Fire and Ice On the Road to Ruin


I’m a trash monster dancing in an old green dumpster 
I smell like coffee grounds and mouldy spaghetti
There are soggy gobs of kitchen roll between my toes
and all the flies wish I’d get the hell out

I’m an ice cream goblin under a Tamarack pine
I look like a grandma but i’m actually a child
There’s a spoon in my back pocket and i use it to stir
my dessert until it’s more like a malted

I’m a naif in a love-queue who’s bouncing foot to foot
I’ve really gotta pee but i’m up next to get some
There’s a sweaty woman crying loudly right behind me
and i let her take my spot cuz i can’t wait any longer


I’m a hitchhiker headed for paradise
who thumbed a ride in a killer’s car
I’m a broken bit of china in the back garden
I’ll cut you open and you’ll bleed on your vegetables
I’m a stray dog with my nose stuck in a Slurpee cup
You can try to rescue me but I won’t thank you
I’m a rollercoaster fallen into disrepair
Don’t go and risk your life for a quick thrill


Hot mess
on a tin roof
desperately needs the rain
to drown all the pretty flowers
inside

I can’t
be alone now
‘Cause I’m always undone
and I’ve licked the milk chocolate off
my hands

You tried
and I know that
So if you have to go
I totally understand why
Goodbye

Published on my other writing platform.
~ Mine, August 09, 2022 ~


IMAGE: Pexels

Watch Me

Yes, i’m in the weeds. Bipolar depression is the absolute shits. The thing is, though, i’ve been here before, and i basically know what to do. I have experience with what this is like. I’ve been experiencing active suicidal ideation, but don’t let that scare you too much. And while i haven’t had a plan for a long time, and the fact that i have one now is concerning, i’ve told the appropriate people and taken the proper steps. This is learning to live as well as i’m able with this wacky noggin of mine.

I’m done with that subject and on to something better.

**********

Audre Lorde said,

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

I am developing a vision of who i am and what i want. The first half of that has been coming along nicely for some years, but that last part has been tough to even imagine.

I needed the safety of my marriage and trust in my therapist before i could clear away enough of the wreckage of my past to see what was on the horizon. For most of my life i’ve been hypervigilant, functioning in survival mode. My brain was stuck in my childhood, and my body thought it was dead. It took years before i could think of anything i wanted to do beyond surviving. My desires only went as far as “not to be fucked up.”

At this point in my healing i finally do have dreams and plans for the future, but i have trouble bringing them to fruition. My first success came a couple of years ago. I decided that i was going to take the bus to the mountains, stay in a hotel by myself, and meet a couple i’ve been friends with online for years.

It was a big challenge. I’m so dissociative i have trouble with things like planning trips and setting itineraries. I’m easily distressed, and when that happens, my system can get activated and things can get FUBAR, fast. I also get lost very easily, which triggers such a high level of anxiety that i will run away from whatever and with whoever i’d made plans.

The trip was a resounding success. I was able to do everything i’d planned to do. The meeting was fulfilling and joyful, with a minimum of dissociation. I got lost in the airport looking for the shuttle desk where i was supposed to be picked up, which triggered me, but that was at the end of the trip. I could go home and care for my upset rather than having to hide it away inside myself until after i’d met my friends. That would’ve curdled my milk, you know?

I plan to go to my old home town for a week by myself to write. I think i can make it happen before the end of the year. For spring of next year, i’m going on a tropical vacation. I know where. And i’m hustling hard for enough money to do both, plus get myself a couple of things i’ve been after for some time. They’re expensive, but i’ll be working at it until i can get what i want.

To accomplish my goals, i’ve had to redefine and reshape my role in my marriage.

I made a mistake in my relationship, and it’s cost me, and probably him, too. When i fell apart so badly that i had to pull away from everyone except my husband, sons, and therapist, i may have given up too much. I surrendered all my responsibilities except cooking, cleaning, and basic mothering, and dumped the rest of it in my husband’s lap. I thought that was what i had to do, but now i wish i’d done it differently.

