Saturday, May 31, 2008

10:10 p.m. Communications Blackout

Halfway through the move, and there's still so much to do. There were several breakdowns -- mine and Jb's -- and much snapping, some crying, bad accusations. So things go. I think my parents threatened each other with divorce at least four times when they retiled the kitchen.

Anyway, this will be it for a while. Since Comcast doesn't know how to add a new address to their database, it may be a while before we're able to get internet access again. Disconnecting the computers and putting them away is a little like shutting off the air in a space shuttle, or losing communications entirely with the rest of the world:

"Houston, we are going for a blackout."

Moving Day, Part I

Moving Day, and we've 80% chance of precipitation. It's been storming -- severe thunderstorm warning kinda storming. There is actually a tornado watch in effect for the whole metropolitan area. Seriously. You have got to be kidding me. Least we got the open crates of books into the new apartment while there was a brief lull of rain. All the streets are flooded, though, and it's even hard to see when driving at times. So, we're taking a break. Car's all packed up for our next haul, but there's no way we're going back over until the weather eases up some. Could be a long night.

Thankfully, tomorrow should be overcast, but clear. That's when Jb and one of his guys from work are bringing over the box truck and moving all the big stuff: the dressers, bed, couch, tvs, etc.

I've only had one little fit when I couldn't get out the door with all the bags I was trying to carry. We'll see how many more I have before the day is through.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Go to the Water

I miss the water. I've only just realized this. Or maybe it's one of those impulses I can't control. But suddenly, I want to be down at Rock Creek. Last weekend on the way home from Crack Barrel, I had this need to go to Great Falls. I want to feel the water, see it rushing on. It's always rushing somewhere, going places I can't go, but for a moment, being near it, there's a vicarious rush of release. Water calms me. It centers me. It cools and soothes something inside me that's growing wild, wild enough to want to break away. I keep thinking back to the summer Jb and I stopped at Rock Creek Park every day after he picked me up from work. We'd work our way down the rocks to the water's edge, and he'd venture across the water to the larger rocks, sit there, smoke and watch the water run. My favorite picture of him is on one of those rocks with the trees shading him and the river. There were butterflies swirling up from the banks, and the water was cool to the touch. We talked about going down there in old shoes and clothes we didn't care about to wade around, splash in the water, play in it like two big kids, but we never did go. I wish we had.

Comrades In Arms

I've also been worrying about J----. We met in the hospital and exchanged info, though that's considering breaking a rule in hospital. You're not supposed to have outside contact with anyone you meet inside the psych ward. But we sort of clicked, and it was only for two days. She was discharged before me. But for a few weeks, we didn't talk, and then I called. Because I needed to talk. And it was strange to be able to call someone and to realize that when they asked how you were doing, for once, you didn't have to lie. So we became each other's touchstones. She called when she was thinking about cutting and her husband wasn't home. I called when I just needed to reach out to someone who understood. But the last time I talked to her, things were bad. She was talking about going back into the hospital, about cutting, about wanting to stop taking her meds, even about letting it all go and committing suicide. And I haven't heard from her since, and I... I'm truly afraid to call, to find out that maybe she's relapsed, or worse. I understand wanting to die. And she was in such a black depression. If she committed suicide, not only would it be a horrible tragedy for her family and friends, but selfishly, it'd be like losing a comrade in arms. How easy it is for any of us to slide down that razor's edge, and it'd be like looking into a mirror and seeing possible futures, possible outcomes. How many of us end that way? Why, with all the medications, the therapy, the hospitals, why do some of us never make it? I don't even know if I'm grieving for what could have happened to her, and for myself. Maybe it's for all us standing on the edge of that yawning pit of despair, the slick whisper that asks us, "What are you doing all of this for? Why must you, why must anyone, have to live this?" I can't explain it. All I know is that I have to hold on. And that's as irrational to me as the depression. And I hope like hell she's held on, too.

6:02 p.m. More & Less

More packing, less words. Jb's late again. He's always late these days. He works hard, works for the two of us, so I can't resent it, but I get lonely. It leaves me too much time by myself. It's... hard... to be constantly alone with all these interim hours to while away. I'm tired of packing, of doing the work here at home. I'm tired of being here. I've started thinking about the hospital, wishing, almost, that I was back there. I'm feeling depressed, and... brittle. I can't shoulder much more. I feel like it'd only take some small thing to break me, and I don't know what I might say, how I might act, how the anger might come out. It is anger. I'm so angry at myself for being this way, for feeling so broken at times. I can't tolerate the thought of being touched. I want my space, I want. And I don't know what I want. It's just this gaping hole somewhere, and my brain can't wrap itself around the feelings, this ephemeral thing. It's like this dark shadow behind you, breathing down your neck, and you just want to scrub yourself clean, scrub everything raw until it's bare and white and shining and there's nothing dirty left, everything that's wrong is gone. The pressure grows inside until you feel half mad with it. It's times like that I can understand cutters. I curl my fingers in and dig my nails into my palms until the pain makes the pressure ease. But I'll manage. I'll make myself manage. I have for years. I know how to put one foot in front of the other, and there are other people depending on me. I feel indebted, and so, force myself on.

