping well, plus i’m still working on getting back to reading fiction, a thing that fell by the wayside when i began learning to deal with DID. I can and still do read a lot of non-fiction, but the imagination stuff was like skating on thin ice – i’d fall through the thin, brittle membrane that held me up, and begin flailing around in a panic, the cold, slushy soup of all those who live just underneath quickly deadening my limbs and pulling me down into the murk. I still struggle staying present while reading good fiction, but it’s worth every effort.

Allow me a brief digression from the topic at hand. I know that this  may be reading as a bit strange (maybe more like, HUH?), so let me try to make it a bit clearer.
My therapist told me that if some people really had mutant superpowers, that mine would be imagination. The mind of a multiple is capable of internal flights of fancy that can seem real. I know that there aren’t actual people inside my head, yet they seem real, and they’re capable of accomplishing daily activities and handling emergencies when the consciousness that my brain recognises as ME can’t be located. They aren’t real and yet they absolutely are. They’re so real it just took me nearly 5mins to be able to recall the word “integration”. That word is hard to remember because to all of us who live here in my brain, it carries a connotation akin to “murder”. It happens every time i try to remember that word. I could go deeper with this, and i likely will someday, but for now, if you’ll just take that little description and think on how that ability might apply itself to Tolkien’s works, or King’s, or to Gaiman’s, Bradbury’s, Vonnegut’s, Atwood’s, Well’s, Shelley’s, Pohl’s… Yeah, i’m partial to sci fi/fantasy – act shocked.

So, i’ve been going back to bed every morning this week, laying there and trying to read and rest,  but not accomplishing much of either. Part of my inability to get enough sleep may be due to depression, which i think has hold of me, although its grip isn’t nearly as rough as i’d anticipated. I’m vaguely tired and mildly irritated all the time, and i lost a much-loved family member on Sunday, which i know has intensified all the depression stuff i was already feeling prior. I try to concentrate on anything right now, and i can’t quite do it. My head is foggy. I can see the smudgey outlines of my thoughts speckling the mists like grey shadows, but the ground is like a skating rink beneath me, and squinting at the images makes them no clearer, rather they seem to disappear in the watery blur that swims between my eyelashes. I can’t think a thought through to its conclusion, or follow a question to its answer. The path fades before i can find firm footing – i’m not even clear what direction to go. And these attempts leave me cranky and frustrated, with one of those headaches that feels like a bass drum being repeatedly struck by a pedal-beater that’s been covered in muppet-fur. Fuzzy-thump, fuzzy-thump, fuzzy-thump… Hitting so hard i can hear the distant metallic rattle of the wires on the bottom of the snare above it.

I usually give up at this point, but this time i can’t. I can’t because i think i may be building up towards that kind of blow-up that i mentioned at the beginning. The kind of explosion that causes a lot of collateral damage. Like the time when i was 21yrs old and i ruined a funeral because i found out my girlfriend had cheated on me. Or the time i got drunk for 2wks and my Peanut Gallery all thought i was dead and my kids all hated me and were hiding from me. So they took a bunch of pills and first destroyed my own home and then went to the place the kids were at and put a metal chair through the front window and we wound up committed AGAIN.

And in a couple of days i’m going to a funeral, and it’s for the person whose window i demolished all those years ago. She’s my mother-in-law and she’s been a better mom to me than my own mother ever was, and i’m devastated to lose her. Over the last 2yrs dementia has stolen her from us all, a piece at a time, and last Monday morning she had nothing left to give.
I must look at the ugly past, learn as much as i can, and prepare myself in case anything comes up for me.

Wow.

This is why i write.
This right here.
These moments of clarity.
Of insight.
This peace i suddenly have inside me, because even though i was dreading it, even though i feel embarrassed and humiliated looking at those past events, those awful things i did, i am committed to doing the things i’ve put into place to do when life happens to me. When even death happens.

Be present in the moment. Practise mindfulness if necessary. (It’s necessary.)
Avoid triggery people, places, and things.
Do not attempt to eat, drink, drug, or fuck the problem away.
Write about it.
And most important of all…
WRITE ABOUT IT.

