Monday, July 27, 2009

Off and on the wagon

After a couple nights back to imbibing, I tapered off last night. I love the feeling in the morning when I abstain. But I think it is that "can't get used to life without the bipolar guy in the picture" that I sabotage myself with.

I can go to bed thinking "I did everything right, so catharsis, here I come". Then I don't get it so I lay in bed not getting up because the depression is still there.

Only a little suicide ideation this morning. That is a relief. I should be grateful. Then again, everybody says, "Be grateful you aren't so-and-so, or dead already". What kind of life is it, and what kind of person am I if I go around with my reason for living gratitude? Gratitude to whom?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Breaking the rules

I thought, for some reason, I could maintain my upper mood swing and get away with returning to my drinking lifestyle in tandem with sleeping in. Nine and half hours after four vodkas and here I am, defeating myself. That was four drinks in about six hours. No, really. Maybe even seven. Close to midnight.

And we are invited to the vodka people's house for dinner tonight and will doubtlessly drink some more. The depression is debilitating but I insist on doing things I know will exacerbate it. Also, I don't want to cook tonight.

I already told them I stopped drinking, or at least at home where I can control it. But I then assured them I knew what I was doing. He, (vodka friend) told me to call him whenever I felt depressed. He is thinking of it as if it were short term and got better with a little empathy/sympathy. He is good that way but I don't think I want to bring him into the whole bipolar thing. Going from drinking to not drinking socially or otherwise puts one in a different class. People treat you differently and stop inviting you over. Sometimes they indicate their rejection by asking you if you want a drink, then correcting themselves, "Oh, that's right, you're not drinking anymore." They have a new language they speak with you in front of others. Full of code. You make them uncomfortable.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Tainting the experiment

I had a glass of wine last night. About four hours before bed, with dinner out. Since everybody is espousing the virtues of red wine, I stuck with that. Still feel pretty good this morning although I slept in. No mania yet. Dreary sky. Spelling still terrible.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How do you spell mania?

I wanted it and here it is. Getting lots of work done, kitchen in perfect order, a new pitcher of decaf iced green tea, dozens of new creative project ideas, clean, showered, clean clothes on, laundry put away, lawn watered, stinky sport shoes and sandals washed and listening to "You keep me Hanging On" by Vanilla Fudge.

Then there is the occasional wicked grin while jumping up and down with fists clenched and silently saying "GO, GO, GO".

Oh, and I am eating up all the old fruit around the house.

File under C for catharsis

Day three following night three of not drinking. Not that I don't miss it. It helps though to remember how foul it tasted when I missed my meds. It occurred to me that different meds clear the system at different rates, so the metallic taste I get when I miss taking the whole batch could be from one staying in my system longer, interacting with the alcohol/taste buds.

The catharsis was that on the first day without drinking the night before, I felt so much better. Now that I am on day three, I still feel better but now I want improvement on the day before. I want joy, giddiness, mania. I miss mania.

Something I should share with you, and also mention so I can better remember it: improvement takes practice. You (and I) have to practice staying "Up" because we are working to NOT be that depressed/manic person being treated.

Did that make sense? We are used to being the bipolar fuck-up, low self-esteem, self-hating, fast talking, volatile person who sought treatment in the first place.

Still is a bit vague. I am not used to feeling better so I have to stay focused on what it is like so I can repeat it more easily every day. Like playing scales on the piano.

That's the best I can do right now. This is a blog, not a treatise.

Going to put on socks and shoes, do a little work and walk the dogs.

I did exercise a LOT of patience and finally got through the phone calls necessary to get refunds for two pair of shoes purchased on line that I returned in June. Yay me. Way to go John. You are soooooo badass.

Hey, it is real money, off my credit card, don't have to pay, persistence paid off, got what I deserve, didn't settle for less, did not compromise.

That's practice, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Alcohol and bipolar

Second day without booze. I reluctantly admit that I feel cheerier. Slept in and even that did not cause the devastating depression I am used to. I hate to "blame" alcohol as I like it. One note however: On my regimen of Lamictal, Trileptal, Cymbalta, Risperdol and Welbutrin, things taste different from time to time and spoil the enjoyment.

I am curious about this funny taste thing. I also am very sensitive to smells. Let me know if you have had any similar experience with these drugs. I am assuming it is the drugs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Top bipolar blogs

Why do they give awards for these? Best ten blogs as per some site that sells advertising. I sound down on advertising as I don't have any because no one looks at my blog. Waa Waa Waa.

I have just as many suicide attempts, sessions of ect, well probably not as many as some, and go through as much Hell as anyone. Oh, and I use fewer commas.

Check out my blog. Oh, wait a sec, this is my blog.

