These are my thoughts. They are not meant to make sense. They are my echo into the woods. I am the tree that falls, and it is here that I make a sound.
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The history of babble of the modern psychotic blonde

Warps to others, warped and otherwise
Sanity Optional
Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Time

Today is breezes of apples
ready to fall, blushing at their lushness.

The complex mating
dance of copper leaves begins,
slow til the climax yet weeks away.

Aging Iris nods her head,
nearing sleep, but still rich with velvet
dark promise.

Tonight is the courtship
of moonlight and cedar trees,
a fragrant chase of dark upon dark upon dark.

Gentle silken webs whisper
to fading roses, who sigh
and dampen in predawn dew.

And the night passes witness,
a midwife to
Tomorrow.


Monday, September 27, 2004

Not Caring a Whit

There's a guy I work with who is a moron passing as a salesman. Some might say that they are one and the same and I have to say no, they're not necessarily the same.

M is Italian, 37, single and I believe still lives at home. I also believe he is so deep in the closet he sleeps wrapped in drycleaning bags. None of this make him a moron. It does form who he is as a person and that can sometimes colour how we react to other people.

M has been working for my company for at least 6 years. During that time, he was apparently the expert on the product that I was hired particularly for at the beginning of January 2004. I wonder what on God's Green Earth he has been doing for the past 6 years, because it sure as hell hasn't been learning his craft.

M uses phrases like "at the end of the day", and "you've dropped the ball again" the way a Valley Girl says "Like, ya know, totally". And I honestly believe that he uses these phrases to appear more (a) managerial - the first phrase I think he believes conveys a sense of assessment; and (b) aggressive - the second phrase speaks for itself. As well he has a pet phrase that DRIVES ME INSANE: "I told him VERBALLY".

Telling someone is an act of verbal communication. You cannot tell someone in a manner OTHER than verbally. To do so would mean you are (a) a mime, (b)a writer, or (c) a dumbass sales dick who couldn't find his ass with both hands and a flashlight.

M is threatened by me, constantly makes offhand jokes about how I think I know everything. Two weeks ago those remarks would send me into paranoia. Right now, Mr Banana-Chewing-Lazy-Ass-Can-You-Do-This-For-Me-I'm-Too-Busy-Fixing-My-Receding-Hairline, you can say those things and I'm FINE with that. F.I.N.E.

Because I DO know what I'm doing.

And I DO know that I'm better at it than you.

So stay out of my way, little man. Your momma's callin'. You might get hurt.
Sunday, September 26, 2004

Where's a good old outhouse when you need one?

Ok, I have to warn you, this post is a bit...ehem...personal. But I found it funny, so here goes.

My husband plays hockey Sunday mornings. There are three time slots (6 teams): 7:50 am, 9:00 am and 10:10 am. I am the time keeper for the league, so I have to be there for all games. His game today was the middle game, so being the nice man that he is, he came with me early to the arena and sat through the first game in the stands.

I am NOT a morning person. So I had two big travel thermoses of coffee with me. Coffee is like beer: you only rent it.

So, at the end of the first game, while they are cleaning the ice for the 2nd game, I go round to the ladies room and, as my mother would say, have myself a tinkle. Then I go back round to the time keepers booth and wait for the next game, and it starts.

The game was incredibly lopsided. They were playing 2 @ 18 minute periods, and as time keeper I am bound to my little booth. Every whistle, every goal, every penalty, I have to stop the clock, restart when they go, and record all the info - who's in the penalty box, when did he start, what did he do, who scored and who assisted, etc and so forth. I have to pay close attention. And for those who don't know hockey well, the time is what they call stop time - 18 minute periods can take 45 minutes to play if there are enough stoppages.

The first period was fine. However, with about 10 minutes left on the clock in the second period, and the score about 5-1 for my husband's team, I really really had to pee.

Have you ever noticed that when you've really got to go and are unable to due to circumstances, that all you can think about is that pressure in your bladder? I tried standing up - nope, that just increased the pull of gravity. I tried cross-legged - the pressure on the bladder was worse. So, I ended up doing a kind of swaying seated snake charmers dance in the booth, trying not to think about how close I was to peeing my pants. I mean, it was getting painful.

The thing that was making things difficult is that at this point in the game, there was a flurry of goals and penalties and pucks shot out of the area of play (which stops the play) and shots on net that the goalie smothers (which stops the play). This meant that the remaining 10 minutes was taking about twice that. I was just DYING to pee.

Finally, when the score 9-2, the one referree gave me the signal to run the clock (there was little hope the other team could make up that deficit with 2 minutes left). I was so grateful to that man in the striped shirt: my urinary bliss would soon be at hand.

The buzzer went and the game was done. Regulations require that I get the referrees signature on the official game sheets and give copies to members of each time. I left the sheet in the ref's care, saying "PLEASE sign this on your own....if I don't pee now I'm going to explode!" and I ran full tilt round the edge of the rink. I almost took out two full grown men in the process who happened to be in my way.

I skidded round the corner through the door to the ladies room and slammed the stall door shut.

Now, about mid season (January) last year, the arena they play in did major renovations, including the bathrooms. They installed these really funky new toilets that are all the rage with the light sensor that produces an automatic flush when you're ostensibly done your business.

Well, I sat and did my business: I had to pee so bad it almost hurt to do so. But then there was the enormous sign of relief (anyone else in the bathroom must have thought I was doing something a little more intimate than going pee from the sound). And in mid pee, the sensor decided that I had taken enough time and started to flush.

