I drew the blinds up ward, yet the little sun that is settled beneath the grey clouds still breathes unwanted life into the bedroom.
So I put the pillow over my head.
Things that I’d never give a second notice to, him greedily sipping a hot tea, the kid pleasantly licking each finger clean of the raspberry jelly at lunch, and the way my sock feels twisted around my left foot, I am all too painfully aware of now. I picture my nervous system like the frayed wires for electronics at my grandparents house that are all tapped into the same outlet. You flip on a switch and the sparks ignite. You can practically see the cord quiver as the electricity courses through. Any slight movement, such as the furnace kicking on or the duct tape that “securely” holds the entire cluster fuck together loses its stick, disrupts the circuit (my brain if you will).
“Who tripped over the god damn wire again?” I can hear my grandpa holler.
I feel like I have such a wealth of information on this illness. Go ahead and think up a question as I go and proudly put on my graduation cap and an itchy polyester gown that makes armpits sweat. Wait, let me grab my perfectly rolled up diploma…
Reality is, I really don’t have a clue what makes this thing tick and how the only way I know that I’m just an arms reach away from hitting a brick wall is when my senses are heightened like this.
People have likened bipolar disorder to riding a rollercoaster, and yes, it is true. This time, however, I was lured onto the Demon Drop by a stinky carny with green teeth. A free fall that goes up, down, up, down with not a single plateau to catch my breath between moods.
It’s like a really bad case of PMS on a Monday, your pants are grinding into your bloated waist, your co-worker is talking about her collection of cat figurines, and you have no chocolate, and you want to punch the ass bucket who cooked up Marineland in the microwave.
Then your husband sends you flowers and you win a free coffee from Tim Horton’s roll up the rim and someone says your hair is magnificent and you do not hit one red light on the way home but you do hit a clown and since your entire day was messed up, you inappropriately laugh about it because why was a clown crossing the street and you look over to the other side of the road and you see his red nose and half of his furry eyebrow lying on the sidewalk and then you realize that he was crossing the road to fetch his face…that you hit with your car.
And then people think you’re out of your mind.
And you are.
In a single day, I laugh. I cry. I laugh because I’m crying. I punch pillows. I grind my teeth. I tell Shawn that I’m going to buy a cake with thick frosting. I made 4 casseroles in a single day and froze them. I also started a million things and not one of those million things got done. He tells me I’m nuts and that he’s afraid to come home. I laugh. Then I cry in my room while this plastic dinosaur, whose shadow scares me sometimes at night, stares at me with its weird dinosaur smile.
In the three hours that I’ve been hiding in my room, I have not heard a single concerning footstep outside of the door.
It’s probably better this way.
I’m sure in 20 minutes, the anger will subside and I’ll be happy again. I like to go on pinterest and hit up the funny section to cheer me up. I always end up crossing the same bloody picture that really irks me.
Living with bipolar is not.
“I want to scoop my brain out and tell it to be quiet,” I told him as my hand mimicked a barbaric melon baller.
He rolled over and said, “You know you sound nuts.”
For three years, the Nursing program owned me from the moment I woke until I ended the day with a much deserved dose of ibuprophen and having my head swallowed by a big ass pillow. Sometimes those days would start at 5 am and end at 5 am the very next day. 24 blasted hours of call bells, barking patients, vying for the attentions of doctors who wouldn’t dare give a student a minute of their intelligence, clinical instructors hunting me down with enema kits because for some reason, I was the go to girl for bowel issues.
What that says about me, I have no idea.
Gentle hands perhaps.
Tack on working part time to pay for the torture.
I barely had a moment to pee.
Studying for exams was the last on the to-do list. Now hold on to your bed pans. I retained the pertinent details of class of which I learned from wasting my time in high school absorbing useless things such as figuring out math word problems. Have you ever gotten lost in the insignificant details?
John is Julie’s friend or maybe it’s his aunt and is she is wearing a wig or is that a bad dye job and the wind is blowing her skirt from the northwest and holy shit, you put numbers in there? What am I trying to solve? What. Am. I. Trying. To. Solve?
