Today, I thought it was Saturday. Apparently, I lost a day somewhere this week. This is due to the fact that I need some extra numbers on my business card and have been removed from my regular routine and put in a cubicle. Alone. With no calendar where I can mark the days with a highlighter and keep a running visual of where the heck I am. I usually always have a monthly calendar hanging somewhere because losing track of days makes me feel like I’m losing my grip on reality. Perhaps because doctors often ask “what date is it” to determine if they have to ask any more questions before they go ahead and admit you. I’m always worried the one day I forget what day it is I’ll get real sick and end up at the ER and they’ll see my encyclopedia of a medical history, ask that question, I’ll mess up, and no matter how stable or unstable I am at the moment – off I go. I obsess over stupid things.
Anyhow, it is not Saturday. It is Friday. But a special Friday! New Year’s Eve. My son is too young too stay up, so he is in bed and I’m giving the stink eye through the ceiling to the fireworks that are making noise because if they wake him up I’m gonna be pissed. This is my first ever New Year’s Eve not spent out (read: trashed). I feel old and boring but I’m kinda having an identity crisis on that front anyway, so I don’t think it has anything to do with today. I don’t make resolutions anymore, because (with great probability) I will spend a month or so devoting all time to said resolution, get sidetracked and/or depressed, and then be super depressed that I have yet another thing to add to the list of Shit I Can’t Do. I’m not too big on goals either (my bosses hate this). I do the best I can with what I’m given at the time, and if I set some absolute number or thing that is Goal or Resolution and then said thing doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, I stress obsessively. This consumes all my time, which means I can’t spend time, you know, doing the stuff I’m supposed to do. Thus, failure. Followed by depression. So I’m content with “I did the best I could” so long as I’m being honest about it. Bosses like numbers though, and most of the time I tell them write whatever they want and don’t even tell me what it says because that will almost guarantee it won’t happen. The first few times they hear this I get that look. It lasts five seconds but I can see the thoughts in it. They go “Oh haha! She sure is funny! Other employees give me grief about this but this is one I haven’t heard” (notice me not laughing and probably starting to look stressed that they think I’m kidding) “Oh crap. She’s serious. I know she said she had issues but seriously? It’s a simple task. Just do it!” What they actually say varies, but I promise that’s what they all think.
I got sidetracked. My intent was to finish from yesterday on why the heck I’m writing on here, currently (perhaps forever) to myself. Well, after Mini Break I started looking for help outside what I have currently. Which is to say, a doctor I see for fifteen minutes or so every so often to tweak meds. Most of the time I like it this way. I’ve been in various therapy and support groups and hospitals since I was 6 I believe. That’s 20 freaking years. In those 20 years, I can count on one hand how many good experiences I’ve had (two good doctors, one good support group). That’s a hell of a lot of time for bad experiences.
I really don’t think I have it in me any more, to be honest. A standard therapist has no clue what to do with me. I say what I’m thinking and they have the same look as if I told a random person. I expect random people to look at me like I’m batshit crazy when I say stuff. If I’m paying you and you’re supposed to be an expert, I shouldn’t be able to throw you for that big of a loop. Most support groups in the area are all around support groups, which again, means I’m usually either the craziest or at least top two. Not to discount people who are going through a period of depression because of divorce or loss or no reason at all (depression sucks, I know), but what help for them is will look very different than help for me. Plus I get the batshit crazy looks. These are not all that supportive.
There have been two major instances in my life that have officially killed standard therapy for me. Usually one major bad experience and I’m done, so the fact that I kept trying long enough for two really bad things means I really gave the stuff a try.
