I have been in a bad place mentally and physically for a long time now. It really started to be noticed around the beginning of October. Several things could be a factor. Celiacs like me go in to early menopause, the change in weather, the decline in my father’s health, info from the Dr. that wasn’t promising and my own declining health that I have not wanted to deal with. These are all triggers for Depressive episodes. Talking about drinking and my sobriety isn’t giving anyone advice. It’s questioning why I had better days then than I do now. If you had to be me for a day you might understand. I wake up around 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. trying to lift my head from the pillow. This is difficult because I am exhausted and the pain in my neck, head, and shoulders is severe. When I finally make it I have to find food that is appealing and doesn’t make me feel sick to my stomach just looking at it. Then I have to take my my meds. 3 and a half pills in the morning. If anyone talks to me before this I stutter and cry. I am then yelled at for stuttering and crying. Once I am settled I can sit in my recliner and go online or sometimes watch tv. If my small intestine is not leaking too badly I can do my jewelry and maybe some housework if my muscles allow it. I have a muscle wasting disease that makes my arms and legs weak. I also have another autoimmune problem leaving me open to all bacterial infections and a low white blood cell count and something to do with my bone marrow. If my small intestine isn’t happy the meds do not work as well leaving me in the past to sit and think and cry some more. Feeling like you are in a 12 foot hole with no way out but that’s ok because you belong there. You are nothing, never were, never will be. Excuse me for looking back at some of my drinking days and seeing them as better than this. Isolated, alone, a burden to everyone. And now being aware of it when you were not before. And yes as I have said before I have tried numerous therapists, shock therapy, every med made for Bipolar Disorder. I am staying with the 7 a day I take now, they have the least side effects and work a little better than all the others. I am not uneducated. In high school I took college courses in business management, Accounting and Psychology. I always had an A in English Literature. I have cognitive problems now but I didn’t always. I have had this hole in my chest for too long, longer than any human should have to endure. And the loop that plays in my head and haunts me with regret, guilt, shame, and sometimes hopelessness I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Only one person knows most of what I see and she is the only one to cry for me and ask how I can live with it. I tell her because I have to and I would miss her smiling ass, my best friend. We don’t really talk anymore, everyone has their own problems and sure as he’ll don’t want to hear mine. It will get better eventually and I’ll stay sober I just don’t need the criticism I can do that to myself.
There are times when I go a few days without talking. This is not by choice I just do not have anyone to talk to. Then when I do go to talk my voice is different from not using it. I also talk fast and try to fit everything I have wanted to talk about into that one conversation. This does not go well, the person on the other end gets frustrated with me hogging the conversation. So what happens? They call less. I am talking about my sister and even my best friend. My father who I live with, has constant ringing in one ear from bursting his ear drum twice. Once in the Navy and the other time scuba diving. He also is cranky and has no patience from being on dialysis. I can’t really blame them. But if I had interaction more often maybe it wouln’t be like this. That also is my fault. I do not make friends easily, it has always been difficult for me. Do you know how it feels when no one wants to talk to you? I’m not paranoid, or being sensitive. My father has told me to be quiet or stop talking. I now ask him if it’s ok to talk. Most times he says no. I talk out loud to the dogs or myself when the silence is too much to bare. When I was younger I didn’t need to talk I was happy by myself. Now I’m lonely and want to talk. Yes I have tried groups and they were a disaster. It’s funny I would find myself with nothing to say. So I sit in my living room where there isn’t much living going on and listen to the silence.
Since my sister and I were little I remember hiding when my Auntie Donna came to visit. She was diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic and had no filter. She thought the doctors were trying to kill her and my grandmother was in on it. She also didn’t think twice about telling me how fat I was or if I had a big pimple. As we got older we got better at avoiding her. My mother took it upon herself to make sure she was ok. I remember going to her apartment with my mom and the smell would have knocked you over. There were maggots on the ceiling leading down to the fridge where she had let everything rot. She also had her period and hadn’t cleaned or taken care of herself in weeks. When she talked she always sounded slightly drunk from the meds and was loud. She also cursed like a sailor. Her brother and my mother’s brother has the same diagnosis but hears voices and hallucinates. He has seen President Reagan land in a helicopter on his roof quite a few times. He manages his with heroin. He’s not so bad. He’s quieter and isn’t mean.
