LIGHT AS THE BREEZE

it’s been so long since I’ve felt the pull of hypomania. And right now as I sink ever deeper into the pit, I find I’m missing the ethereal highs. Right now all I feel is despondency and despair. And I can’t even cry about it. The freedom to cry has been locked down so tight for so long that the tears won’t flow freely. Oh, my eyes, they water, and I get a lump in my throat, but just silent tears running down my cheeks. Not satisfying at all.

I wrote this while coming down from a hypomanic high. Back when I was undiagnosed and, or rather, misdiagnosed, with unipolar depression. One day I may lose myself in the upward pull, but today is not that day.

LIGHT AS THE BREEZE

Free at last
Running soaring
Leaping flying
Unburdened by despair

Hope no longer
Just another
Four letter word

Light as the breeze
A leaf on the wind
Blowing where it takes me

Whirling
Spiralling
Up and down

Disintigrating

Into

Nothing

DANCE WITH FIRE

As is so often part of our stories, I am struggling hard with med compliance.  While I am awaiting the response to my application for LTD, I have to be compliant with my treatment plan.  But it is a daily struggle.  Twice daily, actually.  I’ve adapted as best I can to the cognitive dulling, which was a struggle in it’s own right.  But now I’m feeling flat.  Sure there are no lows, but there are no highs either.  I’m emotionally flat-lining and it’s harder than knowing I’m not as intelligent as I was pre-meds.

Bland shades
Of muted colour
Is this my
New Existence?

No more Pit
The Abyss far
No vibrancy
No Fire

Is the trade off
Worth it?

To dance
With the Flames
To feel their warmth
Once again

If playing with the
Darkness
Is the price to pay
To feel the sun

Then let The Pit
Beckon
Let the sirens sing
Their death song

I will dance with the Fire
Be consumed in it’s flame

CONTRACTS

So I just realized it’s been almost three months since my therapist renewed my “Contract For Survival”.  Basically it’s a comittment to use my tools before self-harming, and to check myself into the hospital if the suicidal ideation becomes more than just ideation.

What got me thinking about it is tonight I really feel like self harming.  I’m not depressed, I’m not triggered, I just feel the need to feel SOMETHING.  Since my last med adjustment, life has felt flat. As miserable as being in The Abyss was, at least it was something.  I miss the highs, and am starting to wonder if the lows aren’t worth the price to pay.

My life feels like boring pastels, just a shade up from gray.  No vibrancy, no fire.  I miss the fire.  And it’s not as though I get manic, I just suffer from low grade hypomania.  Bad decisions regarding money, sex, whatever.  But isn’t that what life is about?  Making decisions that leave you feeling alive?  NOT stuck in some dull, flat, emotionless pit.  Recently I just had three of my poems published in an ebook.  That were requested. And I was excited for precisely 23 minutes.  And then back to ho hum. And that lack of reaction made me realize I’m missing out on so much emotion because I’m dulled.  Even my poetry is lacking.  It’s so frustrating.  First, the cognitive dulling, now the lack of emotion. I feel like a golem, going through the emotions, pretending to be human.

So this week I’m asking my doctor if we can take my lithium down to 600mg from 900, withough increasing the 15mg of Abilify I’m on. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.

And no, I haven’t self harmed, at least not yet.

FREE FALLING

When you’re just a ball of hurt
Of pain
Nothingness is a welcome state

No matter how high you fly
You carry with you
The added weight
Of locked down sorrow

Conscious always
That the Black Fog
Will rise again
And engulf the sunshine

These happy states
Fleeting
Temporary
Before your brain defaults
To black despair

It’s Too Quiet

Quiet in my brain today
Too quiet
No noise
No static
No demands

The squirrels asleep

The calm
Before the storm

Am i going up
Through the stratosphere
Or down
Into the very
Pits of Hell

The Inherent Dichotomy of Co-Morbidity

It’s a crazy thing, to be hypomanic and still be suffering the effects of C-PTSD. Complex or chronic post traumatic stress disorder. Mixed with cyclothemic bipolar renders all states crazy. I’m currently on my way out of months of depression, a few days in a mixed state, into full blown hypomania. Yet the Darkness is never far away. I can be flying high, enjoying the state, working on my novel, writing poetry, even basically things like cleaning, which, by the way, are much more fun when you’re manic. Everyday tasks are almost a joy, since I’m so scattered I’m not even sure what I’m doing. (Like using a glue stick instead of lip balm, but I digress, that’s a story for another day). Where was I, oh ya, even in the midst of joy, where the sun is shining, (well, it’s raining and gray, but it’s shining in my heart for once) and I can smile. When Bang! Out of the great blue yonder comes a flashback. When I’m depressed, they drop me even deeper into the Pit, down into the Abyss of suicidal despair. In a mixed or hypo/manic state, they leave me edgy, restless, ill-at-ease, frightened. Which transmutes into Irritability. Hyper and irritable. Sucks. And leaves me feeling

