“…I do not understand why I must forgive their guilt. They have done nothing to atone for their abuse and neglect, and when I press an issue they rear up and demand an apology for my accusations.”
“I wanted to die for so long / I never learned how to live /
This is not me / This is a shadow cast /
From a live body / From long ago.”
So you’re walking around your apartment… there’s a nagging feeling, like something’s dry but not dry. Like your clothes don’t quite fit but they’re the same ones you had on yesterday, and then they were fine. You can remember that. Your thoughts seem too subdued. Everything just seems light. Dry. That’s what you think. Something’s not right. And still you’re walking around your apartment, just a little lost, looking for something.
Ever have one of those moments where absolutely everything was uncomfortable? I’m having one right now. My pants are too tight around my legs, the chair is too lumpy, the light from the screen is too bright, I keep missing keys when I’m typing, the music is too jarring, the stove is too hot, the fan too loud, the base of my skull hurts — a light throbbing slowly bouncing from one side to the other, the smoke from the neighbouring apartment is seeping through, and I’m questioning everything I write. Backtrack and edit. Does this word work better than this one? I’m starting sentences but not finishing the thoughts. Everything is in the wrong place. And Tim Berners Lee is very lucky he’s not within arms length of me right now.
This is what I want to tell people, what I’m trying to write: My Life Is Easy In Your Head.
If you have attempted suicide, if you’ve tried to kill yourself… it sounds so trite. Suicide attempts are the end of a long road, they are not random. They are planned. People don’t just attempt suicide, they plan the scenario out to the last detail. Saying a Manic Depressive attempted suicide is like saying the Packers, after a week of drills, attempted to score a touchdown against the Seahawks. The jargon surrounding depression, especially manic depression, is trivial and it trivializes the disease. “BiPolar Disorder”? What the fuck is that? When have you heard a sober doctor say “you’ve got an Internal Ultra-Speedy Growth Disorder in your lungs” / “Oh, well, thank Christ it isn’t cancer.”
I understand there are differences, there are several different types of manic depression — BiOne’s go up more than down, BiTwo’s go further down, BiThree’s drink and use drugs a whole lot — but listing this disease as a disorder trivializes the severity and depth and corruption this disease has on us. Tell your doctors, it’s either BiPolar Disease or Manic Depression, we do not have problem acne. Think “Eating Disorder”. Sounds like a food allergy. But people with anorexia or bulimia have a serious mental illness. “Eating Disorders” are the number one Killer Mental Illness in Canada. Disorder that, bitch. No offence intended but dyslexia is a disorder, a serious disorder but one which can be ‘fixed’ with training and time.
Regardless. If you have executed a suicide plan you have to stop doing that. The more you try the more likely you are to succeed, even if, on that last try, you didn’t really mean to. So take your fucking pills and find some help. There’s about a zillion of us fuckers in this here Internet, find someone who will tell you to “stay alive, Goddammit, just stay alive.” Maybe we should have a buddy system. Maybe we should be using each other, or maybe we should find someone in our lives who will notice. Dammit, that’s the problem with this disease, it forces us to pull away from the people who could be part of a support network, then we use the fact no one is around anymore as proof of our isolation. We stop returning the phone calls and when the phone stops ringing it’s because no one cares about us.
In order to survive we have to tell friends and family that we have a disease, but the problem is the jargon surrounding the disease lists us as having a disorder… we are made trivial by the diagnostic research our loved ones perform over the Web, or through our doctor, or through us. Because disorders can be “cured”, or at least that’s the inference. “Oh, so my little baby has a disorder? Well, can I get the cure over the counter or will you prescribe something?” Actually, your little baby will go through several years of crippling suicidal depressions, she’ll self-mutilate, probably have two or three bouts of anorexia (a disease), her emotional growth will be stunted, if she’s lucky and her fourth suicide attempt fails there’ll be a space for her in an institution, otherwise she’ll likely turn to alcohol and then street drugs to self-medicate and she’ll be very fortunate indeed to see her twenty-fifth birthday. Your little baby actually has a disease which is going to require serious pharmacological treatment for decades.
You rage. I rage. There’s something about you. Most of the time things don’t happen at the proper speed. Things don’t happen on the proper level. People answer you too slowly. People react in a predictable manner. You forget words. You forget ideas. Sometimes it feels dry and quiet. It’s all frustrating. It all builds up. You rage. I rage. People don’t understand. They don’t understand that you have a disease. There’s no bloody bandage, no wheelchair, no crutch, no cane, no oxygen bottle, no hair loss. Just a person who sometimes speaks and laughs a little quicker than everyone else, and a person who retreats into themselves. They can’t see you sitting on your bed, one sock in your hand, the other still on your foot, staring at the wall, looking past it into yourself wondering ‘Why, Goddammit WHY, am I such a fucking clueless bastard of a failure?’ They cannot see you with the knife at your wrist.
