I’m 44 years old. The only thing that’s stopped me from committing suicide is the fear of the unknown. No one has come back from the dead to tell me what lies beyond. What punishment, if any, lies in wait.
On the other hand, it is fear of the unknown that prevents me from living. And I mean really living, not just existing. Embracing life. Instead, I seclude myself from the world and all participation in its activities. Because I don’t know what will happen next. I can’t predict the outcome. The result of my action. And that scares me. It frightens me to the point that I don’t engage in life. Except for the bare necessities of the daily grind. And then I am left alone. With my thoughts of living and not actually living, and dying and not actually dying.
Fear of the unknown. Such irony. It stops me from killing myself as much as it stops me from living. So what lies beyond this fear? Life. Or death?
Racing thoughts are not just “thinking fast.” They are thoughts that just won’t be quiet. They can be in the background of other thoughts or take over a person’s consciousness, and they can gallop out-of-control around and around in the sufferer’s head [source]
This is what my racing thoughts look like on paper…..
…..a jumble of half-written ideas; the beginnings of poems with no constructed endings which lie long forgotten from an hour earlier; a well considered response to a post, half done; a to-do list that’s already been replaced by another urgent task my mind JUST . WILL . NOT . LET . GO . But first I need to just jot this down because something else will soon snatch my brain into another direction. Again. Each potential interest from hairstyles to blog, from cooking to politics is thoroughly researched and cross-checked on google. But before I’m even able to get started on chasing this new idea, I’m snagged from another side…. captivated by exercise and dog grooming, on-line shopping, facts about snakes and Japan’s Suicide Forest and the thread of a poem that is itching to be released.
And work? Oh, I lost track of that a long, long time ago. Probably before I first walked into the office today. I’ve been so busy inside my own head I haven’t had time to either work or execute any of my incoherent plans or good intentions. Haven’t been able to concentrate long enough to accomplish anything yet. And its nearly home time. This adictively unproductive day has certainly raced by. Yesterday I was depressed. My emotions were a gaping wound of fear and tears and sorrow. Today I’m exhausted, not hypomanic, but my thoughts are running wild.
I am not a Specialized Psychiatrist
I am suicidal but I don’t want to die. Quite the opposite. I want to live a full and productive life. So I was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for a week. I’ve had my medication adjusted, an addition to my diagnosis and received some invaluable therapy. This is a documentation of all that I learned.
I look back on the past 12 months since my last hospitalisation and reaslise all I’ve been doing is a stop-drop-and-roll from one crisis to the next with no real stability inbetween. If its not triggers, then its been life events that have embedded me in the rolling cycles of bipolar. From hypomania into the trenches of suicidal ideation, depression, insomnia, agitation. Roaming through a cluttered mind of twisted paths that lead no where. Circling and recycling the symptoms until I feel like I’m going insane.
My doc wanted me in hospital in March, then September, and then in early December. Each time I refused. I’m hard-headed. I want to do things myself. I don’t like asking for help. In my head I think its weak, but in my heart I know its needed; that asking for help is actually a brave step. Eventually I got to a point where I was just too tired. Too tired to try anymore strategies, skill sets, motivation, coaching, rewarding, routine, writing notes, keeping reminders, setting timers. Tired of forcing myself through life. So I made the decision to phone my doc and hand the control over to him. I had to accept that he’s the professional, not me. And I needed professional help.
I always like to think I know my own mind and body, so I know what’s best for me. But sometimes I don’t. Especially when I’m unstable. If I had listened to my doc in March, and not tried to micro-manage my health, perhaps I would not have spent such a long time suffering. I’ve lost a lot of time in the name of stubbornness, don’t make the same mistake as me.
I’ve admitted myself into hospital after two weeks of insomnia and chasing my tail in mixed episodes. Loud and laughing then switching to tears. I swear to god if I have to cry one more time…. if I have to have one more sleepless night….. if I have to become fixated on Mr Google’s access to information one more time….. I’m gonna go nuts!
So here I am, back where I was last year. This time without visits from Lover… bittersweet…. but a good thing because he’s a big part of the reason why I’m back. I’ve seen my doc and he’s added to and increased my meds. Our goal is to knock me out. He’s also treating my sciatica pain. Having no sleep means my body hasn’t been resting and recuperating from the day and my pain is beyond screaming at this point. I can barely put weight on my right foot.
A big part of me doesn’t want to go to sleep even though I’m tired. My brain is moving so fast, so many things I want to do. My energy feels endless. I feel electrified. Alive. But I switch, so quickly, and I’m heartbroken and desolate. So I know I need to press the reset button to stop this cycle; to get any quality of life moving forward into the new year. At least here I know, I will have no choice but to be sleeping peacefully.
