Hamster Wheel – A medication Journey

we decided to call it quits and try something else. …

It’s true I’ve been absent again. It’s been another roller coaster ride the last few weeks. The Latuda was so hopeful when it started. That first week on it I felt like I was coming to life. But as we adjusted and the medication built up the hypomania gave way to pure unadulterated panic attacks. These weren’t like anything I had ever experienced in my life. At least twice I was ready to check myself into the ER because I was coming out of my skin. So my doc gave me some anti-anxiety meds – Clonazepam with a side of Hydroxyzine – it took about a week for me to be able to sit still again and sleep. Honestly it was one of the worst mental health crisis I’ve had in awhile only to be topped by the coming depression. I was incapacitated. Couldn’t sleep, couldn’t watch tv I was that agitated. Plus now I was on 3 meds instead of one which I despise. Additionally because I was so sensitive to the Latuda and it has no XR option I had to take it 3 times a day split up to keep from going into freakout mode. Now this wouldn’t have been so bad but they had to be taken at very specific times and I had to eat 350 calories minimum when I took them. Eating when you take them helped them be better bioavailable but also prevented nausea. (I tried to cheat a few times and the nausea was BAD) So my days felt like I was tied to my meds. No mistakes allowed. So after three months of trying, and only getting up to 40mg (for like 3 days immediately had to drop back down to 30) and after gaining 8lbs, and after so many terrible panic attacks- we decided to call it quits and try something else.

But BOY HOWDY DO YOU DO – trying to fight the panic/mania triggered a depression and then coming off the Latuda? well that’s when I knew for sure it was good at keeping depression at bay because it was like falling off a cliff. I wasn’t just down I was out…I was in freeze mode. Dissociation mode. Can’t Even plus ultra mode. And no amount of ANY suggestion was getting me out of it. I could barely eat. And at the end of it all I spent a whole day just crying. that was fun. My suicidal thoughts came back triple fold and again I had a few days were I wondered if I needed to be under observation. I do not like to feel that way…mostly because logically I know I don’t want to die but my brain goes off the rails and the thought was nearly constant in a way I hadn’t experienced for a few years and hope it stays away for a long, long time.

So I started on Lithium. 150mg to start for the first week. And then about 6 days ago I upped my dose to 300mg. (we are hoping to get me on XR tablets because I just seem to do better when things are spread out and not happening all at once) and in the last three days it’s like a veil has lifted. I did get a little hypomanic today so I have to watch myself and not take on too much or make too many crazy decisions. Sometimes coming out of a deep depression I can get over zealous because it just feels so good. But I was able to make plans and PHONE CALLS this week without freaking out, even answered unknown phone numbers a few times today — that’s crazy! LOL (for those that don’t know me I have suffered with terrible phone phobia for over a decade and it has really affected my life fairly significantly so this was a pretty big deal)
Normally? panic attack city being on the phone at all, let alone answering an unknown number… today just casually said “Good Afternoon this is Aminda”. So nice.

So once again feeling hopeful and hope we can get a dose that keeps me out of the depths but doesn’t send me into a frenzy. Last week when I was still deep in the depression my therapist and I discussed things like ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) for people who have medication resistant depression. I’m hoping that this time we can not go down such dark paths. See I’m anxious to get this mood stabilized a bit because we can’t focus on my ADHD until that happens. So fingers crossed this medication can get me to a place of alert without being a basket case. OH also my appetite is back to normal so that feels good!

Anywho that’s about it for now. Just a peak at the trials we have to go through to get our medication right. I’m 4 months in now and we are still trying so if you are going down this road you have to have patience and persistence. I hope I’ve found my therapeutic answer, and I hope you do too!

From the deepest corners…wipeout

… Man this is where I wish I knew if you have seen “Doom Patrol” (and if not why NOT??) because it would be so much easier to understand if you knew Jane, if you understood the underground. ANYWHOOOOOO….

