I finally talked

Last night, it was funny, I was working at a site, and Jake was working at another site really nearby, and neither of us had any real work to do, so I came over to his workplace, because it was empty and quiet, and also had heat, while mine did not.

He told me his wife is pregnant. 13 weeks. So far the ultrasound looks like a girl. I guess I knew that was coming. Still, it makes me sad, just because we are so old. And I guess because I can never see that being something I want. I don’t think it has really hit him yet, as he is still planning a trip to Thailand in another couple of months – alone.  I suspect that will not be allowed.

I was flying high, because I haven’t been sleeping and still have been fiddling with the med dose.

In a way that was good, because we could talk about stuff. I was fairly uninhibited, and we opened up the subject of going back to that shrink from several years ago. The last one I saw, who was annoying, wanting to counsel me about stuff I didn’t want to be counseled about anyway, I just needed meds.

Anyway, Jake told me I should call him, not feel bad. He tried to figure out why that call would be so hard for me to make. Partly because I swore I wasn’t going back, but also partly because that shrink has only seen me batshit crazy, and, quite honestly, I’m embarrassed to go back because of that. I just can’t revisit the scene of my last meltdown, see someone who saw that all up close. Now that I have been healthy for so long, it is like a different person.

But Jake gave me some perspective. Told me that that is what his goddamn job is, that’s what he signed up for, to deal with other people’s shit. Which is kind of a point. Still. I guess it expresses my fear of going back to being fucked up. I just do not want to revisit that time in my life.

But also as I said, I am terrified that these 4 years in balance, years where I was like everyone else, years of productivity and contentment, are going to fade away, will be a brief respite, like in that book Awakenings, where they are rescued, but then fade back into whatever they were before.

These four years have allowed me hope, hope for a  normal life, a better life than I ever expected for myself. I am afraid that all of that will vanish. I just cannot go back to that life. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

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Brought Low

I am not sure what to write. I am taking a low dose antidepressant now, but in the dead of winter, that isn’t enough. Of course, the prescribed dose is, but I can’t take that because I can’t take the side effects.

A funny thing is that before I ever took anything, when I felt really awful, it was restless and anxious and I couldn’t sleep. I gained weight. I got into messes. I started millions of projects but was sure that they all would fail. I broke down at night, before sleep, and the mornings were a little better.

Medication, oddly enough, gave me normal depression. I’m slow, I can’t think, I want to sleep all the time, I wake up at 4 AM, I feel better at night. I can’t concentrate, feel sluggish, move through a fog. Just like in the books. Not like before.

This is more tolerable – it is far less unpleasant than being racing and running and unable to stop. But it is far less productive. I cannot do anything. Wake up at 4 AM, stay awake until 6. Fall back asleep for a fitful hour or two. Get up, sort of get dressed, have coffee. Sometimes I manage a half hour of work. Most of the time, by 11 AM, I am back asleep. Then I get up in a daze, attempt a little more work, but am usually too sleepy to do much.

I feel like I shouldn’t complain. It could be so much worse, has been so much worse. But now I miss feeling good. For so many years, I thought I’d never have a decent life, never be able to use any of my talents, never be a normal person. Then: the wonder drugs. Suddenly, I became the person I always thought I should be: successful, warm, funny.

Unless you have experienced it, you cannot understand what it is like to never sleep a full night, to always be tortured by your mind, to feel shame for every tiny mistake you ever made, over and over again, replayed. To not care about eating.

That was my life for so many years.

And then, all these good stable years. It was so strange. Suddenly, all the things that most people take for granted were mine too. I could go to bed and fall asleep, and then wake up in the morning having slept well. I felt like getting up and living my stupid little life. I could work consistently, not just during little blips when the heavy weight let up. But I was still me – not like some meds made me, the ones that, without really fixing anything, turned me into a partygoer, and outgoing butterfly, impervious to pain and unable to cry, unable to really be happy, uncaring.

