I’d forgotten about this day, this episode, this helpless despondency ... probably as soon as it melted into the ocean of some-better-some-worse days, episodes and helpless despondencies that I’ve navigated my way through over the last decade. I’m coming up on the one-year anniversary of starting THE med cocktail: the one that—while still not perfect—has kept me overwhelmingly functional and present and foundationally able to live and participate and just BE. I’m thankful for the pharmacology, I’m thankful for the determination of my family, I’m thankful for the understanding and support of everyone around me ... but it’s KILLING me that I didn’t proofread this before I posted it, and though it’s a perfectly preserved time capsule of a day and an episode and a helpless despondency, it’s taking everything in me not to go back and edit it today.
I fell over getting out of my car this morning at work. I opened the door, grabbed the frame to pull myself up and immediately lost all sensation of the direction of gravity, spinning to my left, rolling against the rear door and hitting my head on the door frame on my way to the ground. I've felt a little off-balance all week since my doctor doubled one of my meds on Monday but this was the first time I went full-pavement.
My right hand is slowly losing its ability to function. Last week I couldn't push the button on the key fob to unlock my car door. Last weekend I couldn't hold on to a tube of chap stick hard enough to pull the cap off. Last night I couldn't pick anything up with my chopsticks at the restaurant where we celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday. This morning -- after realizing I was plummeting faster than I could manage to control at work -- I couldn't pull the key out of the ignition when I got home.
I have no idea if any of this is related to being bipolar, changing meds or something entirely unrelated, but it's the easiest to explain.
My depressive episodes are mostly about fogginess (I get lost physically and mentally, I forget stuff like things I promised to do or why my parents are gone for the night) and abject despondency (everyone I know hates me, I don't care if I live or die). Fortunately, I've been doing this a long time and I can look at it all objectively -- no matter how acute or systemic or visceral or urgent the feelings are -- and know with slightly foggy certainty that none of it is real and it will all pass and if I can just find a blanket and a dark corner and a couple of uninterrupted hours I'll be emotionally drained but highly functional.
I'm a 48-year-old man who after a 15-year advertising career in Chicago moved home to Iowa ostensibly to care for his blind father but more as it turns out to be cared for as a mentally ill person by his parents. On paper, I hate everything in that sentence. In reality, I'm currently sitting in the glow of the Christmas tree with both my parents and Bitch Kitty and I'm so thrilled I get to share so much of my adult life with them and that alone helps me rebound when I spiral out of control.
It has taken me over two hours of intense concentration to write this. But I'd already napped for five hours and writing this gave me something relatively constructive to do instead of stewing in self pity. I know I probably spend way too much time on here talking about being bipolar but it helps me clear my head and organize my thoughts and in some ways make myself accountable for my own mental health. And it's even helped me bond with a number of you who have confided in me about your own struggles with mental illness. You call me "brace." I call myself "unfiltered." But if any of us finds value in my ramblings, it helps compensate for the fact that I've probably scared away every eligible gay man in Linn and Johnson counties.
600 paragraphs ago, I said I didn't know where this post was going. Almost three hours later, I don't have a clear recollection of where it wandered to wind up here. And I'm not going to proof or edit it so when I emerge from this episode I can maybe see how the depressed me kicks through the brambles and strings together thoughts. In the mean time, I have my blanket and dark corner and I'm finally sleepy again. For those of you still with me, thank you for your friendship and support and kind words. And good-night.