10:46 Meh.

Meds check: Took them.

Sleep: Too Much. Woke at 1 a.m., 5 a.m., 7:30 a.m. 9:30 a.m. and got up at 10:30 a.m.

Feeling: Depressed, unmotivated, dreading the move, procrastinating.

Writing: Nothing to say.

Blog: Will most likely be on hiatus until Comcast decides there's an apartment to transfer our internet to. Probably a couple weeks without tv or internet. We're so pleased with the internet/cable monopoly.

Dreams: Vivid again, and remembering some on waking.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

6:10 p,m, It's Been a Bad Day

Didn't get as much done as I wanted to. I'm upset about that. I'm upset about breaking a cup while cleaning. No, that's not the end of the world, but my mind has this way of convincing me that I'm a fuck up when I don't get things perfectly right, when I don't live up to my expectations. I'm an overachiever in work and school, and sometimes in stupid things like breaking cups. For some reason, that sent me into a downward spiral. Maybe because of the stress that's building. Ended up with a horrible headache on top of it, which might be because I missed my Lamictal this morning. It's known for headaches, and since I get so few headaches, when I do get one, they lay me out. I don't know how people walk around functioning when their head, one of the most used parts of their body, is throbbing like an aching tooth. I can't deal with it. And for some reason, I got so tired that I crawled back into bed until about 5:30 p.m. I was glad I got up, at least, before Jb got home because I would have been ashamed to still be in bed after he worked all day. Besides that, we can't get the keys for the new apartment until tomorrow, and I know how upset he is about that. He was hoping to move things over today. I, being subversive and just... tired, am sort of glad, but I can't seem like I need a break, not when he's pushing so hard. So it's just... a bad day. And I'll be getting through the next few days on sheer strength of will and fumes. Because I don't feel up to it at all, but I have to do it. And when I say I'm tired, I know that's a euphemism I use when I'm depressed, or heading there.

Three Days & Counting

I don't want to move. I don't want to move. I don't want to move.

It's my new mantra. It's the safeguard against change and heavy boxes and dollies and box trucks and having to haul things I know I shouldn't even be attempting to haul up and down stairs. It's the safeguard against exhaustion and the fear of finding out maybe I don't like the new place so well after all. It's the mantra of the slightly panicked and the rising anxiety. It's the mental equivalent of dragging my feet, subverting the inevitable, prying my cold, dead fingers off the door frame.

And yet, there's Jb, and a friend I owe far too much, and this lease, and a new life that I should be ecstatic over, because no one likes an opportunity to start over better than I do. But damned if I'm not getting older, and if the luster of a new life doesn't sparkle quite as sweet. It starts out promising enough, but then, the tarnish starts to show. It creeps up like a stain, 'til what was brand new is now disconcertingly the same, and all the believed-in promises of this or that are empty. All resolutions glint, then die, like far off stars you never could touch.

Moving. I hate it.

Med Check. 0 for 1.

Yeah, so, the problem about waking up at 4 a.m. is that meds are the last thing on your mind. Then you wake up around 5ish, again with the back to sleep. Next thing you know, it's 11:30, you're vaguely conscious, and by noon, it suddenly hits you that, no, you haven't taken your meds. And now it's probably too late to anyway, and so what hell, you call it a wash. That was today. Go me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Running: An Essay in Five Parts


"I awoke today and found
the frost perched on the town.
It hovered in a frozen sky,
then it gobbled summer down.
When the sun turns traitor cold,
and all the trees are shivering in a naked row,

I get the urge for going,
But I never seem to go.
I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown;
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in."

Joni Mitchell, "Urge for Going"

Spring and Fall always bring The Runaways. But other things can trigger them: a song, stress, a show on tv, an argument, lack of sunlight and activity, anything that overwhelms me emotionally or physically. Jb has told me more than once that he finds it hard to understand me because I don't let things go. But for me, it's not that I don't let them go, or that I don't want to; it's that I can't. The wanting, the emotion, the physical embodiment of that emotion, and all I have is the thin layer of my skin to keep it all in. And sometimes it sleeps, and sometimes it wakes, and when it wakes, it starts off with a soft whimpering, then a mewling, then a bawling, until with tiny fists, it's battering for my attention, to do what it would have me do, and I know this: by now, I am half mad with the need to be up and gone. Half crazy with the itching of it, as if it's a rash you'd scratch and scratch until you were bleeding, and still not care that you were. All that matters is the itch, and somehow, you have to quiet it.

