Friday, January 22, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

She walks into my bipolar support meeting, with a big smile and perfect white teeth. She’s all apologetic- she’s a few minutes late and the group had just finished the check in. The leader hands her the checklist, she smiles, and in a manic burst of energy, checks in and joins the group.

Since she is seated next to me, I cannot look at her. I had a brief look at her when she came in, young, maybe 22 but under 25. Long brown hair tied in an immaculate ponytail, jeans, and a brown suede jacket. Manic – to the point that she is dancing on tables. And smelling like she just took a bath in Jack Daniels and beer. The smell makes me want to gag, so I turn my head and stare at my friend sitting on my other side instead.

I don’t say anything the rest of the meeting, nothing of consequence. A few desultory words. I drive home in silence playin with the radio tuner, and when arriving home, play with my cat, change and crawl into bed with my ipod, which has been recharging all day long while I have been away.

I feel like I have been cut open with my viscera exposed. I want to cry but my tear ducts are dry.

I realize I feel the way I do because of the girl. Everything she said, every idea she had, her suicide attempt- it was me at that age.

It was like going back in a time machine and seeing my younger self.

I was so embarrassed. No wonder why I wanted to hide.

Now, there was really nothing sinister in this girl. She smelt like alcohol- there was a time I had the same smell on me, on my clothes. I had a sponsor in AA who told me she could always tell if ANYONE had a drink, the alcohol would come out in sweat via the pores and land on someone’s clothes.

If it were just this I wouldn’t have bothered. It was what she said.

I know a lot of people don’t like having this illness. I know people wish they didn’t have it. I think I am one of them. If I didn’t have the illness, so much more would have happened with my life. I could have been something. Really been something. My interactions with others would have been better and I would not have had the problems I had at school with my peers.

She railed against being bipolar, and cursed God for making her that., as well as cursing God for not allowing her to die with her suicide attempt. I related to her arguments, she knew her stuff and executed as professionally and swiftly as a Prosecutor on “Law and Order”.

And then she dropped her bombshell. At this point in her life, she had just gotten out of the hospital. The meds weren’t working because her drinking was offsetting any benefits they might provide. What did she have to look forward to? Constant meds, meds adjustments, appointments with a p-doc to monitor meds. Constant up and downs. Nothing in life is good, so I might as well drink, and besides that again, what do I have to look forward to? Fifty more years of this? Sheeze. Maybe I should check out of this life.

I’ve come to the conclusion that some of what we start off in life is given to us. Some isn’t. It is assumed we will come out of our mother’s womb with two arms, two legs, five fingers and five toes on each appendage. Some babies aren’t born that way. It is assumed we are born with hearts that work, lungs that work. That isn’t always the case. And it isn’t always the case that baby will be born with a perfectly good brain that will serve him/her for the rest of their life. Babies can be born with low IQ’s, Autistic, and babies can be born with the genes to make them bipolar, unipolar or schizophrenic.

Life isn’t always good, great. Can you imagine what your life would be like if everyday was a 10? It would be, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote about Tralfamadore “Everything is beautiful and nothing hurt”. What would you do when you had your first real bad day- say the day JFK died, or John Lennon. Oklahoma City, 9/11. Awful days. If every was beautiful how would you react?

I don’t know. Today I had a talk with my psychiatrist. I hadn’t seen him in a month, and since I saw him I had backslid terribly. For the first time in several yers, I am thinking thinking about how my parents and friends, and even my cat, would be happier if I wasn’t here.

He surprised me, and said, “You aren’t depressed. You just need a dream”.

I was taken aback. Driving home, the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was correct. I needed a dream. It was exactly as the Stones prophesied, “Loose your dreams and you will loose your mind”.

I don’t have a dream. I feel like they have all been torn out of me, ripped asunder. What few dreams I had= a college professor, a mother living in a white house and picket fence, those my illness has taken away from me.

I don’t have a dream. I don’t know how to find one.

I don’t want anything. Don’t get me wrong, If I am at the mall, and I see something lovely, a blouse, a jacket, I will want it. I see a luxury car like a Jag on the road and for five seconds I fantasize I am in it. I think this is normal.

I would love to eat like I was 17 and not put on any weight.

But dreams? I just don’t think I have any, anymore. Maybe I hope I can find them again.


Matthew Isaacson said...

Hang in there, Susan.
I've heard Fredrich Buechner quoted as saying something to the effect that one's calling (or dream) is where his or her gifts meet the world's needs. Maybe an inventory of your talents and possible applications of them would be helpful in constructing a dream.

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

Sometimes it takes me a really long time. I don't know if I will achieve my dreams. Sometimes I get too excited about them, and I worry about mania.

Most of the time, it just takes me some time to figure out what I want beneath it all. I hope you find a dream you love to live with.

susan said...

@Matthew- Thank you. It's funny, we did an inventory today in our day program. Little things like "I learned how to drive" were put on it.....and I should feel happy I passed the test on parallel parking! But somehow that doesn't seem like much- now, though at 17, it sure did.

Journey, thank you so much for the kind words....and visiting, I hope to visit your blog shortly. You really touched my heart tonight.

Anonymous said...

Susan, please listen to this song. Sometimes music just says exactly what we are feeling, don't you think?

Wishing you well,

Deputy's Wife said...

Thinking about you, girl! I'm sure whatever dream you come up with, will be amazing and you will realize it with all of your potential!

linea said...

Dreams seem like such fragile things when you are diagnosed with bipolar (and I suppose many other illnesses). At this point I am still very young, and have already had so many dreams, and so many that I feel bipolar has taken away from me. I guess the thing that I always have to remember is that it is okay to dream. Since my diagnosis I continually find myself scared to have any dreams for the future and through that fear I tend to shut out all goals and aspirations in general. I have now just learned that it is far better to have lots of dreams that may never come true, then to have none at all. I hope that you find a dream you love, it seems so impossibly hard sometimes, but your writing about this is already an acknowledgment of your dream of dreaming:)

Jewish Addiction Recovery and Treatment said...

Good job... Thanks for the post...

Jeanne said...

I'm sorry you're having such a rough time. Know that you have friends out here who care.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, you just have to keep breathing and tell your brain to shut the f...up. And if thats the best one can do, it is good enough.

Syd said...

I hope that you will find a dream--maybe a passion--for something that is engrossing, enlightening, and exciting.

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