I live a life of rigidity. I’ve set it up that way. Almost everything I do must be done in a certain manner at a certain time. I could blame it on being bipolar, but I don’t entirely. I’ve set my life up this way as protection; if I stray I can get in trouble. Which is what happened last year, I relaxed the rules and the results were the dog, the cat, and I living in our own filth only associating with filth who stole most of what I owned. So, I’m willing to put up with what people say if they catch me in one of my daily rituals.
Recently my laptop’s motherboard died. I was dependant on my parents to help buy a new computer. My father for some reason insisted on buying me a desktop. This meant a MAJOR change in my morning routine. I knew eventually I’d adapt, yet I also knew it was going to be tough. I wake up disturbingly early, primarily because I go to sleep disturbingly early. My routine has been – eyes open, take inventory (can I fall back asleep, what hurts today, and what animal is where), stumble to kitchen turn coffeepot on, go to the bathroom, by that time there is enough coffee for a cup, back to bed where I would pick up laptop and start looking through all four email addresses, check class postings for school, and finally do my sweepstakes entering.
I had been living by that routine, step by step, for almost 8 months (about as long as I’ve lived in this apartment and town). I changed it a little when I was swimming three mornings a week (I’ve since quit, I loved swimming but I can’t seem to leave the house at that time of the morning). So, when I realized I would not be able to do my computer work in bed it honestly upset me so much, the day we bought the new computer I stayed in bed for the rest of the day. I suppose I was pouting, this was one of those times I used my bipolar card and said I was depressed (I try not to play the bipolar card unnecessarily, honest!).
So, here it is a few months later and I’ve adapted. It was hard, and I don’t exactly like it, but I’m used to it. I went through three chairs to find the right one. It didn’t help that my beloved very expensive coffee maker broke three days after buying the new computer. I couldn’t very well ask for money for the same type. I’m stuck with a four cup coffeepot. I call it my Barbie Doll coffee maker. Therefore, I’ve had to learn to make multiple pots of coffee, sit up at the computer and listen to the TV from the other room, after I’ve had 1/3 of a cup of coffee in bed. Oh, the TV that’s another topic one very, very important to my existence.
I cannot work in silence; actually I can’t do very much in silence. No matter how well my meds are working I still have circular thoughts and at times many “circles” at once. If I’m in silence they take over and my anxiety level goes through the roof. Therefore, there is always a TV on in my house. I have two TVs, one in the bedroom and one in the living room so I’m never far from one. Why not music? Generally I need the pictures as well, never quite figured that one out. I use music when I’m walking somewhere. If I don’t have my portable CD player and have to walk somewhere the same anxiety ensues. Now, even though I’ve been in therapy on and off for over 20 years and have seen Psychiatrists for 15, I’ve never addressed this. The doctor knows about the circular thoughts, just not my cure. I’ve discussed needing the TV in order to fall asleep, and no one has told me there was a huge problem with that. Yet, having it on all the time, I know I should discuss with someone, but the idea of someone trying to take this survival tool away scares the hell out of me. Friends have asked about the distraction of the TV when I’m working and boy, after my response have they regretted it.
So, I live in my little apartment, wake up at ungodly hours, walk the dog and go to my mom’s at 7 to get my Klonopin. We come home, I may do some school work, go to a doctor’s appointment, write, and many mornings just go back to bed. This veers off into a different subject. My doctor hasn’t figured it out yet, but there is something wrong. I’m sleeping a lot, and it’s not depression sleep. I know the difference very well; this is an extremely deep sleep for 3-4 hours during the day. Not a laying in bed sleeping for 10 – 15 minutes, mostly just not being able to get out of bed. I am also in a lot of pain. My lower back hurts so much I can’t ride my bike; my knees can hardly take the stairs up to my apartment and on and on. It’s not hypothyroid like first thought. We’re waiting for more tests.
Anyway, if I’m lucky I’ll be awake at noon and we (the dog and I) can go to the library. Often times we walk to the pharmacy to pick up a medication. I have a friend from Sacramento I call and bounce ideas off of; he’s very kind and plays along. I also have two friends from school that live in Fort Worth, Texas (where my school is based) who I also talk to on the phone or IM daily.
When something comes up out of the ordinary I fight it tooth and nail, Even if it’s something enjoyable, like making plans to see a movie. This has meant since moving to Eureka I have made no friends unless you count the pharmacist and his clerks, the doctor and clinic workers, my psychiatrist, and the clerks at the Shell station. This depresses me, yet not enough to break through my patterns and rules. After the last two years in Sacramento I don’t trust my judgment in people.
As I said I basically was hanging out with filth, I can think of no other word to describe them. I don’t think I believed I deserved any better. I had become so ill, had lost my job due to self medication and medication mix ups (two different pills looked very similar and I wasn’t paying attention and took the wrong one at a very high dosage. If it had been the correct pill this would have been fine). I had sunk beyond low, not taking my medications regularly for the first time in about 10 years. My parents caught on and as they had before, came and got me.
Once I was settled in my own apartment, my routine began, and the rules were set. Some were very old rules as was some of the routine. It felt comfortable to have them back. Maybe they are training wheels, and I’ll gain some flexibility with time. I turned 38 a few months ago, spinsterhood is staring me in the face. I do say this with irony. If I met the perfect man right now I’d run the other way. I’ve talked to a few men online. I even met one for coffee (gasp!). I am absolutely not ready for anything that smells like a relationship. Honestly, who would want one with me right now? “I’m sorry honey, its 7:00 I need to take my pills now I can’t possibly go to dinner.”
Yes, I want friends besides my parents, local clerks, and my few phone friends. Yes, I want to go to the movies without it taking three days to work up the courage. I’d even like to sit in silence (sort of). But, I’m going to live the life I’ve built for right now. I’m given a reprieve every once in awhile, I’ll live with those for now. I have a B+ average at school (would have a 4.0, but had a problem with last semester’s professor, long stupid story that happened to 4 other students in the class) and I love the program. I am working on a massive project that is the seed of what I hope will be what I work on for my PhD.
I don’t write this with the hope of sympathy. I write to try and understand this for myself and to help others understand not just me but others. Mental health issues are getting the shaft right now. This was not meant to be a political piece. I’m not making it one now except to say that next time you hear about cuts to the mental health budget and the amount of the mentally ill on the streets think of me. As one of the lucky ones, with family in her corner and a hell of a lot of rules that hold her together with bubble gum and rubber bands.