the flip side

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I’ve been messed up for awhile now. Really, seriously, morosely messed up. I’ve felt it in my bones, in my soul, in the pressure of my eyelids over my too dilated pupils.

and I’ve written. I’ve written all the bad, scary things that live within me. I’ve written the the shit no one talks about because it is fucked up, incomprehensible, and feels stupid and small yet vast and cavernous at the same time. I’ve written about all these things that are detracting from the life I want to lead. That are pulling me apart from the inside out.

But I haven’t written about the rest. The good, the normal, the decent… I have those too. Sometimes I don’t recognize them, or sometimes they simply cannot compensate enough for the bad and scary, but I have them, just the same as everyone else. They are the fragments of the life I know that I’m fighting for. Because I am fighting… thats what all of this is. Its the constant desire for betterment; a blind faith in something not yet experienced, a life not free from symptoms but managed, understood, and contained.

I lose this belief sometimes. Not in the fact that it exists (I know it does. somehow.), but in my own capabilities to achieve it. I know I am working as hard as anyone can work, but I am not patient. It is hard to be just scraping by for so long. To be entirely dependent on a support system of other people to ensure you make it through the day, hour, minute. And there is nothing I can do but try. So we move forward, inch by inch, through sheer force of will and the strength garnered from gracious others.

But the fact of the matter is, for all my dark and morbid, or my psychotic and colourful, there’s been a semblance of regular life. And I think, honestly, this is the part people on the outside struggle with the most– the inability to reconcile the words of a seriously depressed/manic/suicidal/whatever person, with that of a person continuing to lead an apparently functional life. You’re one or the other; you’re sick or you’re healthy. You’re perfectly normal or you’re so insane anyone who looked at you would notice. I think this is something I suffer from myself… like if I can do anything at all, I’m not that sick and there’s so many people who are sicker than me because I can still do such and such and real sick people couldn’t get through that. So I should just suck it up and get through it and stop complaining, because somebody somewhere is really sick, and I’m just failing. Stigma’s a bitch.

So I’ve decided to talk about the normal. The flip side. The bits and pieces that fill my day while I’m busy being bipolar. This is my good.

PEOPLE.

I have been moving forward. And although that choice is mine and mine alone, it’s been made with the help of many others – some of whom realize it and some of whom do not. And yet I’ve never written a thing about them. So here goes.

1. My family
My parents are extremely invested in my well being. I am 27. They not only let me, but encourage me to go home for weeks at a time when I’m not well. They drive me to doctors appointments, they pay for my prescriptions, they cook my meals, they drag me around on errands with them so I’m forced to leave the house. My dad got me to take daily walks on trails when my pills were making it hard to move without getting dizzy. They don’t push, they don’t yell, they don’t try to make sense of it. They just try to be supportive and to get me help. I am unbelievably lucky.

But aside from all that, my family.. like the whole thing… is really close. We have dinner every Thursday night out at my parent place- me, my sister and her husband, my brother and his wife and their two kids. Every week. So we all get together, I get at least one full, balanced meal a week even when I’m too gone or too broke to make one myself, and I get to be in a room full of people who dont give a shit if I didnt manage to get out of my pajamas or shower that day. And my brother’s kids. I love those kids. They just don’t give a shit. It’s really hard to see absolutely no hope for the future when a 3 year old is asking you to be their friend. It just is. It doesnt fix it, or negate it, but for those 10 seconds, it helps a little bit.
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2. The Poop Circle

This is the ever so affectionate name I gave our circle of friends. There’s apparently a bird that poops in a circle and lays its eggs in the middle. If the egg is inside the circle, it protects it as it’s own; should the egg roll outside the circle, it no longer recognizes it as it’s own and attacks it. Seemed accurate.

Anyway, theres about 15 of us, give or take. We all invite each other to everything, everyone makes an effort to include everyone in plans. Everyone made an effort to invite me to things even when I was ruining everything by crying in the corner or having panic attacks at the fair. I have friends who sat in hospital waiting rooms with me. I have friends who answered the phone at 5 am and talked to me while I was literally psychotic and they had no idea I was even bipolar. I have friends who will drop everything and help me, if I really, honestly need it.

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Brandon, the roommate who actually worrys about my well being.

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Sometimes they get me to put on make up, even.

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Kale waiting with me in the ER.