In case you didn’t know, doctors of all sorts keep medical records. So do therapists. I started all this stuff at a young age and I didn’t think much of that fact. So, for years, through all the crazy looks and awful advice, I poured out my thoughts and fears and emotions and everything. My Dr. (who was awesome) made shorthand notes that basically said if I had side effects and if we changed doses and a super generic comment on my mood. My therapist pretty much wrote down every single freaking word I said. Why do I know this? Well, see, my parents are divorced and my father is Crazy. He won’t see a doctor and does not believe depression is real, let alone anything else, so who know what kind of crazy, but I’d place some serious money on outright psychotic. He has no regard for people: family, friends, strangers, anyone. He gets off on manipulation and lies. He then creates his own world in which his is the world’s greatest guy. I really think he could stab someone and turn around and explain why it was so amazing that he did it and the we should all sing his praises. Anyhow, in year whatever of the divorce that never ended, he decided that his latest way to get custody of me and prove my mom “unfit” was to get my medical records. He tried to prove her unfit at least once a year. I don’t know how the hell he actually got these records, but it was a long time ago and privacy laws weren’t as good…and I was a minor…and my dad is terrifying. My doctor told me about it. He said he’d never met anyone like my dad, that they had meetings and changed rules based on what happened and such. Basically told me my dad was nuts and he was sorry and the hospital took immediate action so that no one could pull a stunt like his again. So I got copies of my files because my mom needed to see what she was up against in court and I needed to know what my dad now knew about me. Most doctors write short notes. I look at my medical files obsessively now to make sure. I’ve only see one therapist write in the level of detail that this one particular therapist did. There was probably a good two years of detailed, sordid, personal information from her notes. I’m so beyond pissed typing this it isn’t even funny. How the hell do you violate someone like that? Your daughter…that you’re trying to get custody of by proving you’re the better parent. Even crazy ass me can’t follow that line of thinking, and I’ve spent many a year trying to figure out how he connected those dots. He told me I should be grateful or whatever and clearly my mom wasn’t taking care of me and such. And to that I still say fuck off. The fact that I ever managed to open my mouth to another therapist amazes me because I had trust issues way before that. Now, it’s not her fault my dad’s nuts. But, medical files are forever. Perhaps every detail need not be disclosed. Even if my dad never saw them, every time I go to a doctor, the ER, whatever, they pull medical files. So if I did something one doctor doesn’t like even if it was ten years ago, maybe I won’t get the meds I need. Maybe they won’t believe I’m sick. Maybe all those stupid details will prevent me from getting treatment I need for either bipolar or a physical issue. At the end of the day, although I have seen therapists since, my words are carefully censored. They are composed as I would want them on medical records. Truthful enough to hopefully provide treatment, but not damning.
At some point, all that censoring got annoying and I started trying to find “out of network” therapists where if they made notes they wouldn’t get back to primary care or ER or even anyone who might know where I usually go and try to pull files (I don’t think you can count it as paranoid if it actually happened). I found a bunch of morons. I seriously think I must have been finding college interns or something, but there was fancy paper on the walls that said otherwise. I stopped going. It was a waste of time and money. At some point along the way, I couldn’t see my doctor anymore (he was in pediatrics and they do kick you out). I was self employed at the time and had no insurance. I thought this was no big deal. I was making good money, I’d just buy some. I learned that amongst life and health insurance agencies having bipolar on your record is like saying you have some rare strain of a virus that needs to be quarantined while you wait to die. In other words, no one would insure me. I got some “discount” “insurance” that was still rated through the roof. I made too much money to get government assistance (how much does my life suck that when I finally actually accomplish things I get punished?). So, no meds or doctors for me. That always is the start to a happy ending, isn’t it? Here’s the part you won’t find on my medical records at either of the two places I go. Like a lot of folks with bipolar, I self medicated. People do this in different ways. I took ecstasy. Ugh. I hate to post that for some reason, even though everyone other than my doctors knows this. Friends, family, coworkers. I’m super paranoid about the doctors though. They find out you self medicated, and they don’t give you the right meds. I take Xanex and Adderal which no one wants to give you if you ever took a drug even once “just to see.” For the record, my Xanex reads “three times a day or as needed” and I take it once at night and if I have a panic attack or feel like I’m going to have a panic attack. The Adderal is once a day and I only take it on days I have work. So I’m clearly not abusing my pills. But I do need them and I don’t want them cut off. I also have migranes that I take a fun cocktail of pain pills for (again, I get 6 tablets of morphine a month and I have the same bottle minus two pills from three months ago). Anyway, I also hate to say this because I don’t want to advocate drug use or anything, but in small doses and before pills got cut with ten tons of crap, the self medicating pills worked better than the real ones. Maybe I was delusional. I don’t know. I know that before I got stupid and before the pills started being more than the ingredient they were supposed to be, for a few hours I got a taste of what I imagined happy must feel like. I guess people who get bipolar late in life have early memories of what happy was, but I do not. So