This morning my Inner Voice Exploration Practice (AKA modified #morningpages) spat up a deep dark core belief that I have joked about but honestly didn’t realize the actual depth of this feeling and wow it really gets to the meat of my bipolar dilemma. These are the words that came out of my head, “… I’m kookoo bananas and inconsistent and no one can rely on me, not even myself”.

and boy am I mad about it, because it’s not WRONG perse. But I want to kick and scream it’s not ME. I – ME – MY personality is so very disparately reliable but it’s buried under all this. *gestures vaguely* . And then I stop and ask, but is that true as I look out on ….all this…. I realize you can’t really separate me from the brain chemistry. You can’t just pretend I don’t have terrifying mood swings. We can’t just laugh away my grown ass meltdowns. We can’t whistle while I weep uncontrollably because I’m just so happy. We can’t just pretend nothing is wrong and that I’m stable and can get shit done.

I will cancel plans. I will be late. I will forget. I will panic. I will get sick. I will have to back out sometimes. All of these things are real. And yet I’m a ride or die bitch in my heart.

See, it’s like the main me, the real me is trapped inside this meat puppet and there are a few different puppeteers… Man this is where I wish I knew if you have seen “Doom Patrol” (and if not why NOT??) because it would be so much easier to understand if you knew Jane, if you understood the underground. ANYWHOOOOOO….the point being there are these factors these parts of me that interfere with being the person I want to be.

ENEMY NUMBER ONE IS FATIGUE. I feel like if I wasn’t so exhausted maybe I’d have more resilience to ride the waves. But as it is I feel less surfer and more fearful white knuckled passenger.

It’s endlessly tiring to constantly be fighting yourself and your #neurotransmitters #moodswings and #meltdowns OH MY. And let me be clear I’m still just talking about dealing with the bipolar issues we haven’t even glanced at the ADHD, OCD, and smattering of part time phobias that lurk about.

UGH it still all sounds like excuses and that my friends is where we come to our crossroads. Where half of me wants to embrace the bipolar and learn to work with it and not be so exhausted fighting and the other half wants to be “normal” (whatever the bleep that is) and do things when I want without having to form a committee of barely functioning parts of myself who, honestly don’t agree on a lot of things. Having some “Crazy Alice” vibes right now.

It’s really REALLY hard to know thyself when that “self” is interrupted by mental struggles that you often have no control over. Want to visit friends today? OH no we will have a panic attack instead. Want to write today? OH no you will lose all focus and concentration. Sure it gets done eventually but a girl can’t make a living like this.

Dear employer can you hire me to work sporadically when my brain is functioning? When and how often will that be? Well that is definitely the million dollar question.

You see therapist I have so much proof that I’m unreliable. It’s hard to build self-love and self-worth on such a basic tenet. Today I’m smart and charming, tomorrow I may be recalcitrant, or perhaps just a titch agoraphobic. I may want to be around 100 people or I may wake up the Grinch. I’ll be so productive you’ll wonder where I’ve been all your life and then it will dry up, whither and turn to dust. Teeter Totter Teeter Totter.

and maybe one day will discuss what all that has done to my physical system….

But for now this is your warning. Healing is messy, it hurts, and you gotta face some shit my friend. I’m a little hurt with myself. She’s not being very compassionate. But I’m pretty impressed she was able to admit such an icky truth. Maybe now that it’s out of the shadows we can work on making it a little less ick and figure how to build a life that has room for the waves. Don’t need a new ocean, or a new rider, maybe I just need some new moves and maybe a new board. (Surfing is too easy to use as a metaphor it should be illegal like a writing cheat code, but hey it fit) OH maybe I DO need to find different waves…..

Are you riding the waves you want?

Neurotransmitters are Bastards

At one point in my life I considered myself pretty darn smart. I thought I could do just about anything I set my mind to and thought of myself as a “problem solver”. What I didn’t know was how much I was just banging my head against walls of my own creation. Those “problems” were often just the consequences of what I now understand to be some fairly severe issues with being an untreated, unregulated bipolar human. From my anger issues to my impulse control there was always some self-sabotage that was happening at any given moment in my life. The roller-coaster that has been my emotional life has been an exhausting, and often, terrifying ride. (For me as well as everyone that knows me)

