Salted Lithium Year Two First Post Coda: Feeling Sucks


“Edmund Fitzgerald”; Gordon Lightfoot
Try singing this right through without choking up…
Let me know if the YouTube isn’t available.


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I was responding to comments left on a post I wrote called “Feeling Sucks” when it turned into a post of its own… so here it is. It’s 4am and I’m trying to write a post about my little brother for his birthday so it finishes kind of abruptly…. I’ve also switched from Diet Pepsi to Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale (“the champagne of ginger ales”). It has the same amount of Aspartame yet it tastes different, it’s like a whole new world has opened up… like a coke addict discovering heroin. So my brain is adjusting.

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When I was unmedicated I thought every little thing the Disease threw at me had meaning. I thought the depressions had Causes and the manics were Reasonable because, obviously, I was Untouchable. They were real in the sense that they happened, they were not illusions. I was depressed and I was manic. But nothing happened to spark them other than a few tiny microns of chemicals got shunted down the wrong tube in my brain. There were no dead dogs, there were no conspiracies of invisible powers. I know people who, when those depressions hit, would sob for days… until the shunting fixed itself and they didn’t feel that way anymore. So they would sob then stop. Did the sobbing feel good? Probably. But crying didn’t stop the shunted-depression.

I’ve tried crying in the past… when the dude who was about to become my step-father died I walked around trying to cry. Didn’t work. Frankly I always felt like I was too depressed to cry. The closest I’d come to crying was when I was feeling hyper-frustrated. When M.S broke up with me back in 1994(?) I came pretty close, but writing a really angry poem actually stopped what I think was going to be an epic tear-fest. The absolute closest I came to crying was watching The Sound Of Music in 1996 when a tear actually dropped. Actually I thought tonight might be The Night… a longtime friend of mine told me recently I had been pissing him off for a few months, and tonight I was feeling really down about it and even wrote up an apology… but then it hit me that he waited two months before telling me, which meant I was doing it over and over again while he let me think I was Mr. Fun. So now I’m pissed off at him.

Just a few months after I started taking the pills (three years ago) I thought I was as good as I was ever going to get. It’s a trap a lot of us — and by a lot I mean all of us — fall into. In the spring of 2004 I was already making plans to be outta here. I had just started taking medications which, really, take months and even years to begin to work properly but here I was halfway packed and ready to go back to work. I had just put the cast on… the multiple leg fractures hadn’t even set, yet here I was planning a marathon. Just to kill the analogy, here I am three years later still in rehab and I’m just figuring out how to walk. I thought I was feeling because I could laugh again, or not be constantly suicidal. Because the extremes were fading from memory I thought what was left was what people without Manic Depression felt. But now I see the middle part, the part which we skipped over in our brain’s rush to hit the highs and lows, was crushed like a sponge between the two stones of manic and depression. Take the stones away and you can see the sponge, but the sponge isn’t anywhere near the size it will become with treatment… which, in this 2am analogy, would be water… or maybe, I don’t know, the tears of an Angel.

For myself, this whole process I’ve been feeling since last spring has been three years in the making. It is a common thing in the recovery process… really, it is so much like what addicts go through. Someone fucked up on meth or Lysol isn’t able to learn from their lives either. Their brains are basically terminal every minute of every day, so when they start their recovery those first few glimpses of Reality can scare them straight back to the Drug. They can also, do also, confuse moments of clarity with Reason and Emotions because those moments are getting longer. The moments between being suicidal or crushingly depressed get longer for us as well, and in the early stages we confuse those moments of clarity for Reason and Emotion… but, looking back after time, I’ve realized those moments were Just Moments compared to what I’ve got now.

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…since november fourteenth, 2006.

“You burn things when there’s no going back. How much of
yourself have you had to burn away to be
the person you are today? Because baby, my body
is ash and my mind is still smoking.”

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Salted Lithium Year Two First Post Coda: Feeling Sucks

  1. Timofëjus Sraunevièius says:

    Guess what? Your blog is amazing! I can’t remember when was the last time i’ve overcome such a good blog that almost all articles/posts were interesting and wouldn’t regret spending my time reading it. I hope you will keep up the great work you are doing here and i can enjoy my everyday read at your blog.

  2. Extrememoo says:

    Awesome song. Your post reminds me of the days I wasn’t taking medication. The depressive episodes did last much longer with me. About 2/3 of the time I was depressive but when the mania came there was no stopping me. Although I still have more to learn and experience because I’m still only at the initial stages of getting used to the meds.

  3. Damn I’m glad I’m not the only one who went through this several-years thing. Mine was from 2001-2006. This year was the first year I felt… well… alive. Totally present, totally living in the current instead of a) however my brain decided I was living at the time or b) dwelling on events long past. But you’re right, it’s the normal part of rehab from this horrible disease.

    Usher in the normalcy, eh? 😉

  4. Gabriel... says:

    Usher it in indeed…

    After I was first prescribed the medications I took them for six weeks, did well on a few tests and a high school project and stopped taking them. For the next eighteen years I was pretty much convinced that all I had to do to get better was take them for a few months, at which point I’d be “okay”. I knew I’d have to take them for the rest of my life, but to get “better” it was just a matter of weeks and months.

    That’s the trap… after taking them for a few months a lot of people get fed up waiting for normalcy to appear, or start thinking they’re Normal because the suicidal tendencies haven’t occurred with the same frequency.

    I am stunned that I’ve made it this far because ten years ago, three years ago and six months ago I didn’t realize This Far even existed.

  5. thordora says:

    I’ve accepted the knowledge that my life includes those little pink pills that stick in my throat.

    I was one pill less for my dose the other day, and I noticed the difference immediately-my rage came back like a bear. It reminded me that I’m only “better” because of those little things. I still have bad days, but instead of falling in a hole, it’s like tripping over a twig. It still hurts, but I can get up.

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