really, I could be way off base on this. Before I got stupid, those were some of the best days I ever had. But I have trouble with moderation in many things. I was addicted to Tylenol in grade school. I didn’t even know this was possible until the doctor told me I was. So what started as one pill once a month turned to one pill once a week. And then somehow it was six pills every weekend from people who were cutting pills with who knows what. It wasn’t a physical addiction (because the main ingredient is super hard to get physically addicted to and I wasn’t taking it every day), but mentally I remembered how in moderation I felt happy. So if a little of something made me happy a lot of something would make me really happy but not in the manic way, right?? I really, really wanted to be happy. But throwing my guts up from too many pills and flipping out on people if they didn’t return calls on when I could get pills wasn’t happy. It was really just a different kind of crazy. So I weaned myself off as best I could, and without the fleeting glimpse of the Life That Could Have Been, I had a nervous breakdown. With no insurance and no money. Before said breakdown, I hadn’t taken any pills, legal or otherwise, in about two months. My mom found me some primary care doctor she knew who would see me at a discount or something, but the weekend before I literally thought I might crack, so I took a stupid pill. One stupid pill because I needed to know that happy was real, not just something everyone is making up to make me think I’m crazy. Because if happy could never exist, then fuck the doctor and fuck life. The pill didn’t work by the way, because I was too far gone by that point. I’m sure I looked a wreck at the doctors office. I listed off the meds I usually took, one of which was Xanex. So here’s a trainwreck of a girl, long history of mental illness, and requesting benzos. I was so used to my own doctor trusting me I never thought someone would question this. But this doctor looked at me and said I had to take a drug test. So I was fucked. I explained the truth exactly as above. I fucked up, I took pills, I weaned off of them, nervous breakdown, moment of weakness, and here I am. The guy basically called me a junkie and said even one pill (one pill EVER mind you, no past history needed) and you need rehab. Would not write me a script. Not for mood stabilizers, benzos, or otherwise. Sent me off to die. I left in tears. But the kicker?? The real kicker?? Is that story is really the backstory.
I looked into run of the mill rehabs which all told me I could take no meds at all, and clearly that wasn’t working out so well and you’d think with statistics on the link between bipolar and addiction they’d be a little bit more informed, but alas…more idiots with shiny paper. For added misery, the support groups were more like religious cults. I literally ran out. So I found a therapist who specialized in addictions and such and swore everything was off the record, which as you might have noticed, is kinda important to me. I convinced an intern of my pediatric doctor to take me even though I was past their age limit as a one time special who gave me enough meds to make it through to get another doctor. So I started seeing this therapist, who did the usual nonsense about rehashing my childhood. This is difficult for me, not so much from an emotional standpoint but because from some combo of the actual bipolar and the meds that treat it, I have no internal timeline of events and large chunks of memory of my entire life are missing. I thought long ago that my childhood much have just been oh-so-traumatic that I was blocking it, but as time goes on more recent things block out. High school friends tell me things we did that I don’t recall. My husband tells me stories, things I said, things he said…all lost to the black hole in my mind. So therapy proves difficult because frankly, I can’t remember most of that shit. Anyway, she was in over her head (kinda my fault for seeing an addiction therapist not a bipolar therapist) but she didn’t seem to have any clue. She said I was taking pills because of daddy issues. I believed her, because I was having a nervous breakdown and you could have told me I was taking pills because of my nail polish color and I’d have gone with it. Her suggestion was to get closure on my issues with my dad, which really, wasn’t a bad idea. So I wrote a letter basically telling him the stuff I could remember. It was four pages or so of “I know you think you are the world’s greatest dad…but perhaps we should take a second look.” I should have been a bitch about it, but he’s scary. So I was nice and even offered him the chance to explain. I told him my brain wiring is off and my reality isn’t always spot on, so feel free to clue me in. I even said you don’t have to say you’re sorry, just explain why you did [insert examples]. I sent this off, went into panic mode, and continued therapy. Apparently, at some point, I said something Too Crazy. She started arguing my viewpoints on things, and really, you don’t argue with bipolar people. My mind changes with my mood, but never because someone is telling me it should. In fact, if someone tells me what I think is against nature and awful and inhuman (which she did), I generally dig my heels and hold onto it stronger. I’m stubborn like that. Sometimes, I know my logic is flawed, but it’s still my logic. I’m pretty sure whatever the argument was over was not a case like this. I think it was more one of my core values (arguably shaped by my experiences with bipolar, but at some point certain things become Me as opposed to It). Well the hour ended, and she said she’d see me next time. Next time, she was not there. She did not return my calls, messages, emails, texts. So mid breakdown I was just too crazy. Well, that doesn’t much help the breakdown. Added bonus? A few days later my dad got that nice little letter and now I was mid-breakdown and trying to deal with one of the things I’d been putting off my whole life. Because she told me to. Couldn’t find another therapist, and really didn’t want to anymore. The whole ordeal was miserable. My husband and my mom got me through it and the meds finally kicked it. I’m writing this now, so I didn’t kill myself or anything.
