anxiety, bipolar, child abuse, depression, drugs, mania, mental illness, substance abuse

no more wire hangers 3

is anyone getting the titles of the posts in this series?

my mother knew she had mental illness issues, but she refused to see a psychiatrist or a therapist. we convinced her to go to a couple therapists to find one she felt she could talk with. she went to meet two and her excuses for not going was that she was sure one had ulterior motives and the other had an office that made her anxious.

when i had panic attacks growing up (we didn’t know that’s what they were at the time) she got angry at me. in retrospect i think it was it was because she was scared when she saw me going through that. i’ve seen her have panic attacks and oh boy have i seen her anxious.she was afraid that somewhere inside her was me. she didn’t want to  go through what i went through with my depression and mania. two psychiatrists told me, after long talks about my mother, that she was bipolar, too. i’m not surprised, but having a doctor say it shed light on things and made me feel validated

she even self medicated, like i did. she was obsessed with this shitty white wine. she drank glass after glass all evening while she watched courtroom dramas and true crime shows. after i went to university she bought a new house that she has since defaulted on. the house was a gorgeous Victorian in downtown St. Louis. it was in a neighborhood that was transitioning from a gutted ghetto into lovely restored houses. good old gentrification. her house was already transformed when she bought it.  it was gorgeous but it had three stories. she usually watched tv and drank in a family room on the second floor and also in her bedroom on the third floor. guess who had to fetch the wine?

drinking was her second drug of choice, the first  was nicotine.  by now, she will have smoked almost 60 years, two or more packs a day. she was a professional smoker. she chain smoked 24/7. she drowned her sorrows in wine, cigarettes, and taking it all out on me.

i’ve already said i’m a recovering alcoholic, i’ve been clean for 15 years. when i went home to visit (my dad lived in St. Louis and i was tied to my mother by a mental bond i had to fight to break, so i still kept coming back. she encouraged me to drink. she prepared by laying in a supply of beer, gin (she had cocktails after work, too; gin and tonics…one or two) champagne and vodka plus a few bottles of decent wine for dinners. she encouraged me to drink. pushed me to drink. i  jumped back into the hole of drunkenness to avoid having to deal with her. i can’t  put it all off on my. i was thrilled to have time away from my husband so i could drink my fill. i had to be very honest with him to keep our relationship working well and i wanted both he and I to be happy. i made the decisions to drink the alcohol she bought, but it was damned hard, too hard. i embraced it.

hangovers were hell so my mother gave me a bottle of codeine to use to take them away. i took a few in the morning. went back to sleep, woke and puked, went back to sleep and got up feeling pretty good.

we went out drinking too. she liked to show off my tattoos and piercings when we were bar hopping, hoping to look cool. at home she hated the tattoos.

Mommy Dearest.

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blank spaces

when i first started painting i thought everything, absolutely everything, i painted had to cover the entire canvas, i joined deviantArt and saw that a lot of artists whose work i like often left blank spaces in their paintings. i honestly thought it was very daring. i commented on it to someone who had a painting like that and i think he was chuckling at me when he replied, “i’m not the first person to do that, you know.” i felt kind of silly, but decided to try it. i was learning to do things differently, to break barriers that i thought were absolute. the first time i did it, i actually felt daring!

after that i started to do it a lot. i even moved on to painting minimalist works. that actually is kind of daring. this is one of my favorites….

Back Camera

i started thinking about it, and realized that i had a lot of blank spaces in me. there are huge spaces of time in my life that i remember nothing about. there are a lot of things that happened yesterday, or the day before, or last week or a month ago, that i can’t recall. it’s disturbing to think about.

when i was drinking heavily it happened on a regular basis. i’d wake up at home, in bed with my clothes on, not even remembering leaving the house to go out drinking. it was terrifying.

i’m sober, maybe not quite, but i only take the things that are prescribed for me. but there are still these big spaces. some might attribute it to my substance abuse damaging my mind and causing these losses of time. i wouldn’t rule it out, but i think i have a different explanation that feels more like the real culprit.

my mother was abusive. some of the biggest chunks i’ve lost are memories of my life, both as a child and as an adult, that relate to the amount of hell she was putting me through. there are other traumatic things that are hidden from my memory; but sometimes things break free and make me feel even more damaged. not surprisingly, i have PTSD.

i think embracing the idea that i have to step back and see ways to do things that i didn’t realize were possible let me start to let go of the weight of the blank spaces in my memory. i’ve been disassociating for almost my entire life. but now i need to move on, let go, break free from the past.

i think i’ve done enough digging through the past, during the 20 years of therapy, that it’s time to leave the wounds of the past in the past and continue making new memories. 🙂

yay!

