There is nothing normal about stigma

There’s her and then there’s me. We work in the same department. She’s an outcast like me and we are both talked about behind our backs for different reasons.

The facts

In June I fell. A side effect from bipolar meds – loss of balance. I was alone. No one to help me. The pain? I sucked it up. I had to. I’m alone. What else must I do? I went for physio and endured this pain for 2 months without anyone giving a shit. They were intolerant, annoyed with me. I presume a lot of eye rolling. After no improvement 2 months later, I was put into hospital. I drove myself there and I drove myself home. Despite the pain. I was in hospital for 5 days. No one from work messaged me, phone or visited. No one gave a shit. Diagnosis – a herniated disc and sciatica. Treatment – drugs, physio, and an epidural. None of the treatments worked and I was sent home in exactly the same pain with no information on pain management for sciatica. I did this alone and have no one at home to help me with everyday tasks.

She also fell. Granted a far more dramatic fall than mine – she fell down some stairs. But there are parallels in our injuries because both have resulted in pain. Her – a broken rib and a compressed vertebrae. The difference? She has a husband and a teenage son. They helped her, phoned an ambulance. Everyone one of us at work was more than concerned. The people I work with had a busy day, sending text messages and phone calls to her, to family members and involved themselves in her crisis. Concern was expressed, we talked amongst ourselves with compassion. No judgement or criticism; sending good wishes, getting updates. There was no eye rolling involved. They’re all going to visit her over the weekend.

The difference

As far as our ‘work friends’, in her crisis, she mattered. In my crisis, I didn’t. The difference? I have bipolar. She doesn’t. I was long ago labelled ‘drama queen’, over sensitive, too emotional. So everyone rolls their eyes and I am dismissed, overlooked and invisible. No one believes me. Fuck, I feel so alienated. This does not feel normal. I’ve tried to find the normal in this but realised stigma is not normal. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Ignorance is not a good look. Don’t they realise how ugly it makes them. I am also going to visit her this weekend because I know how important it is to have visitors when you’re in hospital. I’m going because I genuinely care, not because I’m just fucking curious.

Good news! I’m normal

I had an intense session with my doc yesterday. Turns out I couldn’t have ECT because I have sciatica and the doc said even though a muscle relaxant is administered , there is “quite a lot of thrashing about”!! WTF? Had no idea it was that intense. I turned down hospitalization because the session was so productive with no massive change in my meds, so I didn’t see the necessity.

He sat with me for almost 2 hours, well into much of what I presume to have been his lunchtime. And he didn’t even charge me. I’ve said it before, he is one-of-a kind, a true healer. In a nutshell, right now, I’m not nuts! I’ve just been through an awful amount of shit for a very long time and my emotions have taken a beating. And since bipolar symptoms are rooted in one’s emotions, you could say there’s been an emotional overload and I’m short-circuiting…… and he said….

………….THAT’S NORMAL

There is a difference between being in a reactionary state because of life experiences, and being sick with bipolar. What I am experiencing right now is the result of being fucked up for a very long time, and the resulting upheaval of making changes. The fact that its knocked me to the degree that it has is normal because that’s how someone with bipolar will naturally react. Natural is normal and normal is relative. I can have bipolar yet be normal at the same time.

What a life changing revelation! My life is not doomed. This will pass. I will be free. There is possibility, not pointlessness. My circumstances will change. My solution need not be death….. just time. I’m sad because Life is an asshole, not because there’s something wrong with me. Which all means that I am going to be okay.

A lot went down in this session. I plan to process it all by blogging it out. Its going to be an emotional process, but no one said healing is painless. I never fail to be amazed by the power of words – kind/cruel; heal/break. No voltage, no medication. Someone with specialised knowledge took extra time to talk, advise, encourage, validate, explain, reassure. Words and kindness were my medicine.

There is no balance in bipolar

Monday. Tearful. What great sorrow as I stagnated once again in suicidal ideation. Then insomnia came and washed away the tears by triggering hypomania.