"Now the warriors of winter,
They gave a cold triumphant shout,
And all that stays is dying,
And all that lives is gettin' out.
See the geese in chevron flight,
Flapping and racing on before the snow.

They got the urge for going,
And they got the wings so they can go."

Joni Mitchell, "Urge for Going"

When I'm stuck, when I can't up and go, whether for lack of money, a job that ties me down, responsibilities to some Other, I become claustrophobic. The world closes in around me, trapping me on all sides, squeezing in on me until the walls of the world have locked me in, and I know I am dying, and that everything around me is dying for lack of air. Madness to go is screaming and pushing at a vacuum-sealed vault it can't escape. But sometimes, blessedly, it does, and when I had my first taste of adulthood and freedom, when I had access to money and means, I ran away, desperate for the running. Even as a child, I stood, face pressed to the glass windows of an Oasis in Illinois, watching the cars speeding by below, and envying them with a hunger a child shouldn't know. And even now, there's nothing I like better than being on an open road, going somewhere, going anywhere, the allure of truck stops and rest areas foreign and enticing, a mere stopping point on an exodus of Biblical proportions. And that's what it always feels like once I break away: as if the world was made for only me, and only I can truly appreciate it. What was dull and dingy is now Technicolor in my world, and the trees flash by in their glowing blur, and I count hawks, but never the miles.

"I'll ply the fire with kindling now.
I'll pull the blankets up to my chin.
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and
I'll fold my wandering in."

Joni Mitchell, "Urge for Going"

I haven't been able to be up and gone in nearly three years, and it's a bit like going cold turkey. When the madness takes hold of me, I lock it down, repress it. I learned early as a child that society and mothers expect quiet children, so I kept it all in, as the Beautiful South song goes. And then, free of home, I began to let it all out, acting out as I never could when I was young. In college, though, everyone ran away, and they called it Spring Break. So, there was Cancun where I couldn't be bothered to be dragged around the markets and the bars, where I maxed out my credit card to become a certified scuba diver, leaving my friends to drink themselves merry or stupid. Every day, Klaus ran us 5 miles out and 150 feet down, and all that mattered was the running. And there was the time I met my husband, flying into the unknown with $100 in my pocket, and no guarantee this boy I'd met online would be there at the gate. When I finally married, I could count the times I ran away on two hands. There was the cold feet of my engagement, the sudden trip up to Milwaukee, and my best friend whispering that he could never made me happy. And there was my bachelorette party: a trip up to Madison, Madtown, me and my best friend and a toilet that wouldn't work.


Of course, once I was married, there was the money, and Saugatuck, MI. Something there staved off the hunger longest, and I went back, again and again, staying in a hidden cottage off the main street, set up in such a way that the craziest of travelers could pretend to set up house there, behind the wine store, and buy plum wine and cream sherry, and walk down the street for Framboise at a British pub or peanut butter soup at the coffeehouse. Saugatuck called to me in such a compelling way that I once drove through a blizzard to get there, spinning out six times on the Michigan freeway. And then there was the summer, when Saugatuck was just a starting point for a week-long birthday run up to Petosky, where I was determined to camp, alone, in the state park, then further up to Mackinaw to spend my birthday with wine and chocolate covered strawberries in a claw foot tub, then further still to the Upper Peninsula and a town called Paradise that had one hotel, and one restaurant, and a convenient store that never stayed open. Dar Williams sang "Traveling Again (Traveling I)" the whole drive up:

"Have I got everything? Am I ready to go?
Is it going to be wild, is it gonna be the best time?
Or am I just a-saying so-o-o-o? Am I ready to go?
What do I hear when I say I hear the call of the road?

I think it started with driving.
More speed, more deals,
More sky, more wheels,
More things to leave behind.
Now it's all in a day for the modern mind.
And I am traveling, again,
Calling this a ghost town, and where is the heartland?
And I'm afraid, oh, was there any good reason, that I had to go?
When all I know is I can never come back.

Traveling, I made a friend.
He had a trouble in his head.
And all he could say's that he knew that the bottle
Drank the woman from his bed, from his bed.
He said, "I'm not gonna lose that way again."
But sober is just like driving.
More joy, more dread,
someone turns her head,
And smiles and disappears.
He's gotta take it like it is, and it goes too fast,
And he is just like me, caught in-between.
No sage advisor. Does weary mean wiser?
And someday will I sing the mountains that carried me away
From home and hometown boys like you?

Yeah, but what about us? Was it really that bad?
Oh, it's hard to believe I want a highway road stop
More than all the times we had, on little dirt roads.
What am I reaching for that's better than a hand to hold?

