Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hidden Happiness


I rarely post about my good days.  The days I'm balanced and even happy.  I have been having more of them, but I'm afraid of actually admitting it for the fear it will turn on a dime.  I don't know how many different ways you can express happiness without sounding like you're gonna to break into "The Sound of Music."  And even though that's not my choice of music, I do feel like I"m in a musical of sorts when I'm happy.  Singing and dancing around the house with the dogs.  In those moments, I am really free.

I hold a blank face most of the time and have learned through being bipolar and my childhood abuse not to convey any emotions.  That way no one can read my thoughts or feelings or know who I am.  A slate expression plays into my belief of being invisible.  I don't reveal all of myself even to my husband.  He can almost always crack and bust a hole through my walls, but there are a few that he can't find. 

My husband is well aware of these dungeons I hide in and we have discussed it several times.  He knows.  He still accepts me as is.  I still feel the need to protect myself from everyone.  Pieces of my intricate wall are slowly falling away, but the main foundation of me is intact.  When I'm ready the dungeons will crumble too.      

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In My Opinion


If I were to tell you I had a sports car and without giving year, make or model, would you understand what I"m talking about?  You could probably guess that it has a sleek, racing body, a powerful engine and can go from 0-60 in seconds flat.  It's a sports scar.  Whether you have more specific details about it or not, doesn't change the fact that it's a sports car. 

I loved the old diagnostic name of Manic Depressive because it explains the condition in the name.  Since the disorder is based on the extremes, mania or depression, you are either one or the other.  Simple. 

I don't like to bogged down in technical details about my diagnosis.  It doesn't change the symptoms or how I feel, it just becomes a detailed label.

I believe the same for true for breaking down the labels of mania and depression.  Hyper, hypo, etc...does it really matter?  I appreciate the clarity of either being manic or depressed.  I know there is an entire grey area, but manias and depression are always the baselines.  Anytime my emotions that are tipped past the lines of balance mean I'm in a manic or depressive state. 

For me the finer details are not important.  The symptoms are the same, just the level or severity may be different.  I was only given a simple diagnosis.  I mean does a fancy label really change the truth of being Manic Depressive?     

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mania, ShMania

Thoughts barrel into my forehead and rip through my brain.  They scream through the back of head where they exit and swarm my head like bees.  Faint purple lights strobe with black morphed shadows entice me behind my lids.  A crowd of voices rumble in whispers.  An inch above my hairline a zing of electricity and I hear "that's what you were looking for."  My eyes shoot open.  Everything is silent except for the hum of the refrigerator.  What am I suppose to find?  I need to find it for this nightmare to be over.  I need to get some sleep.  I close my eyes, the freight train races through me again.  I cast out everything evil.  I pray.  All to no avail.  Mania at it's best.
  
What do I need to find?  Like a tornado raging on, contorted faces are consumed by the shadows, their haunting eyes taking my secrets with them.  Psychedelic burst of pinks take me on a journey deeper.  Where?  Neurons pierce my skull and explode in my hair.  My brain's electrical circuit in haywire.  Searching for something.  There has to be a reason for this.  Two hours of clenched muscles.  There is no reason.  It was mania.             

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Much Do You Trust Yourself?

I have never relied on any doctor, therapist, or any medical professional.  I have a deep distrust for them all.  I have only contacted a psychiatrist when I have been suicidal, otherwise I have always found my own path for healing.  This works for me because when push comes to shove, I trust me.

No one can tell me what's best for me when they haven't been through it.  Call it stubbornness.  Call it an instinct to survive, but when it comes to my mental health, I stand my ground.  It may take me a year or two to finally do it, like getting off Prozac, but I will.  I have to make up my mind for me.  Not because a doctor or therapist says it, but because decide.

My psychiatrist appointment is coming up next week.  I see her every three months.  I found a pattern in the last three years of starting to slip on my meds about a month or so earlier and then try to straighten out before our appointment.  This would usually cause me to cycle up.  This past year has been the first I have been consistent with my meds.  It was psychological warfare forgetting my meds and the fact I was NEVER comfortable on Prozac.  It actually took seven years of being on Prozac for me to have the guts to say I wasn't taking it any more or any other antidepressants.  This November it will be two years without any.