Auntie Donna called today. We have not talked much since my mother’s death. She went on and on about mental illness I half listened until she said her new Dr. said she was Bipolar not Schizophrenic I kind of lost my hearing after that. She did say her mothet made her Bipolar not genetics, I’m thinking her Dr. is the biggest f**king moron on the planet. Then I start thinking “do people hide when they know I am coming?” ” am I just like her but don’t know it?” my world is in pieces. My sister and I have always worried about this. I couldn’t talk to my sister today because she was “too busy and upset” about her friend. So I will let it build quietly inside me.
I have stopped being able to feel joy, excitement, maybe even empathy. That feeling you get when you see a cute guy or someone you have a crush on. It’s all gone. I don’t know where it went. Even my love of shopping is gone. It has been a few years since I looked at a man and felt anything. Maybe I have been alone too long or it’s the medications. The last time I felt close to happy true happiness was at a zoo that had a special program for breeding wolves. A family was there first and the wolves wouldn’t come down off the rocks. The family was loud and getting annoyed. I waited them out and when they left I went into wolf mode. You have to know pack behavior, of course they were going to stay away from screaming kids and loud people. So I stood there quietly with my head down in a submissive way. One by one they all came to me and sat in front of me. I cried tears of joy they were so beautiful. That was the last time I felt like that it was over a year ago. My sister told me not to tell anyone that story because I sounded crazy. I said yup and I have the paperwork to prove it asshole. Someone always has to ruin something good. My dad understood. I want to feel good things again instead dread, sorrow and pain every day. People tell you to think positive snap out of it. DON’T YOU THINK I WOULD IF IT WAS THAT EASY? Do you honestly think anyone would chose to live this way? A loop of ugliness playing nonstop in your head that you can’t shut off no matter how hard you try. Some things dull it but nothing ever makes it go completely away. To feel uncomfortable in your own skin and the world around you almost your entire life is no way to live. But I do. I find a way. No matter how much I don’t want to I do. No one has even given me a hug in the longest time. Not even my twin sister. I’m not contagious just sad. And tomorrow is another day.
When I find myself in a depressive state and unfortunately this has been happening more often, there are a few things that sometimes can help. Sometimes they can also backfire. I have always used movies as an escape mechanism. I have done this since I was about 15. To be taken out of my world and put into someone else’s for awhile helped. Once in awhile a movie would hit to close to home like Leaving Las Vegas. Then I would find myself crying for a few days and not talking to anyone. My love of music did the same. A song can put me in a great mood where I am itching to go somewhere, do something. A song can also bring back back memories of my mom or my drinking days. I have never been a religious person and I have my reasons. I try not to debate with anyone over it, it isn’t worth my getting upset trying to make a point. I love animals and my love for them makes me happy but reading about their abuse, poaching, and our treatment of them gets me into a frenzy. I have tried group therapy and found it difficult. I have problems speaking in front of people I always have. Only now I develop a stutter and people are not patient enough to wait for me to get my words out. One on one therapy is out because no one in my state is taking new patients with Medicare. I make jewelry to occupy my mind and I love it but hate that no one sees it or appreciates it. So I am left with a hundred necklaces sitting not being worn. I am always down and I hate it. I understand why people don’t want to talk to me. I’m a downer. Sucking the joy out of every conversation. I wasn’t always like this and when someone says ” I miss the old Dana” I want to say ” Me too, me too”.
Bipolar Disorder is an extremely complicated disease. Let me make it very clear that there is no cure. There are ways to manage it and make life liveable. For some there isn’t. They are resistant to medications and therapy. I am one of these people. This is due to several factors. I went undiagnosed for about 23 years. In that time I was given medications that actually make Bipolar Disorder worse. I also self-medicated with large amounts of alcohol. I had Celiac Disease and didn’t know it. The Celiac disease was effecting my brain along with my small intestine. When I was finally diagnosed it was harder to find the right combo of meds that would work for me. We didn’t know I wasn’t absorbing most of them and a lot of them made me very ill. I had brain fog, memory problems, word grasping, a stutter, tremors and had been in a major depressive state for a year. I had been misdiagnosed several times and was ready to give up. When I got the Celiac diagnosis it all made sense.
