Monday, November 28, 2016

Losing Words

You know you’re depressed when . . . I made a list. I won’t make you suffer it. Suffice to say, I’m depressed. I meet the criteria. I meet the criteria for an increased dose of Latuda. For a look of befuddlement from the psychiatrist. You’re on three mood stabilizers . . . For a safety contract with the IOP therapist.

But it’s a strange depression, mine is. It isn’t, has never been, debilitating. Not completely, anyway. I still show up. I still go to work and crank out lattes and cappuccinos and real macchiatos like my life depended on it. I pour drip coffees as if it will save me. And in some ways, it does. My life depends on distraction; being preoccupied with a task saves me from myself.

The depression doesn’t keep me from work—it makes it hard to go, yes, but not necessarily difficult to perform once present. It does keep me from walking. From painting. From writing. From creativity beyond latte art.

And maybe that is why depression is so life-sucking. Creativity is life. For me. Being able to string together words into a coherent sentence is a gift I treasure. And I’m watching my words being robbed. Today I went mute in therapy. My thoughts wouldn’t fit into words that I could verbalize. That’s how it starts. I’m not a talker. Even so, I have an ability to express myself verbally with care, and it is painful to lose; I worked hard for that ability.

So what’s next? What do I do now? I’ve been on this train before. Coping skills, people. Bring ‘em on. It’s so pointless. If I’m going to get depressed as fuck, I’m going to get depressed as fuck. Why fight? Why fight. Insert huge sigh. I’m so tired.

This is where I’m supposed to write something that has at least a scent of hope. I told you, though, I’m losing words. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hypomania: it rocked, it sucked, it's over

I was hypomanic. For about two to three weeks. And it rocked and it sucked and it’s over.

It sucked because I was paranoid that I would crash into a hospitalizing depression. But it didn’t effect my sleep, so no need to stir up the psychiatrist. (She says sarcastically.) I just walked. An average of 4.5 miles a day. Fast. That’s all.

. . . well . . . things became urgent. Suddenly it was imperative that I lose the weight I put on in the hospital and that I lose it quickly. And I wanted my pills back. Now. Oh. Yeah. And I almost cut a check for $1,000 to the church. Just ‘cause. It is time. (Now.)

But the energy! I was living life like a normal person! . . . and a little bit extra, fine. But it was SO nice. To not have to drag myself away from bed. To walk without having an argument over it first. To rate my mood at a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 - 10. To mend the jeans that have been sitting torn and unused for months.

I DID things. Healthy things. Functioning people things. It rocked.

Then the switch flipped. One day I was suddenly severely disinterested in the concept of walking. I was, I don’t know, I found it to be a horrible idea. And so big. Too big. I drug my feet the whole way. I went, as I have written before, from energy and drive and motivation to lethargy and anadonia.

I stopped walking. And I felt guilty. Instead of being grateful that I didn’t crash into a deep depression, I was (am?) bitter that the energy is gone.

That was just over two weeks ago. I haven’t leveled off into some average place. Into some semi-normal human functioning zone. I hated my first three shifts back at work. My to do list always seems too big. Even if it is just one item: GET GAS. Too big.

It started with sadness. Low, bummed, and sad. And then there was the election. Add disappointment. Shifts at work go poorly. Add disillusionment. And then I house and dog sat, and I was miserable. And I love dogs. Add confusion. And then I start shaking again. Add bewilderment.

This last Wednesday I wrote that “Monday, I was ‘maybe depressed,’ yesterday I was a wreck, today I’m negative, confused, anxious, and agitated.” Add discontent and unhappy when listing emotions at IOP. I told my counselor, well, told is a strong word. The words “I am depressed” came out of my mouth, somehow. Then I proceeded to tell her how un-okay that is. I’m not supposed to be depressed. I’m supposed to be well.

