Tag Archives: hypomania

Introducing: The Manic Jukebox! (Psst: Follow THAT Blog!)

Hello, beauties! Gosh golly I’ve missed you so! I hope you’re all still kicking ass and that my absence hasn’t been too unbearable. Anyway, if ya hadn’t noticed, Casual Bedlam has been silent for a little over a year and a half. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I felt it had run its course and, honestly, my posting had become pretty infrequent. Like once a month, if even, infrequent. No bueno. BUT! Exciting news! I started a brand new blog with a brand new twist and I’ve named it The Manic Jukebox! If you’ll pardon the pun, this one’s got a hook (Mmmm…pun…), and it’s about music and bipolar disorder. More specifically, I’m gonna be talking about songs that illuminate the bipolar experience through their artistry and radness. Also, you get to listen to the songs, which is awesome because music is awesome. If this sounds like it might be up your alley, do please come by and give it a follow! My plan is to post approximately every day or every other day. Also, because I read your stuff and I know how awesome you guys are, there’s an option to guest post, and I really hope some of you will consider it. I love hearing from you and I love variety! So, I likely won’t be posting here anymore, but, just in case you’re craving some vintage Bedlam, I will keep this guy up, especially for The Layperson’s Bipolar DictionaryThe Car Analogy, and all the wonderful comments you guys have left during CB’s tenure. So hop on over to the Jukebox! Check out some groovy tunes to go along with my thinky thoughts! Consider a guest post! I cannot wait to hear from you all again, it’s been way too freakin’ long. Let’s jam!

-LB

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Better

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in therapy and on meds. Going to therapy, takin’ my meds. Rescheduling therapy, adjusting my meds. Adding more therapy, adding more meds, then backing off a little on both. Though I’m still a habitual marijuana self-medicator, I’ve more or less stopped drinking over the past year. I definitely stopped that shit where I pick up a 6 pack on my way home and drink alone in my living room with my guitar before the sun even goes down. A bottle of gin in my house has a way longer shelf life these days. I been good. A model prisoner of my illness (or whatever poetics you wanna stamp onto this situation).

A week or so ago in therapy, my doctor commented on how much better I was doing. I’ve been on Depakote for like 5 months. No hair loss or anything! I’ve had some kinda funky depressions and at least one pretty awesome hypomanic episode, but overall things have been less sharp and less rough. I’ve been writing a lot. I’m working on a collection of poems and I’ve been writing some essays just for shits. I feel stupid and wordless a lot. Then I don’t. Sometimes I feel proud of myself. It’s real weird.

But my doc says I’ve been doing better. She has my chart. She’s been treating me for 8 and a half years. I told her I didn’t really believe her, but that she’s the expert. So here we are. I’m better. Yikes.

Part of me is upset by this prospect: better. It makes me wanna destroy myself a little and I certainly know how, but there’s a large part of me that feels I owe it to my psychiatrist – to all the hard work she’s done and all the shit she’s put up with from me – to stay better. Why don’t I feel beholden in the same way to myself?

Couple theories: Firstly, and most obviously, if I’m doing terribly, I probably can’t get a whole lot worse. There’s nowhere to fall from rock bottom. It’s paradoxically comforting to know there are no threads left to cradle you. You get to lie all the way down.

Secondly, I’ve had more experience with depression than…almost anything else over the past decade. I know how to navigate it. Sure, it hurts like hell, but it’s a hurt I’m used to. I can change all the dressings ‘n everything. I’ve been ill as a full time job for years and years. I’m getting fired or something. Additional metaphors relating to the unknown, etc.

But I think my biggest problem is: what now? My identity is kinda shifting away from simply Bipolar Laura to _______ Laura. Not sure how to fill in that blank. I mean, I’ll always have bipolar. I didn’t get here by magic, I worked toward this. I don’t think, though, I ever really thought concretely about what I was working toward, just that I needed to keep pushing in an upward direction. Now I have more time and energy (most days) and I don’t need to use those circumstances to patch myself up the same way. I can do things!

I told my doctor that I’ve arrived at the downside of up and she said, “Yup, that’s the downside.” She recognizes that the new imperative I’m facing to do something with my life is not an easy thing to tackle. Maybe it’s even complicated by the fact that there are like a hundred things I wanna do with my life. Basically, I’m having a Sylvia Plath problem:

tumblr_mt1afsX54X1qebh0ko1_500

The Bell Jar

‘Cept I’m starving not just because I can’t decide, I’m starving ’cause even if I do decide, I can’t rely on my own self-motivation which has been directed entirely at my mental health for so long that I don’t really know how to use it for anything else. I just haven’t really had to, and though people keep telling me to be easier on myself, I still insist that I’m awfully lazy.