Today. Zero sleep last night. Hypomanic all day. I was a starburst of everything sparking – racing, repetitive thoughts consuming every ounce of time and head space. It inhibits work because I’m focused on this and then bouncing to that. Playing tag within my own mind. Having endless conversations in my head. I can’t focus on work. Can’t concentrate. Its exhausting.

Pure exuberance at the slightest thing. Everything out of proportion in an expansive way. Talking incessantly, laughing loudly. Sharing every tiny detail of something newly discovered with my co-workers – ohmygod you guys you never gonna believe this…. and I rattle off something about the splendor of a bumble bee, with the excitement of winning the lottery. People start giving me confused looks. Or pasting on polite smiles. But they love when I divulge secrets that should never make the light of day because of a lack of filters. Social boundaries be gone! I will tell you anything, you only need ask the question. Wait, don’t even bother asking. If it pops into my head, guaranteed it will pop outta my mouth. Talking unprompted and impromptu. My thoughts galloping so fast I can’t push the words out quickly enough. Pressured speech, talking faster and faster until I leave words and whole sentences out altogether.

Oh joy. And as the high’s spark begins to die, an agitation builds. Impatience born of exhaustion and a frustrated inability to keep up with my mind, my emotions. Constantly, always feel as if I’m falling behind, wasting time. Let me just do this, let me just do that, I’m never settled or at peace. I want to live. I want to die. Self-doubt, failed expectation, unreliability. I cringe at the thought of what secrets I’ve let loose at work today. What impression I’ve made. Because yesterday I was so, so very different than I am today. And I will most likely be so very different tomorrow, than I was today. Its humiliating. In hypomania I lay bare my confused, unstable mind for all to view with curiosity and ultimately judge.

Agony. I have no control. I cannot live within the confines of this illness much longer. I cannot chase life and force living.  Thoughts polluting, brain sentencing. I want to be free. I want some peace.  Tomorrow, I just have to wait until tomorrow to see my doc

survival-mode

 

Bail me outta these dog days

My little cable TV package includes everlasting re-runs of Dog The Bounty Hunter. I’m a fan for the pure entertainment element of it. Stop laughing! Come on, you can’t beat the funny factor:

-who wears an open v-neck leather jacket to apprehend a criminal? Someone should tell him to stop.

-when they accidentally mace themselves… wooohooo….lol… that is my all time favourite

-their radio chatter contains far too many “ ten-fours” and “overs”. Has anyone told them they’re not in the actual police force?

-…..heeheeheeeee

-Dog’s steeltoed cowboy boots that don’t bend as he walks. Have you seen him try to run in them? You should, its a real treat.

-I was gobsmacked when I heard Baby Lyssa state a fugitive had a “plethora of girlfriends”. I got the same enjoyment factor during a Cheaters show when a jilted lover admitted to being “duped” by his girlfriend. It thrills me when reality shows use big words

-How may pouches do their clothes have. Filled with a plethora of gadgets that make them look far too weighed down to outrun any fugitive

– Who pulls off a slick hair-backflip while kneeling on a dude pinning him to the ground? Dawg, that’s who. Dog the Bounty Hunter

But jokes aside, what I love most of all is that they treat their fugitives with dignity. Their understanding that to err is human. They attempt to counsel (not preach) and encourage. They pray. They give a shit. Which is a whole lot more that can be said for most of humanity. I know its just their job, and its just another reality show, but I get a lot more than shits ‘n giggles outta this show.

When there’s a setback, it means you have another chance for a comeback

– Beth, wife of Dog The Bounty Hunter

He's a big 'ole puppy dog

He’s a big ‘ole puppy dog

 

I’ll take ECT and a headache to go, please

I’m sick. I’m dipping into suicidal ideation more and more. I’ve been holding out for my next doc appointment. It’s on Wednesday. I think he’s going to hospitalise me. This time last year I was hospitalised. Put in a lock-up ward on suicide watch. I don’t want to go back there.

November 2015

Apparently I was agitated when admitted. I had no idea. After a few days I got an upset tummy. At 5pm I went to the nurses station and asked for something. They told me the porter had left and I had to wait until morning. Lazy excuse. I flipped out. Rage all the way. Arms waving, shouting “what do you mean you can’t get me some simple atropine? Call me craaa-aa-aa-zzzzz-zzzzzy *jazz hands* but this is a hospital!!!”

