Tag Archives: journal

One Word at a Time

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When I came back from India, where I hit my rock bottom, I wrote some journal entries and some poems. Grant it, I was still in psychosis for a month, so much of my writings are teetering on questionable madness.. but at least I have documentation of my unraveling thoughts. I have spoken to many people who see me in meetings jotting quickly —and mindfully— everything interesting that someone might say. They come to me after, questioning and prodding. “What are you doing? Why do you do this?” Inspiration, I say. For the future. To distract my mind all the while keeping it focused on the purpose of me being here. I reflect on these words somedays, these phrases that are jotted down in a penmanship only I can make out, it lifts my heart.

My journals on the other hand, don’t always do the same. People question me about this too, saying, “I don’t journal. I’ve tried. I just can’t get into it. Where do you start? What do you say?” I simply reply, anything. Everything. Theres no judgement but your own. Its just you and the paper/the keyboard, whatever. You just let your guard down and scream through the only words that come to your mind in that moment. You let it out. You get lost in the present as the words slip out of your hands and manifest themselves in front of you.

I find it healing. I also find it necessary to let go of all the thoughts that collect in the back of your mind. You make them real when you scribble them down. Something tangible that you can reflect on in the future. You start to realize how crazy you are. How human you are. You can map your progress, track your emotions and notice the moments in time that you let yourself fall and the moments you picked yourself up.

Its unlikely that I ever write on a good day. I am far too merry and cheerful and I often think I sound like a idiot. My ambitions are bloated and my head is held too high. I sometimes get scared when I observe this. It makes me think of mania… But its on those good days that I like to spin the clock back and see where I’ve been. Remind myself of the way life was regarded before I woke up with this smile on my face. I can see clearly that all things will pass. There is evidence of my mind when I felt I was stuck. Where time didn’t exist and the idea of life moving on to send me into the unknown was far from my imagination.

Today is one of those days to reflect. Not that I am in the best mood in the world; my thoughts have wandered here and there, sending me on a whirlwind of inspiration and thought provoking questions. After spitting out the ideas that were trapped in my mind (untangling them enough to make sense), I took a break. I shifted my attention to a long lost entry written when I got out of rehab, it read:

 

“Nothings doing it for me; running, Spongebob, Facebook, reading. Nada. Nope. I still feel like a heavy lump sits in my throat, a thousand butterflies wish to come up from my stomach, my body aches, my head spins, my eyes droop lazily on my clean face. I’m at a loss. I’ve been out of rehab for a few weeks now and plans of moving are becoming more official by the second. Halloween comes closer to reality. I just want to move. I just want a job. I want to go to school again. Some grandiose voice in my head tells me to study philosophy and be a professor. Write a bunch of books. Be a success. Be a success? Why am I always wishing for success? I can hardly handle failure. And I am such a great failure. The essence of depression wreaks from my veins today. Taunting me through every controlled breath. Gently caressing me, telling me things will look brighter. Don’t use. Don’t use, I tell myself. Moments like this, these receding moments that have lasted over 12 hours… they are the ones that make me want to use. Make me want to just pass out and sleep to wake up to a new day that has more purpose, more umph in my step. Where are those days? How do they come to me in my life? How do they even exist? I know that they have before, I can remember the ease of those days. Where did they go? What brought me here? I digress.”

Writing

As I sat there and read these lines I saw a glimpse of my past. Grateful to be here in the  future/present. Though I can’t say much has changed. I still get the occasional craving, though I try not to bother my mind when things are working out. I remove myself, not allowing my thoughts to unravel, revealing nothing but increased anxiety. Stop, I say. Don’t go there. You know how you’ll feel when you go there. And surely I do. You do to. You know how it is when your mind gets caught in a single thought. How it spins down, causing you to loose control, throwing you into a black hole. Thats no fun. Certainly counter productive. But its during these times that we have to remember to do only two things. Only these two things (from my experience) seem to work; prayer and journalling.

We need to take a step back from those winding thoughts and give them to our higher power to answer. “This too shall pass,” God most commonly replies. Then we have to let it out. Its no good bringing someone else down by removing them from their busy lives to complain and ramble on comically about nothing at all. At least, thats what we feel in these moments… So, instead of locking it up inside to save it for a rainy day, you got to just write it out and give it to yourself to listen to. Once its all down and you hand hurts from the process, you can read it over. Wow, you’ll think. Thats it. Thats me—right now.

You’ll feel better. Trust me. I know it may seem hard at first. Maybe time consuming. But it really isn’t. Once you lose yourself in the rapid collection of your thoughts, you’ll pull back feeling a weight lifted from your shoulders. You’ll realize that everything that had concerned you in those moments that were just vented seconds ago were actually real. There for you to decode and “digress,” as I say. Its out, your free. Free from those emotions that once felt like they were going to take over and drag you down so low that there would be no way you could get up. The feelings where you felt like you just wanted to give everything up, just to use, now seem like foolish memories. You thank God they’re gone.

