Tag Archives: bipolar

desperately seeking malakoa

I haven’t been well lately.  I felt like I had an ax chop my heart in to four efficient slices.  If you do it right, that’s the way trees come on down.  I feel nausea right now and it’s because I took my multi-vitamin without enough food.  I had goat’s cheese and cherries for breakfast.  Enough for all the tiny pills I take, but not for those big ‘ole vitamins.  I got gummi vitamin-B complexes and those got rid of most of my vomiting.  I was throwing up most mornings. (Like, five mornings a week.)  The strange thing is that it never came to me to stop taking the pills.  They were making me sick, but I still saw them as my life boat.  I never thought that I could just drop them.  If I didn’t take them I most surely would die,  and would take my daughter with me.  There are folks out there who can be bipolar and not take meds, but I am utterly convinced I will never be one of them.

My husband has said for a while that I can be awfully cruel when I’m having an episode.  I say and do things that no one should do.  I fought off that thought because I wanted to have my own life and feelings apart from being manic depressive.  Why is it it’s my illness and not just me? Can’t I be a jerk now and again.

It turns out, no.  I cannot be that kind of jerk now and again.  

Oh, I can be selfish and eat all the ice cream left in the freezer.  I can turn the radio up really high without thinking about who can hear it and I can get in fights and make plans to get the heck out of here.  But that is not what he meant.

We had a very nice fight about two, maybe three, weeks ago.  I remember very little about it.  A few days afterwards we were arguing (rather than fighting) and he replayed some of the things I said to him.

Wow.

I kind of remembered some of the topics we covered, but it was like being very drunk.  I am sort of present, but I couldn’t remember whose lap I sat on or even who I spent the evening with.  I don’t remember the beginning nor when I crossed over to the monster I become while full blown manic.  I was not an angry drunk, just a curious one.  I can’t say that I am not an angry manic depressive.  

I said things no one should ever say and at the time I meant every single word of it.  If my husband treated me the way I treated him he would be long gone, no question.

never want to do that to him or anyone else.  There are signs before I get to those places.  I start snapping at people and mad enough to plan on running away from home.  In these bizarre fantasies my daughter comes with me; I promised her I would never leave her behind and I wouldn’t.  Those plans are born of imbalanced chemicals.  My husband is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he is good to me and good to our daughter most of the time.  He doesn’t deserve to hear the things I said.  

Just a few days ago, he said to me, “I desperately want to stay married to you.”  For the life of me I can’t figure out why.  I am (or have been – if I’ve really changed I don’t know yet.) abusive and lazy.  I do nothing around the house for days (weeks) at a time.  The list of what I do and what I am that is cruel, and wrong goes on and on and about a third of this is caused by my mental illnesses.  

 2/3 = 66%

Am I worth it?


Serotonin

Okay, first of all, I hate taking pills. I do, dutifully, and I know it keeps me both feet outside of the psychiatric floor. I go to the doctor, I fill the prescription and I spend upwards of $100 a month on them. I have very good insurance or that would be closer to $1,000 a month.

Because my brain fights back, however, I am prone to Serotonin Syndrome. That’s when you’ve got too much serotonin in your brain. It is generally caused by taking anti-depressants, and it can kill you. I’ve had it three times. Once it put me in to an outpatient program and the other just put me in bed for three days. I already feel like my brain has squeezed out all of the good feeling hormones and given me a head ache.

I hate this.


“What are you here for?”

I was early for Celebrate Recovery. I was the only one here until another woman joined me. She was probably in her fifties (I almost never guess ages right, so go figure.) We talked a lot – that intense form of conversation that only takes place before and after recovery meetings. The last question she asked me was this, “What are you here for?”

The week before a addict new to the group, tried to hand her sign off sheet to me. I told her I was an inmate. She didn’t openly scowl at me, but I got that look. I have drank a bottle of whiskey, only to black out and wake up to throw up, I’ve woken up in places I didn’t lay down, and I came to work too drunk to drive. Still, I only look about five years older than my actual age. I lost all that weight and that gave me wrinkles and bags under my eyes. Most of the other women, especially the ones with light skin like mine, all look like their life has been sucked out of them. If I look 5 years older, they look 15 years older than their chronological age.

I passed as staff in the hospital, during both of my stays. One of the women in her fifties had been in and out of the hospital a lot. She and I spent quite a lot of time together when she started giving me quizzical looks. People like you aren’t usually in here.

The almost blind woman I guided from her room to her meal asked how long I had been there. The cab driverl who rescued me from the car that wouldn’t stop, asked me what department I worked in.

I have been so pleased every-time that happened. I am a fresh, freckled face girl who is in her late thirties. I don’t know how long this will go on. If I am misidentified all the way through my life, because I have an invisible disabilities, will I never be who I truly am.