(Warning - this is kinda personal and potentially rude depending upon your sensibilities)

The suction of the flush while I was still doing my business was so intense it was like someone had turned a fan on down there. Very unpleasant and unusual feeling. But I still had more of my business to complete (I told you - I had to pee VERY badly). And I guess the sensor thought I needed a reminder again, and flushed immediately after the first time. And it contined to do so during my clean up and my readjusting my clothes. It just wanted me gone. I could have sworn that red laser eye was winking at me: be gone, ye coffee-filled wench. We've no need of your type here.

Bossy old toilet.

At what point did we decide we have far too much exercise and decision making in our lives and we need the simplest of functions automated for us?

All I know is next week I'm going in armed: I'll dodge the laser eye with a plunger flake and knock it senseless with its own toilet paper holder. Then we'll see who's boss.

:-)



Friday, September 24, 2004

Better, Stronger, Faster

My mind of late has been sharper than in some while. It's been straining at the edge of clarity for days, and today everything was as if lit from the back, standing out in sharp relief.

My job can be fairly technical. I had trouble this week trying to comply to the somewhat cryptic requests of our president, and since the area I'm working in now as well as the format in which he puts his requests are both relatively new to me, my lack of precision and my failure to get things right the first time was sending me into paranoia.

But today I took the time to concentrate, to focus and get the detail and background I needed so that when I sat with him to explain my selections and calculations, I could support it with ready evidence. I'm not manic: my mind isn't whirring. I'm rather calm in that sense. I can see the answers clearly and it seems like there's not much I couldn't decipher if I put my mind to it. It's steady logic, confidence in my own intellect, faith in my ability to reason.

Mania steps beyond reason. Mania is building houses in the clouds and trying to move in. I am not building houses. I may draw pictures of the house in my mind, full of baroque mirrors in one room and African tribal masks in a wide corridor and Incan fertility statues on rosewood shelves, but I won't attempt build it. My toes are digging in rich soil, on solid ground.

I'm glad for this clarity. The ever-changing environment at my job (e.g. my responsibilities recently changed for the fourth time in 9 months) has kept me off my guard for a long time and it's difficult to focus and think clearly when you're not on even footing.

Now it's getting late for me, Seroquel's catching up (another sign I'm not manic - the Seroquel's sedative effect works).

Peace.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I've never been a gambler

I don't know if that makes me unusual for someone with bipolar, but I don't even play the lotteries. I just think I could better use my dollar or two to buy a coffee on the way to work.

My change in job responsibilities has me working much closer with and for the president, the one who seems to fire people on little notice or evidence. It's only been a week and I had a stressful day yesterday, when he wasn't even in the office, just calling me all the time.

I have an appointment with Dr. J. in early October to sign the papers for the pharmaceutical study. I've been thinking about it a great deal and I would be risking a lot by doing this study. It's a double blind, which means neither the doctor nor I would know which pill I would get, the placebo or the Seroquel. My concern is that I have a 50/50 chance of getting the placebo. In statistical terms, there are always some who get the placebo who show no change - hence "placebo effect". But I'm afraid of being on of the ones on the placebo who DO show a change.

I have worked very hard in the past year to get to this stage. I could be risking my job and my family situation by doing the study. I had asked Dr. J. what would happen if I was being given the placebo and deteriorated. He said we'd just put me back on the Seroquel proper and remove me from the study. However, the deterioration wouldn't be overnight, and the ramping up of the dosage wouldn't be overnight either. So I could be a few months in hell again, who knows what I am risking then. Staying in the study would be a nice way to help give something back to the "cause" of BP, helping them understand the treatments a little better. But I can't be a hero this time.

When I expressed these concerns to my husband last night, he said in this light he has decided to absolutely forbid me to take part. I know that sounds a bit draconian, but he has a lot at stake too. He has a say in what form my treatment takes because, while I am the one who will feel any changes or exhibit any bizaree behaviour, he's the one who has to see it and deal with it at the time.

My next appt with Dr. J is early October. I will have to tell him then thanks but no.

I can't risk losing myself again.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Skated my ass off, and it found me again

I feel so good! It was a good hard class at hockey school. Lots of work, lots of skating, lots of sweat. Good adrenaline rush!

Nothing picks me up more than a good physical workout.

Here's a link to the school and the league that I played in this summer and one of the leagues I will be playing in this winter (Saturday).

http://www.lshockeyleague.com/Skills%26Drills.html

Hockey here is like football in Texas. Does that make things make more sense??

I'm off to shower and bed. OOps. And Seroquel. I'm late with that.

Night all.

Change of scenery in more ways than one

Not only am I still employed, my job function has changed (for the fourth time in 9 months - somewhere the BPer in my is ecstatic with the chaos), and I am at a new desk with a new "team partner". We are paired up in the office for what department we work for and the guy I'm going to be working with now is laid back and easy going.

The woman I worked with before is the office diva. I never realized it at first - I thought I had done something wrong. But over time and via conversations with others in the office, I realized that it is NOT just me and she really is a diva. I am more productive, talkative, happier, better stronger faster.

I am Jamie Summers ripping the phone book in half.

If you do NOT know who Jamie Summers is, google it. It would lose so much in translation.

I am now off to my second last week of hockey drills camp. I will kick ass :-)

See ya later gators.
Saturday, September 18, 2004

365, or My Life at 33 1/3, Part II

I looked at these three men, the two security guards and the intake worker, and off to my right could see the evil Asian doctor writing notes and looking over at me like I was a new species of maggot she had discovered hosting on an innocent young girl. I have never felt so alone in my life. And I'm quite serious about the sensation of falling: it was as real as the knife I'd been playing with only an hour before. I was told that they were contacting a psychiatrist that would come in to do an assessment on me but that I was being held for 72 hours regardless. If I tried to leave, the police would be called and I would be arrested.

