From a FB post last year – I almost didn’t share. I am trying to write “a thing” every day. A story, poem, non superficial thoughts, and I heard myself think it’s not very good, felt nearly fear and shame at the thought of people seeing it and realized it’s one of my monsters I need to slay. A story I need to untell…. So I had shared it in my private #thewayofyourinnervoicegroup originally, so now it’s time to be a little less scared and share here. Also I have not written a post in 10 days TEN days…it has been some rough times. Partly because I’ve started to come back to the world and do my work and it’s harder than I imagined. So this is still all I have for now. A rehash but still so relevant
… 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…..
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)
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 had a series of unfortunate events (hey mr. Lemony Snicket it happens to all of us) Nothing earth shattering in and of themselves but combined with my current mental health work it sent me skittering off the rails and barely able to handle day to day living let alone making actual progress.
While you make plans.
I knew it had been awhile since I had written but I had no idea it had been over 10 days :O Talk about life happening. I had a series of unfortunate events (hey mr. Lemony Snicket it happens to all of us) Nothing earth shattering in and of themselves but combined with my current mental health work it sent me skittering off the rails and barely able to handle day to day living let alone making actual progress. While I’m focusing mainly on controlling, understanding, and working WITH my bipolar nature I have other health issues I am trying to resolve as well. One of them has been my ongoing allergy/sinus kerfuffle issues. This led to a CT scan that showed my nasal passages are a wreck and that I’ve been living with a chronic sinus infection for probably years – yippee kay yay MFs – so I went on a massive antibiotic course along with a week of prednisone. Can I just say that adding steroids to your body while you are trying to get to an even place emotionally is not something I recommend to anyone. I am also notoriously extra f-ing sensitive to everything (my personality is tough my body is weak sauce LOL ) and antibiotics throw my whole digestive system into cement mixer mode which seriously impacts my ability to think straight. Just as I was coming off the prednisone I had my scheduled 2nd Covid booster AND my Shingrix(TM) Shingles vaccine…it was on the books and I didn’t think much of it. HOLY AUTOIMMUNE REACTIONS BATMAN. Now I don’t think the covid booster did much to me, I’ve already had covid and all the boosters so I feel like my immune system is pretty on board with that whole thing and never did any other of the shots HURT. But this shingles vax? OH BOY. (I got the new shingrix vax…see pic for info)
Y’all this shit KNOCKED ME ON MY BUTT for close to a week. And it hit FAST. Within 1/2 hour I was fatigued, feverish, dizzy…it hit so hard so fast I didn’t even realize it was the shot at first. I mean I couldn’t imagine that my immune system would react that quickly and severely. Boy was I in for a ride. My arm was on fire, swollen, red – it looked and felt like a softball pitch had hit me at full speed. My tattoos all got raised (a clear indication that my immune system is on high alert and a reminder that they probably aren’t all that healthy but that’s a whole other oprah) and I was tired, I mean, as someone with CFS I thought I knew tired but my idea of tired LAUGHED at the body fatigue that overtook me. I was still faithfully taking my antibiotics so I was still dealing with cement mixer digestion as well, it is an understatement to say I was not running on full cylinders. So writing was at the bottom of the list. I had ideas a few days but couldn’t hold a thought for longer than like a minute.
So this may be the world’s most boring blog post but it’s a reminder that sometimes our best intentions are sidetracked and that is not a reason to give up or surrender. (#nevergiveupneversurrender) All things are temporary, #thistooshallpass is such a great thing to remember. So past me probably would have given up and said some dumb things like “well I ruined that”, “I can never catch-up” (to the arbitrary goal I set), “here’s proof that I’m a loser”, and other fun downer thoughts. But new me post #theartistsway me knows that you have to get back up and just keep #fillingintheform and one thing that kept me going was no matter what I wrote my #morningpages and that kept me from losing the thread entirely. It matters.
So that’s it my totally boring, non-sequitur blog post that serves mostly to remind myself that I can keep getting back up. And when life happens plans are just delayed or mutated not destroyed. What have you let lapse that you could pick back up? It’s never too late to start again.
My morning writing spat up some memories this week and I realized I’ve been writing my “origin” story from the point of my husband’s death. But let’s be real this all started at the beginning and just because I don’t want to relive or think about (or honestly remember much) from my childhood doesn’t mean it’s not important to this story.
