shame

Suicide should bear no shame

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3wKzyIN1yk

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Take no prisoners – hypomania hurts

My body, my muscles ache and my mind is partly numb, still a bit unclear. I went straight to bed after work and slept for a bit before bathing and eating dinner. I’m exhausted as I regain my stability after a particularly nasty four-day spree with hypomania and insomnia. A fixation on lounge curtains lead to my undoing. My thought process and behaviour out of control and irrational, lead to a heated misunderstanding with The Good Guy. Poor fellow was only trying to help and understand. But despite his best efforts, my brain was sick. Unwell. Perceptions warped. Wrong. Extremely wrong. Just like my neurological wiring.

How many times must I say this! It is out of my fucking control. Now drop it. And fuck you

Then I broke up with him. This innocent bystander cut down in the wake of my mania storm.

Its over. I don’t want to see you again. Don’t ever come around. Stay away from me

This said to a gentle human being who was only trying to support me. Trying to learn, to understand as best he can. I’m ashamed. Deeply ashamed. No one deserves to be spoken to like that. No one. And especially not this good guy. I apologised, but that’s never enough. By the time you say you’re sorry its already too late. There is no taking back those nasty words – I’m too embarrassed to print. But he was patient. He didn’t react. He slowly, kindly, waited out the storm. As the hypomania began to lift, he managed to coax me back to a point of reason, of clear thinking. He accepted my apology. He accepted me. What an exceptional person. It guess it also doesn’t hurt that he almost became a psychologist!

Rage episode brings about advocacy

Today has beaten me. I’m black and blue and trailing blood.

rage

The culprit? Another rage episode. That’s what my doc calls it – a rage episode. This is my worst symptom second only to insomnia. At work I am rather notorious in the temper arena, in the past having been called in by management for numerous accounts of “unacceptable behaviour”. I’ve worked very hard on strategies to temper that temper, but it would appear my current instability has breathed new life into it. My biggest trigger is when I feel something unfair or unjust is being done to me. Which is what happened to me today while dealing with an internet provider.

Advice isn’t always a bipolar fit

But ordinary folk don’t understand this side of bipolar – the uncontrollable rage. They offer advice (or judgment depending on the person). Suggestions of:

all you need to do is ….xyz
maybe if you this…..
or maybe if you didn’t do that…….
you don’t have to get so upset
it’ll blow over in the morning….
just put a smile on your face
its not bad, you’re blowing it out of proportion…..
maybe if you spoke nicely…..
remember you attract more bees with honey…….

After the unexpected outburst I disappeared into the toilets to cry, giving opportunity for my co-workers to talk about me. You know that abrupt silence mid-conversation as you walk through the door? Yep, I’m already deeply ashamed, and now I’m marginalised. I felt demolished by the whole incident. But I took a deep breathe, apologised for my behaviour and, punctuated by crying-hiccups, tried to explain triggers and episodes in this particular instance.

Once the dust had settled

I tried to explain ME. That I don’t enjoy behaving in an inappropriate manner; that its not something I choose. I explained I have strategies in place to prevent being put into those triggering situations, but sometimes things in life pop up and are beyond the containment of my strategies. I tried to explain that I couldn’t follow their advice because my brain simply doesn’t work that way. I ended the conversation with – I don’t choose it, it’s just the way I am.

They seemed sympathetic and I can only hope that what I said brought about a better understanding of ME, and a greater tolerance of bipolar disorder. So despite the bruises, bumps and lumps of a traumatic day, there came an opportunity to advocate for bipolar. I hope I did us proud.

 

In the wake of rage

*trigger warning – a long post, lots of words – ADD/ADHD sufferers may be excused. Peppered with ‘vulgar’ language*

Rage. It’s a core bipolar symptom that greatly impacts my life. It’s rarely spoken about, much like hypersexuality, because it is a symptom shrouded in shame, humiliation, remorse and regret. This post has been difficult to write, difficult to face and all the more difficult to post. I’m airing my dirty laundry for all the internet to see. I hope this post can educate the uniformed friend/parent/spouse/partner/work colleague/manager or innocent bystander, and can provide validation for anyone else who also struggles with rage.

A strategy sidelined
Managing this illness involves having strategies to avoid triggers. I knew my old landlord would find some way to not pay back my deposit. I knew this because he had revealed himself to be a lying, cheating, bullshit speaking conman. In anticipation of moving day I knew his behaviour would trigger my own. I had a perfectly good strategy – since my father kept insisting on helping me move, I gave him the job of outgoing inspection and key handover. I briefed him on the lack of maintenance and the risk that I would fly into a rage should I have to deal with that man. But when the day came, my father, in all his controlling glory, insisted I be present. I was raised by him to be codependent, a people-pleaser and compliant, so I did what I was told. Old habits die hard.

The landlord began talking. About 3 words in, I lost my shit COMPLETELY. When that rage breaks the surface, I’m not expecting it. I don’t anticipate it. There is no thought behind what I say or how I behave. It just projectile vomits out my mouth with a will of its own. And once the fury has been unleashed, I don’t really remember much of what I say. But it has been said and the damage is done. I know it frightens people, I can see that. I know it’s abusive because I’ve seen the damage. I am most certainly not proud of myself.

