My friend, fellow blogger and occassional ‘sweary’ bunker companion, who, by the way, knows everything one needs to know about the variations of pies….. Sorry, I digress. Deon, you reached out with a heart full of kindness and a gift of insight, all wrapped up in my favourite thing – a poem, as part of your series Songs For My Tribe. It arrived during a dark moment and shed some light and warmth. So I want to say thank you. And now is as good a time as any to reciprocate and present you with a gift of my own. I made this shortly after Ulla’s death last year, but never quite knew how to give it to you. It’s a statement you made in a post that struck a chord with me. It was during a period of endless car troubles for you, hence the rusty ‘ole jallopy pic. So I present you with your very own, personal meme. I hope you like it.
I wish I was a professional artist who had enough time to indulge words and senses all day long. To feel fulfilled. To feel passionate. To feel satisfied. To express, unrestricted and unrestrained. To be dark or expansive without excuse. To feel I’m living a purpose. To be true. Unapologetically true. To feel alive. Because this, this is not what I had planned.
Change, they say. Get a new job. New friends. Move house. Move town. Get a hobby. Get a life coach, a personal trainer, a financial adviser, a lover, a husband. You are your own change, they say. Follow your dreams, they say. Live a life you have designed….. Live simply, dream big…… Live with no regrets…..
They? The ones that make it sound so simple? They are the ones who live free. Myself? My reality is I am forced to live within the limits of my illness to survive. Bipolar a heavy weight of confinement and commitment to my personal management plan – avoiding triggers and over-stimulation, keeping to a strict sleep pattern and predictable daily routine to maintain stability. My world is stunted, narrowed. Every, single, day. Whittled away piece by piece with each year I age. My soul inked with sadness. My mind stolen by mania. My body raked by fatigue. Bipolar is my dominatrix. So here I rot. Deceived by hope. Dreams far from my grasp. This is not what I had planned.
Twenty One Pilots (Forrest)
the coal from the last burn, still hurts
it was the worst
of human touch
but let go I must
it will not define me
isolate and hide me
with my face to the sun
I shout ‘come on’
the day has just begun
so let’s have some fun
but I’ll keep a hand to my heart
not fall so hard or fast
Lover stitched his net of lies
but I won’t let him deny
the good that I should own
the good that’s mine and mine alone
yesterday is dead
let’s look ahead
tomorrow should not be a threat
but something I embrace instead
This poem was inspired by sentiments from the following blogs:
“……don’t listen to your bipolar brain. There’s too much activity up there to get a good reading. Ride the wave while it is there. Don’t be in a rush to find fault. Your first responsibility is to LIVE. So keep going out with him. Keep letting him into your world. Savor every drop. Live every moment as if it were your last. And if it is your last, make it the best last day of your life. Leave your mark by being the best lover this world has ever known. Love his encouragement. Love his eyes. Love his understanding and reaching out. Never give him a reason to believe you are hesitant. Go all the way. Be reckless. Be wild”
“…the coal from the last burn still hurts”
“I’m going to take it slow as fast as I can”
ADD diagnosis – I can see clearly now
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 have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and dyslexia as co-morbid disorders of bipolar. A diagnosis that is hard to pin down and often gets lost in the murky waters of bipolar. ADD is genetic, so while I may have been born with it, there was no diagnosis of ADD as a child. I most likely over-compensated in various ways to cope, my eating disorder being one example and fear-based academic success another.
Being in hospital and seeing my doc everyday, asking the right questions, gave him further insight to my world, and led to my ADD diagnosis. He explained – bipolar is a disorder driven by moods, while ADD is driven by impulse. We did a trial run with ritalin to ‘test’ if it made any difference. All I can say is…. hello new world! The muddled confusion and foggy distraction dissipated. Everything was clear. I could focus on one task to its completion. I feel capable for the first time in my life.
I never entertained the thought of studies after school because it seemed insurmountable and I was tired of struggling. This academic success was another over-compensation, and led me into my first breakdown at age 17 years old.
If you venture into the archives of my blog, you will discover a frequent reference to lack of focus and what I have been calling ‘my own personal brand of dyslexia’. It’s validating to know my perception of my life has been clouded by an undiagnosed illness. That I’m not deficient. Now that I’m medicated….. well, the world is my oyster. This diagnosis is life changing with an exciting new world of opportunity, possibility, clarity and above all hope. A shift in focus from a doomed existence I so often talk about. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel free.
Where does bipolar begin and ADD end:
How is dyslexia tied to bipolar and ADD:
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.
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
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
My bipolar meds make my balance wonky and I’m clumsy. It was how I came to have sciatica in the first place. I fell over doing yoga. So I’m officially calling sciatica a co-morbid condition of my bipolar.
Friday was a good day. I had contacted my psychiatrist. He advised me on what I could and couldn’t take making allowance for my depression. Having had pain from my waist down to my ankle for 8 weeks, on Friday I only had pain in my lower back, the source. I could sit and walk pain free. What a joyous moment. I was healing.
But clumsy on my feet, I took a tumble on Saturday night. I tripped and to break my fall I took the full impact on my sore leg. I just lay on the kitchen floor and cried. It’s now worse than the intial pain. And of course the first thing to follow is suicidal ideation. I decided I would do it. Then I’m scared to do it. So I haven’t done it. My meagre budget battles to cover the unexpected extra expense incured by sciatica. I really don’t see the point of living like this. I work and come home. That’s all my salary allows for. And now I’m doing that in constant pain. I had hope on Friday. I lost it on Saturday. I have cried so much I actually don’t know how my body generates this incessant liquid.
I just desperately want to die. Be dead. Kill myself. Whichever way you want to say it. But don’t worry I won’t kill myself. My belief is as long as I’m talking about, I won’t do it. Its when one is depressed and stops talking about suicide, they’re serious and planning and won’t mention it because their mind is made up and don’t want to be talked out of it.
So life goes on, despite the tears and the pain and the wanting to die. I am so fucked. I love you all, but please don’t comment. I wouldn’t know what to say.
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.
I may be paid a poor wage, but the company I work for really looks after their staff in a time of personal crisis. I was touched by my boss’s thoughtfulness in approaching management to motivate the purchase of a kneeling chair for me to help minimise the pain of my sciatica while sitting and working. What a difference its made – supportive in more ways than one!
I’m stylin’with my new set of wheels