Category Archives: Therapy

There is no “I” in “Loneliness”

A discussion I had a few weeks ago with my psychiatrist came to the forefront of my mind.  This was not an intrusive thought or episodic depression breaking through.  Not dysphoria. I can tell the difference now that I am on medication treatment.  It is something that I am  working through, which is about the emotion of feeling “lonely.”  I realized I have never experienced it.  Even if I ever did, it is not an emotion I can remember.  When did it secretly depart? This realization lingered in my mind.

After the first week on my new med, I experienced the emotion of “loneliness.”  I was in my apartment relaxing as usual.  My life is somewhat effortless.  I have it made.  On one particular evening as I worked on a short story, a new feeling pulled at me in a disconcerting manner.  I did not like it and was unfamiliar with it.  My apartment was cozy, and I had my things around me.  I had my freedom.  My friends and family were all fine and available; however, this feeling of something I knew not what trailed after me.  It was subtle.  It barely showed its face and whispered its name–loneliness.  It was hollow.

At my next therapy session, I discussed this with my psychiatrist.  Our session was moving along as usual in her white clinical office with the bright lights of a surgical room.  Perhaps the lights helped her search for the darkest corners within me.  She asked me how loneliness felt, and I replied that it was unpleasant.  It tugs at things.

My psychiatrist said that I would experience a lot of new emotions and moods on my med. My med would clear a path for them like a pathfinder. That it would take time to learn how to manage them.  Manage is the clinical word for feeling an emotion in a more balanced way.  Being the curator of my emotions, I was dismayed that I had not noticed that loneliness had been missing from my collection.  What I was uncertain of was whether it was stranger to never have felt loneliness or to never have realized it. Perhaps both are equally puzzling.

Surely, I watched it play out on TV, read about it in books, and provided a shoulder for my friends to cry on after their most heartbreaking breakups where they expressed the depths of their loneliness. All those times, I thought I was relating to them, but really, I had not been at all.  I had been understanding their loneliness by knowing the definition but not because I was drawing from experience.  In order to relate to my world, I substituted the feeling of “longing” because I knew how that felt. However, longing means a yearning desire which is completely different from loneliness.  All my life, I had existed in a way where there was no “I” in”loneliness.”

As a person who exists in hypomania, the feeling of loneliness is nonexistent.  At least not in my spectrum. Some people would wonder, “What had gone wrong?” or maybe even “What had gone so right?”  Because loneliness is such a negative emotion, who would care to feel it? However, loneliness can cause people to form and hold on to attachments to others.  The consequences of not feeling it are much greater than I am able to understand at this time.  Again, I am working through it. I am fortunate to have a good friend to discuss this with because I trust him implicitly.  It is good to have a strong person’s view on these new emotions of mine.  His responses in words and facial expressions are my carpenter’s level.

It would seem that hypomania would be a wonderful place to exist in because it is a devil may care feeling.  The world is conquerable, but a more important statement that effects practical efforts of daily life, is that everything and I mean everything is possible. This sets me apart from most people.  Therefore, my feeling of loneliness is one of the three definitions that pertains to place and defined by Google as, “(of a place) unfrequented and remote.”

 

 

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Restless

Oil running

Together

Along a smooth surface

All things

You mean restless is like agitation?

No

Liquid carrying

On

No place

Water flowing

In unity as one

On the move

Nowhere to go

You mean restless is like agitation?

No

Ebb and flow

On the go

Everywhere

You mean restless is like agitation?

No

Restless is fluid

Agitation is grating

 

 

 

The Brightest Red

I make my way through the streets of my city driving to my psychiatrist appointment. As usual, the weather is beautiful in my lovely Californian town.  It is considered a Mediterranean type of weather here which evokes temperate warmth, sun and cool breeze of the nearby ocean.  I turn right then left and always have to remember to go straight through the intersection and not turn left as I have done a few times on previous visits.  Visit.  A nice word to use when seeing not a friend but my doctor who is the leader of my mental health team.  My team consists of a psychiatrist and counselor.  They are my guides who navigate me through my wants, needs, feelings, and moods with the effects of my medication.  They are an imperative part of my life now, and I am getting use to this.  There is a comfort in this arrangement.

I bring my truck to a stop in front of the building.  The parking lot is emptier than normal since my appointment is after lunch.  It is quiet here today.  My hand grabs the key from the ignition, and I pause in my seat. A deep breathe pushes out from my between my lips, and I mentally settle in for today’s discussion of how my new med is working out for me.  The inside of my truck is tan as my handbag.  My hand slips into my purse reaching for my favorite red lipstick. It is the brightest red. I adjust the rearview mirror to get a good look of my face in order to adjust my makeup.

