Tag Archives: mental health

Angels & Devils

“All these voices in my head get loud,
I wish that I could shut them out
I’m sorry that I let you down…”
~NF – ‘Let You Down’

Gnawing on a corner of my brain is a tiny, red devil. He marked the walls in black crayon. Sketchy wormholes and depictions of chaos are his pieces of art that I’d love to rip down. But I am stuck. Unable to evict this monster from my broken mind. The days begin to pass in a blur of red. I’m caught between guilt and an unapologetic attitude, because half of me knows that the smoke coming out of my ears is a bit dramatic. But the other half of my brain – the one being destroyed by the little devil – is yelling to me that this anger is completely rational.
I am ruthless. I am a mess.
I am on the floor. I am crying.

These are the moments right after my brain has flipped one of ten switches. It’s like riding a freight train and coming to an immediate stop. All the emotions buried behind the anger come rushing out like the Hoover Damn has cracked.
I am angry. I am sad.
I am calm. I am a mess.
Solutions are calling me, whispering about quick fixes that are habitual, and I have to remind myself that these roads lead to dead ends.

Trying to explain these frequent changes is like trying to make an obvious fib, the truth. When people listen to these problems, I catch a look in their eyes. The look that says: “Everything would be so much easier if you weren’t so moody.” And the red devil takes a break from killing my brain to jump up and down in agreement. I am shaking my head in frustration because it’s true. It’s true, it’s true, it’s true. The devil beats this thinking into the angel that has been sitting in the corner with her knees tucked tightly between her arms. Eventually, the angel calls defeat and the devil goes back to gnawing on my brain.
I am the devil. I am the angel.
I am these two at once.
What am I to do?

The Truth About Getting Better

No one ever tells you what really happens after your diagnosis is corrected, and your meds are finally straight. Because you have a smile on your face and you feel invincible; as if nothing wrong ever happened in your life. It was all in your head….

So why do you need these mood stabilizers to keep you leveled? There’s a voice whispering in your ears, claiming that you are no longer dependent on a chemical. Friends and harmless ads are there to remind you, every time they say, “Hopefully you can get off your meds soon.” As a result….

I’ve been off my meds for almost a week. I was fine. At least, that’s what I thought. See, the thing I hate about being Bipolar…is being Bipolar. You try and rationalize all your emotions – I must be angry because of this, I must be sad because I thought about this – but when you ask me what’s wrong, I draw a blank. Because I feel nothing and everything at the same time. In the heat of the moment, it all seems logical. I can take all the candles off the shelf at work and smash them on the floor – and it is okay, because afterwards, I know I’ll feel better. But who does that? The more I think about it, the more anxious I become, and the more anxious I become, the worse my mood swings get and the more frequently they change.

In a matter of 8 hours, I went through five noticeable mood swings. That doesn’t seem like much, but it is destructive in my world. I woke up at 9AM just like anyone else who couldn’t lay down to rest until 3:30AM; I was tired, but forced myself up. I went about my usual routine of getting ready for work with energy I didn’t know I had. The breeze on my skin as I walked to the store was refreshing, and I thought about laying down in the grass until the afternoon sun started burning my skin. By the time I arrived at work, I was irritable. There were too many people around me; too many conversations. Nobody seemed to move quick enough. I wanted to tell everyone to shut up and get the fuck out of the store. But instead, I smiled and told everyone who asked, that I was okay. My anger only intensified as the day went on. By eight o’clock I felt Depression creeping on after a bout of freedom from my emotional Hell. I had no reason to be depressed, I just was. Invasive thoughts of bad memories worked their way around my brain. I felt myself slipping further and further into this black abyss. But I didn’t want to go there, so I reached out to friends, and I stopped falling.

I was back to feeling content. Level. And I realized that I should stay on my meds, even after I feel okay. The thing about having your mental illness under control, is that you begin to think clearly; suddenly you want something that you cannot have. Many people experience depression or mild mood swings, and they can handle life after therapy or simply on their own. Then, there are people like me: Bipolar. People hope that one day you won’t need medication to feel better, that – if you really try and fix your problem – it will eventually go away. Honestly, I’m not going to lie, that’s part of the reason I quit taking my medication. Who wants to have their loved ones – who are supportive – tell you about how they expect you to be off your meds for good one day. This isn’t a cold. You don’t take antibiotics until you feel better. You take this medicine because instead of your brain having 100% Serotonin, your brain is only functioning at 65% on a good day.

The truth about getting better… is that it takes a lot of work and – sometimes – medication.

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/
https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-do-i-find-a-therapist-near-me/

Dead End

Some days I’d feel insane.

And I know that’s a vague concept to explain, because at some point we’ve all felt that way. The only difference is where it led us.

