The Following Months

After I was released from the mental hospital, my life became a complete blur.  I started seeing Dr. Teeth at his private practice, where his red-headed assistant was ever present at each of our meetings.  It was frightening because he was treating other patients that I had been with in the hospital.  I was trying to distance myself from the people and memory of my week and a half stay, but their presence at my appointments was a constant reminder.

My paranoia about the cars and church bells was slowly edging its way into my psyche, making me a shell of the person that I used to be.  I was taking handfuls of medications which only made me a zombie. I didn’t feel like I was improving, just drugged.  I had been a voracious blogger prior to my break and I tried to continue writing, but my posts came out angry and delusional.  I was trying to hold things together but I was failing miserably.

I remember one particular appointment with Dr. Teeth.  His assistant was there, of course, and I had broken down crying.  He announced to her, “She needs a hug.  Give her a hug.”  She started to hug me and I backed away, claiming that I was okay.  It was such an odd experience having someone be ordered to hug me and provide comfort.  He was so clinical and didn’t offer any supportive words, only pills.  Saying he was not the right fit for me is an understatement.

The care of our home completely fell on my husband.  I didn’t have the wherewithal to do dishes, cook, or clean.  Here he was working his butt off and having to come home and work even harder to take care of me.  We were still hanging out with our “friends”.  They tried to cheer me up and be there for me, but I was so paranoid that something so simple as watching T.V. brought out the paranoia demons in me and I had to walk away and go into the other room.  I think it was frustrating for everyone involved.

I tried finding a new job, but that was not going well.  I had no business looking for another job.  There was no way that I would have been a productive employee if I couldn’t do something so simple as washing the dirty dishes at home.  My friends tried to put business connections together for me, but when I would meet with those people in a social setting, I would talk about religion – specifically about how the Catholic church was hypocritical and oppressive to women.  Not something you talk about ever, let alone when trying to get hired for a job.

Another paranoia that had arisen was the radio.  I thought the DJ’s were talking about me and to me.  I read into all popular songs that were on the radio, thinking they were written about me.  I thought all the rappers in New Orleans were gunning for my head.  I didn’t know any rappers in New Orleans.  I just thought they were after me because of a few interactions I had with those type people long before my break.

During my increasing paranoia, even my house wasn’t safe.  We had this old security system that had been installed prior to our moving in.  In our bedroom, there was a motion detector above one of the closets that would flash a red light when you walked down the hallway or into the bedroom.  I fixated on this and thought that someone was taking pictures of my movements in the house through this device.  It got so bad that I ended up hanging a scarf over this small motion detector so they couldn’t take pictures of me.  My husband tried to reassure me that it was nothing, but I wasn’t convinced.

I remember one night in particular.  My husband had gone out to get us some food for dinner and I was left in the apartment alone with the cats.  I paced up and down our hallway calling his name and one of our other friend’s names.  I don’t know why I did this – I knew that I was alone.  But I was lost.

My mother-in-law came to stay with us at one point.  She stayed for about a week.  I slept a whole lot and talked about the church bells.  I don’t remember much from her stay with us, all I know is that she was my babysitter because my husband couldn’t watch me 24/7.  He was desperate to make me better and I think he kept on waiting for me to show signs of improvement.  But, improvement never came.  She was here to help both of us, except no amount of help could calm the demons in my head.

I actually felt like I was getting worse.  Of course, I wasn’t conscious enough to really assess that situation, but nothing was making sense and my stay in the hospital hadn’t helped any.  I was a shell of a person and everyone surrounding me was very frustrated.  Dr. Teeth had promised me that if I went to his hospital, I would spend a little time and be better.  He lied.  I came out of there with more problems than what I went in with.  I’m not saying I didn’t need to go, it’s just that my medications weren’t working…weren’t healing my brain fast enough.