I told the intake worker I needed to call my husband: NO ONE KNEW WHERE I WAS.

He let me use one of the nurses phones. I was shaking, I was so scared in thinking about how to tell my husband. I felt like I had done something terribly wrong. He was going to hate me, leave me, never love me again. He's very much a person who likes to control situations around him, stay on top of things. This was going to throw him into complete chaos, something he abhors.

I called him and told him I was in the ER and they wouldn't let me leave. He asked why and I started to cry. I could hear the panic in his voice: what the hell was going on. I vaguely mentioned the knife. He said he'd get look after Adam after school and once he was settled he'd come see me. And I remember just saying "please...". Part of me didn't want him to come and see me laid so low. But part of me just needed a hug, to know he wasn't going to leave me.

When I hung up the phone, I walked back to the dark room, 10 feet away. Then I curled into a ball on the couch there and sobbed and rocked and thought how badly I wanted to die, how terribly I had screwed up. Why the hell hadn't I just kept my damned mouth shut!

After an indeterminate amount of time, I poked my head out the door. The security guard was so close I almost tripped over him. I asked him if I could make a cell phone call. You can't use the cell phones in emergency: it screws up some of the machines. I had a vague idea that I could just walk away. The security guard checked with the Evil Asian Doctor, who spoke to the guard like I wasn't even there: "She is your responsibility. You have to watch her at all times. Do NOT let her out of your sight". Bitch - what did she think I was going to do, run away? I was angry again, very angry. How dare she? (never mind that it was exactly what I had intended to do).

The guard led me to the front of the ER entrance where I made a quick cell call to my husband, giving him a little more assurance that I was ok. I think he was too much in shock and panic to believe me. But we both pretended.

Back in the room, eventually a nurse came to lead me to the ward. Now I was the life of the party. I was making witty, brilliant comments to the nurse about the security guards accompanying us. She was laughing and shaking her head in disbelief at me. I was bouncy and happy (and covering for huge apprehension with the joking dodge).

In the ward, I sat at the nurses station while they took vitals and then the current case nurse, a very kind and gentle soul, led me to my new spartan cell (it was too small and bleak to be a room) at the far end of the hall to do her own intake interview. When I got to the part of trying to cut off my hand, she asked what significance my left hand held. I said none: I am right handed so it makes sense to cut the left one. I think she was looking maybe for some element of religious mania (the damned sit on the left hand of God while the blessed are on the right), but maybe I'm reading too much into her.

So there I sat. Or rather paced. I paced up and down the length of the ward at a speed that was just shy of a run. I would have put the best Olympic speedwalker to shame. And I did it for hours. And hours. I passed the nurses station once and overheard one of them say "Yep, and she's been doing it constantly since she arrived here, not sat once". I couldn't sit. I was a tiger in a cage, I needed my freedom.

Then my husband showed up.

I have never felt such shame in my life. I could see in his face the monster fear that he must have been dealing with - he looked shattered. And I hugged him and sobbed. I was such a failure. He brought me in changes of clothes, some toiletries (no razors or sharp objects, if you please). When he left, I sat and stared into space for what seemed forever, tears rolling down my face. What had I done? Where was my life going? It was worthless.

I spent the next 24 hours either pacing, riding an old rickety exercise bike they had in the hall or sitting in the dark TV room trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle.

Now a word about the jigsaws. There were about 15 of them. And someone was quite cruel: all the pieces were intermingled, from box to box. So the box I started with had pieces for probably 4 different puzzles. I spent the time to focus and shut out the horrible place I was in and knew that I was going to be able to fix this jigsaw hell. By the way, I never did: an even more cruel joke was that most puzzles had pieces missing. Great thing to do in a psych ward. Most of us had our own pieces missing.

It'd been about 24 hours and I was pacing up and down again. And as I passed the nurses station I heard one of them say that they were going to call Dr. J. again. I stopped dead in my tracks. I trembled with incredulity and rage and approached the station. Very deliberately and quietly I said: "are you meaning to tell me that I've been held here for over 24 hours against my will and you HAVEN'T EVEN CALLED THE CASE DOCTOR YET?" They said that they had called him but they're having trouble getting a response. I flew down the hall to my room, closed the unlockable door, sat up in a ball on the window ledge and boiled. My new case nurse, a wonderful young lady who showed me the face of compassion and dignity, came and knocked and then spoke to me. I didn't realize it but in my effort to contain my rage, I had my thumb nail from my right hand digging into the bottom of my left thumb, close to my wrist. I had drawn blood from the steady pressure inward. I hid it from her - I honestly didn't realize what I had done until she had calmed me down a bit and I felt the stinging on my thumb.

They called the doctor again and he responded. They were told to give me Ativan (a drug that would calm me down) and he'd be in when he was ready.

So Dr. J and I started off on stellar footing.

He came in later that afternoon, and like an East Indian Napoleon, told me I was staying a week. I told him to go pound salt. Little bastard wasn't going to tell ME what to do. I told him he could only hold me by law for 72 hours and I was leaving not one minute after that. He said if I left, against his orders, he would write in my chart that I was discharged AMA (Against Medical Advice) and he would ensure that no other psychiatrist in the city would see me. The nurses commiserated with me but supported his decision.

I was stuck.

