Friday, May 21, 2010

Twitter and My Bipolar Disorder

I woke up this morning feeling like the air was the weight and density of molasses.  I felt like depression had claimed me and as I sat on the toilet I thought the next thing I should do is call my therapist and ask for an antidepressant change.  But first I got coffee, slammed back a hand full of pills, and then the tall boy's girlfriend came out to visit the dogs.  She's very sweet and smart.  I love the energy these young people have.  She's working on a studying film making at the U. (I was a film student there a year or two after the program began).  They're having another dinner party this weekend.  I heartily approve.  When she left the phone rang.  It was my friend Esther.  Talking with her cheered me up even though we both just complained about one thing and another.  She's far more cheerful and optimistic than I, but she'd had a pipe burst in her bathroom and needed a plumber, quick.  I have a handyman who can do it all and I gave her his number.

I checked the weather forecast and realized I'd need to mow the lawn, and soon.  Snow is forecast for this weekend in the foothills and higher.  It won't stick, but still, it's almost summer.  But when I stopped to check my email and look in on twitter I realized today is Friday.  Fridays are celebrated on twitter with the hashtag #FF or #ff which means Follow Friday or FollowFriday.  I had a bunch of follow Friday messages.  I know it sounds very silly, but it's a way of letting your favorites know you appreciate them.  So there are people who think of me as a favorite. People say good night to each other on twitter.  People listen in and then let you know they wish you well, or hope things get better soon.  People encourage one another and flirt with one another and tease each other, even as we tweet our reaction to politics and disasters.  Even as we pass on breaking news stories.  I've heard more news reported first there, often hours before I hear it on MSNBC or NPR.  It's always exciting and interesting on twitter.  I follow some very intelligent, funny and passionate people on twitter. They inform and entertain me. Life is sometimes more real on twitter than it is in the meatworld.  I love the written word.  Twitter is all about concise use of language. Twitter is pithy at it's best.  Roger Ebert is really great on twitter.  Can you feel how visceral my reaction to a dose of twitter is? Speak the written word. Forget rules. Write like you talk.  I'm off and running.

So I'm no longer mired in the molasses like atmosphere of depression.  In fact I may be rapid-cycling a bit.  A transitional position on the bipolar roller coaster of tripping from pole to pole.  It's hard to be around someone who is rapid-cycling because they will be motor-mouthed and oblivious of the needs of others.  But on twitter I can have conversations with ten or twenty people about many different topics.  It's a fast fast world on twitter. Perfect for the woman rapidly swinging from pole to pole of her bipolar disorder.  "Disorder" is such a great word for it.  When one is "rapid-cycling" there is very little order and what order there is can be smashed in a second by the next mood swing.

When I went outside to mow the lawn the lawnmower gas cap was missing.  The tank was empty too.  This made me angry at myself, since I was the last person, the only person to use the lawnmower,  After I filled the gas tank I went in the house and bitched about the missing gas cap on twitter.  When I came in after mowing the lawn there was a message to me with a warning from a tweeter about getting a replacement for the missing gas cap, with a command to do it soon. I'd used tinfoil to fashion a temporary cap.  There's a risk of flash fire when you're mowing sans gas cap.  Good thing I'd finished.  And I won't use it again until I get a replacement.  Thanks, friends from twitter.  You changed my attitude and helped me keep from sinking into the quicksand of depression.  Or maybe my drugs are working better than I thought.  Maybe both. 

I seem alright tonight. But who knows about tomorrow.  I could wake up unable to pull myself out of the quicksand, unable to tell the difference between being tired and being depressed, because depression often begins like any other illness.  It aches all over, it hurts to move, light is too bright, the dark might be the only comfort.  It might be impossible to speak without slurring words.  It might last an hour or a year.

It's an intricate dance we bipolar people perform with all the passion we can muster.  Please understand, those of you who are not afflicted with this monster of an illness, but live with someone who is, that, in as much as everything is in one's head, this too could be said to be "all in my head."  Ok, I'll give you that.  It's all in my head.  But no one can simply snap out of an illness.  Only the illness can snap you out of it, and the illness can turn you into a tireless, cheerful, organizing wizard or it can turn you into a hot tempered shouting, sobbing mess so fast there seems to be no precipitating event.  Would anyone choose to feel this way if they could choose the way they felt?  Certainly not, especially if one lives in a disapproving and shaming family.  It's painful to know that those you love find you embarrassing or think you're lazy and self indulgent.