So let’s not confuse “better” with “cured.” I still have to take care of my illness, but the difference is that it’s not the sole thing I have to take care of right now. I still have mood swings and panic attacks and episodes. Like, that shit’s never going away entirely. Not unless I cloister myself in completely perfect behavior and probably take some stupefying meds that I don’t want. But that’s not a life. I’ve always been scared of the future for the same reason I’m now scared of being better. I don’t know precisely how to move around in it.

That’s basically where I’m at. And don’t think that I won’t stretch my indecision and cowardice and self-doubt into months and months of soul searching or some bullshit, ’cause I definitely will. Out of fear and hesitation. I have some thinking to do. It’s probably gonna be a minute.

-LB

The Very Distracting Elephant Has All Of My Attention

I almost never think about this because I kind of don’t really care, but it comes up now and then, at which point I’m forced to think about it, which often leads me to the conclusion that I still don’t really care.

I have ADHD as well as bipolar, which is pretty common. I often forget I have ADHD even though I’ve been diagnosed with it twice and treated for it twice, and I feel like maybe there’s a joke hiding in the fact that I generally don’t remember that I have ADHD. I guess part of it is that my ADHD is really mild and treating it with meds ended up exacerbating my bipolar symptoms a whole lot more than it alleviated my ADHD symptoms, so it’s really not worth it. Most of the time (but not all of the time), the meds you get for ADHD are stimulants, usually methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) or amphetamine salts (Adderall). I tend to think of these drugs as “legal speed” much the same way that oxycodone is arguably “legal heroin,” because prescription stimulants can be a little intense and cause a person to behave in ways that are similar to their illicit, street-dwelling cousins.

Way back in April, 2006, a few months before she turned 19 and after an inexplicable plummet in academic performance at the beginning of college, Laura’s well-meaning dad brought her to a specialist to get tested for ADHD. Currently, Laura isn’t 100% sure why she’s speaking in the third person, but she’s gonna keep doing it for a sec, so deal. The nice doctor (he really was super nice) prescribed Laura 18mgs of long-acting methylphenidate a day. Upon beginning treatment with the methylphenidate, Laura did not sleep more than 4 hours a night for about 6 weeks (“night” meaning between the hours of 7:00 and 11:00 a.m., after the sun was up). During the day, Laura spent hours and hours playing guitar in her room and doing little else. She…fuck it, I’m done with the third person thing…I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes while it was still dark out because I was afraid of this or that faceless, gloomy specter, likely a shifting amalgamation of horror movie previews, posters, photos, and fucked up memories. So, I was almost 19 and so afraid of the boogeyman that I kept every light in my room on all night and tried to keep blinking to a minimum. Once the sun came up and I heard my parents moving around the house, I felt Ok to close my eyes and get some sleep, but I still usually kept the lights on. The point is that I got bizarrely paranoid of shit I don’t and didn’t actually believe in (demons, ghosts, the remaining peppery flakes of my gothic-ass Catholic upbringing – side point: I posit that growing up Catholic predisposes nervous people to deeply intense but irrational fears, or at least that’s what happened to me).

So I was getting by on 4 hours of sleep, hyper-focused on creative projects, and immensely paranoid of the dark. It was a weird time. Through those long nights, I watched a lot of shitty romance movies and replayed the sex scenes over and over (bonus points If the DVD had a cache of scenes deleted from the film for being TOO HOT FOR THEATERS!), because, at 18, I had done most of the sex things I was then interested in doing, but not all of the sex things I was interested in doing, and I wanted to make sure my orgasming visage would be the right combination of sexy and cultivated* when said visage would smear itself all over my face.** Pro tip: don’t explore your own sexuality by watching adaptations of Nicholas Sparks books, you won’t have any fun. DO masturbate more.

