Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone out there in cyberspace a Happy New Year. This has been a bad one for me, so I hope sincerely, that 08 is a better year. 

Saturday, December 29, 2007

tooth problems

I am still here. I am having tooth problems and pain. Bear with me for a long post coming soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

looking for understanding

An old friend of mine, once told me I was the only person who understood him. I guess I didn;t since we broke up, but I understood his bipolar.

Now I am home, doped up to the gillls on pills and no one seems to understand. I have anxiety, something I have never had before, and I cannot sleep. even with sleeping pills. I want someone to rub my back, to say they understand,

but I don't understand. What is going on with my body?

Friday, December 14, 2007

snow outside and in my head

We got snow last night, with sleet. the roads are solid ice.

I have been working a bit on the blog, trying to write about the hospital but it's too raw, too new., I need some time. 

I am amazed by all the kind comments. Thank you. I feel humbled and am blushing 

Something should be up soon. 

Thank you,

Susan and Holly

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Back from hospital

Back this afternoon. Feeling fragile and lost 18 lbs in a fortnight. 

But I am glad to be home. 
Will have something up shortly., most likely by tomorrow. Baby steps! 

Friday, November 23, 2007

Going into the hospital again

crashed on meds. they aren't working, bad suicidal ideation and pychosis. 

Back soon

Thursday, November 22, 2007

why I hate New Years

 New Years is a bad night for me. Part of me thinks of the old Barry Manilow song, "It's just another New Year's Eve/It's just a night like all the rest..."

Part of me is feeling sad. Depressed. Wanting to put a gun to my head and pull the trigger. I realized yesterday when I w as eating Chinese in the Village with a friend of mine, that I was conceived on New Years Eve by a 12 year old girl who had too much to drink. Could my earliest memory of consciousness be that of my conception between a drunk sperm and a drunk egg?

After all, drunken conception is nothing new, it has been happening as long as primal man slithered out of the the primal ooze that was the river Charybdis and became the genus Homo. John Lennon once made a comment about half the people in the world being conceived by too much alcohol on a Saturday night. I shouldn't be teasing these Saturday night specials, after all it made my father's side of the family multi multi millionaires. It is like the Bible says "the sins of the parents are passed down to their children?"

I am lonely. I feel lonely.  Thinking about conception has made me horny. But I don't want to get laid. I don't know what I want. I have an urge to fly; I want to have one of those flying dreams I use to have when I was a child, but don't anymore. But I do not know where I would fly to. There is no where I want to go other than my bed. I want to sleep. I never want to wake up again. This horrible thing is depression, and it has me in it's sharp talons, not letting me go. I am screaming, and no one is listening. No one can hear my soul in pain. 

I had my last drink on September 26, 1996. I can still recall it, sometimes I can still taste it. September 25, I had a bottle of red wine, adding grain (Everclear) to it so I could get buzzed faster. I passed out. I woke up the next day, no  cottonmouth, but thirsty. I went to an AA meeting where being so thirsty, I couldn't even hold my glass of water. Finally got some down, got drunk again, and went into the DT's. I have not had a drink since then. Every time I get an urge, I recall that drink, the DT's; being strapped down to a bed and shaking so badly that the bed was moving, and the feeling passes.  At the time I was drinking, I was hell bent on destroying myself. I was in pain, felt my life had not meaning, and it was easier to stay drunk than to actually live.

Now I have tonight. 

I want to drink tonight. I want to take a bottle of vodka and take a long hot bath in my pajamas. Drinik the bottle in the bath tub. And when the bottle is empty, crash it against the bathtub, shattering it.  Taking the shardsand slitting my wrists, my ankles, my throat. How long would it take to see the blood ebb out before going to sleep? I just want the pain to stop. I want the loneliness to stop. I feel all alone. I feel empty. I feel worthless. I feel like I should have been born dead. I don't know why I was conceived in the first place. 

I'm hollow. I don't even feel alive anymore. I feel like a Basilisk. Dead. Empty.

I am not afraid of dying. That is easy. It is living that is hard, and living , so much of it sucks. I feel the loneliness the despair and it chokes me. I do not know who to ask for help. Maybe I don't want it.  All I know when I feel like this, I want to curl up and never wake again.

Please God, grant me that one wish. Please. Because I am afraid of tomorrow. I feel as if I have been lied to, it does not get better. All the hard work I have done, that I am doing, back breaking work when I hit bottom to be where I am now, was it worth it?  I do not mind being alone. I cannot handle lonely anymore. I feel so lonely I really could die. 

All that hard work, and just now, when I feel the most vunerable, the most wounded, the one time I need someone I am alone.  Like Tennyson's Percival, if I was to see the Holy Grail, I would know that this quest is not for me. Like Percival, the purest of Arthur's knights, , but still not pure enough to touch the Grail.  I am not a knight in shining armor. The only dragons I have slain are of my own making. 

And I just can't see this fairy tale ending happily.  A long time ago I use to do tarot readings. They said I was psychic.  I can often see how people will die in this lifetime. I have seen my own death, and know it will be by my own hand, 2 years from now give or take. And this prophesy I want to change. I just want not to be alone right now. I just want someone to hold me until this feeling passes. I s that asking so much? But as always, I am alone. YOu come into this world alone , you die alone, but I never thought this middle part called life would find me alone as well. 