So, here I am. I have shit I need to work through, but two really bad experiences and countless bad ones leave me unable to muster the energy to try to find someone who won’t leave me worse than when I started. And even if I find someone I like, how honest can I ever be if I’m always worried about meds getting cut off because of things I’ve done? So I started to think (which wasn’t hard because I’m hypomanic and all – really harder to string the thoughts into a coherent action plan). There were two periods where my anxiety levels hit agoraphobic states (does that happen to people with anxiety only…I’ve always wondered if this comes and goes for them or if I cycle with that because I cycle in general). During those two periods, I had pretty large online presence. I basically blogged, but it was in a different format then. I posted all the time, because what the hell else are you gonna do if you won’t leave the house, right? I mean, the options are pretty limited. The second time I was older and more aware of myself (the first time probably read like a Sylvia Plath poem or something) and something kinda strange happened. I learned who I was. This might not make a ton of sense, but when you’ve have no memory of being anything but crazy, it’s really difficult to tell what’s personality and what’s bipolar. I guess this is probably true even if you get it later in life, but it felt especially pronounced to me. Like, if I wasn’t crazy…then I was nothing. They talk about bipolar moods fluctuation from a baseline. Well, early onset tends to rapid cycle like mad…sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes more regular cycles. Kids in general aren’t really emotionally aware, so I did the best I could I think. By high school I still couldn’t tell you what the hell my baseline was. I’m pretty sure if I hit it I thought something was wrong. For however long that period of time was in college where I wouldn’t leave the house (I went to classes once a week if I took a lot of meds beforehand) I wrote. Some of it was about stupid stuff, some of it was the inevitable online drama, but my thoughts flowed because they always do. Maybe seeing them on a page, maybe the fact that if they were too fast to comprehend when I was thinking them I could read them once stuff slowed down, maybe just being able to force myself to think things out…whatever it was…I learned more about me in that time frame than I did in 20 years of therapy. I made more progress than I did with 20 years of therapy (in the areas you can progress in like that). I stopped because with progress came an ability to get out of the house, which meant a job, and life. All that junk up there happened so clearly I should have kept it up because when I don’t write stuff down, I may know who I am, but I don’t manage to control much.
So I figured, I’ll write again. I’ll figure this stuff out again in how it applies now. Then I needed to know how to leave the house, how to not look crazy in front of people all the time, how to sort things to say to people and things to keep to myself. Now I need to know how to not be the scary bipolar mom all the stories get written about. How to teach someone else about life when my life is so…different. How to stop having issues at work. How to do all that stuff that everyone else out there does every day without blinking an eye but makes me feel like I’m being forced to roll a boulder up a rocky mountain while people at the top tell me how weak I am for not being able to do it without breaking a sweat.
I’ll never be “fixed” or “cured” or whatever. I made peace with that long ago (though some around me have not). There are days I’m pissed as hell about it. You know what though? I have the right to be. This shit sucks. I have an amazing son. Really. Other people tell me so, so that must mean it’s not mommy syndrome. I should be able to enjoy watching him grow up. It should always be joy. Well, not always, but mostly. I’m grateful for him because more than ever I want to be as okay as I can be. He does bring me joy, which is something I didn’t think I’d ever have. Somedays I think it’s a cruel dream and I’ll wake up and he won’t be here and my joy will be gone. He is a gift I do not deserve. So I really don’t wanna fuck up. Because now he depends on me. Now my mood swing becomes his…he might not feel it the same as I do, but it effects him. So I’m gonna write through all my shit so that it stays under control. So that I can get to work to provide for him. So I can give him a stable home life. So I can be a good mom. I won’t be perfect. I probably won’t even come close. Such is the nature of the beast. But like I said, I can do the best I can which is okay…so long as I’m REALLY doing the best I can and not just saying I am.
That was long yet again. And I’m not rereading it so it may or may not be coherent. But even if anyone reads this later, no ones reading now, so it doesn’t really matter.
Basically? Hi, I’m Kira. Watch me try to get as close to normal as possible and also hear the crazy frantic babble that goes on in my head. It’ll be fun! Like a roller coaster ride! More fun for you than me most likely, but we’ll see.