Fuck you, hypomania. I was doing so well. Fine. Fine. I was doing okay. I was checking in at a 5 everyday. Then you came. And gave me false hope that I could be an energized, high-functioning human being. I can’t, though. Not for more than three weeks.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

All for a Minute of Safety

But sometimes the system fails. Maybe it’s a chemical shift in the brain that the medications don’t block. Maybe it’s a stressor in your life that you didn’t expect. Maybe there is no reason, and you’re just going mad for the hell of it, but you try not to think about that because that would imply that no matter what you do, no matter how tightly you batten the hatches, madness can get in.
Marya Hornbacher Madness

It never ends. Madness, that is. It always comes back for more.

Now, I’ve known this. It’s only been five years of monitored madness for me, but the finality of “healed” is already an absurd, unfunny joke. Somehow, when the already misfiring neurons exploded into a civil war in 2011, I knew that this was the beginning of an endless something. I knew there wouldn’t be an all-better.

Oh, I’ve tried. I’ve tried working myself healthy (60 hours a week’ll fix me), lifting and spinning myself well, balancing work and rest . . . trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve threatened to quit medications. I’ve tried walking, I’ve tried running, I’ve tried writing, I’ve tried church, I’ve tried writing prayers and reading collects, I’ve tried. I’ve tried CBT and DBT and EMDR and PHP and IOP. I’ve tried medications galore. I’m currently trying three mood stabilizers all at the same time.

Marya Hornbacher is real about this. Madness does not end with her two years stable. What it does end with is the shocking (to me) admittance that she wouldn’t trade her brain for anyone else’s.


I would. And my life has been substantially more predictable. Yet I would trade in my imbalanced mind for a minute of sanity. A minute without anxiety. A minute without worrying when madness will get in again, and what it’ll do. For a minute of safety.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Jealousy and (Hypo)mania

Madness. Marya Hornbacher. It’s terribly triggering, and then it’s terrifying, and then I’m jealous.

She cut. That is triggering. The precise description, moment by moment frames. She cut too deep. That is tempting. Has been. That has been tempting.

She drank. And it fucked with her meds. I drink. And I’m on a handful of meds. And I don’t want to stop.

She gets manic—and it’s scary to think that one psychotic break is all it takes to be bipolar I. But I’m not like that. No. I’m fine.

And then I get jealous. Jealous of her mania. That it is productive. And long lasting. My hypomania leaves me as quickly as it comes.

But no. I’m not jealous of mania. I don’t want mania. I want my spurts of good hypomania to last, to never drop off into lethargy and anadonia, to never morph into a violent hypomania.

I’m jealous of her stability. She’s written THREE books. My ability to create is not like hers. I’m jealous that her bipolar went into remission. And she felt NORMAL. She was a grown up doing grown up things.

I feel like a frightened child, reading this book. Because I’m afraid I’ll become bipolar I. As though it’s a virus. Because I’m jealous. Because she is so grown up at times and I’m . . . not.

I’m 26, on my folks insurance as a “disabled child,” living at home, scared of my first shift back at work (four days from now) after three and a half months off, scared of going back to the hospital, scared of what will happen when IOP runs out and I’m down to one hour of counseling a week instead of three group sessions and two individual sessions.

Ms. Hornbacher and I have little in common: we work with words, we have forms of bipolar, we’ve been hospitalized, we know the demons of disordered eating . . . that’s probably it. But her book is tearing me to shreds.

As I come out of a hypomanic episode and read of her stability, of her time with bipolar in remission, I love and hate her for her honesty. I know things go wrong for her again, there’s still a bit of book to go—it can’t all be sunflowers and blue skies. But I resent her for having energy. Pure energy at times and manic energy at others.

I want her to be well. (But, I’d resent her for that, too.) Like me, though, she won’t. We won’t. I read memoir because “happily ever after” pisses me off—it’s a lie that mocks reality. Yet it hurts. I hurt for her and for others with bipolar I or II and even for myself. I hurt because of the madness and the madness hurts everyone, eventually. Be well, I want to wish the world, but that feels grandiose. Be stable? Stay afloat? With timidity, I suggest that we be.