This whole blog was started as a way to chronicle my life of being bipolar and the ride that is having a brain that… just …. well – vacillates (LOL the understatement of the week) and more importantly my work to accept and work to be more regulated. I’ve talked about my relationship with being bipolar and how part of that rollercoaster has simply been my own understanding and acceptance of the diagnosis and its ramifications and implications on my life, actions, personality, and choices. What I’m trying to suss out is what is ME, what is just some haywire neurotransmitter, what is the trauma, and what are the consequences of my actions. And recently I had a crash course in dealing with neurotransmitters gone wild – it was so not spring break worthy. That tale is one of medication reactions that I may not have the energy to fully express because I’m still trying to recover from them. (I think I’m on day three of writing this post, which sadly doesn’t mean it’s great, just that it has taken that much for me to focus long enough to do it. UGH)

OK but this time it really wasn’t my fault. No really LOL, March 8th, 2022 I started taking latuda to treat my bipolar depression. It was one of my longest, deepest depressions of my life. (and yes that is saying something) And I had been doing all this great work with “The Artist’s Way” (and my own subsequent work to build a more non-theistic and neurodiverse accessible version “The Way of your Inner Voice” which will be starting up again in August – get on the email list to get the deets: Is That My Voice Newsletter Signup ) For you see doing that work gave me the courage and the drive to finally face my demons and work on getting stable enough to do the things I generally just dream about.
Bipolar can be degenerative and I realized that the longer I avoided the hard work the worse it would be for me. So here I am battling it out with neurotransmitters that are being poked and prodded by medications and the results are sometimes nearly unmanageable. And that is where I have been the last week. Fighting side effects that have sent me into outrageous panic attacks with physical ramifications and a few times I was ready to go to the hospital because it got bad enough I was worried I would snap. But for once in my life long journey of dealing with this I got HELP!!! At first I just suffered through it, (if I’m 100% honest part of me blames myself and sees myself as “weak” and a “failure” for not being able to fix it on my own, mixed in with some deep fears about the medical establishment, I’m sure that’s a few therapy sessions deep) but finally I got to talk to my psychiatrist and I was properly, but kindly, admonished for being stubborn. I have some new resources should it get that bad again. And overall I felt heard, believed, and cared for. If I wasn’t such a giant ball of stress waiting for the next wave of crazy I’d probably be crying with joy over that victory. Maybe when I stabilize a bit more I’ll have a good cathartic cry wherein I relive all the times I was no heard, believed, or supported. But right now I’m too tired. I’m fairly heavily medicated in the short term to give my body time to adjust to having feelings again…those feelings really agitate me 😛

Dear Jibbers Crabst will I ever get to the point? This has been a hell of a week with panic attacks, dives into nihilism, a little self pity, and a whole lot of fight to not give up. But we make our adjustments. I share my thoughts with my therapist and I keep moving forward. Slowly like an ancient world turtle slow I keep doing the work, #fillingintheforam #nevergiveupneversurrender
And maybe when those neurotransmitters get feisty find your way of laughing at the folly at being a giant chemistry set with emotions. Drink your water. Get your sunshine. Write sad poetry. Rinse. Repeat. And as I struggle with my side effects NOFX sometimes lives rent free in my head.

*I 100% believe in the purpose and efficacy of modern medicine when applied with conscientiousness and while fully aware of its limits and side-effects. I believe when can use modern and traditional healing modalities concurrently to support whole mind-body healing that accounts for individual needs, differences, and experiences. To eschew either is to our peril.

I’ve got no strings?

Wherein I ramble about feeling no feelings! (I do love a good dichotomy)

Yet I feel so often like a marionette. I generally have taken to calling my body my meat puppet. Because it feels I’m so driven by the emotions and the temperments that rattle around in my skull. I really hit one of my “empty” states this last week. I honestly believe it’s triggered by “too-muchness.” Too much therapy, too much new medication, too much focus, just too much. When this happens my spirit just shuts down. My defence mechanisms conspire to keep me safe and in so doing keep me from accessing the thoughts, feelings, and emotions I’m trying to heal. Because we all know you need to “feel it to heal it” and the “only way out is through” but that can be problematic when you are fighting decades of suppression habits. I’m working on patience and forgiveness mostly. Patience with the process and forgiving myself first.

