Tag Archives: Fiction

My Periphery

As I walk through the gentle sway of trees, the greenest movement of the leaves tug at my sleeve. Each tree passing into my periphery and keeping its clarity in a space others call the background.

Vibrant, singing colors if you please from each blade of grass that I have become. From the front, they are a great sea of plants and then into the periphery they wander bursting asunder into a space that many dismiss as a less distinct place of vagueness.

The hypomanic path is one of distinction with colors and intensity existing to the front and the sides. Hugs of tone and value fill my entire field of view.  I feel like I am walking through a snowglobe of poppy fields. Flowers dance and plants wave hello to this captive audience.  Into my periphery they go but do not fade away into the space others call the background.

How to Be on Antipsychotics.

This young lady, who calls herself “the misadventures of me” wrote the funniest post on Antipsychotics.  It’s my favorite.  Enjoy her good writing.

Recently I was told I may have bipolar disorder and was promptly put on, you guessed it, antipsychotics. Now something about the name makes antipsychotics sound really scary, or rather, the person …

Source: How to Be on Antipsychotics.

Go Ask Alice

When you go chasing rabbits, things appear somewhat changed in the movement of people and objects are brighter but not shinier.   There is a difference. Visually people’s movements chase along.  One or two times.  Voices can have an echo effect and a multiple of sounds rise into a crescendo.  These experiences rise and recede as you move through the experience. One minute you feel lost and can get on edge then quickly you become grounded. More firmly planted then you have ever felt in your life.  They come and go.  One minute you are and next minute you are not, but ultimately, you are here, now.  You just have to hold on.

On the walk home during the evening,  I passed by parked cars and buildings with the streets lights glowing on them.   The outlines of everything around me had a black sharpie marker outline like a graphic novel.  I was now in a graphic novel and asked my friend if she was in a graphic novel too, but she was not.  I placed my hands in front of my face and turned them from palm to back of hand.  The black sharpie outline curved with my fingertips and held the color of my hands in place.  I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and observed everything around me, and the sharpie black marker outlined the bushes, trees, street lamps, cars and people.  I no longer had a sense of navigation and new not where on planet earth I stood.  Just that I was standing there in the middle of a sidewalk.  

We made it to the apartment and after a long night were ready for bed.  I was crashing on my friend’s couch for the evening.  The graphic novel effect had disappeared.  Now, I was on the couch but could not sleep.  I lie in the dark with a restless mind.  The sensation of elation started to climb and my mind was trying to keep up with it.  I could not control nor did I know where the elation was going to take me, but had an unsettling feeling that my mind could not and would not keep up with it.  I lay on the couch in the dark and my mind kept going higher to a place I did not know.  Then I became fearful, and felt the two would separate.  My mind was moving. Woah. Would this mean my death?

The elation continued, and I struggled to mentally keep up but could not.  One man on the chessboard got up and told me where to go.  Out of fear I let go.  The sensation of exploding into a billion atoms engulfed me.  I had become atomized.  I could feel life’s experiences in each and every atom.  This is what death must feel like I thought.  I let the atoms take me and floated through them.  I was them and they were me.  It was equinamity; I had never felt it before.  Everything about my life was shown to me in these billions of atoms.  I had answers about the past and learned the answers of tomorrow.  I am Alice.  First, I was big, 10 feet tall, and now I am small.  I learned that there was never and will never be anything to fear. “A hookah smoking character had given me the call.”

{Author’s note: Alice in Wonderland has always been my favorite children’s story.  References are from Jefferson Airplane’s song “White Rabbit”}

 

 

 

Barrio Rules

Barrio rules take care of you, when for whatever reason, you not able to care for yourself. Perhaps you caught up in a heated relationship, partying too hard and cannot think clearly, gambling too much and out of control or just not taking good care of yourself.  Your being.  These type of passionate ways that set you off the rails.  Off the rails in a good way and sometimes bad.   It foolish to not listen to the barrio rules.  There is gratitude for the existence of such rules because ultimately they give comfort, when comfort cannot be found, and set you right when you run aground.