The best way to relate to it is being in a huge marshmallow that I have to punch my way out of.  There is resistance from all sides, it pushes back you with each swing and it is always difficult to see if you are actually getting anywhere.

One thing I've learned is that I'm a fighter and I love to box.  Somehow, some way I'm going to find my way out of that marshmallow.  That's when I know I've studying all the angles, took everything into consideration and when I'm finally free, then I know that made the choice.  Not a doctor.  I am able to do what I need for myself.  When it's my choice, then I can live with that decision, no matter how it turns out.

I believe I've went through everything in my life for a reason.  Regardless of not liking the Prozac, at the time I needed an antidepressant and I don't like flipping through a series of meds to find the right one.  Antidepressants have always a temporary effect on me anyways.  So I was already learning how deal with my depression as it came.  It began to prepare me for the decision of handling my depression on my own.  So that when I finally made it through the marshmallow, I was ready and did every thing I could to fight for the choice. 

You can read my story Life without Prozac here.                 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Calling BODY TO BRAIN...

"I feel like my skin is starting to wrap around me."  This statement from my last post REFLECTIONS astounds me.  The description is the honest truth.  I am actually staying still long enough for my skin to wrap itself around me.  My entire life, I've been constantly trying to jump out of my skin.  Anything to run, escape and get out of it.  I learned to hide in my head. 

When your body is tortured the only safe place is your mind.  I found a way to hide in there.  Whether in my depression where I had the guarantee of being numb from both my body and mind.  Or in manias where I could ride the shots of giddiness and the electricity of being alive.  Being bipolar gave me a means of coping.

This means of survival separated my head from my body.  Amongst the distorted thoughts, the terrors, and the black holes of my mind I continued to retreat there, anything was better than dealing with myself as a whole.  The disconnection was so severe that my body was an alien to me.  A foreign creature that made it capable to operate.  It may as well have been a robot.

As the my brain has started to come together, there has been another process taking place that I acutely became aware of, my brain is beginning to connect with my body.  It has been a combination of events, situations and life style changes, but looking back the biggest impact has been a mirror.  A full length mirror.  For the first time ever we have a full length mirror in our home.  For the first time, in a long time I'm seeing myself as a whole.

Now I hate mirrors with a passion.  I've flipped myself off many times.  I turn my head in disgust if I see them.  As I've begun to heal, I was beginning to accept looking at my face.  I could actually stand to look for more than a second or two.  With the new mirror there was suddenly a full version of myself.  There weren't any tentacles or devil tails sticking out.  I was human.  I was actually human.  Which might sound really out there, but the delusions and lies I've lived with for so many years, coupled with bipolar thoughts, there were times I wasn't really sure.  I've conjured so many images in my mind there was no telling what I might see, but the proof was there.  I was a regular human being.

 This connection between body and brain is remarkable to me.  I have rarely experienced it as the uneasiness will make me flee the scene.  Pain has been the only connection between my body and brain.  Currently in the form of self-mutilation.  It has been the only thing I have ever known.  I can't believe I'm actually staying in my skin and it is getting more and more comfortable.  It's been incredible!  There are days when I'm completely in tune with it and there are growing days when I must take things slow like a child learning a new skill.  There are days like the post SCREAMS OF SILENCE when everything shuts down to recuperate and rejuvenate.  I didn't understand what was happening until the pieces fell in front my eyes yesterday.  Now it all makes sense.  I may not know what is to come of this phase in my life, but it has been fascinating so far.  I think I'm going to like this part of my journey. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

REFLECTIONS


I'm not a big fan of myself.  I'm lucky if I had an ounce of self-esteem to get me through life and I'm very much a pessimist.  I am extremely impatient with myself and if I make a mistake, I beat myself to bloody pulp.  My expectations are so high, God can't measure up to them.  Call it bipolar, call it a survivor of hell.  Call it anything you want.   

