Perilous Pause

I have a wonderful ability.  Well I think.  I think I have the ability to pause, press play, rewind, fast forward and slow motion my dreams.  And nightmares.  Well almost.  I seem to drop the remote (which is most accurate, especially if I was scared) and give it to someone else during the “freak you the f out” dream moments.  During the pee your pants a little stuff that everyone pretends not to close their eyes to. This is aided by one of my awesome medications, serraquel, which results in even more vivid dreams, that someone else, not me, controls.  Read freaky clown chasing you in slow motion, on repeat in 3 medicated D.  And just as you are about to press stop and wake up, I do this, have a cigarette, and immediately go back to some else controlled chucky clown chasing town.  Don’t get caught up with the Chucky ain’t a clown thing.  Same creepy category for me.

Now I’m not a psychiatrist or neurologist so I don’t understand all this brain functioning stuff, but this perilous pause habit, also – and you’ll excuse the dryness – plays out in how I remember / I suppose process in my life too.  My kids laugh and say that I have a memory of a goldfish, and that it’s not a pause, but because I forget.  On a good day, I don’t know where I’ve put my hair, sprouting out of my head.  And it’s probably true.  I can walk from my kitchen to my bedroom and entirely forget why I was there or what I intended to do.  And I would try and pause for no perilous reason whatsoever – and NOTHING. And actually, I wanted to inflict peril the most, on this most porous memory of mine.

In addition to my perilous pause, my virtual video is that it replays on repeat, PARTICULARLY painful memories, usually when I can least digest them.  For example, I will remember what happened to me a long time ago that was awfully painful – and each time I remember it, I experience the pain anew.  And this is when pressing pause over and over and over again and reliving replays just isn’t fun anymore.  As if it ever was. Think: walk down the passage (struck by painful memory), breathe and walk some more (struck by painful memory), etc.  It’s like your brain is birthing some or other era of your life, with frequent pangs of discordant memory flooding your body.  And it hurts so badly.  I don’t know what to do.  I want to crawl into myself, lay in a foetal position, feel sorry myself, and crawl into me some more.

Most of my life has left me not wanting to engage in any kind of mental media, given my brain and heart’s penchant for doing sh*t in an extremely extra way.  So I don’t just scare me.  I scare me repeatedly.  Slowly.  Stephen King on streriods.  So, so, so much fun in the dark.  And I’m tired of it.  So this may not sound very mental health friendly, but I’m a lot going to put myself to bed tonight.  I’m gonna go with the double strength chamomile tea and say goodbye to this most torturous mental movie of me.  What do you do to cope?  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.







Mouth Murderer

There I was.  An innocent tooth virgin, laying at the slaughter, also known as the dentist’s chair a few days ago.  Ok that’s not true.  I’ve had loads of dental work.   So I’m not new to this rodeo.  But what unfolded, after having a super antibiotic injection the day before, not sleeping and taking anti-flammatories with lithium (which I later learnt could be a fun “breath taking” lethal combo) was a terrifying theatrical experience with a commando dentist, that wasn’t taking any tooth prisoners.  Walking into the dentist’s room, I immediately blurted out the need to know information:  1) My husband is inside and if you hurt me too much, he will come and hurt you (not true, but the adult version of my Mommy is watching), 2) I have an extremely low pain threshold, 3) I feel pain A LOT and 4) please don’t hurt me.  And he slapped on those gloves and that mouth mask, with a little more glee than I’d have wanted him to have.

The funny thing was that I did not mention that I have and live with Bipolar, which is usually what I tell most people, 2-3 seconds after I meet them.  I do this on purpose almost like a disclaimer, for my mouth that says too much, heart that feels too much, eyes that leak too much.  Yes, for the too much.  That way people aren’t suprised when I forget what I’m saying, talk about something completely random, or switch from being ok to sad in 0-2 seconds, or all of the above.  It’s not for me, it’s for them, so we know how to navigate the “mindfield” that is engagement with me.   No.  I didn’t tell glove slapping dentist or his too eager green clothed minions, offering mouth numbing mouthwash, like too many times for my comfort.

