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Hey you guys

I hope everybody is OK. . .I’m not seeing many new posts among the blogs I follow and read. If you’re like me, depressed and blocked, I’m pulling for ya!

I am depressed right now . . . keep thinking I’m coming out of it but it’s exactly like the 72-hour migraine I had recently. . .every time I thought the end in sight, another stab came at me. Writing? Normally, depression triggers vomitus on paper. Not lately. I have writer’s block, so there’s my excuse.  Perhaps maybe this time, when the depression lifts a little, on a sunny day, I’ll have something to share.

Right now all that I can share is that I pray for everyone who struggles with this disease. For one more good day. For the bad days: understanding that another good day is going to come along. Or hopefully a whole bunch of them!

God bless.

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The rescued cat
huddles
in the old chicken coop.
Not knowing, as I do,
that it is safe.

This foolish elf
broods
in her decaying tree.
Not knowing, as God does,
what uses there may be left
in her life.

 

the tree of the whole

10/2012

 

Brainspace

That’s all I wanted. Just a little room to think.

I’d done it. I’d forced myself out of the worst of the depression by using Opposite Action (a DBT skill) and getting out there. I’m a better wife, better mother, better participant, more effective homework-helper than I’ve been in months. My latest walk with my horse included two family members, their horses, and a volunteer with a rescue! But it feels like I’m never alone now. Will no one SHUT UP?

Brain space, please!

Or not. Here in the mixed-manic state, for which I do not know the real definition, my mind races with others like tongue-flapping pups in the sun, and it flees alone into wildernesses. Wildernesses of bogs and dead cedars; of dry reservoirs with sharp rocks, hungry mud, and rusty coyote traps; of thick, hot showers where the songs are hollowed out from themselves and filled with monsters; of flat, gray skies over swarming snowfields and a heart so frozen that the sad, mascaraed eyes of a teenage girl evoke no compassion or curiosity.

I thought I needed brain space, but whenever it found me, they were waiting. Inevitably, my thoughts would curdle into miasma, to be met by my demons. The old, familiar ones: self-doubt, worthlessness, learned helplessness, blame of God, self-blame and -hatred; and the newer ones: rage, fear and paranoia that have not shoved their sticky eyeballs into my sockets since the Great Desperation of ’02.

I am a loner by nature. Alone with my brain, I imagine all sorts of wonderful pastimes. I could write, imagine, draw, torment a variety of musical instruments from which my fingers have not evoked dissonance in far too long … instead, I find myself procrastinating these diversions, and my responsibilities too. Rather I brood. I brood, and wait, and fear them and what they will do and when they will show themselves and what I will do when they do.  !!!

People have hurt me and my family. They are still hurting me and my family, and they will go on hurting us, because that is what people do. Reality can be so intrusive.

So can bipolar. I can’t plan anything, because I never know. Mood charts, group therapy, medications…none of them predict how I will react to another person or an unexpected situation. They only marginally protect. They are loose loopy mail against the slings and arrows, and they are something.

So I’ve gone and re-learned something valuable for myself, which I suppose I must go on through life continuing to forget and re-learn. Even lacking friends, I learned of the great help in “keeping busy” and staying part of everything, even when I have not planned on it, am not trying to, and above all, don’t want to. The grandiose assumption that I have finally risen above the depressive is illusory for now. All that is keeping depression down is busy-ness and faith, and that’s OK for now.

For Now = Things Always Change. It WILL get better.

So screw the brain space for now, and just enjoy the love that is all around.

 

OK, depression, I’ve got you in my teeth like a wild warg and I’m slamming you this way and that and you better just lie there, bloodied and broken and submissive, at least through tomorrow.

Uh, does that sound manic? Am I manic, or just excited? How do I tell the difference?

Last night we survived being pulled over, on the way home from my daughter’s 4-H club meeting.

