Monthly Archives: May 2013

Falling in the Fall

The Werewolf and I slowly started to wear each other out with drugs. But that part comes later. After a semester full of freedom and binges I came home for summer for the first time in years. I did not adjust well.

In some repressed part of my personality lies a control freak. This monster had a full revival when I came home after my second year of law. It had been years since I’d lived at home. Suddenly, I was sharing a bathroom again. I didn’t have control over the thermostat. My mom was washing my clothes because she didn’t have time to interrupt the constant cycling of laundry to let me sneak my clothes in on my own. Well, the control freak burst from me violently within days of my return to my roots. I was unhappy and uncomfortable living at home, I was surrounded by people who knew the girl who left home six years ago, not the girl standing in front of them six years later. I had forgotten what it’s like to live somewhere where you actually did have to look nice to go to Walmart because you’ll certainly see at least two people you know each time you go. I had forgotten what it’s like living in a small town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

My brain rebelled. I panicked. I gave myself a day to panic and to frantically try to re-plan my career, to get out of the South even though it was where I thought I wanted to be. Going through the exercise soothed my anxiety. It gave me a few days to assure myself that I was doing something to control my future, that I was in control. I.was.in.control. After a few days passed I began to adjust, I started to relax, and I started to remember why I wanted come back to the South.

I only had to do six weeks at my parent’s house before I moved to the New Orleans area for my second summer job. My life was instantly better. I had freedom and control over my domain. I had a cool roommate, who owned the house and kept it immaculate. I got along well with his girlfriend, a family friend. My panic abated.

Weeks earlier I had gone to visit my friend in Baton Rouge. I couldn’t get any drugs, not even weed, and I freaked. I got too drunk, then I became psychotically frustrated at our inability to procure drugs. I didn’t want to be drinking, I wanted to be high. In my drunkenness I let myself get upset by something menial and the uncontrollable crying began. I called the stupid crisis center aat my school because I desperately wanted to talk to my counselor. He wasn’t on duty. I was clearly in distress, unable to stop crying long enough to be understood, but the crisis line was not able to provide any help. I gave myself a few scratches and eventually passed out.

But that changed once I moved to New Orleans. I had access to some drugs and I was busy at work. I started training for the Chicago marathon, with an aggressive new goal looming. This was the beginning of the downward spiral that would end with my first hospitalization. Confident my old knee injuries were healed, and forgetting about my substantial back injury, I changed shoes and my stride as I began to train for the marathon. As time went on my back got worse and worse. It got so bad that I had to see the chiropractor 3 times a week. Eventually, and inevitably, I burst into tears during one of those meetings because I frustrated didn’t understand why my back wasn’t getting better. I’m 24 years old, I kept thinking, I shouldn’t be having these problems. My chiropractor stopped what he was doing and sat down.

“You have to stop running.”

I initially thought that this was not an option. After all, I’d been training all summer and, now back at school, the race was within my reach. But my back never got better. So I stopped running. I didn’t even show up to the marathon. My mood took a decidedly sharp turn towards what would become a debilitating depression. I stopped running but my back kept getting worse. It was painfully uncomfortable sitting through classes. My back constantly hurt. The hurt ranged from a constant dull, achy pain to an intense, sharp pain that accompanied every left footed step. I was constantly in pain and my back wasn’t responding to treatment. I had to stop working out because everything I did hurt my back. Without the exercise endorphins, I sank deeper into my depression. I started sleeping 13 hours a night. I took long and unnecessary naps during the day. If I missed just one dose of my bipolar medicine I would be prone to random crying jags, set off by nothing at all.

This scared me. I felt crazier and started to worry about my sanity in earnest. During one particularly bad crying jag, brought on by folding towels, I started to wonder if I should I think about inpatient treatment. At the start of my third year of law school I’d been functionally “kicked out” of counseling. I was told that I needed more help than they could give me, ie needed therapy more than once a two weeks. They sent me off with a reference, leaving me to my own devices to find a new psychiatrist. Upon discharging me they “highly recommended” outpatient rehab for my substance abuse. I declined.

But getting kicked out of counseling made me feel crazier. The crying jags didn’t go away. I was sleeping too much and had no energy to go to class and take care of my work. Every time I started crying for no reason, I thought more seriously about a brief jaunt in inpatient treatment. I sunk down deeper into my depression. The Werewolf wanted to take a break from drugs and me. I was on my own and this made it worse.

Then I discovered the substance that would break the levee, causing my depression to breach and drown the last bit of sanity that I was holding unto. DXM broke the levee. My depression and my crazy drowned my sanity. The DXM nagged the little sanity I had left.

And then the levee broke.

And then I checked myself into inpatient treatment.