A blood red rose
mere token of affection
mocks me 
from a silver vase
encompassing the stem.

 it stretches towards light
from a bare bulb on a cluttered desk.

Blood flows
minute drops
on silky soft petals.
Bleeding fingers-
damn hemophiliac.

Will you put on a tourniquet
before my life ebbs out?

December 1982-November 2007.

recovery and healing

A friend asked me why I am so blue. the other day. Should he be concerned? I replied no, I am writing this blog with things from the book I am writing, with this name. It has been untitled so long, it's time to explain things. 

One of my dearest friends suggested the name. Maybe because he knows I am an anglophile. But maybe because it's Churchill. Churchill got me a job in a news room. I was the only Yank working for an organization who on the death of Princess Diana knew that she was related to the former  PM and his mother Jennie.  

So I started a novel about my struggles, half real half made up, back in 2000. I wrote copiously until December 2002, when I was put in the hospital for 30 days and  given ECT.  I had a bad experience with the ECT and stopped writing.

I started writing it again a few months ago, when my two muses each acting without the other;s knowledge, convinced me to write/blog again. 

This was followed up by two more bloggers, also hyper linked to my front page here.  Daring me to write again.  

So I am trying. I took the material from 5 years ago and re worked it, for this blog, for whomever might read it. But there will be a lot of new things, as I write about recovery and all that entails. The older stuff, I will mark by dates. 

But even the old stuff, its all new as one depression does mirror another, and one mania mimics another as well.

And this recovery, it's hard, damn hard. 

Monday, November 19, 2007

One more poem

Dust gathers
as a memory fades
lingering still in my mind.

     The stench of decay
      fills my nose
      with your scent
       I am dying.....

A memento once given falls to the floor
from an overstuffed book
broken and faded red petals on the carpet
Now a shadow of their former beauty.

The smell of death is everywhere
Worms destroy
what was not 
destroyed by a razor sharp knife

  The pain is all encompassing
I can stand it no more
Will you stop it, please
Stop it
Stop it. 
"Every shooting star that is seen from earth is an angel who has just received his wings"-
              Popular Folk Myth

When surrounded by vast 
a black sky
that is nothing
but a 
cosmic wasteland
from starry nightlights.

Do Astronauts
really pass
dead souls
on the way 
to the moon?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

still here

I am still here, I wrote something to post, but having huge problems with double vision from Geodon.

Hang in there folks, something will be up soon,. Thank you for all the kind comments. They lifted me this weekend. 

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Site meter

Can anyone help me get the site meter working?

Always remember the 11th of November

Today is Veteran's Day. 

While many no longer remember those who gave up their lives for us in wars, today we remember them, those fought in any wars, anywhere in the world. Those from WWI are long since dust, those from WWII are finding their way there now.  Recently, the Ken Burns special on WWII  said vets from this war are dying at roughly 1200 a day. My father is in this group, and when he heard that stat he got sad, thinking of many of his army buddies are no longer here. 

I've seen Vietnam vets homeless, I saw one frozen dead in front of Trump Tower and people walking by like it was nothing. I noticed the man was missing a leg.

And now our boys and girls are coming back from a war  with a high rate of alcoholism and suicide. And that scares me. They don't deserve that. 

I am not getting political here, that isn't what this blog is about. The blog is about trying to educate people on mental health issues, and publishing bits of my novel, which has the same title of this blog. But we have I repeat HAVE to as what is the greatest country in the world- do something for these soldiers other than 3 hots and a cot at the local VA. 

So while it's Veteran's Day. lets think of those soldiers who need our help the most. And thank them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

the urge to go to wellness

Well, I went to the state's DBSA board meeting today. All was good, and fine. But because of the med adjustment, my hands were shaking so bad I was sitting on them half the time, like I was back in grammar school. I cannot keep food down, and everything tastes like Mercury, so I have stopped eating and am drinking protein drinks. 

I am in hell now, feeling alone and lonely. I can feel the flames singe my skin and my hair. But in order to get out of here, I have to keep going. I love Churchill. Such a great example of a man who dealt with the black dog, and lived an accomplished life.  

Baby steps. Walking baby steps out of here, out of hell and into recovery. I've done it before. Right now I just need to take care of myself, get use to the meds and take it slow. 6 months from now I will be awesome. 

Just wait and see. 

Friday, November 9, 2007

My Miracle- A memoir in madness

I normally do like this time of year. Autumn sounds so much nicer than fall. Watching the leaves fall in my part of the country is the most beautiful gift that Mother Nature provides. All the magnificent hues of reds, yellows, and  oranges. But the leaves soon fall off the trees, withering, dying, reminding us of our own mortality as we watch children playing in the leaf piles. I watch the squirrels scampering around in a last minute of food collecting before the winter arrives.  It always makes me smile at their antics. And I must confess, I feel lucky to live in a town that has both black and gray squirrels. 

