Riding the waves between the devil and the deep blue sea

It seems that I have turned the corner out of depression, but we are by no means out of the woods yet.

As my fellow Bipolars (and those who love us) know, once we clamber up out of the trough of depression, there’s always the potential for a hypomanic or mixed episode awaiting us at the peak of the wave.

All of us have our “little things” that we tend to do when hypomanic.  Some spend money foolishly.  Some get hypersexual.  Some get irritable,  and might even get into fights.

I write.

Now, you would think that would be a good, productive way to work with hypomanic energy.  I think that most of the time, it is.

The trouble  I get into with writing is that I write about (and publish) things that I would never have the guts to do when depressed.  And  I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  I’ve only been fired over it once, and that was a job I was fed up with anyway.

Here’s the thing.  I need feedback from you, my readers,  my friends,  my fellow travelers.

I have written a very disturbing piece, more so than the one you may already know about, that appears in this Blog.  It is a graphic narrative of an event in my life, a very terrible event.  The telling of it comprises the first chapter of my memoir.  I’be been working on it for 20 years, and I finally have this chapter where I want it.

My question for you is:  should I start publishing these chapters here on Bipolar for Life, or should I start a new Blog dedicated solely to the book?

Rainy, with a chance of tornadoes

I always get a bit twitchy when the weather is like this. A little while ago the wind was pounding so hard against the windows that I thought they were going to blow right in.  So, thinks I, if this is an incipient tornado, we ought to go in the basement.  We being my dog Noga and I.  But to get to the basement you have to go outside.  And I’m not going outside in THIS.  I would simply blow away, tornado or no tornado.  Once, in Chicago, I was picked up by an errant cross wind and blown into a building.  I was glad for the building: the next thing over was Lake Michigan.  Same thing happened to me in Boston, right opposite the John Hancock Building.  I will never forget it.

At any rate, I picked up Noga, who was furiously barking at the birdhouse which was banging against the kitchen window (note to self: take down birdhouse in a.m.) and carried her into the bathroom, which is the most interior room that we have.  Actually, it is the ONLY room we have that has four walls and a door that closes.  So we sat there for a while comforting each other until the horrible noises outside stopped.  Since then there have been a few squalls, but nothing like the fury of the first torment.

Tornadoes are a theme in my life.  I’ve been in one-a big one-when I was nine or so.  It jumped over our house and totally destroyed the rest of the town.  Another time I was walking in the woods with my ex-husband and infant son, and watched a funnel cloud develop right over our heads.  We jumped in a ditch, and it roared by and tore up a handy farm house.  Did you ever notice that tornadoes have a propensity to destroy farm houses, trailers, and schools, followed closely by strip shopping malls?

Small wonder that tornadoes should figure large in my dreams.  They are an icon that represents chaotic feelings, unsettledness, out-of-controll-ness.  I have been expecting a tornado dream any time now, as I surf on this seemingly endless wave of uncertainty.  I have not felt so completely dispossessed since I was a homeless teenager.

In the good news department, my depression is lifting, thank G-d, but we all know what THAT means.  Any time now.  The other direction.  At least my life is not dull!

My shrink, bless him, knows my neurology thoroughly.  He knows what sort of works, and what disastrously fails, which are the two categories meds fall into, for me.  After all, he has been shrinking my head since 1999. 
So when I texted him re: my depression lasting more than two weeks (he likes texts), he texted me back, “more Lamectil.”  OK, I know this drill.  Increase Lamectil in 25 to 50mg increments until depression lifts.  Then deal with the horrible mixed state that almost always follows,  by dousing it with Seroquel.  Then enjoy the relatively peaceful few days, or if lucky, weeks, until the next tornado shows up.  This sure as hell ain’t Kansas, Toto.

Why I have not been posting lately

It seems forever since I have sat down to write a real post.   There are several reasons for this.  One, which comes in the easily solvable excuse category, is that my internet access has been lousy.  OK, so I could write them up in a word processing program and go somewhere with internet and publish them.  That would work if I was the type of person who left the house on a regular basis.  I am not that type of person. 

The second reason is that my emotional life has been taken up with helping my parents in various ways.  This is a good thing.  It is what I am here to do.  But it is absolutely draining in every imaginable way. 

The third reason is that I have been slogging through a bout of bipolar depression, which has everything stuck like the Laguna Tar Pits.  I know precisely how those dinosaurs felt when it happened.  “Hey Joe, how come I can’t move?”  “Because you’re stuck, is why.”

Called my shrink.  More Lamectil, he said.  Oh great, that usually sends me into a horrid mixed state, then I have to take enough Seroquel to send me to bed for three or for days.  I don’t have time for this.  Can’t be helped, he says.  That’s what works for you.  Shit.  I’m just not up for it this time.  But no choice.

At least I have little Noga snuggled up next to me.   I can dimly feel her through the depressive haze.  I know she’s here, though, and that gives me a lot of comfort.


This is Noga, my psychiatric service dog.

Dog Therapy in Waiting Rooms Calms and Eases Pain (mobile format)


My Brain Won’t Turn Over

Hopefully this little handheld gadget that serves as my only internet access these days will neither freeze nor crash as I write this.  It has a penchant for doing that.  More than once I have had a post nigh well finished, and the dern thing goes berserk and I lose it.  The post, that is.  Well, yes, I have thought about throwing the dratted Galaxy Tab on the floor and grinding it into powder with my heel (shades of Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird”), but that would mean no internet at all, so I exert a great deal of self control and don’t do it.

But that’s just an excuse, isn’t it?  The real reason I haven’t been blogging, or writing anything at all, is that my brain is quite empty.   Frozen, perhaps, like an old engine that just won’t turn over.  I need a tune-up.  Points, plugs, oil and fluids changed.  Maybe a new starter engine.  A solanoid.  Distributer cap.  But I’m showing my age now.  New cars don’t have any of those things.  It’s all electronic.  It’s all computers.  Tiny little brains scattered about under your hood, all working away in unison to make your internal combustion engine combust just right.

Maybe I’m using the wrong kind of gas. 

But this evening, while doing three days’ worth of dishes and decontaminating the festering trash can, I started to hone in on the all-too-familiar feeling of numbness, distance, non-existence.  I’m having word-finding problems tonight, so I can’t even give you the proper word to describe it. 

I do remember the first time it happened to me, though.  I was nineteen.  It had been two years since I had returned from my stint as a teenage runaway.  I’ll write more about that later, but not now.  Suffice it to say that I experienced horrors that no child should ever have to face.

And one day, two years later, I found myself feeling numb.  Totally numb, physically and everything else.  I could not feel my feet.  I thought I was dying.  I called an ambulance and was taken to a hospital, where I found that I could not speak enough to tell the impatient young male doctor what was wrong.  He discharged me, and I stumbled home in the dark cold fog of the Gloucester night.

Many years later I learned that this was an acute attack of PTSD.  It was a true flashback, since the strategy I had learned, while living on the street, was to leave my body, whenever someone was doing something unpleasant to it.  The difference was, that I was actually feeling the numbness. 

I’m not sure what is triggering this current attack.  I know I’m not over it yet.  I don’t have time right now to take a few grams of Ativan and crawl into bed with the covers over my head, which is what would make me feel better.  So I guess I’ll soldier on.   Now where did I leave my spark gap gauge?   Probably next to the timing strobe.