I was so paranoid and stuck that I didn’t really know which end was up.  My insecure feelings had lifted a bit, but then they got worse.  I had had my mental break and subsequent hospital stays in August.  I made it until the end of October and I’d had enough.  So, it was on my husband’s and my wedding anniversary that I said we needed to go back to the hospital.

We called one of our friends that is a health care professional and she came over and talked to me.  It didn’t take much convincing, but she said that maybe it was time to go back into the mental hospital.

So, we got in the car and went back to the emergency room and waited for Dr. Teeth to be paged and come assess me.  We were there for hours, maybe 5?  It didn’t feel like that long to me, but for my husband it was excruciating.  He finally showed up.  I said I wasn’t better and he offered me another a bed in his mental hospital.  I was going back in, a little wiser as to what was going to happen.  I didn’t know what was going to happen moving forward, I just knew that I couldn’t keep dealing with the demons in my head.  I was exhausted and something had to change.

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A New Possiblity

SOOOOOOOO….I had a job interview this morning!  It’s a temporary job that will only last through August, but I have the opportunity to learn a new trade, per say.  I am very excited, as the guys I interviewed with are very charming and engaging.  I really hope this pans out into something I can do.  I’m facing a bit of a learning curve because this is in an industry that I have never worked in before, but I am ready for the task at hand.  No more sitting around the apartment twiddling my thumbs and having the only interaction I have with the outside world be with the checkers at the grocery store.  That would be an improvement.

Another improvement would actually have something to talk about with my husband at the end of the day.  He is very supportive of what I do at home and I thank him for that and he is my #1 fan with this blog.  I just would like to add something more to the conversation other than, “Oh, I had 67 hits on my blog today!”  I like having that many hits on my blog, don’t get me wrong.  It fuels the creative part in me, I just would like to offer a little more to the conversation and actually be bringing home a paycheck.  These student loans aren’t going to pay for themselves…

So, wish me luck and do a “may she get the job” rain dance in my honor.  I really feel positive about how things went and I hope the other candidates aren’t as dynamic as I was in the interview.

Here’s to new beginnings!

Something’s Been Bothering Me

I recently read a blog post about how bloggers can share too much about his or her personal life.  It really upset me and caused me pause.  Am I sharing too much?  I am using this blog as a way to put the pieces back together since I had my break and was diagnosed.  It feels good to write about such things and I have received very supportive feedback on all of my posts – so thank you for that.  However, this blogger said we needed to cover ourselves up and that it was simply attention seeking to share such personal situations on one’s blog.

What do you think is too much to share?  I’m having a bit of a problem with this bloggers declaration that some things are best kept private.  I don’t have a huge list of followers, so I am not exposing my truths to many people.  I am basically writing for me, in a public format.  I change people’s names and try not to reveal the nitty, gritty details about certain situations because those things are best kept to myself and those involved.  But, this blogging experience has been very cathartic for me with all the support I have been getting.  I don’t feel like I need to cover up and hide behind something that is so often hushed up anyway.

I’m trying to play my part in breaking the stigma of mental illness.  My experiences are just that, mine.  If they provide comfort to someone else who may be suffering or know someone who does, then great!  If my experiences help make someone think differently about struggling with mental illness, great!  I am only one person and I’m only sharing my truth.  Isn’t that really what we all are doing as bloggers?  Telling our own story through our own interpretations?

I don’t know why this post got to me.  Maybe because I was questioning whether or not I should have shared what I shared about my husband and myself and our struggles with this condition.  It felt very private, but I’m glad I shared.  So, perhaps I need to tuck in my skirts, but I’m not going to.  I don’t think it is honest or fair to sugar coat this very serious topic.

I’m not going to always write about the dark and heavy, as evidenced with yesterday’s post, but I’m going to speak my truth, and I think others should speak their truths as well.  Be as honest as possible, because I think readers are able to decipher if you are glossing over the meaty details.  And, why would you want to lie about your own truths?