I recommend to everyone I meet to journal whenever they are bored, alone or confused. Sometimes I find myself coughing up broken sentences and take those opportunities to write poetry. They don’t always have to rhyme, you know. None of that it matters. You have to keep in mind that these entries are for no one other than yourself. Of course, if your proud of your creation you can always share it, barring in mind that not everyone can or will relate. I certainly keep that in my mind every time I post a blog that is actually written by myself. I have never been trained in the art of English, but I enjoy it. I know that not many people (or no one at all) will actually read the things I put out there. I don’t let that bother me. And you can’t let it bother you. Let any shred of doubt be transformed into emotional release. Because writing is like a form of meditation; you focus your thoughts on present, reflecting on the things you feel and the anxieties that are stressing your mind — then you breath— and let it go; one word at a time.

 

 

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Take Eight

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She just couldn’t do it. She tried so hard to withdraw those memories from her mind. The ones that tormented her everyday of her few months of insanity. It was too hard. She thought about the people she hurt, the things she did and the crazy conclusions she came to. She wasn’t sure how to go about it.

The experiences in India were so different than in Illinois. In India everything was so profound, so spiritual. In Illinois it all surrounded around a boy that walked into her life at just the perfect time of her unraveling mind. The disillusions she had of him were the clearest memories of them all. The most embarrassing of them all. Surely he knew she was crazy right?
She doesn’t know what he knows or what he thinks. She only knows he doesn’t care, at least that’s what he says. The fact is though, she cares. It was her entire life that flipped upside down during those months and if “God” or reason has anything to do with life, then what was the reason he came into hers?

She read his poetry as if she was cracking a code. She was in such deep thought as she combed through every line. Around every phrase she formed another dissolution. She went to him, almost in tears, after she read the Egyptian Book of the Dead. She was convinced it was her life written out in clear text right in front of her eyes. He didn’t understand like she thought he would…

She thought back when he took her to a graveyard. This was such a bad idea given her state, given her thoughts that she already had about her mortality. She hadn’t remember the plane ride home, she was sure that she was dead and that he was clearly dead to. She remembers looking at the scar on his right cheek, wondering how he died. She didn’t want to ask, she thought it was a touchy subject. Besides, she had multiple conclusions about her own death besides the mystery of the flight back home.

When she was in India, trapped in a room (that was for her own good because of the way she was acting out) she had extreme pain on the top of her head every time she woke up. And every time, that pain was in a different place. It was like someone had shot her and left her there to die, only now she was a ghost… Maybe. It wasn’t clear to her at the time. Those thoughts she experienced in that room were…as said before– profound. They were extreme hallucinations and vivid meanings behind every object in sight. Stories played over in her head, lessons taught throughout her childhood were painted on the walls, echoing in her brain… Driving her mad.

She’s come to terms with the fact that she’ll never know the answers as to why she went through such a traumatic mental maze. She’s just grateful that she found a way out. She still has questions and she hates how all of the relationships she formed before her psychosis had disappeared in the dark. She can only hope that someday she will be able to let it all out. Let it all go. After all, people are entertained by the stories she tells of those month of insanity. Those months of believing she could control the air, never die and find meaning in everything she saw and heard. She was invincible yet so confused. It was too much to handle. All the knowledge she thought she found through her observations were not the answers to life. At least, she has no proof that the unraveling of her mind brought her to the right conclusions. She can no longer define the line between truth and reality. And as she sits in a Starbucks with no person she knows, surrounded by no place she recognizes, she comes to the realization that everywhere she will go from this point on and every person she meets will have no idea of her past. She decides that this might be a good thing but she still has flashbacks of all the places she went, all the people she met when she was insane. Moving on and letting them go was like letting go of those memories. Finally accepting that that was then and this is now.

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(This is a picture I must have took of myself on the plane ride home. I’m not sure how I even got it that colour… I have absolutly no memory of the entire trip back. Even the drive to the airport, home or even most of the days afterwards.)

The Ultimate Mood Tracking App: Optimism

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“I am completely in love with this app called Optimism. It is incredibly useful for those that are struggling through addiction and co-occurring disorders. It keeps track of everything from sleep to triggers. I remember searching for some type of workbook where I could record my mood and all that nonsense to find patterns so as to prevent mania and depression. This app helps me do that and more! Not only does it just intake the information and allow for extra notes, it literally gives you data summaries over whatever period of time you want. It is simple, thorough and so convenient, I would recommend this for even people that are SANE! Please read the specs below and give it a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed!” -Love and light forever, Robyn

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Optimism is a mood charting app that helps you develop strategies for managing depression, bipolar or other mental health conditions.
*Note: a network connection is needed to use this app.*

The app helps you to:

  • Develop and monitor health strategies
  • Learn the “triggers” of a decline in your mental health
  • Recognize the early warning signs of a decline.