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No Love but Lots of Other Drugs

My time with the Werewolf was never really about romance. This needs to be emphasized, it was never about romance and I never wanted it to be. It’s always been what I like to think of as a mutual fascination coupled with great sex and a common lust for drugs. We’ve never said “I love you” and I never want to. I’ve outlasted his numerous girlfriends, sometimes more than one at a time, with me on the side. We’ve always managed to weasel our ways back into each other lives. We’re both bad for each other. We’re enablers. And we love to do drugs. Not a good combo if you’re trying to stay sober– or even sane.

In the middle of my hypomania I started to experiment more heavily with drugs. I’d only ever smoked weed before I met the Werewolf. I’d taken some Xanax and smoked up with him a couple of times but that was about as scandalous as I’d been. One day we were making plans to smoke, and he told me he was trying to get morphine. Morphine. I was initially apprehensive but then I thought about it for a few short minutes and jumped on board. Impulsive and flippant about consequences, it sounded like an adventure. At the time, I didn’t realize how serious morphine was. To me, it just sounded like a good idea.

The Werewolf has the best house for doing drugs. In the spring of my second year of law school, the Werewolf bought a house in town. The house was a perfect drug den, neighbors were too far away to smell the smoke or complain about the music. We had the freedom, glorious freedom, to smoke in the living room, not cramped in the bathroom like we had to be at my apartment.

The house is not in a particularly good part of town. So the Werewolf adopted a big dog. Half pit and half sharpei, the dog is quite handsome but muscular and intimidating. There’s no mistaking the pit in him, even through the squished sharpei face and sharp yellow-green eyes. He’s a handsome lad and not many people would want to mess with him–not with that jaw. It locks down with massive force at whatever unfortunate item or creature that’s caught in it. Having the dog helped make up for the neighborhood. And the Werewolf is a pretty big guy, so not many people would come at him anyway.

He made me go with him to get the morphine. We were getting it from some townies, the chain of acquaintances beginning with his eccentric, gay, 30-40-something year old neighbor. I have no clue where this guy’s income comes from. He said he doesn’t work and that he plays video games all day. His house is clean and decorated in an unassuming 70’s retro-style. He’s stick skinny and has a thing for the Werewolf, who has made it clear that he is straight. Which may be part of the reason he keeps me around, to serve as a continuous reminder to this clan of gay, morphine-dealing and aging, townies.

We got to the house where the guy with the goods lived. “Guy” is the wrong word. These were men, older men, approaching 50-60. We awkwardly walked into this house of strangers, two dudes living together, both gay but not together. We walked in and, looking around. It was just like walking into a great-aunt’s house. Or a doll’s house. The place was clean but positively overflowing with knickknacks and doilies.

We walked into the bedroom of the guy who was selling us the morphine. It took awhile to really take the whole scene in. The guy was obviously pretty sick. Like ill. Sounded like he at least had some kind of emphysema going on. His walls were adorned with Boy Scout honors, special knives, and the American flag. He was a vet and there were various markers of this through out the room. He had a computer station that had at least 3 monitors. There was no place to sit in the closet of a room, so we awkwardly sat on his single bed, the Werewolf’s gay neighbor making syrupy and unnatural small talk and working his way towards the deal. We ended up paying two dollars a pill, dirt cheap– especially for the dosage we were getting– and popped them before heading back to the Werewolf’s house.

Morphine is my drug of choice. If I could spend my life feeling like I did that first night we took the pills, I would. We’d been smoking weed throughout the evening so there was no risk of that pesky nausea that so often accompanies opiates.

As the morphine hit me, I lay in the Werewolf’s bed, an incredible feeling of warmth washing over me and coming to rest deep in my stomach, where it radiated throughout my entire body. There was trippy music playing in the background and I was blissed out. Lying there, I heard voices for the first time. We’d been talking about me getting off my meds and getting back to my more creative– and more dangerous– self. The gentle voices were in my head but they seemed somehow external. Almost as if they were coming from the wall I was staring at in the dark of the Werewolf’s bedroom.

“Come with us,” they called in soft voices.
“You don’t need the meds anymore. Just get off them.”

I shook the voices out of my head and went back to dreamily enjoying the sensations and pictures passing through my mind in body.

The voices came back.

“Come with us,” they crooned, voices soft again.
“It’s better over here.”
“Come to the otherside.”
“It’s better here.”

I knew they were talking about killing myself. But the voices didn’t disturb me. I considered their offer seriously. Obviously, I ultimately decided that living was preferable to dying right then. The funny thing is that, at the time, the voices didn’t disturb me. They were a natural part of the warm morphine landscape. My pain was gone, I felt amazing– relaxed and with a pleasant itching warmth coursing through my veins. The voices were just part of the experience.

I told the Werewolf about the voices and he laughed at me, standard operating procedure, and told me that I was the weirdest person he knew. This was not news to me. I heard this from him on a regular basis but I didn’t really believe it. He did his undergrad at Bezerk-ly; there was no way I weirder than some of the crazy hippy chicks he surely met during his time there. We spent the rest of night, high as kites, talking about the world and ourselves and the universe. I eventually fell asleep for a few hours but he stayed awake all night, itching. I tried to ignore the nagging itches and fell asleep for a few hours while he watched me, itching and envious. Soon enough I’d learn to indulge and enjoy the itching. But that night the itch didn’t seem enviable so I ignored it and avoided scratching, knowing it wouldn’t take many scratches until the full blown body itch would burst out.