So my husband had to shoulder the responsibility of being mom and step-dad for my son, and came to see me every day. We told my son I was in the hospital having tests on my heart - I had been having dizzy spells earlier in the year and have an abnormally low heart beat to begin with so it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that I was having such tests. We didn't let my son visit. I couldn't deal with that. I remember when my father had a nervous breakdown when I was ten and how he was when we had our forced visits with him - he wasn't the father I knew and scared me.

The week went by. At one point my family doctor came in to see me and again I was overcome with shame. I was trying to get him to agree to treat me rather than this horrid psychiatrist. He patiently explained that he wouldn't know what to do, that he wouldn't know what side effects or problems to watch for with medication, what tests to do and when - he gently steered me toward the Napoleon from Bombay.

I was started on Epival (valproic acid or Depakote) and Seroquel. I am still on those same medications today, just at much higher doses.

My mother called. I didn't want her to know where I was but my husband said she had called the house to talk to me and he had to say something. So he gave her the same story we gave my son. However, there were two things that gave up the story: (1) all patients had to use a community phone in the kitchen, and ANYONE could answer it. In my case, when they transferred the call over, it was answered by a 65 year old man in for depression. My mom was wondering what an old man was doing answering my phone. I made up some lame ass excuse. (2) My mom told me later that when she called in and asked for my room, it got transferred to the nurses desk, who answered "2C, Psychiatry". So she knew something was weird.

My husband brought in, among other things, my drawing pad and pencils. I still have some of the sketches. There's a really really good one I did of a wheel chair - I burrowed into a far corner of the ward by myself (I am really good at pretending to like to be around people but isolating myself quite well) and spent an hour rendering it in great detail. But I also drew some of the thoughts in my head, like a severed hand. I was far from stable, but at least I was safe.

Eventually, I was discharged. I never did finish a jigsaw puzzle, but I did arrange each box with its own pieces. I'm sure it's in a terrible state again.

I remember when I came home I felt so fragile. I felt it was ridiculous really - I hadn't had surgery, or a broken bone, or anything so dramatic. But now I realize that I had scraped away down to the raw essence of myself a week before, that I was a week ago punctured by awful, festering wounds that went to my very centre. When I
was released, those bruised and raw parts of me had only just recently been stitched together, with the most tenuous of threads. I sit here right now and realized that I could have died, had I let it go even a day longer. It was months before I approached anything resembling stability. I know a huge part of keeping on the path toward stability is the constant and unwavering support of my husband. He doesn't know how often he saves me. From the world and from myself. I love you more than I can ever express.

I can sit here now and the long and winding road has taken me to a dramatically different internal landscape. I'm still the same traveler, and Mordor is never far away. But I try hard, sometimes with gargantuan effort, to keep my face turned to the sun rather than tremble in coldest shadow.

I know that this has been a long entry. And it may either have bored you silly or disturbed you. Or perhaps neither. And yes, it is somewhat cathartic to write. Doing so, I've really relived a lot of wild emotions, near tears sometimes and feeling the echoes of either fear or rage others. I've never done it before, laid the whole story out. But I needed to acknowledge this anniversary, and both mourn what I have lost and gone through and celebrate my evolution. Stasis is death: movement is life.

I will keep my feet moving, hopefully in the right direction.

blondzila








Friday, September 17, 2004

365, or, My Life at 33 1/3 - Part One

It's been a year since I was hospitalized. I know that many get hospitalized for suicide attempts, and I suppose if you asked the intake worker that dealt with me he would say I was suicidal, but I really wasn't. I feel strange about it being a year: I know I've come a long long way, but it also is weird, looking back.

My husband and I had been discussing the possibility of me being bipolar for a good 6 week before.

You see, in the spring last year, a young girl went missing in Toronto named Holly Jones. She was 9. The search for her was intense but short: her dismembered body turned up in harbour in two duffel bags the next day. Things like this are rare here, and I immediately decided I wanted to become a police officer, to contribute and help prevent another tragedy like this from happening. I investigated how this could be done and decided, as a good compromise to not once again subject my family to complete upheaval because of an employment change on my part, that I would apply to be an auxiliary officer. This is a volunteer position, and you have to go through about 80 percent of the same testing rigors as a regular officer. It would be a 2 year commitment, and after that time I could decide if I still wanted to go for the full fledged cop, and then apply. I thought it was a good compromise, rare for a BPer (but I wasn't diagnosed at this point).

I was training every day to meet the physical exam, the fitness exam: running, weight training (you had to be able to bench your own body weight, and if you think that's easy, I've got land in Antarctica to sell). At the same time, all of a sudden, it became imperative that I redecorate the house. I bought hundreds of dollars of upholstery fabric and reupholstered my chesterfield and two chairs, one a Lazy-Boy, one a swivel rocker. I also would rollerblade a few miles a day because I would get bored sitting still. I made either cake, brownies, muffins or cookies every day and would send them with my son or husband to share.

I made it through about six levels of interviews, tests, and screenings. And then I received the letter saying they didn't want me. I crashed.

The Canadian health system requires that a patient must have a referral from their family doctor to see any specialist, and a psychiatrist falls into that category. So I had seen my family doctor in late July/early August and explained, among other things, that the other day as I was walking along the boardwalk along Lake Ontario, the water lapping up about 5 feet from me, that I had to fight an enormous desire and urge to fill my pocket full of heavy rocks and simply walk into the lake, never to return. It was 9 months late I learned that this is how Virginia Woolf died - I honestly never knew that. So the family doctor put me on a waiting list for a pdoc.

Things got worse.