Shit calmed down a lot after that first 6 weeks, but the paranoia stuck around, kinda shapeshifting. I felt I could sleep with the lights off, but I was convinced people were watching me from their windows when I walked around outside. It should go without saying that by “watching” I also mean “judging” which is a little funny to think about, when I root around in that notion a bit more and realize how important I must’ve felt. I went back to school for my sophomore year of college (which, for like a dozen reasons was a total blast, despite the really bad cockroach problem in my apartment), but over the course of that year, my paranoias got worse. In quiet elevators or train cars, I was never sure if I was talking or thinking, so my brain would go off the rails, whipping up waltzing cyclones of hateful language that I never use in real life, like just to fuck with me. Did I really just call that woman standing next to me a [blank-ity blank blank]??? I would never call a person that! She has to know I don’t think she or anyone is a [nope-ity nope nope]!!! So my solution to this was to bite my lips. Like real hard. ‘Cause if I was chomping down on my lips, I couldn’t be also using them to hurl obscene epithets at elevator strangers, right?

In a moment of clarity, I realized that the shit that was happening to me re: this paranoia nonsense and the things I was doing to cope with it were stupid and making my life needlessly stressful. So I called my doctor and told him I was gonna stop taking the methylphenidate and he said Ok. Fun thing (and my psychiatrist has told me this more than once): sometimes when you stop taking a medication, the side-effects you experienced when you were first taking it that went away after your body adjusted can come back. And mine did SO HARD. I became completely hypomanic (which I didn’t know was a thing at the time). I may have told this anecdote before but for like about 2 weeks, my poor, poor roommates had to deal with my assertion, nay, my insistence that the floor was a trampoline. Thusly, I would often start screaming, “THE FLOOR IS A TRAMPOLINE!” while jumping up and down in the living room (which should’ve scared the roaches at least a little, but totally didn’t, those fuckers are hardy as hell). I was bathed in awe, and the object of my awe was skyscrapers, which was pretty convenient since I live(d) in a major city. I haven’t had a hypomanic episode with that awe component in it for a really long time, but it’s not unusual for a person experiencing mania or hypomania to feel an intense reverence for X thing. People often land on stuff like trees or mountains or bodies of water, but it can really be almost anything. I considered skyscrapers to be these magnificent testaments to human ingenuity – from the minds of the architects who envisioned them to the hands of the workers who made their integrity incarnate. It was all very poetic, etc.

Then my dad died. I was reaching this unbelievable psychic climax when, without warning, my dad was felled in seconds by a faulty heart. I was still hypomanic during the first week or so of grieving my dad, which may be the most surreal thing that’s ever happened to me, if you don’t count psychedelics.

All this weirdness ’cause of some ADHD pills. When I returned to college post-graduation to study more Philosophy, I was put on Adderall, but this time, I was also taking mood stabilizers, so I didn’t have any significant episodes, none that I can readily recall, anyway.

So, it comes up in therapy now and then. The ADHD. My doc will occasionally remind me that I have it by suggesting it may have a minor role to play in such-and-such event/feeling/endeavor. My response is usually along the lines of, “Well, whatever,” and then I just move on. I don’t know exactly how to express the fact that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD…except, I guess, by saying that I don’t really care whether or not I have ADHD. But it’s probably fair enough to say that it has me sometimes, as in, by the short hairs but so what? Is it Ok to say “so what?” here? It doesn’t feel especially un-Ok. Plus, ADHD seems to fall into that category of Silver Lining Disorders where people who have it may experience some trouble, like in school maybe, but that trouble is often (sometimes tremendously) offset by the facets of the illness that are fucking great. People with ADHD are often more adventurous and creative than the average bear, and, I’ve been told, more easily think outside the box (sorry…) than their unaffected peers. There’s also a theory that ADHD may be the result of an evolutionary advantage re: hunting vs. farming, essentially making people with ADHD traits better suited to certain scenarios and more prone to hyperfocus, which, when aimed at the right target, can be really fucking fun. Look it up, it’s cool.

So, 1,500 words say that I have an illness about which I don’t really care. But maybe that I’m better than you (I am…on some days, on other days I’m less preferable than hemorrhoids, but this whole parenthetical is pretty typical of what I know and feel about myself as a person with bipolar, not as a person with ADHD). So, long story short, uh, comorbidity is a thing, it can lead you to some weird crossroads and…maybe not all disorders need treatment. I think I’m getting along Ok. The hand I drew doesn’t allow a ton of room for perfect, functional normalcy, so why try to force it? In this case, I insist for myself, that it’s better not to.

-LB

*This doesn’t exist. Humans, with little exception, look ridiculous when we come. That doesn’t make it any less hot, though.

