Blogging has been difficult for me this year. Within six months I’ve lost two close friends. Ulla (Blahpolar) died in September 2016, and Johnna (Painkills2 from All Things Chronic) earlier this year. Johnna played a significant part in supporting me through my grief over Ulla’s passing.
Johnna and Ulla were active and involved blogger.s Their avatars were everywhere. Their part in my life has made me a better person. And now they’re gone. And as life evolves and changes, it seems the ‘old crowd’ has scattered to the wind. I open up WordPress and feel the impact of those departed – the ones that faded quietly away never to return, the friends who kindly bid farewell as they moved on with life. And then the dead. Nothing is the same anymore and the bloggosphere feels so foreign and empty. I don’t adapt well to change. And I form attachments very quickly. While I have since made wonder new friends and know there are plenty of new friends to be made, loss is still so fresh that right now, I’m not sure what direction I will take with my blog.
Not to mention I can barely keep up with following everybody else. I feel so guilty. That I’m not present, reading and interacting like I used to. Life doesn’t leave me with too much spare time. There’s work, which is a mammoth undertaking, exhausting keeping up and avoiding mistakes because of my poor memory. Since my L5 lumbar spinal surgery, its difficult after a full day of sitting at work, to come home and sit and blog. I’m not a laptop-lying-down kinda person. And then there’s my bipolar personal management plan I try so hard to keep to – routine, vigilant for triggers and combating them, lots of sleep etc. Its hard work trying to be healthy.
Stay, go, limit interaction, change the purpose of my blog. I’m not sure. But when I figure things out, you’ll be the first ones to know. In the meantime, know my friends, I love you all and will do the best I can for now.
There’s a woman my age at work who has lived most of her life with one kidney. A transplanted kidney. Now its old and failing her. She’s been on the transplant list and on dialysis for more than 6 years. Over time she’s fallen ill, been in and out of hospital and come close to death. Yet to look at her you’d never say she was sick. She still works. She is always cheerful. I’ve never heard her complain. Never bemoaned her fate. She’s active, pursues a physically challenging hobby. She lives and loves without restraint.
I walked past her today, and overheard a piece of conversation. She said “I don’t want them resuscitating me, you know, you put your life into their hands”. This was said within the context of – she doesn’t want to die. She doesn’t want events to deteriorate to such a point where she would have to be resuscitated. She wants the surgery to run smoothly. Kidney failure or no kidney failure, she wants to live.
My immediate thought was one of jealousy, envious of her close proximity to death. Because I don’t want to live anymore. And so I became ashamed. Thoroughly disgusted by myself. While she fights to stay alive, I dream, plot and scheme about my own death. My thoughts roam hour by hour in an endless loop from hanging to drowning to guns.
So I told myself I was a terrible person for entertaining suicide as much as I do. For being selfish. For being ungrateful. For being lazy. For being a poor, useless excuse of a human being. But then I thought – while there is dialysis or an organ transplant for failing kidneys, there are no such options for my brain. While her blood is cleansed, there is no way to clean my mind of these suicide-thoughts. Thoughts that are purely symptoms. I have a brain that’s sick, with no way to be fixed. We are both ill. There should be no comparison. We just suffer in different ways. And there is no shame in that.
My mother killed herself when I was 19 years old. Today would have been her 74th birthday. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you xx
Bipolar can kill you in one of three ways. Firstly, the actual medications used to treat the illness can kill you. Will most likely kill you. Simply put, pretty much all of them will cause organ failure over time or left unmonitored. And if your organs fail you die.
Secondly, people who have bipolar are at a higher risk for substance abuse and addiction, the complications of which can kill in a myriad of ways.
Thirdly, if the illness is left untreated for long enough – whether it be undiagnosed or treatment resistance – you die. You don’t die in the same way you’d die from organ failure – the more socially accepted way to die. No, you die by your own hand. You take your own life. You commit suicide. It is greatly frowned upon (and misunderstood) by ordinary (ignorant) folk who whisper “selfish” and “weak” in dishonourable contempt of the world we, the mentally ill, occupy.
I want to deconstruct this terminology – committed suicide. Selfish? Weak? Not at all. The very nature of the word ‘committed’ highlights the profound intent behind the act. A commitment takes effort, planning, energy, courage, faith, motivation, confidence, determination, ability to follow through. So to not only want to die, but to want to succeed at dying, one would have to be extremely committed to the cause. Think about it – committed suicide. A commitment to death.
