The Second Post Marking The End Of My Second Year

The second year of Salted Lithium ends on November 14, 2008. This is the second post in a series taking a look back at the past two years.

The idea of these Anniversary Posts is to encourage people to take part in the conversations which were started on the original posts last year or two years ago. But no pressure.

One of the main reasons I started Salted Lithium was to understand manic depression and what it had done to me while I had been untreated. The first few months of posting on Salted was sporadic and almost violent. Every time I took a peek at what the disease had done to my life I got angrier at it, and at myself for allowing the disease to control me for so long.

The following quotes are taken from the posts I wrote between November 14 and December 29, 2006. It was the time in the recovery process where my suicidal thoughts and my recovery were overlapping.

Included is the very first post on Salted Lithium, “18-Years Off The Pills, Three Years On”, which was originally meant to be a letter to my youngest sister. Ultimately it’s the heart, and the touchstone of Salted, and of my recovery.

18-Years Off The Pills, Three Years On
November 14, 2006

This is what I want to tell people: “My life is easy in your head.” Sometimes I sleep for hours just to pass the time, because I’m too depressed to move. Sometimes I stay awake for 36 or 48 hours just because I can’t stop. I have spent exactly half of my life trapped in the trunk of a car. There have been years where I could not move. There is only one step a Manic Depressive can make to get better: make every sacrifice to take the pills.

kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight
November 18, 2006

Manic depression makes you confused, it feels like depth but manic depression is a very shallow disease, it’s ‘horizontal’ not ‘vertical’ like a cancer. When you get cancer you know where it is and roughly whether or not you’re going to survive it. Someone with our disease could, quite literally, be dead ten minutes from now (don’t do it) or we could survive wrapped up in a ball in a corner until we’re ninety-nine. Depression is a thin coating, it’s a thin sheet of reflective ice concealing an ocean. It corrupts our ability to Reason, and without that ability we can’t defend ourselves against the thoughts inside our heads, so we find excuses we can live with. People with our disease are excellent at rationalizing unreasonable behaviour to fit situations we can’t understand.

I Went Looking For Tall Bridges Where There
Were No Rivers

November 22, 2006

There is nothing you can do to prevent the [suicide] fantasy’s from coming, they are a part of the disease and you know this because no one you know has them. Maybe, maybe, one of your friends had one complete fantasy where they could feel the knife moving across their wrist. One, brief exhausting moment which made them think about seeing a psychiatrist. But they don’t really remember it, and they never did get around to seeing a doctor about it.

For everyone else suicide is something to move away from, it’s their ultimate bottom end when absolutely everything has fallen apart, it’s a consideration and then a warning… They don’t want to hear about your thirty suicide fantasies this week, because they know the only suicide fantasy they ever had really, really hurt. They cannot understand that, for some of us, that one-second glimpse they had into a world without them, is the singular moment you and I get stuck in for minutes, days, hours, seconds, over and over and over and over again.

There Are Moments Of Lucidity In Our Lives
November 28, 2006

This disease is 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? 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. It’s incredible of what this disease can convince you. Not only will it take away any community capable of protecting you, 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 has been your fault.

Mostly We Die Because Of Infected Memories
December 8, 2006

People with Manic Depression are forever searching for a reason for our depression, and when we can’t find one we create one. There are no reasons needed for a Manic Depressive to be depressed. We have a disease which spontaneously creates our depressions. So how do you find meaning when there’s no meaning? You start by reassigning your memories.

Falling to sleep without the medication I mentally beat myself up with memories of past girlfriends, of events which occurred in early grade-school, of situations at work. These memories were embarrassing, they made me wince, and occasionally I even had to strike my head to make them stop.

I no longer believe that it is the memories themselves which are the direct cause of the pain, I now believe that we are feeling real and current pain and we are finding memories which could explain the pain. Simply: I believe that the disease causes us pain, and in an attempt to explain that pain we find painful memories.

Simply: The disease causes me to feel emotional pain; my brain doesn’t understand said pain is illusionary, so; my brain searches out a comparable event to beat me with, but; I take pills to control my Disease and therefore dampen the illusionary pain, so; my brain leaves me alone, and finally; I am left in peace and can begin to clearly understand that the events in question were actually dealt with long ago.

There’s No Art In Manic Depression
December 29, 2006

Some artists with cancer have made art about their struggle against cancer. It doesn’t mean the cancer gave them some special insight into the world, fighting the cancer just focused their attention on a specific period in their lives and some artists with MD manage the same despite our disease. Manic Depression is not an automatic PhD in philosophy, it’s not even a college entrance course in self-awareness. It’s a disease with a decent soundtrack that, left untreated or treated poorly, will kill you slowly, or sometimes quickly.

The most important step I took after starting my recovery was getting angry. Until I started Salted I was a victim of manic depression. Before Salted and after Salted is like night and day. It’s like listening to sickly sweet music about feeling the pain of Everything then switching the station and being punched in the face by AC/DC at full volume. The lyrics may be just as nonsensical, but at least you feel like moving.

