Lonely

Well, Internet, I’m alone. I have a guy I’m kind of dating and an ex-boyfriend I’m talking to everyday but I’m still alone.

It’s not relationship thing it’s a community thing. I have a severe lack of community in Utah. I have a job I don’t like working in a call center. I have “friends” at work but no one I see outside of work. I have a small church congregation that doesn’t meet during the summers and those are “friends” too though I have hopes that I fill find some more meaningful relationships there this year.

Most of the time, I’m alone. I watch TV reruns and play Xbox and read self-help books.

I don’t really know what I’m looking for by writing this. Brene Brown says that we should have an intention for our sharing with the world. I guess my hope is to find community online. We’ll see I guess…


The Shame Spiral

It’s been a long time since I posted. A lot of changes in my life. The biggest of which is I moved to Utah. After so much self-inflicted trauma in Washington I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t much left for me there anymore. So I came to Utah in hopes of starting a new life for myself. And for the most part it’s worked. But I still deal with the shame of all the hurt I caused in Washington.

You see, for a long time now I’ve dealt with bipolar disorder. It’s a strange condition especially when it goes misdiagnosed as depression alone for as long as I was. Depression is a scary beast, don’t get me wrong, but when you compound it with mania, well let’s just say that the shit hit the fan several times and not in a good way.

I’m not sure when exactly it started but I remember one night about four years ago now that I literally could not stop talking. it got so bad that my boyfriend at the time and my brother literally challenged me to go into another room and not say anything at all for 20 minutes and when I couldn’t do it they took me to the hospital where it only got worse until I was injected with some kind of benzo I still don’t know the name of.

It’s terribly scary to be so out of control but literally to be feeling fine as if you were on top of the world. I literally could not understand why everyone was so worried about me. Until the nurses started drawing blood and filling syringes that is. And when I finally did stop talking and took a deep breath it dawned on me that I really wasn’t okay. Even though I had spent the last hour or more convincing everyone that I was fine. Apparently talking nonstop and barely pausing for breath does not constitute “fine” but I wasn’t to know that at the time.

they sent me home that night.

When I say i feel ashamed, it’s only partly of my disorder. It’s more because of the things I did while manic or high on something or both. You see, mania can lead to all kinds of secondary problems. Like overspending (I spent $4000 on my dad’s credit card buying gifts for everyone I’d ever met). Or hypersexuality (I cheated on the love of my life more than once while manic). Or risky behavior (drug experimentation in my case). And there’s only so many times you can apologize for your disorder. Because when it’s not under control, you’re only partly in control of your actions. But you’re fully aware of them. That’s the weird part. I knew what I was doing and I knew that it would create fallout but I assumed that once everyone understood where I was coming from, it would all be alright (it wasn’t).

needless to say, the boyfriend broke up with me. my brother and he kicked me out and I spent 3 weeks living out of a truck with the guy I cheated on my boyfriend with. He had a nominal job during the day while I was left alone to wander the streets and get into trouble with drugs, sex, and all kinds of unhealthy behaviors I shudder to remember. I smoked crack. I smoked meth. I had sex with strangers. I would find someone to hang out with and then spend the day with them doing whatever they deemed appropriate. I took advantage of friends and acquaintances and lost several of them because of my behavior.

I even went to jail after I became convinced that someone else’s house was, in fact, a gift to me from anonymous people who believed I was going to do great things with their largesse. And I had big plans for it in the few hours I spent in that house. But getting arrested changes things. I spent six months in county jail awaiting trial because I was deemed incompetent and sent to the jail’s mental hospital for part of that time. The court even entered an Order that I take medication that I didn’t want in order to become competent.

A word on medication: it’s a great thing most of the time but when you’re forced to take meds by the court, they don’t really give you a say in what you take. So I became numb and though my grip on reality improved, the side effects of the first meds they gave me left me feeling despondent. All I wanted to do was sleep or cry. And I couldn’t cry. Finally, after my blood pressure dipped dangerously, they put me on Abilify which was the best of the options available to me and I was deemed competent enough to enter a plea bargain. I pled guilty to trespass and malicious mischief (both misdemeanors) on a suspended sentence which meant that if I was good for a year I would not have a criminal record after that.