I started writing this a week ago. That first paragraph was all I got out and then I haven’t been able to write more. It’s amazing to think how much of my childhood I just keep in a box and all the feelings associated with it I try to distance myself from them. I can feel my breath catch. I can feel my body curl in on itself. When I allow it to come over me I can feel the helplessness and the gnawing sense of other.
Does bipolar happen because of brain chemistry? are we born that way? or do the events of our lives push us and push us until our brains are wired a certain way. As I think about it I’ve never felt safe. Well that’s not true, a few moments here and there with Rob I felt safe, for a moment and that is perhaps why there is a before and after Rob. That all my childhood fears felt put away when I was seen, but they came roaring back with a vengeance. I see now it’s because the feeling was external and conditional. So that’s why I’m here on this journey working on making that feeling internal, from within so that no one can take it from me. But since I have so little experience with it, it continues to be elusive.
But I digress.
I was not a healthy child. Think some 80’s movie where there was a kid who had an inhaler and was the weakling – that was me. Only I was just a side character so I didn’t get a makeover montage. I was just odd and sick. I’ve come to understand that what I experienced was being seen as a moral failing for not being hale and hearty. I never had the energy other kids had. So much so that I knew early on something was wrong with me, but I was born in ’68 and went to school in the ’70s, and catholic school no less, so we didn’t have any idea how to help a kid with food allergies and who was too tired to function, even at the ripe age of 8. I had terrible IBS even back then, I woke up everyday with a stomach ache. I had so many stomach aches that they were treated like I was always faking and that set me up for a lifetime of not believing my body signals, but that’s for another post. All that is to set up that I was bullied for being meek and weak. And to understand that my sickliness was also making dealing with life already difficult. At home it was my dad abusing my mom and drunken fights but at Church we were the perfect family. I may never know if I was born healthy and the abusive stress is what caused me to be sick but either way I was not well. A pale, scrawny, asthma having, eye glass wearing, book reading outcast. And that would have been fine if people could have at least been understanding or kind, but no as I said, moral failing. And it wasn’t just kids that were mean. I learned early that cruelty was not limited to a select few bullies and that even nice people will be awful in the right crowd. Sure I was bullied in school by the nuns for my left handedness and my general lack of vim, seriously berated for being pale and tired. Literally just made me laugh to think of it, how insane is it to make fun of someone for being ill, no wonder I have struggled with accepting it and now just want everyone to know. I want to heal that wound and feel like people give a crap. UGH again I digress. It seems so silly now, a trifling. Yet for me, in the first through fifth grades riding the bus was one of the greatest sources of trauma for me. It might be tied with my P.E. teacher but we’ll leave Mrs. Larimer out of this one and just focus on the bus driver. I’m not 100% sure what her name was, as I called her “bulldozer” in my head. Was her name Dozer or Dosier? who knows, the truth is lost to time. I only know she was not a happy person and she allowed me to be harrassed so much on the bus, even taking part on occasion. Like maybe Matt and Trey had a similar experience?
From the classics like tripping, stealing of items and playing keep away, and no available seat gaffs to the more upsetting gum in the hair, and ruined homework, riding the bus was a nightmare. Made extra so because I was beyond timid and being noticed was its own hell and somehow that was like a flame and all the bullies moths. Sigh. I will never understand the urge to pick on the weakest one. All that I suffered with as much dignity as a sad victorian child could. It was the bus stop fiascos that truly gave me the anxiety. Now I gave you all the lead up about being sickly and tired. Now put me in a stressful situation everyday and throw in my sensitive stomach and hypersensitivity to smells and my bus rides were like a fugue state. I could barely function I was always so overwhelmed. And more often than not I would fall asleep. (I presume it was the beginnings of a strong flight/freeze response to stress) Now my bus driver decided to punish me as often as possible. She wouldn’t help me procure a seat up front where I wouldn’t be harassed or get as car sick. No she would watch the kids block the seats until I was in the back. So many times. I stopped crying and begging for help that seemed to only make her angrier. She would call me pity party princess. LOL I just remembered that, huh. Anyway if I fell asleep sometimes she would just drive past my stop and make me ride the whole route and drop me at a different stop on the way back making me walk further. (realizing now how much she endangered me) Sometimes she would get the kids to chant – “Is Aminda on the bus” on the way to my stop and then they would jeer and thrown things and call me names as I exited. Good times.