I have heard so many times that your illness, your relationships and your surroundings don’t make you who you are. You are something and someone else more and that is the greatest thing you will ever be and that thing is both a child of God and a member of His family. If this is who I am, all the other illnesses and clothes and debts are window dressing.

And yet they do not leave. If I dropped bipolar from my answering message “Hi, This is Malakoa,” “vs This is the Bipolar Malakoa.” I wouldn’t stop having this illness. My brain will not reshuffle.

My husband needs the computer.


On Writing Well

If you haven’t read Howard Zinn’s “On Writing Well” you have made a mistake. A readily remedied mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. Go to the bookstore and get it. I’m a library person, but I almost insist that you buy this book so you can write on it, highlight it, cuddle with it in bed and treat it with respect the next morning. He has lots of examples and lots of rules about great writing. He is a huge EB White Fan – you have heard of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and maybe even the Trumpet of the Swan. He is admired most, in the groups that matter, (no offense) for his perfectly executed essays.

Sometimes E.B. White rewrote a page nine times.

When it was time to write, White was committing to what seemed to be an arduous task – he worked free of word processors or even white-out. I can’t imagine him complaining that the task before him was not worth it. I can imagine him re-writing and giggling when he found just the right word to say just the right thing after five tries. I can’t imagine boredom overtook him because he was one of those interesting people that find life interesting. In that case, I want to be on that boat.

I once hated a woman whose friends got together and wrote a collection of essays/poems/whatever. She told me she just started writing, wrote for fifteen minutes and then stopped. No editing, no nothing. Send it to the printers, boys, bad writing waiting to be birthed to the world. If writers produce spiritual children while they write, how can they take such neglectful care of their work? It is like letting their children cry themselves to sleep? Poor little things – wet and neglected. Kids grow out of that, though – eventually they accept no one is coming and stop crying. Books, essays, poems do not have that to look forward to.

Of course I have this blog and I know blogs are not the place for re-write after re-write. My poor little blog has cried from neglect and is not my best writing. I don’t quit because I think it is good for me to do it, to write down my thoughts and keep myself up to date as far as what is really on my mind. What I don’t know is if it is good for you to read it.

I used to be better at re-writing. As early as middle school I wrote and re-wrote my assignments. In high school I attacked my writing work. I ran out of beta readers because I wanted constant comments on the intricacies of my papers. The things I wrote were unusually good for someone my age – and heck, probably your age, too. The teacher would read my assignments and sometime the class would clap. They never clapped for anyone else and there was a boy int he class who wouldn’t believe I wrote those things. It’s a nice memory. I wonder if the teacher remembers me.

I am recommitting to my novel, but I am reclassifying it a memoir. I think that the subject matter is better suited to that genre. I can’t claim it’s fiction if I write a a memoir. I will tear the curtain and the whole world will know I am mentally ill. A psychologist warned me that every mistake I make, every time I am late, every slip in speech will be attributed to my medication. My mother warns that this will be too hard for Small. I hope it isn’t, and I doubt that her compadres will read a memoir of Mental Illness. If they do, I hope at least some of the people there they will see that sometimes it is tough, but honestly, it is really not a big deal. I’m an ordinary house wife in an ordinary city with a tiny family who sees a doctor a lot more than average. Okay, I’m not such a great housewife, but I’m nothing out of the ordinary. I’m not crazy, I’m bipolar.


So Richly Grieved

It’s a simple story – we were friends. He moved to LA, fell in love with a woman that didn’t like me (partially because I drank too much, I think, and I her boyfriend and I were too close.) They moved in together and pretty much that was it. I’ve seen him only a few times since then. They’ve long broken up, he’s moved to Africa and back and married a different woman.

I wish it was that simple.

It’s almost like he chose death. I can’t have my friend back, ever. No one believes me that I never was in love with him – but I was pretty drunk the summer we spent the most time together and we never wound up…. I won’t insult you with going into those details. I thought our friendship was strong. Turns out it wasn’t. I won’t go to any effort to contact him again. My donotcall.mal list is getting longer and longer and I can’t figure out why. It’s men, gay men, married men, married gay men, that either forget about me or decide they don’t want a relationship with me any more. I am naive enough to wonder why.

My bff T has reminded me, under a different situation with a similar end, that people would die to have friends so perfectly matched as the two of us. She is right – and she makes me really happy to think about. She is wonderful fun and kind and oh so generous. If I am wearing something new while drinking Peet’s coffee, it is because of T. I have another great friend, the mighty peridot (greenegem.wordpress.com) and we can talk about everything and do. She is not-bipolar, but has the heart of someone who does. I can even count my husband most of those days. While we are not very BFF we are going to get that way again, I am confident about that. I am so grateful for them! They bring so much light to my life. Today the sky is periwinkle. I am serious. I am not trying to be poet-or (and I never would use periwinkle in a poem anyway.) Thinking about my friends makes me think they are partially responsible for this clear, periwinkle sky. If they didn’t paint it, they helped make it possible for my head to be tilted back so I can see it.