Sometimes our disease feels comfortable. Sometimes it feels important. It isn’t. The only thing important about our disease is the need to medicate it into submission. This disease is so insanely sinister it will actually convince you, its host, that it makes you more creative, or more deep, or more self-aware, or more capable than anyone else. Our disease will even make you proud to host it. After all, didn’t ninety percent of the geniuses who ever put pen to paper have Manic Depression? Aren’t we all part of some Grand Cabal of Suicidal Societal Architects? You have the disease that turned Kurt Cobain into a legend. You suffer from the affliction that put Ernest Hemingway’s brains on the ceiling. Fuck, you’re basically one step away from actually being Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. It’s incredible of what this disease can convince you. Not only will it take away any community capable of protecting you, it then convinces you this is your fault, then it makes you proud to have it and prohibits you from seeking treatment, then… and this is sick, then it kills you by convincing you everything it has done to you has been your fault. Take The Fucking Pills.
TAKE. THE. FUCKING. PILLS.
Look, ask your Doctor about groups or organizations in your region, or find someone in your real life or here in your imaginary Internet one. Make an effort during the few lucid moments you have to save yourself during the corrupted moments you’ll ultimately have when you’re using your disease-imposed loneliness as a means to push yourself even further downwards. Take Control and Get Better. This disease is not us.
And, honestly, if you’re an American start looking at moving to Canada. From what I’ve learned being mentally ill in your country is like having no chickens in Uzbekistan: you’re completely fucked, you will starve and you are entirely dependent on your disease Allowing you to continue. Good freaking Christ, will you people please get a national healthcare system. Seriously, Canada is just a few hours away and we get all of your network and cable television… except HBO and FoxNews (I don’t know why either). You are allowed to move here, fuck there’s probably some Canadian government program that’ll pay you to move here.
Oh Canada, all that free lithium, yet it’s so hard to get your hilarious carrots home from the food bank.
I forgot America is now offering free cab rides for the near-homeless. Admit it Trax, you know you want the pills. Come on over, we’re getting HBO soon and we have so much wilderness to get lost in.
Trust me, my dear, Canada is looking better and better… except for that Great White North thing. i’m half Mexican, i’m not sure i’m made for that kind of cold!
We’re almost done building the Human Sized Hamster Habitat. Domes, baby, it’s all about the domes.
Seriously… Canada is almost twice as big as America with a tenth the population. We have free pills, police officers are now selling high quality weed straight from their cruisers, we’ve got more oil than Saudi Arabia, gay marriage? We got that too. Sister, abortion’s so legal it’s almost retroactive… got an 18-year old son pissing you off? Done.
*Promoting ‘hate’ is actually illegal in this country.*
Mercurial, people immigrating to this country by plane from ‘warmer’ countries actually get a free jacket.
Free pills baby. And domes. You know you want it.
Just want you to know that I’ve been reading your blog and it has been enlightening to say the least. Your posts have me reflecting, and are helping me bring an understanding to the past.
On a side note, I had a serious laugh today, thanks to you, when the wife told me that Ottawa beat Buffalo, and continued on about how cute little Daniel Briere is…. so thanks for that.
Isn’t Daniel just so frigging adorable? And I thought he was just wonderful as “Hobbit #14” in ‘The Lord Of The Rings’.
“Sometimes our disease feels comfortable.” Check. I was diagnosed with BPII in November, and I’m just starting to learn what’s normal from what’s not. Sometimes I wish I were a genius like those famous manic depressives so I’d have an excuse to be the way I am, without feeling like I had to apologize for it.
But man, isn’t it great to live in Canada? I’m on lamotrigine (Lamictal for the Americans), and thank goodness for subsidized, generic drugs.
Hi Lucky, welcome.
I managed to get into a lamotrigine double-blind trial waaay back when I was falling apart in Toronto… whatever they had me on did weird things to the back of my head. When I was falling to sleep (or trying to fall to sleep) it felt like a string… it felt like how a string feels when you stretch it to the breaking point and then ‘snap’. How freaking weird is that? Currently I’m taking Welbutrin (generic), seroquel so I can sleep at night, and 2100mgs of Lithium.
