I have seriously mixed emotions about the holidays.
I have spent the holidays many ways, in many places over the years: on the road, in strip clubs, with strangers, with friends, with friends families, in monasteries, all alone. Such is the life of a bipolar-multiple.
Growing up, the holidays usualy meant heated arguments over money between stressed out, angry parents. It didn't matter if we were happy or not as long as we had stuff we couldn't afford. I think my mother tried, she did a tree every year and that sort of thing. We were all so miserable the rest of the year under the tyranny of my step-father, I think we just went through the motions.
The holidays have never held strong ties to family for me. Interpersonal dynamics, in general, are a huge trigger and I get nervous and have panic attacks around anything that resembles a family. I do not personally "get" family. My skin is too raw and thin for a thing as rough as family.
Until last year, I had been spending the holidays as a reluctant "daughter-in-law" trying and failing at making things right between my ex-husband and his estranged family. That whole chapter was a disaster on so many levels, but Christmas, especially, seemed to shine a light on both my inner and outer poverty. I never had anything good to wear, because my ex and I were always so broke. I was typically unemployed. I was usually in the middle of a depressive funk with no energy to make anything so I would always show up completely empty handed. Oh the guilt! Holiday expectations are a king size drag, man.
I don't know. Just trying to think about all the feelings I associate with the holiday season is overwhelming. I have had a weird life and the holidays feel like a magnifying glass upon all my weirdness.
This year, is really very different from all the others. I have a home, a real home. I am safe, free from hunger. I am medicated and under the care of a doctor. I am calming down from a lifetime of weirdness. I am in love.
We are going to stay home and celebrate quietly with our kitties. I feel selfish taking David away from his family for the day, but I can live with that. I'm still not talking to my mother; she was the last of my "real" family. the whole thing makes me sad. I don't feel up to dealing with the personal trials of morphing into someone else's family for the holiday. I'm too tired, too broken.
I hope your holidays are whatever you need them to be. I hope they are peaceful and that the spirit of the season is allowed past all the stress and expectations we place on these two little days. In other words, Happy Thanksgiving and "Merry Christmas, but I think I'll skip this one this year."
Monday, November 15, 2010
I believe that for the last four days in a row I have been experiencing a remission. My mood, for the first time in years, appears to be stable. My doctor and I have worked hard for this and, if she wasn't so against it, I would take her out for a celebratory drink.
Honestly, I don't know what to do with myself.
Uhm......is this what being normal feels like? I wouldn't know. I can't recall the last time I felt....nothing. I don't feel sad or mad. I don't feel suicidal. I am not crying or yelling. My thoughts are not dark and obsessive. There is just a whole lot of nothing. I keep getting the image in my head of a long stretch of Nevada desert: no life, no water, just maybe a tumble weed rolling by and the sound of my heart beat.
I keep asking myself if this is what I have been working for. I am hesitant to receive this peace. I don't trust this quiet mind. It feels foreign and I am afraid it will go away without warning; it is a very real fact that it most likely will. Bipolar illness is chronic and remission is slippery. I can't say for certain, but it has been a good seven years since I've felt anything like it.
I have spent many an hour wishing for the freedom to simply BE. In that place I have felt guilt and shame for an illness that robs me of motivation and concentration. Now that I am not so "in" it, I see very plainly that I have not, in fact, been faking it. Nor have I just been sitting around feeling sorry for myself. It is so obvious to me now that only a mental illness could make me feel so low and abandoned.
I should enjoy it, I suppose; try not to wreck it, embrace it, use the time to try and get back to projects now abandoned for years, or better yet, maybe I will do nothing and just meditate on the feeling. I don't have to do anything and I think it is a trap to think I do.
I am not fooling myself here-I know this feeling won't last-but for today, I am going to get into the shower and then get dressed just like everyone else.
If you are reading this and find yourself really "in" it this week, remember that you DO have an illness. You are not a loser, and you will get better-on some level and in some way at some point. Keep doing the inner work so that when those moments do come you will be ready to notice and enjoy them. Be kind to yourself and NEVER GIVE UP!
Posted by Shannon Marie at 7:10 AM
Monday, November 8, 2010
I've been working hard towards a breakthrough in therapy since August. I have stumbled upon one and am pausing to contemplate and quietly celebrate. The deeper I travel into the labyrinth, seeking out those secret things that cause me pain, the more I see that there must be a way out of my ineffectual madness. I have been running a gauntlet of raw, ancient emotions. I have slept and slept. Somewhere I am healing.
I am an intelligent, capable and basically healthy woman who sometimes goes for long periods of time without the will to live. The illness levels me. The illness has affected nearly every chapter of my life. I am acknowledging this as my truth, my story. I am grieving lost time and lost chances.
During those times when I am the sickest, I am at the mercy of intrusive, obsessive, negative thoughts. I fail to do the basics: brush teeth, take shower, feed self. In my mind it is like a long, slow seizure. I become paralysed by an embarrassing apathy and an irrational fear of everything. I feel like I have the flu, my body aches. I feel my own dead weight. I think on those days I would watch burglars take my television out the front door from my bed.
I have to remind myself that my brain is damaged; I have an illness; the illness is real so that I do not kill myself from shame. I would not beat someone up, like I do myself, for having cancer or diabetes. I am learning to love myself as I am and not as I wish I was. I am learning to look with compassion upon myself and my story.
I see that I have been strong, resourceful and brave.
My successful living partly depends on my ability to begin the day and then move fluidly from one activity to another, moving towards and reaching goals a bit at a time until I get to the end of my day. I find that I am spending less time between episodes in recovery; I am spending less time out of commission in bed. I have a clear vision, my therapeutic goal has become to achieve emotional independence.
I hope that you have a good week, dear reader. This week I hope that you have a breakthrough and find yourself on the other side of a problem you have been working out.
Posted by Shannon Marie at 6:05 AM