Change

July 13, 2020

I love the idea that emotional distress is to be embraced as a sign of positive change rather than shunned; to rethink periods of change and turmoil as growth instead of backsliding. Similarly, I recently was introduced to the idea that stress is a good thing, and that by accepting and recognizing it, we can counteract the negative effects. To think of turmoil as growth and stress as beneficial — how backwards from the accepted norm!

Poem

July 10, 2020

When I,

When I sink down into

Three place poetry stays,

I sink down, down, down.

Down to where the words stay,

Hidden in the depths.

I dare not plunge,

I dare not dredge.

For what might I find,

Hidden, hidden in the

Darkness of my mind.

Monsters in My Head

June 26, 2020

I think everyone’s monsters look a little different. The stories we tell ourselves, the lines and lies we embrace to get us through. Do we see our own monsters though? Do we recognize them for what they truly are?

My biggest monsters are identified already — the mood disorders of bipolar and anxiety. The bipolar plunges me into depression, often regardless of medication and outside stimuli. The absolute worst was changing medication recently, stepping down a high dose to see how I’d react. It is a long acting medication, so the first four to five weeks I didn’t really notice a difference. Week six going forward I could daily feel the depression setting in. It was like walking down a dark staircase. Feeling it getting darker and darker each day.

I waited too long. I thought I was strong enough to handle it. That it would get better. I misidentified that monster as hope and not a lie (it could be argued that hope is a lie anyway, but that’s for another day). I finally called my doctor and we re-upped my dose. After a few weeks, I could feel myself climbing the staircase one day at a time.

Those weeks in the middle were pure Hell. Most people who have bipolar experience both ends of the spectrum to some extent — both the depression and the mania. I’m blessed with what’s informally called uni-polar bipolar. Formalized as Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified. For me, I experience massive, major depression in all it’s glory, but anti-depressants make me hypo-manic (not full-blow mania, somewhere in between normal mood and manic). Those middle weeks I experienced all of the major depressive indicators. Everything from lethargy to suicidal thoughts. A mix of direct support from my husband and loved ones and sheer stubbornness kept me going.

I once heard that Chinese mythology says in order to conquer a monster, it must first become beautiful to you. I don’t know how a mood disorder like bipolar can become beautiful. All indicators say that it will never be conquered, just managed. I will never be cured. Never able to come off drugs. But I can live. I can be freed from thoughts of suicide and other depressive symptoms. How the future unfolds is never known until it is the present. Let us go boldly into it.

Next Life?

May 20, 2020

Prompt:

He kissed her brow as the world around them burned.

“See you in the next life, my love,” he whispered.

Second Prompt:

Destroy the idea that soulmates are inherently romantic.

Thoughts:

Hopping life to life, following a pair of lovers. Meeting late in life, early, having fifty years, having five. Not always romantic — parents, twins, friends. Just an uncanny relationship, like they’re waiting their whole life to meet, or are inseparable, or have an unusually good relationship.

Write about what scares you

January 1, 2020

Open a new page, now bleed.

 

What scares me the most. I think the scariest thing for me is abandonment. The reality that people will leave us, for better or for worse. They will either walk away willingly, we will walk away from them, or they will be taken from us — the scariest option of all. I am scared of my loved ones dying and being left alone by myself. I am moved to tears every time I think of my husband dying before me.

I think this is compounded by the reality of being mildly (or more) suicidal all the time. I don’t want to be left alone, I want to do the leaving, to have that control. Ironically, the reason I’m still living is the desire not to put my family through the pain of loosing me to my own hand.

The will to live will never cease to amaze me. The basic, biological urge not to die. To “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” as Dylan Thomas put it. Even as old age claims us and our lives naturally come to a close. The desire to shuffle off this moral coil is strong in me. The desire just to stop being here is ever present, even when meds are balanced and I’m doing well.

And then there’s when something bad/unexpected/negative happens and I’m plunged back into depression. I feel myself sucked back under the surface, having to fight my way back to the top. This last time I rebounded better than expected. It only took me three or four days to resurface from the black pit I was in. Even more encouraging, I wasn’t plagued by the oppressive desire to end it all — merely a blank slate, unable to feel anything or fake emotion. Had to take a few days off of work before I could muster the energy to fake optimism again.

So my greatest fear may be being abandoned, or it may be that I will abandon those I love the most. To hurt them, to transition my pain to them. Because suicide doesn’t end the pain, it transfers it. So I will suffer a while longer.

