Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Curse

My mom once said our family was cursed by God for some great atrocity someone a couple generations back committed. She lost a lot of siblings. Had bipolar children, one who became a drunk and occasionally hurt his wife and kids. Then my dad had his accident.  Then my mom broke her leg. Then when I moved away and the only companion my mom had was my dog, my dog got cancer.  Then my brother died. She could still hear him sometimes. Him and one of her sisters. Now she’s gone too. And my dad is in the hospital again. For like the 18th time.

The reality of the situation is that the numbers tell me my dad will die. My thoughts tell me he’s a tough guy and he’s gonna make it through. Reality does tell me if he lives, his quality of life will drop even further. I’m almost ready for him to die. I want him to be with my mom. I prayed in the temporary trauma unit that if God was going to take my father, make him go painlessly and know that my mom would be there to welcome him if he had any fear.

But now I’m at home, just having finished an assignment and trying to convince myself that I do need to go to work tomorrow, especially with it being a new job and all. But fear and conflict has taken hold of my heart. When my mom was in the hospital before she died, I knew she lived through the worst and was gonna be just fine, she was getting better and everything. One night, the fear of losing her seized me entirely and I fell apart, only to wake up the next day and everything was good. It was the day after that though shit hit the fan.

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to expect right now. Certainly feels like a curse. Throw my bipolar in just for funsies and you’ve got everything you need for a turbulent life. I used to minimize the amount of trauma I’ve endured, convincing myself it wasn’t really bad because it could get a lot worse. Now I’m just starting to feel broken.

What’s This All About?

When you ask about me, my mind races.  Maybe you ask what I do.  I read, I play games, I’m a student, I do 3 part-time jobs, I think, I sit, I dance (when no one is looking), I push for destigmatization of mental health issue, I go to church, I pray, I draw, I scream, I collapse, I take care of my dog, I dote on my fiance, I code, I break things down, I freak out, I sleep, I dream, I try to sleep but can’t, I don’t watch movies except when I do, and when I decide that my body is betraying me I subject it to overwork in unsafe conditions. I clean. I don’t clean, I buy too many things and regret, I buy not enough things and regret. I do so many things that when you ask me what I do, despite me knowing the question typically addresses working or student interest, my mind fires all these things and sometimes none of them, or some subset between the two.

Nothing is ever really simple for me. When you ask me where I grew up. I remember the apartment we had near the medical center, from before I was three. Not many memories, but enough. I remember nightmares I had, I remember moving towards a slightly better part of town into a duplex and while the people toured us through different duplexes in the area all owned by their company, there was a dog running around the one we ended up at. I think what preschool was like, where I was at when I learned I was “different” or smarter. I remember growing up with the Russian kid whose dad had broken English.  I remember my first best friends and growing into adolescence and how I wanted to keep them all and then remove some and then make new friends altogether. I say “I ‘grew’ up in San Antonio, but moved to Lubbock for high school.” Because the answer they want is I grew up “here” (Lubbock). But I grew up a lot. I still am growing up. I’m not a grown-up even if I get classified as an adult. I think to middle school, I was bullied, witnessed gang violence, was considering gun violence of my own, got in to see a doctor when I was young, had depression, likely due to my father’s accident. I stopped sleeping, I dreamt more and more and remembered so many. There were hallucinations and then we moved to Lubbock and the story goes from there. I can’t simplify things for people in my head, I have to find the response they want because my life story hits me most times when I am asked.

Sometimes I hear the thoughts of artists. I sing to music that doesn’t exist and when I try to write it down, it fades to the void that I’m all too familiar with. Sometimes I see amazing art in my head, and when I take to paper I’m nowhere near adequate to even get remotely close. I write poems but forget the words, I romanticize ideas but forget what they are.  I lose thought mid speech because my thoughts went so far ahead that some buffer limit was hit and I had to reset.

I analyze all the things that are wrong. All the things that are right. All the things I see in other people I would like to see in myself. I get social anxiety, I fake my charisma. I acknowledge a person’s problem as not a problem but when the same circumstance comes to me it is a problem again. I can’t keep quiet or I won’t speak at all, it always, always depends on the day.

Having Bipolar Disorder can be a lot like gambling (even causes people to gamble witlessly). I never know what I will face when I wake up. Who I will be. Maybe I change me midday and forget that problem that was life ending. Maybe I tell myself I will never be who I want. Then I hit it back into my head that it’s just symptoms and remind myself they are better and fewer even if still present. It all depends on the day.

When you ask me who I am. When I’m honest, I tell you I’m bipolar. I tell you that I’m smart and scared and will never compromise my integrity. I speak about my suicide attempt as a fulcrum to a better life. I grab your attention when it hits me because you have to know I’m not ashamed to be bipolar. You need to ask me what it’s like being bipolar so I can arm you with knowledge and encourage you to destigmatize.