I thought it might be that the officer thought I was drunk because, with a benighted dashboard before me (that will never again illuminate its information) I could not see the speedometer. I was trying to flip down my highbeams, turn on my dome light, stay in my lane, and peer around my own shadow to read the speedometer by the light of the dome, all at the same time. With two squealing teenage girls in the back seat, I fought visceral terror at the flashing lights behind me and pulled over.

I couldn’t open the window on my side for the officer because I hadn’t pulled over far enough for the officer to be safe there, and I couldn’t open the window on the passenger side, where he arrived, because it was broken. So I opened my passenger door, and the officer was treated to the spectacle of my nervous, fumbling hand vainly searching in the glove box among flashlights, dirty napkins, fuses, dirt, and other things that weren’t gloves, for the registration. He watched me move the envelope around for a while, then suggested that that might be it. I handed it to him.

The girls tittered and joked around while the officer retired to his patrol car. They were what kept me sane. Then he returned, offering to check the function of my highbeams. It seemed to him that one of them was out. Sure enough, both headlights worked except on highbeam, the driver’s side didn’t brighten. He issued me a friendly warning.

What a vigilant fellow to notice something like that and then pull them over for it. We all thanked God and went on our merry way, and somehow my mood became elevated…just like that.

So today, before my daughter’s birthday cake and ice cream, I made good on my promise to myself and got my butt out to the barn and took a walk in the sun on the snow and the ice with my horse beside me. We walked for an hour and it felt like 15 minutes. When I got back to the house I discovered we had no birthday candles. My daughter, with perfect teenage nonchalance, blew out fifteen imaginary candles on the lopsided chocolate cake my husband had baked, and the party commenced.

Tomorrow I’m going to a boot camp for writers. I used to be a writer. Yes, it’s true. At least, that’s how I thought of myself. But I haven’t written in years, and now all of a sudden with the fog clearing, I think I want to try to write again. But in a public, structured setting with PEOPLE there??

I guess I’m better off than a painter struggling to re-emerge. At least no one will observe my hesitant strokes while I’m trying to create.

I see this plan to attend boot camp as a positive step against the force of depression, a willful lurch out of paralysis. Unfortunately I cannot say or guess how long this positive surge will last… but I will ride it gladly, toward whatever bright vistas, as if it will never end.

It will take work. There will be things I will have to make myself do: pull on my boots, drive my falling-to-pieces Jeep, step across thresholds, speak with people I know and don’t know and whose names I am mortified I don’t remember, but hopefully it will be worth it. If anyone is reading this, please wish me luck.

Also I shall wish myself luck. Good luck, me.

spiderblood

There’s a blood smear on the ceiling. I stare straight up at it as I lay in bed, which I’ve been doing entirely too much of lately.

Depression has been having its way with me, and I suppose it’s my fault for letting it…I am suffering a period of serious social withdrawal and sadness. I’m running away from or pushing away everyone I can, and struggling to put on a smile for those whom I cannot avoid, who are so necessary…for just that reason.

I recently read something that reminded me of what I am supposed to be doing… forcing myself to get up and DO what I know will be healing, or at least useful. To that end, after 4-H, I came home and stared the beast in the face: Examined that I want to be with Zil, and yet I cannot go to her except to throw hay and run in from the cold. It adds to the torment to know that I know what to do to help myself (and her) and I can’t do it. If I don’t do it today, it’s harder tomorrow. It feels like exponential helplessness and it really, really hurts. It is the paralysis that comes with depression. It takes a fierce hold upon the will.

But I have a more pressing issue at the moment. The bloodstain on the ceiling.

The other night my husband, in his usual nonspecific way, commented on the size of “that spider.” Of course, I had no idea what spider, but I was tired of asking stuff like that, so I didn’t worry about it. Until later that night I lay down on my back and saw what was on the ceiling straight above my face. It looked like it had sixteen legs. Eight of those, of course, sprouted from its shadow, but the creepiness was undaunted by the fact.

I could not possibly sleep with that behemoth there, which could decide at any moment to descend on its self-spun cable, and crawl upon my face. So I got up, grabbed a shoe, and swatted it.