3. My thesis advisor

Angie. Angie is the only reason I have gotten through this year in tact. Angie fought for me well above and beyond the call of duty. Angie helped me get my medical deferrals when I was too sick to do it myself. Angie met me over and over again, talked me through things, calmed my anxiety. Shared experiences. She made me feel ok. She made me feel like even though I may have had a massive mental breakdown, I was still smart, and still belonged in school, and was still the best in my class. She helped me when she could have easily let me slide, fail, or leave. She pushed me when I couldn’t do it for myself.

4. My therapist

Ok, so maybe this is stupid because he’s my therapist, aka I pay him and it is his job, but I have had a lot of shitty mental health professionals in my life so I’m counting it. Matthew is awesome. He gave me is cell phone number for emergencies. His actual cell phone number. And he answered it at 10pm on a Saturday when I ran home from a party, everyone else I knew was drunk and I was holding a knife and a bottle of pills. He fucking answered.

5. Eddie

Eddie is a random I met on OkCupid, but who lives in another country and thus remains a total random. And this is weird because I know he will read this. But anyway, I talk to Eddie more or less daily in the early morning hours, about nothing, or something, or somewhere in between. I don’t feel like he judges me. He’s interesting and distracting and he helps me get through the night, every night. I’m unclear if he realizes this.

6. Jon

Jon was my boss at StudentsNS, but since I had to… shall we say leave?… that position, he’s just my friend now. and that’s pretty killer. because you know what? He hired me, saw me have a mental breakdown and screw him over, and he called me up and was like I want to be friends, lets get a drink. And you know what, that made me feel awesome. That is awesome. Jon is awesome.

This is my support system. These are my people. They are many, and they are awesome. I couldn’t ask for better.
Some of them know how bad it is, and some would be shocked.

Sometimes having a support system like this is enough– you always think it would be when you’re down and entirely alone (I have been there before), but in reality, there are somethings a support system can’t do. I do my best, they try their hardest, and with any luck we will make it to the other side in tact. But whatever happens, I am someone to all of these people. And that means something.

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Suicide Barriers

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I just finished my thesis. submitted, accepted, done. i thought i would feel more relieved. i feel exactly the same.

I’ve been weird states lately. A lot of up and down and back and forth, I suppose. My sleep schedule is reversed, which isnt helping. I don’t go outside and I dont really see the sun.

My mom and I went to the hanson concert on Thursday. It really deserves it’s own post and I wish I had written more about it already. I loved hanson growing up. I loved them with every fiber of my being; my room was a shrine, I still know every actual word in mmmbop, you know, the usually preteen fangirldom. And for me, my preteen years were.. shall we say… rough. Hanson was like my little piece of calm. They never came here when I was little. I generally grew out of my fangirlness and became a functioning (ha.) adult since, but I still like their music and listen to it regularly. So it was nice, when way back in July, way back at the beginning of all the awful, my mother announced she was buying us tickets to the hanson concert so I could fulfill all my childhood dreams. and I did. I even bought a tshirt. and stickers. and screamed. We went to the stubborn goat before hand, i sang along to where’s the love and my mother danced through get the girl back. it was everything the night was supposed to be.
It was my moment of calm.

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I haven’t been doing well lately. I think this is probably an understatement if we view this as a period of months instead of days or hours. But there was a general upward trend for awhile that stalled, and now is slipping backwards. I don’t want to tell anyone because they’re all so hopeful for my recovery.

I did complete my thesis. I’ve written all the essays for adolescent development, though admittedly they are not my best work. they’re done. one more social psych exam in december. I thought this would bring relief? like I would experience less stress. feel less tight; more together. But I don’t. I feel the scary sort of calm. The calm where at 4 am, when I realized it was complete, I just felt like I had closure enough to die now. Like I couldn’t have died without finishing that, but it was ok now. This terrifies me.

I don’t sleep at night, like I said. It’s hard because then theres no people to distract me from all the horridness that collects at the back of my mind at 5 am. It’s lead to a lot of misc giving out my phone number to men on okcupid. I think I give people false hope. Like theres this normalcy of casual flirting, and I get that, but I don’t want it. Even the suggestion of people touching me makes me anxious enough to want to stop the conversation. I spent last night plotting ways to get hospitalized. How horrible is that? I can’t decide if it’s worse that I want to be hospitalized so badly, or that I could have been so close to death and have been ignored. I feel like I can get myself hospitalized now because I’ve learned the answers to the questions. I also learned not to go with family or friends. I learned that if my therapist wants to get me hospitalized I should let him call the cops. I learned that if your friends are going to stop you, they should wait until your half way through or they will send you home.

