Summary

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I havent been here. I dont know why I havent, exactly, but I think its because this episode was filled with agitation more than depression, and it was too hard to concentrate to write. ive been in this state for 3 months now, so no writing came.  I cant promise what will come from here, but the agitation has mostly simmered.  For now, this is my mental illness oriented summary of June, for my future self


June was the third month of my mixed episode with psychotic features. It started in April, just before visiting Joe. April was filled mainly with anxiety attacks, panic, inability to function, and severe agoraphobia, with some low low periods. I worsened considerably throughout May, experiencing extreme heightened sensory experiences (like sounds being too loud and jumbled together, inability to parse sound, and very bright visual colors), as well as one brief psychotic-like episode where I felt like the universe was comforting me through the radio in a grocery store. I was severely agitated throughout May and into the first half of June. May was the height of my mixed episode features. I started a symptom tracker book in a bit of a frenzy, trying to find a pattern in my symptoms so I could somehow stop them. This was a grandiose idea, but I do find it very beneficial right now.

Near the beginning of June I started anti psychotic medication which helped significantly to calm things down. Things began to improve from there, but I was still having down days and occasionally being completely out of it (molasses or extreme agitation). Recently I was given sleep meds which seem to be getting me a solid 8 hours for now.

I have been living with Mom and Dad since May and will likely remain here for a few weeks (if not more) of July. Having the constant social contact helped a lot, and Mom and Dad are always a good support system. I am comfortable here and afraid to leave. My friends havent really been in the picture except for Brandon, who was really the only one who noticed something was wrong when I disappeared.

I started the stats class I need to complete in order to start grad school in the fall, and I’m managing most days, though the timeline is extremely tight now, given the late start. Its stressful, but also nice to be focusing on my brain function in a positive way again.

Jeff and Brandy had a Eleanor (Nori) on June 29th, and she is healthy and very very cute. Im still figuring out how to transition home, be helpful for J&B and the kids, but also not set myself back. There have been days where I couldn’t be near people- even them- and had to hide in the dark. I don’t want Wes and Lucy to see that or feel that from me, so managing that is my main concern about moving home. I’m super close with Wes right now, mostly because he seems to enjoy being around me more than Lucy, but I’m trying to be there for them both, and now nori too.

In short, June was still having the sawtooth up and downs, but the ups lasted a bit longer and the downs didn’t go so far down, and slowly I think I’m getting better. I also became an aunt again, which Im sure will feel more real in a few days. There’s been progress, but not perfection, which is my new motto to strive for.

I’ve gone through the worst and I’m climbing my way out, one bit at a time.

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Dear Joe

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I’ve always wondered who you imagine me to be, in your head. Because much like I know you mostly through mom and dads recaps, reading abstracts of your scientific papers and vague childhood memories combined with yearly visits with screaming children at the forefront, I know it cant be very accurate. I know from the last visit that you don’t really understand much of what’s wrong with me, or how that impacts my life, and really, I don’t either. But what has become clear is that your mental version of me has little to do with the reality of my life right now. I wonder if the same is true for me with you?

I was put on thorazine recently, because sounds became louder than they were, louder than they could be, louder than any single thing and instead a chorus of many. Colors got brighter, brighter, brighter, until the ceiling started to look pink and it got a bit unnerving.

Thorazine is an anti psychotic medication, with the benefit of being an extreme tranquilizer as a side effect. Its always hard to say how much of these things is caused by my seemingly incessant state of extreme sleep deprivation, and how much is part of a bipolar symptom. I think the general conclusion is a little bit of column a, little bit of column b.

Thorazine is the brand name. My psychiatrist only refers to it by its generic name, and im unsure if this is because its simpler or if he was hoping I wouldn’t look into a seemingly innocuous name of yet another drug I shove in my body – which, to be fair, its rather surprising I did, given my current state. But I did. Apparently it’s the first, like the literal first, anti psychotic medication ever produced. There’s whole songs written about ‘thorazine dreams’ and ‘the thorazine shuffle’ and all those good dead and drooling side effects that characterize all patients who took it for decades. This is oddly not much of a deal to me. I think, at my stage, you don’t get to think about quality of life in the same way as the average person. Yes, taking this may cause all sorts of things, but are those sorts of things worse than seeing in technicolor acid trip swirls or thinking a song played through a grocery store speaker was the universe trying to send you a message? Because I feel like there’s a tipping point that comes after that that I don’t want to see.