I was raised in one of the oldest neighborhoods in El Paso, Texas, where Spanish was the first language.  A huge white Catholic church was at the end of the street.  I use to walk to church every Sunday  with my Tia Ramona and cousins.  The corner bodega had a mural of Guadalupe with flowers laid at her feet.  The statues were omnipresent in front of houses, inside the homes, and in the stores.  I was raised in a neighborhood where generational gangs like Los Fatherless dominated the night.  It was a poor area with multiple generations of families inhabiting the homes. The people came from humble beginnings. Most were immigrants and still had family members working in the fields.  My father was not a US citizen.  You do not have to be a particular race. Just live in the barrio; a place where barrio rules reigned supreme.  This was my world.  I no longer live in the barrio…I have come a long way.

Barrio rule #1 is that I have your back.  It means through all the grit of existence I will not do anything that will make you feel uncomfortable.  I will be there for you.  That whatever agreement we are in is safe with me. It not an agreement of homage.   I can still disagree with you, but in the end,  I will not burn you for those who have done something personally and intentionally negative against you.   Each person had stricter forms of rule #1 and this was known up front.  You could bow out of the agreement and still stay friends, but do not be surprised when rule #1 does not apply. Everyone had a different degree that worked for them.  The tougher agreements meant if your friend got jumped and you had nothing to do with it, you still had to jump in. I have upheld barrio rule #1 to this degree a few times.  It realist politics played out in the street.

Barrio rule #2 is that you have my back.  It the same like #1 but the other way.  In the reverse it was the agreement of what made me comfortable or the things I did not want you to do or expected you to do.  Again, I expect you to not burn me for someone who did something intentionally bad against me.  In the extreme agreement, it came in handy when I got jumped for being too pretty or unintentionally taking the affections of another guy.  I have seen barrio rule #2 in the extreme applied a few times. I have been jumped twice, and one of these times was by three cholas at once.  I held my own until barrio rule #2 kicked in.  Literally.  Barrio rules can save your life.

There were no surprises.  That what made the barrio rules so comforting.  Expectation management is what we call it in non barrio world.  Depending on the relationship, more barrio rules applied.  Expectations always vocalized in the beginnings of a relationship.  An understanding and agreement between two humans.  They were intimate.  I apply barrio rules with my lovers.  They still form the basis of my oldest friendships from El Paso.  We even discuss the difficulties in life with, “what about barrio rule # whatever it was?”  When in need and discussing life with my old friends, and they know I cannot think straight their words of the barrio rules will permeate the air.  As if to say, we understand life’s constant changes, and we understand but remember the few constants.  A reminder of the simpler times in life. The strength in simple is that it can forge a constant in chaos.  It gives you a grip.

We rarely change from our base no matter what life hands us.  The barrio rules know this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Los Gritos de la Ducha

Tengo que adherir a un estricto horario de mantendiéndome bañado, porque tiendo a no duchar si mi estado de ánimo esta de una cierta manera. Así que, aquí voy, lo primero que hago en la mañana… Me quedo en la cama… y especulo mi estrategia en la ducha. Miro el techo y me estremezco ante mi destino.  Mi destino de rendirse a la sensación y el sonido de la ducha.  De mí, ahí de pie en el centro de la misma. El sonido de la ducha gritando en mi piel. Que gacho que la ducha quiere duchar conmigo.

El sonido de la ducha para empezar corta el silencio de la mañana. El vapor de la ducha aturde mi cara y me quedo mirando la tina, en el espacio, en la cabina, en el vapor y en la ducha aquí caigo.  Lloriqueando suena se escape de mis labios como el agua me traga en pedazos. El agua golpea mi piel con el sonido de “CH,” un “D,” y “G” duro. Rayas en sonidos cacofónicos rápidos y estridente.  La direcciôn de cada gota conduciendo  el mismo abajo escudrinando mi superficie, robando miradas del precipicio que es mi cabeza a mis dedos que descienden hacia la drenaje.

{Mi frase favorita es, “De mí, ahí de pie en el centro de la misma.”

 

Mr. Freezemeister

Alright freezer, freezer freeze, do as I please Mr. Freezemeister, I have had enough of your belligerence.  You freeze everything in the freezer box, and that not how it supposed to work.  You freeze up all the water supplied to you which is suppose to be used to make a hospitable home for my food; instead, you freeze into a big block of ice leaving no room for anything else except your ice block.  How you love your behemoth of an ice block.  Your big, large ice block.  How proud you are of that.  How you grow it with obstinance and total lack of grace.

