The State Of My Mental Health

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“They tried to make me go to rehab,
but I said ‘no, no, no.’
Yes, I been black,
but when I come back,
you’ll know, know know.”

Honestly, in retrospect, only Amy Winehouse will ever own that song.

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Well, the good news is, after a two week change in lifestyle, I’m sober. The bad news is it’s probably because I couldn’t afford more alcohol.

I don’t think I was ever in serious danger of getting lost. I had my last drink around 10pm on Sunday, and it was definitely the hardest one I’ve had in the last two weeks, but it was still only 2oz of alcohol. That’s the problem with drinking after taking an eight year hiatus, and also being on prescription meds… any alcohol is too much alcohol.

If there was a serious problem I think I’d be into my girlfriend’s fridge where she stores her own little vodka stash. We’ll see what happens.

Beyond the slight, week long depression brought on by the booze, I don’t think the (nearly) two weeks of drinking pushed my recovery any further back, keeping in mind two things: my recovery has already been stalled and even substantially reversed for six months now, and; I wasn’t drinking that much. Well… 26oz of Kahlua and 13oz of vodka over two weeks, so almost 3oz/day.

I don’t know if that sounds like a lot… when I was still a social binge drinker it wasn’t unusual for me — on any given Friday and / or Saturday night — to go through eighteen to twenty or more ounces of hard stuff, as well as a whole lot of beer. But that sounds like bragging. I was also hanging around with a bunch of people who could pretty much go shot for shot with me, so it never felt weird. And now one of them owns a successful brewery.

I know people are worried about me. I know my mother keeps wanting to cry over my current state of being. Which is weird. She doesn’t know about the drinking, but she does know about my psychiatrist scheduling me for weekly appointments, and she has watched my mental state of health deteriorate over the past few months.

I’ve been quieter, I don’t laugh nearly as much as I have, I’m not funny anymore. And, to be frank, I’ve been having some mildly disturbing thoughts. Not about the act of killing myself, I still have the general warm blanket of nihilism that comes with having lived with two decades of thoughts and fantasies of killing myself, but not the thoughts and fantasies themselves. Not anymore.

I had a friend back in high school who “didn’t care enough to be apathetic”. Right now that applies to a large piece of my life. It’s almost as though I’m wearing ‘black face’… like every morning I’m putting the paint on so I can show the face people expect, or the face that’ll most likely get me through the day. Like I’m acting.

But the more I act, the less I care about what’s going on around me, so the more the act is either fraying, or taking over, or both.

I really feel thin at times. Like I’m exhausted, but still being asked to perform some complicated task. But I just keep getting more exhausted, and now I’m at the point where I’m barely performing the tasks correctly, and only out of muscle memory. So if anything changes, I’m fucked.

It’s in that exhausted state of mind, combined with the feeling of being frayed by pretending to take part in the life around me, where the disturbing thoughts come in.

It’s like I’m running out of paint. Like there are cracks. Like I’m drowning, but trying to let the people on shore know there’s no reason to worry.

The disturbing thoughts are mostly about my father, and the opportunities I’ve missed because he abandoned me. It feels as though I’ve already started comparing who I am and who I’ll become, to who he was and continues to be. When I start thinking “this might be too much”, I start to wonder if this is how he started out. Is this the gate he walked through when he lost interest in his sons.

I find a lot of the things I do for my girlfriend, the unselfish acts, are more motivated by my not wanting to be anything like my father, than by how much I care for her.

That’s one of the more disturbing thoughts I’ve been having. There are others like that.

But I have to stop here.

I have to be awake in four hours so I can go see my girlfriend in Ottawa… we’re into Week 31, and they’ve moved her over to “self-care”, so the doctors think she’s out of any immediate danger. So once we get into the eighth month I think we’re going to bring her back home and wait out the rest of the pregnancy here.

My itinerary today… wake up for 5am, my ride leaves at 6am then I’ll be at the hospital from 8am until 5pm. Then it’s home by 7pm. After that it’s pretty much random.

My girlfriend is healthy, the baby is healthy, and we’re getting closer to having a full-term baby… pretty fucking cool.

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...thanks.

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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, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Pregnancy. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The State Of My Mental Health

  1. thordora says:

    I become a crazy freak once massive change sets in, or I did. I’m lucky to be in a cool place at the moment, especially since we’re separating to eventually divorce-if I wasn’t stable, we’d be back at last year.

    You are going to your pdoc, right? You need to make that time for you as well as her. Burning out won’t help anyone, and you deserve your stability, as does your child and the others in your life.

