Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A fresh start, an old pattern, a new challenge.

Over a year. Really? Over a year since I blogged?Then again it feels like 10. It feels like multiple lifetimes.
It feels like a good time to start again.

This post may well be long. And it may tread into some dark territory. But I hope putting it out there helps me move forward, since that is what I want and need to do.
I found myself inspired over the weekend by the murmurings of my writer friends getting their engines revved for NaNoWriMo 2010. I toyed with the idea of giving it a shot, but had to reluctantly reign in my enthusiasm, which flew headlong (along with other plans) into the brick wall that yesterday showed itself to be. Well, not just yesterday. Most days. It seems like that, anyway.
My life is riddled with speed bumps, detours, roadblocks and washouts. I know it to be true, but have a hard time accepting it. I know that everyone travels a road fraught with trials and hardships, and I make no claim to have it harder than anyone else. I just know when it is hard for ME.
I have a difficult time looking these things in the eye, these things people know about me and my children, the things we wrestle with together...or alone. These things which I try to outrun, or grin-and-bear, or make light of, or crumble under. The neuro-psychological challenges that my sons, and myself, navigate with are not unique; the world is awash with others who live this sort of life. I just struggle to come to terms with it for myself. It's not what I wanted. It gets in the way of what I want. I am childishly furious about that, but feel ungracious if I say aloud.
Almost everyone has had a brush with families, or the headlines...or in their own body, their own mind.
Bipolar is a word that, if you throw it out there, can be a bit like a pinata. Bust it open, and you will see that all sorts of associations will fall out, for all kinds of people.

What phrases, what stories, what images fall at your feet when that word is manifested?

Passion. Fear. Danger. Drive. Creativity...

The friend who took their life. The girl at work who talks too much.
Recklessness. Loss. Imbalance. Delusion. The uncle with a gambling problem.
Confusion. Joy. Tragedy. Achievement. Frustration.

Your mother. Your neighbor.
Your cousin. Your spouse.
Hopelessness. Determination. Support.


Triumph.The published author. The prize winning athlete.
The young man at the homeless shelter, thanking you for the piece of cake you just served him.

Medication. Research. Doctors. Asylums.
Education. Therapy. Hope.
Your child.
It's a lot, isn't it? And just a sampling.

Truthfully, when my son was diagnosed 5 years ago, I was horrified and scared, mostly because I felt like I was suddenly driving my life-mobile with a blindfold on. Well-meaning people were saying "go left, go right, slow down, speed up!" ..and it was all I could do not to just STOP. But mom has to keep going; that's what mom does. She keeps going.

I have traveled through worlds since then. Special Education law, medication trials, social issues, family distress and crisis; the members of our little clan were like emotional refugees, blindsided by the reality of a brutal mental-health war right in our home. We have come a long way; the smoke has cleared, but we are not fooled. The battles continue.

In all my travels through the unpredictable landscape of mental illness, the hardest thing for me to make peace with is my own diagnosis, which came a year after my son's. I am open about it; I tell almost everyone. I think this is a defense thing that I do; I let people know up front, perhaps thinking I can demonstrate that "bipolar" does not mean deranged, shifty, hyper, or delusional -- at least, not in my case. I also think it is perhaps an apology in advance for anything I may do that is less than thoughtful. I am painfully aware that I talk far too much, but I also know that the drive to keep talking is often greater than the awareness of the need to shut the hell up for a while. My friends put up with a lot.
I love my friends for this; they accept me in all my forms, and support me in all my struggles. I keep a lot to myself, however, when the depression comes, because I don't want to scare them away. And the depression arrived several weeks ago, full- on, like a horrific house guest that forced its way through the door and flopped its massive weight down on my shoulders. I maneuvered with difficulty through the day despite it, because...well.. I had to. It was impossible to hide after a while: it hung around me like a toxic smog, making everyone miserable. It moaned and groaned in my ear, it cursed and hurled insults at me. It refused to budge. It demanded attention, then wanted to be left alone. It told me not to answer the phone. To cancel appointments. It slowly took over, until I was in some kind of state of paralysis: I felt dull, disconnected, tired, lost, defeated. I had been robbed of my real self, and had no idea how to get back.

When you are in that place, the last thing you want to hear is that you are no longer getting it right. You spend so much effort trying to hold up a mask of competence and functionality that when someone calls your bluff, and suggests you need help, you resent them for being critical, judging you in all your brokenness, pointing out the total cave-in your authentic self has suffered. How dare they!
The people who have the balls to step up and tell you point-blank that you need help are either just such assholes...or they love you an extraordinary amount. They will say it over and over until you hear it. Shame and fear and self-loathing and disappointment and frustration will try to drown it out, but still they will confront you. And if you finally start to listen, if you can hear the love through all that can start to move forward again.

I spin brutal storms when I am turned around by my topsy-turvy chemistry, and everyone in my wake, everyone I love, is caught in the fallout. But the people who love me pluck me from the wreckage, over and over, year after year. And I try again.

So.So now I am no longer drowning; my medications have been adjusted and I have been stabilized; my life-mobile just needed it's wheels aligned. Which is why it seems like a good time for a fresh start. A jump back into the blogosphere. And a new challenge.

Today I discovered there is a NaNoJouMo, a challenge to journal daily. I am an avid art journalist, so I am all over this. I will need to catch up a bit, as I am two days behind...but I am ready to jump in. Between the blog and the journaling, I am hoping to keep track of myself better, and encourage my authentic self to come out into the light.


Chris in Oz said...

I hear and feel your pain and frustration while applauding your bravery. You are one very lucky woman to have such a 'wonderful man' in your life. I suffer from PTSD, depression and mild agoraphobia and I too have one of those special men that pick me up when I need him too. You are not alone, take care and remember there are many 'out there' who understand what you are going through.


Walk in the Woods said...

Blessings darlin'. May Your light shine clear, guide Your way and warm Your heart. ♡ ya. Peace.

Dish Upon a Star said...

You go, Nici!!!

Lilafae said...

Just wanted to post a *hug*.
We don't see each other nearly enough but I consider you a friend and I'm here if you ever need an ear or a shoulder or anything.

V said...

I love you Nici. Thanks for having the courage you do.

Anonymous said...

"I keep a lot to myself, however, when the depression comes, because I don't want to scare them away."

Thanks for coming back to your blog, Nici. And thanks for your honesty.....especially the quote above, which I could easily have written. I isolate myself when I most need to ask for help.

It's so great to hear your voice! Love you,
nancy vittoria bello

nici said...

Thanks and love to each of you!

Juli said...

I surfed my way to you through a search for art journals on Pinterest. What a huge surprise to start reading about Bipolar disorder. I have it too and was really moved by your blog post!

nici said...

Thank you, Juli...glad you stopped by!