But with the change of scenery brings sadness.  This is not a depression, this is a sadness that is overwhelming.  It permeates my entire body, through each pore, worming it's way into my soul. I take extra care to make sure I am doing well, watching it carefully so it does not transmogrify into something more overwhelming and sinister.  It is hard. There are changes at work, and many of us feel our jobs are not as secure as they were prior to September 2001. Yet I manage to stay optimistic, I am fortunate enough that I have saved  up enough money that I could live for a year frugally and write if I lost my job. Not that many people have that luxury. Or perhaps it is me; I have once been homeless, so I watch my money carefully with a sense of dread that it can happen again. 

Despite the best measures, I found myself slipping towards depression around Thanksgiving. I do not know why,  after all, my heart's desire has always been two things, one of them  looks like it will happen next year. I have always wanted two things in life, one is to be a published writer. I have an agent. It may happen. I just need the discipline to make it happen.  The other heart's desire will not happen. That is to be a "normal" person, with a family. And real manic depressives should not be with other people, since we drive them crazy, as our moods washing over us and changing as easily as turning on and off like a water faucet , as mutable as the tides.  And perhaps that is where the depression came, from sadness.  A writer, like all artists, tends to be a solitary introvert. I find when I write, and I get on a roll, I do not want to be bothered. I take the phone off the hook. I walk around in a t-shirt that covers down to my knees, and just write. As a person with bipolar disorder, I find the bests writing I do is when I am slightly depressed, just somewhat sad, as you would feel after seeing a movie like  "Titanic".  Or slightly manic, just ever so slightly just as a normal person would feel after 3 cups of coffee. In these moods I have the discipline to sit and write for hours with a glass of water or a Snapple by my side. But no, this is down and out depression. I see the warning signs. Two days without showering. Three days without washing my hair. Two days without brushing my teeth. I tend to hypersleep when I am depressed. I am now sleeping 12 or more hours a day. I cannot concentrate. I cry at the drop of a hat. I take such things like St. John's Wort. This does not work. I call my shrink. He suggests I come back in to go back on meds after being off them for about a year. With trepidation, I do. I don't like meds, I really don't. But I have decided if it is between meds or suicide, I will take the meds every time. Suicide is not an option. I had Lyme disease so my body chemistry now does not allow some of the more standard drugs anymore. He and I discuss what options there are. He feels I am not in danger to myself, or others, so hospitalization isn't an option. So it comes down to lithium or Depakote. I've been on and off lithium for years, I personally don't like Depakote because it makes me fat. So I leave his office with a script for that and start taking it. 

My body does not adjust to it well. I go several days unable to sleep, unable to keep food down. I have nightmares. I am fortunate enough to have a good friend on the same coast who is a hypnotist, and he helps me through the drug induced nightmares.  I find as the lithium enters my bloodstream to normal levels, I get suicidal. Very suicidal.  I decide to do the unforgivable. I want to die. And being a Virgo, I have to organize it. I paid off all my bills, checked my 401K and my will, and made sure the cat was taken care of. This makes me feel good. It's a fail-safe in knowing that I can do this if I choose to.

Then one night it gets bad. Very bad. I wake up in a cold sweat. I try to get back to bed, and I cannot. I feel alone. I do not mind being alone, but this time I do. Maybe it's my hormones. I feel lonely. That is overwhelming. The sense of despair which has been my constant companion for the last few weeks is sitting besides me, it's arms wrapped tightly around me. I cannot breathe. I sense a panic attack coming on. And then it hits. The suicidal feeling washes all over me. I am not thinking clearly. All I know s I want to die now , right now and ease this pain. I feel like it's not going to get better And I want, no NEED to end it now, and fast. 

For my own safety, I have no sharp knives in my apartment, or razors.( I do shave but it is with a safety razor). I have no toxic things in the house like Drano, for two reasons, my safety and the cat's. There is no place in the apartment to hang a noose, unless I feel like hanging a stuffed anial. And I am on the 2nd floor, so if I jump, all will happen is broken bones. I took care of myself when I found a dwelling place. But then an idea occurs to me. Perhaps it was because I was reminiscing on a quote from Tolstoy "Happy families are all alike".  I live near the train station. Every hour a train goes from NYC to Washington DC. I can throw myself under the train. I get in my old green Ford, and drive to the train station. And just missed the last train, as luck would have it. I sit on the outside, on the cement ledge looking down on the train tracks,  my feet swinging  softly on the track, my feet making imaginary circles. I look at the train tracks and I know when I see the train coming, I just have to jump down, walk to the thrid rail and lie down. It shouldn't hurt too much, what ever pain there will be will be fleeting. I feel somewhat at peace, very calm, an emotion I haven't felt in a long long time. I am at peace,  knowing in less than an hour, I will be one with universe and the stars. I will be anywhere but New Jersey. 

It is an absolutely beautiful night, lots of stars in the sky, and a sliver of moon. the air is clear. I
find tears streaming down my cheeks. I do not know why. I do not feel alone anymore. I feel some presence near me. It's 3 am  and there are no other people around - cept for a cop.  There is indeed a a person next to me, a police officer. He sits down next to me, his badge and belt buckle shining in the moonlight. 

"Are you Ok?", he asks.


'What are you doing by yourself at 2 am here? Are you drunk?"

I assure him I am not drunk. he moves my blonde hair off my face, to get a better look at me. I am surprised that such a big man can do this so quickly I don't feel him do it.