He paid all the bills and made all the decisions. I tried to keep myself and the house together and did the best i could to mother our kids, but beyond that, all responsibilities were his. I even stopped driving. I was so consumed with my own problems that i didn’t see that he had issues, too. He’s reliable and responsible but he’s not without flaws and limitations. There were areas i might have been more helpful and a better partner.

For instance, by the time i emerged from years-long, intensive therapy, i had no idea what our financial situation was. I didn’t know what bills he paid, how much they were, how much was in our bank account, or what our credit looked like. I had decided that i wasn’t good with money and didn’t know nuthin’ ’bout budgets or saving money. And that’s total bullshit.

When i’m manic i need someone else to handle the money — that’s just common sense. But at other times, i can be quite good to have around when it comes to spending, saving, and paying bills. Before i met my husband, i made a small inheritance last for five years while i stayed home and raised two kids. If i could do it again, i would have gone to school, but i was enmeshed in a religion that told me i had to stay home to be a good mom. I made it work by investing the money and paying myself a small monthly stipend, draining my inheritance as slowly as possible.

I bought used or gratefully accepted hand-me-downs and any charity i was offered. I clipped coupons. I didn’t splurge on anything. And i paid my bills on time. I’m not a materialistic person. I don’t care about labels or what the Joneses have. I’d grown up in such poverty that i felt like i was livin’ large in my little low-rent apartment where everyone who lived there was my friend. I cooked, cleaned, and entertained my kids on a shoestring, but it never felt like we went without.

I have emerged from years of uninvolvement to find us in what i consider to be an untenable situation financially. I’m not happy with our debt load or the handling of our finances. That’s on me as much as it is on my husband, and i own that. But i’m ready to shoulder more responsibility in our relationship… And i’m coming up against some attitude and push-back.

So i’ve had to do an end-run. I’m in my 50s, and i’m done waiting for some things. I have to bear the responsibility for some of how things currently are, and i am. However, i’m going to get what i want, with or without help. Without help is fine — i’m hustling, i’m working, i’m striving. And if i’ve gotta come up against someone who’s standing between me and what i want, it doesn’t matter who it is or how i feel about them; i’m gonna do what i’ve gotta do. I am living in the second half of my life, and time waits for no one.

I’ve been a certain type of way for most of my life. Apologetic. Walker on eggshells. Terrified of rejection. Trying to be who other people tell me i should be. NO MORE. I might still feel that way sometimes, but it will no longer keep me from pursuing my vision. And a vacation is only the beginning. It’s not just about STUFF i want; it’s about things i want to DO. Things that will make the world a better place for me having lived in it.

I’m going after what i want. I’m pushing for it, and all those messages i got from abusive caregivers and well-meaning societal robots aren’t going to stop me. And anyone who has trouble adjusting to this new me can step aside. I did all that other work so i could do this work — so i could do something useful and help others instead of only trying not to die.

I want to write to help people, but i think i can help in other ways, too. My vision isn’t fully fleshed out, but i know where i’m at, and i’m clear on my next few steps.

This depression is slowing me down, but it won’t stop me. I have smaller plans to accommodate my current mental state. Plans for August that are doable, goals that are reasonable and reachable.
Watch me.
Help me or get out of my way.

I want to apologise for my tone in this piece so badly. I’ve lost the battle a little to even be writing this part, i think. But it’s babysteps, and i’m doing pretty well, all things considered. Being strong and firm and matter-of-fact is new for me. It’s hard to write these things, harder still to say them, and hardest of all to speak them to a loved one.

I am though, and i’m going to keep on with it.
Watch me.
Help me or get out of my way.

Y’all take care of yourselves as best you can, and i’ll do the same.

Hang in there.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Oh, So It’s to Be Depression Now

CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of bipolar depression and suicide.
(Absolutely do not read this if you are not in a good headspace.)