Detailed charts and reports are available within the app or by immediate email delivery. These form a feedback loop, providing concrete starting points for exploring things that are affecting your mental health.
The charts and reports can be invaluable for working with a health professional. They provide a detailed history that is fast and easy to review.
The Optimism app is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The advice of a qualified health professional should always be sought for questions regarding a medical condition.

In a nutshell, the purpose of self-tracking is to learn more about yourself and achieve better health.

  • By using the Optimism apps you can monitor the patterns in your life, to identify the negative influences (or “triggers”) that impact on your health, and the early warning signs that your health is deteriorating.
  • Optimism can help you find the small things, as well as the big, that help you to stay well. It can show you the impact of positive strategies that you adopt on your well-being.
  • It helps you to plan for better health. By bringing together your knowledge of your triggers, early warning signs and symptoms, and wellness strategies you can develop a plan for remaining well. That is the key. The purpose of the software is to plan for wellness, not just keep a record of illness.
  • Rather than be a passive recipient of treatment, or just seek treatment in reaction to a new episode, Optimism can help you to have more involvement in your health and a greater sense of control. In general people achieve better health outcomes when they educate themselves and are proactive with their health.
  • There are many health professionals who love Optimism. By tracking your mental health you can provide your clinician with a precise, detailed history. It removes the problem of memory recall and gives an accurate picture of what has been happening. It gets to the bottom of what is or isn’t working, which helps them to give more relevant, appropriate advice and treatment.

Every person’s illness is different. “One Size Fits One”. For many people treatment is difficult, a slow process, or not entirely successful. Optimism is designed to help increase your chance of success.

Take Seven

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She remembers a time when her phone was so heavy. When she could find any excuse not to pick it up. But something about today was different. Something couldn’t keep her hands off her phone. She went down a long list of all the girls she met in rehab. Only about a quarter of them picked up but every conversation was worth it. Talking to some of them for almost an hour. Reminiscing, complaining, and expressing so much gratitude for their sober lives. So much happiness to hear from her again and know how well she was doing.

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In rehab, she had been something of a teachers pet. She sped through the steps one through three thoroughly. Constantly asking questions and seeking advise from the other girls and counselors. She kept everything neat and pristine in a large three inch binder. It was so packed after a few days that she could hardly get it to open. She didn’t care and all the girls found her so amusing.

When she first arrived she was in a daze. Having just came out of the psych ward for a week, she wasn’t sure what she was getting into. All she cared about was the fact that she was out of her house. She was going stir crazy. Knowing not to talk to any of the people she got high with in college, she tried contacting her old friend from high school. Lets call her Sunny.

Relying on Sunny was such a fail, such a disappointment. Sunny was afraid of her now. Everything she had vented to her about her experience in psychosis and her admitting to her addiction had just caused Sunny to push her further away. Its like she changed. Everything was different. She no longer accepted her. Sometimes she wonders how things got this way. We once promised we would always be there for each other, no matter what. We were going to be friends for life. But what good is it if she choses to ignore me? I am sick of all the excuses. We had a month to see each other… She seemed to be so apologetic when I called her in rehab…

I really needed you Sunny! Why didn’t you see that? You were the first person I called when I got back from India and I really could have used your support.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize what was going on.”

“You could tell something was wrong though…”

“But I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t understand what you had went through! I guess I just thought you would be a bad influence on me…”

“Really?… I was trying to get better. I was seeking your help and your support. I just really need your support. Can you promise me that you’ll always be here for me? When I get out, can we see each other and really talk?”

“Of course! I’m so sorry, I just had no idea. I’ll be here for you.”

Lies. All lies. She should have known better. She should have seen this coming. It had been so long since they had talked. Even while she was in India she couldn’t get a hold of her. Sunny was surely going through her own shit but is that an excuse to leave a friend behind? That was the last kind of person she wanted to be. She had been a poor friend before to quite a lot of people. She had dismissed them and left them with nothing but sour words all for the sake of her independence.

She always had a hard time keeping friends. Making them was easy, it was listening to the same stories, committing to emotions, understanding the expression of feelings and dealing with the neediness. She couldn’t handle all the responsibility. She could never give them what they gave to her. She knew that. At least thats what she thought back then. Several years later she has a different approach. Finally grasping the importance of friendship, she’s changed her views and made it somewhat of a goal to be a better friend. She started with picking up the phone. And she’ll never forget the support and love she received in those minutes that turned into an hour, but will last the whole day.

Take Six

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Here, she feels stable. Here, she has a fresh start. The scene is familiar but only from the years spent visiting her grandparents and wandering the streets that surrounded her with shopping centers full of chain supermarkets and restaurants. She remembers the only store that was remotely unique was called Twist Treat in the shape of a large swirl of pink ice cream in a giant kiddy cone. They always armed her with extra sprinkles on the side and she would dip her chocolate ice cream in the bowl to replenish the sweetness. She reminisces and digresses. She can’t escape the fact that she left behind her home three days ago. Twenty years of the same people, places and things made her feel nauseous. She had to leave, it was her only choice for sanity.