We both look at each other with a hint of recognition in our eyes. 
We knew each other in college. He was in one of my Lit classes when I was a Teachers Assistant. He makes small talk with me, and realizes I am sitting on the curbside because I want to jump. And a miracle happens. He does not talk to me anymore, we both just hear each other breathing and stare at the beauty of the stars. I feel totally at peace. What seems to be an eternity later, I hear the train coming. I can see the light. I know the police officer's breathing is now coming harder, his adrenaline kicking in. He thinks, no he KNOWS I am going to jump.  I look at him, his brown eyes staring deeply into my blue ones. I get up, he is breathing real hard, staring at me. And then I offer my hand to him. 

"Can you walk me to my car, please?" I ask him as the train rolls by.

The smile he smiles would light the entire Vegas strip. "Sure", he says and it is over. I am safe, aI am alive, and in the end, that is all that matters. 

The suicidal feeling still stays with me, it's still here, it's overwhelming. But I am not going to act on it. I won't jump. And that, strangely enough gives me comfort.

Copyright- 2002, 2007

hospital part deux


Second day in the hospital.   Slept badly,woke up with a headache and backache from the inch black plastic mattress.

I told the staff I wanted to leave and threw a major hissy fit. I don't usually have hissy fits, but this was very uncharacteristic of me. The nurses told me I couldn't go, and the pdoc then told me if I leave I would be going involuntary. So I knew when I was beaten.

Since July I have been listening to my dark self, to hurt me, to let the voices wake me and let me drown. 

So I buried them today. Buried the sirens. No Ulysses chained to the mast , no Prufrock and the mermaids. My new mantra is Mermaids/Sirens bad. Ignoring them is good. Maybe it's my Eureka! moment. If I keep listening to their siren song I will be dead by Christmas. So death, or get better. I am going to work on wellness. 

So wellness it is.  I napped a bit, but that is what it is. Had lunch, and then went ot a group. Played Bingo in therapy and won a small stuffed white kitten toy with blue eyes.  I looked at her and decided to name her Hope.

I'm still scared. Everyone is nice, but overwhelming. I am scared. It does not get easier each time here. It's hard. But nothing worth having isn't easy, and getting well is not easy. It's supposed to be difficult. But maybe it will be easier here now that I have Hope. 

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Get a job

(Note: Written back in September. But still true in November, though meds are stable now.)

One of the weirder songs I somehow collected my ipod is "Get a Job" by Sha Na Na.

That song must have been in my mother's mind today when she called me and was quite exasperated.   "Get a job" she said. "Anything."

Now this is the weird thing. When I was in school, I had several jobs at the same time. I cleaned houses. I taught Sunday School. I tutored spoiled kids in history and English.  I waited on tables to graduate to cocktail waitress. I even considered the offer I got when people from Playboy came to our school and one of them offered me 2,500 to take my top off for one of their spreads. I turned it down, though it did appeal to my wild manic side I had back then.

All the years after school, I worked in jobs I was overqualified for. Secretarial because I didn't think I could do better. I wanted to work in Manhattan reading manuscripts in slush piles. But thouse girls got no money, and I was my family's daughter. A personal assistant was the best I could attain.

And even though the money was good, I hated it. I worked part time at a bookstore, to help pay off the student loan, and frankly, I was so manic back then I could work almost 2 full time jobs and party. 

And then through circumstance, and bipolar spending, I learned to curb the money and save everything. Live frugal, put half salary away every pay check. Invest. Be Smart.

So now when I fell on my feet I had a little safety net. 

So what's changed? In my 20s and 30s, I ran on pure mania, crashing and going back to mania.

In my 40s, I am finding I am no longer on mania, the manic moods are fleeting, lasting only a day, a week, and hour. 

The depression hangs on, going to suicidal thoughts, and for the first time in my life, I hear voives, and smell things that aren't there. 

I am no longer bipolar. I am bipolar schizoaffective. 

I have to take my ipod when I go shopping, so I don't hear voices.  It's become my steady companion. 

My parents don't understand this.  So far, the voices are all benign, because I cannot understand them. It's like they are talking Latin for all I know. But the smells are driving me crazy.  And hearing things that aren't there. Every night I wake up at 3:33 am thinking I hear a baby crying.

There are no babies in any of the flats near me. The oldest child in the complex is in grammar school.

Most of the time I cannot take care of myself. The depression is so bad I cannot do more than bathe, letting my hair go a week before I realize it's time to be washed. I might go to the bathroom and get undressed, forgetting  why I was there in the first place. 

I am turning into my Grandfather who had Alzheimer's. But I am still young.

And scared.

None of my friends know this. When I go out with them I am an actress. It might take me all day to look good, get the makeup right and all, but I pull it off.

I have been pulling it off my entire life. Smile when you feel like dying. 

I wish my parents understood.  I wish someone understood. I wish I had a real friend in real life, not cyber life, who understood.

I hate me.  I would gladly sell my soul to feel better again, but this illness has stolen my soul. Instead, I hear voices in my ears, the sounds of mermaids singing, and daily struggle not to hear their sweet siren song so I will not drown. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The politics of getting a bed

2 PM came with my mother picking me up and bringing downstairs a suitcase, two books, a journal, and my stuffed baby panda bear.