    Please, take the time. And if you need anything, you know where to find me.

  2. markps2 says:

    re”more motivated by my not wanting to be anything like my father”
    The motivator is not important in my opinion, what is important are real world physical actions that are good. If the actions are good the motivator is a moot point.

  3. zoom says:

    Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who is a good father to his four kids, who are now all in their 20s and starting to have kids of their own. He said “I’m a better father than my father was, and I tell my kids I expect them to be better fathers than me.”
    I’d never thought of it this way before, but I like it. It’s true of my family too – I’m a better mom than my mom, and nothing would make me happier than if my son turned out to be a better parent than me.

  4. This is the first time I visited your blog in a year. Wow. We’re running parallel lives.

    Have been having severe bouts of mania for the past month, along with drinking. I had been sober for 12 years but began drinking again 4 years ago. Diagnosed as bi-polar long before that.

    My slide into the dysphoric end began when I decided that I didn’t need my meds. Good move seeing as I have a BFA and not an MD -grin-.

    Thank you for the post. You make me want to keep trying and begin writing again as well.

  5. dittohead says:

    I’d like to thank you as well for your frank and brutal story. It certainly gives me hope to know that others are going through rough times as well, probably worse than what I’m dealing with.

    “The motivator is not important in my opinion, what is important are real world physical actions that are good. If the actions are good the motivator is a moot point.”

    I like this a lot..

  6. bats0711 says:

    Um I’m freaking out about the crows!!!!

  7. Gabriel... says:

    Seriously bats… and it’s tens of thousands of crows, I ran out of space in the cutline so I could only put 1000’s, but it was definitely 10’s of thousands.

    The crows are getting ready for the trip south, and they’ve been there for at least as long as we have. Every night at sundown they swoop in and circle the hospital like eight times before finally coming to rest in a large stand of trees just beside the entrance. Then they squawk at each other all night. Weird.

    Hi Clare! I do love it when you’re here… or anywhere.

    Hi Mark… that’s a great point, buddy. And to a point I agree. I’m with you on what’s important — the actions taken being good is what’s important, and I agree the motivation becomes moot as long as the actions are good. But I think the motivational factor can define the response. Basically, I think the chicken came first.

    Bonjour Thor… I’m definitely still seeing my psychiatrist, we’re back up to once a week visits because he’s a little concerned about my state of being.

    Hi again Rachel… it’s been a while, and it’s always good to see you here. Thanks for the kind words. I think most of us live parallel lives. It’s why I think we can all help each other through our experiences, and how we deal with them afterwards.

    Hello Jeffery… thanks for coming back. Don’t see this as a contest, it doesn’t help in our recoveries if we start to think our pain is somehow “less than” someone else’s. We deal with what we’ve got.

    We’ve all got something to teach, and we’ve all got something to learn.

  8. Wow, we’re kind of in sync’ here. Well, sort of. But yes. We’re different, of course, so I’ll get to that.

    Bear with me. Migraine Hangover Day today and I haven’t even attempted to engage in my daily “Tea Ritual.” I feel disgusting.

    So, yes. Congratulations to both of us! I, too, have kicked the booze. You say “the bad news” is because you can’t afford it. My “bad news” is because I have finally found one definitive link for my migraines! Alcohol!

    And no. I wasn’t drinking last night. I went cycling and may have done some funky, atmospheric, pressure trick on myself. The weather was okay, but whipping along in the chill was a lot different than merely sitting in the “okay-ness.”

    So, Gabriel…, regardless of any “bad news,” it doesn’t matter. Good for us! You were one of the biggest readers/commenters hounding my ass for ages to get me to stop drinking. So there! I did it! Nyah!

    I can’t believe I just typed “Nyah.” Now, I’m eight years old. *rolls eyes*

    About you feeling all shitty (and tired), I do too. Even though our situations are different, we are both under a lot of stress because our lives are changing. We’re both trying to adapt to those changes, no matter what they are.

    You know what yours are, so I’m no going to list them all, or even pretend to know. You write about them on your blog here, to share them with us. However, I’ll share mine, just so you can see what I’m up to, and anyone else who cares.

    I’m trying to turn my life around, because I thought things were getting desperate before? Wow, neither I nor anyone else has any clue how bad they’ve gotten now! And how weird it is to say that even I have no clue when of course other’s wouldn’t know! That’s how bad it really is!

    So, in turning my life around, having to do it, it’s taxing me! This is huge! A lot of work. So it’s bound to effect me both mentally and physically. Mind-Body Connection, right?

    Thus, make sense for both of us? In our own ways?

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