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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Sanity Optional
Friday, July 29, 2005

A good question

Michele raised a good point with me:

Are they hallucinations if I'm still aware of what's going around me? I would think no. That's why I call them visions: I see both the present and the "event" or the "picture". The vision takes a lot of my concentration and is highly distracting. But I don't remember ever thinking it was real. Just highly intrusive and highly disturbing and having a sense that it could be real.

Thoughts?

Curtain Call

And the curtain lifts.

That was the genuine sensation late yesterday. A curtain lifting, the weight rising, my head higher, vision clearer and focus slowly returning.

It is times like these, on the rebound of the slippery edge of lost reality, that I really get a sense of where I was. It's like seeing something in the dark: you see it because of a minute sliver of light reflecting off it more than seeing the thing itself. It is the increasing light entering my mind that is letting me see the hulking presence that resides there.

The baseball game went well. I don't remember the last time I had such fun at a game. It was very late: the game went 18 innings, we stayed for 14. My sleep has been thrown off again and I could tell that my mood was moving back toward manic simply because at midnight, even after taking the Seroquel, I was awake. But this morning, so far, things are fairly even. I'm a little tired, but that's ok. Today was the first day this week that on the way into work I only thought once of driving into a bridge abutment. Now that's progress.

I'm at work, and concentration is still difficult. Focusing on one thing for more than 10 minutes is a bit of a joke. But at least those nightmare images of blood and gore aren't invading my mind. A step forward.

Hopefully the rest of the day I can make another step forward still.
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Passing

I was able to find a way to articulate some of what happened yesterday to Rob.

His response was that this is a bump in the road and I just have to fight through it.

I'm trying.

He also said that when I see this doctor in September for a second opinion, to mention it.

I'll try to remember.

What did happen yesterday? Sitting at my desk and having images insert themselves into my consciousness, images of me playing in vast quantities my own blood the way a child would make a mud puddle (my blood was thick, my skin flayed open along my forearm for ease of access). unable to be with people I knew (who would require conversation) but unable to be alone, I went to the mall at lunch, and found I was extremely paranoid. That man walking by smiling in my direction was laughing at me and the fact that my grilled veggie sandwich was spicier than expected, that woman at the kiosk I wouldn't visit even when she called me thinks I'm a fat cow and is talking to her next potential customer about me, that dump truck driver know how incompetent I am and is reaching for his radio to tell his work mates.

Just a few examples.

When I left the mall, I sat in my car in the parking lot for 15 minutes playing with my very very dull swiss army knife. I keep it deliberately dull. I end up reaching for it at times like these, not because I want to die or anything, but the discomfort of the constant pressure of the knife tip into my arm helps me stay in the present, helps keep my mind from falling away further. See, when I'm in a state like I was (and I can still feel it sitting at the edge of my consciousness right now, waiting for my guard to drop, which it might during the stress of work, but I'm going to try and fight it), but when I'm in that state, the paranoia, the imagery - those are evidence that my mind is starting to...hmmm...how to best describe it so that a non-bp person will get the sensation....it's evidence that my mind is slipping away from my control, that I'm losing grip on the one thing that should always be mine. I don't know how to describe how very scary that feeling is. So, I take this knife in my left hand and cup the hilt of it in such a manner that this very dull blade is parallel to my forearm and then as I move my wrist, I can exert the pressure downwards. I just then tilted my head back against the seat rest in the car and sat that way for about 15 minutes.

It usually doesn't break the skin, or rather, it doesn't cause bleeding usually. That's not my intention. It is like giving smelling salts to someone who has fainted - it's a wake up call to come back to rationality.

Even hockey last night was tainted.

By the end of the game things had improved somewhat - the kinetic energy of the game helps - but I was positive that while I was out on my shift skating around, the team was talking about how useless I am, and that when I was on the bench, they just couldn't wait til I was out again, not because I'm such a great player, rather, the opposite, how awful I am and then they could again talk about me and plan how they could ditch me.

By the end, thing, as I said, were a little better. I mentioned as much to Rob and Adam on the way home, who were kind enough to come out and watch me play. Later, after Adam went to bed, I used my usual hiding spot to talk to Rob without having to look him in the face and see either his disappointment or his worry: at bed when lights are out. I explained all that I explained above here, without the details of the blood (just said blood and destruction were popping into my brain all day, not as a result of any specific trigger, but just dropping in like a quarter in a pay phone). But I told him the paranoia. I didn't tell him about the knife. I've given him enough to worry about.