It landed as a black, wilted puddle on the carpet. I knelt to smoosh it in a tissue. From above, my husband exclaimed, “Wow! It was all FULL of blood!”

That grossed me out. Then he said something sobering: “It must have been eating all the other bugs.”

(Yeah we have bugs in our house but that’s not the point).

I had just killed a creature that, all unknown to me, had been doing us a service all this while. Quietly going about its business, bothering no one, helpfully keeping all the plastic glow-in-the-dark constellations clean of UFOs…and possibly other creatures that could land on my face.

Could it have been my guardian angel that I’d just swatted? Oh, that I were more Buddhist sometimes! I could have gently blown at it, or nudged it, just to make it move away. I didn’t have to kill it! Another living thing, God’s creature? I could have chosen to move it. I could have let it live.

Then, on the toilet, where I get philosophical (or think I do), I began to wonder how many people who, in our wanderings, have crossed paths with me, intending me no harm, but were swatted anyway. Had their feelings swatted. Had their intellect swatted. Had their self-worth swatted. Been swatted out of my life. When we could have helped each other. Built each other up. Formed a relationship, or just randomly momentarily made one another’s day better.

I haven’t washed the bloodstain away, because it serves as a reminder to me. We can never really know how another is feeling. I often feel that I look for the best in people, but not all the time. No matter how we feel, it seems better to use a fleeting moment to smile, or to stretch our comfort level just a bit (Opposite Action?), even if it’s a herculean effort only to say, “Good morning.”

One could, all unknowing, help lift someone else’s depression just a bit. Or one could just swat the person by the simple act of looking away or beyond, like they don’t exist. I have thought about all those phone calls that have gone unanswered because there were people at the other end. But those people have feelings too. I don’t know if I can do it, but I can just do one tiny little thing in one tiny little moment, one single act of will. That tiny little blood stain reminds me.

One simple act of will.

The psychiatrist leaned forward as she asked, her legs crossed, her expression giving me the impression of one who is in the process of chain-smoking while awaiting a subway train.

I’m sorry, what? My “mooooood,” (for that was how she said it)? I did not know what to answer. It meant about as much to me as “how’s your penis?” or, “whatcha know?” or, “how’s the moon?” Looking back, I guess I’d say my mooood, at the moment, was hirrrritated. That question could only come from someone who had no idea what she was asking.

I was on Effexor at the time. Then and since, I’ve had a problem with the word, mood. I think of a mood as a passing thing, coming and going like clouds over the sun or waves on the ocean; that is, everyone’s sun, everyone’s ocean. Not mine.

What is mood? A current attitude toward the world? A snarky comment curling about your brain? A jumping and laughing, a reaching for the sky while others look on, dumbfounded? A dull fuzz that covers everything? An irresistible desire to dispense hugs like toilet paper?  The moment of “ouch” after stepping on a rock because your shoe has fallen off, only, for a protracted period of time? Vertigo?

While I was cogitating on this, the psychiatrist wagged and tapped her feet.

“Uhh…” I said, stricken stupid. I had no answer for her, and perhaps it was then that I first recognized some deterioration in my cognitive function. Without recognizing it, of course.

Bipolar is identified as a mood disorder. Maybe I’d be happier if it were defined differently. Maybe it should be defined instead as an emotional disorder. Maybe I think I’m special. Maybe I’d have been happier if she had asked, “How extreme would you describe your epic fluctuations of emotional storm over the past month?”

 

electricity

electricity

How’s my mood? Yes, fluctuating. Of course it is. I’m bipolar. And I was unhappy with my psychiatrist at the time, whom to see I had to drive an hour. I’m sure I eventually began rambling on about some trouble or other in my life, just to fill the void, if not answer the question. I was irritated because her question was not specific enough.

Call me picky, but “mood disorder” doesn’t sound like a debilitating thing when the term is looked at objectively. It just seems trivial. Being bored when I should be excited. Being sad when I should be sympathetic. Being happy when I should be glum. Whatever it is, I’m doing it wrong. And I am trivial because of my inappropriate mood. And that’s exactly (one of) the sort of trap(s) that lead to self-esteem so low that, well, something or other is triggered, at least in me.

