Day to Day Poetry, Day to Day Writing, poetry

#11 Lugubrious

I spend my days folding into myself,
shoulders caving in to keep my heart hidden
further and further I go deeper within
so I can disappear
in this chaotic numbness residing
in every inch of my being.

I am no longer whole,
eternally carved;
I can’t stop un-clenching my fists,
I can’t look anybody in the eye.

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Day to Day Writing, Epiphanies

#9 Candid

It’s been two years since I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder  and I’m not sure what I’ve done with it, except dance through a cacophony of doctor and therapist’s appointments with only various prescription bottles to mark the success of the event. They line the dresser in my bedroom like a parade. On good days I take them religiously and keep them in my pocket. On most days, I throw them away.

If I am doing well, I accept the diagnosis with intense conviction, the same one I held on so firmly to that made me end up in the hospital in the first place. This forces me into self-analysis – reflecting about the flaw inside of me that keeps me from having the confidence to do anything with 100% certainty because I don’t know which side of me is in the driver’s seat: Mania or Depression. Before I absolutely do anything, if I’m well, I have to ask if it’s sustainable in the long run. Can I actually work three jobs whether or not I’m well? Probably not. This seems like a simple answer in moments of lucidity but those moments for me are few and far between. It’s either, Yes, I ABSOLUTELY CAN WORK THREE JOBS, I CAN DO ANYTHING vs. Who are you kidding? You can’t do anything. Finding the mid is a battle I constantly have to fight. Jumping from one extreme to the next is incredibly exhausting.

Some of my closest friends romanticize my mania, and it’s disheartening. I only hang out with most of the people I know when I’m manic. Mania is a fickle mistress; it is the burst of energy I need to survive my day to day. It keeps me employed, keeps me social. When I’m manic, parties become so easy; I just sit back and she does the talking for me. My creativity flows out of me in a deluge of half-finished stories and beginnings to novels that never end. A sprinkle of uncontrollable brilliance that keeps me painting and writing until the early morning. My boyfriend sleeps while I write, read, paint and repeat. When he wakes, I show him what I’ve created, and he says he’s proud of me.

But one step over the edge and I lose all control. The mask slips and she completely takes over me. I start forgetting. I don’t remember what I did last night, the week before – I start to miss days until days become months I can’t recall no matter how hard I try to piece it together, gaps in my memory I have no control over. My friendships end with that look on their face that I have come to know so well. I can pinpoint the exact second that look takes over – that moment of sudden, dawning realization that even after x amount of time, there is a side of me that up until that moment, they have not seen. One that is unforgivable – as if all of who I was before up until that moment was just pretense. And inside, I’m fuming. An insurmountable amount of rage tripled by my manic heart and a voice screaming inside me – I told you, I told you this is who I am, you JUST didn’t listen.

One time, in group, I asked,”How can we seek new relationships without feeling like we’re scamming them? Do I just say, hey, before we get to know each other, you should know that I’m crazy, insane, neurotic? How much time is an acceptable amount of time where admitting that you’re insane isn’t a social faux pas anymore?  For every person that you meet, if I don’t say I’m insane, does that mean I’m lying?”

The answer they gave me was that we are all trying our best, every single time.

That seems like a lie.

I can’t exactly tell that to the person/friend/lover I pounced on because I couldn’t control my rage, because I hadn’t slept for a month, because I woke up standing in the middle of my job not knowing who I was, or where I had been for the past couple of hours. Seems like, to any other person outside looking in, seems like I’m not trying at all.

I still have not been able to develop the language I need when people tell me the things we did that I can’t remember. People I don’t know come up to me like we’re old friends except I don’t know what name I gave them, or when we met.

At the hospital, I spent most of my time walking other patients down Spadina avenue, especially those who weren’t allowed to walk by themselves, or those who were just afraid. I learn about their lives, listen to the story of how they ended up here with me. One beautiful girl whose sole mission in life was to look like Mariah Carey and spent hours upon hours in front of the computer looking at her pictures, once told me that she had long accepted she would never be married. I asked why.