She walked around for miles, up and down the same streets. She drove around uptown, glancing at the little shops and old nooks she used to hang around. Tears rolled down her face but she couldn’t help but smile. This was depressing to think about– leaving her home– but she was so excited. This meant she was one step closer to independence. She had a plan. A master plan to get her long overdue “proper” education that could really take her places.

Since she first heard her father tell her, “if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, at least believe in something,” she was determined to find the answers to life and death. She studied all the great texts in high school, only to find the same patterns disheveled in creative tales and sonnets. All this information only made her more confused. So she busied her mind with something else; art and music. It wasn’t long until the expression and lack of answers led her to experimenting with her reality through drugs. Soon enough she only became concerned with consciousness and lost all desire to pursue her hobbies. When she ran away from philosophy, she made a mistake. The search kept her going at the time, art was just a distraction. When her addiction took over to later reveal her disorders, she morphed into an egocentric, hopeless disaster. But now that she realizes this, she is able to recognize her passion that has followed her all along.

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She had always been afraid to pursue a philosophy major because she thought the only thing you could to with that is become a writer or a teacher. At this point, she just didn’t care. Those two options didn’t seem so bad anymore. She daydreamed that one day she might be able to conjure up a novel outlining her two months of insanity. She was inspired by all the books she has read while she is in recovery; books about addiction, bipolar disorder and the psychotic mind. She was so intrigued with the memoirs that completely related to her, she felt like she was no longer alone. These people had been best selling authors, brave and admirable for they’re ability to tell their truths so vividly to the world. She knew she would need a lot of strength to dig out those memories she tried so hard to suppress but she thought it was worth it to explore herself enough to help another struggling addict/bipolar. She would need to do extensive interviews with the people that went through it with her. That would require another trip to India… As scary as that thought was, it made her feel warm. She fell in love with India and all the people who helped her along the way. She would want to write down every single experience– even the most embarrassing and shameful. She cringes at the idea of any of her loved ones reading her stories but she had been open up until this point, publishing her journal in front of the whole world. While maybe the whole world wasn’t reading it, they most certainly could. And maybe someday they would. She has big ambitions. Maybe even “grandiose.” But she didn’t care anymore. This is what drove her. This is what kept her clean. This is what kept her sane. This is what kept her alive.

Take Five

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Take Five

Sure enough(she really should’ve known) when it came to going up, she would come down. This rapid cycling has been going on for about two weeks now. Today she spent the whole day laying in her bed crying. Going over all the insanity she had experienced six months prior when she was in India. Every time she managed to stop, she burst end out in tears again. She decided to make some calls. After several failed attempts she finally reached a girl she had met in rehab.

Amy had been a good friend from the start. At the age of 19, with it being her first time in rehab, she had more in common than most of the other girls. They spoke about their dreams of travel and made up a master scheme to backpack around the US with all the money they would save in sobriety. But those dreams were about to be shattered… 

The moment she picked up her words formed in an endless stream, overwhelming Amy on the other line, “Hi! How are you!? I’m terrible, I don’t know what’s going on I’ve been crying non-stop and I just don’t know why I think its a bipolar flare up or something I know you don’t have bipolar but I just thought I’d see how you were doing I just need to talk to someone! How are you?! What are you doing?!” 

It didn’t take long for Amy to come out with her guilty truths. She had relapsed and judging on her tone and lack of inspiration, she wasn’t coming back just yet. She explained how she had ODed… 

Amy listened as she began to cry for her. “Oh! No! I feel like I want to relapse now! How could you? What’s going on? What made you relapse?!” 

Amy immediately replied, “No! Don’t relapse too, be strong! It’s just tough for me, so many things have been going on, I just can’t control…”

Ahh, but there lies the problem. Amy thought she had to control this. But that’s not it. Give it to your higher power. That’s what I’ve learned in NA and AA. It took her another phone call to a member of NA, Ryan, before she realized this. After that call she had prayed so hard she though God would get annoyed.

Ultimately it took her a long walk, a couple more calls before she was able to calm herself down. One girl, Tay, told her firmly that everything passes. Tay may not struggle with bipolar disorder but if there is anything she knows how to do, its lift people up when their down. When she hung up with her she felt empowered enough to get out of the house and keep her mind busy. Though that was another faulty idea, as her sister, Jacquelyn, pointed out. 

“You need to face your thoughts, not just dismiss them and burry them in your heart. You can’t escape from yourself or you disorder. You have to learn to live with it. It may not be who you are but it will always be apart of you.” Jacquelyn told her.

