20: Crash and Burn
When you feel all alone
And a loyal friend is hard to find
You’re caught in a one way street
With the monsters in your head
When hopes and dreams are far away and
You feel you can’t face the day
–Affirmation CD by Savage Garden
4 Feb 2000 – Diary
I’ve just spent the last two days wandering through the city. Mentally alert yes, but avoiding everyone that I know and skulking in fast food places and restaurants and parks because I want somewhere to be where no one can find me. Can’t be home since I will be found there and I can’t bear to talk to anyone. I’ll be asked what is wrong and what do I tell them that makes sense. Then I’ll either have to put up with them being understanding, or worse yet, with them trying to help me feel better.
Best to simply avoid everybody. They’ll know what is wrong and sort things out anyway.
And none of my commitments are that critical that they can’t wait. In any case I don’t feel like thinking about them. All I need is an easy novel to lose myself in and somewhere to sit and I’m fine.
5 Feb 2000 – Diary
Yesterday I came to my senses. It wasn’t a gradual thing at all. At noon I didn’t want to see anyone, at two I was considering finding someone to talk to but not yet ready to actually call anyone, and at five thirty I called C. at work and said help.
I would not have called anyone else. I have never been able to really ask for help with the depression before now. When I am surfacing from depression there is such a mix of confusion and shame and embarrassment and a desire to leave the memories of the last few days all behind that I don’t want to talk about it at all.
When I feeling fine I don’t need help and when I’m depressed I’m beyond help. So while I have asked friends and family to be understanding, I have never asked for help before.
I beginning to realise that this might have been a rather large mistake. After a month of unpredictable mood swings which finally culminated in me switching off and disappearing for two days, I realise I can’t make it alone.
When I’m more or less stable I can correct minor problems, but when things get a little worse I can’t fix myself anymore.
What I need is someone who doesn’t criticise when things go wrong for me, who isn’t surprised that I will do stupid things from time to time, and who, when I am back to normal, will accept me with no questions asked.
I don’t need sympathy or a desire to understand. I don’t want a confidante (at least not at this stage). What I want is acceptance for me as is. No strings or obligations attached.
I definitely don’t need someone telling me what I failed to do when I was depressed. I bloody well know. And I don’t need someone trying to get me better. I can probably do that for myself far better than anyone else can.
What I do need is someone who is a safe place, someone whom I can lean on while healing myself of the bruises of depression and pulling my life together again.
Although I try to be strong I still need someone who will hug me and tell me that I am wonderful. And that things will get better in the future.
I suspect that I am looking either for a good friend, or a partner, or saint. Or probably all three. I consider myself lucky. C. has those qualities that I need. I am now realising that by some incredible stroke of luck the best person has come into my life just when needed.
When I couldn’t trust my shattered sense of self enough to call my parents, or friends of ten years, or even my brother, whom I know would support me unstintingly because he already does, I could call C. and ask for help.
And expect to get it.
We sat down in a coffee shop all yesterday afternoon. C. didn’t say much. For nearly an hour, I explained what I needed to do to get my life back in order. C. doesn’t understand what it is like to be bipolar and often finds me confusing and erratic. I definitely don’t get an understanding ear. But I do get an uncritical ear and the clear and unmistakable knowledge that C. cares for me and will always be there for me. Always. That is far more important to me than anything.
Let me be the one you call
If you jump I’ll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart…
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You’re not alone
Which of course leave me with what I am going to do next. As I explained to C., my old medications aren’t keeping me stable enough. And when I do stabilise I am slightly depressed and prone to destabilising once again with unpredictable cycling patterns.
I need to gain control of my schedule. To this end, I am imposing an extremely rigid schedule of things to do. Basically I get up, go to work, do work, go swimming, come home, have dinner, work on the web site and go to bed. Every day including Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays since a different schedule on weekends tend to throw me off kilter.
I have of course built space into the schedule to allow for unexpected things that happen. I even have two alternate schedules which I can use interchangeably. But some things, like my wake up time and what I do before I go to work, are extremely rigid – I even am planning the same breakfast every day.
And every night before I go to be I must write down a schedule for the following day. And once there is time I must try to complete everything on the schedule whether I want to or not.
I put back in swimming. because I added back on about five to eight pounds since the beginning of December and I feel fat. The exercise also seems to relax and stabilise me. There is some variation, I could go to the gym or walking instead of swimming. But I must exercise every day.
I am going to try to make sure I get eight hours of sleep every night. My sleep cycle was shot to hell in January and contributed to my mood swings. Same time to bed every night, same time up every morning.
I had stopped all medication while mood cycling in January. I’m not starting back on any except St. John’s Wort (600mg x 2 times daily) which I am hoping will keep me normal to hypomanic. I worry that I may go fully manic, but it is a risk I am willing to take. I can gauge my high moods quite accurately and take action if needed.
C. is to make sure that I stick to the schedule and to look out for signs that I am becoming depressed or manic. It may not be so important in the first few days, but after about a week I may get fed up of the schedule and try to wriggle out of it. C. is to make sure I stick to the schedule.
I hope this works.