As I type this, he came in, grabbed my head with his hands on either sides by my ears and give me a big "smack" of a kiss on the top of my head. Then he asked if I was feeling any better. I said a little. I do, a little. And I don't think I have the focus right now to lie convincingly enough to say otherwise. Then he asked if I was going to be okay for tonight: he's taking Adam and I to the Blue jays baseball game.

I said to buy the tickets, I'll be fine.

So I've got to get myself together by then.

I'll let you know how it goes.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Blood

My morning has been filled with intrusive thoughts of blood and destruction.

Today is not going well.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The engine revs

Work is getting busier. It's supposed to. I mean, I was hired because of my "expertise" in my field, and to use that to help increase sales in our market. That's beginning to happen and they've hired an extra sales rep on the road as well, and those two things have combined to make things increasingly busy.

Phone ringing all day. Where's my quote? When's my delivery? Why didn't you call me back even though I only called you an hour and a half ago to request an engineered system that takes a full day minimum to sketch out?

I used to thrive on this.

Today: hands shaking, vascillating back and forth between wanting to kill someone and thinking of playing with knives again, unsure if I was coming on too strong in demanding more information from a particular sales rep known for doing things half-assed (I wanted to make sure he had all the details so it was done properly and not left for me to clean up when the shit hit the fan if it did), unsure if I should speak to the man who initially told me about this job, the only person there who knows I'm bipolar, asking him to keep an eye and let me know if I'm going too far.

I seem to be missing the gauge that says "enough already". I've been known for burn out, long before I was diagnosed. I know that the bipolar disorder has been there for years, but I believe that my big episode in September 2003 has left me different, changed. Not as strong. I'd love to say that I live by the phrase "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger". I used to truly believe that. But I believe that I've changed somehow in an intangible way.

I told Rob tonight that things are getting busier at work. He said that was good. I said that I wasn't sure, that I didn't know if I was okay to handle it.

He said "of course you can handle it. Just don't go changing jobs again".

I got irritated, saying "I KNEW you'd say that", and moved to the opposite end of the couch, not saying much for the rest of the evening. That was the one thing he just shouldn't have said.

But then again, I can't blame him. I mean, he's always so supportive. I can't blame him for being irritated now and again.

I've been antsy but quiet all night. I'm settling in, it seems, for a nice mixed episode.

Hurrah.
Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sex

WARNING for the more conservative of my friends who read this: this may offend so please do not continue if a frank discussion on a broad range of sexual topics makes you uncomfortable. See you next post :-)

For those that remain:

Banjk wrote about a possible link between bipolar disorder (or other mental illness) and a Sexual Definition of Self. Not simply what one does and does not like in terms of sex, but how (and please correct me if I'm wrong, Collin) how the details of your sexual identity are linked to your sense of self. And since mental illness, certainly bipolar disorder, can provide a different kind of sense of self than compared to "normal" people, is the mental illness linked to a unique Sexual Definition of Self.

It makes me think.

I know that my sense of worth is directly tied to my sexuality. It's actually quite sad sometimes. Example:

Rob and I haven't "been together" in a few weeks. We've become both so busy, mid week baseball and hockey schedules make for late nights, a teenager in the house who is going to bed later because it's summer, my requirement to take Seroquel before bed (highly sedating): all have conspired to make the logistics difficult. But that doesn't stop my mind from questioning. We have weekends. But Rob, so tired from the week before, naps. I have instigated things periodically, but the man is so deep-in-the-bones tired, sometimes I just let him sleep.

Last night we went to dinner and a movie (Adam is still away). We came home around 10:15 and I took my medicine. Rob said he was going to settle in with an ice pack on his elbow (he's got very bad bursitis on the left one) and he'd stay up with the dog who'd been alone all day. Resigned to another night falling asleep alone, I settled in with a book (rereading Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace).

But then Rob returned, said he'd ice his arm later, and he came into bed with me.

Later, moments after "the big bang", I was in a position where I was faced away from him, face almost directly into the sheets. I said "You like me, you really like me", trying to use Sally Field to joke about how much I'd missed him.

He said "Of course I like you. I would hope you would never think otherwise". He got up and went into the bathroom. And out of nowhere I began to cry.

The room was quite dark and he came in to kiss me on the forehead and then to ice his arm. I tried to control my tears but they came, silent fat drops of salt water down my cheeks. Because of the dark, he didn't notice. He kissed me goodnight and left. And I cried myself to sleep.