Into the shower for appointment with new client. Aha, how do YOU spell "income?"

The plucky Brit

Plucky Brit's blog may irritate me because she is so popular. Popular people irritate me. Might be because, they are: cute, (and can get away with remarks such as, "She said with a naughty wink."; they are shallow—a little goes a long way with lots of people; they have better communication skills than I do—that one is self-explanatory and/or they are simply better people than me. They might have worse skills than me but are just so cute about it.

Now, as Dylan said, "If you believe you are better than no one and no one is better than you, then you have nothing to win and nothing to lose." Ha. He's rich but I heard he has had his share of problems too. I have seen him twice in concerts. Once where I had a major manic outburst, threw water on a guy, almost got arrested and sort of body-language pouted the rest of the evening. No one acknowledged it but the guy who claimed he kept me from being arrested. I get away with a lot of shit.

Oh NO, here comes the preachy serious part! The Dylan quote comes up a lot as I tend to measure myself against just about everybody and find myself wanting. This makes at least the checker at the super market feel better. I can't even figure out self-checkout.

Not funny.

Hard to be funny when you're just hanging on

One excuse for the seriousness of my writing is that bipolar isn't really that funny. If I were manic right now, it might be and I might make remarks that would seem really inappropriate later. The Brit who gets the awards for her blog can make depression seem hilarious. I think I could get some giggles out of ironing shirts if I were in a better mood.

Ironing shirts is a manic pastime.

Bipolar and NOT drinking

When a day without drinking is like a day without dusk....I abstained last night. Do feel better this morning. Still hard to get up but "cheerier" if that is possible.

It's hard to let go of the depressed, desperate character I am so used to facing every morning. Some of bipolar is habit. You're so used to it that you create it if it isn't there.

Has to be a few days before anything concrete can be drawn from this experiment.

Presenting new work to client at 10:30am.

Shorter updates, bipolar and Trileptal

Thinking of lowering/quitting Trileptal, oxcarbazepine for a while. Felt better Sunday when I missed my meds. Not likely that that had much to do with it as the effect my take longer to wear off. Then again, drug washes out of the system within 12 hours or so.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Facebook attention span

I noticed that another blog I visit has shortened their posts. This is an "" site and run by two women, at least one of which seems to have been a journalist in another life. Her longer posts sound like little 300 word stories, perfect for page 3 of the "B" section of some mid-sized town daily. The lifestyle section day—the one with healthy lifestyle recipes.

I think Facebook is one more example of how we pay less and less attention. We only bother to assimilate chunks of information in about 36 words. At least I do. Maybe everybody else is out there reading like crazy, following all the instructions and doing things right.

Another tip, "hate" is a strong word. So are "every, none, nobody, never, always." Think before making proclamations with these words in them. It builds up in your psyche and flavors all your thinking with a kind of desperation and finality that shuts out the ability to change.

The empty comment

I just noticed that one of the blogs I follow re: bipolar, has shut down. Lack of comments and dissatisfaction at not engaging people in an active dialog. I have the same feelings after less than a month. I didn't really expect much more but I always hold out hope. I get on this computer as much to get salvation somehow as I do for work. It is mostly an internet terminal more than anything else. That's why I don't replace it with one with a better display.

I always write as if someone is going to read this. It, like most blogs, is an online journal, of interest only to me. The occasional rant seems to help temporarily and it also helps my spelling skills. As if any of that is going to do any good.

I went to an award winning blog, Cutesy British Blogger, a british writer with a smarmy (she used the phrase, "with a naughty wink" and I about puked. She writes of all the usual bipolar stuff but with a talky, conversational tone and paragraphs of cutsey prose. I am simply not that talented, or at least, not that kind of writer. I know it's not Kosher, but while reading them, it helps if I think of her as a slob, wandering around the house in her pajamas all day.

It was pointed out once, about both my brother and me, that although we are funny, cynical, wisecracking guys, we do serious projects and rarely reflect that off-the-cuff, spontaneous humor in our work.

My sculpture assemblages are whimsical and a bit dark, which does incorporate some semblance of that inflection but I hardly do them anymore.

Don't know quite why that is. Oh, yes I do, I don't have any raw material, or a decent work bench that isn't in with my office and on and on.

Really depressed this morning. Maybe Monday as the weekend was pretty productive. Forgot my meds Sunday and by 4 o-clock everything tasted bad. Tried gin and tonic and some icy vodka but all tasted terrible. This could be a useful impression to fall back on while trying to drink less. I think it disturbs my sleep and leaves me depressed in the mornings.

Well, off to dog training, which is also depressing as the dogs incorporate the tasks but don't use them in everyday situations. That is, they come when called for a treat, but don't bother when there is something better, like some piss on the ground or another dog around.

