Picking up the slack

two women yellingAt 3 AM, she burst into my brain like a prizefighter after the first bell. She’s usually there every damn day, and I’d gotten used to her almost constant harangues about my faults and failures. Yesterday I managed to shove her out for a while. But, man, she was angry – who the hell do I think I am, posting a picture of my smiling face and giving the impression that I’ve got my shit together despite battling with bipolar disorder. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I had the audacity to actually think it was a pretty picture of myself.

She moved in shortly after I escaped from my domestic violence situation. In the absence of an abuser, the abused becomes adept at picking up the slack. Until I met another person who actually hears voices, I didn’t realize I did this to myself. I mean, come on, the things I tell myself…never would I say them to another person. Nobody deserves to be screamed at, torn down, belittled, discouraged, or beaten. So just stop, you might say. Sheri, you wouldn’t talk to anyone else like this, why not accord yourself the same respect? But I can tell you, after a lifetime of this crap it’s hard to fight back.

Somedays I think it’s too late for me, after decades of this I just can’t see it ending.

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Come out of the dark

light through hands

I see you
I hear you
I’ve felt what you feel
I’ve slogged through the same muck, climbed the same boulders
I’ve been scared (still am at times)
I’ve come through safe, albeit dirty and battered
I’ve survived
I will hold the light for you
I will hold your hand
Let me help you come out of the dark

 

Things I hate about bipolar disorder #362

Springtime Necklace & EarringsOnce upon a time there was a woman who created beautiful and unique jewelry…or maybe she was just manic.

 

multigrain oatmeal

Once upon a time there was a woman who thoroughly enjoyed bread baking…or maybe she was just manic.

 

wedding toastOnce upon a time there was a woman who had a passion for life…or maybe she was just manic.

 

Jewelry designs flutter around my brain, a sourdough starter is bubbling away on my counter, poetry and stories dash in and out of my imagination…is it just mania?

A person who does not have bipolar disorder might say “Who cares what it is, go with it.” But a person who has experienced the pain of a manic episode would understand my fear. Mania isn’t just creative bursts of energy. Mania can be physical pain, embarrassment, humiliation, sleepless nights, financial ruin, ad nauseam. Mania is often followed by a horrific crash back into depression.

Questioning enthusiasm: Things I hate about bipolar disorder #362

The cost of a mind-cleanse

bears2These three old bears are the beginning of an addiction I developed perhaps 20 years after I was given the first one. Shortly after I began earning my own money, I started collecting Steiff bears.  When I married, I stopped because it was an expensive hobby.

After I left my ex, I started again only this time I had discovered one-of-a-kind artist bears (the last four in my collection are picture below). Then bipolar mania hit. I came across Boyd’s collectibles, and I had to own every damn one in every collection. Fortunately, I somehow came to my senses before going completely bankrupt.

My living room ended up being a daily reminder of my manic behavior. I was happy to pack them up and leave them in storage when I moved in with my husband. I had grand plans of listing them on eBay and raking in the profits. The prospect of how much work that would entail was daunting, so I decided to sell them through a local auction house. I didn’t think about something very important – the key word here is “local.” In rural southern Ohio, bear collecting is not a high priority. When I finally gathered the courage to look at the auction online yesterday (it ends today), I was dismayed to see that the bids were all barely 1/10 of the value of each piece. Now take into consideration that the auction house takes 25% (they deserved that), and I had just made a very costly decision which caused me to lose a potentially large profit.

But, and finally here’s my point, when put in to the perspective of how much I would pay to cleanse my mind of this constant reminder of one of the worst aspects of my disorder, I believe it was quite a bargain. So I’ll take the money without grumbling and treat my husband to dinner at McDonald’s.

 

artist bears

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A tale of madness

After ridding her system of yet another failed psychiatric medication, she sits across the desk from her psychiatrist asking “What now?” Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with her endocrine system (which the endocrinologist has deemed “An interesting detective story”), and nothing more will be done until that mystery has been solved. Perhaps next month she will try one more experiment in psychotropic medications (there aren’t many left that she hasn’t tried). Meanwhile he tells her he’s not worried, she has a good husband.

So the self-talk begins. She tells herself she can do this, she’s done this before, there are people who care, a patient husband who loves her, a toolbox full of self-care tools. She talks herself straight into a manic episode. This is when things start to go awry. There are official DSM terms for different types of bipolar episodes, but she doesn’t use them. Her episodes don’t seem to want to follow the rules. Life starts feeling good again, she’s confident (too confident, if you ask me – warning sign!). She becomes so confident, in fact, that she’s sure her husband wants to hear her opinion of one of his “failings.”

Oops, that didn’t go as planned. Of course, being the patient man he is, he just stares at her, “OK, well what do you want me to do about it?” And then, being the unstable lunatic she is (it’s ok for me to use that word, I have permission from the mental health gods), she storms off because he can’t read her mind. Now she realizes her racing thoughts are running laps in record time. She opens her handy dandy tool box and pulls out Breathing Exercise #24. And she breathes in, and she breathes out, and then in, and then out. What’s that you say brain? Ooooh, those are ugly words, low blow, brain. She tries again – she breathes in, breathes out…uh oh, her eyes are beginning to leak. How about Breathing Exercise #53?

She decides to change location. She runs upstairs quickly into her “safe” room, trying to out-run the pummeling of self-harm words her brain has begun to rain down. In her haste, the toolbox has been left behind. All the good intentions fade away. All that is left are the thoughts that she’s absolutely certain are true. She’s tricked everybody this time. She has even admitted her trickery to those who have been kind, “I’m an imposter, I’m not who you think I am, I am not strong, I can not do this any longer.” Her eyes are leaking badly. At this point the only coherent words that can be heard if you listen carefully are “Why haven’t I died yet?” and “Help me.”

The door opens, but she is not aware, her basic cognitive skills having left some time ago. Then warm arms are wrapped tightly around her body. Kind, coaxing words bring her back to recognize her surroundings. Strong hands help her stand up, help her walk down the stairs, help her get into bed. Loving arms wrap her in safety, quiet comforting words lull her to sleep.

She awakens the next morning to try once again.