Shame and blame
My father witnessed this rage episode in all its filthy, dirty glory and things will never be the same again. By the time we got back to the car I was still ranting about what an asshole the landlord was. My father turned on me and screamed “For fucksake Pieces, shut the fuck up!”. My father doesn’t swear. I apologised several times over the course of the following week. I tried to explain that what he saw was a symptom. I was desperate, I was grovelling. For his forgiveness, for his love, for his acceptance. All I got was The Silent Treatment. Then exactly a week later he sent me this text:

Hi Pieces. I don’t think you can comprehend just how traumatised I was when I witnessed your totally unacceptable behaviour towards M(landlord) on the day you moved. It actually was a shock hearing MY daughter use such abusive language. I acknowledge that I “lost it” (due to the fact that you continued with the vulgar language [sorry to butt in here, but I never once used the word CUNT so I don’t understand where he gets ‘vulgar’ from] and in turn I swore at you, which I regret and apologise for. All this has not been easy for me to put behind me, but time is a great healer, so let’s move on now.

Let’s move on? LET’S FUCKING MOVE ON? Maybe he’s the one with bipolar because that sure as shit sounds fucking delusional! And speaking of traumatised? WHAT ABOUT ME? YOUR OWN DAUGHTER? YOUR ONLY CHILD? You’ve abused and traumatised me my entire fucking life!!!!!!!!!!! Oops I did it again – was that vulgar? Anyway, detach, detach, detach. I carefully considered my response and went with:

Thank you for letting me know how you feel. Hope you have a lovely weekend. Sleep tight x

No apologies for my biology
In the wake of rage I feel deeply ashamed, remorseful, embarrassed, guilty, confused. So if you love me, don’t blame and shame me. I do enough of that to myself already. On my About page I say “I offer no apology for my own biology”. While there’s no excuse for my behaviour, because strategies can easily avoid the trigger – which I happen to do successfully at work. The one thing I will not do, is apologise for behaviour that is a concrete symptom of an illness that is beyond my control. Who tells a tuburculosis patient to stop coughing! Or someone with a broken leg to stop using crutches? Or a cancer patient undergoing chemo to stop losing their hair? Bipolar is not a choice, it’s a genetic illness. Symtoms are not a choice. They are part of a complex neurobiological disease. Apologising for exhibiting this symptom, in my opinion, is expecting me to apologise for having blue eyes, a different accent, being righthanded, having brown hair or being knocked-kneed.

I had warned him. But he insisted on doing things his way – it’s always his way or the highway. This disaster could have been avoided. I had a strategy. I thought I had a voice. But as is with my father that voice is never heard. I complied and chaos ensued. And he lays the blame squarely at my feet because he is ignorant and uneducated about my illness. Well he chose his way for the last time, and I’m hittin’ the highway. My pleasing days are over. I don’t want his ‘love’ or approval. The cost is too high. I have plenty of people who like me just the way I am. Well, maybe not plenty, but enough.

But god’s honest truth be told, I AM ashamed. I’m deeply ashamed of the person I become when rage overtakes. Which is why this piece of me was so difficult to reveal.

 

I am a human being
capable of doing terrible things
-AWOLNATION (Run)

 

Shhhhh, it’s the silent treatment

This past week I did the unthinkable – I set a boundary with my father, and said ‘no’! Shock, horror, call the bad behaviour police! It was a boundary set to protect my mental health. I don’t do change well and let’s face it, I’ve got a lot on my plate with the move.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it’s become a big deal. His retaliation when I don’t please him is ALWAYS a solid dose of silent treatment. Purely from my own experience, it ranks right up there as being one of the cruellest forms of punishment and manipulation because you are denied that which is intrinsically human.

All contact is withheld – written, verbal, even eye contact. You become invisible; the message that you don’t exist is very clear. If you are nothing and nobody, what value do you have? What self-worth do you carry? None. You have been damned, abandoned, and the message is ‘you have only yourself to blame‘. Deep shame combines with a compulsive need to please, conform, obey, comply. Anything to get that person to acknowledge and love you again. You don’t know what the rules are, but you live in constant fear of breaking them, and your fate is at the mercy of someone who is supposed to keep you safe. So you reshape yourself over and over again, you shamelessly grovel and beg to please in the hopes of forgiveness. Buy hey, if it allows you access back into the fold, you’ll sell your soul.

Well, I may be in the dog box, but this old bitch ain’t doin’ tricks no more! No more codependency. I’m building myself from the ground up and I won’t see my hard work go to waste. His displeasure frightens me and the urge to please and grovel is ingrained. But I’m doing things differently, and this time I’m going to protect the child that was never kept safe.

Unwanted reflections

Loving an active alcoholic involves, amongst other things, a lot of anxious anticipation.

The apprehension of waiting for the impending unravelling. The fear of the dreaded PHONE CALL – that they’ve been arrested, been killed/injured in a car accident or *deep breath* have killed someone else on the road. The waiting for the inevitable ‘other shoe to drop’. The ever-present foreboding of their unpredictable behaviour and abuse.

The prospect of hope based on their declarations that ‘this time is different’. But having to live in constant caution against hoping too much, because lies and disappointment always overshadow their promises and declarations.

believe - themetapicture-com

Source – themetapicture.com

 

Lover the Loser hated to see or hear me crying. Just as with my Alcoholic Ex. Tears incited anger. I wonder if my tears were a mirror of their failure. If my tears were tangible evidence of the consequences of their behaviour. And I have to wonder if that is why neither one of them has ever tried to contact me after parting ways. I can only assume they are immensely relieved that the mirror has gone. No longer are they faced daily with a reflection of their shame, their guilt, their inability to live an undiluted life.

Perhaps it’s not that I’m unwanted. Perhaps it’s merely a case of not wanting to face themselves each day reflected in the mirror of my tears.

broken-mirror