Edging

Remember a few years ago when the big thing in sex was edging? Like getting super close but never cumming to make the actual experience later fantastic? Maybe you don’t. Maybe I’m weird. But I definitely remember reading an article about it.

Anyway, that’s what life has been like for a few weeks now. I get so close to flipping over to the darkside but I never let myself go all the way. Every time I get really ramped up I do all my soothing/coping skills to keep from falling over the edge.

Lots of things push me up higher. A sunny day. Exercising. Having a visitor. All normal things that would make anyone feel better. But I start to feel irrationally good. Like maybe we should sell all our stuff and move to the moon good. I talk really fast and loud. I demand that hubby pay attention to me and listen to my somewhat illogical ramblings. I start a big project.

And then Shamus gently says: ‘honey, you’re getting a bit up’. And I say: ‘shit. But I feel so good!’ ‘Exactly’ he says.

So I go downstairs and sit in the dark and try to chill. I drink herbal tea. I do some light yoga. I have a hot shower. I slooooow down. Eventually things start to come back into focus. Like now. I still feel pretty wired. But not wild. It’s like electricity buzzing under your skin and around your brain. Everything seems so bright and loud. Things MAKE SENSE in a way they never did before, connections form between things that they probably shouldn’t. It takes so much concentration and will power to ignore all this and just breathe. Every part of you wants to run a marathon or something but you must make yourself just sit. IT’S AGONY.

I only need look at the activity on my facebook to know things went off kilter. I’m usually a group lurker but this afternoon I commented on and liked ALL the things. I did Zumba. I drove across town with music blaring to get expensive sushi. And I planned a novel outline while breastfeeding G. It was fun.

Now I sit in the dark, like a mushroom with mint tea, writing this and hoping that the music stops soon and that since its dark I won’t see anything too weird (just cats so far).

Music is a big trigger for me. I am very susceptible to feeling what the music wants you to feel. Sad. Happy. Nostalgic. It all hits me hard. That’s why I listen to the (real) radio so much. The repetitiveness of it dulls this effect, but still covers the imagined radio noise quite nicely. There are certain bands and albums that will immediately make me feel up or down. I can rely on these to keep me modulated one way or the other. Regularly listening to new music helps keep the imagined radio fresh. It is currently playing “ordinary man” by Ozzy which is excellent, and you should check it out if you haven’t.

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that the absence of Lithium has become noticeable. My mind is fast and lose, just feeling everything really big. Its fun and scary. I am riding the rollercoaster again but I have some tools now, and a lot more to hold on for.

The North

When I arrived in the North for the first time 13 years ago I was startled by some subtle differences. For example, the residential streets are probably twice as wide as at home. Naively, I was excited to have so much bicycling space! I also noticed the street signs were all way too high. They are hard to see sometimes, but you get used to it.

Why these things? SNOW. So much snow.

That first winter I could not believe the amount that fell. They were running out of places to pile it. They had little machines for plowing the sidewalks- because there was so much goddamn snow!

The first few falls my friends and I gleefully played in it. The campus green was littered with snow men (although some had dramatic boobs) and snow forts. But about a month into season it was too deep to play in. Each step sunk several feet, immobilizing everyone.

We started to see the snow as a burden, an irritating thing slowing us down. My friend’s car was so low to the ground he couldn’t even drive it, so we all had to bus.

After ONE snowfall. Some of our neighbours were more industrious then we were.

As the temperature plummeted to the -20’s the snow miraculously stopped and the University finally had time to start clearing out the biggest piles.

I think now how something that seems so fun and exciting quickly turns dark, relates directly to my illness. Mania is thrilling but it soon becomes too much, immobilizing and scary. Then you are slammed with a come-down of cold weather and you have to do all the work of cleaning up your mess.

But the North is prepared for winter. It’s seen it all before. They have all these little ways of keeping people safe and functioning even when things are rough. Experience has taught the North if you don’t plug your car in you aren’t going anywhere in the morning. If you don’t plug yourself in and sleep you’re also likely going nowhere fast.  You must widen the roads with healthy habits so when the snow flies you still have room to move. Put your signs higher with therapy so I can still see the way when the shit is six feet deep.

I have had a terrible few weeks. I have been mostly not here. There are glorious days where I write and write and get my piled-up stack of chores and errands done. But mostly I stare into space, I bang my head in frustration with all the noises and voices, I’m terrified to leave the house or answer my phone in case someone is listening who will hurt me. I forget to get even the basics done, like eating and showering.

But I am strong like the North. I was ready for this snow-storm and had a plan in place. I’m confident moving forward. I am ready for both the literal and figurative snow fall that will inevitably come soon. Are you?

Summer

Summer is a very difficult time for me.

I have a long history of suddenly waking up hypomanic with only blue skies and 30-degree weather holding me back. I’m typically on holiday from University and at this point in my life I haven’t developed my rigorous ‘mental health and housekeeping’ rituals. Instead I find a friend willing to put up with my annoying diatribe on whatever has me fascinated/horrified at the moment (usually plastic waste or Victorian culture). We then proceed to drink excessively, maybe cruise around on our bikes, or finally get food and embarrass ourselves in the restaurant.

Doesn’t sound so bad, but it starts happening everyday. Add cigarettes and marijuana as I begin spiralling up into mania. Worst part is my complete disregard for the people around me- especially my long-suffering husband. I would literally give the shirt off my back if asked, but I don’t give a fig about you feeling abandoned.

It was a horrible time in my life. I almost always ended up in hospital when the hallucinations started. There I would spend several days in seclusion while the heavy meds and my racing brain duked it out. Eventually the meds would begin gaining the upper hand and I was allowed to join the general population on the ward.

Then I had to begin apologizing and re-assembling my life. Everyone always said: “you think after the first time you would have learned”. Hilarious. Once the train is off the tracks like that there is really no hope. I HAVE learned though that if you stop fuelling the train once it starts picking up speed you can MAYBE avoid calamity. Once I begin feeling those tingles of energy in my body, feel my mind jump around-never stopping, that’s the exact moment you STOP.

Your chemistry is not right, it is pushing you to make bad choices. Make good choices- even though it’s crazy hard. No booze or drugs. Absolutely none. Are you listening? NONE. Keep exercising- in moderation. Chose slower activities like weightlifting. See your friends- suggest walking so you can channel your overwhelming energy. Talk to them- REALLY talk to them. Tell them that your scared and that you need support. After that just do what brings you joy, what helps you achieve zen. And probably see your doctor for a med adjustment- cuz what you’re on obviously ain’t workin’.

So yeah summer is hard. I battle the encroaching illness almost every year. AND I battle feeling like absolute shit over the wake of destruction I’ve left behind me. It’s hard to enjoy this weather, to go for a bike ride, to drink a glass of wine, without feeling like the worst person in the world. All the memories crowd in and I feel like I’m suffocating.

That’s why this year I am purposefully pushing myself through my rides. Going new places that hold no ghosts. Making new, happy memories. I can’t wait to go camping with my husband. Strengthen our bond and re-interpret what summer means to me.