I still take Abilify daily and Cymbalta every-other day (it was daily but the blood pressure dropping issue changed it). And it keeps me stable and somewhat functional. I have a full-time job now for the first time in several years. And I’ve kept it for 10 months. Part of that is the change to Utah where I’m away from legal marijuana and some of the influences that kept me stuck for so long. I am seeing someone though he’s definitely not long-term material for me but it helps to have companionship a few evenings a week.

But I’m still battling shame. Shame researcher Brene Brown describes shame as the emotion we feel when we feel that we are not ___________ enough. she says that the antidote to shame is light and sharing the experiences that make us feel ashamed. She quotes 12 step groups who say “You’re only as sick as your secrets”. So after years of living in the dark, hiding a lot of what I went through, I’m sharing with you, Internet, because there really isn’t anyone to share with in my life anymore. I’ve burned a hell of a lot of bridges. I still have two or three close friends in Washington but I’m afraid to burden them with all of this – especially since they lived through it with me.

And then there’s Beanlet. I’ve seen her once in 4 years. Her dad got custody during my recovery from the first manic episode and imposed all kinds of restrictions on me seeing her. I’m most ashamed of that. That I was incapable of being a good mom. That I’m so far removed from my daughter’s life. She has her own phone now (12 y/o) which makes communication easier but there’s so much I can’t say to her over text. And my signing skills have lapsed so much I’m not sure I could even communicate my feelings effectively to her in person. Plus, there’s the supervisor of all of our visits making sure that I don’t cross any boundaries.

So several breakdowns later, I’m back to relative sanity but left with a mountain of shame and guilt to process more-or-less alone. There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to have those years back with my Beanlet. to go back in time to before the mania took over my life and I couldn’t think straight. But I can’t go back. i can only go forward. And hopefully by sharing this, I’m taking that first step.


Christmas as a Single Gal

I used to love the Christmas season. When I lived with my family we always made a big deal out of the Advent calendar my grandma had made and decorating the tree and everything.

Last year I spent Christmas in the hospital-jail. No visitors, no gifts. No tree. A gift of candy and edibles from the commissary that everyone got from the hospital staff.

This year, I am alone. My parents arrive Christmas night by train so the holiday weekend won’t be a total bust, but I still feel like the holidays have become anti-climactic for me.

I won’t get to see my Beanlet. Her father has stripped me of any visitation until I meet certain conditions which are more or less impossible given the current state of things.

Somehow Christmas seemed magical when I was young. Then, when Beanlet was small and I was still married to her dad, I enjoyed making Christmas magical. All of that enthusiasm seems missing this year.


Some Days I Miss Jail

The title is actually sadder than the thought… which is doubly sad in sum. But it’s the truth.

A year ago I was released from jail after six months of jail and hospital time (which wasn’t that much different from jail time). Now, working full-time at a criminal defense firm, I sometimes miss jail. Mostly the solitary confinement part, which was infinitely preferable to the bitches in general population.

What did I do? I went through the back door into a house that wasn’t mine. I was higher than a kite, on life (thank you Bipolar Disorder) and actually thought it was my house that someone had given me as an anonymous gift. Long story short, I was arrested and charged with Residential Burglary, though I didn’t actually burgle anything but a pair of flip flops.

What do I miss about jail? Actually, the food. It wasn’t great food, but it was delivered to me like clockwork. When I was in solitary, it was like breakfast (and lunch, and dinner) in bed. True, they have very odd eating times. 430 a.m. was breakfast, 10 am, lunch and 430 pm dinner. But I never had to cook or clean anything and I could flirt with the male inmates who came by at meal time and in the evenings to clean the common areas of 3 South, as they called the solitary unit.

Life wasn’t fun when I was locked up, but it was simpler.