There are times when this illness is wonderful.  It bestows a certain access to a world of creativity that I never want to be cured of.  Sometimes, in a blissful moment, I think I would choose to be this way, but then I live alone. I can do what I please on my schedule.  I think for me it is easier.  There is no one shaming me for my mental illness.  There is no one calling me lazy, moody, too loud, acting crazy.  There is no one yelling at me to "SNAP OUT OF IT!"


Beach Bum said...

I don't know if your remember but you recommended Twitter to me and even wondered if I could deal with the limit on characters. I could not, in fact I have a time limiting my stories to the proscribed word limit on writing contests. Frustrates the daylights out of me.

Kayleigh said...

I've been reading your poetry (and loving it) for a while now, but for some reason I never made it over to this blog -- so glad I did. The way you write about yourself and your life is brilliant, and I can see how your poems might come to be.

I've given you a little award over at my blog and been meaning to let you know -- just my small way of acknowledging my fave bloggy people and saying thanks :)

Utah Savage said...

Beach, I'm long winded too. My blog pieces are way too long. Trying to fit a story into an arbitrary word count is torture, but twitter is a different beast all together. Still, I understand it isn't for everyone. But it sure is a thrill to spot one of my blogging buddies on twitter.

Kayleigh, I'm so honored you've chosen me for an award, but I no longer have the energy to follow the rules. And since I found twitter I no longer visit other bloggers, so how can I pass it on and not follow up by visiting? I'm very grateful anyone visits me at all, since visiting ought to be a two way street. And I'm teetering on the brink of a depression. I'm so very tired. If I could just get my house cleaned I think I could sleep for a month. But I have poems in the works and a new book with a chapter that's been on hold for a month or more. There is just too much to do that weighs on my mind and makes me feel edgy that it's still undone.

Fran said...

My dear friend was trying to describe to me what it is like to have a full blown anxiety attack. She said if you;ve never had one, you have no idea... it overcomes everything, and she was not even sure if she was having a heart attack or what.... her heart was palpitating, could not breathe, on the edge of needing to call an ambulance.

So I get it that these disorders are all encompassing. You don;t choose them & you can't make them go away.

I'm glad you found an outlet that really works for you.

I find that working full time, and enjoying the blogs (trying to keep up with them) is as much as I can handle. Although many friends keep trying to facebook friend me....
I have to draw the line somewhere.

Utah Savage said...

Fran, It's good that you get what it's like for your friend and know your limits, set your boundaries. I'm still working on boundaries. They were not allowed in my relationship with my mother and since her death I've isolated myself as a way to feel as if I have boundaries. But walls and locked gates do not boundaries make. I'm easily drawn to fulfilling every request for my time, attention. I want to make the people who like me happy. I want to give them the attention they deserve but I'm depleted beyond my ability to recover without stillness. This isn't the season for stillness. I haven't the luxury of doing nothing as the termites continue to munch on my house. I have a cash flow problem. There isn't enough cash flowing in to cover the medical bill and the construction bills. It will take years to recover.

I have panic attacks and suffer the stress a lifetime of anxiety disorders imposes on the mind and body. It wears you down always being at the fight or flight height of a panic attack. Adrenaline has taken its toll on my body. It's compromised my immune system, stressed my heart. And now, maybe it's that stress that keeps me chugging along, I don't know.

Sins of the Eldest Daughter said...

Hi sweetie. Today your blog and your follow up comments brought me to the brink of tears, the relief kind of tears that one gets upon recognition of oneself in another: Fuck! Someone else lives here! The phrase misery loves company was surely invented for this experience.

Earlier this week I had perspective on the latest round of bipolar challenges, realizing that I've been in a spin since the beginning of the year but didn't know it. Now I have a new symptom to add to my road signs that signal a slide.

Yesterday I felt I'd turned a corner: relief and a balanced life in sight. Today physical pain has rocked my psyche and all three of us, mind, body, and spirit, want to barf. Today brought the headache from hell, the worst part of which is that it is most likely the result of eating forbidden food. Yes, now I get to add gluten free food to my list of must-do's to maintain stability. And now, on a bad day, I have a new reason to exclaim: Fuck me!

Tomorrow, I may be writing, appreciating the fact that I live alone, set my own schedule, and need cater to no needs but my own. But what I'd *really* like is to tell both brain and body (and have them obey!), Pick a lane already! For christsake, just pick a lane and stay in it.

Bipolarly yours,

PS - This is only cyclothymia... What ever do people with major bipolar symptoms do? Near as I can tell, drunkenness, drug addiction, and crime are great outlets for pain.