What most people still don’t understand is what exactly is Bipolar Disorder? Well it is a defect in the brains regulation of moods. Happy and sad take on rhythms of their own.
Severe Mania- takes weeks to develop and begins with a feeling of confidence, happy feelings progress into more unpleasant irritable grandiose accelerated thinking. Sometimes you feel no need to sleep or eat. Your behavior can run towards promiscuity, spending sprees, and an increase in substance abuse.
Mixed State-You can be manic and depressed at the same time. It’s a dangerous place to be. You have negative thoughts along with restlessness, tension and pressure. You are depressed, irritable, hostile and can’t sleep. You have heightened concentration, anxiety, and accelerated thinking.
Major Depression-A tense irritable, sad, hopeless mood that will not go away with time. You are delusional, feel guilty, feel no pleasure, and are usually more depressed in the morning but feel a little better as day goes on. There is also social withdrawal, poor memory, indecision, slowed thinking, problems with sleep, constipation, weight loss, headaches and other physical pain. Fatigue and suicidal thoughts are common.
So what are some of the causes? An abnormal functioning of brain circuits involving Dopamine and Serotonin. A smaller prefontal cortex. GENETICS is a huge factor. Environmental stressors can trigger Bipolar Episodes in those that are genetically predisposed.
THERE IS NO CURE.
SOME DO NOT BELIEVE IN MEDICATION- I have seen people who can go awhile without meds. But then they have an episode they can’t control. I then see their family members at their funerals. This has happened 3 times. Until you have seen this you can’t argue your point with me about not taking meds. Some use pot but eventually become paranoid and just as bad as they were before. I have personally seen this also. Is medication the only answer? I don’t know. I can only speak for myself. I have had huge issues with pharmaceutical companies. But I know when I am not on meds the likeliehood of me dying goes up about 80%. Because I will drink and I will bring myself to that place where there’s no coming back from.
LABELS-You can call it “Mental Health” or “Mental Illness” it’s your choice. The Anti-Stigma groups and some Therapists want it to be called “Mental Health”. Their reasoning is that by calling it this provides a way for people to achieve and maintain their capacities by healthy eating, exercise, sleep habits, counseling and meds.
I personally think this is BS because it doesn’t help me at all. It implies getting better, which I personally will not be doing. I can’t exercise due to a muscle wasting autoimmune disease from the Celiac. Healthy eating? Food for Celiac people costs 3 times as much as regular food. Sleep? lol. Counseling is wasted on me because of my cognitive issues, I can’t pay attention, I get aggravated and anxious then can’t remember anything that was said. Meds as I discussed before are only absorbed about 60% because the rest is leaking out of my small intestine. So how does any of this help me? It doesn’t. There are varying degrees of Bipolar. Med resistant to mild forms. I happen to have a type of Bipolar that has made Neurologists and Psychiatrists cry for me. My own family hasn’t even expressed that kind of emotion. It is only because they have seen others like me and what I have ahead of me. One was a Brown University professor, that’s when I knew I wasn’t being dramatic. When a grown man cries for you, one that has seen it all, you know it has to be serious.
FAMILY- This is the hard part. I don’t know how many years it takes to be forgiven for the things you have done. Obviously 5 1/2 years isn’t long enough. My father still thinks I should be “cured” by now even though I have given him material to read, and told him myself. If I cry he will yell at me “goddamn it quit your crying” then the stutter starts and I get “I thought you would be better by now, I can’t take this goddamn it!” then he paces back and forth mumbling and slamming doors or throwing things. He is in kidney failure and on dialysis. I know this makes him miserable but it’s gone beyond that. He hardly talks to me anymore and pretends he can’t hear me. My physical health is failing as much as his but I have not gone to the doctor because I am afraid of what they will say. I pass out at stores (when I can get enough energy to go to one). Going up 4 steps leaves my legs trembling and I feel sick. My gums have no color, my hands and feet are swollen but I’m losing weight. Blurred vision, dizziness, nosebleeds, gallbladder attacks, I could go on but I’m getting tired. And the last thing, if I leave the house in the late afternoon I get twenty questions and my dad gets angry. “You’re going out now? It’s almost 5:00 pm it will be dark soon.” Ok he must not know that you can drink in the daytime too. So I try not to go anywhere too late in the day. I’m 42. I’m getting more and more frustrated everyday. Sometimes I want to run as far away as I can. My fear stops me. There wouldn’t be anyone to hold me accountable for my actions I don’t know if I could keep myself in check on my own. Honesty is a bitch. Tomorrow is another day.
