Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Million Billionth of a Second on a Sunday Morning.

Bipolar disorder is grossly misunderstood by the common person. Folks hear the term "manic-depressive" and either a) wish they could be as productive, creative and grandiose with accomplishment, as during a manic phase, or b) hear "depressive" and proceed to ask you 1,000 questions as to what's bothering you, fearing you're on the brink of suicide and ever-watchful of your delicate mood. Because surely "depressive" means something's "wrong" with you. The truisms of either phase are complicated and diverse.

Outside of the world of psychology and psychiatry, manic-depression scares a lot of people. It's a clinical disability that, when left pharmaceutically uncontrolled, CAN indeed produce hyper-reactions of gross instability that threaten the patient's well-being and impede functionality in society. Soothed by mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics, perhaps enhanced by an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs, is often highly manageable and the patient can maintain day-to-day activities with little or no difficulty. (That's usually how I roll.)

When I'm manic, I let people know, if it's not blatantly obvious by my many differing moods and my general refusal to stop talking, writing or starting 18 tasks at a time with the ego-laden ideals of rocking them all out at once, when in retrospect, little if anything is followed to completion successfully, the exception always being artistic pursuits, which are my chief coping mechanism regardless of my mood. (I particularly point out my manic episodes to my co-workers, who need the most forewarning about what I might act like on a given manic day.) I'm far more prone to manic episodes than depressive episodes, as I've previously pointed out in my blog (see "Mania: Defined").

Non-psychiatry buffs continue to ask me why I become either manic or depressive, given I'm on medication. There is no clinical explanation for becoming symptomatic. I'm med-compliant but sometimes, it just inexplicably happens. It's no one's fault. Not mine, not the people around me, and there is no clear trigger. The instability passes in due time, when my brain chemicals are ready to redirect. I'm good enough with my meds to self-tweak doses of my bipolar meds, which sometimes work out wonderfully, and sometimes make me sicker. (I know, "consult your physician." Screw that. I live in this brain. I can manage it.)

When I'm depressive, which is a rarity but is my present state this weekend, the medications really help me stay basically functional, though my ambition is scant. I hesitate to mention it to anyone outside of the medical field because I don't feel like responding to the onslaught of sympathetic "Aww, you poor thing" and "What are you depressed about?" The fact is, I'm DEPRESSIVE, not DEPRESSED. There is a huge clinical difference. My brain's wiring is abbreviated, muddied, and toned down. My head is still full of perpetual ideas and thoughts that can be positively expressed, though it takes more time and effort.

Before I was medicated, a depressive episode consisted of me not getting out of bed for 3 days, not showering, and barely taking care of my son's basic needs if he was in my custody at the time. This was before I was able to hold down a job. There were a couple of instances where I let him stay home from school, much to his delight, because I couldn't find the energy to get in the car and drive him there. I slept most of the day and night, or just lied around in a veritable daze.

Medicated, I'm still capable of working, taking care of Luke, and assuring the most basic tasks of daily living are successful, even though I'm depressive. This particular depressive episode hit when I awakened yesterday morning, at 6:30, typical for me, and whilst smoking and wiring myself chock full of caffeine, I sat down to write my blog about my friendship with my late friend, Mico, for his birthday. Mico's birthday was NOT a depressive trigger, though many would argue it was. The blog took me 4 hours to write and 6 episodes of diarrhea to endure, which frustrated me and is atypical of my creativity (the diarrhea notwithstanding, that's a separate problem). My mom said last night that I push myself too hard sometimes, which to a large degree is often true, but it was the one thing yesterday I was determined to accomplish. And I did.

I also fed my son 3 square meals, made my bed, showered, dressed and spiked up my hair, with every intention of completing the errands of the weekend (laundry, grocery store, Target). I did, however, allow Luke to spend the entire day dressed only in his boxer shorts, which wasn't so bad, and we completed a school project due Monday together amid his own random anxiety attack. I was extremely proud of the way I kept my cool during the project. I employed mindfulness and calmly talked him down, pointing out the positives and successes of the project rather than getting on his ass about it, though I do admit to having sarcastically called him a "baby" when he started whimpering, which I just thought was inappropriate and immature given his age and intellect.

I wrote another short blog about the death penalty and listened to and analyzed a lot of music yesterday, a semi-productive effort. Yet I never got out of the house. The daunting, looming idea of a trip to the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon overwhelmed me with a "don't go there, not today" vibration. I did a load of laundry and dried it, but it never got put away. After feeding Luke and myself, I did do the dishes, purely out of the expectations surrounding my responsibilities at home.

The errands would have to wait until today, though it's noon and they still seem daunting. I *should* shower before my mom gets home from church, but I have not. I once again DID do the breakfast dishes, out of obligation and politeness. I dirtied them, so I should wash them. The grocery store/pharmacy won't have my 3 refills ready until 2pm, so I figure I have some solitude in which to loom my weary frame before venturing further than 15 feet from my back door.

Luke likes to ask for eggs on a Sunday morning, and the prospect of something as effortless as scrambling a couple almost threw me over the edge. The most overt downside? The only shredded cheese we have in the house, which is that Mexican cheese that I can't spell correctly, had a scent that had me literally gagging over the stove while I scrambled the eggs. That was uncool. Among my morning medications was an anti-nausea pill.

This morning, I completed a short blog about how much I hate parental honor roll bumper stickers, and engaged in extensive film and music criticism commentary with some friends from college on my Facebook page, ultimately regaling the story, once again, of how I spent an evening at age 17 getting drunk in a hotel bar with the late, famed singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson. So depressive, but not exactly lazy (unless you count going outside to smoke in the rain sans umbrella and allowing myself to get wet your definition of "lazy").

I have iTunes on shuffle today, and am amazed at the randomness of my musical tastes and breadth. The Flaming Lips' "Convinced of the Hex" followed by Hank Williams Jr's theme from "The Dukes of Hazzard," followed by Sugar's "If I Can't Change Your Mind," followed by a Lennon demo of "Real Love," followed by "Boyfriend" from Best Coast. My musical tendencies are as manic-depressive as my personality. If I were truly depressive and non-functional, I would literally spend the time listening to all 873 songs on my iTunes (it's a new computer, so I've barely scratched the surface), which would take 2.4 days.

iTunes just provided the following inspiration to get moving for the day: the soothing Beatles' "Let it Be" followed by a live version of MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," where the lead singer starts out the song "And now it's time, now it's time, to KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS!"

And verily, I press forward.

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