I was, at the time, a sales rep on the road that traveled a good 2000 km a week. That's at least 1200 miles a week. A lot of time alone. And I remember distinctly driving down the highway (a 6 lane highway that cuts across the bottom of the province), driving 140 in the company 1/2 ton pickup, banging my head repeatedly and rapidly against the back rest of the truck at the same time, trying to block out the thoughts in my head.

Because I was on the road, I would find ways to stay at my home office. But when I did go out, I would be positive that the truckers were CBing up and down the highway, talking about me. One time I walked into a coffee shop to use the facilities and there were 4 policemen there, having a coffee. They stopped talking when I came in. I was positive, even though this was a different city than where I had applied to be an auxiliary officer, that they knew all about me, that I had applied and failed, everything.

I was still decorating like mad, spending money hand over fist on my Mastercard, hiding it from my husband. I wasn't sleeping all that well, but didn't think much of it. While waiting for the doctor to call with a referral appointment, I searched on the internet, doing some research on my own to try and help myself in the interim. I knew there was something wrong with me, drastically wrong (actually, I've felt there was something wrong with me for most of my life). I found a group on bipolar.about.com which had a chat at the time. I spent a good deal of time there while in the house alone.

And then things got really bad.

One afternoon I had this idea. It was a cold and clinical and almost scientific thought: how much constant pressure from a sharp knife steadily pushing on my wrist would sever my hand? Not a chop. Constant steady downward pressure into the flesh. And I sat there, here, at the computer desk, doing it. And I was absolutely terrified. There was this small and shrinking corner of my mind that was saying STOP!!!!! So I spoke privately with someone in the chat, someone who coincidentally lives about 1/2 hr from me (strange happenstance on the internet), and he said YOU NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. NOW.

So I did.

I left the house so fast, I left our dog outside. My husband told me later that when my son came home from school hours later he found her outside and was concerned. The poor dog was probably barking for hours to be let in.

So I went to the hospital ER and asked to talk to someone. Even doing that was humiliating. How could I have got in this position? I was a capable, no, a SUPER capable wife, mother and career woman (never mind the fact that I couldn't settle on one career for more than 3 years at a time). Eventually I was called in and a tall, thin man with a shaved head took me in a dark room with a couch. He asked me a whole raft of questions. His voice was soft, almost monotonous. I just kept thinking he must think I'm a fucking lunatic.

At one point, when he asked me if I had ever felt controlled by the TV or radio. I said, quite indignant, I'm not schizophrenic you know. He said how did I know what schizophrenic was. I told him: I know. I'm not stupid. He wrote furious notes. Shit. What did I do??

So, after unburdening myself of all these strange things (I told him about the paranoia with the coffee shop cops and the CB truckers, he saw the lacerations on my arms - nothing serious, scratches really) and said he'd be right back, a doctor had to talk to me. So, she came in: a little Asian woman. She was quite abrupt and pissed me off: "I hear you think people are out to get you?" I was immediately angry. Very angry. I hated her. She looked at the lacerations on my arms and then left.

I felt better. It was like a weight had lifted: I had told someone of my bogeymen and I was still standing. I wanted to go home. So I left the dark little room and walked out into the ER frenzy. From nowhere, the tall lanky man came to me and said "where are you going?"

I said I feel better. I want to go home.

He said you can't.

What?

You can't. The doctor has determined that you are a threat to yourself and you are being committed here for a few days.

I am leaving! - the floor felt like it had just dropped away. I felt like I was falling. Literally. I've never felt like it again and hope never ever to repeat it.

He looked at me, almost sadly, and said, you don't understand. It's the law. You can't leave. And behind him came two security guards to mind me.

....

Enough for now.

More later



Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Those who don't learn from history join politics

I used to consider myself apolitical. I guess I'm not. Why?

* I have distinct opinions on the proposed changes in Canada's healthcare system
* I have even more distinct opinions on the current US election
* I think our local mayor, who is 147 year old (or 85, I forget) and mayor for about 25 years at least, is the best politician ever because she actually looks after her constituents and not how she appears in the media. When you're 85, you don't really give a rats ass what you look like anyway, so she's an issues lady and I love her for it.

Being Canadian, however, we represent our politics differently. Many assume that because we're so close to the US border, we're the same as them. Far from it in most regions of the country. We are quieter about our politics. Ever seen the movie Bowling for Columbine? Michael Moore at one point takes a trip to Canada to discuss how our gun laws etc work and says, when he finds that our murder rate is a fraction of a percent of the US, maybe they're different due to what they watch on television. Then he shows a shot of the CBC where an MP (Member of Parliament) says that he will discuss his disagreement with the gentleman involved (whoever that is) and we will sit down to reach an amicable agreement. I know Michael Moore isn't universally revered in the US, but I thought it was an interesting perspective. It's pretty true to form as to how Canadian politics go.

But I think politicians themselves are an odd species. There are the odd ones who really are altruistic, trying to better their neighbour. But I think even the better part of those get sucked in by the power - however negligible - and the prestige that comes with being in the public eye. They don't rise beyond the municipal level unless they master the art of saying what we want to hear without saying anything tangible.

Now American presidential politics is not just a different species, it is a whole different lifeform. I am amazed and astounded at the partisanship and the vitriol that attends these elections. This one has become particular vivid in its attacks, but they have all had them. I think it is in part due to the origin of America: they are a mixture of people who left England to be able to practice their religion without interference or persecution, people who left England to make money in the tobacco farms, people who left the original colonies to make their fortune in the west, people who left other countries to come to the myth of the streets paved with gold. America was founded on people searching to make their mark, strike out on their own, financially, spiritually, geographically. So it would make sense that deep in the American politician's soul is the sense that he not only must make his mark but that he is so entitled to do so he can bulldoze anyone that stands in his way.