I’m very clearly losing my grip on interpreting my reality correctly. I am not, however, actively psychotic, because I catch myself, to an extent. Like I know the ceiling should not be pink, as I know it is not painted pink, and I can usually make that logical connection. Therefore I am in, as my doctor says, “the funky stuff”.

Possibly the most frightening realization Im having is that I can understand how delusions work now. Its not something that sort of… appears and you suddenly believe you’re Christ and think you can save the world, or whatever the fuck the stereotypical thing of delusional people is. It’s the little things.

I was at the grocery store with mom, because I live with them now, because I cant function as a human. Not sure if anyone told you that yet. My apartment remains but I don’t exist in it and the idea of it makes me a bit uneasy. But I digress. The grocery store. Mom wondered away to get lemon and left me with the cart and the task of getting yogurt. I was very… alarmed inside. My doctor calls it heightened sensory perception, which is how he explains the Technicolor and such, but I wasn’t seeing things. I was just very alarmed, and suddenly very, very frightened. And I tried to reason with myself as I pushed the cart the 10 feet to the yogurt section, my fingers gripped around the cart handle, but people were in the way and I couldn’t get there and the fear just escalated so quickly. And I know you think I mean anxiety, but I don’t. I mean pure fear. Like falling out of a ten-story window accidentally.

Then suddenly I hear the store radio start playing a Billy Joel song. One of the ones mom used to play in the kitchen while we (well, I) was little. It was like a tidal wave of comfort. I felt for sure the universe was trying to provide me comfort. To take the fear away from me, personally, that this event was someone meaningful beyond mere coincidence. Part way through the song mom showed up and I was following along behind her sort of half mumbling the words to the song, catching my breath, basking in the sweet relief. She had no idea any of this happened. The song changed to something I didn’t know, and I swear to god I felt like the universe had abandoned me. Hit like a ton of bricks. Mom asks if I need to go outside but I tell her I just need to stay by her now, and she continues about her shopping while I snap back into reality enough to realize what the fuck was happening and how my brain was rebelling against logic without me. She doesn’t know any of that happened. I took an abnormally long time trying to pick a breakfast cereal. My eyes were probably really wide and I probably talked sporadically, but I don’t think shed have noticed much at all.

And isn’t that scary? That you don’t notice?

But the scary part for me is that I can see the logical connection to those feelings and normal rational feelings I would have had in that situation if I were just, say, anxious. Music is one of my calming tools it is what I do to distract myself from my other senses or to cheer myself up. That song making me feel better wasn’t illogical. But it didn’t make sense.

That’s now a thing I haven’t to consider more than I really know how. Over or under pathologizing behaviour isn’t very helpful but believing the universe is speaking to you isn’t exactly a symptom you can let slide, when you’re able to recognize it as a symptom.

So I take thorazine. It makes me sleep, so the sleep deprivation is gone, but the “funky stuff” still lingers so the dose is being increased. Although this stuff would usually be considered part of a manic episode, the fact that I’m also horribly depressed for large swaths of time indicate it’s a mixed episode. In other words, we have barely scratched the surface of the emotional well of crazy that is your sister.

I wonder how much that mental image of me has changed now. Do we know each other well enough that this is just a thing about me, or is it starting to define me, more than you want it to?

 

mixed, with no blessing

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i legitimately have no idea where to start or what to say or what the important bits are, anymore. im just going to ramble and see what floats to the top.

ill start with the obvious.  im in the middle of a (diagnosed) mixed episode. its been a month now. still going strong. things have been… unsettling.

my sister came down for a week because its her birthday, and this happened to coincide with my doctor cutting my wellbutrin dose in half (complicated story, simplified:  anti depressants bad. mood stabilizers good. lowered mood stabilizers, increased anti depressants, bad things happen. like mixed episodes that last for over a month).  This is a dramatic decrease, obviously, and because im me and im sensitive as fuck to medication, i obviously got some stupid withdrawal symptoms for a week. so the two combined and i stayed with my parents until they left today to drive amy back to new brunswick.

i never actually wrote about the trip to philly to see my brother here, and i still cant really, i mean i should, theres definitely stuff to say, and if i could string a coherent thought together i would, but basically my mixed episode started on the trip, manifested as intense anxiety and panic attacks with lots of mood shifts, i was a fucking wreck. my brother didnt know how to handle it. his family really didnt know how to handle it. i didnt know what to do. i avoided everyone a lot. i cried a lot. hysterically. hysterical is the word i would use to describe the experience.  i think joe and i got a lot closer? in the end? and i think he realized we dont actually know each other very well, considering we are siblings. it was interesting. and a mess.