It really was about driving.
Not fame, not wealth.
Not driving away from myself.
It's just myself drove away from me.
And now I gotta get it back, and it goes so fast.
So, I am traveling again.
Sitting at the all-nite, picking up a pen.
And I'm afraid, oh, was there any good reason
That I had to go? When all I know is I am all alone again.
And you are the ghost town, and I am the heartland.
And I can say, oh, that's a very good reason
That I had to go, but now all I know is I can never come back.
And I will never go back."

I made it up to Whitefish Point on Dar Williams that summer, to see the bell of the Edmond Fitzgerald, and everything that was mystical and new, from the way Gordon Lightfoot's "The Edmund Fitzgerald" began playing softly over the museum's speakers right as I stepped up to view the remains of the American lake freighter, to the way I lived out Stan Roger's song, "White Squall," by touring the Soo Locks along the Canadian borderline. It was the summer of my greatest Runaway, and everything shined clear as Lake Huron.


"Baby, let me set you down.
You look so troubled, and I think I know.
Just when you think you've come around,
There you go.

Now, I know the business of the heart,
And it'll get you anyway it can.
You need someone to walk with in the dark. Well,
I'm your man."

Shawn Colvin, "Trouble"

And then there was Jb, who caught me up when I ran away to Knoxville -- and from my marriage. There had been other boys who had tried to catch me, and some boys that I had tried to catch. One even spoke about me as if I was a bird in the hand, ready to fly at the slightest provocation, and at the time, he was more right than he knew. But Jb caught me and twirled me around and set me back down on my feet, and for the first time in ten years, someone insisted I stay. And there I was: in a relationship with a man who would not tolerate my runaways, who claimed we were "in this together," and strangely enough, something in me sighed, as if I suddenly realized that all that running had left me exhausted and footsore. And that should be my happy ending. But the whirl of bipolar never quite goes away, and there are nights, like last night, watching Firefly, cowboys in space, laconic and always on the move, that brought the Runaways back. And the move is closing in around me, suffocating me, so that there is no air, no air. I can't breathe. And all I can think of is a run to the water.

But Jb knows how to deal with my runaways. I'm not sure he knows that he knows how to do this thing, but like a dog kept on a short leash, because of bills or poverty, he makes it possible for me to slip off that leash, if only for an hour or two, and he lets me run. Short trips into the "country," long drives to nowhere and anywhere that a quarter of a tank of gas can get us. And we roll the windows down and turn the music up, and I'd put my head out the window and push my face up toward the sun, just to feel the warmth and the wind, if I didn't think I'd look as crazy as I sometimes feel. But we sing along to every song we know, and we sing loud, and off-key, and we shoot each other laughing looks, and for that little while, I finally feel unfettered and free, and miracle of miracles, Jb's saved me from myself.

11:45 a.m. Sleep Study

I'm right back in bed after Jb leaves this morning and not up again until 11:46 a.m. I was having vivid dreams, though they were gone on waking. But this is the first time in nearly a week that I've been aware of even having them anymore. I feel like I should note this before moving on to a more thoughtful post. So, not hypomania. I can't do without the sleep. But my sleep schedule has definitely shifted. Could have been a couple days of up-up and this could be the downswing, bringing with it the over-compensating sleep. We'll see what my energy is like around 2 p.m. This is when I begin to wonder if it's bipolar, and then I think about what I'm about to write in my next post, and I think it's likely; it's just been so long since I've had an extended manic episode.

5:32 a.m. Lack of Sleep & Meds

Tried for an early night last night (10 p.m.), but I was up at 1 a.m., now again at 5:30 a.m. I'm not all that tired, considering I'm running on about 5 hours of sleep a night. I don't know if this is the Lamictal affecting my sleep, which it can, or evidence of a low hypomania because of the move.

On a bad note, I forgot to take my meds last night. I'd been doing so well, too, but I got caught up in watching Firefly (why Fox ever canceled it's one decent show, I'll never understand), among other things, and simply forgot. As for the sleeping, I think I may switch from taking 100MG x 2 tablets of Lamictal in the morning to 100MG in the morning and then another 100MG at night, which is how it was initially prescribed, though the psychiatric nurse practitioner told me to take 200MG in the morning if it messed with my sleep.

Somehow, it may be messing with my sleep in the wrong way. At the same time, they halved my Remeron to 15MG down from 30MG. Remeron's known to have a sedative effect. So it could be the Remeron moving out of my system. And while I was sleeping far too much before on the higher dose of Remeron, now I'm not sleeping enough. And sleep is part of the stabilization game. So many patients with mental health problems swear that they need 8 hours of sleep and a set schedule to keep themselves on the up-and-up.