Morphine was only the beginning. It remains my favorite as I’ve made my way through the gambit of drugs with my friend and sex partner– but never lover– the Werewolf. Morphine is still my favorite. It’s one of the few drugs that, if offered to me right now, I’m not sure I’d be able to resist. Of course the drugs were bad for my brain chemistry and bipolar brain, but I tabled that discussion for another time. Now was the time to experiment and I went all in.

Morphine was quickly followed by ecstasy and we, in our infinite wisdom, decided that combining the two and adding in a full fledged bender– was a good choice to make. In fact, we perfected the bender.

    G and the Werewolf’s Guide to the

Perfect Bender

*this Guide was written by two, high tolerance, crazy-ass users. DO NOT ATTEMPT. Seriously, don’t, it’s dangerous.
** If you’re going to attempt the perfect bender, do it with someone you get along with and like to have sex with.

Start Friday
1. Assemble all the necessary drugs in generous amounts (Morphine, ecstasy, Xanax, weed)
2. Buy Alcohol, preferably Champagne. (It’s easy to drink at any time of the day and easy on the stomach)
3. Smoke weed
4. Pop a morphine
5. Pop the champagne
6. Let the party begin
7. Take ecstasy
8. Smoke weed
9. Listen to music and chill
10. Take ecstasy again.
11. Go lay in bed with sweet music and get touchy. For hours.
12. Smoke more weed.
13. Chill and enjoy begin high until the sunrises.

Then, on Saturday at sunrise
1. Try to sleep.
2. Take Xanax
3. Itch.
4. Sleep/try to sleep for 2 more hours.
5. Get up. Order food.
6. Have champagne
7. Hydrate.
8. Smoke weed
9. Watch TV/lay in bed and chill for two hours

Saturday Afternoon/Evening
1. Smoke weed
2. Rent a movie
3. Pop half a morphine
4. Watch movie
5. Leave the house to run errands, preferably on foot.
6. Smoke weed
7. Take morphine
8. Lie in bed enjoy begin high. Preferably with sweet tunes. For three hours minimum.
9. Get up and do things. Like clean up the big mess made by last night.
10. Shower
11. Smoke weed
12. Get food
13. Take morphine
14. Retire to bedroom for the night.
15.Turn on sweet tunes.
16. Itch. all night.

Sunday morning
1. Take a Xanax and some Advil, maybe Tums
2. Get few hours of sleep.
3. Wake up.
4. Order Food
5. Smoke weed
6. Eat Food
7. Watch TV
8. Smoke Weed
9. Lay in Bed
10. Smoke weed

Around 7 on Sunday
1. Leave.
2. Party over.
3. Sleep for days.

During the spring of my second year of law school, the benders were close to bi-monthly. It didn’t take me long to run my way through molly, coke, benzos, muscle relaxers, uppers, opiates, and DXM. There is only thing that I’ve ever been offered and refused: methadone. I made a “Do not EVER Do” List. Which consisted of: Heroin, PCP, Meth. Not all the drugs stuck with me. I don’t like uppers and coke doesn’t really do much for me.

I came away from experimentation with some favorites. Morphine. Also, smoking weed, opiates, ecstasy and molly, and a benzo for my anxiety.

Those were my favorites. And because I was having so much fun I didn’t think what I was doing was a problem.

Well, it turned into a big problem. I thought I was in control of myself, sure I was isolating myself from friends and trying to hide my escapes from my roommate, but that didn’t mean I had a problem. I managed to make good grades that spring, in spite of my heavy drug use. It would be months before I encountered anything like a “consequence” because of my drug use. So I didn’t think I had a problem. I wasn’t like those people that had problems. I didn’t have a problem. There was no problem with my drug use.

I was wrong. Very wrong. Hindsight is 20-20 but I think that even if I had the benefit of hindsight, I still would make the same choice. The pull of the drugs was just so intoxicating.


The Descent and the Werewolf

My true descent into madness began in November of my second year of law school. Of course it involved a boy, with me it always does.

I met this one at a bar. I think I’d seen him at school one time before. He’s 6’4″ and over 200 lbs, built substantially, none of that skinny shit. I think I’d glanced him for a brief second when classes were changing. As a tall girl, tall guys always catch my eye.

We met at the bar. I saw him from across the bar, tall and easy to spot over all the little heads. At this point, I was quite the social butterfly. Still hypomanic, better because of the Lamictal but still pretty far from even keeled. I had perfected my brand of picking guys up at a bar, usually to pass off to a friend. None of my friends really like being the first to approach a guy but I have no problem with it. At the time, I was thriving in groups. I would spot a group of guys, start talking to them, and then bring them back to my friends for them to pair off with.