You know, you are interfering with the second greatest discovery to modern man.  The first being the hominines’ discovery of food production in the Levant in 9000 BC. You want to interfere with all this progress and deny me freezer food storage?  At first, I reduced my food storage in the freezer box until all I could store were my beloved bag of pizza rolls. But, that wasn’t enough for you.  You grew over my beloved pizza rolls until I had to rip the bag out.  That frozen chicken breast is still down inside your block of ice by the way.  I haven’t forgotten.  You have her hostage in your icy captivity.  Free Tibet?  Free my chicken breast Mr. Freezemeister.

Last month, we went to war you and I,  when I turned down the temperature; therefore, like denying you a water supply.  A lesson from General Eisenhower and the Allies’ WWII North African Campaign known as Operation Torch.  Just like the allies hit Tunis, I hit your logistics supply.  Oh the victory was in my grasp as your ice block slowly started melting, but your next move was clever, quite clever indeed.  You melted your ice block back into water.  It dripped into my fridge where I had to quickly place bowls and bowls and more bowls inside to catch the water.  It became mayhem, and then you somehow were able to drip down onto the floor and leave a puddle.  Puddles here and there Mr. Freezemeister.  You had me wiping it up day in and day out.  Then, if I let it dry, it left behind a grotesque white filmish film in the refrigerator and on the the floor.  Finally, I had to turn up the temperature again to stop the water to stop the puddles.  Now, I see you are growing your beloved ice block again, and my chicken breast is still encased in your frozen tomb.  Oh, the agony of defeat.  You win this battle but not the war Mr. Freezemeister.  Not the war.

 

 

Wendy and the Snake

Deep in a beautiful forest very far away, there lives a young, blonde girl named Wendy.  She is a strong, brave, young girl from the Sutap (pronounced Sioux-tap) tribe.  Wendy is a Sensi (sen-see), this means she is sensitive to things others cannot see or hear.  Her world is more beautiful and sometimes calamitous for it because she can see auras, feel energy and sense peoples’ feelings.  For her, it is a world full of colors and emotions.

Wendy found herself in quite a predicament this day as she was strolling through the enchanted forest.  As she walked through the trees, she said, “Good morning, trees,” and they replied back to her ever so gently, “Good morning, friend Wendy, our Wendymyfriendy, our friendy Wendy who loves to mendy those in need.”  Now the trees as strong and quiet as they look, were, but if they new you and liked you, the trees would play with you through rhymes and rhythms.

They were quiet clever with their rhymes and rhythms.  Rhyming here and rhythyming there;  words moving up and down; in and around; through the breeze or still air; or the serene-est of nights or the most majestic of days.  Wendy found this quite lovely and started skipping through their myriad of green leaves and rising branches.

“Trees,” she said quiet happily, “I’m here to enjoy the lovely day and join you for my morning meal.”  Oh splendid thought the trees.  As you know, the trees were connected by their roots underground.  Even if they didn’t see what each other saw, they felt what each other felt through very serious tree business, which is far too serious to discuss here.  But trust me. They knew.

“A meal with us?  Figgity suss a meal of toast with roast?”  Wendy answered sweetly, “oh no trees, a morning meal of biscuits and tea.”  “However so splendid young Wendy-our-friendy.  Please join us and enjoy your morning meal of veal,” and the trees smiled.  For, they knew their game with those they liked and loved.  The trees knew Wendy knew, and Wendy knew the trees knew and so forth.  So Wendy, sat down amongst the trees and started eating her biscuits with tea.  A little while later, the snake who had been moving through the trees came upon Wendy.  The trees watched and listened with their leaves…with their minds.

“Salutations, young Wendy,” said the snake.  See, the snake liked speaking with S’ssssssssssss. “Good morning Snake.” said young Wendy warily but not too warily because after all she could sense the snake and this let her know what the snake was up to.  “Shall I sit with you and share some sumptuous tea and biscuitssssss?”  Wendy, being the kind Sensi that she is said, “Of course, Snake.  Here, have some tea and biscuitssssss.”  The snake admired her sound of ‘S’. It pleased her greatly.  They sat and ate their morning meal together, and then the snake propositioned her.

“Wendy, isss it posssible that you assist me thisss fine morning by assisting me in sssteering acrosss the river?”  Now, everyone in the forest knew this snake was quite tricky and secrety and had only quite not good things for those who helped her across the river.  Wendy, being the kind Sensi that she is, did not want to offend the Snake, but at the same time, knew not to cross the river with her.  Only bad things could and would happen.  So Wendy politely refused and offered the snake more tea and biscuits, and there they ate their morning meal.  Wendy knew that it is possible to eat biscuits and drink tea with the snake, but not cross the river with her in order to to stay safe and keep the peace in the forest.

