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.

The Princess and the Pea

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.

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.

“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.

Like a stone skipping across the pond

I chose pond because we are going to discuss Thoreau a bit today, as I discuss why I’m writing now. Why I have huge imposter syndrome in everything I do. Why imposter syndrome is so deadly and unnecessary, how it’s a form of perfectionism and comparison, and how both are the death of joy and progress. I might dally around the idea of creative writing, run-on sentences, eschewing grammar perfection, and my love of the humble ellipsis……and not caring how many periods I use in them. (OH MY JIBBERS CRABST NO THAT IS WAY TOO MUCH — so me LOL)

Anywho skipping stones… this actually came up with my Psychiatrist visit the other day. I told her how my life seems interesting and full from the outside and people often marvel at how many things I’ve done…but I realized not too long ago that it’s because I’ve been skimming the surface of life. Hopping, skipping, jumping from one thing to the next w/out ever really going very deep. OH sure at FIRST I’m going deep dive. Like that first stone that you try to skip hits the water and sinks…but after that initial dive? I’m off, it’s too much. Boredom sets in. Imposter syndrome sets (Yes it sets in before I even start it’s a whole thing, hey it’s why I’m in therapy LOL) She was already saying it before me – apparently, this is a whole bipolar AND ADHD thing. My whole life I’ve been called flaky, and a flibbertigibbet (OK admittedly I do talk A LOT) as I flit from one big thing to the next. I have a lack of sustainability. Little did I know that it was sort of baked into my brain chemistry. Generally, the pattern is GO ALL IN – realize MEH I don’t love it as much as I thought – Or more precisely -OH god this sucks or I’m not really that good at it or UGH you gotta be like 100% IN for this to be your thing… so I’m OUT. There’s more than bipolarness at work though. I also have a fear of intimacy and some serious issues about joining things. (My childhood in the catholic church made me feel like joining and believing things too deeply was SUSS as hell so I get itchy at any sign of over-identification with things) Heck, even things I love like SciFi I avoid going too deep lest it becomes an obsession. (what is that some sort of OCD reversal? def. something to ask the therapist about LOL)

So that is why I’m here writing.
1. because I’m trying to feel the feelings that my therapist says I’m avoiding. (it’s a skill to be this emotional and still not acknowledge about 80% of what’s really going on)
2. so I can actually go deeper. Having done “The Artist’s Way” a year ago and being on over 400 days of #morningpages I finally beleive I can go all in and not only not lose myself but find myself.
3. By giving up on perfectionism and comparison I am finally free to write and not care who reads it or what they think. I hope it reaches people and maybe even helps a few but it’s not why I write and that changes everything.
4. I used to not only correct but OBSESS about grammar and spelling…then I realized that is just ableism, classism, and honestly just judgy nonsense that keeps us from communicating freely. I know my writing is “terrible”, I don’t freaking care anymore my point is to share not be a great writer. And maybe by finally admitting that I might get better because now I’ll actually DO IT.

Be brave enough to suck at something forever and still do it is my new motto

Not going deep has made me feel perennially like an imposter, but I think it was really just my fear of not being good enough at anything and as always comparing myself to others. So here is where Thoreau comes in. I had recently joined the ranks of those who maligned him, sneering at his “roughing” it while his mom did his laundry and brought him sandwiches. But then I realized I was “throwing out the messages with the man” (it’s just as bad as the baby and the bathwater) I was angry because I had let his work make me feel bad… I had compared myself to him and found myself wanting. So when I found out it was partially a sham I was self-righteously angry. But as that cooled, I realized how freeing this is….everyone is a work in progress. And just as I’ve learned not to judge a message by its spelling or grammar I am learning not to judge a work on unrelated things. Thoreau never asked us to worship him, he simply made excellent observations and STRIVED to live as he wanted. He fell short but that still doesn’t negate some of his words and his wonderful writing. One can be inspired even if the author is imperfect. (OH lord there’s a whole thing there huh) Bottom line it wasn’t his fault I was using his work to belittle myself that was all on me…and I could instead learn from it.

Here is the FB post I wrote when I first learned about the problem with Thoreau :

In case you have imposter syndrome feelings. In case you worry that you aren’t “marching to your own drum” enough. Or that you need to sacrifice something.

Remember that the man we credit with some of these thoughts was basically an imposter, taking help from multiple people, including free labour from his mom….

No journey is done alone, and that’s FINE just remember that… and don’t be afraid to ask for support and help.

I guarantee you that ANYONE you admire or worship or aspire to be like was not fully the person you imagine, they were/are imperfect, and even if they had greatness they too had struggles.