To add to this awesome experience, Mr. Dentist thought that the murder of my mouth could be a learning experience.    Yes, a student that he would need to literally explain every bone / jaw / tooth crushing experience to, in my mind, in slow motion, complete with Stephen King music (I imagined) playing loudly in my ears.  I managed through the first part, but when he started to explain to fellow mouth murderer, also known as student the need for a bone trimmer, and proceeded to take a chainsaw out of the cupboard to you know, trim my jaw, I started coughing profusely, and pretended to be naseous.  I didn’t care what the implication was.  Ain’t no-one turning my mouth into a sandwich, and copping a trim.  Ok that’s a lie.  The bone trimmer was there.  I was trimmed.  And I vowed to never ever ever not tell someone that I’m not Bipolar again.

Because there is really no reason why I needed to, other than the fact that I think and feel in emotional exclamation marks.  So I needed student to disappear the most, for dentist to instruct the minions to rub my leg and hold my hands, to tell me to close my eyes, ears, and basically any other orifice that could react because it was nervous and afraid.  That’s why you need to tell people you Bipolar, actually for you.  Because we’re not broken, we’re not silly and we’re not extra.  We feel more.  We are empathy more.  And in my opinion, you shouldn’t murder our mouths, minds, hearts and mental health just for that.  In the meantime, I will be avoiding further, teaching, graphically instructive  bone crushing moments.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.   I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.






Learning to be free

A year ago I started blogging. Starting penning some of the never ending banter my brain, body and I engage in on a daily basis.  Wanting to be an awesome blogger, I thought that a one year anniversary meant that I would have to do something big or important – like putting a picture of myself, and naming my proper name.  Hmm.  And the reality dawned:  um, even if you do, no-one really cares, you are approximately nothing on the richter scale, and nevermind all of that – why on earth would I want to even try and give mental illness another name.  Another picture.  And I LOOK mentally ill.  I have einstein hair that only listens in ways I don’t want it to, crazy eyes, and missing teeth.  Wow, move over Angelina Jolie.  The hotty of usually mental illness hell is here to take over the red carpet, one trip after the other.

In preparing this awesome annual story, I looked through many of my blogs, and my mental illness shone again.  One day sunshine and roses, hours later tears of dispair, ending with an awesome, inhaling candy that hopefully won’t make you fat moral of the story.    And I was like bleugh, I am doing the same thing that other people do.  I am giving mental illness names, I am penning the mental illness experience.  And hopefully in so doing, change the way people think about “us”.  But the truth is – I actually just want to be ok for a bit.  On an anniversary / celebration / whatever something, I just want to be ok with being me, living in my skin, and living in my brain.  And I’ve never had that.  Still don’t.    I have long been versed in the narrative of broken-ness, but have not developed an awesome, ok, just me.

Perhaps this starts by looking me properly in the face – which you should do on your birthday, blogging or otherwise – you have to be honest.  You have to remember things you’d rather leave behind.  You have to grab those skeletons in the closet by the shoulder bones, and throw them to the dogs.   I don’t know about anyone else, but I have in my Bipolar existence, amassed dressing BUILDINGS of skeletons.  If they could march, I could take over the world with my mistake / embarrassing moment army of Skeletons.  And like I did for me: you need to say it’s ok, it’s ok to make mistakes, dropping cups (while adjusting to meds) in front of everyone else, crying too loudly, laughing too much, doing depressed too much.  It’s ok.  Because I know what’s wrong with me – I have a diagnosis.  And I try my bestest to be the bestest Bipolar girl around.

But on this here my Bipolar Blog anniversary, I don’t want to be anything other than me. Because this blog, my friends on this platform have taught me – I don’t have to be a label, a self fulfilling prophecy or to add to my City of Skeletons.  I am more than an inappropriate set of life changing symptoms described in a diagnosis dictionary.  I am more than the multiple meds that rattle in my bag, the internal chest explosions, and the other literally disabling experiences I go through.  And those people that don’t get that, that don’t get how hard it is, that want to use labels that hurt not help, I only have language that is inappropriate on this blog to use for you.  But that don’t even matter today.  Today I started learning what I think may be the secret to being free.  It’s called loving you, just a little bit.  Warts and All.  Give it a try.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.   I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.