things calmed down for the last few days of the trip (mood shifted up). then we got home and the mood went down but everything else stayed up up up. all the agitation. none of the sleep. all of the rapid thoughts. none of the happy.

ive been in some weird cluster of mismatched bipolar symptoms for a long time, but at any given time, what these mismatched symptoms are is a complete surprise to everyone, including me. so far the most noticeable have been extremely suicidal, extremely tired, very very very agitated, completely enraged, pumped full of adrenalin, spontaneous crying, hyper vigilance, and pressing thoughts. very few of the so called positive effects of mania.

but then.

then there are the concerning things.

yes, but definition, i guess i am implying that the previous symptoms do not merit ‘concerning’, in so much as, ‘part of being bipolar, sometimes’.

when we chopped the wellbutrin off at he knees, initially it had some very positive effects. the agitation definitely reduced. the thoughts slowed down a bit. i slept through the night for a couple days. then i slept all day, too. then i started getting sick every morning until my dose kicked in (because we cut my night dose). but like, overall good. thought that might be done.

but no.

ive been getting the scary symptoms again.

the ones ive only every gotten when extremely manic, or in a psychotic mixed state.

colors got super super bright for awhile. just like five hours here or there. only it wasnt with the exuberance that happens with mania. and then the worst symptom. the symptom i try to explain to people and they think im describing like an adhd symptom but i am really really really not.

all sounds become very very loud, and they all scramble together into a big lump. the volume doesnt bother me, like it doesnt hurt or anything, i just can. not. untangle. the. noise.

we were playing a board game and people were talking and the pieces were clicking and cards were being shuffled and the dog was sleeping and the fridge was humming and someone was talking on the street outside and amy was knitting and all the sounds all the sounds all the sounds. they get maxed out. everything at max volume and max intensity. with no ability to sort through them. like. all the sounds happen all the time, and everyone takes in all that info all the time, but our brains focus in on the bits that are important and ignore the rest, most of the time. thats why you dont usually hear yourself breathing, and how you can have conversations in coffee shops. and when i try to explain it people think im just constantly getting distracted by sounds we dont normally notice (like the fridge humming). but thats not it. its that all the sounds come in together, smooshed up, and i cant tell that that is the humming of the fridge or that that persons voice and the humming of the fridge arent the same noise.  i just. i cant explain it. but then there becomes this.. space. this layer of padding between me and all of my senses. i jut stop being able to take in any information or make sense of anything im hearing, and then seeing, and then sometimes i get extremely aware of all the sensations of my body that you dont normally notice (jeans on leg, pressure of chair, hair on arm, etc), and it all comes with an extreme sense of confusion and being overwhelmed. and then, its like my mind pops, a giant 404 error, and complete disassociation begins. but i wouldnt call it anxiety, while its happening (though definitely anxiety producing after the fact). and it can last hours and i cant make it stop. sometimes days. and all i can do is basically curling in a ball in the dark in as close to silence as i can manage and hope i can sleep until it goes away.

for me, everytime this has happened, ive been diagnosed as either being psychotic or having psychotic symptoms shortly after.

i dont know if thats happening. i dont know if like, the wellbutrin was pushing me in that direction but the sudden drop like staved it off and now im going to be fine.

i dont know whats coming.

i have never been in a position before to identify symptoms of psychosis. if you can identify them, is it really psychosis?

like i dont know how this works

i dont really consider psychosis and a standard part of my illness, but its not an unprecedented occurrence.

i dont know i dont know i dont know.

writing this is the longest ive been coherent and stable in ages.

im very tired now.

flash and back

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its been a long time since i’ve written something worth writing.
i think that’s been the hardest part; the loss of my own voice.

i picked up a mug i made at clay cafe this week. i apparently painted it in early september. i have no memory of it, even after seeing it. but i wrote my name on it, and its a pattern i was drawing on everything for awhile. its a nice mug. its the little reminders of insanity, you know? it says ‘get well’ on the bottom. i feel a strange comfort and unease when i drink out of it.