Broken

Haunted eyes
Hollow and empty
Of naught but fear

Another sleepless night
Or dreams filled with terror
The power you still have
Over me
So many years later

Remnants return
Out of nothing
And your hands
Your cologne
The weight of your body
Memory returns

Physical

Emotional

Love is earned
Only through pain
Subservience

Lessons I learned
So very well
Shaped the core
Of who I am

Broken

Tarnished

And yet a small crumb of solace, the suicidal ideation is at bay, and while being edgy and restless isn’t great, it is infinitely better than being outright suicidal and knowing you can never act on that desire because you don’t want your kids as fucked up as you are.

So have a great weekend all, and play safe.

Ah The Flip Side of Depression 

Bipolar. Two polarities. Manic and depressed. And the wonderful state that lies between known as hypomania. 

After suffering many months of depression with suicidal lows, I have slowly begun the assent in “normalacy”. And poets are allowed to make words up. The Bard made all kinds of words that are now in our everyday lexicon. But I digress. Now it appears that I am sliding, ever so gently, into hypomania. And though I SHOULD be concerned, I’m not. 

It’s hard to think something’s wrong when you can see colour. When you find yourself smiling for no other reason then your soul wants to. To feel too warm or too cold and care about how you feel. (Unfortunately my last set of blood work showed my lithium below therapeutic levels, so I can’t really hope my brain is functioning as it should). 

I find my writing reflecting this current mood. Enjoy. 

The Fire burns deep in the soul
Awakened as ne’er before
Eyes a-light with unholy embers
As passions unknown
Unnamed
Speak out enticing
Wild untamed adventures

Urging on
To heights unimaginable
Spurring to go
Further than e’er before

Consequence be damned
To live out the Heart’s Song
Unbridled
At the whim of this
Burning soul

Mixed States and Hypomania

After months of feeling depressed,  with suicidal lows,  the last few days I can only describe as a mixed state: depressed and elevated at the same time.  This basically translates, for me, as edginess. Extreme edginess. 

And yesterday it started edging up into feeling good. Really really good. My brain is racing, I have boundless energy, and I feel as though, with enough encouragement, I could fly. Even typing this is painful, for my fingers can’t move as fast as my brain is giving them words to say. It’s going so fast that it’s shutting down at times (but maybe I’m just dissociating and my hypomanic brain just wants to pretend it’s rebooting).  So I tried to write about what it’s like.

Swirling thoughts
Running
Racing
Can’t keep up

Shut down

The squirrels spin
A million light years
A second
Every word down
An enormous draw
Of energy

Boundless

My body tingles
Filled with power
Trying to find an outlet
To burn

Like fire

In my brain
My heart
My soul

Searing heat
That twists
And broils
Merging with my thoughts

My desires
My needs

Streaming outward
Upward
To the sky


And Up We Go

So after months of being one hundred types of depressed and anxious,  the past three days have been a glory of the joy of the mixed state.  Hyper and depressed at the same time.  It is a weird place to be and feels dangerous. I hope it passes soon into a full blown hypomanic phase; I could use some feel good time. 

But that brings up an interesting point: I tend to want to deal with the upswings the way I deal with the down swings: by self harm.  A little while ago,  I was forced to look my self harm in the eye with a contract that my trauma therapist had me sign.   And since I’m working hard at getting better,  I decided to inventory all the ways I self harm. I mean,  there’s the obvious types,  the drunken bouts,  the cutting, the casual sexual encounters,  but there’s so many subtle ones,  insidious in their perfidy. 

I came to a semi lucid conclusion that I react to both the highs and lows the same way because the same emotions underlie both states, Pain being first and foremost. 

And that is a hard admission for me to make. I don’t like owning my emotions. Hell,  I don’t like admitting that I even have emotions. I’d love to be an emotionless android, but such are daydreams of childhood. 