Bubble, Toil and Trouble

I’m not sure how anyone else experiences this, but when I get upset, the only way that I can explain how I feel is that my chest cavity feels like a kettle boiling.  It starts off with a flirty bubble or two, to indicate, well that the thermostat is on, and that boiling will commence shortly.  Then awesome things will happen: my husband will take the last lighter in the house, when I’d like to have my morning cigarette (and there will be no, none, NOTHING lighters available).  Bubble bubble.  Then there will be other amazeball experiences in a delightful row:  children take earphones required to switch on productive mood music to school (BUBBLE, boil, screech, start spitting water out of the spout), or our new puppy will have chewed my new phone’s charger so it cannot fulfill it’s primary purpose, you know, keeping my phone ON, and my mother will come to chat about people who are dying / dead or both over my morning coffee.

The challenge with me though is that I can’t stop the boiling, and it will carry on, until I feel like I need to climb out of my body and mind.  And no matter how I try, I can’t.  And I will boil and boil, until I feel both mentally and physically unwell, and may then proceed to lay in a foetal position on the couch, inhaling as much candy as I can successfully hide from my kids.  For an extended period of time.  And unless someone points it out repeatedly, or literally coaxes me off the couch, I won’t, fully believing that a diet of chips, candy and cigarettes are sufficient for one’s daily dietary needs, and that washing was unnecessary.  After all, the tears that ensue, keep me suitably drenched.

Practically speaking – what else is supposed to happen?   I’d love an alternative, and not do the infant, thumb, sorry candy sucking vibe.  I would.  But the way I see it, is that if you leave a crayon in the sun, what happens?  It turns into a puddle of crayon, that only has the ability to be horizontol and look pretty.  Me too.  When you boil this bipolar babe, I turn into a puddle of pretty crayon.  Ok, maybe not pretty, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Would you leave a rapidly boiling kettle on that can’t switch off on it’s own?   Well, that’s the problem with my kettle.  I don’t have the ability to switch it off.  I can’t help the tides of overwhelmedness that overtake me every day.

Sometimes I feel I’ve just come up for breath only for it to happen again.   And after swallowing enough salty sadness sea water, I’m just tired.  I don’t want my kettle to boil.  I don’t want to feel like a puddle of hot wax, leaking across the floor of life.  I don’t.  So Life, it’s me again.  I’d like my youngest daughter to experience a unicorn dream (I’m thinking of transforming her room into Unicorn World before she comes home from school), I want my children to be happy and provided for.  I’d like endless supplies of stationery, candy that doesn’t make you fat, oh and a one touch coffee machine that can make all types of better than Starbucks coffee.  So not that much.  More than any of those things – I am asking painfully – please don’t boil me.   Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4M’s Bipolar Mom.

Happy Mad Mom

This morning I woke up in great fear.  The sweat ran down my face, my chest tightened and my heart constricted.  I did think I was coming down with some life threatening, undiscovered, new to be ebola disease.  What in fact happened, was that my kids were sleeping, I had nowhere to go or anything to do, and I woke up, unaided by the 5 cups of coffee my family generally ensure I imbibe, before being allowed to engage with anyone, intimate and otherwise (family included).  No.  It was just a Saturday and I was awake at 07h00 for no good reason whatsoever.   And in my world, that DOES mean that something is dramatically different.  Imagine.  Waking on my own.  Waking up early.  Waking up period.  I am a firm believer in the saying that says:  “Don’t give up on your dreams, carry on sleeping”.

