What the fuck, bipolar?

Do you ever wonder what the fuck Darwin was thinking when he put together your broken ass body?

Maybe he was thinking, “Let’s build this one with a system so fragile that any physical illness will shock the mainframe and render it completely useless.” Real funny, Darwin. Real funny.

But I guess the joke’s on me because I’m the one with the flu, stuck here inside this fucked up head and you get to sip margaritas and enjoy the boobies over in the Galapagos.

You know, we think of bipolar as a cycle of up and down- a crazy rollercoaster ride. Even the crazy carnies seem stable from where you are. But really, the true evil of bipolar isn’t up or down (though that would be bad enough), it’s when it takes you off the rollercoaster entirely and into the funhouse.

In the funhouse, nothing is what it seems. Your perception of everything is skewed. Your mind plays tricks on you. You try to see straight but you just can’t see through the smoke. And the (possibly) worst part is that you’re not even sure if you are really in the funhouse or not.

And even though you’ve been there so many times before, the funhouse changes and seems so different each time. You have a feeling that you may never leave and you can remember that you had this feeling before and you must have left but because things are different this time, maybe this time you will get stuck for real.  Or maybe you never did leave the funhouse. Maybe instead of being back again, you are still here. Maybe you never really left. Maybe you can never really leave this place. It just keeps pulling you back.

You try to find a reason that you are back in the funhouse. Maybe if you can find out what brought you here, you can figure out how to get out. But it never works that way. You’ll never know exactly what brought you there and you’ll never be able to think your way out of it.

You just have to wait it out. You have to somehow trust that there is life outside of this funhouse and once upon a time you were there and you have to trust that you will return. You have to do the right things even though you feel huge guilt shipping your children to their grandparents…again… while you hang out in the funhouse.

If you could only believe that you don’t always live in this funhouse, that life does make more sense, it may make this ‘time-out’ easier. But that’s the extra kick in the balls – perspective. You have no perspective. You have no memory. You are confused. You are terrified.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what it really means to be bipolar.

fuck you.

If you're crazy and you know it, shake your meds!

Will I ever be good enough?

I stole a book from the library called “Will I ever be good enough?”. It’s about healing from the emotional wounds of having a narcissistic mother.  (spoiler alert: I will never be good enough in my mother’s eyes- but I must learn that I can’t define myself through her eyes- because she has the permanent opposite of beer goggles.)

Since my daughter was born, I’ve made great strides learning about what a ‘normal’ mother is- what a loving mother feels, says and does. Through blood, sweat and anti-psychotic medication, I think that I’ve finally become a loving and responsive mother.

There is another item in my never-ending attempt to figure out how the world works, that I have been feeling needs to be addressed: What does a real woman look like? What does a healthy mother look like? Does she have a six-pack (abs) and run half-marathons on Sundays? Does she skip dinner only to eat chocolate bars once the kids are asleep? Does pick at a lettuce and celery dinner each night? Is it okay if her thighs jiggle a bit when she dances with her kids? 

Is it enough for me to make a fool of myself at an adult dance class once a week and try to eat healthier choices and smaller portions (to save up for a cupcake)? Is it enough if I only go to yoga when I’m not exhausted? or if I just do a few pushups at home instead of a crossfit workout? Or should I push onward until I can fit myself into a cardboard cut out of my ‘pre-kids’ body? or better yet, my post-kid, meal skipping, processed food fearing, OCD exercising body?

Now, context is important, last year I was clearly overweight (not fishing for compliments). I was eating all of my emotions and then having dessert too. I was also on meds that helped me gain extra weight and was generally unhealthy. I was also depressed. I mean manic. I mean depressed. I mean… 

So, I don’t propose that my efforts this year to get healthier and fitter and lose weight have been excessive or disconnected from reality. There is reason for my efforts towards a body goal. The problem is, how will I know when I am there? How do I know when I’ve succeeded at getting control over my body weight?

I guess this ties into a larger issue (of course) of me figuring out who I am emotionally and also physically. If I am unstable (in body and mind), is that okay? Can I be healthier some weeks than others? How do I know when it’s been enough hunger? enough exhaustion? enough unhealthiness? How do I know when I’m skinny enough? when I’m fit enough? Will people tolerate my presence if I stop shrinking? 

I watched Lily Myers’ poetry slam video, Shrinking Women (I’m clearly too busy at work) and this line really struck me. I hadn’t thought about how much guilt is wrapped up in food:

 Nights, I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled. Deciding how many bites is too many. How much space she deserves to occupy… a circular obsession I never wanted.