people keep asking me to speak places. on stigma, or living with mental illness or disability policy. like i have something to say. like i have an opinion. like i know something. did i used to know something? was there something i used to have to say? i dont want this anymore. i want to stay down here, in my mess and my discomfort and not have anyone notice or judge me. i dont want to get up in front of people and talk. i dont want to be seen as someone with answers. i wish i could be silent.

i see things, sometimes. when im typing on laptops and i can see the open word document that isnt there. the scrambling pace of clicking keys that i know aren’t currently moving. the intense sinking feeling of panic in my chest; the thoughts rushing through my head. the frantic, desperate depression.

grounding techniques they say. 5 things in the room with you, 4 things you can hear, 3 you can touch, 2 you can smell….

im getting flashbacks of being psychotic.
what a fucking weird sentence.

i get them from the rape, too, but those arent nearly as disturbing. i get those in public all the time. almost every time we go to the bar, really. i just need a couple minutes and i can keep going.

but not these. these just break me. these make me fall on the floor and cry.

it doesnt really make sense, does it?
this lives inside me. its settled there, buried. but i keep it. it doesnt leave. its mine.
it is legitimately my greatest fear, and i always know its there.
waiting.

and the shittiest part is, that its set off by stress. so its always going to be like this; its always going to be tragedy turn psychotic meltdown. im never just going to have a bad thing happen. im going to have a bad thing happen and then be completely non functional, altered states and inconsistent understandings of realities.

how do you move through the day with that?

im moving forward. Im making it through the class I’m in. I still cant look at the studentsNS work… its such a bad trigger. its awful. ive developed an intense phobia of a stack of paper.
theres nothing that makes you feel weaker. honestly.

i made soft pretzels today. or tonight.. or this morning, i guess. my sleep schedule is messed; trying to pull an all nighter to correct it. the pretzels are good. new things are good. food and step. food and step.

everyone keeps telling me how much better i am.

thats all, i guess.

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.

Crush

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Things have changed.

I know this should be the easy part. The part where I just simply recount the past couple weeks of soul crippling depression in bits and fragments… some sort of counter part to the ‘psychosis’ post from a few weeks ago. But it isnt. Its never easy for me to admit this half of the spectrum; the one I feel like I should be able to control. Its been here longer, and it takes up much more space inside me. It is a part of me in a much more tangible, recognizable way: the pitch, pitch black.

Last week, I was forcibly taken to the ER because I was suicidal and the people closest to me were gravely concerned for my well being. I’ve hinted and mentioned and touched on this fact, and the circumstances leading up to it in bits and pieces. It was (is?) a bleak period for me. there is something so inherently difficult to explain here… some coming to of an innate, constant reality that just broke me.

As a mental health advocate, its an incredibly taboo thing for me to say, but I’m going to say it: the realization that I was, in fact, bipolar, or at the very least not “just” anxious has been, at times, unbearable for me. It is not that I don’t value people with these heavy diagnoses. I do, I really, truly do. people that have these problems and cope. That make it through their lives and do what they want to do, who be who they want to be, who are good, amazing, wonderful people who better the world. The people who have such strength and fortitude to survive: they are my heroes, in every sense of the word. But lately, or maybe always, I have a deep seeded doubt that this is something I can ever personally accomplish. And that is crushing.

I cannot pretend my mental illness is not a burden: it is. it is painful. it is heavy. it is a boulder that sits on my chest and the only thing keeping it from crushing through my rib cage is the strength of my finger tips and sheer force of will. It is not easy. It is not pleasant. It is not without struggle.

I spend a lot of time fighting to not be defined by that struggle. A lot of time. So it is painful for me to admit that in the face of recognizing that that struggle was something serious, something permanent, something that wont necessarily improve with continuous hard work and diligent effort… it broke me. Looking at the state I was in, and knowing, unequivocally, that there was nothing I could do to stop it, to stop myself from being back here again, that I was already doing everything anyone could suggest… was devastating.

I work hard at being mentally healthy.
I go to therapy. I work on things that my psychologist tells me to work on. I have insight into why things are happening and what is causing what. I do my best to reason and talk through things. I use all my CBT training. I have a psychiatrist. A good one. I take the pills I’m told to take. I go to my appointments. I modify my diet. I do the stupid routines and sleep hygiene. I work. I try. There is literally nothing I could be doing right now to work any harder at this, aside from being better at doing nothing at all.

And this still happened.

This horrible, crushing, terrible thing still happened.

I cant work it away.
I have always been able to work it away.