She found all of these people so gracious and understanding. She knew again– because she needed reminding– that she was loved and not alone

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Take Four

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Yes. It may be two in the morning and she may be up right now. But she simply can’t sleep. She tried and succeeded for a couple of hours only to arise completely awake. She had taken more melatonin and yawned a couple times, but still no luck. She has tried watching a bit of television, having a snack and painting for a while… Nothing. Her thoughts are racing, her eyes are shifting and she cant stop rocking. What does all this mean? I’ve been taking my meds, eating, working out and sleeping for long hours. I haven’t done anything to promote this, Im done with that childish fantasy of mania as I expressed before. She did have coffee earlier but she couldn’t imagine that the caffeine from then would have lasted this long. That must have been over twelve hours ago. None of this made any sense. She reviewed her day. It was productive. Up until she took her PM meds ,which made her feel groggily and irritated, she had had a very good day. No pressures of her addiction from outside sources, just a light and easy day spent walking around town and lounging in the coffee shop. Nothing to offset any sort of manic state! She took a drag from one of her moms cigarettes. There was nothing to do now but wait for some sort of signal from her brain that told her it was time to sleep.

The time to sleep would never come. Instead she would paint until the sun would shine, then she would step outside and take a brisk walk around her favourite place in her hometown.
There was a park located two blocks from her house where a black paved path directed her to a wooden bridge over a quite creek. She would place herself directly in front the creek as it encircled a lonely island. Today was unlike any other day she had visited this place. Today there were countless geese. Maybe thirty, maybe less, maybe more. It really didn’t matter. She glares up at the sky and sees a blanket of grey clouds floating quickly to reveal a clear blue hue. She smiles. Today is going to be a great day.

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So far it had been a good day. After looking up the closing times to all the local coffee shops she came to the conclusion that she had to settle with Starbucks. Still not having bought anything she sits on the bare side of the room staring at her reflection on the crayon-streaked window. Only this time she doesn’t care how they got there. Instead of the usual dabbling of her mind, she is at ease. She feels drowsy having just taken her medication and slightly restless; wanting-to-roll-around-on-the-floor kind of feeling. Her eye lids dripped down her cheeks trailing the dark circles that had formed. Her eyes were dilated and her head was spinning. She wanted to take a moment to gather her thoughts. All she could think was this is crap. It’s all a load of crap. There’s no reason to be writing now, there is nothing to write about! But of course there is something to write about. But she simply was not excited about anything that happened today, even though quite a lot of exciting things did happen.
Her giddy humour brought her dancing through the Target store with one of her friends from NA. She remembers walking through the toy section and seeing a jesting display of miniature houses– she couldn’t help but touch it. The moment she did, BAM! The entire case lit up in an array of colours from pink to blue. She jumped up and laughed so loud that another man in the aisle couldn’t help but join her. OH MY GOD, it spins! She blurted out as she began to fiddle with the contraption that made each house go around to reveal the masterpiece in all of its angles. Her friend pulled her away, speaking softly to calm down. She breathed deep. The rest of the adventure was spent pointing out different items; unique or not, they all enthused her.
She then spent several hours visiting her dad, putting a smile on her face and admitting to her current state. But I feel fine. But that’s just the problem isn’t it? A normal person wouldn’t feel so fine after no sleep.

Take Three

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At the end of every week begins the torture that builds up in her head. It keeps her feeling as though she wants to crawl out of her skin. She can’t bare it. It is; unbearable.

After the past few days of throwing up after taking her medication because she was starving herself, she decided it was time to eat again. Maybe this time she won’t feel so agitated by the end of the week again. It’s something about all this focus on her addiction that gets her nerves high. Going to meetings before wasting time doing IOP homework, then working out and spending another three hours focusing on her addiction in IOP into the wee hours of the night at nine when she feels like she already should have been asleep. She spends about ten hours sleeping and according to her new sleeping cycle app on her phone, she sucks at it. Every night she wakes up at least three times, totally disrupting the nature of a good nights rest. But she doesn’t care, not today anyways. She skipped IOP yesterday due to taking her meds too early, causing her to feel extra agitated. She tried sleeping for an hour, got up and went to workout and got some groceries for her mom. By the time she came home she was able to sleep well, waking up bright and early just past five. This morning she felt really good for some reason. Thoughts of past adventures in India came into her head but only this time they didn’t leave her feeling hopeless and sad.

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She could clearly remember the first meal she had out in the town of Kannur which is located in the southern state of Kerala. She had been seated with another volunteer, Petra, and the coordinator of the program, Katja. Both of them were from Germany but for some reason there accents were incredibly comforting to her in this foreign land. She had ordered a tomato utapum; and maybe it was the fact that she hadn’t had pizza in years or the fact that the thing really did taste like pizza, but she was so incredibly pleased with what she had ordered. From that moment on she dropped all her notions of a Jain diet that she had adapted to while living in the states which included–or rather excluded just about every food out there– no meat, no animal bi-product and no root vegetables (because god forbid you harm an insect and kill the entire vegetable on its way out of the ground). She remembers convincing several of the students she had met later on her trip to go to this same restaurant to order tomato utapums. Only when they got there they weren’t serving them. Apparently its a morning thing… She laughed to herself. Those girls, Tamara from Israel and Reidin from Ireland, were her favorite people she had met at the Ayurvedic and Panchakarma school (ancient Indian medicine and massage). She was big into astrology at the time and they fit their signs perfectly; Scorpio and Taurus. She always found scorpios to adore her for some reason, then again, they kind of adore everyone… And she had left behind a Taurus back at home, Alyssa, who always offered her the best advise and motherly love; Reidin did the same. She remembered bringing them to a disco-like ice cream parlor after they had lunch and she ran into her temporary lover and his friends. She tried not to think of them. She held on to the moments laughing and gossiping with the other travelers, got up out of bed and headed to the freezer. She pulled out some frozen Indian food and popped it in the microwave. As she waited she flew in and out of the kitchen, pointing her toes as she walked like a ballerina. When the timer went off she bounced over and grabbed a fork. After she finished her breakfast she noticed her legs were tapping uncontrollably and the sun was still not out. So she grabbed her coat and bundled up. She figured the food was a little over 400 calories so if she walked about an hour she could burn it all off. So that’s what she did. Cramping up on her side and briskly walking to the park, up the creek and back into town. She was pleased with the sun rising at just the perfect time. She remembered how dark it was when she first stepped outside her door. She could actually see the Gemini constellation so clearly that it brought her back to India, which at the time of her stay, clearly displayed it too. It’s like I’m chasing my sign, she thought.

