How To Be Bipolar In LA 4
Sandi Yeah, Me.
You have to be compliant with your meds and treatment to be on disability, and I have no complaints on that score. I want to get help for this horror. I feel my therapist understands me, and if I didn’t take my meds, I’d feel even worse, if that’s possible. I feel down right deranged sometimes. Yelling and cursing at myself, while pulling ugly faces at myself in the mirror. Pacing, hitting myself over the head in self-hatred, the whole shebang. One time I even hit myself in my head with an iron. I saw stars. I feel ill and sad just thinking about it.
I have mental illness on my mother’s side of the family. Mama said her daddy acted crazy, and she had one aunt named Emma who was a raving lunatic. Another of her aunts was confined for many years to Brice Mental Hospital in Alabama. I think she even ended her days there. How sad. I remember going with my Mama and my aunt to visit my great aunt there one day when I was small, and being frightened by the patients there. One of them said, “Come here, little girl.” I ran. I don’t know whom else in my extended family that is mental, because I haven’t seen any of them for years. I’m too phobic to fly. But they must have been bi-polar too. I feel sorry for my great aunts I never knew, because in their time, there were not the types of medications they have today to help them. They probably never went to get any help any way. They were simple country folk.
I read that this disease gets worse as you get older. It has for me. I’ve always been bi-polar I guess. I remember feeling lost and lonely at a wee age, and when I hit puberty, I’d lock myself in my bedroom, listening to my stereo and not come out for hours. I’d roll back and forth on my bed, tearing at my hair, feeling the battle for good and evil being fought in my head. I remember when Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out. My family lived in a trailer park at the time, and I would stare out my bedroom window up at the night sky and beg the aliens to come and take me with them. Crazy in Alabama.
Being bi-polar, I’ve made a lot of disastrous life decisions I wish I could take back. A lot of relationships that I impulsively jumped into, with selfish, drug-addled miscreant men with a propensity for violence. I’ve never been lucky at all in the love department. With my low self-esteem, I’d never dared hope that I’d find a nice, sensitive, intelligent mate who shared my interests in art, science, history, music, spirituality and many other subjects I like to read up on.
I used to smoke pot for years to try and escape the pain I felt. My psychiatrist would lecture me when I saw him with, “Now Sandra, you know that marijuana has detrimental effects on your brain. It can cause psychosis and is a depressant.” He’d show me brain scans to prove it. I’d smoke until I felt translucent anyway. I’d turn to a TV station that was all static and snow and would watch images pop out at me in 3D. Thank God that I never tried meth. I’d be dead by now.
One time, I was talking to my boyfriend, and old 40’s style newsreel images appeared on his face. I saw tanks rolling by and soldiers marching from one of his ears to another. It was like a movie projector had been turned on him. I heard the steps the soldiers took, and the roar of the tank engines as they made their way, and the voice of the Walter Winchell-like commentator. No doubt it was a reaction to the mixture of high potency weed and my meds, but it was very interesting to watch.
I had to seek help to get marijuana out of my life. It was a hard thing to accomplish, but smoking it had gotten old, and I was tired of the paranoia and lethargy that it instilled in me. I read that the weed today has 7 times more potency than in the 70’s. I used to drink a lot of wine to add to my deliberate obliteration, but quit that as well. I should have been a scientist, but ended up an ex-stripper/stoner chick instead. I’d make my own bongs and stayed stoned out of my gourd from the time I got up until the time I went to bed at night. I was a functioning addict. I started working as a bartender when I couldn’t take being a dancer anymore, and would work all night long alone, stoned off my ass, mixing drinks, rotating the stock, cleaning up at night and balancing the till, dropping the money and closing up. I’d make myself a huge drink when I’d get to work and sip it while working.
I have to pick up my meds direct from the nurse at the clinic so she can monitor my symptoms. I used to get my meds from the pharmacy, but they were afraid I’d use my pills to commit suicide, so they dole out only enough for two weeks at a time. They put my pills in a daily pill container so I can remember to take my meds every day. Sometimes I forget anyway. If I go a few days without my meds, I definitely feel it.