I wasn’t getting him for my friends. I don’t remember if he was with a big group but when I walked up to him, it was to talk to just him. I had no interest in his friends, I wasn’t trying to wrangle them back to my group. I was getting this one for myself.

He wasn’t the easiest conquest. He’s quite good looking and is aware of it in a matter of fact way. Not obnoxiously arrogant about it but quietly aware. There’s something sinister about him when he smiles, especially when he’s growing out his facial hair. The more-than-a-five-o’clock-shadow look suits him. I have no idea what I said to him when I first went up to him. I don’t really remember what we talked about. I do remember him telling me that his major in college, he went to Berkley, was something like Sex and Women. I guess that should have been a warning sign. I didn’t get the impression that he was a great guy, but he was cute and interesting. A year behind me in school–but three years older– and from California, he was exotic enough for my purposes.

I didn’t mean to sleep with him. I don’t know why I decided to bring him home but I did. He told me at the bar he didn’t smoke weed but when we got back to my place it was apparent that he had more than a little experience with it. I’ve never been good at telling when he’s joking or lying. I don’t know why. I just can’t read him. He’s somewhat of an interesting subject to me– I don’t really understand him but he makes for fascinating study. And I think he felt the same way about me. We were interested in each other but from a distant, objective vantage point.

But we had chemistry and it was easy to forgive myself for bringing someone home after I’d resolved not to. We exchanged numbers but none of the standard pleasantries the next morning. We both thought the other was weird and had no qualms about making that clear.

I knew after that night that he was bad news. That first night that he stayed over, after I’d picked him up at the bar, I had a dream about him. There was some story line involving the Ex and my new partner in crime but I couldn’t remember the details. But I did remember that in my dream he turned into my a werewolf. For some reason this stuck with me. Occasionally I’ll have an extraordinarily vivid dream and it will stick with me throughout the day, unsettling and sometimes unpleasant. I couldn’t remember the details of this dream but I remembered the part about the werewolf. I place a high predictive value on my dreams. Sometimes, in a way, they’ve come true. The night before the Ex broke up with me, I dreamt it. I woke up the next morning, relieved it was just a dream. Later that day he broke up with me over email. I’m sure there are great reasons for this occasional premonition; I probably sensed it before on some level and that weaseled its way into my dream, warning me.

I knew the werewolf meant something bad. I was right but I didn’t listen. I still don’t listen when it comes to him– the Werewolf– never mine but always with me. I’ve gotten better about saying no to the bad ideas but not about seeing him.

If I’d known what would happen because I got involved with him, I’m sure I would have done it anyway. He was bad news for me, and still is. There will always be something devilish about him and it will probably always be hard for me to resist him, even though I know how bad things have gotten when I’m involved with him. If I hadn’t met him I probably wouldn’t be writing this now. He was part of all the trouble that got me into this. But given a second chance I’d do it again because there’s something about him that bewitched me, starting that night in the bar. I met him when he was human but eventually we both descended into the madness together, transforming from man to wolf.

Howling at the moon.


The Diagnosis

Once I started to get over the Ex, my summer depression started to lift. As it got closer and closer to the start of school, my mood lifted correspondingly. I stopped going to bed at 7:00 at night (although whether that counts as “night” is debatable, especially because it didn’t really get dark until 9 at night anyway). My marathon training started to pick up and I started to get faster and stronger. The once daunting and stomach-sick, nerves inducing 10 mile runs became challenges I was increasingly eager to take on. I stopped spending so much time in bed, looking out my window on the second story of the house, wondering what would happen if I just let myself fall out.

And then it was time to go back to school. I’ve always liked going back to school, and being in school in general. I’m an extrovert and I thrive around people. At least I used do. But by the time school started again I was feeling pretty good. But I hadn’t forgotten about my despairing depression that occupied the majority of my summer. I was already on the maximum dose of my antidepressant and I wanted to see if adding in something like Abilify would keep the darkness at bay, and maybe something like Xanax for my anxiety, if I was lucky.

I trotted into Student Health and saw the doctor who had been renewing my antidepressant script and asked about adding on something new. Apparently, as a general practitioner, she wasn’t supposed to mess with meds that much and so she sent me upstairs to the Counseling Center.

The Counseling Center*. I had avoided counseling and therapy up to this point and I had absolutely no desire to start now. Apparently at my school, in order to see the psychiatrist, and thus get meds renewed or tinkered with, you had to be seeing one of the counselors in the Center.

(This is the same Counseling Center from “A Warning.” At this point in my story I had no idea how bad my experiences with the Counseling Center would become, but that part comes much later.)

I went through the intake process, which consisted of a very long and comprehensive computer test designed to identify problem areas so that you could be paired with an appropriate therapist. I stupidly answered the drinking questions honestly but lied about my drug use, then limited to occasionally smoking weed, not trusting the confidentiality agreement to keep me out of trouble.