The way I feel about myself is reflected in those closest to me, especially the dogs.  Having six dogs is a challenge, complicated by the fact they are divided into two packs and being a stay-at-home-"mom," I am around them constantly.  My self-hate, lack of patients and expectations are in a constant flare.  I don't take it out on them, I just take it further out on myself. I see everything I do or don't do with them as a failure.
 
I have personally witnessed the healing power of blogging on My Wrenched Brain.  Healing that may not have happened otherwise if it weren't for starting this blog.  When we started "24 Paws of Love" the thought occurred to me that this same healing process might happen again.  This was the first and last time I had the thought.



It wasn't until recently that I began to notice that I was becoming more patient and understanding with the dogs.  I found I wasn't constantly beating the crap out of myself because they weren't perfectly trained dogs.  I discovered I was just giving a heavy sigh when someone had to go out AGAIN, instead of being irritated by the constant interruptions.  I have enjoyed an entire community of animal lovers that has given me the freedom to laugh and have fun with my precious animals, while sharing in their own struggles.  Blogging about the dogs is helping me heal by being able to love them because I'm beginning to love myself.  There is a validation that I have needed from crazy animal lovers like myself.  Blogging about the progress I'm making with the dogs is helping me to take some credit and give myself a break.  This reflection of the dogs is bouncing back to me.  It gives me hope.

I feel like my skin is starting to wrap itself around me for the first time.  That I'm not the evil bitch who thinks I deserve every awful that happens to me.  I've begun to notice a calmer energy around the house.  There is peace.  One step at a time the pieces of myself are beginning to fall in place and I'm starting to enjoy being here.

          

Monday, October 18, 2010

SCREAMS OF SILENCE

Ever been a room that was sound proof and all you can hear is that in your head.  What if that was your brain and all you want to do is scream to make some kind of noise?  My brain feels capsuled in silence.  A vacuum.  It is maddening.  I find myself craving the chaos and craziness of my bipolar.  I miss the jaunting shifts and dramatic mood swings that I battled with for so many years.  I feel like I've reached a flat line.  A just tipped depression that leaves me hanging in the balance creates this emptiness.

I have an insatiable need to create, but I have no power against the blank canvas.  It is daunting and overpowers my need.  If I scream in a bottle, is it really a scream?  This space in my mind feel like a bottomless pit dropping into nothingness. 

Music, my best friend has also eluded me.  It can not penetrate the walls of my skull.  It is dead and meaningless.  How can I be far enough over the edge, that I can't turn back?  Even the weather hasn't changed.  What happened?  I wish there was a way to manually jar my brain loose.  Force it to take a side, anything to get out of this empty space where it sits and waits.  My patience is wearing thin.  Nothing always feel like nothing. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

A GALLON OF MILK

What do I have to prove?
What is that eats me alive?
The need and want to destroy
My very being

Every day waking to the human race. 
Do you see my face?
The blank stare as I zip past
As if a ghost
Eyes locked to the ground
Don't let they see me
My body, my shield

Fist clenched
Muscles tight
Jaw clamped

Can you hear the tension
Creaking in my bones?
Can you see the strain
it takes to communicate?

Bound by the need to survive
to buy a gallon of milk.

A New Journey


I had to chop off my fingernails.  I couldn't stop tearing and picking at my thumbs.  My anxiety has been jumping up and down now for a couple of weeks.  I face it, it leaves and then it returns.  Part of my anxiety is fear, part of it is excitement.  I feel like I'm starting a new chapter in my life and its sending me into the pits and highs of anxiety.  I have been stable with my manias and depressions so far...yet I keep waiting for the bottom to fall out.  Though I have lived a very anxious life being bipolar and with my childhood abuse, I've really never dealt with it head on.  I keep pushing it to the side and it continues to crop up.  Things can't really be this stable.   There has to be a drop coming.  Can I really be happy?

My anxiety is running it's course like bipolar with highs and lows.  Like depression it is a silent undercurrent that will shoot up when I hit a trigger.  I am always in a constant state of fear.  Some days it is stronger than others.  Sometimes it can be immobilizing.  Some part of my body is always tense.  A constant clenching of one or many of my muscles.  I am never 100% relaxed.  There is always tension.  There is always fear.  I have no doubt I do it in my sleep.  I don't know what it would be like to not have some form of worry straining my body and mind.  I can not even begin to imagine the possibility. 