All my life, my sense of worth has been tied to my sexual identity. Sex is a validation for me that I am still worthwhile. Sad, isn't it. I know the logical stuff, the things I would tell someone else who would say the same thing to me about their own life: of course you're valuable, of course your partner loves you no matter how often you've had sex lately, blah blah blah.

The added 40 lbs since being diagnosed just makes it worse. Of course when there's a considerable gap between the times we have sex, there's that little voice that is telling me it's because of my new body. Yes, part of me knows that Rob loves me deeply and that doesn't matter to him. But you've got to understand the irrationality of my mind sometimes.

And here is the possible connection to Banjk's question: is that irrationality simply stereotypical female insecurity? Or is the latent paranoia from the bipolar disorder? Or a bit of both?

As well, plain Jane vanilla sex has always bored me. I don't know why. But kink is important. Of course not constant, because then it isn't exciting anymore: it becomes the norm. But often enough that it is the regular thing. I do believe that, for me at least, that is related to the bipolar disorder. It is a way of getting that rush of mania.

I mean, think about it: the height of sexual activity is the high of manic activity. That's why "questionable" sexual behaviour is one of the key markers of bipolar mania. We want that physical rush, that feeling of walking the razor's edge and never knowing when we might fall off. That thrill, that independent sense of potential loss of control into beautiful chaos.

Before being diagnosed, questionable sexual behaviour was my bread and butter. I was somehow able to not get caught for 99% of it. But there are things that I know were, in retrospect, (thinking of one event in particular, 12 years before I was diagnosed), both attempts to get that rush and to reinforce my own sense of self worth. They both worked, for a while, till the next need for speed came again.

And sad to say, I still miss that, that rush. That particular sexual rush.

Does any of this make sense?
Friday, July 22, 2005

Holy Freekin' Cow

I GOT A REFERRAL! I GOT A REFERRAL!

I have an appointment September 6 at 2 pm with a new pdoc for an initial appointment about a second opinion.

HOLY FREEKIN' COW. WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE!

I have been thinking about this all the way on the drive home today. I realized that there are times that I've not been 100% honest with my current pdoc, little Napoleon, about my symptoms, because I don't want him to increase these toxic meds any further, and take the risk of possible further liver problems. Perhaps I can learn to trust a new one.

*does a happy jig that the little Napoleon may yet be gone from my life and I may have a pdoc who actually knows my name and listens to me and prescribes medication that I'm not going to get sicker from*

Sometime in September I'm also supposed to see the hepatologist again. I've tried to get in to see her earlier as per my family dr instructions, but her receptionist is a bulldog who won't let me change my appointment. She just tells me if the doctor wanted to see me earlier based on the test results, she would, so she doesn't so wait.

But I'm okay with that.

BECAUSE I GOT A FREEKIN' REFERRAL!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!111
Thursday, July 21, 2005

A moment

I got an email from a friend yesterday asking if I was okay, since it had been some time since I'd posted anything on my blog. Yes, I am okay. Just been busy.

Adam is away for a week with his father on a train trip up into the northern reaches of the province. It's called the "Polar Bear Express". I miss him.

Hockey was late last night: 10 pm game, which means 11 pm off the ice and close to midnight before Rob and I could even think about sleep. That disruption in my sleep time has left me a little distractable this morning (concentration on one specific thing isn't more than about 10 minutes at a time, and even that estimate might be pushing it).

I keep going back to the CBC website (my homepage both here and at work) and refreshing the data to get more info on this new wave of London attacks.

I would like everyone to take a moment please and look around you, and either hug the loved ones close by, or even hug yourself. Confirm you are safe, sound and give a thought to how lucky you are.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
The Argo game was great. And I actually went out that afternoon to the Reitman's up the street from us and bought a pair of linen capris and a khaki skort and a couple of nice tops and felt quite good about it when we went to the Sight Lines restaurant. The service at the restaurant was atrocious, the food was decent and the game was good. I guess it all balances out. Thanks for the supportive posts.

I've realised that I haven't been filling up my dosette with the week's allotment of the various little multicoloured pills I take. And as a result, I truly believe I've been forgetting a number of doses. Once I started filling it again and taking the meds consistently, my moods have been better and things are more consistent.

I've actually even had a few late nights (due to hockey) and some early mornings (due to my self-imposed new running schedule) and I'm (so far) not feeling any serious ill effects.