When she had fallen in psychosis for two months (one month in India and another back home in the States), she had taken her astrological sign too seriously. By this time she had just been diagnosed bipolar. At first she thought bipolar had something to do with the fact that she had been in a polar opposite country that had almost directly reverse coordinates. Then after she nixed that idea and realized it had to do with her personality, she told everyone it was simply because she had been a Gemini. She even had ideas of proving this to the psychiatrist. Of course, her psychiatrist thought this was a foolish, jotting it down on her notepad as another disillusion. She had a list of disillusions being compiled by her parents, friends from India and medical authorities. She was being called crazy and she hated this idea.

She sits here now in the coffee shop again, sucking on another coffee, reminiscing on those feeling of rage. She no longer feels that way about her condition. What everyone had been saying makes perfect sense now. She had been crazy. She accepts that. In fact, the thought almost excites her. What an unique story! What an interesting past! But I should be asking for mania anymore. I know it only leads to psychosis and that state is just down right embarrassing… She wonders what else she will do today. Maybe she will post this on her blog? She has a couple blogs going; one for her poetry which she never tags and is really just for her, and another that is surrounded on holistically healing addiction and co-occurring disorders/diseases which she promotes and regularly posts on. Surely drinking coffee and writing all day is a good option but really what she wants to do is visit all her friends before she leaves. In about a week she will be taking off to live in Florida with her mother. She is a little weary about the circumstances, seeing as her mom is not a recovering alcoholic, but she has faith that it will be a good fresh start for her. I guess I’m gonna miss these people places and things, she thinks. But she needs to change them, they only lead to no good. Though of course, as everyone says, a change in scene is not a change in character defects. And as a raging drug addict, she knows she wouldn’t have a hard time sniffing out drugs anywhere she if she so chooses. After all she managed to fall on them in an entirely different country. But that was a total coincidence! Regardless, it happened.

Okay, I have to admit it was maybe not the biggest coincidence. My ears did perk up at the mention of weed and certainly cocaine. Ranjit warned me too. He certainly warned me. But I couldn’t resist, I knew the feeling and I wanted it again. I did what I could to play dumb and innocent and my schemes had worked to get me what I wanted. She regretted her actions and her lies. But this was the way of the typical addict. A past she would have to live with and a future she will strive to correct.

She felt foolish for the way she had acted a few days ago. Staying up through the night and feeding off of artificial energy just to get a kick. It didn’t bring her out of depression. It actually flung her right back in. She figured a productive day consisted of eating properly, busying her mind, working out and going to bed relatively early. She was proud of the day so far. She felt comfortable at the quite coffee shop. Having finished her coffee she felt she would do a good job in the gym like the last time she was soaring high off life. Only she didn’t want to ruin her make-up… Today was unlike the other days because she had actually taken the effort to get dressed. The sun was out and shining, reflecting off of every possible surface outside causing her eyes to give off a pretty shade of blue. She looked at herself in the reflection of her screen. How strange it is to be trapped in this body? I wonder if other people hate this too? I’d like to be someone else for a change. Tough luck. Only death will come to prove another existence, if that even exists. Of course, by all rationality it does. People die all the time. But all of us in our singular realities may live forever. It’s completely possible. Of course it is. But here she goes again thinking such thoughts that are too deep for a lonely Friday afternoon. She might be better off finishing this and moving on to some other useless project…

Take Two (and a Half)