At this point, I was still drinking. A lot. I was that girl who always got too drunk. I couldn’t go out and just have a few, I got drunk-ass wasted. Luckily, I usually wasn’t a crier. Unfortunately, I had a tendency to get pretty aggressive and confrontational. I rarely black out completely so I usually remembered my stupid escapades, although sometimes the details of who I had offended the night before escaped me. I was also a make-out whore. Not a real whore, I was very good at keeping my legs closed, which made me a very effective tease. I was careful to avoid going home with any of my make-out targets, which certainly kept me out of a lot more trouble. By the end of my first year of law school I had made a name for myself as a party girl.

Answering the drinking questions honestly was not such a great idea in the end because it freaked the counselors out. After filling out the computer portion of the intake, I met with a counselor for an initial, sort-of-diagnostic session. After the session, where the counselor would get a feel for my issues and corresponding mental health needs, I was told that the counselors and psychiatrist met and assigned people to counselors. They tried to pair you up with someone who had experience with your unique brand of issues.

I ended up getting paired up with the counselor who did my intake meeting. I actually liked him and it was a good match. Although I still wasn’t thrilled about being stuck in counseling, he did a good job with me and made the whole charade a lot less painful. We got along well and he was from the same area in the South that I am. He was pretty troubled by my alcohol use and wanted me to do an alcohol assessment with one of the drug and alcohol counselors. I didn’t think I had a real problem, and the assessment sounded miserable, so I refused to schedule one.

As school started to get underway, my mood started to lift exponentially. I was out of the snares of my depression and was happy to be alive, trucking onward at an increasingly feverish pace. I attributed my good moods and occasional hyperactivity to the marathon training. I was running tons of miles a week and I was sure that an intense and lasting runner’s high was responsible for my mood.

Not that I minded. I felt like my old self again and it was great to be in a good mood almost all of the time. I kept drinking and getting wasted drunk on the weekends. As the semester progressed I started getting more promiscuous. Which, in retrospect, should have been a red flag. My spending also started to get out of control. I’ve never been great with money but online shopping started to become a real problem. I already owed my little brother two grand and I was putting everything on credit cards that I couldn’t afford to pay off.

I started getting really hyper. I had too much energy for school. I couldn’t sit still, some part of my body had to be moving. I’d always been on the hyper side but this was much worse than usual. At lunch I was talking too fast for my friends to follow and I felt like I needed to run laps around the law school just to dispense with some of my energy, even though I was still in the middle of marathon training. My long runs were steadily approaching the 20 mile mark but the running seemed to do little for my boundless energy. One night I was so hyped up that one of my friends thought I was on amphetamines. And at that point I was more than a few drinks in and had smoked at least a bowl. Two depressants in my system and I was carrying on like the energizer bunny.

It didn’t take that long for my therapist to put two and two together. I went to therapy every two weeks and one Tuesday in October I arrived at my appointment and he pulled out one of those bipolar test/questionnaires. The kind where they list symptoms and you check off the ones you have. If you check off a certain number, like 5 out of 9, then you’re “bipolar.” Well, I checked off a bunch of them. Sleeplessness was one of the only hypomania symptoms I wasn’t having. I’ve always been a big sleeper and I’m thankful for that– I think that’s kept me from getting flow-blown, psychotic mania.

He told me I was probably bipolar. The psychiatrist agreed. They put me on Lamictal and told me to stop drinking. They took my Celexa down to a really low dose– they both agreed that the high dose I was on probably triggered the bout of mania.

And that was it. For awhile anyway. I didn’t tell my parents or my brothers. I told my close friends but the diagnosis didn’t change much about my life.

But I didn’t really believe I was bipolar. I thought it was probably a mistake or coincidence that my symptoms matched up. I’d known people who were bipolar and I didn’t seem like them at all. Sure, I was self destructive, spent all my money, had a heightened sex drive, racing thoughts, started wild projects I’d never finish, and was dangerously impulsive. But that was just the way I was. Surely they had confused my personality for the disorder. I had no problem with my depression diagnosis. I knew I was sad, didn’t have any reason to be, and had no problem taking a pill everyday to rectify my faulty brain chemistry. But to me, being bipolar didn’t seem like a simple brain chemistry thing, the way I had characterized my depression. It felt bigger, serious, and, most importantly, not like me.

I’ve finally started to accept my diagnosis but it would be something that I would wrangle with and resist. That day in my counselor’s office I was in denial. But once the fight began it would rage and burn and nearly pull me down with it.


Those White Walls

And finals are over. Finals brain is still in full force and I’m running low on inspiration.

I’ve been out of the hospital for almost a month, but not quite, still a few days to go. Still don’t have that many friends. I’ve gotten some new friends who have carried me through the weeks after my release. I still get lonely. I’m still hurt by the abandonment of people I’d counted on as friends. And my white walls are still making me crazy.