**********

I thought i saw water coming up the banks, but it wasn’t water.

It was sewage.
And i am standing at the bottom of a septic tank.

I should have seen it coming, due to how much loss i’ve suffered this spring.
But i couldn’t see it, because of how much loss i’ve suffered this spring.

Depression is a rising tide of rage.
Like magma boiling inside a volcano.
Like the creeping death.

I’m gripped with it, shaking my own guts in a childish fist, impotent with fury.
The sadness, like the wax my grandmother poured on top of her jams and jellies.
Underneath it — sweet poison.

But all of the anger at the unfairness –the absolute torrent of shit–
has left me open to being absolutely and utterly done.

Breath seems like a waste of energy.
I took to my bed and swam in a bottle.
Cans of cold, fizzy oblivion.
I could breathe as long as i wasn’t sober.

Friendship — dead.
Dear friend — dead.
Dearest companion — dead in my arms.
Marriage — gasping, much like my sweet girl. I’m holding it in my arms, too, watching it labour for life.
And then to think my fondest wish had finally been granted, only to have it snatched away from me, YET AGAIN.

I’m tired. So tired. So done. So over all this work. All this work that comes to nothing. Over and over and over and fucking OVER AGAIN.
I’m sick of being at the mercy of this fucking malfunctioning brain.
Of being spirited away by little bits of myself that i cannot seem to fully control.
And i’m so over all of the chaos they bring.
The pall of inescapable death over me.
If it’s not one shitting on me, it’s the other.
And now, it is both, and i simply cannot.

I know that my brain in depression is a liar.
I know that the other people in my brain are traumatised children.
I know these things… but i am tired.
Tired of this acid anger and tired of this aching pain in my heart that climbs up into my throat and chokes me. Throttles me like an abusive lover.
My throat aches and my head pounds.
ALL THE TIME.

And i look around for love and goodness to come and help me–
BUT I CANNOT FIND IT.

A plan is forming in the back of my mind and i’m not even afraid.
I’m far too tired.

I put the plug in the jug and i pulled myself out of bed… For what?
FOR FUCKING WHAT?!
For the death of democracy and the rise of fascism?
For the demolition of human rights and the celebration of indecency?
For the millions who died for the good of all to have come to NOTHING?

To watch millions of overfed babies pat their bellies and yawn while everything good and right in the world is murdered in front of their vapid, staring eyes, like they’re watching a new show on Netflix?
Like all of this death and destruction is a show being produced for their entertainment by their putrid and foul god?

And so this is how my depression seeped in, like an odourless gas, filling my pores and dulling my senses… Now it can talk to me and i will hear its lies.
I have barely the will, let alone the strength, to fight it.

It says the problem has been me all along.
It says my friendship died because of me.
It says i’m being ridiculous about the death of my friend.
It says it’s my fault my dog died.
It says i’m the problem in my marriage and i should just go away.
It tells me i was a terrible mother and my son will never forgive me.
It tells me my children’s struggles are all my fault.

It’s telling me the world is shit and it’s only going to get worse.
It’s telling me everyone would be better off if i just wasn’t here anymore.

This is the worst depression i’ve had in 15yrs.
It’s clobbering me.
I am doing little things as i’m able, but it takes so much energy just to not die.
Just writing this has taken all i have.

I got up and made breakfast for my husband and son.
I made my husband’s lunch and got him off to work.
I stripped my bed to wash the sheets that are ripe with the smell of my recent detox.
I cleaned the kitchen and made conversation with my son as if i’m real. As if i’m alive.
I don’t feel alive.
I feel as if death already has me.
There’s a tumour in my brain and it’s eating me.
I know at this point that intervention might be necessary.
But there will be new doctors that think they know and old ones that KNOW they do…
And they’ll want to pump me full of drugs, and those drugs only make me sicker.
They’ll argue about my diagnoses while the nurses treat me like a thing because i’ve been there before. Because i have a long history…
And i’ll try to remind them to look at my doctor’s notes that say i’m extremely drug sensitive and that psych meds have only ever made me sicker…

And so depression gains a stronger hold and its voice becomes clearer.
Sensuous… Seductive…
It says, Why bother?
You’re tired, and everyone would be better off without you, and the world is total shit.