Well i did, i have. Er… I AM.
Suddenly it happened. I just realised that, although i need to look harder for what i was feeling and thinking that preceded my destructive outbursts, i’m not going to behave that way this time. It’s a non-issue. I’ve grown up enough and i’ve learned enough about myself, how i work, and the world around me, that i won’t be losing control like that in any fashion, due to my MIL’s death or the upcoming funeral.
It’ll all be okay, and i’m going to be all right.

I’ve fashioned my own Guide To Happy Usefulness, and it works when i work it.
I had to force myself to sit down and write about it, but once i did, it worked.
Holy fuck, H.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

~William Carlos Williams

Cycles, Seasons, and the Fine Art of Gardening

I live with Bipolar Disorder. It’s a cycle of mania and depression. Mine is of the unspecified variety, meeting various criteria for BP I, BP II, and Cyclothemia. This means that sometimes my manias and depressions can be so intense as to require immediate hospitalisation, and sometimes i can cycle between less intense versions incredibly quickly (days), or interminably slowly (years). It is, for me, a cycle though; one invariably follows the other. On and on, round and round. Circular. Perhaps relatively infinite.

It is both poetic and not. When i’m not currently depressed or manic, i can look at what’s past and describe it with clever metaphors and colourful analogies, which is fine – even good. It’s an indication that i’m ready to clean up any messes, take inventory, and restock my shelves in preparation for the next (potential) disaster. When i’m currently experiencing a depression or a mania however, if i’m seeing my situation within a poetic framework, it’s not usually good – it’s often dangerous. Getting all romantic about either feeling 10ft tall and bulletproof or suicidal while i’m in it, can be a red flag that i’m dissociating, and am or will soon be unable to control what happens next.

This last mania was prosaically endured. That is a bonafide victory. I was in it hip-deep before i figured it out, but that’s markedly better than last time i was hit this hard, when i had to almost slip beneath the water before i realised how far i was from shore.
I figured out i was manic.
I did the things i’ve learned to do that can help:

– minimise social interactions;
– practise mindfulness throughout the day;
– avoid people, places, and things that provoke intense feelings;
– be gentle and forgiving when i’m not doing things correctly, or at least as well as i can do them when i’m not manic;
– process thoughts and feelings with a safe person, often.

It turned out pretty well, i think. No hospitalisation, no police involvement, no massive drama. I didn’t have any terrible fights with anyone – not even my husband, who is usually the target. I don’t have access to credit or cash when i’m manic, and my husband even keeps my ID with him for safekeeping (because i lose stuff when i’m on a tear – sometimes very important and/or expensive stuff), and to discourage me from going anywhere. I didn’t go on a bender, either. I drank a little, but not falling down drunk, picking fights, or crying jags. No drugging. This is all good.

There were things that could have gone better, of course. It was still gruelling. It was sometimes ugly and painful, and it was consistently scary to varying degrees. I lost my ability to write coherently – and i couldn’t find a fuck to give about it. My carefully crafted daily routines fell away, one by one. The paranoia and hallucinations (both visual and auditory) that often come with an intense mania, meant that my daily walks had to be put on hold. I can see people in my peripheral vision that i’m certain are coming to get me, and that can easily trigger my multiplicity; a complication to be avoided if at all possible. My brain got very busy, but it also got very scattered, so my husband would text me he was heading home for supper and i hadn’t yet gotten dressed or washed my face. I started watching crap telly again, too. At those times i gravitate towards reality shows that highlight other people’s misery. I think that subconsciously i’m telling myself i’m not too far gone because i’m not bedridden by my weight, or hiding in a house filled with garbage. I don’t need an intervention, and you are NOT the father, so… It could be worse, eh?

When it was over i cruised for a while. I was exhausted, and it was the right thing to do. I also wanted to take some time to examine where i was at emotionally, to see if i could anticipate the timing of the depression that would surely come, and maybe even gauge its severity. I don’t know how realistic that was, but i did need the rest. I think that i may have quietly crossed the line into the next phase already, but i’m not sure, because it doesn’t feel as intense as the mania did. My downs are usually inversely proportional to my ups, and if i’m presently in a clinical depression, it’s a very mild one.
I’m often tired and my desire to sleep more has returned (although i never have much luck getting more).
I feel a bit inept, and everything looks a bit greyer and somewhat ominous.
And i am definitely, definitely irritable. Ornery, even. I find those closest to me to be rather exasperating right now – the most intense of all my symptoms.