As stupid, or misguided as it may be, having a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, as opposed to bipolar or schizoaffective, or whatever label it ends up being, made me feel like I had more control. It made me feel like I could work my way through it. It made me feel like if I just tried harder I could get somewhere, because I have always held that sliver of hope. That hope that so many people have lost.
But, for some reason, for whatever reason, the bipolar label makes me feel like I’ve lost that. And the switching of labels.. the oh your bipolar, oh nevermind you’ve got anxiety, oh i meant ptsd, oh no, “just” depression… it feels like I was robbed of time to adjust.

I know its just a word. A label meant to help those who help me; not one to define me or who I am. But it matters. I have very separate emotions attached to each. and they may be unreasonable and they may be the byproduct of stigma and internalization of bullshit, but they are mine and i have a right to work through them.

I have a right to be devastated by apparently old news. I am devastated by old news. My finger tips can only hold some much weigh before they give. The boulder is going to fall, some of the time. My ribs are going to have to learn how to take it.

I have a right to be tired. I have a right to let myself be crushed.

psychosis.

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its been…
its been.

i need to talk through things, ive got that compulsive need.. its how i sort and deal with life… i talk. normally, thats why this blog is the way it is: its my working through the things i have already experienced, but feel unresolved, uncomfortable or otherwise concerned about. i feel like i need to remind myself of that skew in written history a lot, because i look back on things and see one thing: a resolve to persevere. (albeit, not in the past couple posts, where ive actively attempted to document the shit) i think, probably, this is how the outside world views me too.. given that this is all of the public documentation about me (i googled myself: by all objective standards, i look impressively resilient). that is the part that in unique. while other people write during their blackness, i write about my blackness after having survived another round.

this post isnt going to be any different. this post is going to be a lot of recapping. and thinking. and contemplating what to do next. finding the good, figuring out how to step forward. but future self, when youre looking back at this, and youre going “do i really need these meds? do i?” i want you to remember this. this was incapacitating, debilitating, and the first time this decade you have truly earned your “insane” street cred. you made it through this on a lick and a prayer, a lot of good planning, good people, and well orchestrated movements. you maxed your credit card. you didnt lose your job by circumstance. this was the worst your life has ever, ever, ever been. and it didnt stop, for weeks. almost a month. you are still not better. this can happen at any time. this is the reality. this is your life. are the shakes so bad? are they this bad? can anything, ever, be bad enough to justify this risk?

i am recovering from what i am told was a ‘psychotic depression’ or a mixed episode in which i experienced full blown mania at the same time as full blown depression.

oh, hey, look: turns out its not just severe anxiety, former shrinks. i hope you all die for the hell you put me through telling me this was something i could control simply because i also have anxiety and the bipolar disorder hadnt had symptoms while youd been seeing me. fuck you. fuck you. fuck you. the amount of time i spent… anyway. thoughts for another time.

i went psychotic. the last time this happened i was attending nscad. i locked myself in a room for 6 weeks or so and saw weird things that didnt quite exist and got very very paranoid. i didnt have medical help then, so it was never diagnosed as a specific form of episode, though i would say it was a much milder form of whatever i just experienced.

3 weeks.
i cant even put into words the frantic, desperate, unstable, shifting sliding, nonsensical things that have filled them.
i dont have words. i just have… feelings. i remember the past weeks only in feelings and snippits.

i know for several days (weeks?) it wasnt readily apparent. i know that i seemed off, but the extent to which that was true wasnt… visible. it looked like a depression, anxiety. it looked like a bad form of the usual.
i know i ‘packed’ to go to my parents place by flipping over a laundry basket into a suitcase. i ended up with a set of sheets, some underwear and yoga pants. this was before the psychosis really kicked in. this was my level of functioning.

i know i had to mail a package. i know i came back into the apartment and collapsed on the floor, sobbing, not breathing, panicking, shaking, expelling all bodily fluids.. sweat.. vomit.. everything.. and brandon sat on the floor with me.. for nearly an hour.. panicking. i know this was the beginning. this moment when i realized something wasnt right. but i also know the real beginning was weeks before that, before pride. when i started leaving the house in see through clothing and misplacing things like hair straighteners in the coat closet.. i started losing logic and stopped writing properly. as someone who writes academically for a living and for school, this was a problem, and yet i didnt really notice.

