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Losing focus . .  . it is the first sign of change for the worse. It means that I am either stepping up from hypomania into irritable disorientation and rage; or slipping down into useless depression. It doesn’t take me long to figure out which. And the feeling of losing focus, which I’ve been lost in among the ravages of paralyzing depression, is a terrible thing. So, since it is my current condition, I will try to be mindful and describe the feeling.

Losing focus is trying to grasp a tendril of smoke that wasn’t smoke before. It’s anxiety producing.

It feels like . . . hmm.

Searching among fragmented paths for a way home

Fermented clouds soaking the brain

Plucking at harpstrings of dry wool

Bird bashing head against green-glass walls, while frenetic wings continue flapping

Slinky nooses around a mind of gleaming burlap in the night

My head hacked on, off, and into. . .

So . . .

If I were focused, I could make poems of these.  I wish I were.  I am trying to get there.

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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.

 

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.

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