My mother was so upset driving she cut off a white Benz as she made her way onto the highway. The Benz driver flipped her the bird, but my mother was oblivious to it. She was too busy holding  back tears and was semi accusatory as she asked me 'Why, Why?"

I told her what was going on since July, and she listened, but didn't understand. I could tell she didn't understand. 

The pdoc met with her and they are neighbors in real life. He explained if it was as easy as a few extra pills I wouuld be home with extra pills, some scripts and all will be well.

Mom sat and listened, but she didn't understand. He told her about a ay program, but said I was suffering from suicidal ideationj and couldn't attend that. 

Then the call to the hospital for the bed. The bed that was promised to me yesterday was taken by another doctor who had a patient who he felt needed it more. 

So I have to wait until tomorrow. 

Bet who tells who that someone is in more dire need of a bed? I don't understand it.

When we were leaving the doctor's office, a woman showed up with her small daughter, dressed for Halloween as I dream of Jeanie/Barbara Eden.

My mother smiled and said, "I wish you were 5 years old again".

So do I.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wristcutters:A love story

This movie opens up tomorrow, but it's not playing anywhere near me. 

Here is the synopsis:  "Suicide is not the end, but only the beginning of a fascinating journey through the afterlife for souls in search of what they could not find in their previous lives".

If anyone has seen the movie, please tell me about it.  Thanks. 

html anyone?

I need some help with adding links, adding quotes and other interesting things. 

Can anyone give me the Cliffs Notes version of HTML for dummies? 

As for me, a huge med change, feeling better but dealing with some iccky side effects today. 

Keep checking this blog, or put it in your RSS feeds. I am writing my first journalistic piece ever. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

And I;ve fallen and cannot get back up

Fell asleep for half hour. Woke up, was falling off the Empire State Building, only I was Faye Ray and there was King Kong to catch me. 

Then I fell off the Space Needle into a cup of Starbucks. Oh that's easy. Starbucks- Moby Dick, retaining water, I'm the great white whale. Mermaid on cup, I have heard the mermaids sing, but they will not sing to me. 

The weird one was falling in the Grand Canyon and landing on the back of a donkey. Donkey= ass, well, I am going to leave this alone. So much for my dreams. 

Take "Idiot" out of the constitution?" It's on NJ Ballot

In about two weeks, on November 6,  New Jersey voters will decide whether to eliminate insensitive phrasing in the state Constitution that characterizes people with disabilities as "idiots" and "insane". The offensive language, adopted in the constitution in 1844, is aimed at barring people with limited mental capacity  from voting. 

Strange there is nothing banning anyone with "limited  mental capacity"  from running. How else do you explain all the politicians in Washington? 

Does anyone have any Seroquel?

4 hours sleep today. That is a record for the last few days.  But the dreams have been the worst I have ever had except on Seroquel.

Bathtub with dead kittens floating in it. Fish, big yellow and white fish, on the sofa trying to breath, flapping their gills as they do when they are on land. It's almost surreal, like a Dali painting, instead of melting clocks, it's melting dying fish. 

Blood in the water. I walk into the bathroom and blood everywhere. Lady MacBeth redux. Who would have thought the 9 or so pints of blood in me would be so much? 

When I woke up I heard the cat sound again.  The sound of a cat being scrunched under tires. I know it's in my head, but it depresses me, and I feel like crying. 

I want to go back to sleep but cannot. I see the photographs on the end table, falling softly into eachother, the people in the photographs coming to life in each frame. My parents wedding picture. My father as a GI in WW2.  A baby picture of me, and a baby picture of my mom. 

Sometimes I don't think I have real people in my life, just photographs. Like people don't really exist, and I am living an episode of the old black and white Twilight Zone. 

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where late the sweet birds sang

A few years ago I wrote the following:

I am losing it. Everything that I have is about to be taken away from me. For the first time in my life I am, really powerless. I am having problems at work. I cannot think anymore. I cannot do my job.  I cannot compartmentalize, work,  and home anymore. It's like my life is a house of cards. it is about to come crashing down. I am loosing everything. I am scared. 

This is still true. I am not working now, but trying to work. Trying to rebuild my life, brick by brick, again. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, rebuilding from ashes.  But people do it. They do it after catastrophies, and they do it in real life after something shatters and turns your world upside down. I've done it before, but this time, I'm older, and it's harder. It's harder and harder to stay afloat.

I look at other people in my online support group, and my support group in real life. People have spouses who help them. I never had that. I have a network of friends, but  I cannot call them or ask for help when I start the black thoughts, my brain starts drowning in it's morass that is darkness, depression clutching my black heart and dragging me into the undertow, bashing my brain against the rocks while a siren sings, but not for me. For anon.  If I do reach out, I am afraid I will loose them. 

The point is moot anyway. It looks like my brain is turning against itself, the gray matter leaving. Perhaps going South for the summer to warmer climes, only never to return. I feel alone and lonely and that adds to the black morass. Is this the way recovery is supposed to be? 

I was once an intelligent person. I have a college degree and a graduate degree. I was asked to join Mensa, but didn't think I was smart enough to join. Turns out I passed the test to join, but didn't. I don't know why, maybe I didn't feel I was good enough.

I know I have suffered from low self esteem all my life. I never felt I was good enough for anything. I always felt like a fraud when good things happened to me. So maybe the masochist in me should be enjoying the fact my brain doesn't seem to be working anymore. And if and when my money runs out.....

