I never intentionally meant for ‘this’ to be a diatribe about having bipolar depression. I wanted for the longest time to actually write recipes and become a better photographer. This was meant to be light-hearted, and evolve into something really, hopefully pretty once I developed my creative skills. At least that was my hope.
But, until I recently started seeing a psychotherapist in addition to my psychiatrist, I had no concrete forum to consistently let all the negative (
some positive) thoughts stream out of my head. And so this came to be. I could very well have bought a notebook from the stationary store and wrote everything down on paper. I know also that I would have quickly lost motivation in that because my handwriting somehow evolved into something really ugly over the years. I would then pile up ugly thoughts every single day, and slowly over time do something stupid like not take my meds, and then fall right back into the hospital or something worse. So ‘this’ came to be. A muddle-smush of my diatribe, with a random other smash of food photos and recipes muddled all at the bottom. It is really rather broken, but…in all its irony, I am really rather broken. So it makes perfect common sense. I was going to write about food and recipes anyways…may as well add 8-10 paragraphs of bitching as a precursor.
I am not embarrassed about being public at all about anything or everything. I feel positive in the slightest that at least I encouraged a few others around me to let me know that they too had experienced days / weeks / months / years where they did nothing but cry every day; they too had days where they felt completely worthless and weak; experienced a moment in a CSU or in-patient unit; piled their own pills into a colourful circle; and could barely function as a human being. These are not ‘good’ things by any or all means, but when someone holds their hand out to you so vulnerably like that, you contemplate latching on. In some cases where I wanted to, I have latched on. I don’t always latch on, but that’s besides the point.
This past weekend – May 27th – was the anniversary of my first suicidal attempt. As much as I want to forget the past, I still re-live every day of the past two years in a cyclical swirl pretty much every day. It just won’t go away. I can’t get it out of my head. Working with a psychotherapist positively and negatively aggravates that, because she even goes deeper to all the cracked up things from my childhood until now. She thinks this has been going on for way longer than the last two years. She is probably right. JH technically should have had his ‘psycho chick’ radar on back in 2008; maybe he could have found a happier life. Is it weird that I sometimes imagine him in a much happier life where I don’t exist? Needless to say, it’s been an emotional weekend, coupled with the fact that despite taking sleeping pills and Melatonin and that bitch of a Seroquel, I have been operating on 2-3 hours of sleep for the past few weeks (time to bitch to my doctor). I just can’t sleep. My eyes feel like they are breaking from exhaustion but my mind won’t just fucking shut off. I guess you could say it’s the ‘mania’.
Anyways, back to May 27th 2016. I had suicidal ideations for a long time before (in Vietnam, in Laos…those stories were told). But that day, I remember spots and pieces of everything that went wrong. I took a shower. I felt claustrophobic in the shower. I had fast, recurring images of myself drowning. I couldn’t breathe. I cried and screamed. Something took over. Something took over my mind and my body. The ideations didn’t line up – I didn’t try to drown myself, I tried haphazardly to cut open my wrist. JH knew I had been feeling suicidal. He didn’t hear from me for a few hours. He came home, and found me crawled up in a ball on the kitchen floor clutching my favourite cooking knife. All the moments in between and thereafter leading up to the ‘interviews’ with doctors was a blur. Maybe it was a little bit of PTSD.
May 27th was the first time I had ever seen or experienced a critical stabilization unit (CSU). In subsequent attempts I would stay for much longer in what felt like the safer / quieter in-patient unit 17 floors up – the ‘mental wing’. The CSU was this small, enclosed room. It was even more claustrophobic than the shower. There’s a door where you can leave to go to the bathroom, but if I could describe it in anyway, it reminded me of the small mental asylum rooms in movies where they lock you up in a strait jacket. The door has a small peep-hole of a window looking out to the common room, and is otherwise shut off to anything. The room gets scarier when they dim the lights – red and purple tones. Emergency is nearby so you hear noises all night. You don’t sleep because you can’t. You bang your head over and over just waiting for morning to come, hoping it is over. Your mind swirls, and tears just naturally fall from your eyes in panic and anxiety….all night. Think of whatever nightmare you had last – and times that by two (I won’t say three, because I am sure there are much worse real-life nightmares…I am not that self-consumed).
The day I was admitted, JH and my girlfriend stayed with me until visiting hours were over that night. When I had calmed down and was visibly aware of everything around me again, we worked on a puzzle together in the ‘common area’ just outside the room. Despite how scary the situation was, they did nothing but each give me hopeful smiles, quietly grasp my hand every once in awhile and worked on the puzzle with me. They both commented that the room looked ‘comfortable’. When they had to go, the puzzle was only 75 percent done. For a few minutes I felt kind of hopeless without them. But I kept on working and working at the puzzle until I finished it because I didn’t want to have to go back to the room. But at some point I had to go back to that room when the nurse said I needed to take my meds. I felt like the loneliest person in the world. I think I slept for 20 minutes that night. I hoped I would never have to go back there again in my life (but I ended up back there again this year…in the exact same room).