I started this post with no intent. I finished it with something resembling one I guess. Today it’s a mixed day. A Grant can’t keep up with Grant day where I’m pulled in a million directions.

What was I doing again?

 

Accountability

Accountable is a positive word right? People like to hold someone accountable when the person takes on a responsibility or error. But so few like to be held accountable.  Something simple like that can make a large difference.

If I own up the blame and don’t deflect it, what am I compromising? The fear is of loss. We don’t like being held accountable because in the event of mistakes, we fear the worst, not the reasonable.  I’ve done a lot of jobs. I’ve seen a lot of pointing fingers and a lot of people never say “that’s my fault”. Even I avoided it when I felt intimidated.

But in the workplace we fear demotion, loss of respect, and even termination. Scary things, and there’s more than that too.  But people hear me more often than not approach them with two things in mind. Honesty and integrity. I’m in sales now and my trainer more or less wants me to hide things. Some call it lie by omission. For me if it’s relevant, I will bring it into play. No job will compromise my integrity. If you tell me to have integrity and honesty as part of our cultural values, you better be ready when I call you out for not doing it.

In the job area, when I have made a mistake and fessed up or even volunteered info before it was discovered, I’ve never been rewarded, but honestly the largest reprimand I’ve ever had is being told to fix it, and chances are I already have or have a plan to. But then I work for a company (previously) where I wear a name badge and on the back is our culture statement, our values. And when we screwed over our customers (and boy how we did) I became a customer advocate over whatever they actually wanted me to be. And I would challenge them. I would tell them how our integrity shouldn’t be compromised or at least not touted as a value when no one values it. That’s when I got face to face chats about how we do screw people over, but that’s “above their head” and to be fair a lot of it was. But they were still taught and programmed to try to divert me from calling them out on not following company values, so I should hold them accountable. But just face to face chats, no email or instant messenger trail, that might be dangerous.

Maybe that’s why we won’t be accountable. It’s a thing people say they value, but then don’t embody themselves. We all like to hold others accountable, but not be held ourselves. I know I frequently get complimented by those observing my accountability. Whether it’s the customers I help or the observers of such. But no one above you ever thanks you, they just tell you to be. I’m frustrated and philosophical tonight. I want to be the change I want in the world. But I also know that our cultural values as a whole are headed in the opposite direction.

 

From Lost to Less

I wrote not too long ago. I don’t know that it was very productive in all reality, but it was a grievance I could allow my mind to have without directing it at someone I care about. So I return to do much (or little) of the same.

I’m in a very anxious mindset. Have been since I woke up. Past week or so, I’ve been down, but even so, in a relative manic state. I think it just bottomed out and now I get to reap the seeds that the manic state has sown.

I spent more money than I should have. Indeed, truth be told with not all of my transactions posting right now, I truly don’t know how much I spent and how much is left in my bank account. By my estimate, it’s around $50. I’ve been in worse states to be sure, but I also added on to credit card things so that they wouldn’t be on my debit card. I don’t know. In the moment I rationalized it and I shouldn’t have. Thanks manic state!

I haven’t spent much time with my fiance (though I haven’t done a formal proposal, girlfriend doesn’t do her justice). I miss her. But I can’t be around her right now either. I don’t want to upset her or both of us. I spoke to her some this evening and saw it was only going South. So I turned to here after telling her I loved her and didn’t want to make things worse.

It’s both relieving and frustrating that she understands. In my mind I insist that she save me, but I give her no tools with which to do so. No knowledge, no ability, indeed I don’t even tell her that I need her, because I also know that I would put her through Hell for no reason and I wouldn’t feel better by the end of it either.

In short I’m having a rough depressive episode. I don’t want to get into the details, but there’s a family health situation, and I’ve already lost too many people this year alone. I am in a place where I cannot afford to miss even a single step with school and I just landed a new job that’s killing me already with the theoretical schedule. I want to back out. I want to say so badly how much I fucked up. I can’t. Because those seeds of the past week or so? They’ve begun to germinate, and I now have to pay money back into places even though I had sworn off the credit cards, even though I had a decent financial situation.

It only takes one episode to ruin months of progress. I’ve dropped out of school 3 times and flunked out a fourth. Only took one bad week, or day, or event that triggered something greater. For me, being bipolar is navigating an amusement park built on a former minefield you’re assured is safe. It’s fun at times, scary at others, and every now and then, you’re certain catastrophe is about to happen when you where that metallic click.

I used to be like this a lot more. This particular state. The one where I’m freaking out, screaming, angry, and hurt on the inside.  I guess I can take some solace in that these are not as often as they were once. A small concession, for whatever that brings. It used be that I would have a tantrum with my mom. As an adult. I would freak out about one thing or another and sooner or later we would both be screaming until I had either left to somewhere else, even to just in my car, or when I was so defeated that I curled up and my mom would be bringing me tea.