Before I started Salted all I could do was live day to day because there was no record of anything beyond my memories of who I was yesterday. Even medicated and in treatment I still spent everyday living at the whim of the disease.

But keeping this blog gave me a tool I could use against the disease. What I wrote here gave me a record and a library I could use to keep me in treatment. It gave me a place to be critical of myself, but mostly to list the litany of abuses the disease has laid down on me.

When I started Salted I was in the overlap phase of recovery… I was still having suicidal fantasies, I was still convinced everything wrong in my life was my fault and there was no hope for change. But what changed everything was putting into print the basic truths of manic depression: 1. it’s a disease; 2. there are treatments; 3. it has no worth, and 4. it actively works against you, its host.

The medications and the sessions with my psychiatrist were the bedrock for my recovery, but during its first year Salted became the foundation for where I am today. In my everyday life Salted has become my touchstone.

When an alcoholic starts to think he’s cured he has meetings he can go to, or a sponsor he can call. I have Salted.

.

.

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 Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Health, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Salted Truths, Second Salted Anniversary. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Second Post Marking The End Of My Second Year

  1. bromac says:

    Many of these excerpts are what holds you in such high esteem in my eyes. You have such great insight into the disease. I have learned a tremendous amount of usable knowledge from you, and I truly appreciate it.

    This is what I am most guilty of:
    “People with our disease are excellent at rationalizing unreasonable behaviour to fit situations we can’t understand.”

    Fucking perfect.

  2. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks bromac. Really. If you think anything I’ve written here can be of use elsewhere please don’t hesitate to copy and paste and — after editing out the profanity and adding the proper punctuation — pass it on.

    We really need to get you a blog… I thought it was great that you took a chance on Thor’s blog.

  3. bromac says:

    Thanks. It was terrifying. I mostly regret it.

    As far as my own blog is concerned, I think the risk is to big for one of my students finding it. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my disease, but kids can be ignorant and cruel. With bipolar apparently being the disease of the stars now, the kids make a lot of ridiculous statements.

    Oh, and my writing sucks, too.

  4. bromac says:

    Oh, and I do a lot of cutting and pasting of your work to both my husband and my best friend. It helps them to understand what it is that goes on in my head.

  5. thordora says:

    You’re awesome. But you knew that. 😛

  6. thordora says:

    And I’m asking for Anti-psychcotics today to quell the overwhelming paranoia. Wish me luck!

  7. Gabriel... says:

    I don’t know Thor… I think it’s just you, bromac and my mother thinking that right now, and I’m pretty sure she has her doubts.

    Let me know what the anti-psychotics are. I’m really missing my Seroquel right now, the sleep I’ve been getting over the past ten days reminds me a lot of the quality I was getting pre-treatment.

  8. exactscience says:

    I think you’re awesome.
    That sounded less fan-girly in my head.

    You have a very clear view on what manic depression is. Most of us recovery bloggers do well to offer up anything more than our own confusion. Some of us get close to having little revelations but you have a lot of very clear, ridiculously accurate and aggressively funny things to say about the whole bipolar thing.

    I think most people finding this site will leave with some degree of improved clarity about what bipolar disease actually means.

    The only thing I have to offer is something my psychiatrist said to me in an oddly candid moment.
    “Removing and replacing are different things. Drugs can remove the manic depression, you still need to learn to live without it.”

    And I think it is people like you, Seaneen, many others and maybe me on a good day that help with that learning to live without it part.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. alruiceis says:

    I third the sentiment of your awesomeness. I haven’t been a lurker/commenter here for long, but I have been taking a look at Ten Discussions Worth Having and they’ve helped a lot. In fact, today was my first day of psychotherapy. If it weren’t for Salted, I wouldn’t have had the nads to go. Thanks for making the first steps to recovery easier with your oodles of insight.

  10. Gabriel... says:

    “Drugs can remove the manic depression, you still need to learn to live without it.”

    I like that… I think at least one of my posts can be summed up in that one sentence.

    You’re very welcome for any help I’ve offered Esther. Be as honest as you can with your therapist, but don’t be afraid to go as slow as you need.

    Thanks to all four of you, I really needed to hear all of this.

  11. XUP says:

    Though reading some of this was very sad and frightening, in the end it was also uplifting — that something like blogging…writing your thoughts and feelings and experiences; verbalizing them – can make things better. I’ve always maintained that emotions and feelings cannot be adequately expressed in words. BUT, I do believe that by putting emotions and feelings (especially negative, painful ones) into words, we lessen their power over us. We control them by intellectualizing them, by thinking about them and giving them form and matter that we have power over. It’s so great to know that the seemingly simple exercize of working through your experiences on paper, as it were, has been such a tremendous help. You rock!

  12. Clare says:

    i sent you an email did you get it typing with one finger

  13. Gabriel... says:

    got it, also typing this with one finger… hard to do, can’t use shift key…

  14. Pingback: The Third Post Marking The End Of My Second Year « …salted lithium.

  15. Pingback: Second Salted Anniversary « …salted lithium.

  16. Clare says:

    happy blogversary

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