Long Nights Longer Days

It’s always difficult to know where the source of insomnia comes from.  There’s so many variables, and most of them harbingers of rough times. I know difficulty sleeping often precursors a major mood shift for me, whether it be up or down.  I could use a little up. I’m not sure how much latitude I have to slide before things start to get dire. Leonard Cohen wrote words that have provided comfort many times.

“THE ONLY POEM”

I didn’t kill myself
when things went wrong

I tried to sleep
but when i couldn’t sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me

I too am a poet. I dabble with writing, but my heart and soul come out in verse. Sharing pain tends to lessen it, but my words stop in my throat. So I write. Like those before me: Shelley, Byron, Woolf, Hemmingway,Plath, Styron. So many that didnt make it. Whose craft wasn’t enough to carry them through. I hold them in my heart as a warning that the craft is no protection from a broken mind. And those that did it through the black hours, the black fog that removes all hope . I hold them in my heart with hope, that in many ways the craft provides a small head lamp, a small light in the blackness.

Love
No pit is so deep
No Abyss
Endless
As long as there is Love
There is Hope

HOPE

When you’re in the middle of a depressive bout Hope is on short supply.   Hope to get through it as intact as possible.  Hope that you’ll actually get through it.  That the siren’s call won’t get you and you’ll wake each day until The Black Fog passes. 

When you’re feeling stable,  Hope that it lasts keeps you going.  Hope that you won’t crash.  Hope that you won’t fly.  (Though to be honest the early stages of flight can be fun).  For me when I’m feeling good Hope is a cloud of colour and I’m surrounded by a Black Fog trying to encroach on my current state. 

The colours exist
Surrounded by a cloud of Darkness
The colours ebb and flow
Like the tide

The Black Fog
Fighting to encroach
To kill the Joy
That brings the brilliant hues
To vibrant life

Their endangered existence
Threatened by
Eternal Ebony clouds

Bi-Polar, C-PTSD, and Me

Are we our diagnoses, are they us, or is there some sort of medium where we can be us, certainly shaped by our illness(es) but not defined by them.  My diagnoses came late in life, after being treated, inaccurately (and thus with a resounding lack of success for almost 20 years), for major depressive disorder.  I recently found an old book of poetry I had written back in high school, and one of the poems from when I was 16 could have been written by me, today, in a hypomanic phase.  I prefer phase to state, it seems less foreboding and permanent.

I used to pride myself on the fact that my past may have shaped me, but it didn’t define me.  Someday I might share with you the rough history that is mine, but not today.  Suffice it to say that my therapist used the term “very horrific” to describe my legacy.  Unfortunately, I have had to accept that fact that it did do more than shape me, it did, indeed, define me and the numerous ways I see myself.

But that’s ok.  Language evolves.  Definitions change.  And the me that is today, defined by my experiences, does not have to be the me of tomorrow.  I can learn to make better choices, do things differently.  And when the siren’s songs come, I can make choices toward the future, as opposed to reacting from the past.

Mindfulness, being aware of what you’re doing and WHY you’re reacting a certain way, helps to create new habits, new understandings, and new approaches.  Am I there?  Not even close.  Do I believe?  Yeah, today I do. It’s damn hard, but somehow, some way, I will find the strength to overcome.  I have to.

The alternative is untenable.

Is Madness the Price I Pay 

It’s a conversation that comes up periodically: would you give up your creativity for a “normal” brain. Ignoring the  whole what is normal debate, the question still seems valid. Is my poetry, my language, my voice, my gift from my faulty brain chemistry?

If we ever find the right med combination, what am I going to do if I lose the spark that’s my creative center?

With the depression holding strong, and the suicidal ideation a constant companion I find myself ruminating about it. Better than ruminating about death, I suppose.

But I don’t know the answer. I know when I’m hypomanic my writing flows but is disjointed. When depressed it glows but is dark. Both represent me. Am I either one or some broken remnants of a once whole self?

The sun shines
Dispersing The Black Fog
Tendrils wrap around my mind
Lurking
Waiting
For The Clouds
To return

To weave a blanket
Of sadness and despair
Around my heart and soul

The sun burns fierce
Setting fire to the blanket
As the Tendrils retreat
Deep within my mind
Waiting for the next cloudy day

My Brain Lies to Me

Those who struggle with any kind of mood or personality disorder are well aware of the ways our brains tell us lies. 

When we’re depressed they convince us no one loves us, we’re worthless and everything we do sucks. When we’re healthier,  we can recognize these thoughts a fallacies. 

