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

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.