**Yes, that phrasing was intentional, thanks for noticing!

Hi. Poe. May. Knee. Uh…

*big loud screeching noise*

*laugh track*

*laugh track*

*honkey tonk guitar lick*

*words words words words words words*

*the sound of my tongue moving in my mouth*

*tasteless lesbian porn*

*laugh track*

*trains, lots of them*

*I can hear my eyeballs slide*

*Ok Ok Ok Ok Ok*

*distant hisses*

*laugh track*

*uh, um, uh*

*lightbulbs popping*

*a belly flop from which I never recover*

 

Theory: I am, in fact, my dad’s kid even more than I thought, which is to say, my natural state is quiet, ponderous, shy, and introverted. The only reason people don’t believe this about me and the reason I don’t always believe it about me is because these traits are squashed by my big, loud, sexy hypomanias. Which means sometimes I don’t live up to myself (?) which, in turn, causes a fair degree of dissonance upstairs ‘specially  when I have to perform Laura when Laura is feeling quiet, ponderous, shy, and introverted.

One Reason To Think This: I’ve been hypomanic for about 2 weeks and it hasn’t been particularly euphoric but hasn’t been irritable either. It’s been creative above all else and it fucking rules. I’ve been reading and writing frenetically and, while I’ve been enjoying other people’s company more comfortably than usual, I’d rather be in my office makin’ shit with my suddenly cartoonishly oversized brain.

Another Reason To Think This: I’ve been super, super good about not drinking and this is probably the first hypomanic episode I’ve had where I haven’t had a single drink, not even once. I’ve had to learn about 9 times (non-hyperbolic) that Laura + hypomania + booze = a noise blasting sex monster that’ll chew your damn ear off. Instead of expending this energy and disinhibition on trying to fuck your girlfriend, I’ve been shoving creative production out of my being with superhuman strength and I’m enjoying it a great deal.

 

What about the eventual fall?

What about it? Fuck you.

 

So I can’t sleep for shit. I’d been self-medicating with weed or NyQuil (or both) until my doc asked me to please stop doing that and prescribed me Sonata. Cool thing: Sonata gives me crazy vivid dreams. The people in my dreams are so lifelike, I’d deem them identical to their IRL forms. I dreamt of my dad the first night. I saw his real face, his real height, his real glasses, and I heard his real voice. I’ve not seen, in any hallucinatory form, my dad so lifelike since he was actually still alive. SO. FUCKING. COOL.

 

What about the eventual fall?

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK you.

 

So, I’m sober, sleeping about 7 hours a night, laughing ’til I get stomach cramps, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, just diggin’ it, really. I haven’t frightened anyone yet, not even myself. Good. More than good.

FRENETIC. The word has a great mouthfeel and is an entirely apt descriptor. I’m good with it, I’m just good. Barking for a speeding ticket, gesticulating even more than usual, tying together the windblown threads of my savaging mind because there is good stuff up here, and despite alienating people who might be put off by my pace or my presentation, I’m fine. And safe. And diggin’ it. Absolutely.

 

What about the eventual fall?

Not even dignifying that one right now.

-LB

Gift Horse Teeth

I mean, it’s not like I was enjoying being horribly depressed. But I was getting some shit done with it. I started a musical project that was a really fun kind of weird. I’ve been getting bored with this lone woman + acoustic guitar, neo-folk, verse-chorus-verse shit for a while. Out of of ~150 tunes I’ve written over the last decade or so, I’m only unashamed of 3 of them. The banjo was in double C tuning (which probably means nothing to you if you don’t play banjo, but standard tuning for a 5 string banjo is open G – meaning if you just strum it without touching the frets, it plays a G chord, music lesson over). Double C tuning sounds haunting and weird and I wanted to make it sound even more haunting and weird, so I borrowed my husband’s spare bass bow and bowed chords on my banjo. It came out really neat – even neater after I fucked around with it in a mixing program a little. I have cooler toys than you do.

But I’ve been feeling mournful, suicidal-ish, unstable, beaten down by the world, and generally miserable for a while and I hadn’t been writing anything really, not with the enthusiasm I’m used to, anyway. And then finally I started getting my hands dirty again. I worked on a tune structured around strange, multiplying background harmonies, erratic cajon percussion, and lead vocals the devolve into open weeping. This was before I even got my hands on the banjo for that second one, which I approached with a doleful melodic quaver that I really dug. Things were looking up, but not too up. I wanted to make stuff that was grotesque and frightening while still being elegant in its construction. I’ve done odd shit like this for years, collecting objects that are not intended to be used as instruments, and misusing actual instruments to get some bizarre sounds to play around with. These are my Legos. I felt like I’d finally gotten a workable foothold in this area. I had the right mixture of deep sadness and the motivation to sculpt it into a shape I liked. 2 songs in, I felt like I had a fun project on my hands. I didn’t expect to run out of the sad that was fueling this engine.