The walls actually make me quite crazy. To the extent that I think that they trigger the loneliness, that sometimes overwhelming and desperate loneliness. The white walls in the apartment didn’t happen until after I got out of the hospital. Perhaps that’s why my mind has sickly twisted and entwined the coldness of the white walls and my loneliness, which reminds me of the hospital– and at times just overwhelms me. You see, before the walls were white they were Arizona-adobe-retirement home-pink. They were warm and made the colors in our Mexican throw blanket pop.

We didn’t have to paint them back to the color they were before, a standard issue beige, all we had to do was prime the walls. Well, we primed them. And now my once-delightfully-pinkish walls are covered by rough strokes from the primer paint roller. You can still the pink under the primer. You have to get pretty creative with it but it’s there. Beneath the hideous coat of primer, my pink walls are barely discernible. Discernible but there.

I think that’s why they make me so crazy. Because the white walls just remind me of my hospitalization. And my hospitalization makes me think of the events that led up to it and caused my hideous loneliness. So seeing the white walls when I come home– not white, but thin-white-primer-over-pink-adobe walls–makes me think of all the things that happened before I went full crazy and ended up in the hospital. And the way things have been since I’ve gotten out, the people who have left me. This is why the white walls make me crazy. And why they always trigger my destructive loneliness.

So, really, it’s not really my fault– it’s their’s.
Those white walls.


Itching

My arm itches, my wrist itches, so do my ankles, parts of my hips, and the scratches on my leg. My cuts are all itching and it’s hard not to scratch.

But itching isn’t a bad thing. It’s not from mosquitos or some other bug bite, not because I’m allergic to my detergent, not because i have some exotic skin condition. Itching means healing.

My cuts are healing, but am I? The last week has been mind numbing and full of studying, cramming, and endless outline creation. I peeked my head out from under the piles of books today for a short while for a much needed break and outing with friends.

I haven’t been thinking about my condition, or my feelings, or my personal problems for a few days. My brain just hasn’t had the room for it. Even now, an open, highlighted book haunts my peripheral vision although I’ve decided that I’m done studying for the night. But just that short break, being outside and not studying, brought me back to the weight of my sadnesses.

We went to the zoo. Great weather, fun outing, a “to-do” before graduation checked off the list. But even picking out what clothes to wear involves some sort of mental gymnastics. In spite of the itching and healing, I’m still covered in cuts. This means I have to choose among the following:

a. Putting massive bandaids on my ankles to hide the scratches (I think this looks almost as suspicious as going bare), wearing long pants, or going bare;
b. Wearing tights or long pants to hide the scratches on my legs and thighs, or going bare; and
c. Bandaid-ing up the scratches on my arm– there’s one that looks enough like a burn to get away with, so it doesn’t figure into my calculation–, wearing a sweater, or going bare.

Going bare. That’s what I choose. The weather is nice, low 70’s and sunny, and I just don’t feel like making the effort to cover up. And we’re going to the zoo. So who cares.

I get dressed, wearing a black tank with running shorts that go well above the knee, and tennis shoes with socks, no bandaids.

I didn’t realize how exposed I was, or that I even cared, until I took my second study break of the day, going to a friend’s to watch our weekly show. It was a little colder by then so I threw on a small cardigan, abandoned my tennis shoes for flip flops, and left the house, again bandaid free.

But sitting down on the couch next to the group of friends who had all come to watch the show, I started to notice how prominent some of my scratches really are. There’s a big one over my right knee. Seated, I felt like it was glaring at me and shouting to everyone else. I crossed my legs to cover it. I noticed the scratches on the top of my wrist. I pull the arms of my sweater down past my wrists, balling up the ends in my tight fists. I didn’t think about the big scratches on my ankles and luckily no one commented.

The itching is starting to subside. And that scares me. Because most of my scratches and cuts look the same, just without blood. I’m scared that this is how they’re going to look for a long time. These might be the scars I didn’t want to think about while I was cutting my way out of my pain. And as long as they’re there I’m going to have to decide between the following:

a. Bandaids?
b. Cover up?
c. Go bare?

The itching is subsiding but just because the physical itch is gone doesn’t mean I’m healed. When the itching started, this is what I was hoping for. But the itching is starting to subside. And today, after poking my head up from the piles of books that have surrounded me and distracted me for a week, I don’t feel all that healed. I’m still mad at the people who left me. It’s still lonely in my apartment and the white walls in there still drive me crazy. Some of my anger is turning into a bitterness that I don’t like. Maybe I shouldn’t have poked my head up from my books. Maybe if I’d just endured another week of frantic studying before looking up I would feel better. Maybe the cuts would fade, not just heal.

But I didn’t wait another week. And the pain, bitterness, and anger I feel towards the friends who have abandoned is still there. It hurts and I have to stop myself from clenching my jaw, grinding my teeth. Even numbed by my study coma, I am surprised that I still have the energy or emotion left to be angry.

But I am angry.