This is even more surprising, because I’m working and honestly, I am a lot tired.  I have been working hard, and a part time consultancy has become a close to six days a week kind of thing.  I haven’t baked in a while, I haven’t adult coloured in a while, and my usually well ordered jewelry (read tons of beaded earrings) is in a bit of a mess. And I know that I’ve been feeling a bit messy too.  The work is a lot, and after having not worked for so long, it’s not the actual work that’s a problem.  It’s the belief that I can actually do it.  I have 20 years experience, but in the space of the last five, so, so, so many people have treated me like I don’t.

For example, yesterday I went to a client meeting.  I was slightly behind on their deadlines, and I was worried it may impact negatively on the relationship.  I always think in extremes so I thought they would fire me.  I prepared thoroughly, sent them documents in advance and melted a little on the inside.  Went to the meeting, talked through things, and tried to steel myself.  Instead they thanked me profusely, hugged me, and then I almost fell on my back:  they bought cappucino, cake and a panini like snack thing.  And they thanked me again.  And I was so, so, so close to crying.  Because even over a short space of time relative to my life and professional experience, I have been taught in the most horrible ways possible that I wasn’t enough.  That it was ok to trample me. And there they were, saying that I am enough, I even deserved a coffee WITH snacks.

So this morning waking up, I looked at my children sleeping, I breathed in the silence of the house.  I’m not sure what calm feels like – and I wouldn’t want to poke my mental illness God’s humor by suggesting that I felt it even a tiny bit.  But I think I may begin to know how it feels.  I think it’s like sitting on a boat for a bit, and the sun shines, and you see the sparkle on the water, and the swingy swayness of a boat, and your heart sighs happily for a bit.  And you know that there are storms ahead, and that you and your dinghy may again be thrown amongst the waves.  But it’s almost like you have the sunshine boat moment power to weather the storm in a different way.  And that’s what I felt today.  I am a little bit happy mad mom.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

Happy World Mental Human Day

Today the world celebrates World Mental Health Day.   Living in South Africa, days of remembrance / UN Days / Government Commitment Days / Campaign Days are common.  I won’t be surprised if there were politicians having photo op’s, kissing babies with mental illness (it’s election year next year, anything will fly).  And World Mental Health Day, like the bazillion others fail to do what I think they should:  change the lives of those who they seek to raise awareness about.  Instead, each “campaign” has it’s own slogan, ribbon, button, badge, call to action, hashtag, cover page, Angelina Jolie as an Ambassador and / or a donate page on their website.  And don’t forget a dose of the ice bucket challenge, with a little bit of toyi-toyi (South African protest, um, dance moves) on the side.

Practically speaking, I’d never want to pull together a mental health march.  Because if anyone else that was supposed to be there had Bipolar like me, there would be a few things that would happen: a) I would be SO excited DAYS / WEEKS before, I would start obsessing, building into an awesome hypo-manic phase that ends up with little sleep and lots of tears. b) I would be so amped about being with other people who publicaly say that they’re mentally ill, that I’d want multiple selfies and would awkwardly caption the pics out loud, think: “SAY SCHIZOPHRENIA”, and people would run in fear, and / or have an anxiety attack.  I’ve had this effect on people before.  Well they didn’t RUN.  They backed off awkwardly, with me inquiring very hurtededly as to why.  c)   I’d realise that somehow, for one day out of the year, I was allowed to be mentally ill.  That there’d be multiple infographics and hashtags that will change MY life,   And it would irritate me  A LOT that someone somewhere made it ok for me to me for a day.

Instead, can we stop the campaigns, can we stop the slogans, ribbons, buttons and badges.  Can we rather have everyday world mental human day.  Can we have a day, building up to everyday hopefully, where we look at each other with empathy, a little understanding, and a much needed sharing of coffee and / or candy (I’d prefer both).  Think of it this way Coffee / Candy / Kindness (in that order). I am asking that instead of expensive conferences, photo opportunities and social media campaigns we direct all the resources we have to making sure that the people we can’t see, those who make up the statistics, are set free.  Set free by being able to access the life saving whatever they need to be.  Just be a human.  Just be free. Happy World Mental Human Day.  I’m gonna start doing it.  I hope you’ll join me.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.