i know my mother hugged me, shaking, concerned staring at me when she and my father were going to leave to go on their anniversary trip that had been booked long ago, leaving me at their house with my roommate, whod come out because i couldnt be alone. this was not the worst of it. this did not even rate on the scale of the worst of it. and she stared at me and asked if i would still be alive when she got back. i remember feeling absolutely nothing, saying of course i would, while silently recounting the path id walked over and over in loops the night before, meticulously taking apart and piecing back together the upstairs of their house. my father had located what i was looking for, but i could feel a weird twitch that felt compelled to keep searching. they left.

i dont remember most of the days i was at my parents
i know we watched movies and i ate, unquestioningly, with little regard for allergies, for taste, for need, in large amounts, after days of starvation. i remember trying, everyday, to write part of my thesis. for hours i would sit in front of my fathers computer. i remember staring intensely, i remember the ache in my fingers. i remember the explosive energy in my chest, the inability to keep my eyes still. i remember the relief at finishing minor edits that should have taken minutes, hours later. i remember losing track of my thoughts, they were so far ahead of me. i remember looking at a mail opener and wondering if it was sharp enough to slit my wrists. i remember hanging up on the mental health mobile crisis team, sitting in front on that computer, staring at a sea of words that didnt go together. the closest id ever been to actually killing myself.

i remember little else.
i have seen the documents i wrote. i know the thoughts in the middle of paragraphs existed-written. like my fingers and my brain were intrinsically connected.. i know that the words i typed did not make sense. ive seen the emails to angie.

i remember being afraid to go home. panicked. terrified. i remember my father telling me it was ok to stay. holding my shoulders and looking at me. its ok to stay here.
i remember clawing my skin off at therapy, tearing part of my hair out.
i remember having to scribble on notepads with both hands, while talking non stop. i remember matthew watching me with some weird level of interest. not speaking much.

i remember falling asleep on the phone with dale. i remember getting mad at him for no reason. about feeling like his emotions were too many emotions and my emotions took all i had now. i remember saying that to him. all i have room for now is not killing myself. i dont work, i dont go to school, i dont get dressed. i just dont kill myself.

i came home. later. starting to get better. dale came over one day at 6 am to snuggle. it was good. i needed that. we messed around. it was good. i needed that. at that moment. it did not occur to me until yesterday how truly out of it i must have been, because no panic set in. very little rape victim panic. actually, no, i remember some, now. i remember the way he stopped. i remember him telling me i could dig my nails in if i needed to, when i clung to him, panicking. i remember how good he was.
and he was. he was perfect.

and then i started to think i was out of the woods.. i cant tell you when, the sequence of events is still all fucked up. but i wasnt. my dad took me to get my macbook looked at after my psychiatrist appointment. the psychiatrist helped me, i was feeling validated (yes, bipolar. yes, anxiety. yes, both. yes, episode. yes, does seem to be coming down. no, not better yet.) but i had also just been prescribed antipsychotics. typicals. strong ones. ordinarily, id have been devastated.. failure. i wasnt. i felt like the doctor listened. i felt apprehensive. i felt elated. i did not feel sad. we went to the mall. dad was going to wait, but apple couldnt see me till 4. he had to get home for something, forget what. he left me: i seemed ok. i know i came home with multiple pairs of shoes, more tea then i could possibly drink, and headphones is bought just because my headphones werent with me. i met brandon for dinner. he says it was clear i was manic then. i didnt know. ellie came by later, brought me kale she grew. we talked. the depression was setting in, but much much much less than before.

the next day i went to my parents for supper. everything was slow. everything was gone. disassociation, maybe. i couldnt. the visual symptoms were still happening, the auditory ones got worse. didnt hear things that didnt exist, but being near people felt like being in a crowded bar. everything was loud and jumbled together. stayed in the nursery all night. avoided everyone. i remember peeling a banana over and over because it felt wrong. i remember flipping at my sister because she mentioned having a shirt of mine for years, that i had wanted, and realizing i didnt know where my things were. this still makes me feel strange. like i need to know….i remember the frantic weird way i was eating. my father crouched on the floor next to me while i picked at chicken with my finger tips…trying to get me to go play a game. i went home that night. slept.

i woke up betterish, off kilter. went to robbs for sushi birthday. ate. felt like i was pulling it off ok. mild visual weirdness and slightly disconnected. unsure how it came off to the others. came home and dale came over drunk.