To my paradoxical dismay, I feel better today. I felt better yesterday too. What the fuck? How can I plumb my abysmal depression for source material if my depression deserts me? Now, look, I recognize that there’s a sophomoric element to my feeling that I need gloom to make gloomy music. I should respect my own talents more than that, right? ‘Cept I don’t. This morning I woke myself up by laughing. I had a dream wherein I put 51 cents into a CoinStar, accidentally received $2.99 in bills and change, and used it to buy a kickass camel that I intended to use as my primary mode of transportation. I woke up and laugh-yelled at my sleepy husband that someone took away my goddamned transportation camel. It was a Bactrian camel too. They’re like the rarest dromedaries on Earth. GIMME BACK MY CAMEL, UNIVERSE. I mean, I know I paid less than $3 for it, but if life offers you a $3 camel, dude, buy the camel. No brainer.

I feel exceptionally spirited today. I’ve been loud and boisterous. Earlier, I hopped up and down like I was jump roping without a jump rope for about 30 seconds (which was weird ’cause there was an actual jumprope a literal foot away from me while I was doing this). Jumping pointlessly and running rather than walking through the house are both things I do when I feel hypomanic. I’m also more affectionate and playful with my husband and I have cool dreams. I slept a couple hours less than usual and my eyes are tired, but nothing else is. I actually expected to feel depressed this morning ’cause I drank the equivalent of like 3 beers last night and I’m almost always depressed the morning after I drink – even a little bit – which is why I basically stopped drinking for the past several months. I hadn’t planned on drinking at all last night but we had some friends over to watch the GOP debate and I made it about 20 minutes before I was like, “Fuck it, I can’t get through this with only water.” So I killed an oversized bottle of 9% beer, which I honestly expected to leave me smashed, but which ended up leaving me mildly buzzed at most. This is not what I’m used to. Normally, I feel hypomanic when I’m intoxicated and then really depressed once I sober up/wake up (which is why I all but quit drinking since I’ve been depressed). Why am I feeling this feeling I’m feeling?

Re: the musical project I started: what made me feel really good about it was that I felt like I could capture my depression in all its bald-faced, gargoyled glory. I want(ed) whoever would end up listening to it to feel as uncomfortable as I’d been feeling. I wanted it to be difficult and disquieting, both in content and presentation. What now? Things that are beautiful aren’t always pretty was one of the things I was trying to communicate. I dunno. Maybe when it comes to songwriting and musicianship in general, my reach exceeds my grasp. And, comically enough, it’s when I feel better that I wanna quit.

There’s a lot of cool literature, ranging from the highly accessible to the impregnably academic that examines the well-established the relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity. But I don’t wanna be the plaything of my moods (…duh). It’s really fucking hard to get shit done like that. The proverbial acreage of my abandoned project graveyard is measurable in light years (as is my capacity for hyperbole, apparently). I don’t want to keep shedding good ideas all over the place because I feel like I’ve temporarily misplaced the tools I’d been using to craft them – not out of carelessness, but because my furniture got rearranged. By me, I guess, but as if I were sleepwalking.

So I really don’t know quite what to do here. But I don’t appreciate the intrusiveness of this sudden uptick in mood and energy. I mean, I guess that’s something we all struggle with. It’s kind of the nature of the disease. I wanna say that the upside is that if I am becoming hypomanic, it means I’m likely to crash into another depression at some point, maybe soon. I guess it’s the part of me that views that likelihood as a potentially good thing that disturbs me a little. As it should. I mean, as I said first thing, I wasn’t enjoying my depression. But I found a way to make it useful right as it started to evaporate.

Just wait. Tomorrow this’ll all be different. And different the day after that. I’ve had issues with rapid cycling before, but this feels more like firing dozens of ping pong balls out of a t-shirt cannon. I have a pretty hard time keeping up, as anyone probably might. It’s an oddly flavored frustration. I do so wish my mental illness would start using a calendar.