I loose my apartment, and my  way of life. I have been homeless before. I know I can do what I did in college, wait on tables, schlep drinks. Work retail. I don't mind working, I would rather work than be on disability like now. 

I am upset. I didn't ask for this. Yet when I found out about my birth mother, I found out that everyone in the family was either bipolar, schizophrenic, or a combination of both. Lots of horrors, lobotomies done in the 40s and 50s, too many suicides and no one dying of natural causes. I hope I can escape the genes, but sometimes I wonder if it's something I have to deal with, like Odysseus first hearing the prophesy  he was going to marry Jocasta, runs away to  escape and ends up marrying his mother anyway. 

I don't have curtain pins to tear out my eyes. But I do hope I  can escape the genes. Keep the illness under control, and live a "Normal" life. I should have realized that "normal" is only a setting on the washing machine. 

 I don't like the fact I cannot recall things. I get stressed and cannot talk. People confuse me. I cannot handle crowds anymore. I cannot handle being around people anymore. Even my friends overwhelm me if I am with more than two or three people at a time.

I use to be the life of the party. I was the lass clown. Now look at me. 

My father tells me I have let myself go. I can still pass for 10 years younger, but maybe I have. I don't know. Sure, I could loose some weight, but who couldn't? Maybe that is all I need in his eyes to feel better. Loose 30 lbs, go to the gym, lighten my hair and bleach my teeth. In my grandfather's day they toled women to go out and buy hats. This generations it's a pair of Manolo's. 

All I know is I am loosing it. I don't feel anything. I should feel anger, but I don't. I don't feel resignation though.  I feel nothing. Hollow. Empty, devoid of feelings. It is like I am watching my own funeral, but cannot feel anything. I don't feel it's normal. And if I cannot work, once myinvestments are gone, I am going into a home. 

I don't feel suicidal though. Not now. I just don't feel. Is this what being dead is like? No feelings, just numbness? 

I don't want to leave the human race yet. I want to stay productive. My prayers aren't being answered. I sit and stare in front of the computer and cannot recall how to write. Then I write copious amounts where I cannot stop. 

The other night I was driving home and I drove past my apartment. I never did that. I forgot where I lived. I didn't realize my error till about ten miles later. This isn't like me. I have been driving home on the same road for over 10 years now. I can drive back and forth in my sleep I know this road so well. Yet I forgot.

I feel like my brain is turning on itself, eating itself alive like a female praying mantis does to the male when it mates. I am scared. 

I keep thinking of my grandfather. He was in his late 90s when he died. When he was in his late 80s my mother and father and aunt and uncle put him in a nursing home. He had Alzheimer's. I remember the nursing home, one of the best in the state at that time. How happy my mother and father were to get him in there. I was in high school. We visited him almost every weekend, rain or shine. Some days he didn't know me, some days he did. I can still smell the nursing home in my memory, it smelled like Lysol, sweat and tears. At that time I thought it was like living in a hotel, grandpa had his own room and took communal meals. He had his own shower. But the furniture was standard nursing home issue; it reminded me of my dorm room furniture, only with a hospital bed. We brought him a meal, flowers, cookies. When I was in college aI visited him once or twice a week on my own between classes. I remember I did that every semester when I had a four or five hour gap between classes.

What stays with me are his eyes. Dead empty blue eyes. the nursing home did that. Every other resident had the same stare. Empty, dead. Like the only thing they all did was wait for God to send them home. Grandchildren, great grandchildren, were cherished. But when they left at the end of the day leaving only a memory and an photograph taken from a Polaroid camera that would spit out the film, the dying began again in ernest. TS Eliot wrote about measuring your life with coffee spoons. Here your life was measured on days on a calendar, only instead of marking the days til Christmas like an Advent calendar, it was a giant advent calendar of death. Don't fear the reaper, minus the cowbell.

Is this to be my life soon? When I can no longer work or write, to be shuffled off to some home with my books and my crocheted afghan to serve as my bedspread? To measure each day as one more closer to my death, instead of one ore day that I was grateful to be alive?

Or is it that you die once you go to a place like that, your soul and your spirit  leaves you and you do the opposite of a physical death, instead of waiting for your body to return to dust, you wait for your body to stop breathing.

Was it a curse on my forehead, from the time I was first came into this world, backwards of course, that made me who I am? The sins of our parents- when I was born was it determined by the Greek Gods that this is how my life would end I just exist while I wait for Klotho, Lachesis, and Atropos to cut my thread?

The weird thing is if I had a choice up to now, to be normal, or to be bipolar, I would pick bipolar. I have seen remarkable things and done remarkable things when manic. I've done some beautiful writing when I was depressed.  By contemplating suicide, could I understand existentialism. True, I have been alone, gone to bed so many nights wishing there was someone I could hold on to, hold me and be held, make love with. But I have the gift of writing instead. I love to read and write. Would I have been so creative if I wasn't bipolar? I don't know. What the Greek Gods give they also destroy. They gave me bipolar so I can create. I know ths. I have to suffer. Don't I?

Last night when I brushed my teeth, I looked back at my reflection. My eyes reflected back and they are still alive. I breathe the air and I am grateful for the small stuff.