I’ve come to believe that how we treat ourselves and see ourselves is a reflection, or is reflected in how we see and treat others. The more patience, understanding, and forgiveness I find for myself the more I extend them to others. And through that process, I start to feel less needy, less concerned with how others perceive me because I understand that they have their own personal battles to contend with and so much of what we think of others is merely that, a reflection of our own inner world. That can mean someone doesn’t like me because they don’t like loud people – my job then isn’t to be quieter for them it’s to accept that not everyone will like me- and it’s ok. If I focus on liking myself and being with those that lift me up and I like in return I have more energy to be a better human. But realizing this and then undoing how I have lived for decades is not an overnight task. Pain and anger and hurt are deeply embedded in the psyche and that shit gets in your body, your gut reactions, it has guided my perceptions and beliefs for a long time and it takes concerted effort to root out those things and be free of them. It’s extra difficult when hurt is being re-opened by experiences. You don’t want to just strip yourself of all your protective layers all at once, slow and steady and in its time is the process.
That means sometimes I’m going to hit these walls.
And that can be hard for the bipolar brain to reconcile.

Without care, therapy, and/or medication the bipolar brain thrives on periods of intensity. We become radical when manic, capable of moving mountains…but we dry up and turn to dust when the wave passes. Like fireworks, we burn so bright and then leave an echo with nothing but traces of smoke. Internally this feels like nothing. Discussing it with my recently diagnosed son we both describe it as emptiness, deeper and more disturbing than even nihilism because that has emotion and feeling behind it. This is like you reach in and you are just not there. It is why we love our mania so much – it feels glorious to want, need, do, experience but when that becomes too much we completely shut down.

So this is the work, to calm the mania to burn steady and not fry up, to elevate the times of nothingness to remember who I am. To see consistency, not as plodding and repetition, but to feel the steady and easy pace of routine and practice. To learn to build to the peak so that I can stay a little longer. To allow rest to be truly restful and restorative rather than filled with guilt, shame, or dread.
And there it is. THIS is the practice. To write even when uninspired. To practice not being pulled in every direction by the strings of habit, the whims of neurotransmitters. To cut the strings and act out of purpose, and self-determination. To live from truth. It’s not easy cutting the strings. But one by one I’m releasing the old habits and moving forward. Ever forward.

ephemeral

Just some rambling thoughts as I navigate the ups and downs of treating my bipolar moods.

I have found myself feeling dried up again. Once again engaged in the never-ending battle of swell and recede. I’m like the tide. Endlessly waxing and waning – I guess that makes sense the tide and the moon being inexorably connected and they mirror my moods. Mercurial. Capricious. Inconstant. Why does nature get to ebb and flow and be called beautiful, powerful, mysterious…and I am fickle, a flibbertigibbet, a flake.
Chasing my tail wanting nothing more than to find some consistency, some peace…yet my mind swings so intensely from one state of being to the next. It’s exhausting sleeping alone and still not knowing who you are going to wake up with. I have dredged up so many things and the emotions weigh me down.
I feel stuck again. Chocked on the memories. I can feel the walls in my spirit slamming into place. And the same old fears start to rise up – there is no hope. You can’t be stable. You aren’t bipolar you just need to focus more, you just need to be more motivated…The voices of childhood haunt me, chasing me down not letting me feel hope, not letting me believe…
I ride the waves that are my moods and never know where I will land. I’m trying to find the truth, the real me w/in the shifting tides.
In the liminal spaces, I know the true me waits, hoping to be freed at last.
I keep pressing forward. This note a testament to how my brain shifts and changes, how my whole way of being transforms. It’s like living with a stranger.
Distracted. Dissociative. Divided.

And I was so enjoying the ability to write for a bit – it feels lost. But Julia Cameron tells me to “fill in the form” So I’m writing, not so it will be good, but so I can practice. I’m writing to create, not to impress, or to gain anything other than the practice. I’m writing because I need to write. My thoughts spilling out onto the page for no other purpose than to exist.

I fight the fears, the shame, the pesky perfectionist voice that says I’m embarrassing myself. Because shame is a prison. Fear a coping mechanism. I fight the urge to give up because I know the tide will come in again. The mood will change. I will wish I hadn’t given up when the brain shifte. Never give up, never surrender.