-LB

I’m Not On Actual Drugs

I’m all hyped up and restless I don’t really know what to do with myself right now (except for this, obviously). I overslept so I should be really tired ’cause that’s usually what happens. We took one of our cats to the animal hospital today. She’s having surgery on her leg to alleviate the super painful bone-on-bone situation that’s the result of a badly healed broken femur. She’s gonna be there overnight so we had time to arrange what I’m calling her “apartment” because she needs to be kept in a large dog crate for a little while while she’s healing so she doesn’t move around too much. They’re actually cutting out a hunk of bone and letting the tendons and muscles grow into the space where the bone was. It sounds really grisly, but apparently this is a really common procedure. It’s like the wisdom teeth pulling of cat surgery but with a longer recovery time.

So my husband went out to the suburbs to play hockey with the dudes he plays hockey with. I immediately got busy setting up this gigantic dog crate and arranging it and filling it with all the comforts of home and I got it all done pretty quickly and without injuring myself which is kind of a miracle or something because the crate weighs a ton and I made plentiful use of the box cutter my friend accidentally left here last week. I wouldn’t call my pace frenetic, but it was certainly swifter than I typically operate. It looks great. I wish I was an opiate-loaded cat lounging in the super comfy space I made for Artie.

Then I started cleaning which is something I almost never do and that seemed to speed me up even more. My body feels like it’s vibrating. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling, it’s just that this is a sensation I tend to experience when I’m really, really angry or I’ve just had a panic attack. I took some Klonopin. Not more than I usually take. Maybe I should take more than I usually take. I mean, this is the exact feeling it’s supposed to alleviate. Well, this and some other things. I don’t feel particularly happy. I’ve been listening to that new Mountain Goats album on repeat. It’s not especially long or anything, so I’ve gotten through it like maybe 4 times. The last couple times I turned it off before the last track, “Hair Match” because it’s really vivid and disturbing and if you don’t know what a hair match is, look it up at your peril ’cause a rough watch.

NAP is coming over in a few minutes. That’s probably a good thing. I was invited to hang out with some friends tonight but I need to mellow out seriously because right now I don’t think I’m quite fit for conversation. Everything feels like a rockslide. (Everything feels like a rockslide?) I keep biting my lips like a tic or something. This is a habit I formed when I used to take speedy drugs a lot, specifically cocaine and Adderall. Adderall is like the most joyless drug ever invented. “Flat affect” is usually listed as a side-effect and it definitely happens to me. I think my wiring got a sorta tangled because when I’m feeling a little hypomanic (which is probably what’s going on with me right now) I do some of the things I habitually did when I was high, specifically the lip biting and tapping my foot. I think my brain thinks I’m on drugs. Or my brain makes its own drugs? I mean it does. Everyone’s does.

Ruh roh. I just saw a cop knock on my neighbors’ door. No one answered. He’s leaving. If it’s that same deal with the dude who used to live in my house that the police are still looking for, I’d rather not answer the door while I’m on brain drugs ’cause I suspect I look like I’m on actual drugs.

Boy, this post sure is meandering. Meandering feels like the wrong word. Too leisurely. I’m…centrifuging? Y’know what’s making this worse? This song:

I keep telling my husband that I’m gonna leave him for Thao one day. I say shit like that a lot. I’m starting to suspect that it’s not very nice of me to do that. He doesn’t usually say shit like that to me. I feel like this should be tit for tat, but it’s not. Very frequently I wonder what it’s like to be singlemindedly in love with just one person. I love the fuck out of my husband, but like, married, not buried ‘n shit, y’know? I’ve only ever cheated on one person in my entire life and it was when I was 15 and I got drunk for the first time and I made out with this older chick…like on a table or something. Then, later that night, after lying about where we were staying, my friend and I crashed at some guy’s house and I got felt up on a couch by this other dude. He’s a really nice dude, but when you’re 15, letting another guy get his hands on your tits is a pretty big deal. So I dumped my then-boyfriend out of guilt. I’m not super worried about cheating on my husband with a woman I’ve never met who lives on the other side of the country and might be straight anyway. OH MY GOD I AM OVERTHINKING THIS LIKE FOR REAL. Laura.

Wait a sec, I gotta pee.

I recognize that you likely did not wait a sec for me to pee and just kept reading, but if you did wait for me…thanks? It was a really satisfying pee. Like just in case you’re concerned about that shit. In which case, thanks again, I guess.

So NAP is here and and we’re gonna hang and, as the Fates would have it, sing along to Biz Markie because that’s what shuffle landed on, so I’m gonna stop typing things I will, in all likelihood regret having shared with you all sometime within the next 24 hours. Or not. I can’t always predict what I’ll regret and what I won’t. It’s what keeps things spicy.