I’m not a person to wax poetic about inspiration and positivity.  Those things are nice, but I find them redundant and boring.  Everyone has a positivity blog.  Sometimes things aren’t positive.  Sometimes they downright suck.  It’s okay to say things suck.  And, that is why I’m not going to hold back what I have to say.  I’m not writing for this one particular author, I am writing in an effort to be honest and true.  And sometimes it’s not pretty.

The Tale of the Glitter Cockroach

This is a story about a lone cockroach, who partied too hard during Mardi Gras back in 2004.

Cockroaches come with the territory when you live in New Orleans.  We are surrounded by water with the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchatrain being so close to the city.  They don’t call it the Crescent City for nothing!  My husband and I live in a 100 year old house, so we have seen our fair share of bugs.  I always say that they carry guns and knives because they have a “take no prisoners” attitude and will attack your house at the slightest smell of food.  That’s why exterminators are our friends.  These cockroaches huff Raid like it’s a whippet and can only be tamed by the harshest of defenses.  They are the armed forces of bugs – they come in by land, air, and water.  They are not to be trusted and are, in all honesty, just disgusting.

Prior to moving to New Orleans, my husband and I would come visit my sister, the Zaftig Zelot, during Mardi Gras.  Ahhh, Mardi Gras.  A time to put away your worries and party like it’s your job, fighting over cheap plastic beads that are thrown from extravagant parade floats by drunken participants.  What am I saying…everyone partakes in a little liquid courage during Mardi Gras.  It is a festive time and if you are ever in the area, you should experience the revelry at least once.

So, we were visiting my sister.  We participated in the festivities that year like we were warriors being sent off to battle.  The pace of partying like that is not for the faint of heart.  We went to parades, parties, and Mardi Gras balls.  (Mardi Gras balls involve you dressing in a tuxedo or a formal gown and hauling a cooler full of liquid courage and food stuffs to counter act the liquid courage, but I digress…)

My sister lived in a different 100 year old house that had a long stairway leading to her front door.  She had a problem with cockroaches, too.  They would hang out in gangs on the stairway, but would scurry away when someone was coming up the steps.  That is, all but one.  One lone cockroach was sticking out the parade of people up and down the stairway, like the Hercules he was.  He had put away his guns and knives and was just there for the crumbs.  He didn’t care.  He was a trooper.

We would come and go from parade to party, and this lone cockroach was always there to greet us.  We stepped around him because no one had the heart to smoosh him.  He was, after all, having a good time.  Always vigilant, waiting for our return, waiting for scraps or spilled daiquiris so he could get his sugar fix, he stayed on his single step on the stairway leading to her apartment.

We had quite a good time that Mardi Gras.  I don’t know if we missed a single parade, always rolling into the apartment covered in glitter and beads up to our necks.  One for the history books, I say! (Although we probably took a week to recover).

On our final tumble into her apartment, after a day spent handing out beads from a balcony in the French Quarter, we found our lone cockroach.  Dead.  And, covered in glitter.  He had officially Mardi Graed (Mardi Grased?) and bit the dust living the high life on that single step leading up to the apartment.

The moral of this story is to pace yourself and not be distracted by cheap, plastic, shiny beads and glitter.  Don’t wait for the drops of daiquiri that might come your way.  And most definitely, do not hang out on a single step on a stairway leading to an apartment that doesn’t want you.  Mardi Gras is an intense race, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

This post has been brought to you by the letter E, for Exterminator.  He’s coming to visit our house this morning and I couldn’t be happier.  No glitter cockroaches for this house!

The Cars

After my stint in the mental hospital, an intense level of paranoia overcame me.  It was paralyzing.  I was overwhelmed by the chiming of the church bells and a sense that my every action and thought was being observed and calculated.  I read into the songs that were playing on the radio and what was playing on the t.v.  I couldn’t escape from these “messages” that were being sent from outside sources.

