September 18, 2018

critical hit

I can't stretch this
metaphor to account
for pilot lights. Sorry.
The point of impact when I hit myself is similar to lighting a gas fireplace.  The hard, plastic-metal click sound of the ignition button, over and over again, heel of hand on zygomatic orbit, trying to make a fire but only making a spark, a brief burst of light in a half-circle of pinpoints around my eye.  Burst after burst.  Then the whoosh of the fire, the red flame, the red skin, the flood of relief, the job done.  The fire lit again.

I have spent the past week unbelievably out of balance, especially yesterday and today.  I think I'm missing some sleep, but I'm not sure what the blame for the rest of it, other than just being wrapped in part of the miasma of bi-polar disorder.

The irritability is intense.  Not the stomping-around, eye-rolling, heavy-sighing kind.  There have been whole hours when I've been amazed I didn't rocket straight out of my chair and through the ceiling, launched by the sheer force of my inability to tolerate sitting in it.  Some moments, my hands have been shaking.  The voices of people speaking nearby have borne down on my chest and made breathing difficult.  I can't make them stop talking, and sometimes they have talked to me, and I have had to talk back to them.  It's bordered on unbearable.

The depression is still around, which I think defines this as a mixed state.

I want to sit and stare at nothing, but I set about doing what I usually do to cope with depression, laundry or dishes or some other chore that doesn't require much thought but does provide a sense of usefulness.  Today, I want to drop the dishes and hear them shatter.  I throw the clothes into the dryer with as much force as I can and then rage that I'm too weak to use them to dent the metal, rage at my own flacid, pathetic inefficacy.

I do the grocery shopping.  I even remember the twenty-dollars-off coupon.  Walking back to my car, I stop my cart to wait for an SUV to back out of its space, and while I wait I remember the time I let The Kid stay in the car when he was ten and came back to find he and his ADHD had tangled his neck in the rear seat belt and I ran back into the store for scissors and ran back out and cut him free.  I didn't start shaking until I got home and told P.J. and everything was real again.  Today, I remember this and put the groceries into the back of the RAV4 and put away the cart, then get into the driver's seat and sit on my hands until the urge to strike my face passes.  Then I drive home.

P.J. and I discuss the weekend.  We have tickets to a bluegrass festival that we've been looking forward to for a long time, since before Chester died and before we adopted Molly, since before our lives changed a lot.  We figure out what to do.  P.J. says she hopes I feel better before the weekend.  She is saying that she hopes I can enjoy it, that we can enjoy it together, that the best that can be, will be.  I hear her saying that my mental illness will ruin the experience for her and that she wishes I wasn't like this.

I sit in a dark bathroom with my knees drawn to my chin and think.  I think about many things, not death, but dark things, and haircuts and upcoming staff meetings and foundation make-up and my doctor's appointment tomorrow morning, where I will sit under fluorescent lights that show bruises easily and talk about the weight I've gained.  I hold out for fifteen minutes before I succumb to the pressure to hit.

With every strike, I try to hit past my face and hit the disease in my brain instead, because it will never, never, never, never get better.


  1. Lille,
    I'm not looking for an answer from you, but maybe these might inspire you to ask better questions or find something better when the shit storm hits. Meds need to be tweaked? What can you do to distract yourself until the meds kick in that doesn't involve hurting yourself? Can you reach out to your therapist/someone during those bad moments?

    I say this because what you describe is something similar that my son goes through on a too regular basis. He's 29. 6'3', 350 lbs. Sometimes the meds work. Sometimes shit gets scary intense. Sometimes the TV gets broken. Sometimes other things. He doesn't want to be distracted when he's in the throes of an episode, but we distract him, anyway, because that's what he needs -- with TV usually. We have favorites recorded just for those moments. So I put a show on, it's in his face and whether he likes it or not, that show becomes irresistible to him. He can't turn away. It helps to drown out his thoughts, the anger, irritability, agitation, the desire to break everything -- at least long enough for an extra dose of meds to kick in. He's not really rational at this point and it is easy to escalate the asshole voice in his head that is both cruel and abusive if we aren't careful. He can be dangerous if we don't help him quickly de-escalate -- both suicidal and homicidal ideation is not uncommon. However, we don't call the cops. Also, we're able to provide him with more compassion and help than the most seasoned mental health people out there. Others could inadvertently make things worse for him. This has happened before. Never again.

    He doesn't want this. He didn't ask for this. He hates this. We love him. Whatever David and I deal with, he's got it much worse.

    My son has a fascination/respect of tornadoes/storms, so I devised a plan of sorts. Here are his rules when his brain is storming: 1) Don't do anything or make any rash decisions when the storm is raging. That's how bad things and regret happen. 2) Hold on tight until the storm passes. 3) Distraction while in the storm (TV, music, etc.) 4) Know that the storm will pass.

    Depression, agitation, anger, frustration, irritability, anxiety, going off the deep end -- it's all about fucking, lousy, neurotransmitters. That is why and how our brains lie to us.

    You, Lille Sparven, are not the disease that robs you of the quality of life you deserve. You are doing the fucking best that you can and you are honest about it. You just wrote that your neck of the woods lucked out when Florence hit. From where I sit, you have your raging storm/s. As do I. Luck, my ass. I wish I could wave a magic wand. That's all. I send you virtual hugs -- something to hold on tight to if you want.

    1. Mona, you are incredibly awesome for sharing this. How lucky we all would be to have parents willing to go through the storm with us like that! To work out strategies, to be the circle that takes us in. Yes, the storm does pass, for lots of time at a time. I don't watch TV and I'm starting to see that movies, even these inane and fatuous Marvel movies I've been watching with my son, can be mild triggers. I'm reading more, and writing grounds me, I think. When I can do it. When I can't is when I need it most. Bloody Catch-22, eh? It does me good to know you and David and your son are out there. <3