I’ll live to write more of the story another day. My bipolar warriors we can ride the waves, we can survive the full moons, we can keep going during the darkness. Life is an ebb and flow our work then is to learn to surf it better. We learn by practicing. Today I beat back the demons. No day but today.

Ephemeral.

Photo 74839377 © Max421 | Dreamstime.com

“self-help” requires a team people

I know I’ve been writing mostly back story, my origin story if you will. But I read this piece on The Mighty today that really reminded me of my experience and I feel compelled to write about the good that is happening for me in the here and now, and how much privilege is involved in being able to get the proper help and why we, as a society, are actually really really awful to anyone who isn’t “normal” enough. I mean we are terrible and awful. But I digress. Let’s start with me.

I am currently not working. Between my mental health, physical health, and taking on the caregiving of my mother with dementia it has been impossible. I’ve been unemployed for 3 years now. The first year was all about hospital visits and surgery recovery with my mom. I wasn’t even home but living with her and that whole saga is another post altogether LOL…but, after awhile, we moved her back to California and bought a house with her divorce settlement so we could have some security and I could take care of her properly. That was about 2 years ago. It took some time to settle in and I started to think about going back to work but needed something flexible, and at home so I started building my own Voice Over business. I found I have a talent for it, I love it, BUT sadly I did not have the stamina or stability to run my own business successfully. Sure I was making strides yet I could see how I would struggle to be available for sessions, I had to cancel so many things because sometimes even my voice will change depending on where I was physically. I simply wasn’t ready. Additionally having to be there for mom and her medical care was time-consuming. It was too much for me to handle. Yet I was determined. First, I thought it was just me being scared and lazy. So I started and ran sessions of The Artist’s Way for a year – which led me to even create my own process The Way of Your Inner Voice and that helped me move past a lot of mental/artistic blocks. I was opening up creatively, I was starting to feel again, I even started to have hope. But that’s when I hit wall after wall mentally and physically. So 9 months ago I made the decision to go all-in on making myself better. Facing my demons and my past and truly building a sustainable future. And 6 weeks ago it all finally came together where I could really dig in.

Here is where the privilege comes in. See, I live with my grown children and they help me. I have a support system. I live in California and I have Medi-Cal, Medicaid for indigent Californians. It has, quite simply, saved my life. It took nearly 16 months since getting on this insurance but I now have a TEAM of people that I am starting to trust. It was a process I started about the same time I started doing “The Artist’s Way”. At first, it was just all about my thyroid and fatigue etc, etc, but then I realized it was so much more (that was the 9 months ago mark when I knew I needed to face my mental health issues) It took months of PCP appointments, MONTHS of waiting for referrals, and then longer to get the appointments with specialists, and it took months of struggles on the phones and people driving me to said appointments. Hours in lines at pharmacies. It has taken a team, consistent insurance, and a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears… And that was just to get started about 6 weeks ago to try out medication and start with my therapists (mental, physical, speech). None of that would have, nor has it ever been, possible to do while working full time. We expect too much of people already struggling. I think it’s why I’m so dedicated to working on myself right now. Because I absolutely understand and appreciate the mega shite tonne of luck and privilege I have right now to be able to do this work. I stopped everything else. I am dedicated to my morning pages. My meditation. My walks. but most importantly I am dedicated to riding out getting on medication and changing doses and all the side effects that process entails. Dedicated to fully communicating with my doctors and therapist about my progress. Faithful to my routines. Devoted to full honesty and transparency. And most importantly feeling all the feelings I haven’t had the time or energy to face before.

So yes there are sleepless nights, Yes we are poor AF as I have been denied disability and SSI several times (I don’t honestly understand) yes the medication has side effects and the therapy is painfully slow. But by hook or by crook I’m riding this particular wave to the end because it’s the best one I’ve seen in a long time. And although I won’t be able to cure anything or become a superhero, I know that this will set me up for success in a way that I have never had the chance to even hope for. I’ve been swimming against the tide and ignoring how the undertow has sucked me under time and time again so I’m learning to surf and building a better board (that metaphor took on a life of its own but I’ll allow it)

Because I’m done being ashamed of my struggles and I’m recognizing the absolute badassery of what I have managed with shackles and weights tied to my feet – imagine what I can do with just a little bit of support and time to recuperate. We all need time to heal. Hustle culture is deadly. Breathe deep. Find the spaces to heal. And if you see someone who can’t? express nothing but empathy. There are no damn bootstraps, hell there are barely boots for most people. Compassion begins with yourself.