I can’t do that now. I can’t smash my phone, I can’t stab my hand, I can’t punch walls, I can’t find something to break, someone to scream at. Indeed today I have had to fight the impulse to pound my head. This is not okay. This is not normal, but neither is bipolar. I keep praying. And I am certain God is out there. I will never understand Him, but I know He’s here for me. But it’s right now when my obstacles seem far greater than they actually may be and I have to constantly tell myself He’ll take care of me.

And it’s moments like this that I find it easy to destroy things. I destroy relationships. I destroy perceptions. I destroy opportunities. I destroy objects, possessions. I destroy ideas, and aspirations. I destroy myself. I will beat my head into submission and to what end?

But I can’t. Because I live somewhere where those around don’t understand me. So I say I’m tired. I’m not feeling well. I overslept. So that my lack of eating isn’t questioned, my longing to not get out of bed or move isn’t brought up. I don’t cry because if I do, it won’t stop. I won’t stop. It’ll go further and get out of hand. I have to shut every single impulse down so I don’t do something I can’t take back or recover from.

I’d rather be lost again than this.

How to Be Bipolar

Oh boy. It’s been a while since I’ve put words on the screen. Between my emotional fragility and inability to sleep and/or focus enough to do school well, let alone process thoughts effectively, I’ve all but abandoned spending time here. I once was set on finding community. I’m not sure what happened to that. I once was set on making an example and showing people how they too could survive life with mental illness. I’m not sure what happened to that.

Right now, I feel entirely functional, but broken. I’m here, but I’m not. Nothing is wrong, but it’s also not right. I don’t dislike where I am, I’m just here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in a dark or bad place, and this isn’t it. If I had to characterize, I’d say I feel lost more than anything.

I don’t sleep well. I remember almost all of my dreams. I close my eyes when I park the car and immediately weird films or songs start playing in my head of my own creation. Neon light headaches wash over me and then 5 minutes are gone, maybe 10.  My responsibilities are very little all things considered, but I feel like I’m being crushed. It’s been weeks since I actually felt rested after sleep, only adding to the chaos of my mind.

How to be bipolar. Is that how to get bipolar, or rather the qualities that make you bipolar? Or maybe it’s simply how to be (when you are bipolar). I’m not sure which I started wanting to write about. I definitely want to write about both, if only my thoughts were known to me. Since I can recall, I have had thought in dialogue. I don’t know if this is common, I know that it’s not its own issue inherently, but it’s an odd quirk and it wasn’t until recently have I even considered that people don’t do this.

Let me explain it simply. Where my girlfriends thinks “Did I remember to lock the door?” I will think towards myself “Did you remember to lock the door?” Replay the course of events and say “yeah I did remember”. But it gets far more complex than that. I once thought which is the “main” me in my head. But it’s pretty simple actually, there’s the first person (“I”) me and the third person (one asking me questions) me.  And when the conversation is more than a binary answer I lose myself in it.

I don’t know how to describe what I endure on a mostly daily basis. Sporadically body parts feel wrong, or I somehow get confused when I’m driving my actual car instead of one that flashed in my mind.  I sometimes stagger because my body stops being mine for a few seconds. I endure flashes of pain, which my doctor says sounds like some sort of neuropathy, and is mostly successful in medicating me for. I close my eyes and I’m somewhere else frequently. I can sometimes recognize that I closed my eyes and force them open or even enjoy the view and tell myself to leave them closed a little longer. Sometimes I even open them and the image takes a bit to blink away, like when you stare at a lightbulb directly. Sometimes I fall asleep in the floor, somehow convinced that it’s okay. Other times I fall asleep at the wheel before having to pull over and turn off the car in a parking lot, trying to summon myself to consciousness even hours later as the car’s temperature goes above a 100.  Other times I have thoughts that are just noise, another doctor tells me it’s just noise that most people’s brains filter out. Kind of like playing scenes in your head from your favorite movie, you know they aren’t there, but recalling it can be quite vivid if you commit to it. My favorite remark I’ve recalled in these states is hearing a gruff man shout if anybody knows who threw up on another man’s head. I get these random bits of audio or pictures like that, and I don’t have anything more than bipolar, even though I was afraid I might. I’m mostly functional and incredibly stable all things considered. But I don’t always tune in to my radio, sometimes I’m stuck listening to confusing, butchered pieces of scenarios that would never exist.

What am I supposed to do with that? That’s not even the bulk of my issues. That’s just the entertaining intermissions that run in between the main features. I really wish I knew what was going on with me. It’s been a struggle to get in for a sleep study and no one seems to really consider these as issues. I don’t know if people think I make it up or what. Maybe they aren’t serious, but it doesn’t mean I want to have these symptoms. I think I just want to be where I can think and not have some radio or tv blurting out things louder than my own thoughts.

Maybe more another day. It’s not been a pleasant day. It likely won’t be a pleasant evening. It likely won’t be a pleasant tomorrow. And I would accept all that more if I could just get sleep where I actually felt like I slept and not like I just spent hours hallucinating.