Despite the fact that I crammed the knowledge of the inner workings of the circulatory system in a single night, I made really good grades. My secret weapons were a cup of microwaved instant coffee and a shag carpet from the late 1970′s which was like the world’s first Swiffer sweeper of memories, Kool-Aid, and that time when my sister ate an entire bag of ketchup chips and puked. I didn’t dare fall asleep on it.
I’d squeak in an hour or two of sleep and then go to class; not before I told the curb that I ran over in the college parking lot to f*ck off.
Sleep deprivation was common during those three years. It triggered irritability, sluggishness, stress, and I seriously contemplated carrying out my thoughts of killing cats. I would recover fairly quickly though, with a few consecutive nights of solid sleep. Before I knew it, I’d be back to my normal self on the medical surgical floor with pockets full of rubber gloves and lubrication because lord knows my instructor had already to assigned me to twenty enemas that day.
Sleep plays a huge role in our moods and how we function and for me, like so many others who have bipolar disorder, sleep is as vital as breathing. I follow a pretty strict sleep schedule which means that I go to bed and rise at the same time (I give an hour window for each). If I’m thrown off schedule, I turn ugly.
These past few weeks have been challenging as far as sleep goes and needless to say, life has been uncomfortably interesting. I have unwillingly jumped on the proverbial roller coaster of rapid mood switches. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s like I’m coming and going and feeling giddy and crushed with depression and the constant vibration of energy that innervates my being. All in a 24 hour period.
The most irritating of them all is the 100 radios turned on all at once blaring words that beg to be heard. My only respite is the huge (“very crazy people huge” according to my sister who is a psychiatric nurse) dose of anti-psychotic medication that I take at night. It takes me out at the knees like it always does yet I still wake up in the middle of the night*.
I wish it were as simple as treating a cold but unfortunately, it is not.
So while my eyes are open, I will dream of my hand being a giant melon baller and scooping my brains out.
I’ll laugh because the word “melon baller” is hilarious.
Then I’ll cry because I don’t have a melon baller.
Then I’ll get angry because Shawn is sleeping.
Then I’ll kick him in jealousy.
Then I’ll laugh.
And then cry.
And get angry and decide to write a post about sleep deprivation instead.
I am fairly certain that my increasing back pain is the culprit for interrupting my sleep. I had a xylocaine infusion on Saturday to help make the pain more manageable. It tipped into full on euphoria however Sunday, I was the complete opposite. Angry Kim. I’m really hoping that once the pain gets managed, I will be able to sleep like Shawn only look much cuter and with less drool.
My legs were uncomfortably tangled by blankets but I dared not to stir them and disrupt the sequential order of the pages laid on top of them. As painstakingly as it was to piece together my extracted crowded thoughts and form them into something a normal mind could chew, it was almost comical; a very tangible reflection of the chaos in my head.
It is so frustrating to leaf through all of these thoughts especially when I have no idea what I’m even looking for. It’s like standing in front of an overstuffed fridge on an empty stomach. All that food within your reach, and you can’t figure out what is going to satisfy your grumbling belly.
“Whatcha doing Momma?” he said as he forcefully flung himself at the foot of the bed. I squinted my eyes as the pieces of paper scattered.
“I’m writing,” I frustratingly said.
“Oh. Can I help?” he asked as he grabbed a pencil that had abandoned my makeshift office an hour ago.
He scribbled a string of numbers haphazardly across the page and asked me to make a man. I drew a primitive stick man and he laughed.
“What do all of these words say?”
“Well, it’s a note that I wrote for you a long while ago.”
“What did you write?”
“That I was proud of you. If it is good, I will get to share it with other people. I will get to read it on a stage .” I explained as a drew a microphone in the stick man’s hand.
The note of encouragement I wrote for him while in the hospital. I made Shawn put it in his lunch box for the next day
“That’s silly,” he said, ” You can’t talk into a magic wand.”
I roared. He told me to close my eyes and when I was told to open them, I saw a purple heart. “This says that I love you and I made it with a butt and a triangle.” I kissed his forehead and he wiped it off. “I’m out of here,” he said as he quickly leapt off of the bed and ran down the hall.
I spent a lot of time and tears on that note. Bits came from an actual letter that I wrote for him when I was in the hospital. They were written on sheets of lined paper because the nurses had confiscated my journal. The metal spiral binding was a safety concern since I was self harming to cope during a horrible time in my life.