-LB

Oh Good, More Learning

So, as stated last post, I’m down to one session of therapy a week and it’s been a rough transition. I wanna say it’s been a surprisingly rough transition, but that’s not true because I knew it’d be hard and I just decided to ignore that reality. It’s hard. I hate it.

I had a little meltdown the night before last. I’d cut my hair that day. Which is to say that, deviating from my typical habit, I let a professional cut my hair. Like someone with many years of training and experience and very likely some kind of degree or certification in this shit. It’s short. Like just past my chin. I like it because I have to. I also like it because it’s cute. There was a dive bar on the first floor of the building where I got my hair cut. I asked the receptionist if it was a decent place to grab a drink and she said it was nothing fancy, but it was fine. I don’t know why I felt like having a drink. I mean I probably do know. It was probably because I lopped off like 5 inches of my hair after ~3 years of telling myself I was gonna let it grow out to an unreasonable, mermaid-like length. So I got a drink. I forgot that it was only 4:30ish so the bar was pretty empty except for the sweetest bartender ever and 2 middle-aged regulars. So I started talking to these guys about the mayoral election we’d all voted in earlier that day (my candidate lost). We talked about past mayors, political dynasties, school closings, citywide ethnic segregation, the mismanagement of public funds, the political machine of the good old days, the political machine of today. The word “reluctant” got used a lot. So did “the lesser of two evils”. This is the vocabulary of my hometown. We only get truly pissed off here when so many people get thrown under the bus that the bus can no longer run.

I get a little defensive of my intellect and my opinion when I have to deal with men who are older than I am. These dudes were actually really cool about not treating me like I’m 9. They asked me what I thought about the leadership of a mayor who left office before I was even born. At some point Nazis came up (like they do). One of these dudes was born in Argentina, so that took an interesting turn. I was having a really good time. I kept ordering beers. At one point, the bartender stopped charging me. Or I stopped paying. It’s not really clear. Since I can’t even remember the last time I got legitimately drunk before this, my tolerance, as you can imagine, was/is pretty fucking low. It got dark out, and I remembered I had to run an errand on the way home that required me to carry approx. 15lbs of stuff on the bus…a ream of printer paper, half a gallon of soy milk, baby food so my cat will actually take her meds, contact solution, stuff that drunk people shouldn’t heft on public trans. So I cheerily left the bar and the nice people I’d met (which were in a neighborhood I almost never visit) and got on a bus headed somewhere and hopped off when I spotted a drug store. I had a list with me. I could only find 3 of the things on my list before I gave up because I was walking into shit. I put on my best “sober” face and, in my best “sober” voice, paid for my purchases and went looking for a bus line I actually knew how to navigate, which I found without much difficulty because it was right the fuck there the whole time and I can get myself lost walking around the damned block, so, as one might conclude, it’s even funnier and probably more hazardous when I’m three sheets.

So, I’m certain I’ve mentioned this before, but being drunk while bipolar is often a little different than being drunk without a mental illness. To begin with, when that first wave of booziness hits me, I start to talk loud and fast. I get tons of energy and I want to chat with everyone. I like meeting strangers anyway, so meeting strangers when I’m drunk is even easier. I get temporarily a little hypomanic. That overly spirited sense of wellbeing and invincibility, though, almost always takes a freaky turn like 4 or 5 hours in to my drunkenness. While on the right bus, I started to feel very intensely about EVERYTHING. I texted my sister saying:

Right now I simultaneously feel like the most brilliant thing that ever lived and like I wanna die right this sec.

Which is the kind of thing that sparks alarm in most rational people. It’s also one of the reasons I don’t drive. Me behind the wheel is fine until it’s not. And it can turn into not on a dime, even though I feel very strongly about not driving drunk (don’t drive drunk. I was hit by a drunk driver when I was 5 and it FUCKING SUCKED. Don’t drive drunk). Anyway, my sister, several states away, was pretty concerned for my safety. I don’t know why I wanted to die. I felt high as a kite. I was pretty euphoric. Maybe too euphoric. There was so much going on inside my head that I think I thought, at the time, the only logical culmination to all this out of control effervescence was a big, glorious death. This is the kind of shit that makes total sense to me when I’m not in my right mind. Everything becomes gigantic.