Theres all this focus on MY coping skills and MY abilities and MY support system at the hospital. I don’t understand. They can send me home because I have friends, I have parents who care. I have friends and parents who care and have recognized that what I need is beyond what they can offer. and yet this is never taken into consideration. Their needs, their coping skills, their support systems. It’s painful. I am going to cause them pain.

I’m nowhere near as bad as I was– I don’t think I actively want to die. In fact when I contemplate downing a bottle of tylonal now I’m almost certain I would call 911 before I actually died; especially given how ineffective it is. I’d probably throw half of them up before I could consume a lethal amount. But I do spend most of my nights thinking about walking to the bridge. About seeing if I could actually climb the suicide barriers; about how easy it would be to just walk along the road on the opposite side of the bridge at 4 am. Theres got to be a way to dive off that thing. Like the ER doctor said, if you really want to kill yourself, you find a way.

The hospital can’t stop me, if I were really sick, I’d find a way.

My brother is coming home for Christmas. This gets me through a lot of shitty times right now. I really, really, really want to make it to that. At worst, I placate myself with the idea of killing myself on Jan. 2. How perverse.

I have been writing all this shit about adolescence and developmental stages and I’ve realized I’m really not making it through this whole “intimacy vs isolation” stage of psychosocial development. I really want human contact, to connect with someone, to be able to feel something. But I can’t quite… manage it. And in actuality, when it happens, I hate it. I hate it so much. But life feels so meaningless now, with out school, or work, or intimacy. I guess maybe I should embrace that as freeing? Nothing to hold me anywhere, nothing to worry about.


(Use Me Up – Hanson)

Going, going, gone

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I’ve been sliding in and around some hypomanic tendencies this week, which is fabulous for school and very difficult for cohesive thoughts. My therapist kept asking me about my anxieties, what was making me so anxious to talk so quickly, to speed up up up and then calm. Shifting, twitching, laughing, fidgeting. But I don’t feel anxious, I just feel this weird energy in my limbs. Though I’m also anxious, because that’s what I do and that’s who I am and everything is due and I’m supposed to be better better better, but instead I’m just still me. But the weird tightness in my chest, that constant pressing feeling.. the rigidness of my muscles, the bracing for impact… I don’t know where it went. I don’t miss it. I do wish I could be more still.

The hypomania has come at a delightful time. I’ve gotten my thesis draft done. Thank fuck. Editing in progress. The next two weeks are crunch time for everything else. Easily doable, realistically. Just need to …do it.

I’ve been drinking again even though I said I would stop. Professionals always seem so concerned with my drinking. My friends dont. I binge drink. I dont see this as problematic. It felt nice to just go and be with everyone and not be seeing too bright colours or trying not to claw my skin off. The pot helped. going on a date tomorrow, maybe, they asked i said yes. probably a bad idea? with the mania? but it also makes me less of an anxious weirdo so, fuck it. why not.

I really want to write something here, something worthwhile or at least explanatory but I don’t have the words. I’m just buzzing from my fingertips to my temples. it feels like the skin on my forehead is being pulled back, my eyes are so wide; I can tell without looking at them. Kale always tells me you can tell when I’m manic by my crazy wide eyes.

Things are good, for the most part. moving forward. going out a lot, seeing lots of people, often, is helping. I’ve stopped sleeping, which is going to be problematic in a few days but for now just affords me a lot of time to watch tv and paint things and craft complex sculptures out of watercolor paper.

i love making things. nothing is calmer than making. it’s funny because im a shitty artist- no one explained the difference between being an artist and just being good at making shit to me before art school- but I am awesome at just making shit. I should have been a carpenter or a special effects make up artist or a shipbuilder. or something. can you imagine how calm life would be? i was thinking that while watching face off (this stupid stupid reality show. it was 5 am.) people watch those shows and are impressed by the talent: and sometimes, yes its mind blowing but i mostly sit there and am like i could totally do this. this is within the realm of reasonable things i could do. why dont i make things? i guess i just wish i had more opportunities to make useful objects. whats the point of sculpting something random to sit on a shelf forever.
funny, my art school education.

and my ridiculous thesis that the science world thinks is pretentious and the art world finds offensive i would imply empirical evidence would be needed.
life is funny. people are funny.

normalcy soon, i think.