This cuckoo did not like the nest

TW: Suicide discussion, medical abuse, trauma
Through all my antics in my 20s, I never ended up in jail, the hospital, or the psyche ward. I got away with a lot of dumb shit…mostly it was the 80s everyone was on coke so it was hard to tell who was actually manic :O I was mostly lucky. Lucky I didn’t drive myself into a light pole. Lucky I didn’t hurt anyone else. Didn’t have a heart attack, didn’t get any STDs (still a bigger miracle than I care to contemplate) didn’t stay manic long enough to run away too far too often. It’s hard to say but I think I’m lucky that I was so depressed a lot. Probably saved my life when I was so massively unregulated and unaware.

But Luck only goes so far…

You know what a suicide attempt doesn’t get you? ANY kindness, compassion, sympathy. At least that was my experience. If you are lucky most people will just pretend it didn’t happen. But mostly they fall into two categories shame and blame.
“How could you” –
“If only you could get your life together”
‘you are so selfish’
“What a drama queen”
“attention whore”
— and those are mostly your friends.
But ya know what? any of us that feel that terrible to make an attempt are not surprised by the response… if anything it’s what we expect and part of why we end up where we do…but that’s like a whole PBS special worth of sh*t to discuss so we’ll just move on. (Pssst please find out how and why suicide happens so that you can help prevent further suicide ideation – isolation does not help)

What I was not prepared for was just how truly “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” the whole freaking system was. (Mind you this is 15 years ago perhaps it’s better in some places? I have very little hope but maybe?)

The first thing I was subjected to was being hit to keep me awake. Surreptitiously, (this is where I tell you not to leave vulnerable people alone if possible everyone needs an advocate. Stores soapbox for later use) And yelled at. The way they spoke to you like a criminal. Like you had reached out and attacked them personally. But see here’s the thing I think that’s why we get so judgy around suicide ideation and death by suicide because people feel guilty and rather than stopping and going HEY maybe this person needs our help everyone goes “HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME FEEL BADLY ABOUT MYSELF HERE IS MY MISPLACED DISCOMFORT IN THE FORM OF JUDGMENT AND ANGER” and I can tell you from experience it absolutely makes things worse. Some compassion would save a lot more lives and possibly let people live happier lives. I was once again lucky. I had a few key people that made it known I would be missed and I was worth the hassle. Praise jibbers for my family. Not everyone is so lucky. I wandered off again. It’s hard to remember this stuff. It’s like flashes of a bad movie. The moment I was out of sight of my family I was ridiculed. Called sad princess. Oh, what no one loves you honey…we’ve heard it all.

This was the staff y’all. The other mental patients were all just sad and needy and broken down. God, it was truly a terrible experience. I suppose for me it sort of worked. I guarantee I’ll never let myself go back to a ward. That was a worse trauma than childhood beatings, catholic school. and the death of my husband. You are at your most vulnerable. You’re like a small child who just had a terrible accident and you’re laying there crying and bleeding and instead of someone picking you up and taking care of you everyone laughs and points and tells you not to be such a worthless clutz.

Y’all I was a 37-year-old woman and I had been abused before and I tell you this was awful. Can you imagine what has happened to old people, children, and more vulnerable people? Everyone was treated like a stupid, evil, uncooperative child. We were yelled at, humiliated, and watched. And the WHOLE time I still felt lucky because I had my faculties about me – the people I was surrounded by broke my heart. There was screaming and crying and rocking and no one, except the group therapy guide, they were pretty reasonable and kind, was soothing or helpful or kind.

Y’all I had a good corporate job and pretty darn good insurance…now imagine what is happening… No, don’t imagine it. Do what I did. I got out on a Wednesday with my new Seroquel prescription, after 5 days. (Again I was so lucky) That Wednesday night we watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”
and I laughed that gallows humour laugh until I curled up in bed and cried myself to sleep. Because that sh*t was barely exaggerated. I guess I’ve never really told anyone how bad it was. It’s sort of embarrassing actually. That I never did anything. That I just walked away.