I wish someone or something would come along and save me. Can't stand this but seem to anyway because I can't stand the thought of the hole I would leave my family if I committed suicide.

All's as well as possible under the circumstances.

My spelling is better today.

here's the dog guy.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Too much sleep

Slept in again. Why can't I get motivated to get up and fight off this depression? God, I hate myself right now. Can't even type. Must be some therapy in here somewhere. I so want a catharsis. Wake up happy, eager. That's the main thing, eager for something. When I was a kid, just being outdoors was a goal. Now, I need a reason. Something dear, like bike riding to some destination, an errand or a "ride" as in a Mtn. bike ride, completing something.

So I take my meds. Wish they brought some kind of instant up, like an aspirin for a headache. That feeling of knowing it will be ok soon and I can go about feeling relieved. This is what really gets me (further) down.

Noticed my sleeve was wet, probably from rinsing dishes. But I subconsciously said, "Where did all this water come from?" which was the question that alerted us to the fact that our first daughter was on the way. Now that memory brings tears. Of joy? Some cosmic sadness that the kids are gone, grown, not really needing us anymore?

Then comes suicide. Meds taken, third espresso. Training dogs, washing dishes. This is all helping somewhat. Then I think of how mundane it all is and is this what I want on my headstone? "He was a good housekeeper" or "He always keep the lawn nice" Shit.

Still this aching of having let myself down. Sleeping too late. Can't let the past go, not even for a minute. Can't move on, carry all this stuff with me. It just piles up. It all seems equal, that class I flunked, Sleeping in, letting the office yard go to seed, everything has the same weight and it is on me.

Christ I wish I could simply file it all away as "Gone forever" and move on. Get a life.

Then it's all so embarrassing. Weakness showing. Didn't cut it. Let everyone down, or worse, nobody was depending on me anyway. Maybe that's it. The loneliness.

The peaches are ripe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday morning

My morning consisted of sniveling and feeling sorry for myself. That is lifting a bit now and I feel more motivated. Got the sign project moving forward and came up with some real design. A little welded metal icon thing that roughly represents the profile of 172 N. Center Street welded to corrugated steel. I think the corrugated thing is so over, but everybody else thinks it is still cool and necessary even though it has nothing to do with the project. Then a brief venture into Ciudad Rodrigo, from a blog I happened onto.

Then back to the Ephron article. She makes me moan. She is so confident, has a Park Avenue apartment, rented her house upstate or somewhere to someone for $200,000. It takes me four years to make that much gross. I don't pay much in taxes and the rest goes to living expenses that can be written off.

I picked up stacks of paper around the room. A list of places to go and things to do in Chicago on the trip we didn't take. Too expensive right now. Need to trim down the credit card bills. Can't keep bailing us out with Finegan Thompson. Although I have a lot of work right now. I keep looking at this portrait of Son House on a CD cover. By the way, the CD was invented in 1979, the year FT was started.

This is becoming a disjointed rant. Must be going manic, or probably mixed state. What I wanted to say, after reading an article about Nora Ephron in New Yorker is that you think you are going to come out on the other side of bipolar and you're just not. It will go on forever. You might sit on the porch and watch the moon rise, but you'll never be secure in the knowledge that you are going to wake up in the same mood you took to bed.

All these pieces of paper, lists and phone numbers of people forgotten will live where they are for a while. Then they will become out-of-date and discarded along with the ideas they started with. Maybe I/we should take heart from the fact that these notes are about ideas that were stillborn. They weren't meant to be and didn't pan out. It's ok.

I have a lousy recording of La Boheme but it's ok. I can always Google reviews and find a better one and for about $17-28 have it to play. A play about a bunch of reprobates and a woman who gets sick and dies.

Now I am the reprobate, or so it seems. I sit around lamenting my misfortune when really, I lead an ideal life. I am "at work" all the time, thinking off and on about the projects I am working on. Then during work hours I commit them to paper, then to reality. I have the accumulated wisdom to think of all the obstacles and how to either overcome them or share them with the client to see how much they can participate, financially, in solving them.

When not at work, I get to hike in beautiful places with faithful, loyal companions who do not butt in to my dialog or talk over me. We're all so rude. Poor listeners.

I get a whiff of something that smells like loose change when you hold it up to your nose. Olfactory hallucination. I can't spell anymore.


So I am a little woozy this morning after a friend's birthday party last night. I try to banish regret but I regret drinking so much last night.

Got in 9.5 hours sleep which is toxic to me. Wish I could end it, but I stay on for some reason. I say it's the kids, and of course Liz. But it occurs to me that it's selfishness. Thinking of myself and my precious emotional state all the time. Measuring everything by how I feel. Why does that matter?