They weigh me when I’m there, because when I get depressed I don’t eat for days. I don’t bathe either or clean my place. I have no desire to help myself whatsoever. Self-preservation flies right out my bedroom window. I stare out that window from my bed, and see life go by. I look out and earnestly wish I could get out of my bed, go downstairs, cross the lobby, and rejoin the human race. Instead, I feel paralyzed. I feel great sadness and cry bitter tears and turn away to hide under my comforter instead. I become misanthropic and feel like an alien from another planet. My cats curl up next to me to comfort me. They purr, as if to say, “Take it easy, Sandi, we love you and are here to heal you.” One lays up against my neck, and the other yawns, reaches out her paw, and caresses my face and stares soulfully into my eyes with huge blue orbs of understanding. “ Peace be with you, Sandi.”
I have to take Trazadone at night to try and get some sleep because I’m an insomniac. I used to be able to sleep about 16 hours straight in a depressed state, but now, I suffer the opposite effect. And when I do sleep, I get chased nightly in vivid nightmares that leave me waking up upset and unrested. Alien, vampires, evil clones, ghosts, rapists, etc., haunt my dreams and I wake up covered in sweat. Or I get lost in a maze-like building that goes on for miles and I can’t find my way out. Up and down stairs, endless corridors, and doors leading nowhere. I don’t know why I have to suffer like I do. I mean, what did I ever do to deserve this torture?! I cry out to God to take this pain away. I crawl on all fours and croon to myself and howl in agony.
I saw a documentary about Edvard Munch, the artist who painted “The Scream.” It showed how much he suffered from mental illness. He’d cry and moan, and say that he couldn’t take it anymore. I think he ended up killing himself, just like Vincent and Cobain. Can you imagine the horrors that the mentally ill suffered through the centuries? Being chained to walls and treated like animals, being lobotomized and spit on in the streets. Being sexually abused. Being experimented on by the fiendish Nazi ‘doctors’. Or just gassed by them outright, along with other people that had disabilities. I shudder to think about it! I cry to think about it.
Last summer, I got down to 95 lbs and my immune system went down with my weight. I kept getting bladder infections that lasted for weeks and made me totally miserable. I suffer chronic dry eyes from my medication. I have to use Restasis eye drops every day for it, and I also take flaxseed oil supplements. My skin is terribly dry, and I’m constantly thirsty as hell.
When I was on Lithium, my hair fell out. On Neurontin, I had bouts of chronic diarrhea. Zoloft kills my libido. Prozac and Paxil made me gain 15 lbs. They gave me big cravings for sweets. Abilify made me pace and wring my hands and mutter to myself, as I made the circuit around my chair in my small living room. Around and around that chair I would go. Resperdal brought up my Prolactin hormone levels, and I began to lactate. I was sent to have 2 MRIs done, to check my thyroid and pituitary glands, and I have to go to the clinic periodically to have blood drawn as well.
A lot of trail and error with the meds over the years. Sometimes I feel like a human guinea pig, because my depression tends to be drug resistant. One of my friends here had electro-shock therapy for her chronic depression. She said it helped her feel good for a while, but the depression came back. “ Hey, plug me in Doc”! I consider it sometimes, because I feel desperate, but I’m afraid of the memory loss that’s a by-product of the procedure. I feel like I have the onset of early Alzheimer’s anyway, with my forgetfulness. Sometimes, when I’m writing, a particular word is impossible to spell, and I try to phonetically sound it out, and write different variations of the word, to no avail. I know it’s wrong. I used to be good at spelling. I won the spelling bee when I was a kid. Another frustration.
I’m grateful for the money I get from disability, and the nice apt. I live in. I had to be on a waiting list for years to get in this place. I know there’s an alternative to my life out there, and I’ve been there. It’s not pretty. Your self worth becomes zilch. I thank God all the time for my low rent and a roof over my head. So many people out there in the streets don’t have the opportunity I had. They sleep on the concrete and freeze at night.
They live on another plane of existence altogether, full of pain and heartache and empty stomachs. Hearing unpleasant voices in their heads and thinking the CIA is out to get them. They’re left to their babbling and delusions. Creatures to be shunned. Objects of ridicule and abuse. Being set afire by punks. Beaten to death. Raped. Their belongings stolen. Laughed at.