I still wonder if I did the right thing, if I did any good in the world.
In my manic days, I told everyone.
It would be interesting to hear other people describe themselves in this fashion.
It is hard to have a southern overseer;it is worse to have a northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. — Henry David Thoreau
I need to stop talking about my “OCD”. When do I label myself thus? When I do make sure my desk is orderly every night or make checklists or avoid stepping on cracks or squeeze every last drop of toothpaste from the tube or proofread my blogs before I publish them or correct them after I have published them. It’s a cheap use of the term and it belittles those who actually suffer from the illness.
Many people do it. They have no clue about how it screws up the life of its sufferers. OCD isn’t just a few quirks but it takes over entire lives. I know people who have to touch every door knob in their house before they go to bed or repeat certain phrases over and over again or have their food arranged in a certain way on the plate — they can’t eat it otherwise. Some clean until the floors in the house are badly scratched and carpets are frayed from excessive vacuuming Others hoard. My dentist hygienist tells me that she is always telling her clients with OCD not to brush too much; their excessive efforts wear out the enamel on their teeth and tear up their gums. Its sufferers don’t perform their rituals for pleasure but to avoid punishment by the disorder such as extreme anxiety and sometimes panic. One sufferer described it to me as having a lattice of borders in his mind that he dare not trespass upon.
So I apologize for trivializing the term. It is bad enough to have the disease. No one should have to bear with a stigma that makes light of a serious problem in their lives.
The black spiral literally knocked me off my feet. I decided on my own to stop taking Geodon — a horrible drug that left me dizzy for all but the last three to four hours of my waking day — and I crashed and crashed hard. My bedroom was my habitation; my cats my constant companions. I felt the after effects for months — a dimness of the world, a heaviness on the brain, and difficulty forming thoughts. Shortly after I emerged from more than a week of never moving from the bed, I wrote:
I count nine days of nothing but turning on my bed, sleeping on the best of them, just clutching blankets on the worst. I run back and forth writing, thinking, and hiding under the covers for this one. That’s my activity and I need to make more. I’d be at the gym working out except I took two Ativan and do not wish to risk the drive. And it is too hot and unshaded for the walk around the condos that I have made my regimen.
Coming “back” implies seemingly ridiculous victories. Today you brush your teeth. You take one less Ativan. You go for that walk twice at dawn like you should. You write in your journal. You blog. All in between visits to the bed, your teacher and your protector.
Just yesterday, I heeded studies which suggest that spirituality helps those suffering from depression and mixed and remixed the books next to my bed until I found a pocket Buddhist companion. This (translated into the objects of depression) made sense to me:
I am not my depression. My depression is not me. The world is not my depression.
This doesn’t say that I lie under the covers for not discernible cause and it doesn’t say to stop taking the meds as appropriate. It simply separates my disease in the same manner as one might separate the eye or the ear. My eye is not me. I am not my eye. My eye is not the world.
We get into an ownership thing in Western thinking — if not throughout the whole world. We own our body parts and our diseases rather than seeing them as causes. They are neither separate of us nor part of us. They are facts.
This gives me personal relief from this nine day good-riddance if rid of it that I am. And I’d rather not talk more about this. It makes sense to me.
I live with bipolar disorder and one of my symptoms is grandiosity.
Both those terms have been used to describe me. An insult just doesn’t stab, it leaves a wound — not a scar, but a bleeding dripping lesion that comes to you in your worst depressions and sometimes — like now — when you are feeling just fine. I am a loser because I have not worked since I was 33 and do not have kids. I did not make a million in Silicon Valley and no one buys my photography or my writing (which I haven’t tried to sell in a long time.) Never mind that I have been married 27 years to the same woman, never hit or threatened to hit her or called her a vile name. I am a loser, a pariah.
The isolation of bipolar disorder is hell, but the isolation of my personality is worse. When I take tests such as the Myer’s Brigg, I keep scoring in the rarest categories. Less than 1% of people out there share my characteristics. We wander around, seldom meeting each other. The way we see the world, the things we strive for just aren’t appreciated or discerned by the rest of you out there. You come onto my blog, read my accounts of my illness or other aspects of my life and you don’t get me. I am a cipher, a shadow on the wall swept by the wind, a curiosity that cannot be. I, like others of my kind, feel alone. No wonder so many of us end up in monasteries or convents.