Politics is big money. A lot at stake. I don't mean our politicians are any better. Geez no. We've got a multi-billion dollar sponsorship scandal of our own.

I just can't help but watch American politics with a sort of bemused fascination. The end never seems in doubt, but the places the journey takes along the way are forever interesting.

Enough of my babbling. Off to hockey school.
Saturday, September 11, 2004

Quick note on Buddhists

Sanity Optional
Quick note re the monks. I did NOT draw them out of my imagination. I bought two small photo books for $3,99 each. One is of Indonesian Buddhist monks and temples and the other is of ancient Indian temples. I love ancient cultures of all kinds.


whole picture - sorry it's fuzzy...I am conspiring to attack my scanner when it least expects it...until then this must do. Posted by Hello

lower part of monks Posted by Hello

My monks Posted by Hello

The Beauty of the Mundane

First:

Thank you. Your comments really mean a great deal and make me smile. What a great feeling it is to be understood.

Second:

This weekend is a special one. My son is usually with his father every single weekend. But the weekend after labour day is always the one where his father spends with his girlfriend/wife/significant other/whatever-the-hell-she-is (she's strange, which is hilarious coming from someone on the level of anti-psychotic medication that I am). So Adam is with us all weekend. We're a full family this weekend.

The weather has cooperated: perfect blue skies, a light breeze, low 20s for temp (for the non-metric Americans among you that would be 70 F or so). I am not one for housework, never have been, but I was actually happy to be changing sheets, doing laundry, cleaning bathroom floors. Adam was in his room, killing aliens and Rob was flaked out on the chesterfield, cat napping. I rigged up a temporary clothes line in the backyard (the other being too small for the bed linen) and the dog and I hung the sheets in the sun. I checked my small vegetable garden and noticed the first of the tomatoes is near ripe.

And as I write this, I was interrupted by a door bell. We never have visitors. There was a woman at the door with a note stapled to a plastic garbage bag. They are asking for anything we can give: clothes, batteries, flashlights, dry food. They are sending a container to Grenada, a poor island to begin with that has been just devastated by Hurricane Ivan. It doesn't have the social infrastructure to deal with such disasters that the United States does as it did with Hurricane Andrew. I will call the number on the sheet and give what I can.

This interruption only serves to emphasize my feelings today.

I have had the fortune today of living a very mundane day. I cleaned. I enjoyed the sunshine. I drew more (I will post a digital snapshot today - my scanner and I are not on speaking terms right now). I spent time with my family. We had lively conversation over the dinner table, each interested in the other. I am not paranoid. I am not delusional. I am calm. I have a roof over my head and a well-paying job to help provide for that roof.

I remember times in my life where I would deliberately seek out dangerous or chaotic situations because it was the only way I knew how to live. It was a reflection of the chaos in me. The last time I was like that wasn't all that long ago.

For me to have a day where I can appreciate the mundane, to be happy to stand in my yard, clothespins in hand, face turned to the fall sun, that's another victory.

I will take all the victories I can, no matter how mundane.
Friday, September 10, 2004

Differences in Light and Dark

It amazes me.

Somes sites or printed literature you read about bipolar disorder give such grim statistics. I'm an optomist by nature: I insist on finding SOMETHING positive about most situations (mind you, to find some I stretch further than a cheap stripper loaded on Jack Daniels). But in some literature it is quite dark indeed. Statistics regarding unemployment rates, relapse rate, medication non-compliance rates, even mortality rates are paraded with a mortician's flair.

Others say boldly how the vast majority of people with bipolar disorder lead normal, productive lives. It downplays the "disease" aspect and highlights the "success" stories of people who can conduct their lives without medication.

What is a manic-depressive to do? Geez...impulsivity and sudden changes of heart are a hallmark of the condition. Presenting us with such polar opposites seems almost cruel. If it is in print, it must be true, right? But how can it all be true?

I found this website that seems to have some balance.

http://www.obad.ca/

But still, how can these disparate things all be true?

The obvious answer would be that they aren't. However, think about it for a minute.

What is the core issue? Those of us who live this life of kaleidescopic skies really can travel down one of a number of paths each and every day, depending on the colour of the sky then. This can then be true: one BPer can live the high road, little to no meds, seeming a "success", while another is hospitalized on a regular basis to simply stay alive. But these are snapshots in life. Each study they appear in are only a portion of their lives. You cannot describe a person in a paragraph. Especially someone who is bipolar. The same person can appear in two different studies at two different times in their life and provide extremely different stories. We defy hard definition. We are fluid, like quicksilver. And while this necessitates the need for structure to keep us stable, it is also a quality that some envy. I am bipolar, and the disease is a struggle on a daily basis, but even on my medication I want to be able to maintain some of that flexibility. I think that is why I am almost constantly reading about it: I want to have the best of both worlds.

Years ago I read the entire original Dune series (I say original because I know Frank Herbert's son has added to it). There is a key element to the Atriedes lineage where Paul can stand and see all possibilities of all futures radiating out from him. It is this same open road of possibilities, in a sense, that can make both the light and the dark of the empirical literature of bipolar be accurate and true.

It is the choices we make. The tragic truth about bipolar disorder, however, is that our choices can be driven by delusion, hallucination, an unquiet mind arguing for sanity, struggling for a rest from pain. And I think that is ultimately what I'm looking for: to learn to make better choices, to learn to be "normal". I'm looking for a loophole somewhere, a grandfather clause that lets me out of the BP club because I don't think I've still accepted by diagnosis 100%.