My cuts are healing, and for that I am thankful. But there has been no equivalent itching of the soul, mind, or memory to bring healing to those wounds. Those wounds that have briefly been numbed by studying. But after a few moments back in the real world I can see I still have a long way to go. Anger is a part of the grieving process and maybe the anger I’m feeling right now is a part of my grief for the loss of the friends who left me and cast me off.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. But for now I’ve got another week of studying to do, another week to wait for my self, my actual self, to start itching and heal on its own. But I’m afraid that even if the itching does begin again I’ll still be left with the emotional scars from the wounds inflicted upon me by abandonment.

So for now I guess it’s back to studying. Maybe, in a week, when I finally make it out of finals and poke my head into the real world, maybe some healing will have gotten done. Only time will tell and although they say time heals all things, I’m pretty sure a one week deadline is not enough notice for our friend, Father Time, to come and heal me. When I emerge from finals I imagine my choices will be the same: bandaid, cover, or bare.


The Fire

He walked into the bar, in a striped long sleeve shirt in spite of the June humidity. Summer in Louisiana is brutal. Temps in the upper 80’s and humidity at nearly 80% on a good day.

I met him briefly earlier that day, my friend* and I lounging in pool chairs and drinking cream soda and rum. But when he walked into the bar he caught my eye in a different way. I was visiting my friend and she’d told me about him before. I knew he was from Michigan, had a tendency to get rowdy, and used to have a coke habit. I also knew that she had been interested in him.

*(although she doesn’t get the credit she deserves in the following paragraphs, it’s important note that she is my most loyal friend, who has put up with me when no one else would, who has listened to me cry about the same thing 6 nights in a row, who has stood steady with me through out the years. She is the truest friend I have, with a heart of gold, when she lets you see it; a mind as sharp as a razor; and a capacity for compassion that she never will give herself credit for. So, she is awesome.)

But that didn’t stop me from talking to him while my friend was distracted, playing pool. I know, I’m a bad person. I do enough self loathing on my own, so no need to rub it in. Although he was in Louisiana as a chemical engineering co-op, he told me he had applied to dental school and was waiting to hear back.

The bar had one bathroom inside and a line longer than we could wait for. My friend and I didn’t and couldn’t wait. The bar had a courtyard where the band was playing. Along the back of the yard there were a handful of Port-a-Potties.

Port-a-Potties.

It was a risky decision.

They had been sitting in the sun all day and the humidity didn’t help the smell. These port-a-potties weren’t the kind that were well maintained. The kind with toilet paper on the floor, although you’d be lucky to find any in the dispenser; no hand soap; and with a smell that can’t scarcely by described let alone recreated.

We decided to be brave and picked the only open one. We both climbed in, sharing it, as drunk girl are wont to do, holding our breath and our noses.

“Do you still like him?” I anxiously whispered.

“Well…. he’s a friend … and nothing’s really happened…” my friend said, haltingly.

“I like him.”
“So is it ok if I go for it?”

Silence. A long pause

“Well let’s just see who goes home with him tonight,” my friend reluctantly suggested.

The challenge was on. It wasn’t really a fair fight. My friend was distracted and beholden to other co-op friends so I was able to him alone– I had no obligation to entertain the rest of group. In the end, it wasn’t really a challenge. We had instant chemistry. I asked him about my friend.

“She’s just friend.”

I sealed my victory when slipped out of the bar, en route to one of those classic, new found crush, drunken make-outs.

I left for Chile a week later.

I was gone for 6 weeks but we Skyped almost every night. We planned a visit for when I got back in the States. He found out he got into the dental school of his dreams.

A college English major, I had already decided to go to law school. My plan was to take a year off, earn a little money, then go to a southern school, hopefully for free. He changed my plans. He convinced me to apply to the same school, which happened to have a top ten law school, and forgo my year off.

They say hindsight is 20-20 but, damn, I wish I knew how this was gonna shake out before I left for Chile. But I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight and I walked straight into what would become the worst years of my life, squinting and near-sighted.

I was always too near-sighted to see the ugly bits under the far-sighted but beautiful imaginary future he designed for us.

We did have some good times, the summer of 2010 may be the best of my life so far. We didn’t fight, we were together everyday, we were happy.

If I knew that the first boy who told me “I love you” would break my heart so badly, I would have been more careful. But I didn’t know and I waltzed blindly with his dreams for us swirling in my mind. My eyes were closed and I was dancing. So I never saw the cliff until I had waltzed my way off; at the last minute he must have opened his eyes, seeing me with mine closed, ignorant of the fall I was about to take. He watched with eyes open as he let go of my hand, letting me fall into what would become a deep depression while he stood on the edge and watched, safe, and unharmed.

When he broke up with me I cried for days. I didn’t see it coming. I still don’t know why he did it, my best guess is he got cold feet. Hindsight tells me I should have seen his selfishness; his love for himself trumped all. He was scared and so he pulled the rug out from me, lead me to edge of the cliff, and watched me fall.

