Wide Open

Tonight I decided not to take my MEDs. Not all of them at least.

Can't Wake UpThe day started badly. I over-slept. I then struggled to drag myself out of bed even when I did manage to wake up. The issue was not that I did not want to get up–I was supposed to be in Chester for 1 o’clock to meet my writing group. I’d been looking forward to it. I really wanted to go. One of the guys who doesn’t make it very often but with whom I get along very well was going to be there. Several of the regulars with whom I also get along very well were going to be there. I had every reason to get up, yet could not keep my eyes open.

This happens regularly. It is a result of the anti-psychotic medication that I take, which contains a sedative and essentially ensures I sleep for at least 12 hours a day. This is a nightmare (no pun intended) to contend with when I am very busy with work, and now that I’m actually forming some kind of social life it is making things impossible.

When I finally did get up the day did not improve. I was very late getting to Chester. Despite my best efforts to make myself look presentable I still felt like a frump, a hippo, a great whale of a thing, all dressed in black trying pitifully to emulate her former (much skinnier) self. There were new people at my writing group and I was not in the best frame of mind to be encountering people I didn’t know. One of them seemed (to me at least) to be very hostile, something which put me on edge, made me irritable, and upset me quite a bit. It is entirely possible, on reflection, that this was only my interpretation of the situation and not how she was actually acting, but even so, it was one more dent in my day. There was general tension in the group due to various factor and, to cap it all off, I had a headache that refused to go away. I felt generally shit, and unfortunately seem to have repeated this fact regularly which evidently because annoying after a while. I then felt bad for annoying everyone.

Wake UpOn the drive home I found myself second guessing everything I said and did, fretting that I’d offended people, that I’d made a fool of myself, that I’d ruined my new friendships which are, it has to be said, very important to me. I was catastrophising to the extreme. By the time I was half way home I was in floods of tears for no real reason.

I got home and went online and tried to find people to talk to only to find cyberspace deserted. Without anyone to tell me otherwise, I assumed this meant everyone hated me.

It came time to take my nighttime MEDs and I found myself staring at them and thinking that, if only I’d woken up properly, the day might have been so much different, if only I didn’t have to take the damn things, I would never have gained so much weight, if only I wasn’t Bipolar, my life would be completely different.

And something in me snapped completely.

A flood gate opened.

More tears followed. A lot more tears. But they were not the silent, empty, numb tears to which I have become so accustomed over the last six years or so, they were the raw, heart wrenching, air-gulping, desperate tears of a person who has just experienced heart break for the first time, or suffered the death of someone very close to them. They were the tears I have been refusing to shed for years, for things I have been refusing to feel.

A long time ago now, something happened to me. I lost someone, someone I loved, someone I thought I would never, ever loose. A lot of things contributed to this, but I believe the major factor was simply that I am bipolar and at the time was completely unaware of it. I was extremely ill and he was forced to deal with me, constantly, with no comprehension of why I was acting the way I was, and no respite because he was the only person who could make me feel even remotely safe.

Losing him broke me.

I don’t mean it broke my heart–although it did, there is no denying that–I mean it broke something within me. When I say he was the only person who could make me feel better, I mean it. Without him, I totally fell apart. My depressive cycles became more extreme, my manic periods utterly unmanageable. I grew steadily worse with nobody to look after me and still, I had no idea what was wrong, or even that there was anything wrong. I was told repeatedly that I was being ‘melodramatic’ that I was ‘overreacting’ that it was ‘just a break-up’ and a ‘normal part of growing up’, all of which was true, however it wasn’t the full story.

Broken Heart

For me, it wasn’t the breakdown of the relationship that left me so devastated, but the loss of the only person who had ever been able to calm me; he pulled me up when I was down, and he reigned me in when I was high. He did this without even realising he was doing it, and I have no idea how he managed it, save perhaps the fact that I loved him enough for his influence to have real meaning. I’ve certainly never felt that way about anyone since, but then I’m not sure I’ve felt anything real for anyone since, for in order to get things under control, to stop all the ‘melodrama’, and do as everyone demanded of me and ‘get over it’, I shut down. I stopped feeling normal feelings, I stopped having the every day emotions that most people experience. I was left with nothing but the extreme moods I endured in the rapid cycling of my (at that point still un-diagnosed) mental illness. Eventually it was diagnosed. I put a name to it. I began to understand it, even to accept it to some degree. But this did not fix what was broken by that loss.

A great many things have happened to me since then. Upsetting things, traumatic things, things that most people don’t ever have to deal with, and things that everyone has to deal with at some point in their lives, to some extent. I have felt none of these things. When I’m manic I am too high to care. When I’m depressed I feel nothing but the dragging, empty depression, which is not so much feeling anything as it is the absence of feeling: a desolate, hollow, persistent dread. In the rare times when I am neither high nor low, I have simply felt nothing.

I have had another relationship fall apart, lost two jobs, lost my flat, lost almost all my friends, watched my parents divorce and my mother and siblings fall apart as a result of my father’s departure, dealt with his continued absence and the various other changes that went with that, become involved in a highly inappropriate relationship as a direct result of the absence of any kind of father figure in my life, had that relationship fall apart, attempted to kill myself twice, very nearly succeeded once, had my house burn down around me, been left in vast debts due to my mania and my most recent ex, lost all independence and had to move back in with my mother, endured my Nan–one of the most important people in my life and arguably the member of my family I loved most until the birth of my neice–pass away, and I have failed (thus far) to either complete my thesis or lose all the weight I have gained.

I have felt none of this.

I have cared about none of this.

I have experience it, but I have not FELT it.

Not until tonight.

Tonight something snapped, and in so doing, oddly, it seems to have mended a thing long broken. I didn’t decide against taking my MEDs out of protest, or because I think I no longer need them, or even because I want to stop taking them permanently. 

How Do You Feel?I simply made a conscious choice not to take them TONIGHT. For the first time in a very long time I am feeling the things I am supposed to feel. It is overwhelming, and frightening. I am feeling them all at once, and all in a jumble. I don’t understand most of it, and it hurts like hell. But I do not want to take the easy way out. I do not want to consign myself to oblivion and wake up tomorrow without these feelings in me. They hurt, yes, but they’re supposed to hurt. Being human does hurt. And I can’t help but feel that in a strange way, that distance I have felt these last years, that hollowness and lack of connection or emotion has somehow, far more so than any illness, made me just a little less than human.

I don’t want to sleep any longer.

It’s time to wake up, and face the world with my eyes–and emotions–wide open.