She looked at me, and as if breaking some terrible news to a child for the first time, said, “I think you’ll find – people like us – we’re never going to have normal relationships. People will either pretend to understand, or won’t even try. Sooner or later, they’ll get tired.” Then, as if it was an afterthought, continued with forced optimism –  “But maybe you’ll get lucky – maybe you’ll find someone normal, and they’ll still get it… you know?”

Accepting your diagnosis is accepting the terror that your mind can betray you, any minute, any second. That every day you are in control is a race against time – build as much as you can now so that you don’t lose everything when it happens. It’s all about timing. And damage control.

But most of the time, it feels like my life is an old, beaten book I am desperately clinging to with furiously clenched fists.

I know the story, it’s so familiar to me, but it’s written in a language I can no longer understand.

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Day to Day Poetry, Flash Fiction, poetry

#3 Lens

I see through a lens that distorts my view;
everything feels magnified and overwhelming at once.

You came into my life relentlessly and hard,
fought for it tooth and nail,
and pushed me into letting you join me in my distorted perception of the world,
and insisted you saw the same things,
and I believed you.

And for a while my isolation was split in half,
and we were lugubrious together.

It made things easier.
Sharing my despair with someone who could tame lions,
who could un-clutch the owl’s talons piercing my heart,
whose voice split the clouds with the ferocity and fearfulness of thunder
against a clear, blue sky.

It’s back to the shadows without you,
kneeling over pieces of a broken floor you tried to repair one afternoon,
to prevent me from literally sinking to the ground —
prescription bottles and doctor’s appointments lined up in front of me in orderly fashion,
calendar days crossed off one by one, hour per hour,
a body of meaningless actions, no adjectives,
just going through the motions
mindlessly –
excruciatingly –

blinded by the lens that had always owned me,
bound to a past I cannot destroy.

 

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Uncategorized

#81

75 years ago today, Virginia Woolf committed suicide by filling her pockets with rocks and walking into the River Ouse near her home.

It is commonly thought that if she had lived today, she would have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

This was the letter she left her husband:

Dearest,

I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.

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Day to Day Poetry, poetry

#74

I’ve woken up
to sounds of roosters crowing, and hens singing as they pecked
grains of rice out of the soil, heavy from last night’s rain,
holding me up against floors made of bamboo and mats woven from coconut leaves
the sound of the waves crashing against rocks visible only during low tides
while a glass of freshly-squeezed milk waited for me,
on my aunt’s table.

I’ve slept in benches on a -30 winter’s night,
wrapped in gloves and scarves and second-hand coats,
covering my face so that nobody sees
the peace I’ve tried to achieve from within.

I’ve fought battles long and hard
and encountered numerous flat tires on a road
that’s gone on for far too long,
longer than what anybody bargained for.
Long enough for me to decide
which battles are worth fighting.
Most often my resignation is mistaken for loss, or surrender –
that’s not an act I believe is worth explaining to you either.

I’ve made a cocoon out of luxurious bed sheets
while my ears were pricked with the constant reminder:
Those are Frette, those are Frette —
as if his whispers would convince me to render myself
in a catatonic state of extreme euphoria with gratitude,
when all I felt was indubitable resentment,
for allowing myself to fall for the same old tricks,
yet again.

I waited in the dark, inside a small room with its own sink,
four white walls and mandala posters tacked hastily against it,
and a tiny window that overlooked Spadina avenue,
at 5 am in the early morning,
for a nurse to peek in with his flashlight and whisper, “Checks”.

A hundred unfamiliar ceilings
left their marks on me,
each scar a different story.

I used to dread the fear and the loathing settling in within me.
Now I fear that momentary echo of hope that still finds its way through the apathy,
it keeps whispering,
there must be something.
Still –
there must be something.

 

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