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Don’t close your eyes! Don’t close your eyes! She told her self this over and over again as she sprinted harder than she ever has on the elliptical. Her lungs were full to maximum capacity and she could feel her breath getting shallower. She shuttered at the idea of passing out. Her mind began racing in fear. What if this? What if that?!? SHUT UP! She screamed at herself in her head, concluding; I don’t know what’s better, this insanity or the otherthoughts pacing through the maze of my mind, constantly interrupting another moments seemingly profound deduction of reality! She pounded onward, zeroing in her focus on the time, the calories, the distance. Everything else in the world didn’t matter. She soon forgot how badly she was lacking sleep, how much coffee she drank and everything else that normally troubled her her wake. She was dripping in sweat and she could feel her pants begin to stick to her legs.
Now she sits dreading IOP which will start in thirty minutes. The thought brings back the question of what she will tell them. This weekend was a blur because she didn’t sleep much and she left the house only three times: 1. to attempt attending an NA meeting (which failed due to her proposed “social anxiety”), 2. to quickly fetch the plaster of Paris (which she so desperately needed to create the absolutely, oh so significant and urgent piece of art), and 3. to scurry off to the local grocery store with her mom to buy food she really didn’t want to eat. She never went to workout, she never went to another meeting, she didn’t go out with friends, she didn’t meet up with her sponsor– simply put, she doesn’t have a life! Alas, she comes to what is decided to be the final thought on the matter; she will be honest.
The people in her IOP class know she has been down the past week. One day she even left early cause she just couldn’t stand the anxiety building up inside her. So she is trying to fix it! Maybe it’s not one of the best ways to go about solving such a problem, but she assumes she will be able to rest tonight (although the idea of being alone with herself and those “endless possibilities” seems so much more exhilarating) because she genuinely feels tired. But who knows, she may spiral too far down by the end of the day. She may begin to feel the boiling irrational irritation that tends to take all as its victim as she struggles to get through the night. Then again, she might just have a good time. She might just find some spark of joy by the time she has to go home; igniting an excitement beyond her control that provokes her to create, that inspires her to stay awake.
Now its time for her to go.

Take Two

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Now she sits here in the local coffee shop. She couldn’t resist. She told herself she was going to the library to read only now she’s people watching as she sips on an iced red eye with two extra shots of espresso. What will this do, she wonders. She didn’t sleep last night. She was busy. Yes. Busy. Busy doing things like watching television, painting, reading and chain smoking. It was a good night. She busied her mind. Now she sits jittery, wondering what to do next. The AA meeting didn’t do a good job of convincing her not to do drugs. Right now a relapse doesn’t seem so awful. Especially when her mother is still drinking. She’s found the proof today when she emptied out the dishwasher; only one of the many things she has accomplished today– oh the power of the awake! It was a wine glass. Why else would there be a single wine glass in the dishwasher? Had her mother fancied herself a glass of fancy 2% milk in a fancy glass for the (what the hell, why not?) fancy night? She thinks not. Its clear her mother likes to get lost in the mess of unmade clarity just like her. She misses it, but that feeling is fleeting. She can’t really relapse. Too much is at stake. Plus it would totally mess up her experiment. It’s been so long since she had done one of these. Before, when she was in college studying massage and oriental medicine, she had constantly experimented with her diet. She tried the regular vegan, the Jain vegan (no root vegetables), the only-fruit vegan, the only-water vegan (aka, anorexia). It was fun for her. Feeling her body express a sense of transformation through her control. But only now it is not her body she is examining; it’s her mind.

Ever since she got diagnosed bipolar about six months ago, she had a hard time accepting what it meant. As far as she could tell, bipolar one meant you were crazy. She surely acknowledges the fact that she was crazy… At least for about two months.. But that psychosis was drug induced. She is sure of it. She never went through such a mind-bending experience before. But she is young, she has time to go through it again– if she so choose. It seems that by neglecting the medicine that regulates and stabilizes her mood is one way to contribute to her experiment. She still takes the one in the morning that is a relatively new addition to her daily pill intake. This one isn’t supposed to kick in for another week or so and it mainly deals with suppressing the depressive stage of bipolar. This will do wonderfully, she thinks. This will increase my chances of mania over depression. She even rationalized a reason to drink caffeine again. Once considered another drug in her eyes, coffee is now a way to support her cause. But perhaps, her mind trails, this is too much coffee. She hasn’t had coffee in months. Caffeine in general– in months. She notices her hands beginning to shake. She has another two cups to go. It was a large that she ordered. Twenty ounces. She takes another sip making a pouty face and quivering at the bitter taste. She will definitely have to pee about four time by the end of the hour… But that’s no concern. What’s on her mind now is what to do with all this time before she has to go to her outpatient program. She was going to workout, only her stomach is filled with acid. Maybe in a couple of hours, after the peeing, when her stomach settles…Suddenly she has a thought; you know, come to think of it, this coffee is something like a laxative for me. This can be beneficial to my eating disorder which in turn may help set off my experiment. She hadn’t eaten much all day. She drank a bit of a fruit smoothie but everything that was solid had later been purged. She was hungry, but now she just feels sick with coffee overload.