Edit: According to Crazy Meds, "Another not-so-common effect [of Lamictal] is a type of insomnia where you're tired, but you can't sleep." Hm.

By the by, I've found Crazy Meds to be an excellent resource for looking up a medication's side effects, and often, I find the collection of patients' experiences with the medication a better indicator of side effects than what my psych doesn't tell me. On the other hand, I've been sore all week, but I've also been cleaning and packing a good deal, so I'm not going to attribute that to Lamictal right away. If it keeps up after the move, it may make me more thoughtful.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Tori Amos, "Snow Cherries from France:"

You question me,
"Can you ride anything?"
Lord, do you mean like your moodswings?

Ahem. Truer words sometimes. Poor Jb.

The Crazy Card

Get this: Jb pulled the crazy card on me the other night.

We were arguing over something that I was so obviously right about that I wouldn't budge my position, and Jb's arguments had devolved into pitiful character assassinations.

Jb: Maybe in your little world in your head, where everything's weird and not normal like here in the real world, where everyone else understands reality.


Me: Seriously. Did you just pull the crazy card on me?!

It's a good thing we're able to joke about this and that I have a sense of humor, or I'd have likely been offended.

2:04 p.m. I Quit!

You would, too, if you saw our toilet bowel. Got halfway through the bathroom, realized the sink drain is clogged, and I ain't about to remedy it. Hell, after doing some dishes and the bathroom, I can't even get myself up and over to the store to get toilet paper. It is a sad day when I can't walk 2 blocks. And if Jb says anything, "Bang, zoom, straight to the moon!" (Gotta love the old sitcoms that encourage domestic abuse punchlines.)

Okay, dammit, I will go to the store, but it's because of the toilet paper. Not for any other reason! Because, you know, toilet paper is a female necessity of dire importance. Guess I'll get some stupid drain unclogger stuff, too. And finish the dishes, and cook dinner, and, and, and... Makes me exhausted just thinking about it. But, here's the kicker, Jb went out to a flat tire this morning, so the car's in the shop, and ain't no one else gonna go do these little "domestic" lovelies. The fact that we've, maybe, three days until we can start moving stuff to the new apartment and aren't at all completely packed up, well, that's no stress or motivator at all. Nope.

This is how it happens. Every time. I'll take on far more than I really should, work myself up to a frenzy, not sleep at night, wake up far too early, and utterly fizzle once we get into the new place. Once I work myself up with worry and anxiety and cranky resentment, I'll stay uber productive and hypo until I overstep myself, and... crash. With all the fanfare and pomp of my overproductive climb. I honestly don't know how I'm going to pack up some of this other stuff. It's either stuff I need Jb to haul out or down, or it's stuff we'll be using until we actually move. Thankfully, he's been a great help.

12:01 p.m. Pharmacies, Insurance, & Copayments, Oh My!

Thwarted at the pharmacy. I swear. Took a bus all the way out to the hospital, and I could only get the Lamictal filled. Luckily, it was the one I was completely out of. Since I seem to have dropped off prescriptions elsewhere, insurance won't pay for them until June 13th. Nevermind that my prescription has changed. But I've enough Remeron and Klonopin to last me a couple days more. I checked out my receipt for my Lamictal and about went into sticker shock. $20 with insurance. Without? $276. My god! I need to look up one of those free prescription programs my nurse practitioner (PCP) told me about. (This is when I seriously consider moving to Canada.) Health Insurance will certainly be a big influence on who gets my vote, that's for sure.

On another note, side effects today. I was falling asleep on the bus and in the pharmacy waiting room. And walking was this odd sort of seasick weave out to the bus stop and down the halls. My feet kept wanting to go in front of each other, and my body kept wanting to gravitate toward the nearest wall. It's a strange sort of gravity, this dizziness thing. And I feel weak, unable to really get to work and start cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom, both of which need it. I was also planning on making this Creamy Sausage Casserole with Biscuits, but that might be overkill for today. I hate having to conserve and space out my energy. I understand how, even when a patient might be feeling better, that person might still be unable to work. I do believe it'd be frowned upon if someone was found, head on their keyboard, at work. Not to mention the walking like you're drunk. Stellar review, I'm sure.

By the by, I love my nurse practitioner. She gave me two months worth of samples of Benicar so I wouldn't have to pay for them because she knew I'd lost my job. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are stingy bastards I'm finding, and look at you like you're a junky if you ask for samples. Given the fact that they're the ones prescribing the medicine, it just makes me wanna slap 'em.

Final Countdown

Five days until the move. Five days. And I'm dragging my feet and throwing a tantrum inside my head. Honestly, there are some days when I see a kid in the store, down on the floor, slamming his fists on the carpet, face red and screwed up, kicking his legs, and all I want to say is: I totally get you, kid. I'd be down on the floor, too, if I didn't have to act like an adult.