I think the emotional rollercoaster of bipolar deserves a better definition than mood disorder. Why? I don’t know. I am a semantics quibbler, been one all my life.  What a fun person, huh. Maybe “emotional disaster disorder”…no, that’s more of a label, not a definition. I thought by writing about it I would understand the word “mood” and why it serves as a topic of conversation with an expensive psychiatrist who has me on the wrong meds to begin with. I certainly seem to lack the faculties to come up with a new definition of bipolar illness here. Maybe that’s not my job, because I’m too self-involved.

But it’s that “everything is my fault” mentality that almost always used to stuff me into that funnel that squeezed out a crawling-in-the-slime creature. I know that soon after that session I either attempted, or made an unworthy bid toward, you-know-what. I don’t even remember when that was or what the issues were. I just remember that the psychiatrist was on the clock, and didn’t want to know how I was doing, she wanted to know “How’s your mood?” simply to see if she needed to adjust the meds on one particular bipolar guinea pig.

Depression begs Jesus to ask it the question “Do you want to be healed?”

And then depression really scratches its head over that one. Because depression is a juggernaut, and it does not want to be healed, even if you do.

Praying for days, singing praises to the Lord for days, burying myself in the Bible and in scripture and no change. All day long, singing “Awesome God,” ALL DAY LONG as I sadly went about what little business I could. There really is no such thing as the patience of Job. Read it. Job bitches the whole way through until maybe the very end. I think my praises and prayers were faithless.

I knew the doors that were opening in my mind since going off mirtazapine would eventually start slamming shut again. They always tease me, get me excited that I may be getting it all back, then they always slam shut. I feel, disconnectedly, like the characters in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Zaphod without his Thinking Cap. Running through the dirt being slapped with giant flyswatters every time I say the word, “think.” My brain is dying.

I feel like I have tried just about everything. I’ve been in this funk all month, a deep, miserable depression that keeps me completely useless. Sometimes I can just go through the motions. In between bouts of crying, and lying in bed, I will get a pit-pat of worry about the horses and run out to the barn and back 40 to check on them. Or I will clean a bathroom. Or I will do the laundry and the dishes, all the while mechanical in my misery. I will help the kids with homework, but I won’t often cook for them though I’m trying to get better about it.

I may have set myself up. I tried the other day, getting along with my husband, as we cheerfully assembled the tree and “decked the halls” and wrapped a present for each of the children, put them under the tree, because one of the kids had said a day or two prior that she was depressed about Christmas, all her friends had trees and presents and everything was ready, and we had nothing. So we went all out for them while they were at school. Like an idiot, I waited eagerly for the happy looks on their faces when they got home.

Nothing. Not even a glance as the shoes were pulled off.

Well, what did I expect?? That little peak of happiness, thinking I’d really done something to pull myself out of my depression; and I had to go and ruin it by not having done it for myself, but hingeing all the success upon the unpredictable reactions of school-age kids.

Down again. ALL the way down.

Hubby and I had a huge fight next, right in front of our daughter.

Could I really be mad at them? The poor kids? My poor husband? Am I? Of course not. I see what I did there. I don’t have to hate Christmas, that is only a choice on my part. I must deck the halls, even if I have to force myself to, because I WANT THEM DECKED for ME, so I can feel happy enough to get through Christmas come Hell or high water (or in this case, a buttload of extremely cloudy days followed by a deluge of snowfall).