Now I can look back and see how tiny those things were individually. I can even understand that Ms. Bulldozer probably had her own trauma and reasons for being a complete a-hole to small children. Yet it doesn’t change that those daily interactions were a constant stressor on my tiny little pathetic nervous system. There was no relief. You didn’t admit weakness to the nuns, that brought down more wrath and punishment than help. And ya know the few times my mom got wind of anything hinky she was quick to defend me but she did it in way that always mortified me and generally had a backlash of being bullied harder. Now there is so much more history from St. Gregory’s. come to think of it all the people that were the worst to me where all the women in charge. It’s no wonder it took me years to trust women. Recently I’ve been wondering why I’m so sensitive and reactive and reliving/remembering my childhood reminds me that I was trained to be wary. It’s wired within me to be protective and scared. And my digestive system never did figure out how to life all that well. Bullying is a health crisis. And make no mistake the “grown-ups” have always been as bad as the kids.
But like a tap on the shoulder… a whisper in my ear…” just start” ….
From a Facebook post Jan 31st 2021 – Again I almost didn’t write. I wasn’t “in the right headspace” But like a tap on the shoulder… a whisper in my ear…” just start” the rules of the road say I don’t worry about quality…just quantity. And I’ll be honest I felt a little raw…(4 hours of improv class will do that) I was “drained”
but I opened up the page and just wrote… POEM. and well … here is another first draft poem
As we say around here #BeYou #BeReal #BeExtra. Only when we are allowed to fully be ourselves can we find peace.
There are so many things that I have joked about in this lifetime that are turning out to be core truths about who I am and how I relate to the world. from “like all things I swing both ways” (hello bipolar/bisexuality) To “I’m a delicate f*cking flower” (Hello sensory processing sensitivity) It has also come into my understanding that the very things I feel shame over and have been ridiculed for are part of the very nature of my being. (OH wow self-worth much?) This is the basis for so many of our anxieties, for our depression, and certainly our unhealthy coping mechanisms. In the world of neurodiversity we refer to hiding our traits as masking (or camouflaging) . Coming to recognize that the stranger, the very things we are hiding away from others and ourselves, that is our inner truth, our inner voice. We’ve silenced so much of ourselves for so long, sometimes not on purpose but out of trauma, that we don’t even know ourselves, that is the feeling of unrest and discomfort that too many of us feel.
For me specifically this is my sensory/sensitivty levels. We didn’t have words for Sensory Processing issues when I was a child, heck we barely talked about ADHD or even spectrums of autism. Being born in the late 60’s I was in elementary school in the 70’s and to top it off I was in Catholic school – there was definitely no room for individuality in those halls. What I do remember more than anything is being bullied and teased for being shy, withdrawn, and SO SENSITIVE. It was said to me like a curse – you are just so sensitive. Too sensitive. And I learned to see it as a moral failing, a weakness, an assassination of my character. My mother gave to me a love of musical theatre and she introduced me to the fairy tale of the “princess and the pea” via “Once Upon a Mattress” and would call me Winnifred, later in life we have come to refer to me as a “delicate f*cking flower” because I can feel things, hear things, and definitely smell things that others can’t yet I’m tough and loud and brash. (spoiler alert I LEARNED to be those things to mask my too sensitive self.) Life has been, if nothing else, an assault to my senses from day one. It’s exhausting. Gee I wonder why I have chronic fatigue (my “shocked” face)
These days we also refer to my nose as the “super sniffer” (thanks Gus from Psych) but it’s not always cute in my life. It means when you use bounce on your clothes and I’m near you I get a headache and sometimes sick to my stomach. I am overpowered and smell things that others can’t,I’m like a canary in a coal mine all day every day, and honestly I thought I was losing my mind until an episode of castle taught me that hyperosmia is a real thing. (played by the ever glorious Stephnie Weir) Yeah I have genuinely lived my life presuming I was a bit crazy because no one else seemed to be troubled by the smells (sights, sounds, touch, emotions of others). I even inadvertenly self medicated as a smoker for years because that killed my smell and sometimes I still miss that part. Although once I got smoke free and could smell the smoke it is one of the most hated smells and I can smell it from 100 paces on you and everything you own – even if you have washed, breath minted, and spritzed. Sure the average person can smell strong smells, but I smell the faded ones and they effect me greatly. But the problem isn’t really the smelling or hearing that the TV is on, or the buzz of lights, or the way that lights hurt, or the fact that I can read a facial expression that no one else even saw – no it’s how people treat those of us who are more sensitive, that’s the real problem. Like we are making it up, or we need to “toughen” up. Knowing now that I literally feel different from other people is helping me get in touch with my true nature and rather than suppressing my feelings and reactions I’m learning to process them. (If you want to know more learn about HSP or SPS this person’s story is very similar to mine) I used to believe I was an “empath” but I now see that was just part of my sensitivity combined with hyper vigilance born of trauma. (spoiler alert a lot people are dishonest and think they are hiding their true feelings but some of us see that shit)
