Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When the whip Comes down *

Time to report in again as I want to discipline myself re this writing thing, even it is just an occasional "woe is me, alas and alack!!"
I've been living in  the San Francisco Bay Area for longer than I can remember.  There are those who know me who will laugh uproariously and say: "you never remember anything!"  Ha. Ha. Get off my back, you little punks!  I've got a trained attack cat; she admittedly is too sleepy to take the job seriously.  But she's here and helps keep me cheerful, which is a really good thing for a person with a basketful of brain disorders and not enough money to go around.

God, why me?  Eternal answer: Why not?  Somebody's gotta do it.  Somebody's got to "cheerfully" pick up the mantle of the deranged and wear it for a lifetime, leaving the others in one's life in a state of confusion, annoyance, fear and  irritation. The qualities that one exhibits unconsciously can leave one's child or children, as well as one's partner, damaged for life. Or, the worst that can happen will happen: they will go, and all those voices in your gut all those years that said: "you don't love me" will have been true.  We fail to see our own responsibility in that little dance.

The problem with that, from a selfish point of view, is that after a while people get tired of you and want to be around more cheerful people.  Then the "shame cycle" sets in, the worthlessness, the feeling of being a burden, and the incredible desire to slip this mortal coil.

There's not necessarily any sympathy in the circle of one's friends for all of this.  First of all, in so many cases (such as my own) the diagnosis comes rather late in life in terms of raw suffering.  Second, when my doctor, the late, esteemed Dr. Peter Forsham of the University of California in San Francisco, gave me his first diagnosis, it horrified me so much I eventually threw it away and unfortunately don't recall what it contained.

Denial in cases of mental illness is a common thing, as VERY FEW of us would choose a lifetime struggle with the demons in one's brain -- who would?  When I saw the doctor again, he presented me with  a diagnosis "for the layman" which I didn't really understand at the time. The simple diagnosis was "familial bipolar disorder with occasional psychotic breaks."

"Aha! (loose quotation!) thought I -- "at least it's nothing serious like manic depression!"  As many of you know, manic depression is precisely what it was, and the meds they had in the late 80 's were not much good for depressed, suicidal me. As a mom, I had to be responsible for my babies at a certain point on my own, having divorced their father at an age when those tender little beings could not understand what was happening, obviously even less than I did.

At that point I had NO comprehension of what a "psychotic break" was, and I'm still not sure that I do.  I've had times of "counter-irritation" -- banging one's head against a wall to make the interior pain go away  -- actions like that are certainly not normal, and hard on the head and wall as well.  Not to be recommended.  I have since found out that I also am plagued with "Borderline Personality Disorder" -- a condition that tends to drive people away from one's circle, as the afflicted run hot and cold.                              

I don't know if my relationship with my children's father would have held up  if I had been "normal", but a lot of other things might have.  I've made so many bad choices that I have literally gone from relatively very well off into the land of Food Stamps, Medi-Cal, free psychiatric help and other benefits.  When I was well off, I NEVER could have afforded a $550/hour psychiatrist.  Zowie, the incredible benefits of landing on the wrong side of a huge, brutal National financial crisis.  Yep, you betcha. I can "afford" a remarkably kind doctor who actually seems to like me, and oh yes, it matters.

I have very little ability to concentrate, but concentrate I must as I go off to apply for food stamps online, which terrifies me for some reason.  I got thrown out of the "Hope Team" they'd called together in nearby Marin for people with severe brain disorders because I am 20 miles away from the county line, and I have, as a result, not gotten it all together.  I can not concentrate.

I tell these tales and reveal these wounds so that others of our tribe will know they are not alone.  Someday perhaps my story will be brighter.

May the sun shine upon you.  May all those wounded find peace,


* Tip o' the hat to the Rolling Stones ...