Within a few days of its completion, I found myself sitting in front of my computer getting a crash course on google hangouts. When I figured how to work the microphone, I took a big breath and shared my story. I cried and I stumbled over words that got caught by my heart. A week later, Kimberly, the girl behind the words in this hub of the internet, became a cast member for Listen To Your Mother (Detroit).
Who may just be the first Canadian cast member.
I am beyond elated that I’m going to have this platform to touch the lives of women who are parenting with a mental illness, perhaps even breathe hope into their lungs that are starved of happy.
The women that I am so very blessed to accompany onstage in May, will pour our souls out to you.
We will tell you that “Hey Mom, yes you. We all laugh, cry, struggle, celebrate, and love our children fiercely except for that one time they drew Egyptian pictographs on your walls. We are beautifully imperfect and there is nothing wrong with that.”
If you are in the area, tickets are on sale. 10% of the proceeds will be going to a phenomenal cause, Alternatives For Girls
A huge thanks to Angela, Jessica, and Angela for choosing my letter to the guy who loves me no matter where my head may roam.
I never thought that the girl, who frequently tripped over her squeaky clean shoes as she ran to trauma, would become a writer.
Unfortunate circumstances hijacked the course that I had intended to go in life. Every day I struggled to regain control and every day I felt my hope being ripped apart by the seemingly constant push of death and pull of being alive. More often than not, I thought of letting go; dissolve into nothingness. It was but a sick fantasy of mine as I drove through intersections, stood dangerously close to edges, walked across the street, to be rid of the pain.
My first book
I had the hardest time opening up to my psychiatrist to begin with and to tell him how excited I felt when I thought of death was a secret I wouldn’t divulge for months. That, along with intense rage, anxiety, paranoia, they had nowhere to go. They were stuck in the confines of my mind. I needed to let them go. So I wrote.
I stabbed emotionally charged words onto paper, giving my agony a mother f*cking voice to be reckoned with. It gave me power over the purgatory as I told it how much I hated what it stole from me. I wrote notes to my family and to myself that promised I would fight until my soul bled smiles instead of tears.
The satisfaction that came with writing was the best therapy I had and still is.
And cookies, hugs from my boys, my dog refraining from eating dirty underwear for at least a day, friends who bring the funny, good music, drugs and sunshine and unicorn farts.
I am not sure if I really remember having a quiet mind where the thoughts waxed and waned just how it should. Normal I suppose. My bipolar mind however, runs as erratic as my moods. It races with brilliant thoughts that fly from one to the next when I’m hypomanic* and it stands still in the middle of the stagnant dark ones when I’m depressed.
“How can you write during times like that?” I’m asked time and time again.
It’s because I fight past the chaos so that I can listen to the tune that my heart is beating to.
Being mindful, ever present, I notice all the delicate beauty around me and the cloudy air that can smother it. It’s the connection of the emotions in that exact moment in which I experience them, that fills in the sentences of my pieces.
It’s like a valve that opens and allows the pain to flow.
It’s the art of setting it free, even if it’s only for a short while.
Writing is my control over what is trying to kill me.
Life has been rough these last few years, but in that, I have found pieces of myself that I never knew existed.
And I kind of like her.
I do mourn from time to time of the Kimberly I think I’ve lost. I could have still been running up and down the halls of the ER. I could have shot out seven kids by now. I could have. I could have. I could have.
But when I look at the Kimberly now in the mirror cursing Lithium for birthing zits on my face, I see a fighter, survivor, sometimes broken but with pretty hair…
And a writer.
My hair is so pretty that this clown can’t help himself from staring at my boobies.
*That post exactly exemplifies my hypomania. What the hell was I thinking? Purple pants?
It’s hard to find the good in life when you’re mind is succumbed to depression. It loves to showcase all the nitty gritty that you’re supposedly failing at; things that you’d never think twice about like not having enough energy to finish that last load of laundry.
There is nothing worse than measuring up your self worth to doing the laundry. Just before I was admitted to the psych ward in 2012, I was a laundry nut. I wanted to show my son’s teacher that I was perfect. He had started school that year and I didn’t want her to find out that I was “defective”. I ironed all the things he wore. I’d spend all night and most of my morning making sure that there were no wrinkles in his attire. I would watch him enter the school and could pinpoint imperfections in his shirt sleeves.