Med Adherence, Wah

I don't want to take a bus to go get my meds.
I don't want to take a bus to go get my meds.
I don't want to take a bus to go get my meds.
I have to take a bus to go get my meds.


7:36 a.m. Early Mornin' Check-In

Was up around 5ish this morning, then again at 7ish when I heard Jb getting ready for work. Took meds with a Barq's, and here's the fascinating thing about Barq's (yes, yes: we all know "it has bite"): it also has caffeine, unlike almost every other brand of root beer out there. So I've a 12-pack of the stuff, and my stomach is not a happy camper (TM). Caffeine exacerbates the IBS, which is always fun, and feeling sick to my stomach, literally, does nothing for my mood.

Note to self: No vivid dreams of late. Or, at least, none I remember. I'd like to say there was something just on the edge of memory when I woke up this morning, but it's long gone now.

Monday, May 26, 2008

6:52 And She'll Be Swingin'

Impulse replaced by crankiness, mood swings, everything that's wonderful about the up and down. It reminds me of a training exercise in Space Camp. We were on a moonwalk simulator, which was a glorified chair on a four-story scaffold with a pivot bar in the middle. The counselors would strap you in, and you'd push off with your feet, and you'd float up into the air, up two-stories, over the zenith of the simulator and back down, to bounce back up and over. It all happened in a sort of slow motion, with that awkward, bouncing gait of an astronaut, except that you had the leisure of being strapped in, of being able to look outside yourself and watch the slow upswing and then the slow downswing of each pendulum-like swing. That's how this feels sometimes, the way a mood will creep up on me, send me up into an agitated, pissy state, then slowly recede into something more depressed, more sluggish. Back, and forth. Back, and forth. Except this is a ride I can't get off.

4:15 p.m. Irrational Impulse

I'm suddenly struck by an urge to get another cat. In my mind, we need another cat. We must have another cat. Right now. Right this week. Forget the moving, the packing. The cat is more important. Belle needs a friend, someone to play with. To hell with the fact that money's so tight we don't have the 300 plus it'd cost to adopt a new cat, visit the vet. In my irrational need, I'm sure we could find the money. And this is an investment! It'll make Belle happy, make me happy. Another cat to love, another to save. Yes, yes: why shouldn't we? We'd be fabulous parents. The cat would be fabulous! Belle and the cat would be the best of friends! We'd be a real little family in a new little apartment, and wouldn't life itself be fabulous then?

-sigh- These things exhaust me. They have no real root in reality, and I can see that, but the impulse is amazing and hard to repress. I almost feel like I will be devastated if I don't get another cat. How fucked up is that? If I had access to money and Jb's approval, I'd apply this minute for another cat. We'd pick out all the accessories two cats might need. We'd introduce them, watch over them, laugh at how they take to each other, arms around each other like some married couple with a fond appreciation for a pair of toddlers. God, what is this a substitute for? I know it means something, meant to assuage some fear -- the move? I'm shaking with the compulsion, and it feels like only spending, only acquiring will make it go away.

7:15 a.m. Triggers

One of the things I've begun to worry about is the possibility of a downward trend. The more I've gone over my past in my mind, trying to find the truth of my diagnosis, the more I've seen trends. Example? I get the Runaways in spring and fall. And my triggers tend to be major life events: going to college, switching my major, leaving college, getting married, moving, new jobs, buying a house, leaving graduate school, moving out of state, separating from my ex, beginning a new life with a new boyfriend, my father's illness, death, loss of a job.

Jb and I move in one week. Moving is always stressful for me, especially now when my motivation is low, and it seems a monumental task to get all of our junk into boxes and out of here. I'm worried it'll trigger something, send me up into a hypomania, where I couldn't be more thrilled with our new place, everything is wonderful, everything is fabulous! Or it could send me down into depression, where everything is new, everything needs to be learned over. There's no nearby store I can walk to, all the bus routes are different, a less than easy commute to the metro, everything is strange, and there I'll sit, without a job, without t.v. or internet for days because Comcast screwed up, surrounded by boxes I've no idea what to do with.