I was lucky. I was so damn lucky. So many others aren’t. So if you ever wonder why some people choose to live on the street rather than “get help” this might help you out a bit.

Go hug someone you love. Call a friend. Be there for someone. You never know that one kind word, that smile, it could change a life…maybe even save it.

And if a friend uses suicide to cry for help….don’t punish them. They just need to know that they matter. Shame is never the helpful answer when someone is hurting.

Found Poetry Break – Aliens Anonymous

FB Post February 6th, 2021

Aliens Anonymous

I used to joke I was an alien

My earth suit malfunctioning

At every turn

Allergic to life I’d quip

But it was no honest laugh

It was always a cry

A call

A rope

Seeking purchase anywhere

It could find

I tied myself to lovers

Threw myself into jobs

Tethered myself to toxicity

Anything to feel alive

Life was lived from the outside

Separate and cold

I didn’t feel locked out

No it was me

Just unable to find

The way in

So disconnected

Barely able to feel

A raging inferno

Disconnected

I can’t even joke

That way anymore

I’ve found that I’m not

All that odd

There are so many of us

From every walk of life

Battered, scarred, forgotten

In Every dimly lit corner

Damaged, belittled, broken

From the richest to the

poorest , no race, nor creed,

nothing could stop

the damage that was

Being done

After years of hurting

Our souls retreating

we sometimes reached out

with hope, a tentative smile

only to be smacked down

again and again

we are not alien

we are not alone

we are simply hurting

It’s time to find our way home.

This concept is so embedded in my life that I named my future dream punk band Faulty Earth Suits of FESS for short LOL I even share my blog there because this whole mental health journey is about this FES 😛

And then sh*t got weird

The one where I describe the total cr*p fest that was the 18 months after my husband’s death.

TW: Suicide (I’m too worn out to make it pretty with memes and pics sorry for the wall of text)

After Rob’s death, I sunk down into a deeper depression than I had thought possible. The very act of living and feeling was like a knife in my brain. I didn’t want to feel or think about anything. I had a bit of luck in that my company underwent a merger and I was laid off – lucky because I surely would have lost my job anyway and at least this way I got a severance package. After the first month of binge drinking and living on anti-anxiety meds. I turned to yoga. When I say I “turned” to yoga, I mean like in a cultist way. That trajectory will be woven through some of this but it deserves it’s own examination so maybe one day I’ll do a series on how asana (yoga poses) saved me and then destroyed me. It’s a whole thing. But now it’s simply a thing I do to keep my hip from screaming and I believe meditation is one of the greatest gifts I took from being a yogi and a teacher. Again meditation deserves it’s own telling but that is for another time.

I get super into Core Power Yoga. I chose it randomly from an internet search because they had a location and schedule I could use. I went EVERY DAY, sometimes multiple times a day for months. Simultaneously I was living this duel life where I was partying with my motorcycle and Hashing groups. So I was living so bipolar it’s comical. I was split and needed constant distraction. But I thought I was “healed”. I was pretending. I got involved with a few different lovers very quickly as well… and that is where it got weird. I was playing in polyamorous couples, drinking, dabbling in drugs again (I had given them up after college) it was like I was at my worst manic stage from my 20s but coupled with a deep depression and accented with a lot dissociation and outbursts of anger.

I was still pretending that yoga had “cured” me of my grief. But I was secretly spiraling out of control. Then the money ran out and I had to go back to work. This was probably the beginning of the end for me because the stress of a new job, traveling, and trying to maintain my yoga practice (which might have been the only thing keeping me from joining the circus at this point) I was slowly unraveling. I looked like a super hero on the outside. But inside I was suppressing more and more. The yoga stopped being soothing and just became another place where I was pretending to be OK.

One of my relationships unravelled, it wasn’t shocking none of us had any business trying to be a thruple and I was ousted of the relationship. I was too vulnerable. Mind you this is less than a year from Rob’s death. I was in no way ready to move on but I felt I had to and I was DESPERATE to replace that love. DESPERATE. It was like I had a collapsing black hole inside me and I was trying to fill it with anything – wine, women, song! You name it I would have tried it. I travelled. I took Rob’s ashes to new places for that first year. I wrote a SHITE tonne of poetry. I pretended.

