“You just aren’t yourself.”
“You just seem off.”
“You don’t seem like you these days.”
“What’s going on with you?”
“I’m sorry,” i say.
I’ve heard it all lately. By lately, i mean for a month or so. I’m not the me i once was or still should be. I’m not the Hope that people expect to encounter in day to day life or small talk or at work. They note that I’m just off… different. To be honest, it’s the most annoying of conversations starters, this glimpse into my apparent fault. It’s as though I’ve annoyed THEM with my changes in character or behavior. Odd, actually. And more than a bit painful.
See, what’s changed is my medication. I am, among other things, bipolar and struggling. What’s different is that I’m fully compliant with the mega doses of meds I’m being told to try to expel the voices & hallucinations from my already crowded world. What’s new is that, for the first time in a long time i don’t need to be louder than the sounds of my brain or run faster than the rollercoaster that is my mind. I’m not entertaining others in hopes they won’t notice me falling apart instead. Perhaps I’m a bit depressed and showing it, (but it’s to be expected after a manic episode inclusive of psychosis and near break down.) Maybe i seem to be moving too slow in comparison and they worry… but it feels like more.
It feels like my mind is calmer and my body can calm, too. It feels like i can maybe breathe a little. I don’t LOVE the meds, honestly, but some effects are undeniable. In some ways, they are good. But all this feedback also feels like they don’t much like the Hope i really am (or might be) and they’d prefer the entertainer who laughs all the time (to hide the fear & pain), who works nonstop (to outrun the past) and who is loud & boisterous (just loud enough to quiet the sounds in my mind). I explain that it’s the meds but i hear things like “they are too strong”, ” are you going to change them?”, “that’s horrible” and “talk to your doctor about them”. I try to say that things are better, but all i get is argument about how out of character I’ve been. My coworkers, my boss, my friends, my best friends…. even my husband all sing the same song. Honestly, it’s tiring and i want to give up dealing with it. They don’t understand.
Our church gathers with many other churches in town once a week during the weeks of the Lenten season to present a sermon series a lunch on Wednesday’s until Easter. It’s well attended and takes place at a particularly great old, refurbished downtown theatre called the Hippodrome. The pastors take turns offering the “meditations”. This year the theme is redemptive love.
This being said, I’d like to rewind and say that it’s been a very hard few weeks. I have done well avoiding hospital by following the “upped meds” plan of 600 milligrams Quetiapine and 300 Topimax and Xanax & blah blah blah…. and the hallucinations & “delusions” are not as frequent. 👍🏻
So, my pastor approached me because she wanted to use my story to talk about redemption. Honestly, i was confused about how my story had anything to do with redemption. She promised to “protect” me by not using my name & being as vague as possible without being too vague as to lose the nuances of the story. Still, i wasn’t sure what there was in my story that was redemptive, but i trust her & knew she’d be as graceful & honest as possible while keeping me hidden, so i agreed.
The Wednesday of the Lenten series came & my pastor asked if i could come. I’m a teacher, but i did rearrange my schedule to make time to attend. So, there i sat– nervous & feeling in the spotlight- as the service began. And it began. My pastor began her story and her eloquence was undeniable. I love hearing her spin a story because you find yourself being pulled right along.
But, suddenly then elements began to ring with a familiar sourness. The details of the story fell into place and my stomach began to sour. I knew this story… this nightmare. Each part– time left alone to be abused, pain, ignorance- was all to real and i could see people all around physically recoil as she told the story of the pain & abuse of this child at the hands of “her” abuser.
I could also see their faces as she told of those OTHER grandparents & THEIR redeeming, amazing, encompassing love AND of the love of the man who fell in love with her & married her. I saw their faces when she talked of the man who walked with her thru the bubbling up of old memories & pain & psychiatrists & hospital stays…. and his redemptive love…Of the redemptive love of her paternal grandparents, her children, her closest friends her husbands & her God.