he said all the right things, and i dont mean the relationship parts (chalking that up to the patron). i mean the giving a fuck about my well being parts. because he believes them, i think. i honestly think he did..does?, anyway. he promised not to bail. we made out. we snuggled. we hooked up after conversations all week about it, about edging back into that old territory, but in my saner moments saying it was a bad idea for it to happen now.. that we should wait a few weeks. that now was still messy. i dont feel good about this now.i flipped out afterwards, but not in a sane, panicky way. in a crazy, psychotic way. spent the night going through a tray of ice cubes. holding them until they melted and then grabbing another. shrink told me to do this instead of cutting. it helped keep me from cutting. i think i may have frost bite on the palm of my hand now. frantically tried to wake dale up over and over. it didnt work. he was like.. sleep walking. talking, being sweet but not being conscious at all.

i woke him up by putting the ice on him, eventually. being all i need you to wake up or ill slit my wrists. he was mad, and incoherent. i dont think he understood. or. i dont know. this was the moment he saw, for real, what hed only heard before. what he could sleep through before.
eventually i calmed down enough to lay in the dark. he slept wrapped around me. every time i tried to move he’d yank me back down. it was comforting, in a way, to know even at his base level he was still protecting me. still saying words to calm me down. still doing things in my best interest. he looked awake sometimes. would say things.. i thought he was awake. believed him.. i realize now he wasnt.

we woke up in the morning. he bailed early like he had said he would need to when he was sober but somehow that night i had thought he was staying later. i became distraught. angry and sad. he needed to leave- he had to work. its not like he had a choice. something broke there. i think this is where he really realized that i was crazy.

i apologized as i was battling back to normal. he said he wasnt bailing while he was texting me back on the bus. but it was different.
he hasnt been talking to me since… said he needed a moment.
i cant hold it against him, i said that to him a lot when i just took off for a few days during his emotional breakdown.

i dont think he will come back, despite the promises otherwise. i think he might want to, and i think if i were easier.. or predictable.. or something he understood like depressed.. i think he would. but i think its one step too many past where he can go. or maybe im just mentally preparing myself for that just incase.

im not doing a good job here, explaining. i dont know. theres a lot of things, realistically, if i were writing about this in its entirety, in its aftermath, that need to be mentioned. all the good stuff. all the support. all the people and how they love me. but its not quite the aftermath.. but its getting closer.

but right now im just stuck on this one thing. dale. dale and his staying up all night with me. dale and his crush on me and my running away before. dale and his sticking with me through this, and how that knocked down the wall that was afraid to trust him. dale and the way he hugs me. his arms over me, his blue eyes staring into mine promising not to bail. but then.. dale and the sex when i was psychotic. and dale and the maybe not understanding i was psychotic, but dale and his should have known. and me and my attachment and him and his not ready. and me and my breaking. and him, and his possible bailing.

i dont know what to feel about this.
and all i can think is that i miss him like hell. like ive been filling in the time trying to come up with something nice to do for people, the ones who helped. focusing on something i could make or do for him to avoid talking to him.
i hope he comes back.
i dont think i can blame him if he doesnt…

ive been reading this book i borrowed from my grandmother. the marriage plot. its about a girl who married a bipolar guy and how he jut ruins her life until he eventually leaves, running away, leaving her broken, so she can be happy


its awful. it makes me feel so awful.

theres parts of me that know… that this stuff is few and far between for me. 3 mania containing episodes in my entire life, 2 within months of each other and one now, about 7 years later, but much shorter. part of me knows that i work incredibly hard and have all these support systems that have proven to function incredibly well. part of me knows i am brilliant, successful, and good. part of me. but part of me knows ill always feel like im just dead weight attaching myself to someone who could be happy. who could live without ever having to experience this.

part of me knows the ending is just like the book.

Lost

Standard

I haven’t been writing. Anything. Here. Thesis. School. Work.
I have been going crazy. Or manic. Or panic. Or not quite right. I’m losing it I’m gone gone gone. Parents brought me home. I don’t think it was a good idea.

I can’t.
I feel like I’m stuck in cycles like words are hard like I’m fading in. And out of actual reality like I can’t. I can’t.

I don’t ever document during the crazy. I’m crazy. It’s I’d the crazy I’m going to fail everything and get fired and I’m just walking in circles looking for something that costs two dollars because I lost it and I can’t lose it I can’t lose things I need to k ow where they are I lost it. I lost it. I lost it