Tell me a secret

December 13, 2019

I’m really good at acting like I’m okay. Most times I fool myself. As long as I have an audience, I can be okay; I can paste a smile on and keep going. Ask me how I am and I’ll say “fine, how are you?” And nobody looks closer.

Was rattled today. A coworker said he “saw beyond the empty eyes and nice smile,” that I didn’t really know what he was talking about. Nobody has ever called my bluff like that. Or if they have, it’s been a gentler way of saying I didn’t understand — not pointing out my mask.

Didn’t  get the promotion I was expecting today. Found out by an impersonal email as I was leaving for the day. The mask almost cracked in the store. Bought a bottle of rum on the way home — straight, no chaser. Well, except for the sugar cookies I baked. Do those count? Quarter of the way into the bottle and I’m smashed. Lips are numb, can’t walk straight, almost cussed my sister out, smashed.

 

That was a couple weeks ago now. Things are better. I’ve rebounded, even though I applied for every job under the sun before that happened. I got a consolation raise — a whole $0.50. Whoo hoo. But it’s something, and raises are based on percentages, so it’ll compound. Eventually.

With Depth Comes Darkness

August 5, 2019

With depth comes darkness. The idea that as you gain depth, you inevitably gain darkness. The kindest people have suffered the most, adversity precedes triumph, and nothing comes from nothing.

The quote makes me think of the ocean, and deep underground, where there’s true darkness.

There’s also the shadow that psychology refers to — the subconscious we’re not aware of, the parts of ourselves we hide from. The parts that are mostly negative. We recognize those parts in others, but deny them in ourselves. When exploring ourselves we run into our shadow, and are frequently changed by it.

Why does our shadow change us? What about confronting the darkness alters us? We are faced with the choice to either face who we are and change what we don’t like, or deny everything. Hopefully, the self-exploring individual chooses to be changed positively by the encounter and further examine themselves.

Little things

July 28, 2019

Think of little things. Sand came to my mind. How tiny it is, and the classic example of the ouster turning it into a pearl. What other tiny things eat at us? Comments, facial expressions, slight discomforts — clothes that don’t fit right, feet that hurt, or even missing things. Where did my favorite watch go? Or the other sock? What about the Tupperware lid?

All these tiny things can either become blisters or pearls. How do you react? Do you gracefully let them roll off your back or do they fester in your mind, becoming bigger and bigger problems? More importantly, how do you prevent the blisters and encourage the pearls? Attitude.

Attitude is sometimes the only thing we can control. Having a good attitude can make something unpleasant bearable. For example, doing boring tasks at work that aren’t in your job description. You can either think, “I’m not paid to do this” or you can look at it like, “I’m way overpaid to do this. If they want me to do XYZ when I could be doing something productive, I’ll do this and be overpaid.”

If you start noticing, most of your bad days are caused (or at least mine are) by something relatively minor that could be fixed by thinking about it differently. I challenge you next time you’re having a bad time to stop, think about what’s causing the discomfort, and see if  thinking about it — changing your attitude — can make it more bearable.

Tomatoes

May 23, 2019

I love tomatoes. Fresh from the garden is best, but I love all kinds. I’m disappointed because I can’t grow tomatoes in my current living situation. I tried last year and harvested seven or eight cherry tomatoes from three emancipated plants that had grown onto the roof in search of sunlight. I want to try a patio plant, but those cost too much. And I don’t know if the only spot I have would even accommodate it. Sigh.

Death’s Friend

May 12, 2019

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

Not completely unusual. Lots of people seek Death; through suicide, war, even adrenaline junkies. Not to mention all the souls trapped by chronic, painful illnesses.

Something’s different about this soul though. A deep serenity, not just acceptance, and not eagerness.

She sits on a bench by a lake, facing out at the setting sun. It is obviously someplace loved and oft visited; the trail to the bench well worn. I come up behind her and look up at the painted sky. The summer breeze shifts my cowl and her hair.

“It’s not your time yet,” I say.

“I know. Would you like to sit?”

I advance, rounding the bench and sit beside her.

“Why do people fear you?” she asks innocently.

“People fear the unknown; I am an unavoidable, unknown truth. Do you not fear me?”

“Should I? Would it accomplish anything?”

“No, but then most people don’t ask for me either.”

“We were talking in school today about wisdom. Everything from common sense to the Greek gods. I said Death must be the wisest, because you bring everything into perspective — everything’s black and white, no gray. No one faces Death and wonders what they should have done, should have been; they know.”