When we’re manic, the world is our oyster and we can do anything,  including solving all the world’s problems,  if only the world could keep up with our super fast brain. Again,  no more true than the depressed lies, and equally as harmful. 

MY BRAIN LIES TO ME

Compassion for self
Cornerstone for recovery
So I am told
But how to be compassionate

When my brain hates me
Hell bent on a path of self-destruction
Lying about self-soothing
A twisted view of self-care

Yes cutting feels good
At the time
The sharp pain
The flowing blood

Followed by shame
Deep upsettedness at weakness
Scars a permanent reminder
Of the brains lies

Yes hardcore casual sex
Provides relief
A moment of connection
And release – a different pain

Followed by disgust
Another meaningless tryst
Violating my core self
For the temporary gratification
Of the brains lies

Yes bashing my heas
Feels amazing, calming
The endorphin rush, the slight dizziness
Even the slight headache at first

Followwd by a vicious headache
The tender lumps
Ignoring all of it
“You’re fine and deserve it”
The brain lies

The satisfaction of hitting
Something hard and solid
Releasing the anger
The frustration
A powerful release

Followed by swollen hands I cannot hide
The potential broken bones lived with
The pain a constant reminder
That I lost once again

To my lying brain

Self Awareness

Good evening.  Or morning.  Whatever part of the day it is for you. Hope your weekend was well. I spent mine thinking about self awareness.. A bit difference than mindfulness.   Having come late to the BP party with 20+ years of being misdiagnosed, I find myself microanalyzing my moods.

Every mood swing is torn apart.  Is this the beginning of a depressive episode? If I’m feeling good, am I on a hypomanic upswing?

I find it difficult to stay present and in the moment.  I’m learning, though.  When the squirrels in my brain won’t stop over thinking every nuance to my emotional state,  I do a 3 minute meditation.  Helps me realize that mindfulness of my mood is important but not to the extent that it takes over my thinking and my life.

Awareness is important. But so is just staying present and living in it.

Chaos and Creativity

Hi there and welcome.  The hardest part of the beginning of any endeavour is knowing where to start. And sometimes when to stop.  But that’s a tale for another day.  So let’s start with a little bit about myself. My name is Squirrel. Have suffered my entire life with uncontrollable mood swing with no understanding of why. Until my wonderfully amazing therapist mentioned bipolar. And a light went off. Eventually. I fought the idea for a few months but after researching it I couldn’t deny the truth anymore.  And thus a very late understanding was achieved. 

I learned that some of my favourite artists suffered from bipolar.  I was now keeping company with some of the greats like Shelley, Byron, Woolf, Van Gogh, Plath, and Poe to name a few. This got the old squirrels in the brain turning.  What is the connection between art and madness? A huge one,  as it turns out.

One I’d like to explore through my own writing and experiences, and yours as well. Feel free to comment, share your thoughts and writings, or reach out and contact me if you feel the need of desire.

One request: keep it supportive and respectful. We all experience our journeys differently. Let’s celebrate those differences.

COME

Come with me
Take my hand
And let us fly
Far above the storm clouds of my mind
Come
Take my hand
Trust me
You will not come to any harm
I cannot say you will not hurt
My mind is dark the journey darker
Trust me to share it with you
As I trusted you
So many times

Come
Take my hand
As we rise above
the madness in my mind
Below the pit
The loathsome hole that enters
Into the darkest of all places
The Abyss where hope is lost
Where I cower in the corner
Afraid to move
Afraid to feel
Where breathing is work
And just existing a herculean effort
Of exhaustion

Come
Take my hand
As we are buffeted
By chaotic uncontrolled thoughts
Whirling like a Sufi dervish
Spinning going nowhere
Piled one on top of the other
The bedlam of ideas tangled together
to sort out coherently

Come
Take my hand
As we ride above the maelstrom
No more ordered than before
But less dark

Invincible
Bulletproof
Reeling brain notwithstanding
There’s is nothing I can’t do

Come
Take my hand
As we fly above the lake
My calm place
The water dark
Like flowing ink
Old coffee foam where it meets the shore
Take a deep breath of air
Redolent with pungent aroma
Of decaying seaweed
The wind rushing in our ears
Clouds above thick and dark
Obscuring all the light

Come
Take my hand
As we breathe the peace and serenity
Here in this place
The only place my brain slows
Just enough to realize
How truly damaged it is

Come
Take my hand
I’ll bring you back
Away from the madness
The craziness

The Chaos

I set you down
Let go of your hand
Safe on the solid grounding Earth
And fly off onto the maelstrom