But in my reading, and in writing here and corresponding with some of you, I'm learning that while it's not all sunshine and roses, we can live a good life, we can contribute, we can touch the lives of others in a manner that gives strength to our persistent survival.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Buckley's Mixture

I think this stuff is only in Canada. Man...

I love being Canadian and think Canada is the best place in the world to live.

But every time I get a cold, (which usually become bronchitis, and has been that way since I was a wee lassie), Rob force feeds me Buckleys.

Read up on this. Especially the advertising bit. The ads were quite successful here. And I think everyone here has had Buckley's ONCE in their life. I think it's part of the citizenship tests now too: you wanna be a Canuck, you gotta swallow Buckley's. Straight from the bottle - no spoon for YOU, Mr. Iwanna B. Canayjun.

http://www.buckleys.com/about/index.htm

This stuff tastes like boiled cedar bark (don't ask how I know what that tastes like).

But it does work.

Strange how the things that are the hardest to swallow are the most important.

There might be a lesson in there...nah. Too late for me to think complex thoughts. Time for bed and ARRRHH more Buckleys.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Explanation

I need to clarify something.

My presence here, in this blog, is my venting place. I used to have a network of people whom initially supported me during my pre-diagnosis and hospitalization stage. I eventually found that they liked to roll around in pits of their own despair and did little to help themselves. I know this sounds harsh but it is also how I saw, and still see, them. I am not at all following the "pull yourself out of it" BS. Rather, I am saying that yes, I know bipolar disorder is a real bitch to deal with but there are distinct things you can do to help yourself and rolling round in the mud saying oh my god I'm getting so dirty is not one of them.

Now...

I need it to be understood that when I write here about things like my swiss army knife, I am not crying for attention. I am not rolling in the mud complaining of how my shirt will never come clean again. I am giving vent to what are my current coping skills, however hobbled they may be. I greatly appreciate the concern that some have expressed, and I am not turning that aside or casting aspersions on those concerns. Please please please don't misunderstand me.

I am, however, desperate to be understood as someone whose writing here is, in fact, another coping mechanism, a way to give air to some of the more unbalanced thoughts and things I do. If I don't give vent to them, they take on a greater life and significance in my mind than I sometimes think they warrant and that feeds my delusions and paranoia, which eat quite healthfully as it is thank you very much.

I hope some of this makes sense. I am very grateful that people who know little about me have some concern, but I am currently okay. It is when I STOP writing (or drawing, or painting) that things go from bad to worse. I have, in the past, written some very bizarre things. I have read them after the fact, when more stable, and thought, holy crap am I ever screwed up. You may have the misfortune of reading some of it some day, but if you do, please know that it's my attempt to let off some of the internal pressure before the lid blows.

Now my current state of mind:

I have a dull throbbing headache from this lovely cold that Rob has seen fit to share. I am still employed. My son is back from his camping trip and his first day of grade eight, looking quite the handsome young man (absence does indeed make one fonder). But I'm not paranoid. This is a monumental difference for me. Living with paranoia is exhausting. I am tired - part of that is the cold and part of that is the aftermath of a week of paranoia and mixed state hell. But today is ok. And right now that's a victory.

Hope all is well with everyone. Happy Tuesday :-)

Still employed

So far so good.

We're doing inventory so perhaps that's given me a reprieve: they need more bodies.

Also have a cold.

Yuck

More later

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Breathing

First, thank you for the posts. The picture advice was helpful - I had to search through some on-line forums to get through a glitch I had encountered with Hello, but I found and fixed it - and the pic below is a painting I did of a garden gargoyle. It's a digital pic of the painting, so it's a bit grainy. Scanning the painting itself isn't really an option: the pic is about 4' x 3' and you've just got the centre detail there. I'm gonna try posting a couple of other things as well.

And second, thank you for the encouragement re my stressing and obsessing on my job. It's the weekend now, and I do feel better. Much better than I did. But if I think about going back, I can feel the fear and stress coming back in like smoke creeping under the crack in the door when the house around you burns. I'm just not going to think about work until Tuesday (or try really hard not to). The swiss army knife remains in my car.

I need to clarify what the knife signifies:

I have a tendency to end up in mixed states (if you're not sure what that is, click the link on the right that says "Bipolar Basics" and find the mixed states definition). They come with fantastic paranoid delusions if I let my guard down. The knife is quite dull. I promise. I have a swiss army knife that, while I'm driving, I hold in my hand in such a manner that I grip the steering wheel and the length of the knife (including the portion into which all the attachments fold and live) rests in the palm of my hand and the blade itself follows the contour of my wrist, with the point ending about four inches down the length of the inside of my forearm. The tighter I grip the steering wheel, the more pressure is put on the point. I do not break the skin. But the .... pressure sensation (it's not really pain, more of a pinch).... that feeling keeps me "here", forces my mind to remain in the real world and not falling more deeply into delusional thought. Hence, I know when the knife makes an appearance in my day, I know it's not been a good day. I hope that makes sense to someone.

But it is in my car, where it will remain. It is always there.

*shaking my head*

ok...I hate pity-party crap. Enough of this talk.

I'm going to try to post more pictures. Maybe even one of me hahahahahah (digitally altered to protect my secret identity as Wonder Blonde).

Still breathing :-)



My gargoyle guardian painting (a bit fuzzy and up close) Posted by Hello
Friday, September 03, 2004

checking in again

I need to keep in touch here right now because it's my sole vent. Rob knows something's amiss and is trying his best but I want to avoid worrying him more than I have to.

I didn't go for a run - I looked at myself in the mirror and was horrified at the transmogrification that has occured: a gelatinous blob blinked back at me. I couldn't be around people, in public. So I rode the bike in the basement.