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o boi i’m manic!

i had a sneaking suspicion that i was starting to be manic.

i’ve been waking up earlier than usual.  i’m not eating as much as i usually do. my anxiety is out of control. but most of all, i’m happy! everything is so crisp and bright.

it feels exactly like crystal meth. i should know.

the question i’m trying not to think how long this will last. it could be awful if it dropped me backed into worse depression right away, but it could be mega horrible if it goes on too long. i really must enjoy being in the moment!

omg, the way i really knew was waking up and remembering that i spent $250 on watercolor paints! they’re very nice paints, but shit! that’s just so stereotypical. lol

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meds

meds suck. i’m much better with them, but i wish i could just dump them all down the toilet.

they make me gain weight!! everybody knows that, but it doesn’t make me any less pissed off about it. i don’t even know who i’m pissed off with! my doctor is trying hard to make a cocktail that doesn’t make me feel fat, and even worse, feel stupid.

i know i’m not stupid, but when i started taking a lot of meds (1994) my memory started getting worse. it’s so bad now that i sometimes feel like i’m sinking into dementia. the meds make everything so vague and distant. memories drift away. i listen but i don’t really hear. i always wonder why things happen because i can barely remember my own name. andrew has to tell me things over and over.

i have a lot of trouble putting words together or doing anything thing that requires intense concentration. i talk to myself a lot. andrew says it sounds like i’m mumbling all the time. sometimes i think the meds make me even stranger than i am otherwise.

i feel like some of them are working against one another. i take ritalin and i also take xanax. doesn’t it seem like they’d just fight it out between each other and eventually do nothing? uppers and downers! i have a big drawer full of prescription medicine bottles. it’s so full it barely shuts. for some reason i can’t make myself put them in pill boxes so i have to rummage through all of them every morning and evening. such a dumb way to do it!

i love my xanax, my risperdal is really works to keep the psychosis under control, but it makes me puff up like a balloon. i could go on and on about what meds i take, when i take them what they’re for how they feel what are the side effects of each one. i just end up sounding like the addict i am.

i wonder why they give someone who’s a known addict and has overdosed many times, all this scheduled, heavy duty drugs? they never discuss it. and fuck, i need and want some of the drugs they give me…the ritalin, the xanax, the sleeping pills, so many sleeping pills! muscle relaxants on and on.

i’m obsessed with my meds, the addictive ones and all the others, too. when i start to run out of anything i immediately panic.

but i wonder, who would i be without them? what things could i do that i can’t now? what about being free of the shitty side effects? how quickly would i deteriorate into total insanity without them? would i get psychotic and do awful things? would i kill myself?

i take them when i’m told to in the prescribed dosage. is this the way it’s supposed to be?

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lady gaga and my mania

i’m sitting at my desk trying to be patient, waiting for the pain meds to kick in. i had surgery on my left hand a couple of weeks ago. i just took a long nap and missed my the time when i was supposed take my percoset, by an hour. my mind wanders back in time to 10 years ago? maybe not that long. i can’t remember.

i was sitting in the room my husband and i share, my half was my “studio” and half was his gaming room. it was 3am, the loneliest time of night. peter (husband) pushed the door open gently, so as not to frighten me (anything unexpected could throw me into a panic attack). and asked me to turn down lady gaga. i hate lady gaga, but alone with my mania and anxiety, she seemed like the door to a party, another thing i hate. but it seemed like the thing i desperately needed. action! people everywhere, loud music, coke all lined up and an imaginary drink in my hand

i hadn’t taken my meds for at least a week. everything was out of control. i stayed up all night drawing, drawing with colored pencils. pages and pages of partially finished drawings lay in piles on the floor, all around my desk. i was sweaty and i hadn’t changed my clothes in days. i gritted my teeth and pressed down so hard on the pencils that the sharpened tips broke off over and over.

his eyes were squinty and he shivered in just his boxers.he asked me if i was ok. i didn’t know if i should laugh, scream, or cry.

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self medicating

i am sitting at my desk, rocking my chair up and down in time with the music.

i think of the past, maybe 8 years ago? 9?

i was sitting on the floor of the room my husband and i share, half art room, half gaming room, counting pills. when i feel panicky, this is what calms me. i have a very large prescription bottle full up with  klonopin. they’re smallish, white, scored, uncoated tablets. i took three 2mg pills a day. but counting them made feel more calm than the drugs themselves.

but maybe that’s not true because i stumbled around the house all day forgetting where i left my water bottle. i had to have cold water at hand all the time. if it took  me too long to find it, i headed right back to the fridge to get another.

klonopin was my friend, my nurse, my recreation, my obsession. i had bottles of it tucked into secret spots all over the house, even in my car.

ironically, i’m self medicating with my meds.