You’ll feel like you have to apologize for a while longer. It’s a habit you have to break. Not so much the saying “sorry” but the wanting to apologize. For a while in the beginning — and a few occasions since — I felt giddy because I had an excuse I could finally give people for my behaviour. But the apologies kept coming until just a little while ago when I clued in that no one else apologizes for having any other disease, why should we?
If you’d like check out my blogroll, there are a few really excellent blogs that could help you. Experimental Chimp and Furious Seasons are very good. And it is freaking awesome to live here in Canada.
Good luck with your recovery and your blog.
Hi – I’m new to all this. I found out 2 weeks ago the guy I’m falling for has this disease. I’ve known him casually for 2 years but have gotten close over the last 6 months. I say close but I did realize he was always holding something back. I thought him pathologically shy but finally started to see some patterns in his “random” joy and then periods of disappearing.
I’ve done so much reading over the last weeks and am frankly getting more frightened. I am a patient and persistent person and I really care about this man. We’ve started to talk a little about this hard stuff but I don’t want to push. It’s all very personal but I want to dig in and learn about his meds, and treatments, and therapies. I have my own compulsions and they involve educating myself endlessly about things in order to feel less helpless. I want to know he’s eating right and following his treatments and giving himself the best chance of being stable. As I understand this, there is no “cure” at the moment, just ways to try and keep it all at bay best you can.
Does anyone have any thoughts on my chances of staying close with him? Honestly, I don’t really care at this point if we can ever have a “romantic involvement”. I just want to be a constant friend in his life and a consistent support to him no matter what. If he pulls away should I give him room and then try to follow up later? Should I persist at these times and keep checking in on him? What are the risks he might hurt himself when he pulls away from everyone? And the thing that bothers me the most, if he’s manic and fells euphoric (which I’ve witnessed) will he remember or want to take his proper meds? The meds are meant to pull him back down. He’s very smart and knows he needs to follow his treatments but how can you take care of yourself when your own mind is fucking with your emotions? If he goes off treatment, and lives alone, who will see he needs to break out of a bad cycle before he might hurt himself. Please give me an insight. Thanks.
Hi. This is my little blog, and welcome to it.
I’ve tried to answer you as best I can, if you want to continue the discussion, or if you have more questions, we can do it here. I can put together some links for you of some Blogs I think are worth reading… there are other people in here who can answer some questions for you as well.
“I’ve done so much reading over the last weeks and am frankly getting more frightened.”
Good. It’s a frightening disease. Personally, unless I knew this person was getting serious treatment and taking this Disease very seriously I wouldn’t get involved with them. One of the largest mysteries of my life has been why women would want to continue dating me even after I’ve told them I’m an unmedicated Manic Depressive. If this guy is seeing a doctor and taking some serious medication, and taking it when he’s supposed to, and he’s been taking it for an extended time… sure. My advice is to date away. But only if he’s doing all of those “Ifs”.
“I am a patient and persistent person and I really care about this man.”
Patient and persistent people will exhaust themselves and ruin their lives caring for someone with Manic Depression. You are not trained, you are not a nurse. You may be someone great for your friends to talk to and share with and communicate, but communication is not your friends problem, he has a disease. You can’t patiently wait for a cancer to go away. You can’t solve MS by being persistent.
“It’s all very personal but I want to dig in and learn about his meds, and treatments, and therapies.”
There’s nothing personal about Manic Depression. There are a zillion web sites and blogs about Manic Depression… what’s personal is the crap he hasn’t had the ability to deal with since the disease took over. Manic Depression, I wrote somewhere in this blog, didn’t kill his dog. Manic Depression didn’t have sex with him when he was a child. But Manic Depression has prevented him from dealing with his “issues”. Get the Manic Depression out of the way and he can start dealing with the depressing stuff.
“I want to know he’s eating right and following his treatments and giving himself the best chance of being stable.”
You’re not his nurse and you’re not his mother. He has to deal with this shit as an adult. If he’s just starting out he has to start building systems, I have a very simple way of making sure I know when and if I’ve taken my pills… whichever pill bottle is sitting upside down is the one I’ve taken last. He has to make every effort to take his pills… if he wants to get you involved in the process, fine, but don’t take over the process from him. It’s his responsibility.
“If he goes off treatment, and lives alone, who will see he needs to break out of a bad cycle before he might hurt himself.”
If he goes off his treatment I would suggest asking him why. If he’s in treatment now, and has been for some time, he’ll understand why he needs to get back on. If he refuses then it’s time to consider leaving. Where is his family?