I pulled on my cowboy boots and my ear warmers and ran outside. “I hope I die!!!” I cried like an idiot, because I would never want to die, not do THAT to my family, even though I was determined to ride out bareback without a helmet. Riding is pure mindfulness…something I can grasp at reflexively when I have nothing else. I grabbed a bosal hackamore because I had the presence of mind not to stick a frozen bit in Zil’s sensitive Arabian mouth. Unfortunately she is an English trained horse and had never worn a bosal before. She would not even let me get on. The bosal seemed bigger than her whole face. I climbed all over the metal feeder and could not get her to stand (I’m not Legolas, god how I wish I was and could just sling aboard) but no, I’m a clutz. I probably would’ve gotten hurt, but my daughter came out and helped me on her and then climbed on her own Arab, bareback, bridleless, and we rode around the field. Zil hated the bosal, but that was because I was out of my head and not being careful enough with it. My daughter got on and what a difference. That girl can ride. And train.

I don’t know if I felt any better afterwards, after crying and crying into that mare’s mane, rubbing her and her rubbing on me, but that was the idea anyway. My healing horse and I, maybe failed each other, I don’t know. That was all yesterday anyway. Today I’ve done almost nothing. I couldn’t think of a thing to write about.

Here I sit, with nothing to say, and it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Whether I do it, or whether I don’t do it. I just don’t care about anything, but the shit of it is that I do. Somewhere in there, I do care. I hate being bipolar. I hate that I can’t do it. I hate this feeling that I can’t know what is coming next. Maybe I need a med change but that just sounds so facile! There has got to be more to life than meds.

Clouds covered the sun through the window, and vague darkness depressed the room, crushed it down into a concentration of gloom and despair. I half-awoke and fell asleep again.

Windy Pond

waters of lost souls

” I am named for the saint of lost souls,” I said, though I did not know it to be true. It felt true.

“It’s not ‘souls’, it’s ’causes’,” said Gwydion. “Has your mind exchanged ’cause’ for ‘soul’ for a reason? Are they the same? Or has a cause (a falsehood) been replaced by the truth of a soul?”

“I know I have lost, and though I cannot remember what I have lost, its bitterness and grief and self-pity (self-judgment) remain,” I, Gilvaethwy, replied.

“What is it you have lost?” asked Gwydion.

“I yearn for lost youth, the thick trees that promised eternity.”

“That is no answer, ’tis a complaint. What is it that you have lost? Do you know?”

“Affirmation and meaning through desire and satisfaction, desire and denial, rejection, confirmation of life, or devolvement and depredation of all that might ever have been important, in past or future.”

“Then how is it loss? Is it perhaps no loss at all, but merely an absence of something that never should have been. ”

transformation

transformation

“I know I have lost, and because I cannot remember what I have lost, perhaps my mourning is for something that never existed for me:

The becoming that never became.
The becoming that regretted itself.
The becoming of linearity to pointless circling.
The becoming of faith to utter confusion.”

“Do you know what you have lost?” asked Gwydion again, maddeningly.

“I don’t know. Perhaps because I don’t remember the loss, it was not loss,” I parroted, to appease him.

Then I surprised myself. “It was transformation.”

I awoke, bathed in the dreams of early morning, with the promise of wisdom regained.  Sleep-clouded thoughts that fascinated so greatly, for whatever reason, that sleep was driven off by wonder or confusion. Before the crow of the cock, the spatter of eggs cooking in butter, the search from the ramparts.

Before the explosion in my mind that I could never see coming, the anger and rage and sadness; for happiness never lasts for me. Creativity and insight and temperance do not last with Gilvaethwy, like they do with Gwydion my brother.

I try to enjoy them while I have them, all the while mourning the certain knowledge that they will soon be gone from me.

Wizard

Wizard

Abused mustangs lash out. It’s not their fault. But if they hurt someone, that doesn’t matter. They must still be shot, punished, or sent away.

I am an abused mustang. Red-dun Utah mustang spirit. Too many have enticed me to trust them.

Too many have I chosen to trust. Too many have caged me, beaten me, and whipped my eyes.

It will take years for any human to gain my trust.

Fleeing Pig

I have wrestled and wrestled with this one. To write about it or not to write about it.