Trying to fit in is literally killing people. Want to understand the rise of auto-immunity, chronic fatigue, mental health issues? Take a look at how a faster, louder, brighter world is effecting 15-20% of us. It’s a evolutionary gift in the right circumstances but in a modern world it can be a real curse. Finding your place has to consider what works for you! Everyone has a sensitivity, I truly believe this and we beat it out of our children (especially our AMAB children), we cookie cutter it out of us in schools, we lose our super powers by seeing them as inconvenience or as wrong and “not normal”. But it’s our sensitivities, our uniqueness that guides us that makes us, well US. So the next time you feel you have to hide who you really are ask if that person, place, or activity is worth it. As we say around here #BeYou #BeReal #BeExtra. Only when we are allowed to fully be ourselves can we find peace. We are killing the very things that are our gifts. The world needs your love of your special interest (Hello Greta Thunberg) it needs your sensitivity. When we get in touch with that Inner Voice we can change the world and find happiness. Let’s stop chasing other people’s happiness and find our own. (spoiler alert you may need to unlearn some BS and you may need help, but that’s OK, listen. you know your truth. We just have to find a way to accept it and embrace it) End the epidemic of self-loathing that fuels so much hatred.
Bottom line? I was a grieving, masking, pretending, smiling, joking MESS. To say I was sensitive would be laughable in it’s understatement.
UGH. Just ugh. My therapist assures me that feeling these feelings is what I need, but dear lord it is painful and difficult. I feel like I’m crawling through mud. But let’s maybe do a quick and dirty run down.
After my suicide attempt (which I’ve come to learn was less about death and more about not having enough emotional coping mechanisms this is food for thought for everyone) I rallied like a proper bipolar, celebrating with some great unsupported, unexplained bouts of hypomania wherein I declared I was cured and took off to “Thunder on The Tundra”. A motorcycle rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin to “clear my head” and “get back to normal”. Now remember I was on a BRAND new prescription of Seroquel. But hey hypomania/mania is not know for its logic. That rally was where I got my lip pierced. Rode a three-wheeler for the first time. And continued the tradition of spreading Rob’s ashes at a new body of water on the 9th of every month. There was actually a beautiful moment where many of the other bikers rode in formation to a waterfall and were with me when I left a little Rob there. It was symbolically, for me, experiencing things with him that we would never get to do on this plane of existence. At one point I had the poem, picture, and place for each month of that first year burned into my memory, but even that has faded and now just a few of the more memorable ones remain. (hey would you just look at this, I started writing and it got easier.) The rally had it’s ups and downs, I was struggling to be “normal” and those times were filled with booze, the worst self medication tool I had. (I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been w/o alcohol or w/the same kind of access to cannabis as an alternative) Bottom line? I was a grieving, masking, pretending, smiling, joking MESS. To say I was sensitive would be laughable in it’s understatement. So at the end of the rally feeling keenly the loss of the distraction and having a group of people leave without me because I over slept sent me into a bit of tailspin. I dumped the rest of seroquel down the toilet and took off solo to “explore” (IE drive aimlessly and seek some questionable distractions until the money ran out) I came home and quit my job and decided to move and leave my kids. At this point I had decided that maybe me dying wasn’t great but certainly being in my children’s lives was not helping them so I arranged for the twins to go live with their dad and his new wife, and for Lyra to move with her dad as well. It seems when I need to get my life on track my first instinct is to slough off anyone or anything that relied on me. The truth is I felt unreliable. I often felt that people would be better off without me. I am sure it seemed selfish and narcissitic yet it came from more than any one single straighforward reason. In hindsight I see it for the Flight and Freeze response that it was. I have been overwhelmed so much of my life. I’m learning now about sensory issues, autism, HSP, c-ptsd and so many other ways of understanding how life can truly effect each of us so differently. But back then? I just panicked, I just reacted purely out of a survival mode coping mechanism. At this point in the story I think a lot of people felt the kids would be better off without me, again. So it seemed reasonable to move close to mom and “start over fresh” (what a ridiculously naive sentiment LOL) and so it was that I packed up my belongings for one of the many times I ran away in life, and took off on my motorcycle to move to Arizona. On the way I stopped to visit my younger brother, who was living in the Grand Canyon at the time, aka the island of the misfit toys, and there a whole new f*ed up chapter of my life could begin. The infamous brief “stopover” that would turn my life into a new brand of self destructive behavior. I think we’ll start there next time, because this is leaving me a bit depressed. To really and truly examine the drama created by self defeating behavior is not an easy pill to swallow.