I had to up my anti-depressants, which I started my senior year of college, because I couldn’t handle myself after the break up. It helped. But it wasn’t until I got angry at him that I began to truly heal.

It doesn’t matter what the last straw was. But it broke the camel’s back and finally, finally I got mad at him. I got angry, so angry I needed an outlet to burn off the heat of righteous indignation and rage that finally had been unleashed and that radiated out from me. It fueled me and I started running, in a few months I would make it through my first marathon. I would never have crossed that finish line, or have made that race, if I hadn’t finally gotten mad at him.

Running started to heal me. I ran out my rage, which scarcely could be repressed as I lived each day that summer in the same town as him, I was there because of him and I was angry. The town I ran laps around fueled me, a reminder of what he had done to me, as my anger raged.

Fire truly is cleansing. My anger and my running got me through that summer, helped me cross the marathon finish line, and started to heal me.

At this point, I wouldn’t have wanted a hint of hindsight. If I knew what the fall would bring me, I never would have made it. I wouldn’t have wanted to. My nearsightedness is what got me through those months, but that’s a story for another time.

The fire in my soul healed my broken heart and I was finally able to stop crying, stop thinking of him, and walk, not looking back, out of that awful summer of 2011 and into my second semester of law school, unaware of what the next year would bring me.

Hindsight. Sometimes it’s good we don’t have it. Would we ever dare to brave the hard times, even if it meant losing the gold at the end of the rainbow? Maybe I would have liked a glimpse of it when that boy walked in the bar that steamy night in June. But I didn’t have it. So I waltzed, nearsighted and ready, into his life. And he into mine.


At home, a snapshot

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Dreams

I miss my dreams.  Now I am haunted and plagued by dreams of longing and sometimes loss.  If I can get to sleep that is.  I’m plagued by dreams of getting jilted– left at the alter, he gets cold feet, he cheats on me on our wedding night.  Sometimes the groom is someone I know, sometimes it’s someone I don’t even recognize.

Other times I dream of my ex, the ex, and these are the worst.  We never fight, in my dreams, but he always represents something frustrating in the dream, something beyond reach that I desperately need.  Desperation does not make for success.  I awake unsatisfied and unable to shake the dream.  These frustration dreams stay with my for months or more, haunting me, nagging me.

But now I don’t really sleep.  I’ve become a night owl, the loneliest little night owl on the block.  Like an owl, I’m up all night but, unlike the lucky little owl, I have to make it through the day.  For the owl, the night is the day.  And lately I’ve been shedding pounds like my little owl sheds feathers or a dog sheds a winter coat.  I’ve stopped trying to lose weight.  But it’s hard without an appetite.

It’s harder to explain myself.  I had someone tell me today that I need to end my blog posts with some “hope.”  But what if, today, I don’t see the hope?  I’m trying, trying so hard, to get better but I’m sick sick sick and not every day is a good day.  I’m bipolar and I’m stuck in a bad depression.  One I’m slowing climbing out of.  But is that enough for hope?  Can I promise my friends I’ll be all better, the ones that remain?

I know the cutting is disturbing.  And my last critic expressed his disdain for such content.  But I’m telling my full story.  And for right now, unfortunately, cutting is part of my story.  It won’t always be this way, at least that’s what the doctor’s tell me.  I’m planning a series of posts to show how I got to be where I am; it wasn’t always like this.

I’m swimming but sinking gets harder to avoid on these lonely nights.  My coping mechanisms are gone and I’m left with myself.  Maybe that’s what I can’t tolerate.  Being with myself. Or myself.  Is there a difference?

So here’s some hope: I hope I stop feeling like this, I wish things didn’t have to change because of what I am, and I just want to go home.  I’m doing the best I can.  Is that good enough?  Who can say, I’m sure time will tell– regardless of whether that’s an accurate measure.  Time is lauded as the curer and soother of all wounds, it promises to even it all out, to make it all better.  But what if I don’t have time? I’m impatient.  I’m tired of feeling like this.  I’m ready to get better.

And maybe that’s all it takes– the desire to get better.  It sounds like a good option to me.  I have some measure of control over my desires.  That is what I will desire.  And maybe “hope” will follow.  For now, my truth is enough.  It’s mine and I’m sorry if it’s distasteful or disturbing but it’s real.  And that’s a noble pursuit– a truth of your own.  It’s something to hope for and more, it’s something to chase, to pursue, to conquer and look deeply in the eyes.

So here’s to hoping.  I’ve been sinking but I’m trying to stay afloat.  I wish I could say the days get easier but that’s just not true.  What’s true is that I’m still here and I want to be.  I want to keep dreaming. And I will wait for the good dreams to return, the ones that called me to bed.

I never wanted to be an owl.  But here I am, and, for now, that has to be enough.  Being here.  Making it through another day.  Staying afloat.


Dogs

Truly a best friend.

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