My face is an olive canvas of the finest material, and I enjoy wearing a lot of makeup as a sort of fine painting.  My eyeliner is particularly black with sometimes two coats of smudge coal running along the top and bottom of my eyes.  For dramatic affect, I wing the black out to the sides like an Egyptian goddess, but I am not Egyptian.  My eyeliner is smudged more than it should be, and with my finger tips, I clean it up ever so gently.  In the reflection of the mirror, I look into my eyes and see that I am aging and that is quiet alright.  The wrinkles of time have started to slightly show from a life of moods and emotions.  Finally,  I open my red lipstick and generously apply it to my full lips and fix up the outlines.  I take another pensive breath.

The waiting room is completely empty which makes the pale white walls and sparse decor even more austere.  I sit quietly with my hands in my lap and admire the fine lines starting to appear on them.  I can remember what they looked like as a young woman.  A young woman who had no idea what lie ahead.  How vast my possibilities were in those days.  I certainly did not ever think I would end up here in a psychiatrist office treating bipolar disorder.  However, I am thankful for the treatment.  As fearful as I was at the beginning of it and the great unknown it posed, I feel deep inside that it is what is best for me, my child, my family and friends.  It is a necessity of my life as much a necessity as my emotions and raw passions.  I hold them all dear and want to do the best to balance them all so I can live a colorful life.  As colorful as the brightest red.

As the minutes tick by on the clock on the wall, I reach into my purse and pull out my mirror and check my lipstick one last time.  This is a habit of mine.  I use to love watching old movies where the ladies would always pull out their finest compact and apply their lipstick ever so properly or seductively.  The waiting room is very quiet and lights gleam off the pale white floors.  All the seats are tan like the inside of my truck and have a blonde wood framing them.  In my mirror, my lips appear the brightest red like the petals of a red rose arranged gently against my soft olive skin.  I try to recall all the effects of my new med so I can relay them to my doctor.  Some memories are heavy with hurt and discomfort.  Other memories are champion good stories of how I believe my treatment is going well.  A long sigh draws out from my rose petal lips

The door into the doctor’s office opens and my name is called.  My psychiatrist appears and greets me with a smile.  I return her greeting and follow her down the hall.  “I love your lipstick,” she says, and I respond politely, “Thank you.  It’s the brightest red.”

 

 

Bipolar Question #2

Q: Is it okay to call you crazy?

A: Initially, I thought sure who cares, but actually I care so no. It’s not okay to call me crazy because it a negative connotation of me.  I have a child, family and friends.  My career and educational achievements are quite impressive.  I have bipolar disorder and treatment is good, hard work and successful.

More importantly, it’s a slippery slope. If you call me crazy, and I can handle it because I have better sex than you (see question #1), then you might/will call someone else crazy like a child or teenager with bipolar disorder whose identity is still being shaped.  We cannot have them believe their identity is a crazy one.  They didn’t ask for the disorder. None of us did.     We have to have compassion and be friends.

{Bipolar Question is based on my personal experience.  A little fun too people.  In Bipolar Question, I do not speak for the Bipolar Disorder or Mental Health communities}

The Waiting Room

As I enter the waiting room full of people, it dawns on me that I’m with the cool kids. Yes, in my mid-grade hypomanic state, I identify with these people as possibly ones who see life as shiny as I do.  They look solemnly down at the floor or their hands because surely being in a mental health waiting room can’t be something we’ve all aspired to achieve.  I clearly don’t recall it as being one of the things I must do in life. Yet, here I am, and I’m pretty sure our journey was sidelined by a paranoid or delusional based something we did. That, we have in common.

My mexi-blonde hair is done up in swirls and streaked in colors of the sun.  My make up applied generously finished with cherry red lips.  Clothes seductively clinging to my sexual body.  Expensive high heels that force my body to sway here and there. I perk around and smile at people. An old retired Navy man with a submarine emblem on his hat watches as I pass by, he smiles and says in his California accent, “Hey guuurrl, I like yer fur.  “It’s faux fur,” I answer politely.  We smile.  Most people smile back, but some gripped by the thoughts in their heads, do not look up to see where the beautiful scent or the click clack click clack click clack sound of heels is coming from.

The room is simple with just simple furniture on white ever so white tile floors.  No pictures on the walls just PSA announcements on how we can all attain stable mental health through diet, exercise, therapy and pills and pills and pills and more pills. A coffee maker percolates in the corner with small styrofoam cups close by.  Styrofoam is bad for the environment I think instantly.

{Note: My favorite line is “The room is simple with just simple furniture on white ever so white tile floors.”}