Liz says I find things to be unhappy about. I looked at the little soap dish Sarah gave us. It had hen and egg soaps in it. It was very sweet but one of those things you wish you didn't own. Using the soap destroys the cute hen and eggs, etc. I look at it and tears well up. Missing the kids I say. Or is it just making myself sad? Then I think, "well, maybe it's really the bipolar and I can't help it." Not knowing where I end and bipolar begins is a constant question. Then thinking it's really all one big thing, bundled together into my fibre, as it were. That doesn't help either.

So the salty tears are drying on my cheeks and I'm going back to work. Work interests me but doesn't occupy my consciousness full-time.

Then I write this. Always hoping some email, or twitter post of something will change my life. Of course I hear all the well-meaning self-help books saying, be positive, head up, get exercise, blah blah blah. I could go to my counselor and work on "tools" that offer a short-lived sense of relief.

Or I could write this. I hope this works at least as well as some new self-healing tome.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

buying sloth

Slept in, well, not quite. Got up to do a training session with dogs, then feeding, then back to snooze 'til nine. Yesterday's exercise and last nights teetotaling—I think I had enough reserves to get the extra two hours in. Still had nightmarish visions but drove my head into the pillow anyway.

So up, I tried a mountain bike ride. Humiliated. Gashed shins. So mowed lawn without using self-propulsion. You are such a badass John!

Trimmed dogs a bit.

I want a drink. The one or two I didn't have last night. Don't drink during the day. Don't drink at all if possible. Do as I say, not as I do.

The thing about yesterday's long hike was that I actually called someone. Social interaction doesn't hurt either.

Then to the authentic mexican place with other friends. Again, no one pulled out that bottle of Icelandic vodka I so wanted to test. Neither Liz nor I make friends. Friends adopt us despite our reluctance to socialize. I think Liz suffers from low self-esteem and some depression. She is the strong one pulling us both along right now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It knows I have two blogs

One is about my bipolar disorder, which I often misspell.

I awoke with a hangover, a far cry from the morning before, awaking at six, after a night of minimal drinking. Energized with caffeine but teary sad. No suicide though. The comforting, or maybe just obvious thing is that I am still alive, meaning that I haven't yet succeeded in the deed.

Today I came up with the metaphor of a man lost at sea, consistently following a compass heading, hoping I will sight land soon, but knowing that until then, I am on the verge of foundering.

Liz, (spouse) is at a funeral for an acquaintance's son, who was struck by a car quite accidentally. Then she is committed to helping a friend for the afternoon. This was a surprise so I am left alone to fend for myself. I am alone all week so this is quite a letdown.

I should call a friend or acquaintance and hike or something. Instead I am wasting away the day brooding. Plan and backup plan.

I started some self-analysis by listing mental states, such as dread, regret, etc. then identifying them as past, present, future. This has expanded to things such as hangover (present but to be avoided in the future). It is somewhat therapeutic as I can read it later and remind myself of the fleeting reality of the past and future.

Hope this helps.

Friday, July 10, 2009

less sleep

Before the wave of suicide imagery began this morning, I got up to let the dogs out to pee. We're trying to train them and this is step one in setting them up. How long I can do this I don't know.

My psychopharmacologist told me I am sleeping too much (what a surprise)—more than 12 hours a day. I don't even sleep really, just lay there, turning over again and again, avoiding the day. The suicide thing just gets worse while I burn up the hours.

When I did get up early, after three days I had a catharthis—mania set in—to a minor degree. I would rather have mania now than this depression.

I fueled the mania with espresso and roared along until about 2pm. Then things settled down. Needless to say, I got off the sleep program pretty quickly. I thought if I felt great, I could get away with "sleeping in." The pillow was warm and the lounging was deliciously decedent.

So here I am, ten to seven, espresso number three, hoping the caffeine doesn't push me into the awful, driven depression I go through when I am depressed and power the coffee.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bipolar disorder and me

I have suffered with bipolar disorder for as long as I can remember—age five or so. The distinguishing characteristic is suicide ideation. It has always been a normal part of my life's to-do list. An out when things became too intense, too boring or simply complete. I grew up embracing the lyrics from a song by 'The Who'—"Hope I die before I get old." Now I am 59, old by the Who's standard and that line has been burned into my psyche like a familiar blues tune.

I committed to this as self-therapy. A cheap(er) way to vent, share and stretch the value of the cognitive therapy for which I pay dearly. Some entries will describe and expound upon current moods, some will be recollections—some banal, some painful experiences.

I hope some of this will help others, encouraging them to open up and learn they are not alone in the often desperate need to explain the unexplainable.

John Thompson