I wonder how much of the missing of the meds was a subconscious attempt to once again escape their hold. No person I know that is affected by BP likes to take their meds. Not only do they have their fun side effects, but they are a daily reminder of what we are versus what we used to be.

In any event, this week's been good so far. I've decided to take the day off work tomorrow and Adam and I are going to Wasaga Beach. It's a beautiful beach along Georgian Bay with great sand and a long walk out into cool water. A great place to beat the heat here.

I should take this moment to explain the heat. Some people have this image of Canada as a country filled with sled dogs, igloos and hockey playing beer drinkers. Okay, we are hockey playing beer drinkers, but while our winters are cold and long, our summers, especially in Southern Ontario where I live, are hot and humid. Case in point: two days ago we beat a record for temperature here, not adjusted for the humidity, of 36 C. That's roughly 97 F. But because there is so much water here (you can't drive more than about half an hour to an hour in any one direction here before crossing a river or coming to a lake), the heat is always intensely humid. So, they have the Humidex rating that incorporates that into the weather, giving a sense of what the heat impact truly is. So, today, we are expected to see 35 C (approximately 95 F) but with the humidity it may be more like 43 C (109F). We are hotter than Miami and Los Angeles, and that's even before the humidity factor.

So, long story short (too late) tomorrow Adam and I will drive the 1 1/2 hrs to the great Canadian summer Mecca of Wasaga Beach, try and drown each other for a few hours, come back burnt to a crisp in the scorching sun and all in all have a great time beating the heat.

I'll let you know how it goes.
Friday, July 08, 2005

Sight Lines

Tomorrow Rob and I are going to dinner at the Roger's Centre (formerly called the SkyDome) at a restaurant called Sight Lines. You have a good view of the playing field and the Argos, Toronto's CFL team, will be playing.

I went out today to see if I could find an end of season dress or something. I know this restaurant doesn't have a strict dress code but I don't remember the last time I went in more than jeans or cotton capris.

I left the store in near tears.

The sight of myself in the mirror was so disheartening. What happened to me?

I know that I've fallen off on the exercise. Driving that much further home every night has made it more difficult for me to find the time and energy to get in a run so I've substituted stationary bike rides which aren't quite equivalent. I made myself get up at 6.15 am today, 1/2 hr early, to go running. I am NOT a morning person and was barely conscious but I did it, 3 miles.

I have to continue it though. I am so disgusted with how I look.

On the way home from work there was a song on the radio by Bif Naked (a Canadian female rocker: she's cool). The song is called I Love Myself Today.

A snippet of lyrics:

I love myself today
Not like yesterday
I'm cool
I'm calm
I'm going to be okay
uh-huh

Usually that song makes me feel like I could just kick anyone's ass, strong and secure. It just reminded me of how much unlike my good old self I feel like.

Let's see how tomorrow goes.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005

She's out

Karla Homolka is out of jail. After seeking an injunction several times to stop the press from reporting on her once out of jail, what does she do? Within an hour of being released, she is on Radio-Canada, the French version of the CBC television, explaining how sad she is and how she doesn't think she deserves to be happy. That's logical: go to court to demand the press don't report on you, and then go to the press.

When she was asked why she came to the French media rather than the English, she said, among other things, that the French media and people have been easier on her than English Canada.

If I was a Quebecer, I'd be outraged at the implications there.

I so want to go off my meds, find her and have a "chat".
Saturday, July 02, 2005

War of the words

I'm going to try and keep this short.

We've all heard about Tom Cruise's inane treatment of Brooke Shield's honesty regarding post partum depression and his broader attack on psychiatry as a whole. While I'm not impressed with my own psychiatrist, I am not psychotic enough to fail to recognize the importance of the medication in my life. And the best conduit for that medication is a psychiatrist who has been trained in its effectiveness and applicability.

I am terribly afraid that there is someone out there, like me, who doesn't have a mediating factor in their life like I have Rob. And because they're alone, they're much more susceptible to the very misinformed ravings of a mediocre actor.

I know that if I was alone, and I gave thought to the things Mr. Cruise had said, I know there's a significant chance some of what he said would filter through this clotted brain of mine and land on the damaged parts. I would then go off my medication and, simply put, I would soon be dead. Without Rob and without the medications, I'd not stand much of a chance.

It is the height of hubris and irresponsibility for Tom Cruise to play with peoples' lives the way he has. Ignorance of his responsibility is no excuse. And as a result, I will never again pay money to support any project that is associated with Tom Cruise.

Never.

One small step for blogkind

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Take the MIT Weblog Survey

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