But when that tiny ray of light was doused when the third in my thruple said I had to go – I was crushed in a way that felt worse than the night robbed died. I just couldn’t stand to feel the things I was feeling. That black hole sucked me right in…After I was dumped. I, once again, pretended I was strong enough. I was fine. I went to a movie and dinner with my mom and assured her I was fine.

(Cue Morgan Freeman: She was, dear listener, not fine)

I went to bed with a glass of wine and lay down on Rob’s side of the bed. I saw his last crossword puzzle unfinished. I cleaned his glasses. I rummaged in the nightstand. And there they were. His pain meds – Oxycontin. I thought. Just one so I can sleep. I took one. Waited. I still felt. I still wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to die particularly, I just wanted things to stop for a bit. I wasn’t strong enough. I was failing. I was letting everyone down….I took another one.
Then I thought – F*ck it…and took a handful. Mind you washed down with wine. Then the panic set in. What if it worked and I never saw my kids again. What if this was it. I was conflicted.

It is fuzzy from there- I know I talked to someone on the phone. The cops were called. I had a gun pulled on me when they asked what I took and I reached for the pills in the nights stand. I woke up in the hospital. I saw my mom’s face.
I was transferred to the psych ward…Identified as BiPolar yet again…and that my friends is a story for another day. Because oof da. That’s a lot.

There is still so much shame. Sigh – but when I come back maybe we’ll talk about how sh*tty the psyche ward is and how we watched One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest when I got out.



Nothing as powerful as avoidance

This is the face of unresolved emotions. I know I want to talk about the time after Rob’s death. Need to even. It’s important in the evolution of how I arrived at this point of FINALLY dealing with me BEING bipolar. It was a time of yet another encounter with my bipolar diagnosis that I brushed off. It will be another decade of life that I pushed and pushed and felt my sanity and self-worth erode. Another terrible marriage/relationship choice. Another cycle of enthusiastically throwing myself into something and then running away. That chapter will give way to the early California years and the next diagnosis that came with the added – uhmm you are also like super ADHD and OCD. By the way you got some C-PTSD going on in there… Gurl you in danger.

I just create, destroy, and run. Wash – Rinse – Repeat. That my friends is a cycle of mental health, not a personality trait. And I can see with that perfect hindsight vision how close I’ve come to breaking the cycle and then the inciting incident or the complete overwhelm that happens and I slide backward.
Yet I think I can finally say that I know I’m not falling all the way back to the beginning. I can see the progress. The learning. And I suppose it’s why I’m finally here putting everything out there. Maybe I’ll tumble my way through all the malarkey flashback style for a few years and then put it together like a puzzle.

For now, I’m avoiding the grief post. I’m avoiding reliving what comes next and I can practically see my therapist’s raised eyebrow as she doesn’t have to say a word. She gets me, she knows I know. I know she knows I know…wait what was I talking about…. avoidance, oh yeah. I suppose the progress today is I am here writing even if it’s not 100% about what I want to talk about. Even if it IS dancing around the darkness I must traverse. The hurt, anger, and pain I feel somewhat obligated to carry. And good lord the truckload of regret for what I’ve done to my family and friends.

Instead since my grief post, I did this:

Instead of actually blogging/writing/processing I went on a clickup binge. LOL avoidance master!

At least it has the appearance of being productive. Even now I’m putting the pressure on myself to write every day – which of course I will struggle to maintain and then I’ll feel like a failure and then I’ll quit??? Well, that has been the past pattern. It’s hard to work through the hollow times. It’s hard to maintain hypomania levels of enthusiasm and it’s nearly impossible to slog through some of the deeper depressions and care about any of it. I’ve joked my whole life that “I am my own dichomoty” and “as with all things I swing both ways” — Hahahhahaaaaa… OH wait. #porquenolosdos ? Why not indeed.
I’ve always known the truth. Here’s hoping embracing it will finally bring lasting, sustainable change that leads me to the life I dream of and a way to heal the generational trauma that I so graciously passed on to my children.

My kids….

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