It’s interesting to hear & see your life struggles thru the eyes of God through the eyes of another person.
It’s still a huge struggle… but this week i have been blessed.
Oh yeah… Mania. I do love a good mania. I get SOO much done. You have a project? I’m on it! We need to rethink an approach to how we teach an element? I’m on it! We have a major event that has to be planned? Done & done. Desk clear, calendar executed, all projects completed! I look like a friggin monster! Yeah– I’ve finished it.
Sleep? I don’t need it.
Food? Not right now.
Thinking? I’m doing it 24/7– and so are all the damn voices in my head. Shit…
Oh hell yeah… My head is full of noise. I’ve tried to explain it before– those voices. Let me explain. It’s like being in a quiet room (like a library or church) and knowing that people around you are holding whispered conversations that you can’t quite make out except for a few words, but you can hear them. And then there is that ONE VOICE that is just a bit louder that you CAN hear. THAT voice is simply vile… “everyone thinks you are ridiculous”, “you are a fraud”, “you should just slit your wrists”, “you should just end it all”, “everyone just pities you”… on and on. Pleasant. Have i listened? Did i cut? Well… yeah. Did it shut the voices up? For a bit. Sometimes, not all the time, it’s blissfully quiet– but it doesn’t last. I know it’s not real, honestly. I’m not crazy. But, when people DO talk to me, there are times i don’t realize it! It can be hard to tell the difference. Oops!
Oh… and i have had a few visual hallucinations. They are a bit more rare. Nothing too scary, usually… Most times it’s just a particular black cat, Midnight. He’s always in my periphery. When things get BAD, my hallucinations of of people who walk into the street as I’m driving. That’s horrifying.
There are other things too… but i don’t want to sound too crazy. I know how nuts they sound and i want save some face. 😉
I was with my psychologist last week and (because she insisted) i contacted my psychiatrist. He adjusted my meds with the hope it would “fix” things by today. He was hinting that the hospital might be needed–which he NEVER does. I hate going & wanted to work thru it at home.
Now, i think I’m regretting that choice, but I’m not willing to go until my doctor pushes it… and my psychologist is out next week. I’m just going to push thru & hope the meds continue to work…
And i hope the darkest part is over.
to be honest… I’m scared.
What do you do when you stop seeing yourself in your own future?
I’ve not written in so long. I’ve honestly missed this community and keeping up with the lives of so many here. It feels good to know you aren’t the “only one” struggling through life.
I’ve missed you, but i resolve to blog more this year– because it’s cathartic and i just need the opportunity to release so much.
I often wonder when things are going to get better.. not GOOD, not GREAT… just BETTER. For the love– I’m 45 am still living like a damn college student. Every month we pay bills (most of them) and then scrape by until the next check. It absolutely sucks– and it’s my fault.
My little visit in April to the hospital & my vacation from work– for the whole freakin month– drained us. I’m blessed that my job prorated my check & divided my “loss” over 6 months, but it also took $500 out of my pay. It may not seem like much to some, but that’s a car payment & water bill. And losing that has so screwed us every month.
Yes. I feel guilty. I can’t provide all the things I want for my kids. I can’t pay all my bills. I spend 1/2 of each months worried about having enough gas & money for emergencies. And I blame me for breaking down & costing us so much.
I just wish things were better.
Things are low. Things are usually low, but bad these days. We have no money and school starts tomorrow. The car is in the shop and fixed, but we don’t have $3300 to pay for it. The pain of failure looms so heavy right now. So heavy, actually, that “options” are looking like good ideas…
I could make my death look like an accident. I’ve got plans… could I do that? How long would they need to wait for a payoff?
I have a cancer policy that pay $10,000 if I’m diagnosed with cancer. Is praying for some “simple” cancer crazy? Again, how long would a payoff take?
Seriously, I’ve given up expensive meds already. What else should I give up to just make sure this family survives?
Life ain’t good.