It another one of those days. I can’t focus on anything. I only had 3 hours sleep last night. My mind tells me I’m too busy for bed. Agitated and accelerated it now hops from one thing to another. Here I am at work, trying my hardest to concentrate all my efforts on my workload, but……. THERE’S GOOGLE! And I have so many questions and ideas. One site leads me to another and before I know it, I’ve missed my deadline, taken too many smokes breaks, and I’ve got a gazillion tabs open In google that I JUST HAVE TO READ before the end of the day. So many interesting things, but……. WORK! I’m being paid to do a job not to rub shoulders with Mr Google.
*sigh* Today it’s greatly disappointing having to earn a living, when I could be conquering the world with projects and concepts, research and knowledge.
I’ve had a rough week. I couldn’t log into WordPress. I began a meltdown but managed to talk myself out of my emotional mind and into my rational mind (new skill I learned from a fellow blogger). So I dragged my laptop into work the clever IT guys got it working. Some security… firewall….. coding…. blah, blah, blah, thingy-majiggy. I’m clueless, but grateful they got my baby up and running again.
Pain has beaten me this week. I categorise my sciatica as –
Last week was screammmmmmming. I even left work at lunchtime on Tuesday because I just COULD. NOT. SIT. ANY. LONGERRRRRR. I stayed in bed the whole weekend. Today…. its painful. So that’s good.
My depression has settled into that apathetic, couldn’t-give-a-fuck, ho-hum, miserable human being type of drowning. Think of this depression as quicksand and I’m sucked in it, I can’t move, I stop fighting, just exist. You can’t fight quick sand. So, resigned, I sit. In that mud. Ho-hummm. No more thoughts of suicide. Ironically, this is not a good sign. It means the depression has stepped to a lower level , lacking the impetus to actually commit the act. Suicide is only a real threat going into or coming out of depression. Both stages contain the energy this embedded depression doesn’t have – the energy to follow through. Thank god I don’t give a shit anymore ‘cos I’m enjoying not wanting to die.
I scribble little notes everywhere and leave them ‘for later’. A concept, an idea, a two line rhyme that floats through my mind. I want to catch it before it becomes forgotten, so notes, notes, notes everywhere. I discovered this one under a wooden chest while cleaning. The wind must have blown it there. I see it’s been a multi-purpose note – a short rhyme, a bit of a shopping list, a coffee coaster……
sometimes it high, sometimes its low, you never really now, which way it will go
It’s all in the accent
Just started watching a movie called ‘City of Violence’ which is described as a “hard-hitting crime drama set in South Africa”. Since I’m South African, and SA rarely features in the international film industry, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Although I wouldn’t call watching a south african crime movie as ‘entertainment’. We live some serious shit here every day. My entire dating pool emigrated to Australia a long time ago. BUT, this movie stars a buff Justin Timberlake and I was interested to hear his linguistic interpretation of our accent. And besides, who am I to turn down a bit of eye candy? He put in a good effort, but I confess I was too distracted by his carefully toned and tattooed body to pay much mind. But Forest Whitaker, now he did us justice. He event nailed the Afrikaans accent! Good form. AND there were even some AK47’s. Can’t fault their research – a true representation. However as far CSI capabilities? Fiction I tell you! Our Oscar Pistorius trial was proof of that. I didn’t watch the movie ’til the end – lack of focus. So if your interest is piqued, you’ll have to tell me how it ends. And if the ‘hard-hitting’ crime was solved at the end of the movie, I guarantee you it was pure fantasy.
Since seeing my doc last week, I’ve been living high on the promise of ‘normal’ and a bright future. For once, I had a good, successful weekend. I was content. I began a bit of DIY. As much as sciatica would permit me. I even finally returned to my routine of cooking some precooked meals on Sunday. I haven’t done this since August. I’ve had insomnia/disturbed sleep for the past week. I stopped counting the hours I have slept days ago. But still, I was doing good. Today, also good. Engaging with people at work, telling jokes. But somewhere between 4.30pm and 5pm, the drive home, something changed and I felt the familiar weight of depression sink down on me. A simple thought triggered it. There was no fact to this thought. I acknowledge it is an assumption about my future. But I had it and the result was clear. But this is the alarming thing about the extremes of bipolar. I didn’t just stop at depression and dwell there. I high-dived from ‘good’ straight through depression and crash-landed into suicidal thoughts. I locked my front door and followed my familiar pattern (excluding last week), I went straight to bed. There are tv shows I enjoy and since enjoyment is vital, I set my alarm for 8pm. It was a struggled to get up. I struggled to eat something. Normally when I’m depressed I comfort eat. Before last week, though, I’ve been too depressed to eat. So its back. The loose-a-lot diet of depression. But weight loss is weight loss so who am I to complain. I just can’t believe how quick the change was. I mean, I do believe it because sometimes its exactly how it happens. But mostly its a slow decline. As much as I wanted to believe the whole ‘normal’ schpeel, I just don’t. I’m limited, I’m disabled, I’m deficient. I don’t believe I have much of a future. I’m sad beyond words. I’m tired. Moan, moan, self pity, moan. Let’s adopt some distraction *sigh*
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….
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.
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.
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.