“They’re going to know I’m a horrible mom.”
Sounds completely irrational right? To me, at the time, it was truth.
Laundry ironed = good parenting.
I was entered into an outpatient program upon discharge. I hated it. Everything was redundant and I tried to weasel my way out of it by saying that I was a nurse and knew all of the crap already. They didn’t buy it, and I’m glad that they didn’t. I ended up learning so much about coping skills and how to prevent the downfall from becoming inescapable. Those little gems are kept in my bedside table and are referenced to when I’m sinking.
One of the sections in the book is a gratitude journal. Every morning we had to list things that we were thankful for. I’m embarrassed to say that my first entry was:
“I’m so f*cking glad that the social worker is wearing a scrunchy because it’s not 1990 and it makes me laugh.”
It was incredibly frustrating to not be able to think of something to be thankful for. I dreaded doing this and one day, I cracked. She heard my sniffles and addressed the entire room by saying, “It’s hard to find the sunshine in the storm. It’s ok. One day you will see it and it’ll slap you in the face.” (I wrote that down.)
I scratched at the surface of my day. Seemingly insignificant things like “I heard the birds in the morning and it made me think of summer. I like summer.” Then it got deeper and deeper. It’s so important when you’re struggling to find the good in all that you do/experience/feel.
So I decided to jump on the Ten Things Of Thankful because I need to focus on the good. Unless you catch me in the afternoon when my mood completely switches to feeling funny, then all of the things are awesome (Don’t ask. Just roll with it.)
1. Balls: Not of the male variety. I’m talking about being confident. I am proud of myself for advocating for child and parent safety at my son’s school. When my calls went unaddressed, I took it to the next level and called the fire marshal. Yes, I did. (I think I will write a separate post on that…on how us parents become raging elephants).
2. Sun: Two days of it. If it weren’t so cold out, I’d be outside rolling in the snow in my bikini. But then I’d have to shave my legs. Ain’t nobody got the stomach to see the sasquatch I’m growing. Kidding. I did shave my legs for the massage therapist. I’m sure that she appreciated my efforts at looking saucy.
3. Quick wit: If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you can tell by my writing how I’m feeling. I’ve been told that. When I’m in the dumper, I try to make my posts a wee less dark by peppering it with subtle jokes. I know that it’s hard for people to read about my depression and how god awful it is. For me, depression isn’t always 100% all day endless doom and gloom (Key words, for me. Everyone experiences depression in their own hellish ways.). I can laugh too, albeit it takes a lot more for me to do so. In an odd way, making fun of Oprah and the state of my eyebrows makes me feel better. And I hope that the ones stumbling to my blog via depression search can get a good chuckle even including the person who keeps coming to my blog by googling “road cone in ass”.
4. Tim Horton’s: White hot chocolate with a vanilla bean shot.
There is nothing more Canadian than drinking Tim Hortons and watching a good hockey game
5. Watching my son play hockey: Words cannot describe how beautiful it is to watch him skate with such confidence…and how mother effing fast he is. He is the fastest skater on the team and I love hearing the parents whisper, “Look at how fast he is.”
This was just before he stepped onto the ice during intermission of an OHL game.
He picked jersey #7 (my favourite number)
6. Barenaked Ladies: Not boobie showing naked ladies. The band. Their music is so goofy but oh so lighthearted. By far, my favourite band ever.
7. Friends near and far that text me every day to make me smile.
8. My sister moved home. Gah, she is the most embarrassing person to take out in public and I love it. She lives without reserve and does what makes her happy. I am so glad that she’s back and that she was hired as an RN on the psych ward. Ironic. We joke that if I ever get admitted again (NEVER), I’d get dibs on the penthouse room.
P!nk concert. Things escalated quickly.
9. Salami and cheese.
10. New Chuck Norris calendar
I’ll throw in a #11 and say that I’m thankful that you read this whole post or pretended that you did. Lists are sometimes boring. Don’t lie. We all think it. No? I’m an ass shat. Sorry.
So what is making you smile today?
What are you thankful for?
Ps. I am so behind in all things related to life, blogging being one of them. Know that I read every single one of your comments and I appreciate them so very much. I’ll get into the swing of things again. I miss reading your lovely blogs.