I’m drinking water.
I brushed my hair and put on clean clothes.
Right now i’m going to vacuum and then check the laundry.
Then i will put on some music and write for my other platform.
Later on, i will take my little Roly for a walk.
I’ll be making a nice dinner.

All i have now is the years of work i’ve done to handle my brain.
It’s all i have to hold on to, and it is a tender thread. A tendril.
I’m too tired for hope — all i have now is the work.
It sets me in motion like a wind-up doll.

I will eat something.
I will drink water.
I will go outside.
I will clean my body.
I will listen to music.
I will talk to somebody.
Well…
I will write.
Okay?
I will write.

I’m a Pale Blue Bird

I will take this road much further
Though i know not where it takes me
~ Sinead O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got


ZOOM’d with a group of friends that calm and connect me. I was still pretty floaty, but they offer acceptance and unconditional love and support. It was exactly what i needed. I was having trouble being present for anything. All my thoughts and emotions were mixed together in a bitter mélange. They brought a pinch or 2 of sweetness that balanced me out.

My relationships at home are difficult for me at the moment. I’ve taken a stand and set down boundaries with both of them, and, well, let’s just say that change is hard for everyone. I want what i want and i don’t want what i don’t want. I’m through trying to twist myself into unnatural shapes to try and get them to give me what i’m asking for. Give it to me or i’m gone. Stop or i’m leaving.

It’s extra-tough, i admit. I’ve gotten fed up and overwhelmed before. I hit maximum stress and i dissociate, lose the face, and someone else takes over and screams for me. They issue threats and make promises that, once i was back in control, i wouldn’t follow through on. I established a pattern of being all bark, no bite. No follow-through. But i’m different now — more grown up and resolved to my current trajectory.
Give it to me or i’m gone.
Stop or i’m leaving.

I’ve lived my life trying to be what i thought other people wanted. I’ve been trying to avoid harm and rejection. I’ve been trying to earn love and approval.

There came a time when i saw my motivations and patterns clearly. But i still don’t set boundaries well. I avoid confrontation. I’m terrible at saying NO.

The way i handle it is to withdraw. Sometimes that’s me pulling inside myself and another part of me coming forward and handling things for me. Sometimes the withdrawal is physical. I can do it temporarily, or i can disappear from that person completely.

I lost a friendship at the end of last year. It was dear to me and i’m still not over it. It might be saved yet, and i do have some hope. But fixing it is tied up in confrontation and setting boundaries. Saying things that might not be received well, and hearing things that might hurt and upset me. I avoid this kind of shit.

I have other things that take precedence over the possibility of saving this relationship. If it dies, it dies.

I’m trying to get what i want in my marriage.
I’m trying to be a proper mother to a grown man.
I’m trying to reconcile a new diagnosis with the rest of the ones already part of my repertoire.
I’m in a bipolar depression.
I’m dealing with death and loss and my husband’s declining health.
I’m trying to be a real live writer.
I’m pursuing some big ticket items that don’t come cheap.

I know i was doing my best. If they’ve decided my best wasn’t good enough, i respect the choice. But i must put down the club i was beating myself with, because my best is all i can do.

Today is a (VERY) rare day alone. Between my chat with friends last night and a precious day to myself, my mood is considerably lighter.

I’m grateful for what i have, and to quote one of my favourite artists, i do not want what i haven’t got. We’ll see what life has in store for me in the coming week.

Whatever comes, i shall persevere.


Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Pexels

Dear Diary: Well, Hell…

I couldn’t hold on. Yep, again.