Don’t just skip along afraid to go any deeper. Tell your story. I bet it’s at least as real and inspirational as this classic work. I won’t tear Thoreau down too much, because I think he was more like us than not. The key point is that even with all the not-so-great “truth” the book is still a wonderful and insightful read and much can be garnered from it. The same is true for the rest of us. How can we ever dare to greatness if we don’t start somewhere and stick with it?

#yourstorymatters #yourvoicematters and it’s ok to need help

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.

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.

cogito, ergo sum

I am. I have. I will be.
I was first diagnosed as bipolar almost 30 years ago(back then we called it manic-depressive which admittedly is more descriptive but way less cool-sounding, I mean who doesn’t want to sound like they are the earth, or a magnet? right?). My youngest was a year old. But that first diagnosis was withdrawn when it was discovered I had hypothyroidism and the therapist felt that a lot of my symptoms could be confused with someone going through the death spiral of their pituitary/thyroid axis combined with postpartum depression. I was 26, Mother to a third child. I didn’t have google (oddly enough it was being invented that very year) or a lot of resources. I said OK and I started on Synthroid and Prozac and went about my life depressed, stressed, and fighting my body. I didn’t even have memes to get me through :O

Little did I know the cyclical nature of my brain. Little did I know how often I would blow up my life because I had no idea who or, more precisely, what I was dealing with. (I feel compelled to chronicle that it was a chiropractor that first identified my suspected thyroid disorder and sent me to the doctor for my first test, which my doctor almost didn’t do because “I had just had a child and needed to just exercise and I would feel better” I later found out that postpartum is a common time to develop it and had I listened to my doctor I would have gone longer undiagnosed-and thus began my long journey of medical harm and gaslighting) The primary care gaslighting is a whole other Oprah – let’s just focus on the mental health aspect. It will be enough.

I would be rediagnosed in my early 30’s by the rudest, gruffest, most condescending psychiatrist of the bunch (the bar was pretty high too) His misogyny was epic. We tried a few medications but I was never really prepared for their effect and almost always got incredibly worse right away – and I was always “over-reacting” and “being hysterical” – so after a year I rejected the diagnosis, the meds, and well, therapy in general for quite some time. This is just one of the times psychiatric care did more harm than good because I was never coached or supported through the process. SUUUREEE now I know that meds can make you worse at first, SUUUURREE NOW I know that bipolar can make you think you don’t need meds, SUUUUUUUUUUUURRRREEEE now I KNOW a lot of things…but imagine if that doctor had explained that to me? Instead, I was labeled “non-compliant” “difficult” and “combative” … because I cried…a lot (anyone who knows me might laugh at that) and begged for different medications.

I was a single mom with three children and was made to feel that all of it was my weakness and lack of effort. Another nail in the gaslighting coffin as my confidence, joy, and belief in my own feelings eroded. Still, I persevered.

A few years pass without meds or therapy and I start my Master’s Studies, I get promoted and move up in my work, … I have hopes and dreams and I meet the love of my life. Sure I struggle but I believed that I had “overcome” my issues. I was responsible, I wasn’t doing all the manic things I had done in my 20s – so surely that was all youthful exuberance and not a mental health disorder. I drank too much. My newfound love is sick and struggling and I begin having my first panic attacks. But that’s normal right? things are hard so of course, I’m panicked. OH, there is too much, I will sum up… My husband’s health issues take over our lives and he eventually dies from an allergic reaction to MRI dye – It was on my 37th birthday. OOF still 16 years later it hits like a train wreck. My anger and sadness run so deep. I blamed myself. I blamed the medical system. I didn’t blame god because I don’t believe in them, but man that sure would have been a nice outlet. Again I digress – it’s sort of my MO 😛

Holy crap – this is a long story. Let’s leave it there on this uplifting moment of my dead 36-year-old husband because I need some space to let this wash over me. This is 10 years of my life. And looking back what a freaking intense 10 years. 10 years of not getting the help I truly needed. 10 years of self-medicating harm as I tried to just hang on to life by the tips of my fingers. During that time was also that first divorce with a costly custody battle. I bounced back with a new job, life, and love. And then love was torn from me. Every time I thought I had my proverbial shit together there was a blowup. sometimes caused by me, and sometimes caused by life that was then exacerbated by my mental health.

That’s 2 — TWO bipolar diagnoses received and rejected.
2 – TWO marriages
3 – THREE children
6 – SIX different medications (approx. my memory is often shoddy at best)
and a whole host of jobs and career changes and moves. My word did I move a lot. LOL

Until next time. I am bipolar. And in finally embracing and accepting that I might finally be able to find some peace. Peace, Love, Punk, and Rainbows.

Exit mobile version