Bipolar disorder, mania, depression, anxiety. I'm only just discovering what those words mean for my well-being and the shattered pieces of my life. The "work in progress," it turns out, is me. Expect an exploration of my thoughts, my feelings, and my journey. And hopefully some fun stuff like my opinions on comic books, movies, and books to name a few.

Old "archive" posts remain if you want to get to know me further.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Week 10 - Have I Mentioned I Hate My Life?

It’s like I’ve been lying to myself. I give myself goals for the day and the week. They get me out of bed. Which in turn gets me out of my room. Showering, changing, eating—all of these are more likely to happen if I leave my room, and after building a routine it’s more likely that such activity will become repetitive.

Most of my repeating goals are based around either my personal blog entries or my comic book reviews. Social media work supports both of those. I tell myself that these are worthwhile endeavors—that writing and building a social media presence will ultimately pay off because I want to get back to writing fiction and pursuing the one and only dream I’ve ever had. The added bonus is that these testimonials give me another way of looking at my condition. And also I like comic books.

I don’t take satisfaction from any of it. The writing, the goal achieving, the page views and retweets—nothing sticks. It feels like another way to mark time. Which I suppose is fine if it gets me anywhere in the long term.

Except the last two weeks there’s been some fantastic family drama swirling in near proximity to me and it’s obliterated my routine. What I’ve discovered is that putting the routine back together is much harder than it was to assemble the first time. Maybe that’s because I can look back on it and see the pointlessness. There’s no reason to do any of it. I don’t feel one iota better. I’m every bit as miserable now as when I began.

Good lord, I’m watching all the shit in this episode of Jessica Jones and missing how meth made me happy, sex gave me a rush, and alcohol made me not care.

I’m writing this on Friday night. I need food. I don’t want to make it. I have a delivery order on Pizza Hut’s website, but if I order it I’ll have to leave my room to wait for the delivery guy. Don’t really want to do that, either.

The problem isn’t, “How do I put it back together?” It’s more, “What the fuck difference does it make and why should I bother trying?”
So that was Friday. Today is Sunday.

Was I being petulant and whiny? I don’t know. Maybe. But that was how I felt. Truthfully it’s how I still feel. I did end up ordering the pizza—very brave of me. Generally speaking I’ve barely left my room for the past four days. Which is a problem since I don’t have a pantry and refrigerator in my room. Today I’ve eaten a bag of corn nuts and some small Milky Ways.

Have I mentioned I’m the pinnacle of health?

The problem with Friday was that I spent it thinking. Having no particular activity to keep me busy—to focus on—my thoughts had free reign to run wild. And unfortunately my thoughts are dark, depressing things. I start thinking about all the things I’ve done. About all the things I want to do. About the number of ways things can still go wrong. For a while I was reading or playing video games to solve this problem. But that’s not “productive” so I’ve tried other avenues. There’s household chores. Of course that would require leaving my room which I’m not back up to doing just yet. So then the writing for reasons mentioned two days ago.

But as I said I get no satisfaction from any of it. Maybe a blip here or there but it’s lost almost immediately. So I find myself wondering whether I’m doing anything other than marking time like with the reading and video games—distracting myself so I don’t notice how much I continue to hate pretty much everything about my life and who I am.

Even now, with two days’ worth of entries and reviews, I hate virtually everything about where I am and what I’m doing. And the writing isn’t helping to distract me anymore.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Week in the Rear View - When the Routine Falls Apart

So how did I do last week?

That planner is all well and good when things are going well. It provides motivation where none really exists—I don’t get any real satisfaction in accomplishing the goals, after all. But then it’s become a routine, and the routine gets me out of bed which makes it more likely that I’ll shower, change, eat, and so forth.

Turns out that when the shit hits the fan and the routine gets disrupted it’s exponentially more difficult to put it back together. That’s been this week. I had homework from counseling two Wednesdays ago. Didn’t get it done because of all the swirling family drama. Left my appointment this past Wednesday with full intention of working on it but now just can’t seem to make myself care.

On that score I don’t care about much of anything at the moment. I went shopping Wednesday. Got much needed clothes and a few assorted nerd knick knacks. Spending money is tons of fun! But I know I should probably avoid doing it because the thrill is short lived, costly to replicate, and once the purchased items are at home I don’t care about them—as has been the case with what I bought Wednesday: I got home, put my bags down, and proceeded to ignore them through today because I haven’t given a shit about much of anything.  That I’m even writing this is a minor miracle; I don’t want to examine how I’m doing. I don’t care how I’m doing. I’m not sure how badly I want to get back the routine I’d made.

I feel like a fool even writing this. All I want to do is crawl into a ball not unlike how I’ve spent the last two days. Just on my bed, lost in a book or TV show. Trying my best not to think.

But what else should I do?

Next week’s planner:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Week 9 - Chemical Epiphany

Everybody loves a good multi-part story with ever increasing stakes so it’s only appropriate that I revisit the subject of meth after discussing addiction for two weeks. I didn’t speak much on the subject several weeks back other than to testify to how great it felt. I haven’t read extensively on the subject but I’ve encountered a few sources that suggest meth is not an uncommon choice for people with bipolar disorder. As a statistic one I can attest to its power in that regard—though I had no idea at the time that I was bipolar nor that there was anything else wrong with me. I just knew I’d found something new with a better rush.

