I have been running like a chicken with my head cut off for literally weeks. I am pumped and excited and full of awesome feelings. Massage school is so much fun it’s ridiculous. Everyday some new realization about how awesome the world is or how not scary life is in reality comes flying at me at lightning speed making everything sparkle in my head in a super-fantastic display of brightness, life and joy.
OFB is the best listener I’ve got. His struggles with ADHD and hypoglycemia mirror what I’m learning about my body in all kinds of interesting ways. He’s a patient listener as I ramble endlessly about all of these wonderful realizations. Jack’s getting jealous – understandably I can say in hindsight. W is also a great listener – struggling as he has with mental illness his entire life.
One day, as I’m driving to work at my mini-time job, I suddenly realize that I’m no longer attracted to OFB. Completely convinced that Jack will be *thrilled* to hear this astonishing news, I call and happily inform him of the fact. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that OFB and I had been steadfastly denying any attraction between us for weeks.
A series of dramatic events and confessions later, OFB is moving in with my friend while he waits to hear back from a job he’s hoping to get. Bro-Ham is staying with us again. The tension in the house is palpable. To diffuse the tension, BFF and Fezzik (now engaged despite their young ages – 17 and 18 respectively – and likely preggers), drive home from their weekend getaway on the coast to pick me up and take me back there with them for their second night. Some space was definitely required. We talk a lot and after they go to bed, Jack and I spend about 3 hours on the phone trying to figure out whether we want to salvage our relationship. Around 3 am my phone battery is dying so we call it a night. My brain was absolutely convinced that everything was on its way to being worked out and a happy future awaited us.
On the drive home, it’s snowing – hardly a normal occurrence in Washington – so Fezzik is driving my All-Wheel Drive Cr-V (my CA bred ass is terrified of driving in snow). At a gas station near the freeway we encounter two girls stranded and needing a ride back to Olympia. Being us, we take them in and plan a trip to the Olympia Mall for me to buy a couple of bras and some warmer PJ pants on our way back to Tacoma.
In Victoria’s Secret, I started talking to the sales girl who was possibly the sweetest person on the planet (or at least she is in my admittedly-sketchy memory of that day). She informs me that I have apparently been wearing the wrong bra size for, oh I don’t know, my entire life. She sets me up in the dressing room with a bunch of black sizing bras to figure out which sizes/styles I want.
I must have been in that store for 2 hours or so.
$1600 later on Dad’s credit card, I’m ready to go. The snow has piled up by now. Fezzik has arranged for the two of them to be picked up by his Mom. Jack is en route to pick me up. I’m grinning like an idiot, wearing one of my 12 new bras and an adorable shirt I picked up that reads “All the Rumors Are True”.
Bored, I notice the Verizon store and decide to go shop for a new phone for W. Talking with the greeter while waiting in line, I decide that in celebration of the wonderful person my realizations have made me into and the help and support I have received from Jack, Bro-Ham and W, I will be buying each of us a new, fancy top-of-the-line phone with carefully selected top-of-the-line accessories.
Jack arrives while I’m waiting for the Verizon Guy (who is also an amazing person in my even sketchier memory) to sort out details of new phone numbers, plans, phones and accessories. He’s clearly not happy, but I don’t understand why, and really am so excited to give all of these wonderful gifts that my Dad, will of course be more than happy to pay for…
$4 grand and 6 hours in a mall later, Jack and I are driving more or less silently back to T-town in pretty awful conditions.
I can’t understand why he’s not as happy as I am. After all, we are going to be together forever now that there are no secrets between us and I have amazingly awesome presents for everyone to celebrate.
When I get home, the shit hits the fan. I was going to make that “proverbially hits the fan” but there really was nothing proverbial about it.
Everyone is mad at me and I don’t understand why.
I’m texting OFB – despite what Jack has stipulated as a condition of he and my relationship – namely that OFB and I no longer communicate. At all. I rationalize that what I’m saying is in no way hurtful or illicit and Jack can, at any time, read the message feed on my phone to prove it.
It’s during the screaming match the next day – after Jack and Bro-Ham have returned everything I’ve bought except the items I am wearing/using already – after I’ve screamed about their lack of respect for me – after numerous conversations with my parents about the money of theirs I’ve spent – that Jack somehow makes me understand that “no contact” means exactly that. No excuses or justifications.
I collapse in a puddle of suicidal tears.
I beg to be taken to the hospital. Jack drives.
A note of explanation – when you are in the ER for psych reasons, you have to take off all of your clothes and wear one of those robes they give you. It is while changing into said robe with an orderly outside the bathroom door that I learn the first of many lessons from this experience.
A good bra is worth is weight in platinum, titanium, gold and silver combined.
Yes, I was wearing one of those perfectly-fitted bras from my spree. I got the orderly’s permission to keep it on. I don’t think anything could have made me feel more secure on that terrible night in the ER. Those hospital robes make you feel like a crazy invalid who can’t be trusted with construction paper scissors from a kindergarten classroom. But that bra made me feel safe. Protected.
I was sent to a pretty crazy place. And when I say crazy, I mean crazy. It’s a halfway house full of people of varying degrees of function there either by court order or because there is literally no where else for them to go. It is a regular occurrence to see 6 people muttering to themselves in the hallway. Along with a few people rocking back and forth on the floor. Anything not nailed down gets stolen.
There isn’t much to do in a crazy place but sit around thinking about things that will make you feel comparatively more/less normal than what you see around you.
I wrote a lot. I hung out with some of the higher-functioning patients, all under court-order I later found out and all with serious addiction issues.
And I pondered my new existence as a person with Bipolar Type 1.
I’ve been open about my long-time struggles with Depression and its little sister Anxiety. Apparently, all the while I had a hidden side of this illness – and its name is Mania.
Mania had apparently been my companion for all of those weeks of realizations. Had led to that spending spree. Had led to my totally delusional belief that everyone was happy for me and as one-with-the-Universe as I was.
Only with benefit of hindsight can I see the dangers of Mania. The terrifying delusions, the simultaneous thrill and joy and rollercoaster of realizations and energy – it is a dangerous, thrilling, terrifying, ecstatic place to be. It disconnects you from reality and tempts you into total self-centeredness and narcissism.
I was 94 pounds on my admission.
Apparently, in my joyous ecstasy of Mania, I had been surviving on soda and 1/3 of a meal a day. Sleep was unnecessary unless desired. No small wonder my clothes didn’t fit. No wonder my bra size was so different from what I had always believed.
The journey back to sanity has been the toughest road of my life. I don’t think true “normalcy” is ever going to be in my grasp, but whoever wanted “normal” anyway?
But I will never forget the wonder of that bra. Every woman needs a good bra.