When I’m thinking of my current non-friends I don’t think about my really good now friends. I, naturally, want to think about all the others – and of course they are many – that have broken or fallen by the wayside. They make me yell with frustration. Why do I even let them in to my new brain? I am reminded of Sherlock Holmes who has no idea the way the universe works but can sniff out a murderer with one of her abandoned shoes. If I could fill my little heart only with the people that loved my back, maybe my heart could grow until I truly can love my enemies, not in a way that frustrates me or degrades me, but with a pure, clear love. No mushy stuff – yes Jesus stuff.


Happily Ever After

(When I referred to a doctor in this post I am referring to PhD’s in psychology or a related subject.)

First of all, Adelle. I knew nothing about her until peridot (http://greenegem.wordpress.com) turned me on to her. This was after all those silly Grammys. I was happy for her because everyone was talking about how great so was and because she has an old lady name. I had never purposely heard her music before and had no idea what was going on.

I recently lost 34 pounds. I look better. Maybe if I had met Adele sooner I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble, which is ridiculous. She is absolutely gorgeous and supremely talented. I think she looks on the outside like her insides – at least when it comes to music. Not knowing she is almost intolerably beautiful was helpful, in some ways. Some artists are good, but too good looking for anyone to ever hear their music. We’re a shallow group and some of us would never listen to someone pretty. There are some of us that only like artists are pretty. Both groups miss out – but my bet is that you belong to one of them. Think about it.

I am so shallow I almost didn’t hook into my current psychologist. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong until I stepped my ignorant self back and realized it was because she looked so differently than previous counselors. My first real psychologist appeared to dress exclusively in Eileen Fisher. She had a soothing dress, voice, her gray blonde hair was even soothing. Ah, Dr CJ, I will always miss you. It took me a while to find my doc here (in fact I met with an extremely well dressed and well appointed woman in the interim. Not a great therapist, an MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist), but she looked the part. The Social Worker I saw I would not go back to because of unprofessional behavior, including wearing his wrinkled shirt untucked with his sloppy jacket over. He was also unapologetic about making me wait between fifteen and twenty minutes almost every week.) My new doc always wore a crisp suit and tie. Attractive, salt and pepper hair with a well polished wedding ring. I learned so much from them and kinda assumed that was what psychologists looked like.

Current psychologist is almost six feet tall and slouches. She is always neatly dressed in clean unfashionable clothes and fixes her hair everyday with what appears to be a curling iron. She is well groomed but she doesn’t look like anyone else. She is fiercely smart – this is the woman who said, “Ah – so you don’t like being in the same room with someone smarter than you”.

So what if she was right? Most of my friends are at least as smart as I am. M. The thing I don’t like is people that I have tenuous relationships with being smarter than me. Or when those same people can do things that I do well better than me. Many of my close friends are better writers, and I’m okay with that. I don’t feel threatened. I know they would still like me if all the words fell out of my head or even if my first novel shot up the Best Seller’s list. They would probably still like me if that book wound up in the remainder stack. Those other people? Who knows how or why they cause me such grief. I’m sure one of those doctors would be able to tell me.

I’m reviewing all of this because my husband and I start marriage counseling Monday. I told our potential therapists about these issues:

I’m bipolar
We’re eleven years apart and we have too much father/daughter stuff going on
There is no infidelity that I know of. (I didn’t want to seem naive, but I highly doubt there is.)
We are both committed to staying in the marriage

If we got all of this under control, we could all live Happily Ever After.


It’s so Racy

I want to write something racy today.  Think Girl Interrupted – I am gorgeous and wild and am queen of the asylum.  I want to scandalize, break hearts and ruin other people’s relationships.  Oh yeah, that’s gonna be me.  I will make mental illness mine.

I will make it mine, but that means honesty.  Honestly, honesty for a person with any sort of chronic, dare I say permanent? disability is usually dull.  Every morning I drag myself down stairs, put something in my belly so I can pop a dozen pills.  I don’t tongue them (pretend to take them) and don’t take others so I get peppier.  (I did that once and that’s how I earned my first hospital vacation)  I don’t wash them down with a bottle of vodka.  Would that be wonderful and dramatic if I did?  Well, I don’t.  I quit drinking about two weeks before I landed in that hospital.  If I was still drinking, I might have wound up in jail or worse.

It took me about an hour and a half to make up this card.  It’s a 5×7 and has my legal first and last name, the insurance numbers and phone numbers, hospital numbers and addresses and the info for my shrink and my med doc.  The other side contains drug allergies and the drugs I take.

It’s so glamorous.  I wonder how I think I can write a memoir about mental illness when what I should do is write an encyclopedia with all the joy and wonder and humor.  Yeah.  Let’s do that.