I only used meth on four or five occasions. I say “or” because there are two of them that kind of bleed together. In all but one case I was careful to smoke (my sole form of use) on my Friday night so that I’d be clear headed when my Monday rolled around. In the case of the lone exception I went to work on my Monday still very much high. In some ways going to work high was great. I’d long since begun having sleeping problems such that staying awake on the drive to work and the drive home were both Herculean tasks. More than once I started nodding off behind the counter in the middle of the day. More than once I outright fell asleep at the desk in the backroom. The one time I went to work high—well damn, I was fully awake and ready to go. Of course a major downside of meth as a pick-me-up is the same as being overly “up” when one is bipolar: a near inability to concentrate and focus. But then I wasn’t seeking a way to stay peppy at work when I found my way to meth.

Meth and sex intersect frequently in gay culture in that where one finds the former one is much more likely to find the ladder. Looking back on my hookups in Austin (those that I remember clearly or at all) I am certain there were men who used meth and no doubt some who were even high on it when we hooked up. At the time I didn’t know anything about it really. I was busy getting a rush through unprotected sex with men whose HIV status I seldom asked about and less seldom cared. My meth awareness skyrocketed after I moved to San Jose. When I was starting to fall back into my old habits of having random risky sex I was more and more often asked me if I “partied” or “used Tina.” I kept answering no but I started learning how meth use and sex intertwined. I also found myself growing bored with risky sex by itself.

Did the curiosity precede the boredom or did the boredom precede the curiosity?

I eased into the meth much as I eased into everything else. First hooking up with guys who used. Then hooking up with guys who used in front of me and offered. The next natural step was trying it myself.

The first time I used meth it was with someone I knew, and it wasn’t associated with sex. It was also the only time I really paid for it. Meth is a stimulant on steroids. It’s boundless short term energy. But to someone who has lived years without purpose or sustained happiness it’s something else entirely. For me it was a near epiphany: “This is what everyone else must feel when they’re smiling. And when they’re laughing. And when they’re with friends. And when they get good news. And accomplish something. I want to feel this more. I want to feel this every day.” It was like living life in a dark winter storm and stumbling upon a colorful early summer day.

And then I came down.

For me coming down from meth was like taking my lowest low and magnifying it by 1000. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t eat. I could barely drink. I’d been somewhere wonderful—experienced the plane on which everyone else lives their lives—and I’d lost it. The only thing left was me.  In fact, coming down the first time was so bad and the memory of what I’d experienced so good that I immediately wanted to do it again.

But mere happiness wasn’t enough. I needed a rush.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Week in the Rearview - Blanket Forts are Wasted on Children

So how did I do last week?

Last week I suggested that I had crashed hard on Saturday. I wasn’t full on manic—in that regard the lithium has been working—but whatever agitated high I was on sent me deep down to a depression that’s much lower than my regular level.

That crushed feeling lasted all week. I spent days just sitting like a lump in a chair. I wanted to do things. I had blog entries to write and comic reviews to post—all of which remain outstanding. But I couldn’t do it. If my depression is an unyielding darkness that hangs over me, for this week it’s been pressing down on me—a weight I couldn’t seem to push off me. I wanted to overcome it but I just couldn’t.

I will note that several days of the week were taken up by damage control for family matters and a trip to the emergency room with my grandmother. None of this affected me directly aside from me being present and participating in conversations, so I don’t want to use it as an excuse for having not accomplished anything. It was a touch agitating, though.

Something that we’ve talked about in counseling is the ability to recognize when my brain is sending unhelpful feelings my way, acknowledging the feelings, and not letting them to drive my action. Perhaps I will be unsuccessful at doing that from time to time but I can still recognize and acknowledge the feelings that were present.

Last week it was just a general lethargy. A dislike for everything. I didn’t even eat on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday food was basically put in front of me, so I did eat but nothing tasted good. And I had no appetite. I was uninspired and unmotivated. I didn’t want to be around people.
I wanted to be under a blanket fort. Blanket forts are wasted on children.

Good news: I am feeling better today. I’m back to my normal level of depression which is slightly more functional—like showering on a regular basis. I even shaved today! Still no appetite to speak of. And I’m writing my weekly postmortem. It’s a step up. And I’ll take it.

Next week’s planner:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Week 8 - Addicted to the Rush

So…not an alcoholic. What a relief!

In previous posts I’ve talked about what life feels like to me. I could come up with any number of metaphors—God knows brevity on the page has never been one of my vices—but probably the best way to sum it up is with this question: Why bother? Everything was pointless. To paraphrase my counselor, I wasn’t alive.

Readers of several weeks ago might recall my “psychotic squirrel” post where I listed the assorted behavior I would engage in to get an adrenaline rush. If I was living life in the dark, those activities were bursts of light. Alcohol was one of them for a while.

There was a time when I loved being drunk. It made me feel happy. It made the passage of time pleasant. It added enjoyment to watching television and playing video games. It helped me write without second guessing myself (though much of what I turned out while drunk was crap). What I didn’t ever do when drunk was hook up with men. I liked the thrill of being inebriated, and I liked the thrill of having risky sex with random men. Strangely I never sought to enjoy the thrill of both at once.

I don’t really know why I stopped getting a thrill from being drunk. At some point it stopped giving me that happy rush. All I was left with was my regular life but maudlin and angry.

So I’m not an alcoholic. And I didn’t take meth long enough to become chemically dependent on it (though I think I’ll talk more about that soon).

But it’s the thrill. The rush. Of anything. Whatever gives me a rush and the high of feeling alive is what I want. I sit here, at home, on medication that I hope will help and maybe it already has—but sometimes I crave all that activity I’m missing. I want to do it all again. Given the opportunity I would—consequences be damned. And once since I’ve here I’ve spent 24 hours climbing the wall because my brain was out to lunch and every nerve ending in my body wanted to get laid and smoke meth despite everything I’d come to understand about my behavior from my counseling sessions.

If that isn’t addiction I’m not sure what is.