I think I'll be thrilled at first, a new start, a fresh apartment: hardware floors, white light coming from three windows, a bright new world. And no one loves a fresh start like me. I feel the need for them periodically, a sudden irrepressible urge to pack it all up, throw it all in, and start over, as if I could outrun my problems, my moods, my responsibility. Build a new life, rebuild myself, find my better self, one who doesn't screw up, one who doesn't mess things up. A better relationship, a better me, a better, brighter look on life. Like Annie Gallup says, "Anything Is Possible (Reprise):"

It was a phone booth in the middle of the Midwest
It was raining like the devil. I was depressed
I watched a pickup truck slowly float by with its hazards blinking
Windshield wipers slapping, I said, "I keep thinking
If I can hold it all together just one day maybe two
It'll all make sense and I'll believe it's really true
I wish I could take comfort in steady slow improving
But I'm scared most of the time. I don't feel safe
Unless I'm moving"
Ooh, yeah, anything is possible

Too much of that rings home: "I keep thinking: if I could hold it all together, just one day, maybe two. It'll all make sense, and I'll believe it's really true. I wish I could take comfort in this steady slow improving, but I'm scared most of the time. I don't feel safe, unless I'm moving." That's the depression, the Runaways, and my frustration with the long haul of recovery and meds. It's all there in one verse. And I don't know why, suddenly, my head is full of verses and lyrics, poems and lines. I've read in a couple of blogs that bipolar patients seems caught up in music, poems, latching onto lines the way they latch onto sanity, repeating things over and over in their mind. When I began this blog, all I could think about was Dorothy Parker's poem, "The Veteran:" "Inertia rides and riddles me," repeating that one line over and over. Inertia rides and riddles me, inertia rides and riddles me, inertia rides and riddles me. There's something compulsive in that, and something delusional in the way I put so much emotional investment into lyrics and lines, as if they could speak for me when I'm too befuddled to find the words myself.

7:06 Meds, Check

2 Lamictal, 1 Klonopin, and 1 Seagrams Ginger Ale (Note: Caffeine Free). Went to bed at 1:30 a.m. Maybe more like 2 a.m. I resent the way Jb rolls over and is out like a light and snoring within a minute of deciding he's tired while I lie there, thoughts random and a mess. Forecast for staying up? Slim to none. Maybe. If I dreamed, I remember nothing. Haven't in days. May be starting a downward trend. Too early to tell, but spent parts of yesterday and the day before morose and in a general funk. Emotionally sensitive. The regular symptoms. Could it be the lower dose of Remeron -- an antidepressant -- finally leaving my system? Unsure. Maybe going down 15MG was a bad idea.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

7:45 p.m. Up and Down the Merry-Go-Round

It can be the best day one minute, then one song -- one song -- and my eyes are burning, my heart's aching, and something in my stomach turns sour. I want a cigarette more than life, and even then, the tears start to well up.

Early in the day, Jb and I drive out to Cracker Barrel. All the way there and back we listen to country, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, my music, and sometime in the last few weeks, Jb's bothered to listen to some of it, has learned to appreciate some of the songs. It means so much to me that the car flies down the highway, the wind blows in the windows, and everything is green, lush, flowing. And I'm happy; I'm content. Nothing sparkles, the colors don't glow vibrant, so intense they light up my heart, and the pure feeling, the feeling of the moment doesn't overwhelm, doesn't fill me to the brim, not like it used to. And I miss it. The day has been beautiful. I recognize that, appreciate it, but I miss the ecstasy of it. I miss the unnatural high.

We come home, and suddenly, I can't stand being here in the dark when the day's so beautiful. I get antsy, something beneath my skin starts to itch, for the sunlight, for relief. Waiting on Jb, I'm surfing YouTube and I'm watching some Firefly montage to "Ain't No Reason" by Brett Dennen, a song I've never heard before, and it hits home unexpectedly:

There ain’t no reason things are this way.
Its how they always been and they intend to stay.
I can't explain why we live this way, we do it everyday.
Preachers on the podium speakin’ of saints,
Prophets on the sidewalk beggin’ for change,
Old ladies laughing from the fire escape, cursing my name.
I got a basket full of lemons and they all taste the same,
A window and a pigeon with a broken wing,
You can spend your whole life workin’ for something
Just to have it taken away.
People walk around pushing back their debts,
Wearing pay checks like necklaces and bracelets,
Talking ‘bout nothing, not thinking ‘bout death,
Every little heartbeat, every little breath.
People walk a tight rope on a razor's edge
Carrying their hurt and hatred and weapons.
It could be a bomb or a bullet or a pen
Or a thought or a word or a sentence.

There ain't no reason things are this way.
It's how they always been and they intend to stay
I don’t know why I say the things I say, but I say them anyway.
But love will come set me free
Love will come set me free, I do believe
Love will come set me free, I know it will
Love will come set me free, yes.

Prison walls still standing tall,
Some things never change at all.
Keep on buildin’ prisons, gonna fill them all,
Keep on buildin’ bombs, gonna drop them all.
Working your fingers bare to the bone,
Breaking your back, make you sell your soul.
Like a lung that’s filled with coal, suffocatin’ slow.
The wind blows wild and I may move,
The politicians lie and I am not fooled.
You don't need no reason or a three piece suit to argue the truth.
The air on my skin and the world under my toes,
Slavery stitched into the fabric of my clothes,
Chaos and commotion wherever I go, love I try to follow.