I’d call that honourable and courageous.
My friend has gone and I don’t know what to do, what I should have or could have done. I know the logic – there was nothing I could do. But it remains that I am, as we all are, left with survivors guilt and the broken heart of the ones left behind. I understand, respect and support her decision. She has fulfilled the ultimate act of self-care, and removed herself from this nightmare of a world where she endurde a daily, torturous struggle against which there is no cure. Now she has peace and joy and can laugh again.
Her path ran parallel to that of my mother’s – med resistant, ECT, suicide. So much loss, blame and anger lies at the feet of bipolar and the medical community who prove time and time again to be inept in treating this illness. Making money off our desperation.
Blahpolar had an immense effect on my life. I doubt she even realised how much. She walked beside me on my own journey even as she carried the weight of her own demons. She said two words that redefined my life – you matter. Two simple words that changed my life. And now, I am at a loss for words. Because she mattered to me, and to you and to us. Words escape me. All I have are tears.
I am still waiting for someone to contact me and tell me this was all a big mistake. That it’s not true. But it is true and her death has shifted my world slightly off axis. And I know that it will never turn quite the same again.
I won’t be joining you all on the 10 Sept. It’s not because I didn’t love her. Its because I loved her that I can’t participate. I will be taking my grief into isolation. To be completely honest, I’m not sure I will return to blogging. We all make such deep connections here, there is so much support and friendship and advocacy. But despite the wonders of technology, we are still left alone and helpless in the face of bipolar. I don’t know if I want to be vulnerable to anymore loss. I just….. I don’t know what to say.
This was one of her favourite songs….. (PS – can someone please tell me what has happened to her dog? Please I have to know)
So I’ve only cheated on my diet twice in my first week. I call that a success. Watch out dating site…. I’m nearly ready….. just no assholes this time round please. No prospect bikers with patches who fall off their motorbikes, no married men in a mid-life crisis, no bullshitters, sorry, I mean salesmen, no salesmen please, no greek gigolo’s, no young playa’s, no steroid-pumping weight trainers and please no sweet-natured Afrikaans speaking farmers. Ek praat nie die taal nie. (I don’t speak the language)
Aw, big, bad biker, you
Now as per a request by a fellow blogger for more upbeat posts with less doom and gloom, here is my effort:
If I did decide to kill myself I would happily do it by drowning. I always have been a water baby, or should I say, babe, so it seems appropriate. A diver once told me that was the most peaceful and upbeat way to die. Not gloomy at all. Since I’ve been wanting to go diving without a scub tank, I did the responsible thing and rang my Dr S. My shrinky-dink. We cheerily chatted about my little predicament, agreed I had some optomistic options and then together we laughed and laughed and laughed about the medical aid coverage. The outcome is hopeful. Despite this being the second critical depression in a one year period, things look rosy because I have a positive attitude. And there’s always the chance I’ll snap out of it because my medication dosage is high. So I’m pumped. I’m amped. Next week I could get to have a sedated slumber party in the psych ward of the local hospital. I’m so excited, I am just tickled to death.
Bonbon, goodbye my precious boy
My heart broke into pieces when I heard you had died. My boy, I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you ’til the end. You watched your brothers and sister go for the ride in the car and not ever come home. I should have been there when your time came. I would have held you in my arms as I did the others. I would have comforted and reassured you and looked into your eyes so that your final glimpse of this world was of someone who loved you.
Bonnies, you came into my life quite by surprise. You were the first of our family to arrive and the last to leave. You were a strong boy. That’s why I named you Mad Max. Your father rescued you when, as a kitten, you fell into a 2m deep concrete drainage trench. Some men from the workshop tried to use you for ‘target practice’. But your father saved you that day. You beat the odds, you were fierce, fast and inquisitive, and that’s why I gave you the brave name, Max.
When you joined the family you were so small you fitted in the palm of my hand. Having faced that trauma as a kitten, you grew up to be a skittish boy. I always tried to comfort you during a thunderstorm or make you feel safe if guests arrived. In return, you brought comfort, companionship and unconditional love into my life.
My boy, I’ve missed you since I left, and I now mourn your death. Today my world felt more empty than usual. I hope you are once again united with Georgie, Judge and Abby. Don’t forget Bonnies, to meet me at Rainbow Bridge.
I love you