The nursing sister arrived. The nurse got on the phone to my doc. They gave me a handful of tablets to ‘calm me down’. Within no time I was slurring my words. I couldn’t walk. I’ve been on tablets and I’ve been on heavy duty tables, but this felt different from anything I’d ever taken before. I had to crawl on the floor back to my bed. It was frightening. I didn’t know what was happening to me. The next morning I asked my doc what he gave me.

What?” he said, puzzled. I told him about the night before. “No one phoned me” he said. “I didn’t prescribe you anything”.

The nurses had given me a large dose of something unknown. I booked myself out of hospital immediately. This time I want ECT. I had it 15 years ago and it worked well. My doc wanted me to have it during the whole Lover Incident earlier this year and I refused. Right now, I need the immediate effects of ECT. I can’t wait around for medication to work? …….or not to work?

And so I wait for Wednesday. Pyjama’s ‘n underwear washed and ready to go.

Life sentence

A great storm is howling outside in the dark. The wind pushes the trees sideways. The windows rattle in their frames. Lightening forks and illuminates in silhouettes. Thunder rumbles and cracks like a whip. The rain has turned into hail. I watch the spectacle and all the while a thought chases its tail around in my head…

I am alone

I am alone

I am alone

I am alone and I am frightened. Abandoned by lies and self-serving agenda’s. So alone it feels cold. My life is inhospitable. By day the smiling and the laughing because I know there is no tolerance for sadness. At night I sit on the floor and look out at the dark and wish I was someone different. Too often I wish I had never left my husband. It was a life I was familiar with. Despite the abuse it was a comfort zone. It seems so much harder, out here, alone.

I battle to see the point of my courage and struggles. To what end? If this is freedom I would not choose it again. I’ve gained independence but so much loss along the way. I am severely depressed. I have no hope of feeling better. This is not a life. This is a sentence.

Friendships, bipolar and codependency

I wrote this a while back – early July when I [out of order due to depression] – and may explain the contribution to my current profound depression. Due to it’s emotional sensitivity I have not felt comfortable posting it. Until today.

I’ve been in therapy once a month tackling my abandonment and codependent issues and, along with a lot of research, I’ve been making headway in my understanding of dysfunctional behaviours that have carved detrimental patterns through my life.

Codependency

On Monday, I had a breakthrough in understanding just how pervasive this behaviour is – not only as daughter, wife, girlfriend or lover, but that it lives and breathes within ANY relationship….. including my friendships.

What a harsh dose of reality to realise I have dysfunctional/codependent relationships with the only two friends I have and love. To realise that my value of these friendships was not matched with equal importance, I can’t tell you how much it slayed me. To realise I’ve been people-pleasing, jumping through hoops, making fun of myself and humiliatingly being made fun of; to realise I’ve been making excuses for behaviour I now find unacceptable (thanks to my boundaries crash course), all in exchange for their approval to validate my own identity, to be accepted, to be loved. To realise their love was condition, absolutely broke me.

Friendship

She was my best friend. But I was only the ‘funny’ friend at work that was never included in her personal life or out of work activities. Out of work, she hangs out with a person she confesses to find ‘repulsive’. So why do activities with this horrible person when we could have been a reinvention of Thelma and Louise? She was a friend on her terms only. Offers of help when accepted, turned into excuses and lies.

At this point my abandonment issues were SCREEEEAMING! My natural instinct was to immediately disengage from the world. To close ranks, draw the bridge, fill the moat and cloak myself in isolation. To be really, truly, completely alone. I had to make a decision. Continue my current behaviour which would silence my fears of abandonment? Establish some boundaries? No, not possible. So I’ve cut all ties. My world has been emptied by the loss, a kind of death, of my only friends.

I want to say there is not blame to be bestowed. That we are all characters in our own lives and these lives blend together – sometimes for a short periods and sometimes for an eternity. But I can’t. I feel betrayed, vulnerable, cheated, angry. The loss of my only friends has felt like a death.