Why, during a crisis precipitated by a therapist at a mental-health institution this past August, with all the staff staring down at me as if I were a disgusting animal, did I become suddenly still–or, “less escalated”, as they call it there–at the sight of the police officers? (for backstory see Part 1 & 2)

It was not, as staff apparently believed, because I suddenly wanted to quit my tantrum and behave to avoid punishment. It was, as I previously said, an instinctive visceral reaction to past abuse by police officers in this town. I was no less “escalated” EXCEPT in my “behavior”–which was all they cared about.

OK, the “abuse” occurred over 10 years ago; it was not being overly tazered or beaten by night-sticks; so why should I be complaining about it? Because I still feel the trauma, that’s why. Thinking of it sends me into acute anxiety attacks. The mere sight of a police car, a cop reality show on TV, or driving past the jail all trigger these attacks. Trauma, pure and simple.

I have had very little experience with police. I’ve gotten speeding tickets, been pulled over because my purse was on the roof of my car, been led out of an Intensive Care Unit in handcuffs, and so forth. So when the police arrived, from the call made by my husband at the time, after I had shoved him away from me because he was frightening me by looming over me and screaming two inches from my face (we had some issues; I was sick; police were called because we needed help), I stupidly, naively, calmly, admitted to having shoved him. Both of us believed the police had come to help us.

I was semi-clothed, in years-old, rather un-modestly torn, men’s thermal underwear. They did not allow me to put clothes on. I don’t remember having my rights stated to me. They cuffed me, took me away, and locked me up in one of those cinder block holding cells, still clad only in this underwear. I wonder what they would have done if I was naked?

One of the officers found a black-and-white striped shirt which was too short and extremely baggy, but gave me no pants. I was not allowed to be warm (it was midwinter); they would give me nothing, because it was “not a hotel.” They joked and jeered at me and my behavior, I was crying and upset, and they no doubt get a lot of “crazy” people to torment in there on the graveyard shift.

All the while, I was given to understand later, my husband followed them and demanded they release me, that he was not lodging a complaint and they had no reason to take me in. I do not understand the system, but it appears they just wanted to take me in and would not be dissuaded by reason. I was a domestic violence criminal, guilty until proven innocent and treated as the foulest of scum.

They did give me my meds, and a pen and paper when I asked for one.

The next morning, they still gave me no pants, but locked me in a chain gang with a bunch of giant, overweight men (who all were wearing jail clothes and stinking of alcohol) and took me, still chained to them, into a courtroom that was open to the public–still in torn longjohns and no pants–and put me up in front of everybody, and said stuff. I don’t know what it was. Then they chainganged me away back to the jail. I was pretty mad and still in shock and told them I had used to have respect for the police.

I had nowhere to go and no one to call. I was not allowed to speak to my husband and he was forbidden from speaking to me. I had no vehicle or place to go and my husband was not permitted to supply me with either. I was advised by legal counsel to plead guilty (to what??) because I would have little to no chance in a jury trial.

The story goes on from here, but there it is. The Incident that stopped my “escalated behavior” at the mental-health institution this past August, the sight of the big fat uniformed men I would never before have referred to as “pigs.”

Thus was the conduct of this particular city’s finest 10 yrs ago, and if I had had the money, I would have sued the city.

Laugh if you will, that I call it “abuse,” say I deserved it, say I am overreacting more than a decade later…I’m sure that’s what the compassionate staff at the mental-health institution would do and say about my “behavior” this past August since they displayed no interest in my actual mental state or safety.

I later found out that the purpose of the police who had been called by the therapist in August to the mental-health facility was NOT to take me to a place of treatment. They would have taken me to the cinder-block holding cell at the jail, conveniently located across the street. Since I had been banging my head uncontrollably on the wall and the floor, and had reached a self-harm state of being with very little thought whatsoever (staff could have cared less … they were only concerned with my behavior), my being put back into that cinder-block cell with the specter of its remembered trauma would not have ended well…for anyone…

I have the right to remain silent. If I choose to waive this right, everything I say will be used against me in the Court of Life.

I don’t, really don’t, understand these things. AM I overreacting? Was this, or was this not, abuse?

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