Sunday, April 17, 2011

Self-Healing post Bipolar Breakdown

One of the things I've learned about living with "The Beast" from my teen-aged years on is that you never know when that sucker is going to re-claim its hold on your brain.  Knowing that the stats say it only gets worse with age leaves a person always looking over one's shoulder -- but where?  The enemy lies within and there are the moments where it takes everything to bear it, because one doesn't recall any other way of being nor does one anticipate relief -- ever.

As I go through the paperwork analyzing my financial fall from grace --  my dearly beloved ex left me well provided for, and my actions later -- the typical actions of a person suffering from an over-inflated idea of their abilities -- wiped out my financial security.  I trusted those that for reasons of their own should not have been trusted.  I did these things myself, to myself, and it is hard to own up to the fact that I am indeed my worst enemy at times.

It's not easy to go through the seemingly infinite amount of papers that shout out to me what an idiot I was, but it must be done, for there is no other way to prove that my 50/50 partner - he whose name shall not be uttered - ;-) - skipped out leaving the books undone and owing me enough money to augment what I still have and enable me to live decently for a few more years.  Oh the pain, the pain -- and worse still is the crushing loss of the family ties that this project represented.

Had I but known -- when one suffers from the "empty nest syndrome' or rather  when THIS one suffers, as I did so profoundly for so many years -- (bipolar adds to the festivities!), well - I found myself looking for surrogate children, as mine are a continent and an ocean away.  I found some great kids, but in my eagerness to play at business with them, managed somehow to ruin my financial life.

I know some of you may recall earlier posts stating I was on the brink of foreclosure -- thanks to the loving intervention of family members, the debt was taken care of.  However, I'm having to fight to get "my own" back financially, & the enormous task has me wondering every day if my brain will teeter over the brink.  When the tears come for no reason, and the refrain I always carry in my head for my girls plays, I can always tell that the old brain beastie is lurking.

"oooh, oooh I'm missing you; tell me why the road turns?"   by lionel ritchie for diana ross

So.  Ms. Julie -- what ARE you doing to rehabilitate yourself?  That's what they call it, you know, when people who have had significant psychological breaks or traumas try to re-integrate with society again - rehab, emotional rehab.

Well, I've developed a freaking healthy respect for this brain-basher of an "illness" or a "disorder" or whatever they call it -- I don't know; all I know is that IT, and not I, has been taken control and run me off the roads throughout my life starting in my teens.  It distresses me that I have tears streaming down my face as I write this, for there's nothing wrong today.  The sun shines, all is as it was.  And yet inside there is darkness and sorrow.  And I wonder -- oh my god is IT coming back?

In my beloved Marin County, when one does a free fall from plenty to indigence, there is a gracious social welfare system that treats the mentally ill.  I hope we can keep these needed services available.  For the first time ever I have access to a real live psychiatrist -- who validated the protocol given by my  GP of 15 or so years - the wonderful flash gordon, md., healer & author of many books, the latest being "Blood, Sweat & Second Gear" -- who as author Susie Bright said, SHOULD be Surgeon General of the U.S. - he's THAT good, but instead he's treating ordinary folk like us.

So I've gotten a Psych doc, and have started making the journey -- sometimes ecstatic, sometimes excruciating -- from the bedroom that has been my cell of choice during the last several years.

Reintegration with the rest of the human race is absolutely essential for people coming back from "the twilight zone" as I like to call it, a place of muted or non-existent desire, will to live -- a life in the shadows while all about you people go about normal lives and you wonder why you can't.  The very most basic current of life force is drained from you.

You wonder why it is so hard to speak to other people sometimes.  Even the ring of a telephone brings with it thoughts of three years of creditors harassing me, and the sound of the doorbell is terrifying!  I shake my head in wonderment at my own peculiarities. In reading further I find that social anxiety disorder is often part and parcel of this "thing" I've been born with.  In the National Institute of Mental Health URL, I found a chart of the various symptoms of both ends of the bipolar scale:

  • A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood
  • Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling "jumpy" or "wired."
Behavioral Changes
  • Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Increasing goal-directed activities, such as taking on new projects
  • Being restless
  • Sleeping little
  • Having an unrealistic belief in one's abilities
  • Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable,
    high-risk behaviors, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.
  • A long period of feeling worried or empty
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
Behavioral Changes
  • Feeling tired or "slowed down"
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
  • Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

And back and forth and over and over for the rest of one's life.  And I can tell you first hand it is not easy, this path.  Nor is it for the unfortunate family members that have to deal with you -- support groups, people!  Get your support somewhere, because you will need it.  It is most wearing to be around somebody who is profoundly depressed, the "identified patient" as such who might suck the life right out of the room.  Save yourselves!

 For my self-prescribed rehabilitation I decided that I needed a radical prescription, a big dose of other human beings!  My mate Patrick has been, for almost a year, helping out at the Marinwood Farmers' Market.  Soon he began selling Nana Mae Organics (apple products during the Great Recession- Depression) at this Market, about a mile away from our house.

I didn't think much of this at first -- Patrick (Asperger's, panic attacks, ADHD) picks up projects and puts them down -- besides, to do a Farmers' Market you have to be willing to -- ah -- get  up early.  Simply put, I could hate nothing more.  A morning person I am not.

But I began to wander on down around to visit around noon as I had the sneaking suspicion I could do better at sales than Patrick, who NEVER can stay at the booth for longer than 20 minutes at a time.  A little friendly competition with my sweetie got me out the door -- whatever works, say I.

And so began my now weekly forays down to the market.  At first I'd wait to go down until noon -- then earlier and earlier.  I go with Patrick now; we join the rest of the Vendors, and are always only slightly late, rumbling into our space around 9:10 AM to the amusement of our fellows, as we live only a mile away!

I noticed very quickly that the simple interchange between human beings is a tonic beyond almost anything a doctor can prescribe.  I love sitting down there in our little makeshift booth, making change the old-fashioned way from a wooden cigar box,  and for the first time in all the 26 years I've been here meeting and enjoying my neighbors while we all begin the project of neighborhood/community building here in Marinwood.

Why is that that simply the action of placing oneself in the midst of others heals?  Because the primary "food" for we spirits in human bodies is the interchange of energy through the eyes and the feeling heart, and that is one of the ways we fight the Beast within -- with the sweet medicine provided by our fellow human beings.

I have a much more upbeat account of these experiences to pass onto you, but today was not a day for that kind of writing.  Today was a day for acknowledging and expressing the hidden sorrow in the brain that twists life in the body/mind for more of us than you might think.  One can only persist.

Have a great Sunday!

PS:  I just came back from another self-prescribed dose of "medication" - a walk in the canyon by our house in order to spot bay laurel trees that seem to be infected with "sudden oak" and collecting specimens.  It's so beautiful out there -- I lay in the green grass and felt the sun warm me while I watched the little girls play in the brook, as my long lost children once did.  Unfortunately, my mind came with me and began to brood over my girls, but all in all, the experience served me well.  My mother always told me that all that could be done was to place one foot in front of the other.

That doesn't sound very deep, but could anything be more difficult sometimes?

Ah well, my dears -- don't mind me.  I'm just a wee tad bluish today.

I'll be back with a rapturous account of a splendid day at the Market!