While you took a nap and binge watched Netflix, I felt my mind shatter into a million pieces. I felt like I could fly, but the logical part of my brain told me that was false – and I got angry. Because I wanted to be as free as the birds I watched in the morning sunrise. On the days that you felt the blues, I was the blues. My body crumbled as I placed my toes to the ground. A functioning human being is what I pretended to be during these weeks.

So I made questionable choices to make myself feel some version of alive. And these have made me a liar in my honest nature. I wanted to escape these mountains that I was forced to climb every day just to act normal. Drugs kissed my mental wounds and told me that I could relax for a minute, so I fell asleep peacefully and thought about never coming back.

Life couldn’t continue on this endless trail; I found myself stumbling over broken branches and loosing my footing every two steps. So I became determined to find a solution that would lead me to a better place. Snow caps on mountains were a beautiful sight at a distance, but they were hell to get to in one piece.

It’s been two months now, and I’m stuck in the limbo between being mentally unstable or a new version of pill-popper. Every outlet had been exhausted and this was my last resort. Yet, as I popped a pill every morning and every night, I still heard harmless whispers saying, “Be careful, I’ve had friends kill themselves on that shit.” Though the warning was in concern, it was also a message of, “You’re a fool for thinking this medication will make you any resemblance of normal.” 

While I see a stability that I’ve never experienced before, you look at me as though I’ve changed. My head sits high because I’m no longer afraid. My anxiety has subsided and I no longer find it terrifying to talk to another person. I am my version of ‘better’, but you still think of it as a mistake because I am not who I was. You fear I’ll take my own life because of this medication, but the reality is that without this medication…I’ve already tried. I cannot go any lower than I was, and I’m intelligent enough to know the warning signs. The only difference is now my mind is steady enough to recognize I never want to go back to that dead end, repetitive behavior. The only thing missing is your support, instead of your fear that being a pill-popper will kill me in the end, rather than the disease of Bipolar Disorder.

The Love That You Gave Me

You said we could be lovers. You knew just how to inspire me, and I went along with it. Because pain brought out the best storyteller in me and I loved telling heart-breaking tales, even if it killed me. It nearly did. I fell asleep after a nod was too much for my head to return to an upright position. I pretended to be fine, but realized it was a lie as I sat at the desk, staring at my reflection in the vast mirror that hung on the wall. You were suppose to make life bearable, but you only made it worse.

I clutched my stomach and ran to the bathroom at the thought of you. Slowly, I began losing what little weight I already had. But I didn’t care, I just wanted you to love me. Every hit brought me closer to this delusion of love that you created. I could say goodbye to the ex-lovers who beat me, but why couldn’t I say goodbye to you?

My first introduction to N.A. was in Philadelphia of 2014. A friend was going to a meeting while we were on our weekend getaway with a bunch of other friends. At this point in time, my problem was still a secret, so I went as moral support in disguise. I quickly found that Philadelphia had uninspiring meetings. We left halfway through the meeting due to side conversations that wouldn’t hush, and being outsiders, we weren’t trying to push politeness onto strangers.

My second meeting was in Florida 2017. My friend – who attended A.A. frequently – offered to take me to N.A. I never shared in my first meetings. I felt as though I shouldn’t be sitting in that room, because I was much younger than most people and had less years tallied in my drug and alcohol problems. I questioned again, whether I really had a problem or not because I had listened to horror stories that my own couldn’t compare to.

Now this is where my mental illness – undiagnosed – takes over. My emotions are swirling around my head, flaring up at random moments, and causing destruction along the way. This is why I stopped drinking. Because a third of the way into the bottle, and I am sobbing over my regrets and dead friends. And the people around me look at me like I’m a ticking time bomb. Honestly, the only thing that was wrong was my self-medicating habits that never really solved my problems. Yet I looked to you, as if you could conquer any demons that scratched at my eyes. I found you in a heartbeat, because your love was something you gave away so freely. I frequently kissed goodbye because I knew you couldn’t save me, but I so desperately wished you could.

Now I’m sitting here without your love, and at times, I feel empty. I tell myself that I could control it, but I’ve been sober long enough to know that it is a lie. So I open my cabinet in the bathroom, I stare at two bottles full of required medication to keep my head level, and I shake out a morning pill. I turn it over in my hand for a moment, silently contemplating if the rest of my life would be filled with happy pills. I wonder if they’re working, or if I just think they’re working. I wonder if they’ll stop working. And if they do, where does that leave me?

I think it’s safe to say that drugs and alcohol were never my real problem. My fear is of myself, and this disease that has tortured me since I was fourteen years old. Only now does it have a name, and I don’t know what to do with it.

Sometimes, I Am Me

“How are you doing?”

The voice yanks me out of my own anxiety bubble. Hmm?

“You seemed down yesterday,” my group mate continued scribbling on the daily assessment sheet.

“Oh…” I poked my feet into the ground in a nervous twitch, “Ehh..yeah, I’m good.”

