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Break the Ice

August 29th, 2009

From guest writer Bipoar Notes

Today was rough.

A friend pointed out yesterday that my hands have started shaking. I looked at them and saw a tremor. Don’t know what that’s about, but today I started to feel agitated and a little angry.

Right now I am tense, a little upset, somewhat frightened by it. The fear creeps in; will it happen again? I have been doing so well; can’t it just stay this way?

The ephemeral stability. Never quite within my grasp, never able to be locked in, or protected, like a candle with glass around it.

No, my candle is open to the air, and the air is always gusty, at best — a gale force most of the time.

I am sometimes surprised I have been able to sustain romantic relationships. But then, none of them have lasted.

So often I feel like I am tricking the person in the beginning: “Here I am, I’m such a great package, so much to offer”, and then the truth comes out. “I am a nightmare”. “My life is a hellish vortex and you’ll be drawn into it”.

I try to warn them, but how do you warn someone about something they have no way of comprehending? “This will be like what it feels like to be submerged in icy water until you almost — but not quite — die; Instead you’ll have to endure this pain for as long as you are here on earth.”

How can they understand that, or prepare themselves for what is to follow in the weeks, months, years ahead?

I really feel sorry for them. I also feel guilty about what I put them through. I mostly only care about the one I have now, but I have some guilt about the other ones, the ones who were drawn in and couldn’t take it.

Sometimes I was very angry, though. “I can’t get out, how can you just leave me here and save yourself??”

I mean, when someone loves you, how can they leave you in that hell? It’s like, “Ok, well, there’s only one life jacket, and it’s my size; I have got to get out of this icy water.”

And I am angry; “I can’t get out. How can you save yourself knowing I will drown in this?”

But I also understand them. It is hell. The pain is unbearable. Wouldn’t I end it if it were at all humanly possible?

What is it like to love me? So often I have nothing to offer except anguish and despair. So often I feel empty, with nothing to give, as if someone opened the drain, and all the water ran out.

The rest of me, the beautiful me, the talented me, the unique and wonderful me – it’s not able to shine forth. My light — the unique and totally Julia light – is being obscured by this horrible illness.

It’s as if the rest of me is trapped inside, struggling to keep my head above this frigid water, a prisoner below the ice.

Just Be Patient and Don’t Worry

August 25th, 2009

I’m a little late in saying this, but please join me in a warm welcome to our new writer AnotherChanceToGetItRight. She’s got a lot to share and is a wonderful addition to our RealMental writing staff.

What you don’t know—the memories are so vivid sometimes, they punch me in the stomach.  It’s always unexpected, something triggers them: a song I haven’t heard since 2006 or heat lightning that flashes across the sky or a lecturer, mentioning the common practice elsewhere of men turning the lit end of cigarettes in toward their mouths.  It hits me from nowhere, lights a flame up through my viscera.

I call it conjuring.  The act of making something appear, something that you weren’t expecting.  Something bright and shiny and dangerous.

What you need to know—my dear one, tonight we stood at the ocean with our feet in the surf.  We rolled up our pants and took off our shoes, and we pointed to stars in the horizon.  It was so dark outside—the beach was a private one and we hadn’t expected to be there.  In the dark, I reached back and took your hand.  The waves rolled up on my feet, and I closed my eyes, and it hit me.  Punched me in the stomach.

Suddenly, brilliantly—I conjured up the feeling of you turning me around on a beach down the shore from where we stood tonight.  That night, you swooped down and I turned and you were on one knee.  Things got fucked up after that, but that night was so beautiful and perfect.  And so were you.  And so are you.

My dearest, I conjured you.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

July 24th, 2009

It ought to make us all feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we talk about, when we talk about love.”          –Raymond Carter

The crazier I got—or perhaps, the longer I was crazy—the less boundaries I had.  Goodbye kisses on the forehead migrated down until a boy, not my fiancé, said goodbye on my lips.  Boys—other ones—snaked arms around my waist, across my chest.  On the same outside swing, I alternately cuddled, shotgunned marijuana, was felt up.

This used to be my fucked-up notion of intimacy.  When my synapses crossed and misfired and exploded, I thought that these things [they all felt like electricity] were what intimacy was all about.

I was being used.  I was using them.

I ought to have felt ashamed.  I do feel ashamed, now—a deep intense shame that spreads through my skin.

Flash-forward three years, now or almost.  I’ve traded in boys who push hair out of my face for boys who push me up staircases.  I’ve never hugged my friend Joe.  Despite two years of him being my best friend in medical school, we’ve never hugged.

All those things I thought I knew about intimacy, all those secrets I thought the world was whispering to me about love: I had no idea what I was talking about when I talked about love.  But when I stopped equating physicality with intimacy, my ideas about love expanded.