The second part of this nonsense is probably the least flattering. I got my sister on the phone when I got into the house. I started crying and screaming and I absolutely cannot remember what I was upset about. I asked her, later, not to tell me because I think I’d rather not know, and, anyway, if I thought about it hard enough, I could probably just guess. She calmed me down, convinced me to take some Klonopin (see LBD: benzodiazepines) which I’d neglected to do at my scheduled time because I was busy knocking back Dogfish and discussing Nazi war criminals’ flight to South America with strange men. And by now, my pretty haircut was a masterful shitshow because I kept twisting and ruffling it frantically and I cried all of my makeup down to the wrong parts of my face and I was probably waxing wistful about everything I never did or won’t do or never knew I wanted to do until right that second and OH MY GOD my sister is a hero. But eventually I stopped crying and took my meds and got off the phone with my sister and texted my husband to come home.

My husband arrived just in time for part three which is, primarily, me despairing repetitively in barely audible monotone. I can’t remember if I was still drunk, which means I probably kind of was, but my thoughts followed a very logical if utterly unsound sequence. I used a lot of $10 words which is a thing I do when I feel like I have nothing else. And also because words make me feel better. I did that thing I always do where I took stock of my life and denigrated all of it as folly after mishap after plummet. The how-did-I-get-here-I-hate-my-life shit I do is pretty unfair to my husband seeing as he’s one of the biggest parts of my life. I punished myself, as usual (hi, Catholic upbringing!) for not taking pristine care of myself and for having the nerve to share a few drinks and good conversation with some new people (or, as I framed it: being reckless, getting drunk, putting myself in danger and then crying about it when, SURPRISE! I didn’t feel fantastic for having done those things). The point I kept harping on was that I know better (than what? was never clearly defined but it was probably that I know better than to get that drunk, though there was a strong implication that I should know better than to have such loud feelings, shame on me). I do know better, though. I can’t believe I actually got home that night. I can’t believe I didn’t puke. I considered the migraine I developed as I slowly sobered up over the course of the next few hours my just deserts. And then down and then more down and then downer and then at some point Laura passes out.

I was really sick, both in my head and my guts the next morning. I hadn’t slept very well that night and I was tossing so much much between 3:30 and 5:30 that I went to the guest room so I’d stop bothering my husband and I watched a nature documentary, drifting in and out of shallow sleep until the stupid sun came up and once the sun is up, I have a really hard time staying asleep, even if I’m really tired. Which I was. I was tired and headachey and sick to my stomach most of the morning, which was really a drop in the bucket because I was super fucking preoccupied with shame and self-loathing. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what happened or what I did wrong. I know I drank more than I should have, but beyond that, there was nothing that triggered my weird mood shift or my crying or my self-pitying. I know for sure that my self-flagellation was extremely disproportionate to my actions (oh hey, Catholic childhood, you’re still here…). I know that Silver Linings Laura would try to appreciate this shit as a learning experience rather than waste an entire day in my jammies watching cartoons and trying to rehydrate while questioning whether or not I even deserved water.

One of the things I find really frustrating about this situation is that, as far as these things go, I have pretty successfully treated bipolar. I haven’t had a serious episode in at least a year. I’m comfortable (for the most part) with my meds, I was starting to make some really good headway in therapy about non-bipolar shit that anyone would need therapy to deal with (dream-destroying mom, years and years of child abuse, dad dying way too early). Over the past year, I’ve been able to congratulate myself more than a few times for finally seeing the actions I’ve taken to make myself better come to fruition. But I won’t allow myself a single slip up. I’m too rigid for that. It’s definitely worth noting that, had this course of events taken place 2 or 3 years ago, I would’ve done more than just cry and pity myself. I would probably have had a full-blown panic attack and I very likely would have self-harmed. But I don’t think about progress that way. I don’t know why. After all the work I’ve done, I sure as hell should.

So, today, I feel fine. Good, even. I had a nice conversation with my sister about what to name her new kitten. I managed to erase my sleep deficit. I’m going grocery shopping later (not a huge deal, but at least it’s productive). And I have every intention of doing many pushups later to make up for not having MMA class last Sunday. Oh yeah, and I finally got my copy of the new Mountain Goats album in the mail (which I stupidly ordered in disc form for some fucking reason, but who the fuck cares because I am STOKED). So, I know it’s almost 2:30, but I’m at least going to try to make this a good day. Wish me luck.

-LB

ETA: I’m no longer regretting my choice of ordering a CD ’cause that shit came with a kickass poster and fucking STICKERS. Killer.