I’ve found a photo that captures the moment the sun literally set on my youth…

Full disclosure: I’m eating a piece of 2 week old birthday cake while I write this post. xoxo

Damn stupid voices

Someone (possibly Ani Difranco) said that her songs were letters to herself.  My blog is like that. I need to write letters to myself because I can’t remember things. Like an old woman with Alzheimers who writes “You are 80 years old.” on her mirror and still questions if someone forged her handwriting.

My husband and I have been together for 16 years. He is a really really great guy. I chose him because I loved him and he made me smile and taught me how to have fun.

But as I become aware of all the mistakes that I made in my teens, all the masks I wore – even to myself… I don’t really believe that I was ever capable of hearing my own heart. So how could my feelings for him have been real? How could I know that he was in love with me and not the holograph that I projected? This is the part where my memory fails me. When I talk to him, really talk to him, he reminds me of all the fun we did have together. All the love we both felt. On a clear day, I can remember that. I know that wasn’t a lie.

Amidst all the repression and numbness and hurt in my youth, he was the one thing that was actually truly good. He was the one person who actually meant it when he said that he loved me and would be there for me. He is the one person who is still here beside me.

So, why am I so mad at him?

I think that in some way, as the only remnant of the past that I am running away from, I imagine that he is in some way keeping me tied to the person that I once was. He just won’t let me throw out the baby with the bathwater. (not our baby, just metaphorically…)

Over the past few months, every time I lose my footing (ie. have a bipolar episode), he takes care of the kids but he seems to run away from me. I was convinced that I finally broke him. That he just couldn’t handle my crazy. I think that this validated me in some weird way by proving that he could only love the holograph of me.

But then finally, yesterday (with encouragement from many friends), I came to him with an open heart and open ears and we spoke. I learned that it’s not my crazy that scares him away (though I’m sure it would have scared away many a weaker man), it’s my anger and rage. (anger? i have anger?) Apparently, I’ve been raging at him every time I lose my footing. I say apparently because I don’t exactly remember it that way.  I don’t remember coming into the kitchen after we have both had a long day at work, where he is rushing to make dinner, feed the kids, bathe them and put them to bed (on his own because I’ve checked out) and hassling him because he left the tomatoes on the counter and used an extra bowl. Railing on him for not respecting me by keeping the kitchen clean, wearing a shirt that doesn’t fit, not getting a hair cut, grumbling that he is oppressing all women with his carelessness (as he cares for his children with gentleness and love).

I don’t remember it that way but I remember feeling incredibly justified in my feelings of being wronged, of being abandoned. I remember feeling hurt that he said he would help me when I got down but he isn’t helping because I’m still drowning in myself. I say that I don’t need him to help me feel better, but it’s not true. I resent him sometimes for not curing my bipolar. But really, he has done more to help me face it than anyone in my life.

But I know this man. I trust this man. and I believe him.

I believe him today when he says that he is here for me. I believe in him with my open eyes and my ability to really hear my heart. I hope that if I write that on my mirror, I won’t question the handwriting.

Growing up, I could tell when my mother’s mood had shifted and I knew that if I didn’t get out of the way, I’d get hit with her rage. She would randomly pick on any imperfection – for example, leaving a dirty dish – and it was as if the world rested on that dish. My entire self worth was in question because I left out a dish. I’ve spent so much effort trying to heal from this toxic environment. and now, I’ve been doing it to the one person who never deserved it.

I’m sorry babe.

I haven’t figured out exactly how I’m going to stop doing this, how to reign it in, where to put that anger, but I understand that it doesn’t belong on you. I understand that it is my anger and not my crazy that is driving you away. I think that this understanding will protect you…and us.  I owe you gratitude for always helping me when I feel down and for always always protecting our kids from my crazy.

Thank you. and I love you.

Wonderful father

Sorting the voices in my head

A strong woman knows how to ‘trust herself’, how to ‘listen to her inner voice’, how to make decisions that feel right to her.  

I want to be that strong woman.

But sometimes my inner voice is an asshole and a liar. Sometimes decisions that ‘feel’ right at the time are really what will sabotage me. 

Sometimes I’m really not supposed to listen to my inner voice. Maybe a strong bipolar woman has to work harder sometimes to ignore her ‘inner voice’. The challenge is that only your inner voice can tell you when to listen to your inner voice. So when do you listen? 

What do I do when my inner voice convinces me to do something and I look for back up from my inner inner voice and she just validates it? But then I hear my inner inner inner voice question it and then quickly change her tune in support. How do I know which voice to listen to when they are all so convincing.

How can I learn to trust anyone if I can’t even trust myself? But how can I trust myself if I know that I am not always trustworthy?  

Why am I a paradox wrapped in an enigma wrapped in cheese?

Why am I wrapped in cheese?