I discovered that: sometimes “I love you” sounds a lot more like “If I had ping-pong paddle hands, I would beat the shit out of you.”  Sometimes, someone wraps their arms around you to pick you up, and you flail against them and kick their shins, but they don’t let go—a metaphor, one I pick up because I’ve had too many people let go when I flailed.  Given the choice between singing the words, “Me and you, and you and me—no matter how they tossed the dice, it had to be” in four-part synchrony and a goodbye kiss on the forehead, I will chose the former every single time.

A few months ago, I called Joe on the phone after arguing with Joey, my boyfriend.  I was upset, so upset I reverted back to my “crazy” way of dealing with things:  I had been driving over bridges, crying and screaming the words to Everclear’s “You Make Me Feel Like A Whore” until I was hoarse and no less hysterical.  I felt raw and vulnerable.  I texted to ask if I could come over for a minute—it was test week and I knew he was still up.

After I had calmed down, I apologized profusely for interrupting his late evening.  “It doesn’t matter, don’t apologize,” he said over and over, but I kept saying I was sorry.  He switched on me:

“There were times when I could have left,” he reminded me, “but I didn’t.”  The implication was that he had known what he was getting into, with this friendship.  That he had signed up for hysterical phone calls, for the sound of my sobs resonating out of his staircase, for me showing up at midnight with tears soaked into my face.

“There will be more times,” I said.  More times he could leave, more times he has to deal with me leaking out of my head.


“And will you leave then?”

“I don’t think so.”

He talked me down, told me that Joey was handling his feelings in a good way, that he’d been smart.  He put a mug of water in the microwave.  He pulled it out and I watched him [like I always do] slip a few pieces of ice into it so I could drink it immediately.  He searched his boxes of tea, pulled out one and prepared it for me to drink.  “Go home, and go to bed,” he said, “this will help you sleep.”

I watch the two of us, sometimes, and I am reminded how little I knew about the love of friendship before.  Knowing him has made me a better person, a better friend to others and a better girlfriend to Joey.  When Joe turns his hand slightly to receive my car keys, when he reads my mind, when we remember the same obscure SNL reference or fight to see who can get out one of “our” quotes first, when we sing duets in his car—I can think of nothing more intimate.  I know now that I know what I talk about when I talk about love.

Self Port Bipolar

April 28th, 2009

self port bipolar, originally uploaded by grubby mittz art co.

Yes I’m bipolar but I’m friendly. Usually.


April 24th, 2009

Bipolar, originally uploaded by jawboneradio.

See the video of this monster being created here.

Sitting Still

April 23rd, 2009

Sitting still and feeling my feelings has become almost impossible. I have the urge to run, run, run and do, do, do and it doesn’t really matter what or where as long as I’m not there or maybe not me. But, of course, I’ll be there, wherever I go and I will always be me, as fucked up as that can be.

I think about when I was diagnosed with Bi-polar and wonder if that is me or not. Some of the symptoms fit some of the time and there are many bizarre things I’ve done over the years that could be slotted into that diagnosis, but I don’t know. The meds made me a zombie and I cried a lot. I was once diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and I have lots of things that could slot in there, as well. But because I’m DID, I could be all those things or none of those things. I think I’m tired of diagnoses and searching for answers and trying new medications and the whole basket of things that come with being mentally ill. The labeling – I’m tired of the labeling.

So, I try and sit here, and feel. I try to identify what I’m feeling and to what extent. And that means I have to label everything going on inside me. It’s hard and not fun. It’s not the same kind of introspective afternoon where you get to think about your future and all the possibilities that are out there. No, it’s more like cleaning out the junk drawer and finding dimes and push-pins and keys you have no idea what they go to. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I love cleaning and organizing. But this internal stuff is HARD and I have to do it so OFTEN. It’s the only way to short-circuit the harmful cycles that come with not paying attention. When I’m no longer making choices, and instead I wander and react purely on my environment.

If I don’t do the work? I end up 3 states away and wonder why I’m there. I forget I’m married to a wonderful man. I go out and buy $700 worth of stuff we don’t need. I drink too much. I don’t eat. I fantasize about self-harming and prepare to do it. I sleep for an entire week straight. I obsess on everything I’ve ever done, ever, that wasn’t ok. I plan and plan and plan for every disaster that could happen. Ever. Anywhere. I dissociate without meaning to and don’t pay attention when I’m ‘not out.’ That one in particular leads to paying the car payment twice in one month when we can’t afford it because of the really large sums of money we sent in the mail to the IRS. I keep a headache going for days and abuse my liver with high doses of acetaminophen for weeks on end. I compulsively begin to straighten everything into sections. I draw lines with my fingers all day, copying words people say or shapes I see or images I have stuck in my head from childhood. I can’t follow a conversation with someone I care about and hurt their feelings with what looks like disinterest. And I get depressed to a level where ways to kill myself pop into my head with no notice. Jumping and dancing around what I feel.

Sit, Leah. Sit.

#063 – B is for Bipolar

April 23rd, 2009

#063 – B is for Bipolar, originally uploaded by ♣ ZöötAlor ♣ (away).

Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by manic episode and major depressive episodes.

This disorder also used to be called Manic- Depression.