Now, on my way home from work everyday I walk by the jail on my way to the bus stop and reminisce about my time having all of my needs catered to. (needs, not wants). The bad books I read, the interesting people I met. I wouldn’t do anything so stupid as get myself locked up again, since it would likely end worse than my plea bargain for time served and probation for a year. But some days I really do miss the simplicity of jail time.

What do I miss more? My life before the manic episode that landed me homeless for two weeks before I went to jail.


Thoughts on “God”

I was scrolling through old FB posts and came across something I wrote in 2011. In an effort to save it from the will of Mark Zuckerberg, I am posting it here:

If God is all-powerful, He still created a universe based on balance. Without the bad, there would be no need for compassion, empathy or forgiveness. We must accept that an omnipotent God has created everything – including the virus that plagues us and the fly that bothers us and the paramecium we evolved from. God may not value things the same way we do. Also, the best of humanity rises from adversity. If there were no evil, there would be no freedom to make a mistake or to rebel or to drop out of high school. And there would be no need to learn from those who are leaving us or to give to charity or to work for justice. We live in an interconnected world with butterflies causing tornadoes and one man’s delusion bringing down a government. We are affected by those we have not met and those who move in and out of our lives whether those effects were intended or not. History is changed by individuals as much as by any understanding of a deity. Lastly, you forget those of us who identify as theists, deists and other non-christian understandings of a god or gods. Because I look at the wonder of the world and imagine an omnipotent being that not only designed the innermost details of nature AND the evolutionary process I believe occurred between Creation and today, I feel compelled to sometimes offer that Creator glory and praise. Something caused the Big Bang. But I don’t understand a Creator of that magnitude caring about the innate details of my private thoughts and fantasies. And a Creator may have designed the Universe and set it into motion, but the world today has been shaped as much by people as by anything else. And in my experience, people are affected more by each other than by a Creator from light years ago. And we may not understand the full nature of reality, but I believe that someday I will — whether because humanity’s understanding reaches a point where I will learn and understand it, or because I will have an opportunity at some unspecified future time to ask a manifestation of the Creator to explain it to me. I have faith that one day I will understand. Until then, I will continue to search for the right truth for me. A truth that explains my experience. But because my experience is different from yours, and because my perspective differs from yours, I am not less than. I am not stupid, a heathen or whatever. We all deserve the right to understand the nature of the world/Universe/Creation/God for ourselves. $hit happens sometimes for sure. But it’s what happens next that shows us our true nature.


Every Woman Needs a Good Bra

*FLASHBACK*

January, 2012

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…

Yeah.

$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.

Yeah.

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.

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.


It’s been a long year

2012 can go suck some big massive donkey balls.

No, I’m still not working. In January, after my *very first* full-blown manic episode and attendant hospitalization, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1. And drug addiction. Great.

I’ve been sober for 5 months, and I still have 2ce weekly drug treatment groups. I still feel like an idiot admitting to a room full of alcoholics, meth users and heroin addicts that my drug of choice is marijuana.

And after all of this, I lost my daughter. I wish I had the strength to talk about that one, but I just don’t have it yet.

Three or four med trials and I’m finally on a cocktail that’s working decently for me. I took a 6 month leave of absence from school but went back in August.

I’ve lost a lot of friends and people that I cared about. I am trying to find the money to pay the lawyer to file my bankruptcy. But I already sold my car and since junked the one that replaced it when it stopped working and we needed to make rent.

I resigned from my church after several members and some of the staff behaved particularly intolerantly towards me. For a religion whose primary tenets ascribe tolerance, I couldn’t face the hypocrisy anymore.

And so I’ve been adrift.

A big part of me secretly hopes that the whole “End of the World” will come in 2012, if only to give me something to look forward to.

Last week I got a packet in the mail containing records from the first few months of the year as a part of an appeal hearing I have this week. In it I found out that an independent psychiatrist who saw me once diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder and that my behavior was on more than one occasion “manipulative”. I understand now the distrust people have in “the system”.

So in the meantime, I struggle through everyday fighting demons I didn’t know until this year that I had.

2012 can go suckit.


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