I write about falling often, because it happens that way. I’m not feeling like getting deeply into the specifics this time, which is weird. What i’d like to do is merely document that it happened. I’m not into a forensic analysis on this one. I do, however, feel an obligation to let my readers know. This is my process, these (hopefully) brief lapses of control might always be part of my life. And you know what? I’m not particularly concerned at the moment. It is a part of my life for now, and that’s what’s in front of me to deal with.

As my therapist so helpfully reminded me last week, trauma like mine is not “one and done.”

I’m already dealing with bipolar depression. If i can avoid going deeper, of course i will. Beating myself up for something that happened, that i couldn’t stop (or i bloody would have), is wasted energy. So here i am, picking myself up.

Yes, again.
But also…
Again, YES!
Perspective.

While i heartily and vociferously reject the cult of suffering, i understand there aren’t many over the course of human existence that have avoided it. I find truth and a powerful tool in the idea that a shift in perspective can move me forward. It can help to propel me out of whatever pain and difficulty i’m currently enduring.
And yes, i choose to endure, but also to MOVE, if i can. I will not tolerate suffering or pain any longer than i must.

I know myself well, and i know my limits.
I will push if i can, but if all i’ve got is just enough to hang on, then i will hang the fuck on. Sometimes, torpor provides the opportunity for rejuvenation. I’m immobile, but i’m marshalling my forces. I’m in trench warfare, and it ain’t pretty, but i have always prevailed. I’m a plodder, a babystepper.

Wow, i just motivated my own damn self.
If this helped you in any way, well, even better.
You are enough.
Hang on.
I will, too.

Love and Peace,
~H~

Photo by dominik hofbauer on Unsplash

Dear Diary: I Think I’m Depressed, Now


I think i’m depressed now
There doesn’t seem to be any fun around
I think i’m alone now
The sighing of my heart is the only sound

Yes, a terrible riff on an 80s cover song by Tiffany. You’re welcome.

I keep looking behind me, to see if Mania is still casting her shadow. This last time i checked, she was gone. I quickly turned to look ahead, to see what might be on my horizon —
And i smacked face-first into a wall.
O hai Depression. Long time no see.

I’m in trouble but i’m not?
I have zero energy and my mood is low. Everything seems to take too much effort. I don’t want to clean, or cook, or talk, or write.
But i will. I will because these are the things that i’ve set in place for me to do at times like these. I do these things no matter what, but i do them differently, depending on what’s going on for me. When my mental and emotional health are relatively balanced, i just do them. Not much focus is required. They come naturally, freeing me up to focus on other things. I can work towards some bigger, more long term goals. I can go out and socialise with actual humans!

When i’m manic i put the breaks on – i try to slow myself down. I don’t take on anything new or more or bigger. I take my eye off the big goals and focus on the simple day-to-days like housework and hygiene. I write if i can handle it, but sometimes i put that down too, if it triggers racing mind. Speaking of which, i have to be very firm and disciplined with regards to my sleep regimen when i’m in a mania. Sleep is health. Sleep is the only mountain i’ll climb when i’m in one. Without as much sleep as i can get, i’ll lose control and start rolling downhill like a cheese wheel in the UK. And without a calm resolve toward getting as much sleep as i can, i’ll just lay there and become more frustrated and restless. Until eventually, racing thoughts run off with any hope of quiet management.

Depression, however, requires a shift in the opposite direction. What i need now is a near-constant push. It should be gentle and lacking in the harsh critique and self-judgment that leads to internal voices of doubt, recrimination, and condemnation. Still, a push is what i need. I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel at all times. I plod through chores, i force myself to do morning and evening toilette, and cooking does not bring me joy. I’m dragging my ass. And despite my current insomnia issues, i try to stay out of my bed, except at night. Naps can be great during regular times, and manic ones too, but depression is different. I want to hide in bed. I want to sprawl and flop around and sigh deeply and avoid the life outside my bedroom. So, even if all i can muster the energy to do is sit in my recliner and play a mindless Match-3 game, then that’s what i do.