I think it might be important to note that at this time I had gone on to get my teaching certification in several forms of yoga and had even briefly run my own studio, before I had my suicide attempt this will later matter to the whole picture of recovery. So when you hear me get super agro about the cult of positivity and the harm of repressed emotions you’ll understand the depth of my experience.
I’ve felt it my whole life. This slightly asynchronous feeling coupled with that feeling that I really was just more trouble than I was worth. I used to agree.
When last I left off telling my partial “origin” story I had just left the psyche ward in Aurora, Colorado. It left a lot of people scarred and further divided me from people. I get this feeling that I’m just too much to handle for most people. That can wear on a person. I’ve felt it my whole life. This slightly asynchronous feeling coupled with that feeling that I really was just more trouble than I was worth. I used to agree. It made me so very needy. With absolutely zero boundaries and a chip on my shoulder that helped me with my self-fulfilling prophecy of being a burden that someone would eventually dump, like that fixer-upper project that took more time than you realized. BUT I see some things now that I never saw while I was kneck deep in all my trauma. I kept people at arm’s length while simultaneously lying to them. Not lying on purpose, but lying through masking.
When I’m in an up mood I can seem AHHHHMAZING. Fabulous. The life of the party. But sadly this wears off and one is left with a husk, a dried out, sad, and very difficult person to get moving again. I start out seeming to be this optimistic bright shiny star, that is independent and strong, and caring, and OH so giving. (PS I am all those things it’s not a total lie it’s just NOT SUSTAINABLE) and I spent my whole life trying to hide a complete side of myself. It didn’t help that when that side comes out most people cut and run further embedding the “truth” that I had to hide in the first place. I think I read too many books or saw too many movies because deep down I wanted to be rescued. I’ve waited my whole life to be rescued. But instead, I rescued others my whole life. (MAN I’m getting emotional writing this. Guess it’s a good place to be working but when I get like this I feel like I want to come out of my skin and it is SO hard to keep going)
Grrrrr—- See I felt unworthy so I drew to myself people who I thought were like me. Struggling. Figuring they would understand but time and time again what I got was someone who wanted to be rescued and had NO interest in mutual rescuing. In hindsight, it was a little unfair. I didn’t mean to present people with false hope. It’s just literally getting 2 people (at minimum) for the price of one. as I type though I realize I was also generally masking almost all of my true feelings and emotions. There’s the manic me, the depressed me, the REAL me and then the amalgamation I would present to people in an attempt to seem normal. Big air quotes on that “normal”, I still overwhelm and irritate a vast majority of the populous. I’m awesome when I’m teaching my enthusiasm and kookiness are great in that arena. I’m super duper in short doses…but over the long haul, you gotta really love the roller coaster ride. The difference now is I know I’m worth it. So I stopped looking to be rescued (but I’d still take a monthly stipend LOL or a lotto win :P) and that was the first step to true life change. Sure I still sometimes look at people and think HEY someone takes care of them. Someone stayed by their side and was kind when the going got tough, but I know now that so much of that is an illusion. I had the kind of love that someone accepted me fully so I know it’s possible, to honour that love I’m trying to remember what that felt like and be the one to give all that forgiveness, acceptance, support, and love, to myself. OH, but we aren’t there yet. We have yet to live through the total regression. We made it through the first year post-Rob – when Sh*t Got Weird – That year was topped off by the “Cuckoo’s Nest” story but I was just getting started. I guess next up is motorcycle rallies and Grand Canyon stopovers. What a ride indeed.
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.