Why is this light on? It’s clearly not providing anything useful to this shop! Its daylight. It may not be super sunny, there are scattered clouds, but the sky is the brightest blue I’ve seen in a while. Her thoughts have trailed onward to report the weather apparently. But she’s right. The past week had been cold and bleak. Grey sky’s and falling leaves, rain and a shy full moon at night. She had gotten lost in depression to the point of that new prescription. She confessed to her psychologist that she was fed up with feeling so anxious and helpless. She preferred mania over the feeling of such worthlessness. But most bipolar people do, her doctor reminded her. “This doesn’t mean you should trail off from your meds, they will work in time, give it time.” Fuck time. That’s when she decided to try this experiment. Now she thinks; I should really document all this! Maybe write a book: How to Get Out of Depression, for Bipolar Freaks. Wonderful! She laughs out loud at herself…

Step one. Only take the meds that promote the opposite of how you want to feel.
Step two. Stay up. Just do it. Make yourself do it. You can do it!
Step three. Don’t do drugs.
Step four. Do drink caffeine.
Step five. Eat irregularly. Whatever that means for you.
Step six. Keep busy. If your mind says you should do something, take it up on its impulse and do it.

That’s all she has now. Only it’s not proven yet. This is just the procedure of the experiment. The hypothesis being that she will gain a heightened mood, release any social fears, and possibly set off psychosis… Although she is hoping she will be able to notice when this state comes on so as to avoid it… She will have to write an entirely new book on how to come down slowly from mania without falling quickly into depression.

She makes a note of this.

Now for a moment she is detoured from her thoughts to see an old customer she used to cater to when she worked at this coffee shop she sits in now. What a nice lady, she has no idea what this girl is going through mentally. Blah blah blah. The customers name is Jane. She orders an iced mocha of sorts. She can’t remember all her modifications. I think its a medium iced mocha with half the amount of regular pumps of sauce and nonfat milk, she recalls. That must be it. Jane has alway been a bit of a chatty Kathy but you should have heard the conversation this bipolar/addict was able to keep up. She sounded so normal. So intelligent. But wait, now she’s distracted by the funny police officer with this wide-brimmed hat. He seems to be deep in conversation with this couple of average looking Americans. She wonders what all the hullabaloo is all about. Whatever. Her mind moves to another topic. Only wait, she forgot it already. Look at the leaves run around! Oh lord. She’s almost done with her coffee. Maybe two or three more sips. Oh wait! She remembers what she was thinking but had forgotten! It was about the funny hat. She recalls the police in India. They wore even funnier hats! They looked like they had been taken right out of an old western film where the cowboys run around wearing gallon caps, big and black, but on an Indian, but not a Native American Indian, an India Indian. Ha! The leaves spin in a whirlwind. Creating a circle, a sequence of swirls that drift beyond the ally just outside the shop window. It’s like her mind. La dee da dee da. Spinning in and out of this or that. Around and around, repeating the same thought soon after it drifts into the abyss. At least she can still catch them before their completely gone.

One more hour to waste before she heads to the YMCA to workout. Only she really doesn’t want to go. She hasn’t gone for the past two days and today’s heavy stomach is begging her to stay. Maybe after IOP (her outpatient program) I can go to the Y? Or I can go for a run. I should have went earlier. I knew I should have gone earlier. Tomorrow’s a new day. Only now she can’t decide if she should sleep or not. And what will she say in group today? Will she admit to her lack of sleep? Her surge of inspiration and creativity? Her hours of lolly gagging and tail wagging? We will see.

There are now two officers in funny hats! So serious… She wonders what’s going on but quickly loses interest.

Energy! Energy! Energy! Yes! She will go to the Y! She wants to run in circles! But it’s too early to leave now. She will be there for three hours. But she could go now for an hour then go to the library and roll around in her head some more. Its possible. It’s all possible. Anything is possible! Life is so thrilling! How exciting is it that she gets to live today! Not knowing where her life will take her! She hasn’t a clue! She hasn’t a care! But she knows there are so many directions it can turn, its like a real-life simulation– like the matrix too! She can manipulate it to get what she wants. Oooooo.

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Yup. This is getting weird. At least she can notice she is getting weird. But should she care? Oh God! She just noticed this hideous painting to her right. Its titled “Romance,” by Ron Strum, its hanging on the wall next to the window she has been so preoccupied with. It’s obviously an oil. Completely dull colours. There sits a sad excuse for a bouquet of flowers with a candelabra and a creepy-ass sculpted dove that really would have been better off without those beady eyes. How do things like this sell? She really wants to get back into doing art again. She managed to squeeze out two unfinished projects in the past two days. That’s more than what she’s managed to produce in the past three years! She used to be quite the acclaimed artist. At least, in her “grandiose,” bipolar mind. But honestly, she did win several First Place awards and Best In Show twice in a row (which happened to be the only two times she even presented in the high school art show). But she left behind her dreams to wallow in a progressing drug addiction. She blamed it on the colleges that clearly could not recognize her potential. Although, she tends to skip past the fact that her essays sucked. I don’t even think I ever reread them... Probably deserved failure, despite all the hard work and passion she put into her pieces, she really didn’t realize that she’d have to talk the talk too. Such a pity. But she digresses as she remembers now, anything is possible!