Love will come set me free
Love will come set me free, I do believe
Love will come set me free, I know it will
Love will come set me free, yes.

There ain't no reason things are this way
It’s how they always been and they intend to stay
I can't explain why we live this way, we do it everyday.

It brings me down to a level I haven't been at for almost two weeks now. I'm ready to cry. I can't understand the meaning of it all, and everything seems momentary: this too shall pass, this too shall pass. But no one ever acknowledges that also means that this happiness, that passes, too. And we're left on the up and down of a merry-go-round, holding tight to a pole, sometimes brave enough to reach for the brass ring, but mostly so frightened that all we can do is hold on tight and close our eyes and wait for the world to stop.

The worst is that I remember the hospital again. I remember how faithful Jb was, coming every night for that single hour they allowed visitors, and twice on the weekend. Every time he came, and when he left, the girls in the ward made such fun of me: "You know he loves you; you can see it in how he looks at you," "Oo, J-----, hug me, too!" Even the nurses, one of them noting how'd come in the middle of the night to bring me something when I couldn't, and hadn't, slept for three nights in row. She told me if he didn't so obviously love me, she might have a go at him.

Half the women in ward sat in group and talked about love, failed relationships, divorce, and every single one of them got a sort of hungry look when Jb was with me, as if they'd give their selves for something, for someone, to look at them like that, to make life more bearable. And all I could think, swallowed by the deep water of depression and lost to the currents of my own thoughts, was that love couldn't fix me. I had the perfect boyfriend; he loved me, was there for me, supported me in ways I'd never expected anyone to support me. But love couldn't fix me.

11:18 a.m. The Good Patient

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I must write down my sleeping habits like a good patient. I woke at 7 this morning, took my meds, went back to bed until 10ish, waking off and on.

Yesterday, though I didn't write this down, I woke, took my meds, and was back in bed by 8 or so and asleep until 9 or 10. I took another nap from roughly 4-6. And Jb and I stayed up watching The Orphanage until 1:30 a.m.

I'll say this for the movie: It wasn't what I expected. It was far better, and creepy, with a bit of a mindfuck at the end. M. Night Shyamalan, if he were Spanish.

10:48 a.m. Nada

Didn't feel like writing yesterday, which is... meh. First time in two weeks I haven't felt like writing, and I don't know if that's the first sign of a change in mood, or no. I know it's the one thing Marya Hornbacher notes in her book as a telltale sign, and I can verify that one of the ways I knew I was sick was that I couldn't read or write.

Before the hospitalization, I was a voracious reader, going through the used books my mother sent me like they were M&Ms. I could finish one in two days reading only on the train during my commute and at lunch. I'm a Writing Intensive English major with a Master's in Writing and a concentration in Teaching & Pedagogy, as well as Creative Nonfiction. I've worked in a library on and off for over five years. I've taught college level English Composition I, II, and III. I have a certificate in teaching Adult Literacy. I've been a tech writer and a non-profit public relations writer.

I am not the kind of person who does not read.

Writer's block, however, happens. But it's the depression that takes all desire to write away from me, and I've been too depressed for years to take up that task. My writing comes out strong when I'm hypomanic, riding the edge of energy and anger. But now, words come slow and dumb, and even this blog reads clunky to me. In the hospital, I thought, "What a good opportunity to write about something important, to do a bit of creative nonfiction," and maybe one day I will, but at the time, I couldn't even bother to ask for pencil and paper. We weren't allowed pens. And there was a sort of respected silence, as if we were all in jail, and you didn't dare ask why someone was in there, or if it was voluntary of involuntary.

This lack of desire to write, to have anything to say, nor to read... it worries me most. I've a box of books my mother sent me, and I haven't even cracked it open. I tell myself I don't have time for them with the move in the next week. But part of that is justification for not reading. My greatest secret pleasure has always been women's magazines, but even in the hospital, and even now, I can't flip through them and retain anything. The glossy pictures hold no interest for me, and the spicy headlines no longer make me flip, almost compulsively, to page 112.

Dorothy Parker has always been a poet I've been able to relate to in my moods, though, and often I find myself repeating bits of poetry, like a magpie who collects shiny strings of lyrics, poems, sayings. If it weren't for the last line of the poem, Ms. Parker might have been spot on in her "Symptom Recital:"

I do not like my state of mind;
I'm bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn's recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the simplest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I'd be arrested.
I am not sick. I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore:
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men.
I'm due to fall in love again.

There's no falling in love again, but the symptoms, those came from a women who knew what it meant to fantasize about suicide, to try it herself, someone who knew depression, and it shines clear as day in that poem. These days, like Parker herself, I can't help but feel that that my "world," as well as my words, "is but a bunch of tripe."