My lips find their way to the placebo coffee I always grabbed on my way into the program. It was a distraction from the empty room that morning. I hadn’t taken my Trazodone in three days, and anxiety was back to clawing at the base of my legs like a lost puppy. The walls were closing in around me.

In group therapy you’re suppose to talk about your problems, but I always felt bad when I talked about myself. I don’t want to explain the depressing history of my life because I hate the facial expressions people cannot control. When they hear of the things I’ve been through in only twenty-two years, they are baffled at how I managed to survive on my own. And the truth is…by a single thread.

Because being me, means my hands are shaking as the room fills up with people I don’t know, so I fill the silence with nervous habits of crossing my legs over and over again, or playing with my hair – poking at split ends. Sometimes I just freak out and I escape to the bathroom like I’ve always done as a kid.

Being me, means having mood swings and destroying everything like a fucking hurricane intent on leaving nothing but disaster behind. One moment I’m fine, and the next, I’m ready to pop your head like a balloon, because I’m just tired…

I’m tired of everything and everyone and sometimes I can’t even move. I dream of all the things I want to accomplish, while I’m sleeping through that time to do them. And I ask myself why I do this – because I know better – but it’s like my brain has decided to take the month off. So I roll with it. What else is there to do?

These medications have my head in a haze. I don’t even know if they’re working. I’m sitting on the floor, like I’ve always done, searching this plain room for an answer I know I’ll never find. And I can feel depression clawing at the brick wall that this Prozac has created in the past month. It holds off the true effects of the disease; I can now lose myself in depressing thoughts without feeling a damn thing. Is that a positive? I’m not sure anymore.

So now I’m simply going through the motions with little to no feeling at all. It’s a better change than feeling everything so intensely, but does that mean it’s helping? Or am I just making myself believe it does?

 

 

2AM Silence

I wonder in if we’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives. How many people have stayed silent at 2AM, as life tried to overwhelm them?

I remember sitting on the bathroom floor, my arms pulling knees to my chest, silence eating away at my brain. I told myself I was alone in this pain; that nobody could possibly understand how the dead of night was my enemy. Maybe I was right. I didn’t meet many people who slept on cold tile, as I had. Instead, I met people who searched for happiness in someone else’s heartbeat, and kept getting beat down.  I met people who smiled and cracked jokes for people like me. They all had their version of my 2AM silence. These people never showed signs of pain…pain that I understood.

I never was alone. I realized that in 2010, when a sleepover at my best friends house turned into a much needed therapy session. I never imagined that she could feel isolation as our friends surrounded her each day. Cuts on her arms suddenly became a warning sign that too much silence is deadly, and that silence is not restricted to 2AM purges in the bathroom.

She began my search for a cure. I may not have understood how to stop my pain, but I wanted to break the silence for her and any replications I found later in life. That’s why I’m speaking to you now. I never had someone hold my hand as tears dripped off my puffy cheeks. I like to think that if anyone had, maybe I would have stopped before all I knew were scars. But, fighting for a recovery I’m not sure I’ll ever know, drives me to this blog. This idea. And as I sit here now, at 3:30 AM, the silence that once told me I was alone, no longer has a voice.

You can beat it. And if you find yourself stuck in that 2AM silence – remember these words: Hope Is Out There. You’re not alone in your pain. Someone is always there to help, and if you think there’s not, look to this post.

https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

http://www.crisistextline.org

https://www.7cups.com

Records

“I don’t want to be labeled.”
“You know, they follow you your whole life.”

So stigma becomes a life worth living. A life where the voices bombard your brain like world war six; because plans D and E didn’t work.

Let the record show, that ice cubes in the corner of your arms only physically showed the numbness encompassing your soul. It didn’t help. It only distracted you further from the growing frustration of not finding a cure. But…believe me…a record is far more fear-worthy.

The ink dries on crisp, white paper, on the desk of a doctor only trying to help. But you’re running from that room as if spikes appeared on the walls and began closing in. This simple, little paper with a solution to the disease in your brain. This is what you fear.

You carry a sign around your neck, labeled “Troubled”. People avoid eye contact and cover their moving lips. It’s everything they claimed. You tear off this sign, determined to hide a past, that is actually a reality. Starting over is easy. Bury the papers. Smile. Be a functioning puppet, as you have before.

Let the record show…patient is happy and healthy.
Let the record show…nothing is wrong.

People have stopped staring, finally. And you tell yourself there’s a more discrete way…because the voices are back. But that must be the price to pay. It’s okay.

Let the record show…patient is happy…and healthy. At least on the outside. See, I never understood this ‘record’. It controls our belief of what’s acceptable. Don’t be faulty – that’s not what makes an upstanding citizen. So 43.8 million people must decide if sanity is worth a tarnished record. Tell me why this is okay, while I sit and watch the 10th leading cause of death, destroy lives each day.