I don't know how my life will end. Someday t will end. I just hope  my brain chooses to fall softly on itself, slowly, ever so slowly and gives me another couple decades of good life.

taking care of yourself when you don't feel like it

One of the hardest things I have learned about dealing with bipolar on a day to day basis is dealing with keeping the illness at bay. This entails trying to keep my life at a routine, going to bed every night the same time and waking the same time. Taking my meds at the same time every day. Trying to think happy thoughts and keep my mind clear. I exercise, watch what I eat 90 percent of the time (Summer just ended and I have to eat ice cream). I love walking. 

But eventually a cold will get me, as it does everyone. Right now, I am battling the yearly strep throat,  feeling miserable. I cannot swallow.  Salt water gargle, vitamin C, Orange juice, cranberry juice and my world famous chicken soup. And lots of sleep.  I have spent the last 2 days sleeping as much as my cat. Not good sleep, no dreams to recall. 

And I cannot help but wonder. This is the first cold I have had in a year, and I am alone. I don't mind being alone, but my mind wonders back to my last relationship, when I got my yearly strep thoat. He went out and got me food, and spoiled me. He put fresh flannel sheets on the bed so I could feel extra warm, and cozy, and put my stuffed panda next to me. It was like when I was little, my father once took off from work when I had a cold, because my mom , who sold real estate couldn't stay home with me she had a closing. So my dad brought me something to drink and we put all my Barbies on the bed and he played with my dolls. 

Wonder. I liked having company but now, my life is more solitary, but it would be wonderful to have someone bring me a cup of tea with honey from my pantry in a little plastic teddy bear. I miss having someone to take care of me, but one of the things you learn in life is that you need to take care of yourself first and foremost. Then when you are well, you can help others.

Having a cold can play havoc with the illness, but it's something you learn to live with.  Just take care of yourself, sleep well, make sure you drink to stay hydrated- and my delicious chicken soup. 

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Moment of truth

The room was dimly lit, smelling of stale cigarette smoke and burnt coffee.  Twenty-some people were there, sitting on folding chairs, or the overstuffed navy blue couch.  Almost everyone was drinking black coffee from Styrofoam cups, with their legs crossed, listening intently to the speaker.  During the talk, a couple of people went to the coffee maker for refills, or grabbed stale powered donuts, so hard they had to be dipped in the coffee to be rendered edible. 

I was sitting on the floor, legs crossed, Indian style.  The shag carpeting felt comfortable under my bottom, and was enjoying listening to the speaker. When he was finished, everyone clapped and someone else started talking. After several more speakers, it was my turn. I cleared my throat and looked nervously around the room. The words were coming out faster than I could think. "Hi, my name is Susan, and I am an alcoholic."

I am an alcoholic. I haven't had a drink since September 26, 1996. My last drink, ice tea and grain alcohol was the day before. This is something that I never thought about until I was reading a book on bipolar where the author stated that 60 percent of all people with bipolar have had a problem with substance dependency. My drinking  was different.  I wasn't drinking to control my moods, I was drinking because I was hell bent on destroying myself.  They say that alcohol is a depressant, but I can tell you when I drank, it was for the initial buzz of euphoria and sense of well being. I loved the way it made my insides melt. What I didn't like was the sad feeling that always came out after the first initial numbness. 

Every alcoholic has a story. I had my first drink in college, the first weekend away from home. My roommate and I crashed a frat party.  This was the fall of 1980 and I had just turned 18 that weekend. Animal House was out the previous year, and every frat on campus was having a toga party. We went to one of the frats, thinking we were all grown up. I recall when I got there, I didn't want a beer. Someone handed me a cup of purple Kool Aid, and I found a couch inside and sat down and drank. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", was on the stereo, and I just recall that the album never sounded so good. 

Guys kept refilling my glass, asking me "You're a freshman?". Finally the inevitable happened, my bladder was full. I tried to make it upstairs to the bathroom, but there was an incredible line. Instead my roommate found me and we left the party, walking back to our dorm cross campus. I recall I could barely walk, and neither could she. And I couldn't stop thinking when I fell on the ground "The lunatic is on the grass".

When we got back to the dorm, I signed in, and it became clear to my 
RA that I was drunk, very drunk. I couldn't understand that, I had no beer, just grape Kool Aide. Roommate and I somehow collapsed into bed, and I recall the bed spinning. Then I got sick. Exorcist sick. I ended up in the infirmary. The next day the nurse told me I was drinking grape Kool Aide with grain alcohol in it. All I knew is I felt sick, hung over and ashamed.  I vowed never to drink again.

And I really didn't. Oh yes, I might have had a beer in the Rathskeller with my friends between classes but one was always my limit. Somehow, I must have sensed my birth family had a long line of alcoholics and I knew not to drink.

Fast forward to 1996.  I had come back from California a year before, broke. I had the misfortune of letting a friend's sister stay with me when her apartment was being fixed from the Northridge Quake.  No one told me she had a coke habit, and I had never met anyone who did drugs before. In the two months that she lived with me, she totalled my car, then totalled the rental car. She figured out my ATM number, went into my checking and savings accounts and wiped them both dry, stole my furniture, and my jewelry  and pawned it. I lost almost 40,000 that went up her nose before I realized what she had done and and at that point called the police and they involuntarily put her in rehab. And with no money left, no furniture, I had no choice but to move back home with mom and dad. 