People inspire you, or they drain you- pick them wisely.-Hans Hansen
ATELPHOBIA- the fear of not being good enough
I will honestly tell you in my 20 years of drinking I did try AA two times through out these years. The first time lasted about 4 months and the second about a year. When I began drinking, it wasn’t a gradual slide into alcoholism. It was a running jump off a bridge. The first time I drank it was a six pack and shots of Rumplemintz. By the what I hope is the end it was a case of beer and a pint of whatever. Sometimes 10 to 12 shots of good tequila no salt no lime. The year I spent in AA I saw a lot that didn’t sit well with me. Who was I to say anything though? I went to different groups. A closed all women’s group. An open group where they brought prisoners in from the ACI. A LGBT group. Where the old timers in my group refused to go. Groups in poverty stricken areas downtown and groups for people in the medical community. Except Drs. they had hush hush private groups but the nurses didn’t. I watched hypocrites and liars get up and tell their stories. Some I could relate to, but most I couldn’t. I could feel most people holding back editing their versions because the “Real Shit” you saved for your sponsor and didn’t say it out loud. This pissed me off. Specifically when a grown man is sharing and is chastized in front of everyone because his story was a little “R” rated. But you could see it bothered him and he needed to feel like he wasn’t the only one. I could of told him he wasn’t but I wasn’t risking public shaming I do that to myself anyway. I did enjoy and liked some of the people. I didn’t enjoy the lectures about my medications. I had not been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Conversion Disorder and Social Phobia yet but depression and anxiety. I was not on a quick acting anxiety med it was one that had to buil up in your system and was not addictive and Effexxor one of the few antidepressants with no side effects that some what worked. I wasn’t going off them for anyone. I also got looks ( glares) for not saying the prayer at the end of every meeting. I lean towards Atheism but I keep an open mind. That doesn’t mean anyone can bully me into doing something the program says it isn’t affiliated with anyway. My father cold turkey for 34 years on his own. My mother if she were alive would be the same. I have 5 1/2 years now on my own. It’s different for me. Being diagnosed Bipolar was a lightbulb moment. When I realized all the reasons why I drank I felt the need go away. I still feel worthless, hopeless, shame, guilt, and all those lovely Bipolar feelings but alcohol sure as hell isn’t going to make them go away. My mom never saw me sober, I regret that, I lost my father’s trust and he’s on dialysis at 72, I regret that too. My liver and kidneys not so great and neither is my brain. I know if I have 1 drink this time I won’t stop until I’m dead. AA works wonders for a lot of people and varies from state to state, town to town, person to person. Only you know what is right for you.
Recently a family member finally admitted that they were an alcoholic and addicted to pain pills. I had known this for quite some time but because of the lifestyle this person lead a lot was overlooked and even encouraged by others. This last part made me angry but I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t know the entire story. What I did know was somewhat like mine, bullied quite a bit throughout school until started playing guitar and joining bands. There were other issues too, of self esteem and so forth. He was a back up player for a well known band that he had been friends with for quite some time. One band member was best man at his wedding. I believe he lost his spot playing with them because of the drinking, anxiety, and not thinking he was good enough. For fun or if they were bored they would fly him out to where ever they were as entertainment. I know one member didn’t see it that way and honestly cared but the others were more fascinated at how far he could projectile vomit outside an Irish Pub. There were pictures. His wife was proud. (not really) He’s an excellent father, one of the best I’ve seen and he loves my sister, not always easy to do. She scares people, it’s either black or white with her no gray and she doesn’t forgive easily. Some respect her for it some don’t. AA has had a tremendous effect on him so far and he’s doing well. I have to wonder how much of it is because the people he knows are doing stints in rehab or if he really wants it. There has always been a need and want to fit in and be a rockstar. In my sister’s eyes and his childrens he already is I hope he realizes this soon.