March 17, 2018


The sunrise happened unexpectedly north along the mountain ridge, given that less than two months have passed since I rose before dawn and witnessed it in the southeast.  Has the world turned that much in so short a time?

The tangle of younger still-leafless trees bordering the property formed a network of interlaced black branches against the deep blue of sky.  They echoed my drive here last night, when my own mind was a tangle worse than any Christmas-box extension cord and I was grateful for the chance to grip the steering wheel, to protect myself from my own hands.

I've swung hypomanic, this time bringing only irritability and impulsiveness, and last night I was outdoing myself for snapping and overreacting to every small thing as we drove to The Lodge.  A light-hearted joke I heard as an accusation; an observation became a finger pointing directly at all my shortcomings.  My disease, my effect on others, my worthlessness.  Then the over-sensitivity leads to deserving to be punished.  It's a simple thing.  P.J. could say nothing mundane or helpful that I didn't latch onto as proof.

I owe her a substantial apology this morning.  She will not accept it.  She does not see me the way I saw myself during that hour of grinding pain.  She is incredibly patient with me.

The tangled branches are mountain roads, climbs and descents and dark valleys, small gravel roads with dead-end signs and very few other markers.  The way is thorny and dark and there's no moon out.  That is what it is like when I find myself in the place where I want to hit or claw myself.  The branches.  I follow the thoughts, using what sense of direction I have, trying to find the path that redeems.  Some roads lead to "insights" about all the wrong I've done.  You can't do anything right.  Every time you open your mouth, you hurt P.J. and the kid.  You shouldn't talk, ever.  What kind of person can't be normal from day to day?  It's intrinsic to your character.  Not a disease.  You're defective.  They deserve so much better than you.  Awkward.  Idiot.  You do everything the wrong way.

Once in a while, one road proves a lifeline tying me back into reality.  I can see the main road, pick up the trail and leave the tangle.  It's a disease.  This isn't the real "you" talking.  It lies.  What is the truth?  I'm loved and I have to trust it, even if I don't deserve it.  If roles were reversed, I'd feel the same way.  You don't turn down a gift.  I will be back to level soon.  This is temporary.  Let the thoughts drift, pass through and move on.  Don't pause to give them quarter in your conscious mind.  Square breathing.  Change the subject.  Sunrise.  The smell of fresh wood.

Most nights like this, though, I clip my nails with trembling hands so I can't hurt myself (except for my cuticles, because my hands are shaking) and then perform my household and parental duties, robotically, and seek out sleep as quickly as possible.  It's safest that way.  But I won't lie.  When I cross the line, I enjoy beating the hell out of myself. 

Once, I gave myself the edges of a black eye.  This caused P.J. to fret, afraid of accusations, because since when has domestic violence been between a person and herself?  Foundation make-up did the trick for the eye and the outlines of finger marks from the force of the slaps.  Estée Lauder covered my tracks.

Sometimes, when I can, I cheat, and that with a clear conscience.  I take a full milligram of the Klonopin prescribed to me for panic attacks.  I've decided unilaterally that in addition to panic attacks, those nights are what the meds are for.  Most days I'm on a low-level maintenance dose to prevent general anxiety and the worst of the wrist-and-neck-touching stuff, and I'm one of a few very lucky people who can not take it at all, or take a significant amount, and have no issue later from withdrawal symptoms or rebounding.  There's a Klonopin-shaped hangar in my brain and arrival and departure are always smooth.

I try to explain this to my psy-doc, but he wants me off it soon because of the new studies emerging showing a link to early-onset dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.  I look at those statistics, then I look at my life and how it would be without the benzo, and conclude that I'm better off taking the risk and having a weapon against the devil I know.  He's confined by oversight and best practice and does not agree with me, because he can't.

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