One of the biggest things that triggered my paranoia were the cars that were driving down my street and following the car that I was riding in.  The color of each car had a different meaning and had a message to my impending demise or triumph.  I would sit on our balcony enjoying the sunshine and outside, and these cars would drive past our house.  I had a birds eye view of every car passing and I thought they all were observing me and my actions.

To say it was overwhelming is an understatement.  I would run inside and lock the door if I saw a particular color of car and hide in fear.  I didn’t trust the outside world at all.  My thought process for each color of car was as follows:

BLACK – This was a government car.  The Feds or local law enforcement were observing every minute detail of my actions.

RED – This car represented an emergency.  If I had gotten out of hand with something, they were there to enforce that I stepped back in line.  STOP what you are doing.  Fire trucks were the worst.

GOLD – This color of car meant I was “golden”.  I was behaving in such a fashion that was acceptable and my “caretakers” within the community were reinforcing that I was behaving how I was supposed to behave.

WHITE – This car was a signal that I was going to die.  It was sending a message that I was not going to overcome what was ailing me and sent me into an extreme spiral that I had no control over.  A popular song on the radio at the time was Perry’s, “If I Die Young” and contained the lyrics, “Bury me in satin”.  Satin to me is the color of a wedding dress – white.  It made sense in my head, but it was terrifying.  I didn’t want to die.  I still don’t.

BLUE – Blue cars didn’t really have much meaning for me.  I own a blue car, so it was more familiar to me.  There were times that the blue seeped into the black meaning, but it was only when the windows were dark tinted.  This car was not as paralyzing as the others.

GREEN – This car represented the people I was friends with at the time.  It meant they were checking up on me and making sure I was okay.  It didn’t pose a threat and actually gave me some relief when I saw this color of car.  I didn’t see green cars very often.

YELLOW – This car color meant proceed with caution.  Much like the colors of stop lights, it meant to be careful with what you are showing to the world.

I don’t remember seeing any other car colors during this time.  I am certain I did, but the other colors aren’t as popular and if I paid attention to those colors, they don’t stick out in my memory as anything threatening.

I liked spending time outside, as it was better than being holed up in a quiet house, but something as simple as going outside to smoke a cigarette was nerve wracking.  Perhaps it was my subconscious telling me I needed to quit smoking.  However, there were so many more connotations that I made up than simply stop smoking.  It was truly overwhelming.

I remember that prior to my break, the colors of the cars were starting to affect me.  When I was fired from my 6 week stint at my “big girl job”, I saw a gold car that I thought was following me home, making sure I got home safe.  In the hospital, I didn’t have any exposure to cars driving by, so I didn’t read into that trigger.  It wasn’t until I was released that the paranoia about the cars really settled into my psyche.

It took me a really long time to get over reading into the cars watching me.  When I look at car colors now, they don’t bother me, but I am reminded of what I used to believe.  I think this will always be something that triggers me.  I’m not paranoid now, but I can see myself reading into things again if I ever stop taking my meds or they stop working for me.  I pray they don’t stop working because I’m not going to stop taking them.  The paranoia was crippling and is no way to live.

I think the only thing that helped me get over reading into the color of the cars was time.  Giving my medications time to heal the damage that was caused to my brain.  Unfortunately, when you have a disorder like I do and have such an extreme break, the only thing that helps is proper treatment and time.  There is no easy fix or magic pill.  My medications take a while to establish themselves as effective, so it is never instant relief.

The one thing I know is that I never want to feel the way I did ever again.  Proper care and awareness about current feelings has helped me to become as stable as I am.  Sure, I still have bad days, but I’m not reading into things that aren’t real.  And, that is true progress.

My Day Thus Far…

I spent the morning editing my previous post because when I read it this morning, it felt choppy and redundant.  Check it out again if you are interested, I think it flows better.  I am trying to write in a fluid, easy to read fashion, but sometimes my thoughts come about so rapidly that I simply type.  I do edit before I post, but I think when I do that I am too close to what I just wrote, so I don’t realize when things don’t flow as well.  I am working on this.  I want my readers to be satisfied with what I have written.