And just to put a cherry on top of this crap sundae, my health issues are once again at the forefront. I haven’t slept properly in months, first due to mania, and then because i cannot get any relief from Restless Leg Syndrome… Or is it RLS? We’ve tried everything out there trying to arrest or just ease the problem, to no avail. Nothing has worked. I have it every night, even sometimes during the day, and it’s not only in my legs anymore. I’m getting it in my shoulders, my back, and the last 2 nights i’ve felt it in my hands. I see my doctor today to find out if it might be something else and not RLS at all. I’m also currently on massive doses of antibiotics, as i have a rather serious infection.

I’ll also be pursuing further testing to better define where i fall on the autism spectrum, and to what extent. This has affected me far more than i’d have imagined. I have a number of friends whose children are autistic, i have friends who’re themselves on the spectrum. I have a well-informed and modern opinion on autism. I don’t think of the neurodivergent as disabled, just atypical. I already see my multiplicity as placing me solidly in that camp. And yet… the diagnosis has sort of devastated me.

Finally, and probably most significantly – the blog i’ve begun on my other writing platform has completely fucked me up. It’s not like i didn’t know it would happen, it’s that, WOW, it has really REALLY happened. Because it deals with the darkest and most broken part of me, it’s spilling over into my marriage and affecting my physical health. The subject matter is very adult, and needs its own blog, so i won’t be going into it here. Let me know in the comments section if you’d like to check it out. The blog is in this same voice and style, but there is other writing there that’s a bit more formal than this.

Now that my physical health seems to be a bit better (my infection symptoms are not gone, but they are less intense), i’m hoping i’ll be able to get back to using this as a bit more of a diary than a blog – at least temporarily.

More in a couple of days.

P&L,
~H~

Staying the Course


I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
~ Indigo Girls, Closer To Fine


Still feeling like Pig Pen from Peanuts. Depression is following me around like my own personal raincloud, and i’m kicking up moody dust wherever i go. My affect feels flat. Everything is either meh, or ugh. I don’t hate it, but i don’t love it. I’m working on a piece about anger, and it’s occurred to me a number of times while writing it that my creative juices aren’t flowing well. It’s getting done, but slowly.
And it’s struck me that nothing is riling me up, lately.
And i am easily riled.

I’m asking myself if this is a good sign or not, and i don’t know. It could be because as i mature and become more functional, i’m better at coping with the world and all that happens in it, and people and all the shit they get up to. WE get up to. (You know, cuz i can still get up to some shit. Heh.)
Or…
Is it because depression is settling in and dulling my senses and reactions. As i’m writing this i immediately thought No, because where is the characteristic frustration, irritation, and explosive anger? When i’m depressed i’m not so much sarcastic as caustic, and i’ll spit that acid at any and all comers. I’m churlish and cranky. I’m morose and i mope and think sad and dark thoughts.

I honestly don’t know. I don’t even have an intuition which one it is. In my life it’s usually both, but to what degree? Welp, since i don’t have enough evidence to draw my favour one way or the other, i shall just press on, as mindfully as i can. I’m still functional and accomplishing small goals. My routine is still in place and i’m pleased with its flow. I’m still on track with some longer term goals regarding weight loss, fitness, and relationships. I’m on track with planning for how i’d like my life to change once my area opens back up and i’m fully vaccinated.

Things are okay. They’re not great, but they don’t have to be. Life is like this for me at the moment, and that’s okay. It’s not ideal, i wish it were different, but i can work with it. I’m aware and conscious and intentional and committed. If and when more information becomes available to me i might add or subtract to my daily routine, but unless or until, i am staying the course. I am still moving forward, and while it’s slower than i’d like, it’s still positive and enriching and good.

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less i seek my source for some definitive
Closer I am to fine


Love and Peace, Everyone,
~H~



IMAGE: Alex Siale

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.

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