In the midst of this emotional storm, I was struck by a concept the therapist mentioned – a new home is the opportunity to create a new persona. So what if I looked at this from a different angle? Instead of loss, I look at it as gain? What if I have to say to myself is – I now have a clean slate; I’ve done my housekeeping and swept everything that’s dysfunctional out. And now it’s just me. Alone. Starting again. A second chance. An opportunity to create a new me, a new life well beyond the expectations of others. Feels kinda liberating looking at it like that. ….

Bipolar

Well, it would be if I wasn’t bipolar and felt every ounce of emotion like dry ice on raw skin . Instead my illness has directed me head first into an endless depression, compounded by the stress of buy a home, moving, the incident with my father, sciatica and then Ulla’s death.

This is what set my depression in motion. It has become more entrenched as each day passes. I try, I try and I try to adopt the therapist’s strategy. I try to keep busy, to fight the depression, to adopt my own strategies. My efforts are endless and exhausting. But the ‘aloneness’ is so amplified it is consuming me. On bad days, I think it’s going to kill me. Since all my dealings with people over the past year have lead to betrayal, I don’t have much faith in this ‘aloneness’ ending anytime soon.

10-08-2016-letting-go-to-live 10-08-24-letting-go-to-live-2

 

The fight

Every morning I paint my lipstick on

and I con the world into believing that I belong

I smile and joke

and try to float

the current to the end of day

trying, trying to pave my way

to seamlessly behave

as is expected

living others’ perspective

then home, where I’m alone

my lipstick washed by tears

the pressured load to please

its finally released

and I can breath

now freed

to mourn my desperation

for this depression situation

and with each tear that falls

you’re a failure” Life calls

ungrateful and lazy

pull yourself together you crazy!”

failure, failure, failure echos

as death solemnly smiles and beckons

but still I wake and put my lipstick on

I might be done but I won’t be gone

a tug of war Depression and Life

I’ll participate, butI don’t walk away from a fight

taking-stock-logo

More than expected

I want to be inspired to live. To be motivated. Find focus. To find the beauty in details, sift through the grunge and pull out a positive. To hear a song that seems to have been written just for me, for where I’m at – whether it’s happy, sad, lonely, angry. To laugh, to smile, to love and to be brave. Big or small, to touch joy and the satisfaction of achievement. Even for only a moment. I want to take stock of my efforts and achievements and revel in the victories. I’m paving my way in an attempt to be joyful and at peace with my life. And here is where I document my travels – every Thursday. Come along for the ride.

When I sat down to write this post, I didn’t really think I had any achievements for this week. But as I downloaded my photo’s I realised, despite the fog of pain and depression, there have been some special moments.

A great storm was brewing

A great storm was brewing

Washing was blown horizontal to the ground by the force of the wind, even blown right off and strewn around the garden.  The disordered mix of of colour and movement was thrilling.  And I was so grateful I have no outside washline.  My laundry was safely hung indoors, safe from the downpour.

Washing was blown horizontal to the ground by the force of the wind, even blown right off and strewn around the garden. The disordered mix of of colour and movement was thrilling. And I was so grateful I have no outside washline. My laundry was safely hung indoors, safe from the downpour.

And down came the rain to wash away the pain (if only).  Again, in a drought, a wonderful gift of nature

And down came the rain to wash away the pain (if only). Again, in a drought, a wonderful gift of nature

As I've mentioned, I splurged and got a small package of 'cable' TV (DSTV).  I get to watch strange shows about extraordinary people

As I’ve mentioned, I splurged and got a small package of ‘cable’ TV (DSTV). I get to watch strange shows about extraordinary people

Glorious!! Halfway through the month and only a smidge of petrol used.  Maybe I can take a drive somewhere nice after payday and take my camera along

Glorious!! Halfway through the month and only a smidge of petrol used. Maybe I can take a drive somewhere nice after payday and take my camera along

This was a real victory – I followed through on a scheduled post.  Just as I'm doing this one!

This was a real victory – I followed through on a scheduled post. Just as I’m doing this one!