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.