Rob is such a dear: he stopped on the way home at the market and made a wonderful dinner. Breaded pork chops, boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, garlic bread and he stopped at the Portuguese bakery on the corner and bought a tart each for dessert. We've just finished dinner - it made me feel a bit better, being there, just with him. And soon, we'll have the tarts. We're watching the World Cup of Hockey. The Americans are against the Slovaks. The Americans have to win - they're 0-and-2. Canada, hurray hurree hurrah, is 2-0. So I'm going to go downstairs, watch the hockey with half an eye and continue my drawing of the Buddhist monks.

If I can ever figure out picture hosting on this blog (and I'm open to instruction), I will post a picture of the drawing.

The spiral is slowing.

alphagetti

I'm struggling.

Really, really struggling.

The swiss army knife has made a reappearance, just to keep me in the here-and-now, and not in the off-she-goes-to-lala-land.

I can't display a lot of this to Rob but he sees through most of my dodges.

Supposed to be going to my sister's tomorrow for a send-off barbeque for my nephew (who, coincidentally enough, they think is either schizophrenic or bipolar - he takes Seroquel but nothing else) but right now I'm heavy with dread at the thought. I can't face them and pretend to be normal. I want to call them, no, strike that, if I'm going to be honest here, I want ROB to call them, or to send an email even better, nothing where she can cajole me to going, send her an email that says I'm not feeling well, bad stomach flu, something, anything to keep me from going there and enduring 4 or 5 hours of enforced frivolity. I can't do it.

I still have a job. But the strain of waiting for the axe to fall is making me shake. Literally. At one point today I went into the ladies room, not necessarily to do my business, but to just sit in the stall and shake for a while, to let my guard down an iota and relieve some of the pent stress by allowing my body to quiver in stress. A high tension wire, like I said before.

Adam's gone, and Rob'll be home in a while. I want to do a run, to try and zone out to a safer place for a while. going to check in on something first. Then I'll go.

My stomach is knotted and my mind is spiralling, the spiral of carion over fresh roadkill. I've got to straighten this out.

blond

And then there were two

Adam's off this morning for the annual camping weekend with his father. He was supposed to leave at 6.30 am, but his dad was late due to this fog this morning and he just left now, about 7.20. So Adam and I are both bleary eyed, getting up at 6 rather than our normal 7.15 and 6.45 respectively. I won't see him now until he gets home from his first day of Grade 8 Tuesday afternoon. I'm going to miss him very much.

I took Adam and Rob out to dinner at the Outback Steakhouse yesterday after my run (which went like crap). While Adam was at the bathroom, Rob asked me if I was okay and I told him that I still feel like I'm going to get fired, and that I spent my entire work day as a high tension wire, thrumming and taut and now quite tired. He said I'm just being paranoid. I told him that I had said to the receptionist that I feel like we're going to be reading another one of those "I regret to inform" announcements soon, as we looked at the announcement of the resignation of the sales rep that only lasted 2 weeks, to which she responded "yeah, I feel that way too". So it's NOT just me. All these meetings, the scurrying around - what I think is going to happen is they're going to pull Mike P. in from his on the road sales and put him back on the desk full time and get rid of me.

I had wound down pretty good last night - the dinner was the needed release that I had planned - but now, writing this, in expectation of going to work, my stomach is in knots.

I just wish they'd get it over with. Then I can decide what I will do.

I can say, though, I'm not as kick-ass-and-take-names as I was. I'm scared, is what I am.


Thursday, September 02, 2004
and the train kept a rollin all night long.....

lots of closed door meetings
lots of hush hush

and the train kept a rollin...

Where is my job security? Over there, in the box

I'm worried I'm going to get fired.

It's strange - there's a corner of my mind quite anxious about it. But I've been pretty high since, oh, I guess maybe Thursday or Friday last week. So, that part of my mind acknowledges the fear, but responds to it with a kick-ass plan of response, knowing what I'll say (I'll be eloquent and at the same time make them feel 10 inches high) and what lawyer I'll call (of course one that will have this sad tale of woe on the 6 o'clock news: talented sales person defamed and misunderstood by money-grubbing old fart), even how I'll make my exit (dramatic, quite a scene).

Why am I going to get fired?

I started in January. Since then, 5 people have left, only 2 of their own volition. Each time one of the other three left, I was somehow informed about it ahead of time (yes, I knew they were getting fired before they did, that's what kind of place this is). I was privy to some higher level hush-hush conversations and had to keep mum about things for, in one case, 3 weeks before the hammer fell on his pointed head.

But now there's a bunch of these conversations happening again and I'm not part of them. I walked in on two women (one of which is my colleague who sits right in front of me) in the ladies room whispering furiously with each other and as soon as I came in, they left. My other colleague, the other outside rep for filtration, he and the current president had this deep conversation Tuesday at the end of day, and when I asked him about it, the rep denied they had spoke. The president had this deep conversation with the past president and founder of the company, a grumpy old toad who hates me.

My ass is grass.

But they can't survive without me right now. They've cut things so lean, and I've learned so much so fast, that I'm pretty much necessary. And no one knows the filtration like I do, and since that's a pet project of the president's, then it'll take a lot of convincing for me to go.

But if I am fired....

man
the floor will fall
a thousand feet
and once more I will look up into nothing
unable to scale the walls
fingernails peeling back
against cold rock
bare feet slipping
no purchase
no gain
nothing

i'm skirting the edge of a strange place

Copyright © 2005 Blondzila (because no one else would own this).

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