I am a little behind in my Blogging101 assignments, but a post was made that not every assignment had to be completed – only the one’s that you felt applied to your blog.  I’m trying not to sweat the small stuff.  I will revisit these assignments at a later date.

It has been rainy since yesterday.  I love the rain – it makes for good naps.  Naps are my favorite, even though it cuts into the time that I should be looking for a job.  Perhaps I am depressed.

Speaking of depression, the last time I saw my psychiatrist, he asked me if I thought I was depressed.  He said he didn’t think I was depressed, because I was joking with him and participating in conversation attentively, but it has caused me to pause and reassess.  I’m not sure I am depressed.  Part of me thinks I am and part of me thinks I am over medicated.  I would love to have a little of my mania back, simply for the energy it gave me, but I don’t want the paranoia or psychosis that accompanies the mania.

I am properly medicated.  I am able to function in my life.  It isn’t as exciting as it once was, and that is disheartening.  But, I will take feeling normal and calm over reading into everything that surrounds me.  I don’t know what it would mean to have another psychotic episode and I don’t want to know, but I still want some of that manic energy and confidence.  It feels like it would be the booster that I need to get my act together.  But, that would be playing Russian Roulette, and I don’t want to play with my brain in that fashion.  The payoff is not worth the end result of going back to the hospital.

I want to talk about something light, so I will tell you about my cat.  I know, boring, another cat story.  But, he is our fur baby, and like every pampered prince, my husband’s and my life seems to revolve around making him happy.  He meows constantly.  Always a chatter box, he voices his opinion on the slightest of details and makes it very well known when he is not pleased with a particular situation.  He likes to sit outside on our balcony and as it has been raining, he has been confined inside.  We heard a lot of complaints from him yesterday and today due to his displeasure.  He is sleeping right now, thank goodness.  The house is quiet and things are calm.  Ahhhh…no meows.  Music to my ears.

I am waiting to hear back from one of the temp agencies I am registered with about a possible job interview.  I am crossing my fingers that the interview comes through, but when I called to check in, my contact person blew me off and I heard the receptionist actively talking to her before telling me she had stepped away from her desk.  I would say that the receptionist made a mistake by not putting me on hold properly.  We shall see where this opportunity goes…

I’m looking forward to a calm weekend with my husband.  I know he is looking forward to having a couple days off where we can relax and just enjoy our time together.  I hope it stays cloudy all weekend.  The city seems to quiet down when it is rainy.

How are you all managing your Friday?  I hope you all are looking forward to the weekend and can gather together with friends, or not.  It always feels good to get the work week over.

Wishing you lots of respite and happy times.

I Made a Huge Mistake

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Guilt that Haunts Me.”

My cursor has been blinking at me for the past 30 minutes.  I’m about to jump into a completely uncharted territory for me – I’m going to talk about my bad behavior leading up to my break.  I am not proud of this.  This is something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.  Did I mention that I am ashamed?

My husband was working the overnight shift at his job.  That meant he was gone the entire night and I only saw him when he was either sleeping or walking out the door to go to work.  I was so lonely during this time.  Here we were, living in this vibrant city and we were not able to enjoy it together.  He was always working, making sure we had a roof over our heads and paying our bills on time.  I was angry because I felt abandoned by him.

One of the symptoms of bipolar disorder is hypersexuality.  It turns you into this version of yourself where you feel your most beautiful, most sexy, and most vibrant.  You think you are this golden unicorn that everyone wants.  I had no clue of what was to come from these feelings, but I was riding a high.  I was lonely and feeling like my best self.  A recipe for disaster.

I found him on this adult meet up site.  My husband and I were talking about the possibility of having an open marriage due to him being away so much and both of us wanting something more.  We were only talking about it, not acting on it, but I took the opportunity to run with the idea behind his back.