The good meds gave me four good years of being a person, like anyone else. This let me fool myself into thinking that life would continue like that. Internally, I started to see myself as normal and healthy. The day-to-day business of the problem – the sleeping, the anxiety, the racing thoughts, the inability to sit still – the things that shaped the inner fabric of my life, had changed. One thing people don’t understand is how all-consuming they can be. Imagine what it would be like to never be able to count on sleep, on an appetite, on morning coming. Fuck the suicidal thoughts, the grim outlook for the world…it was the little things that made such a difference, sleeping, eating. I stopped being broken, stopped seeing myself as such…all the monstery things that had defined my life just went away.

And all those good days and nights? With lesser amounts of substances floating through me, they start to fade as if they never were. As if I am back to being that broken fuckup who no one could stand to be around for more than an hour at a time. Who can’t do anything right, can’t care about other people, can’t write (compare the writing here to some of my more hypomanic posts, like this, or this, or this), can’t do anything but stare into space.

I don’t know what to do. I guess internet advice from anyone reading this is as good as anything. I could go back to the shrink that I hated 4 years ago, to ask for another med consult. I hated him because he just didn’t get me, wanted to do tons of counseling and stuff, misinterpreted a lot of what I said in such sessions, but on the other hand, he suspected bipolar when no one else did, and he found me this wonder drug set that has given me these great four years.  I think he’s a less bad shrink than many I have seen, though I think he was wrong for trying counseling at that time. It is possible to go back, but he also demands visits once a week or so, which I just hate. I feel like I am being babysat, like a wayward child. Or sicker than I am, or want to admit.

The good thing is that he knows me, has seen me in the worst states, and it might be even kind of nice for him to see me now, when things are kind of ok, relative to where I was. I don’t think he has ever seen me not manic/mixed and suicidal. As soon as I start to get better, I always quit going, which is probably why he thinks I’m in so much worse shape. If I do this, though, I think I want to get back up to a good dose, so that I really can for once go in when I’m ok.

And despite me leaving on bad terms, I think that somewhere deep down, I’d like to say thank you to him. Thank you for putting up with me when I was truly insufferable, and thank you for these four years. Thank you, in spite of the fact that you accused me of flirting with you when that was really and truly the farthest thing from my mind in the world. Is that utterly fucking crazy?

Another thing is that in so many ways I wish this were a more socially acceptable illness or physical one. I wish deep down right now for an encouraging or sympathetic word from a friend. A friend who knows the good part of me, not just the crazy part. And there’s the rub, again. My normal friends are my friends only because I had a good period of time, a period when I could hide crazy me.  I still am hiding crazy me; these days I have avoided everyone, afraid they will see something wrong with me. I can hardly answer the phone, because I just can’t keep up my end of the conversation. And now I’m convinced they only like me for being the friendly, nice, cheery sort (well, okay, I was never quite cheery) and I cannot initiate a phone call knowing that I just don’t have it in me to inquire about their lives, to push the conversation forward, to crack witty.

Yet I am also too proud to admit that something is wrong to them, that I am not well, that I am not the person they think I am, at least not all the time.

I think during my last big crash, around June/July, they all saw that something was awry, amiss, whatever a-word you want. But everyone, it seemed, was very careful to stay out of my way, to not ask questions, to give me room to snap out of it. I think the people who do what we do for a living have a natural aversion to weakness, want to give the wounded privacy, time to hide their limp.

Only Jake asked me once what was wrong, said I looked really bad and that it was hard to watch. That comment, while humiliating, meant the world to me. Someone from my new world cared, cared about the less than perfect me. Or maybe just cared about the perfect me enough to want her back.

Either way, I could use that kind of encouragement now. I wish I had the kind of illness where people send flowers and call to make awkward conversation, the kind that it is no big deal to mention. But then I hate myself for wishing that, and hate my stupid pride.

From Don Juan

I need to make this into some kind of title over the graphic:

 

Her rage was but a minute’s, and ‘t was well—
A moment’s more had slain her; but the while
It lasted ‘t was like a short glimpse of hell:
Nought ‘s more sublime than energetic bile,
Though horrible to see yet grand to tell,
Like ocean warring ‘gainst a rocky isle;
And the deep passions flashing through her form
Made her a beautiful embodied storm.