 

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.”}

Acute Mania. What Does It Feel Like?

I’m being treated for acute mania until I start the next phase of treatment in 2 weeks. Yes that right, I’ll be in acute mania for awhile.  The online medical dictionary defines Mania as

“a period of predominantly elevated, expansive, or irritable mood accompanied by some of the following symptoms: inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, talkativeness, flight of ideas, distractibility, hyperactivity, hypersexuality, and recklessness.” 

 

I agree with most of that definition; however, I don’t agree with the “irritable” part being any part of the word “mania.” Based on personal experience, anytime I experience irritability, it’s because I’m experiencing mixed state which means depression is mixing with the hypomania or mania.

Hypomania and  acute Mania have so many levels and are elevated and expansive.  A primarily positive outlook.  More positive outlook than people without bipolar disorder.  Let’s say the definition supports the rule.  I am the exception, and I suspect a lot of other people are too.  I support the medical community and their guidance, but we have to stay vigilant and help them help us. I wish the medical community dissected mental health like they dissected cells and atoms, our treatment options would improve.  In my opinion, A person who has the bipolar disorder is a complex system but tends to be generalized.

Back to my acute mania.  This should subside next week on my current medication and then on to maintenance therapy.  After my 5 day depression and low hypomania passed on Sunday, I had to go back to work.  Yes, an actual job with a lot of people and lots to do.  Thankfully, I had the mental strength and fortitude to get this done because I WILL myself.

In this blog post, I want to add another understanding of acute mania in addition to the definition above.  Mania is serious, but the bipolar disorder is a multidimensional disorder.  Mental health is on a spectrum.  Health is on a spectrum as are love and life. Stop stigmatizing me. I got a life to live and passions to fan.

When I experience acute mania without depression, it feels like the moods interchange with high level hypomania so I’m still unsure of it but not all things can be completely categorized either –  a physical sensation occurs and everything in my visual field appear sharper and the colors more intense.  My taste buds lose sense so I won’t eat that much because food taste stale like crackers.  Even meat taste like stale crackers.  My caloric intake drops between 400 – 800 a day.  My skin becomes very sensitive, and I do not like to shower because the part exposed to air feels …. unpleasant (read my post “The Shower Screams”).  That’s the only way I can describe it.  It not prickly, or cold or anything like that.  It indescribable.  The sensation of the water on my skin is overwhelming, and I whimper like a little girl in the shower.  During these manic times, I use to not shower a lot, but now, I stick to a strict grooming schedule.  My skin is sensitive, and I’m hypersexual. Just rubbing any part of my body feels pleasant except for shower water.

Music sounds incredibly vibrant and more sweet sounding, but I tend to loop music more if I find a sound pleasurable because a variety of musical sounds is too something. Silence is soothing.  Television becomes incredibly uninteresting.   I can still read for pleasure. I can read music and strum my guitar but I can’t learn new music.   My creative writing flows, and I’ve written this entire blog in acute mania. Yet, technical writing becomes more difficult.  However, my drawing creativity doesn’t spike like when I’m in hypomania because acute mania seems more distracting.  In this state, I’m not delusional or paranoid.  Negative thoughts do not plague me and what I say is based on true “self”, a shared reality, is meaningful and true.

I suspect if I was forced to eat, take a lot of showers, listen to all sorts of music, watch TV or technically write against my will then perhaps I would be irritable.  However, people who act against their will would also be irritable.  I will tolerate things I’m not comfortable with; for instance, if I have to attend a luncheon, I’ll eat but it won’t be pleasurable.  There are nuances like there are with all things in life.

While at work, I felt elated and stable like after a really good exercise work out. Mentally, I’m zooming high.  I’m in a very good mood with the benefits of confidence and humor.  I have a nervous energy, but not because I’m nervous in a scared way. Just more hyped.  At lunch, I felt giddy and my taste buds started to work again, and I ate potato chips that tasted sumptuous.  Since I don’t have intrusive thoughts unless I’m in mixed state, I’m able to take care of business at hand.  I do have to focus my attention more and slow myself down, but since I know I’m in an acute manic state, I pick the type of work that I will succeed at.  It difficult to do work such as giving a presentation because I can go off on a tangent or act inappropriately, silly, and display mirth.  A colleague from Washington, DC was in the office and when we saw each other he extended his arms, and I gave him a bear hug bigger than I think everyone expected in front of everyone. LOL.  Oh boy.