It started with simple messages and then a meet up in a local park.  I was nervous, but wasn’t thinking clearly about the absurdity of meeting a complete stranger for a hook up.  I didn’t know this person.  He could have been a deranged killer and I was walking into a situation I had no business being a part of.  I was supposedly happily married.  But, I was chasing a high and wanting instant gratification.  This person provided that for me.

I won’t go into the illicit details, but I started having an affair with this guy I barely knew.  It was exciting and gave me the fulfillment I was looking for, factoring in my hypersexuality and loneliness.

I wasn’t in love with this person – I was there for the sex.  It became a frequent occurrence, maybe a couple of times a week.  It was easy to participate in this situation because my husband was gone all the time.  In the cover of dark, all secrets are safe, right?

This affair lasted for months.  I don’t really remember the amount of time it actually lasted, but it was enough to know that what I was doing was wrong.  I should have never started the affair, but, I continued to participate in the illicit behavior.  I was completely disregarding the respect I had for my husband and the vows we took when we got married.  I was reckless and I didn’t really think about the consequences of my actions.

As I mentioned before, I never fell in love with this person.  He was a means to an end.  I think he might have had genuine feelings for me, but I always knew I was going to stay with my husband.  I felt dangerous, though.  I was chasing this high and it was always eluding me, no matter how bad my behavior.

Little did I know, my husband started tracking my behavior.  He watched our phone records and even left work a few times to check that I was home while he was away at work.  I don’t believe I was ever home when he came to check.  He knew what I was doing, but was biding his time until I confessed or he had enough evidence to confront me.

He finally confronted me one night when he wasn’t working.  I had been pretending that I was texting one of my friends for a while, always keeping my phone close by in case he had intercepted a text between me and the other guilty party.  He asked to see my phone.  I stupidly hadn’t erased my text conversations with this illicit person.  Perhaps it was my way of wanting to be found out.

He locked himself in the bathroom to read the texts and I melted down.  At one point, I threw a glass at the door, shattering it.  I had been found out and I didn’t know what was going to happen.  I was scared, but a part of me felt justified by my actions because I was so angry at my husband for abandoning me.  Although he hadn’t actually abandoned me, it felt like that because he was never home.  It was my way of punishing him.  We have a mark on our bathroom door where I shattered that glass.  It will forever be a reminder of the deplorable act I had committed.

Needless to say, my husband was hurt.  I don’t think the word hurt can really describe what he was feeling.  He was working so hard for us, and here I was shitting on our dream.

I don’t remember how I ended the affair.  Part of me thinks it fizzled out, but I might have said something to the effect that the situation had to end.  Regardless, the affair ended.  I was relieved.  It’s hard to maintain that level of energy when you aren’t sleeping, lying to your husband, and losing your mind.  I just didn’t realize I was losing my mind.  That was still months away.

This situation has been a heavy cloud over my recovery.  I am writing this today, with his permission, to let my truth be known and to hopefully let others know they are not alone.  I live with an amazing, committed, understanding man.  We have had to work extra hard to regain trust because of my actions.  However, he has not wavered in his love for me.  He only wants the best for us, and I still don’t understand his ability to forgive me for my transgressions.

But, we are better.  It has taken a long time, but we have a mutual trust and respect for each other that appears to be life long.  I am lucky to have married such a person.  That being said, had I not been sick, I don’t know if things would have turned out the same way in the end.  But, in the same breath, I don’t believe I would have acted in such a horrible way.

Now I know what the symptoms are leading up to a full manic episode.  If you look at the guidelines of what makes a person bipolar, I am pretty much a classic case.  I will forever be shameful of the acts that I committed, but I know that there is love on the other side.  And, I will never, ever act on these impulses again.  I simply will not let it happen and my husband won’t let it happen either.  I have a good man.  I am lucky.