Once again though, i have worked hard to find and develop ways of coping with this disorder:

– try to say Yes to one social engagement per week;
– practise mindfulness throughout the day;
– avoid sad stories/movies/tv shows, etc., no wallowing allowed;
– be gentle and forgiving when i’m low energy, and acknowledge every accomplishment and small adherence to routine;
– process thoughts and feelings with a safe person, often.

So, as i have mentioned many (MANY!) times before, i just pick myself up, dust myself off, and resume my slow, steady movement forward. Mania means often reining myself in, because going too fast can cause a stupendous crash, whereas depression means often dragging myself just a few steps before i collapse, overwhelmed and tired for no particular reason.
But as i have also said before – it gets easier every time i do it, and this time was no exception. It was still easier than the last time.
Even though this mania was far more intense and longer than the one that preceded it.
Despite wrestling with dissociation and losing time, sometimes days.
In spite of 2 or 3 or 4 angry walks, which have not occurred in probably a year or 2.

There just came a point where i knew the mania had waned to the point where i had the power to stop it. And i did. I decided i was done, i informed the Peanut Gallery that the shenanigans were over, that i’d be taking a little time off to recover, and then i was gonna get back at it; their full cooperation was expected.
So there was a couple of weeks of no expectations, save arrested manic behaviours.
Then i started back to my routine. I went back to one thing, and that was to only eat between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Because i’ve had gastric bypass, i have a very small stomach pouch – but i can still gain weight by just grazing all day long. I did gain some back, probably somewhere around 10lbs, but that’s all right. The changes i’ve made to what, when, how, and why i eat are sound and healthy and meant to be lifelong, so a blip is okay. I have no doubt i will get back down to where i was before i started gaining a month or so ago, and then some. This is a process, all of it, and the pace is necessary, and it doesn’t bother me.

I started with my 12hr window to eat, and then i just started adding bits of my routine back as i felt able. It didn’t take the months of dogged dedication that it took to make them habits. I didn’t even need to give myself a week before i added on something else. It’s all back except the exercise, the caloric restriction designed for weight loss, and the 1 home improvement chore per week. I’m back to my sleep schedule, my morning and night hygiene routine, my reading, my writing, my baking (which i never completely gave up anyway… AMAZING). The rest will come in the next week or so. I don’t know exactly when, but so far i’ve seemed to have decent judgment regarding the timing of these things, so i’m just gonna keep trusting myself to know when. For now. If i fuck it up, say, if i’ve taken too much back on too quickly -oh well- that’ll become obvious at some point, and then i’ll reassess and tweak my lifestyle where i think i need to, and i’ll just keep on truckin’.

**********

Just a reminder: I’m not trying to fix anyone’s life but my own. I’m looking for my own answers, my own solutions. I am not, and have no desire to be anyone’s life coach or guru. I share how my brain works, and the way i’m learning to live with it because i’m 50yrs old and still pretty fucked up and not highly functional, but i want so badly, as i’ve wanted all my life, to contribute something to my fellow humans. To be of some use, some help, TO DO SOMETHING GOOD.
I’m working with what i’ve got, and what i have is what you see here on these pages. I have kept plugging along no matter what, and i’ve kept trying to figure my shit out, and i’ve banged on all the doors and cried at all the windows and did all the diets and seen all the headshrinkers and attended all the groups and whispered/screamed/wailed all the prayers and made all the sacrifices.
And it’s working. It has all played a part in who i am and where i’m at today. Some words, some wisdom, some therapy, some information, embedded inside me like seeds.
And ALL the kindnesses, ALL the mercies, ALL the graces, ALL the forgiveness, ALL the handouts, ALL the love – watered and sunned and fed and growed my garden until it now produces enough to feed me, to shelter me, to nurture my thoughts and my feelings and my dreams and desires. Now i till and water and fertilise my own soil. I can protect the tender shoot from the invading weed – and i pluck that sonofabitch out without hesitation and free of misgivings.

I share it all in the hope that you might believe that you can do as i have done, because i believe you can. Take anything you like from here and use it to seed your own garden, but do not feel obligated to plant any of it. Feel free to just look upon it, whether it’s to drink in its beauty or to see in it only what you don’t want to grow in your own.

You are welcome, regardless.

Enjoy your weekend, if you can.
I’ll do the same.
Love and Peace,
~H~