Does anyone know

how to get the second sidebar to appear on the right side of the page? When I move stuff into it, it appears at the bottom.

Slippage

The title, of course, being a reference to the short story collection and not the financial term.

I am slipping again. Semi-quit the meds, because of the same side effects, and I spent the weekend with a headache so bad it had me writhing in pain, even dreaming of headaches, until in the middle of the night last night I got up and took another dose. Woke up this morning finally feeling a little better, but the pain is creeping back. I don’t know what to do, if it is bad enough to seek medical help or what.

I guess people must get sick of this kind of shit – bitching that I feel awful, while it is 100% my fault that I stopped taking meds.

I started the end of last week with a pleasant, then frenetic, then miserable hypomania. Friday, I spent working on art, ten projects at once, running from place to place, boiling over with enthusiasm. Spent money on supplies. A lot of money. But I don’t care. That’s what I’m working the second job for, though I think it might be boiling down to an angry quitting scene. That will be good practice actually, for me, in showing my anger and not being overly polite, because if any idiots deserved wrath, they do, and also it’s a job outside my field that doesn’t really matter much.

Besides that, just finished a couple of big projects / presentations at work. One went horribly through no fault of mine, but that’s ok, because it just bounced off my ego. The other, I’m not sure.

One thing made me sad, though. Before the big presentation, in which we would be judged both personally and professionally by people we had never met before, two of the other women and I were sitting in an antechamber waiting. While we were sitting there, terrified, one pulled messages off her cell phone. One was from her sister, others from her father, mother, and brother, all wishing her luck. She then told about how her grandfather had called her last night at 9, which meant staying up late for him, to yell good wishes over the phone to her. The other woman, married, sort of a religious type, talked about how her husband’s grandmother, a motherly woman, was even more nervous for her than she was for herself. Husband’s grandmother had called her up, saying she’d be praying for her, donating money to charity as a gesture for her success.

It was all very sweet, really. And it made me kind of sad, because there was no one rooting for me. Not just in this. In anything, really. All these other people around me who have gotten as far as I have, done these hard, hard things, all of them have had so much support, so much love, so many people caring whether or not they make it, doing little things for them along the way to help them along. And I have gone this road all alone, no one caring, no one watching, just alone. No one except me cares whether I fly or crash on my face.

I wasn’t jealous. How can I be jealous of something I can’t even imagine?

It was just one of those moments when I felt different again. I’m not saying worse or better. It’s just that I feel like, again and again and again, I have to invent myself, am unanchored to this world in the way most people are. Some days, I seem like I sprung unbidden from the earth, am not even human at all, am some other kind of creature altogether. That’s ok, really, but sometimes it is hard to have human frailnesses, human needs, and to be utterly self-reliant for fulfilling them.

The presentation went badly for me. It was ok by the end, but there were some scary moments. I have since found out that it was not as badly received as I thought.  But when I walked out of there, and they all went to call everyone in their families, close to them, I was glad I didn’t have to.

By the end, I wasn’t sure if I’m braver than them for doing everything solo, or maybe more of a coward or luckier, because if I fail, it’s just me who has to know. I remember the first time I moved to a different country, how terrifically liberating it was to be alone, to, for once, not have a Greek chorus of critics watching me, to learn that a mistake was mine and mine alone, and did not signify the end of the world, to separate myself from everyone’s massive emotional need.

I don’t really have a deep point here. I mean, I know on some level that support, togetherness, are just illusions, that you can have all of that and still be totally alone, that everyone is always alone, until the day you die. People leave, people disappoint, people aren’t there when it really comes down to shit, and even if they are, if things are bad enough, they can’t make a dent in the misery. Anyone who says differently, who says or thinks that love conquers all, hasn’t been truly deeply miserable.

But despite all of that, it was passing strange to see how they had these shared lives, where they depended on family and friends, shared their worries and anxieties without worrying about chasing anyone away, being too needy, being unloved. And to see that people actually cared back, loved them, worried for them. This is something that I cannot fathom.

I am still horridly restless, especially since having to rest most of today because of that awful headache, which seems to have faded some now. I better work on some project, as hypomanic me cannot tolerate even a partial sick day.