In conclusion, a person experiencing acute mania without depression can also function at work and not be reckless.  But, the issue with bipolar is you can lose dramatic control of your moods and behavior and can become reckless (read Rattlesnake, Dreamer, Child and King).   I trust myself at this point at work if I’m not in mixed state, but I have to remain vigilant because overtime my defenses weaken.   This is why I have to take medication because bipolar disorder is progressive.  I was able to experience acute mania at work because I stopped taking my medication and sailed into another bipolar episode (read The Poop Story and Other Tales of Love).  This post is valuable because I can share with you this experience.  Now that I’m back on meds, I will not experience acute mania at work again.

 

The Death of a Hypomanic Party Woman

My bipolar diagnosis scared me because it meant I was not in control of my mind.  I was told that only medication could stabilize me and prevent cycling into another mixed state episode.  The basics were discussed such as no alcohol, caffeine and a regulated sleep schedule.  Apparently, sleep plays a significant role in bipolar cycles.  The sleep schedule seemed doable but no alcohol? I was a hypomanic party girl after all.  How do I change this part of me that was so cherished and prominent.

To others, it sounds simple-stop partying. Not so easy.  I was raised by a hypomanic party father.  Partying is not just drinking, it is a lifestyle, a frame of mind and a kind of social group you pick to be around.  This was my identity.  If I’m not in this lifestyle, then what other lifestyle is there?  The non party lifestyle I suppose, but I have seen that, and it seems so unappealing.

My  first medication treatment kept my mood and energy even during the first month; yet, I started to become uncomfortable at the thought of my moods and energy being unnatural.  If my moods and energy are unnatural then is my self unnatural too?  This question plagued me.  The doctor recommended that I mourn hypomanic party girl through the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  Acceptance? Acceptance and then what? To become what? Fear of the unknown set in.

The first time I didn’t make it through bargaining.  I bargained my medication away and decided that if I just stayed clear of all the triggers and slept well then I would be fine.  No cycling could possibly occur.  I would stay in my zone.  Mental health problem cured.

I started monitoring my mood on a mood app and journalizing, sleeping well, taking supplements and abstaining from alcohol.  But the old lifestyle return.  One drink here and there.  It’s all good, right?  The one thing I can’t control are my business travels and here became my downfall.  Lack of sleep and now in Washington, DC and a willing to drink my sworn enemy: red wine.  It quicklyunraveled from there. I fell into a full mixed state and hurt someone very dear to me.

I stayed awake and only drank coffee for 60 hours and became exhausted.  However, bipolar people are not weak.  We still can maintain an inner mental strength.  We have to right?  It not easy being hypomanic bipolar.  My mental strength got me through once again.  I successfully finished an important business conference and was able to interact in a stable manner with those around me.  Even in the middle of this depression and kiss goodbye to hypomanic party girl, the intensity of my love for my life remained.

I went out with my business group and of course hypomanic party girl still wanted to play through the tears.  Since I was intermittently crying throughout the day, my black eyeliner  was smeared around my eyes, lipstick applied sloppily, and my hair disheveled.  I looked like a beautiful wreck.  One of the men came on to me hard because some men can smell and see crazy, and they like it.  It made me feel so good that for a second I thought about sleeping with him.  To just feel someone against me and escape my tragedy.  Because I knew I was going home to no one after what I had done to my friend during the last episode.  I backed down and excused myself politely.

Because I forced my hand, I was done bargaining and entered depression for 5 days over my last episode and this entire diagnosis.  Through the week, I cried and ruminated about my life.  My life flashed before me.  I remembered myself from little girl up until present and thought of all the people I loved, and hurt, all my adventures and experiences.  I tried to soak them in and focused on seeing my face in all these memories and looked at myself from afar.  How beautiful and kind I was and am.  Images of me laughing, smiling and all the good with the bad.  My guilt and shame for the hurt I had caused had no depth or darkness because the pain I caused others is not and will never be lost on me.  If I could take all their pain away from what I did or said, I would.  It was a long week of self reflection and this blog is the acceptance.  When I returned home, I couldn’t wait to get on medication.  I no longer have a fear of the unknown future because the unknown future is here, now.