I have been reflective this weekend. Obviously I am not suicidal right now, but I wonder whether I really have progressed at all in a year’s time. In many ways, I feel stuck in the same place. I am just clutching JH’s hand for dear life most days as a life-line. I feel lost in life, as a person, a human being, in really everything. I don’t know my place…my role…my purpose. I want to do things that ‘change the world’ – maybe in career, volunteering, self, I don’t know – but anxiety, pure fear, non-existence of self-confidence holds me back. I spoke recently with a friend who ‘shared’ about depression (someone I have always thought of as a Type A ultra motivated career tiger(ess)), and we both identified that we felt “less sharp, less focused”, and for me, ‘less smart, less everything’. I feel like the drugs are just a bandage; an attempt to ‘fix me’, an attempt ‘to keep me moving mindlessly’, so I can ‘attempt’ to maintain relationships, a job, really stand on my own two feet. Sometimes I day dream about what it would be like to come off the drugs completely. I see two polar opposite outcomes (the irony) – I’d go hysterical and probably finally have the guts to kill myself, or maybe it would be that the drugs fucked me up all along (even my dear friend Lithium), and I am actually my normal self – someone ambitious, creative, opinionated – the get-the-fuck-out-of-my-way, super-happy me…not this dull robot, who smiles on command, has brain block 24/7, and pretends that everything is just fucking okay. I day dream a lot about the latter. I day dream about it a lot.
I came out of reclusiveness in an attempt to feel ‘normalcy’ again, but in many situations, I still feel like I am drowning. This is not because the people in my life are not completely amazing – they are (the ones who patiently want to be there for both my sides, and well….tolerance dear self – don’t be a bitch, even those who just want my one ‘regular’ side…even those who want to be there, but I just don’t find a connection with). For the first time in a long time (collectively, since last September), I saw a group of people that I have always adored. The same people who took a plunge with me in 2013 and said ‘fuck it’ and booked an expensive ticket to Rio de Janeiro, and walked through a favela with me for goodness sake (okay, okay – I am sure we went to probably the most controlled, touristy one) a month before I married JH. I had seen individuals from this group in bits and pieces but not all together since last September. I felt a lot of anxiety going in, not for any real reason, maybe except to ‘belong to them again’ authentically. As they always are, they were inclusive and loving, and fun, and everything. One of the girls told me I “looked really great”, to which I ‘smiled’ and thought “right” in my head. But at one part of the night, I escaped to the host’s bathroom to have a cry. We were in an environment that was loud enough that it drowned out my sniveling sobs. Then subsequently, as I was walking home with JH, I broke down in tears again.
This was not like the exhaustively frustrating ‘pry’ situation I described in my last post or any of the semi-angry stories I ranted about in the last ‘mental’ post. All these things happened because I felt like I was enclosed in glass and losing oxygen. I was ‘outside looking in’, desperately banging at the glass to break through. I described this before in a previous post, but so many times when I’m interacting with people now, I feel like I am held frozen in place, but everything is moving around me at a 100 km an hour. I can see, feel and hear all the laughs and smiles from conversations, people dancing, people drinking, people having fun, but it is just literally circling around me and I can’t move. I am surrounded by all these people I love, but I am frozen in time. And it’s scary as hell. I don’t know how to break out of it; I can’t shut it off. For no reason at all, in a room full of people I love, I feel lonely. And for no reason at all, I don’t feel safe at all in an environment that a ‘normal’ me would know is completely safe. It just doesn’t make sense. I wonder then whether I am actually ready to re-integrate back into the world again. Maybe I rushed into everything. Maybe I should have just left for awhile again, and thought everything really through.
Not much else to say, except…one day at a time? It’s summer, so it’ll be nothing but people every single day going forward. More tests will come. Maybe this will somehow get better.
Now to the nonsensical shift where I just end up talking about unrelated food and recipes. I haven’t baked bread in awhile. We had a bunch of berries and left-over chocolate ganache, so I decided to make a chocolate-berry braid. I made a mess of the braid with my shaky hands though, so it looks like JH and I sat on it. JH did say though it was probably one of the better breads I have made in awhile. I think all the chocolate and cooked-down berries made it really soft. The recipe is below.
The Not-So-Secret Secrets:
Chocolate-Berry Bread Wreath – Adapted from here
- 400g bread flour, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 packet (8g) yeast
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cardamom
- Sprinkles of nutmeg and cinnamon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250ml lukewarm water
- 1 – 1.5 cups chocolate ganache (enough to spread the rectangle)
- 1 cup berries (raspberries and blackberries sliced in halves)
- 1 egg yolk (for egg wash)