I don't know how to stop what is an automatic response.  I am only in the beginning stages of even recognizing it exist as it is that deeply ingrained in my subconscious.  I can only imagine where this journey is going to take me.    

Friday, October 8, 2010

Surviving Fear

My anxiety has been higher than normal for the past couple of weeks.  When it is this high it comes out in a form a self-mutilation.  When I was very young I used to bite my fingernails down to flesh.  When I was scolded for it, it took a new avenue of picking and tearing the skin around the fingernails.  I would constantly try to destroy myself through my fingers.  The thumbs are always the first and main target and when they became too bloody and raw, I move on to other fingers if I do not find a way to stop the madness. 
It has only been in the last couple of years that this self-mutilation has been kept at bay.  Though it may have several meanings, the two main culprits are self-hate and fear.  When I let it have total control over me, I find myself in a horrible dimension that I can not escape from.  The anxiety feeds on the pain and destruction which in turns feeds the anxiety.  Eventually I must resort to band-aids for the pain will be so excruciating that I can barely move my thumbs.  This helps in calming myself and gives me a few moments to care and reflect on what is happening, while my thumbs heal.  Depending on the severity of the anxiety though, band-aids are of little use, for when they are removed, I begin to tear at myself again. 

As my fingers have slowly begun to heal, the anxiety has not left me and I find the need to run and run and run with no where to go.  For where ever I go, the anxiety clings to me like cellophane with no escape.  I found myself this morning literally walking in circles, my mind fragmented and I was unable to focus.  I was hyperventilating and slightly dizzy.  I began to concentrate on putting laundry away and realized that I was not going to be able to escape this.  Trying to change it and evade it was only making the anxiety dig it's heels in deeper when I remembered what I have learned about my depression and mania and going into the feeling.  I began to talk with it, this fear that had so much power over me.  I named my three biggest fears: living, love and the bottom falling out. These three fears had been trying to control me and naming them cut it's strength ten fold.  Normal fears that everyone has to some degree, but that I had let carry me away.  I have been taking a few more risks in my normal life, I have been feeling happier and more at peace lately and I was letting outside pressures ram my back up against that wall of fear and feeling like I had no way to escape. 

It is almost hard to believe that this giant monster was nothing more than simple fears.  Common fears that we all have to some extent or another.  A simple trigger that set the last few weeks in motion as I found myself in self-destruction mode, trying to eliminate myself.  Trying to cease to exist.  An old coping mechanism that has gotten me this far, but that I don't have to use anymore.  If I have learned anything, fear can't kill me unless I let it and it is easier to face than I thought.          

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October

I am a moody person who lives in a moody climate.  Sometimes I think the weather is orchestrated for my moods.  After a cold, wet, gusty September, I have found my mood and thoughts lifting with the fabulous October weather.  Bright blue skies, not a cloud to be seen and mild temperatures.  I am engulfed with color as the fall foliage is displaying it's brilliant show.  It has been nothing short of incredible. 

Pressures on my husband's job is pushing us both to the brink.  The pressure to buy our house is closing in.  My past is always swirling but today I sit and soak in the tantalizing sunshine as my worries dissipate in the stunning rays of warmth.  My thoughts have been free floating and there is an inner calm.  I should be doing a thousand other things, especially with this wonderful weather we are having, yet I sit, not worrying or caring for the moment. 

A part of my past that has haunted me for over twenty years, twisted in a tangled web of lies and deceit, has finally been set free.  I have struggled with this person in my head and the hand he played in my life before finally coming to the truth.  A truth hidden behind smiles and love that has taken years to finally free myself from him.  A truth I could never look at for the fear it would destroy me.

I love the beauty of the mind, how it operates to save ourselves from harm and when we are ready, it sets us free from that bondage.  Letting us move on, giving us room to grow and live the next phase of our lives.  What a truly wonderful gift.  I try to live in that freedom.  I try to live the hope of knowing everything will happen in due time, when it's time.   I have lived so long without having that time, it is a gift to take and enjoy the simple things.  Like a sunny October day.