“Does anyone have any thoughts on my chances of staying close with him?”
If he’s unmedicated and living that life, the only reason you might want to stay is if you have a need to be a mothering nurse to him. Unmedicated Manic Depressives are blackholes for your emotions and energy. There is absolutely nothing you can do to fix them, and there is absolutely nothing they can do to get better without medications and a good doctor.
“I just want to be a constant friend in his life and a consistent support to him no matter what. If he pulls away should I give him room and then try to follow up later? Should I persist at these times and keep checking in on him?”
Being a friend is a lot different than being his girlfriend… but not much. If he’s sick all you can do is remind him he’s sick, and no Manic likes being told they’re sick. It sounds very much like your friend is not in treatment, which is not good. Besides drop some pamphlets on his bed and tell him you “know this guy who takes Lithium and he’s, like, so much better now” there’s not much you can do.
“What are the risks he might hurt himself when he pulls away from everyone?”
High, but not definite. Very few Manic Depressives commit suicide. I know that sounds weird, but the rates of suicide among people who are “depressed” is a lot higher than those for people who are “Manic Depressed”. When he pulls away from everyone, that’s a good time to start knocking on his door. Just make sure he knows there are people out there who know he’s alive.
“And the thing that bothers me the most, if he’s manic and fells euphoric (which I’ve witnessed) will he remember or want to take his proper meds?”
If he’s Manic or Euphoric chances are he’s off his meds already. If he’s getting sick while medicated he needs to change his medications or alter the dose. Short and infrequent manics would be normal on some medications, but if he’s dancing on the edge of a building then it’s time to change the pills. Something you could do, and this is a big “C”, is go to his doctor appointments with him to give some “peripheral commentary” to the doctor.
“If he goes off treatment, and lives alone, who will see he needs to break out of a bad cycle before he might hurt himself.”
First, he can’t “break” out of a cycle. If he’s off his pills he will be as manic as the Disease wants him to be, for as long as the Disease wants him to be. There’s nothing your friend can do to stop them from happening and there’s nothing he can do to stop them once they’re happening… except take advantage of his Normal periods to get help.
…actually there is something you can help him with: educate him. Give him the links to websites about Manic Depression, and leave material for him to read. Most Manic Depressives know nothing whatsoever about their Disease. It sounds like you already know more about the Disease than he does, or than he’s been willing to learn until now.
If you’ve got anymore questions feel free to come back.
You know Gabe, it’s funny. I find the right old posts on here just when I need a reminder of certain things.
Hey, check it out, I’m your infinite monkey. I was just looking at this one a few days ago. I haven’t felt like this — the “absolutely everything was uncomfortable” feeling — in a longish time. They used to come fairly frequently, but the last one I remember was the night my printer “whoops” fell across the room. Which was… March or April. Of course now I’ll probably have three before dinner.
I wonder what happened to ‘Scared_md_friend’.
I tend to have “whoops, my fist fell into the wall” moments myself….
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I am still relatively new to this (BP II) and “take the pills” is so simple isn’t it? So why do I keep pushing my nights into early mornings, forsaking the pills until dawn? And what’s with forsaking? That’s such a biblical-sounding word 🙂 I remember, pre-diagnosis hearing about bipolar people going on and off medication. Could never figure that one out…until…
Must go take pills.
A lot of it comes down to lifestyle… by the time we’ve been diagnosed we’ve exhibited the behaviours for several years then, by the time we accept some sort of treatment, several more years have gone by… so sleep patterns, which are driven by the long depressions and/or manics, have been set.
To be honest the whole sleep thing is something which should be taken care of later on down the line. I’ll probably be going to a sleep clinic later in the Spring, but my psychiatrist really could care less at the moment about the hours I’m sleeping — beyond the general state of mind / how am I sleeping / amount of sleep issues. On his list, if I’m getting eight hours during the day or evening is just not in the top ten of things I should be worried about.
As for taking the pills themselves, I had to set a really, really easy to see and remember system before I started taking them on a regular day-to-day basis. After that it’s just practise… but going on and off them can be fairly dangerous, most of the drugs We’re prescribed are serious brain altering medications, they need a certain amount of time in your system to take effect — usually six to eight months. It is something which is common among people with bipolar, mostly because in the beginning we get convinced fairly easily that “every thing’s so much better I don’t need them anymore.”
You’ve said everything I always wanted to say. Thanks and I love you for it.
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