It wasn't a good situation. I found a job at a bookstore and moved out into an apartment. It wasn't a nice apartment, it was in the states capital, but it was mine and it was better than nothing. I remember my upstairs neighbor was a prostitute and my doorbell would ring at weird hours by drunken Johns  at the wrong door. 

The downstairs neighbor sold pot, but the police stayed away because he never sold to minors. Another neighbor was constantly getting into trouble for beating his wife. 

I didn't like working in that bookstore. I love books, and own close to a thousand in my own personal library. But this was a mega bookstore. I had worked in a mom and pop one ten years earlier for a few years, which I loved. But this was different, there was less emphasis on the customer and more on just selling books. They guy I was seeing was really disliked by my parents, and much to my chagrin, my father told him he would give him money to stop dating me. Of course, he took it. 
I am sure this was done in my best interests, but I felt like I was a failure. One day a friend from the bookstore came over with a bottle of red wine as a housewarming gift. We drank the bottle and the next morning when I woke up, I wanted more. I went to work and on the way home, stopped at a licquor store and bought a bottle of the same vintage, and drank that in the evening. I did this every night for a week. And I discovered something. By the end of the week,I wasn't getting buzzed on the wine. Instead I was drinking vodka, pouring it in the wine to get drunk faster. I knew it was wrong, but I didn't care. I figured I didn't have the courage to kill myself outright, so I might as well drink myself to death. Besides, some of the best writers were alcoholics, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald and Steinbeck. A  genius that no one understood. My muse was telling me it was romantic to be drunk like them.

The only problem was what I was writing at this time was absolute crap. Alcohol might have made Faulkner or Hemingway more creative, but it was having the opposite affect on me. But I loved the warm feeling I would get when I drank, how the walls around me dissolved, melted and I became one with the universe. 

In two short months I was a full blown alcoholic. I was drinking very every night, first pouring vodka in my wine coolers to get drunk, and when that didn't work anymore I graduated to wine and vodka. When that no longer worked I was pouring grain alcohol in my wine to get buzzed faster.

That would make me wake up in the morning with the shakes, and I needed an eye-opener. So I would have a glass of wine by itself. I didn't care, I figured I would be dead in six months. I figured I had nothing to live for, after all, I was persona non grata in my family. I had no boyfriend, I mean what kind of boyfriend would choose money over me? My self esteem was out the window, and I felt like shit. The alcohol bloated me up by thirty pounds and I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life.But I couldn't stop, every night I would take a bottle of Stoli I left in the fridge, pour a huge drink and watch British comedies on VHS tape. I knew I shouldn't be doing it. At the time I had an idea I was bipolar, but wouldn't acknowledge it. I had been diagnosed as bipolar 10 years earlier when I had my first hospitalization when I crashed and burned at the end of Grad school and would up first in the hospital for 2 days from the suicide attempt, and then a month in the other hospital. 

All I knew now that my moods were going from manic- days without sleeping, to suicidal despair where I would try to top myself off with a drink and Asprin. One time I fell asleep , tripped over a bottle, broke it and wound up with glass embedded in my kneecap. Cute. Blood all over the carpet. I didn't care, I laughed when I saw the blood red streaks melt into the off white color. For months I had glass embedded in my skin.

And one day came when I woke up covered in vomit from head to toe, shaking so badly the bed was actually moving. I knew I had to stop. After all, didn't Janis Joplin die when she vomited in her sleep? Maybe something woke up that day inside of me and I knew I needed help. I had to stop. Something primal in my  brain told me the next time this happened I would be dead like Janis. And suddenly, I didn't want to die anymore. 

I cleaned myself up, did the laundry. I felt awful. I was shaking,m but poured the rest of the booze down the drain. And went to my first AA meeting that day.

I realized that was what stopped me. I didn't want to die. I got sober, which was one of the hardest things I ever did. But I wanted to live. I didn't want to be a drunken writer. All of a sudden Hemingway and Fitzgerald as the troubled dipsomaniacs with the tortured souls wasn't appealing. Ray Carver got dry. I could do it too.  i didn't stay with AA but did it myself, substituting a Snapple for every time I wanted a drink.

So 60 percent of people with bipolar have a lifetime substance dependency problem. Maybe in my case it was just from a feeling of pain of being different, feeling different from everyone else, feeling like a failure because I felt like I was the only living person on the planet. I was in so much emotional pain back then I didn't know how to cope. I've learned sincethen to make closure with a lot of the issues I had back then. I have also learned that yes, I am bipolar. I have grown to accept it, and by accepting it work on my recovery. The only way I could get better, to start healing was to accept it. Whether it's alcohol or bipolar. It's something I still have issues with, dealing with, understanding and accepting. Even now. There are days where I wish I was normal and didn't have to take any meds, thinking there is nothing wrong with me. And I feel great until I go manic or depressed. Now I know I have to take my meds daily. Now I know my birth family comes from a long line of Irish alcoholics, my genes didn't escape that. I know if I have one drink, I die. Simple as that. I don't want to die, not now. I still have a lot more living to do. 

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