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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