do-over

I am probably a horrible person for saying this, but I would give up anything to have a do-over, to live a life without bipolar disorder. I know that everything I have ever done or felt or experienced would all be gone, and I would be okay with that. The people in my life would have never known me, and my memories of them would not exist. A new set of challenges and problems perhaps, but I would roll the dice and see what happens.

I know everyone has their own problems and circumstances, but I get really crushed when I see people around me at work or on Fakebook with their seemingly perfect lives, overachieving kids, career successes, awesome adventures, and so much more. I wonder what it would be like to trade places with high school classmates, maybe Laura or David or Lisa or Charlie, and see how they deal with the things I worry about on a daily basis.

There are always a handful of life-changing events in a person’s past, moments where the decision affects everything that happened in the future. Most illnesses never give you that choice, they just happen no matter what you do. Cancer, bipolar, dementia, leukemia, birth defects … all caused by a glitch in a the DNA that relies on trillions of chemical reactions to be successful. One error in the wrong place can fuck up a person’s life, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

another “about me” page

I had intended to share my story on another blog that accepts guest posts related to individuals’ mental health experience. However the post became too long and bitter and self-pitying. There’s no reason to inflict my bleak outlook on life upon innocent people. On the other hand, you can choose your own reading adventure.

My post is “my bipolar future“, under the “about me” menu above.

I’m sure it comes across as rambling and incoherent, which pretty much sums up my life and my writing. I’ve been blogging about my life with bipolar for 12 years. Surely somewhere in that mountain of words is something profound and enlightened, and maybe you could find it if you searched.

If you are interested, you could always look at ancient entries at Prehistoric Fish Tales.

eggshells and anger

During an argument the other day, my daughter told me I am afraid of my wife being upset. She said that is the reason I try to do everything possible to prevent my wife from feeling aggravated, not in a caring way but defensively.

I told her to analyze someone else and clean her fucking room … but maybe she is on to something. Sometimes I find myself acting rather obsequious right when my wife gets home from a long workday, as if I am trying to gain her favor by demonstrating that I accomplished stuff outside, or cleaned inside, or did some chores. There are lots of things I can’t talk about for fear of causing her to get stressed or angry.

Am I that afraid of other people’s negative emotions that I will do anything to avoid them? I have certainly spent a lot of time walking on eggshells around other people, whether the OB, my a-mom, my wife, or my daughter. My tendency is to hide, or choose my words carefully, or do something to gain favor or make the other person forget about being upset.

I have never been confident enough in my own feelings to be able to say what I want, for fear the other person will get upset or reject me. There was a girl I was friends with but I wanted more; talking to her was like trying to coax a skittish cat to come closer. I never really told her what I wanted, and she never got any closer to me.

I must be afraid of other people’s feelings, to the point where I suppress my own for the sake of avoiding confrontation or anger or rejection. Instead of acknowledging the value of my feelings, I roll over and subjugate my needs. My b-mom is an example where instead of being direct and telling her I don’t need a relationship with her, I choose to hide that my feeling so I don’t hurt her by pushing her a little further away.

And then a realization hits me: I act this way to everyone except for my son. With him, I am much more direct and sometimes confrontational (although rarely in a rude or aggressive way). Maybe subconsciously I feel like I have no control over anyone else, but somehow I can control him? This makes no sense, since he is an adult now, and I don’t try to treat him differently, but maybe I do.

bitterness and frustration

The urge to run away grows stronger every day.

I try to tell people things they need to hear, and they won’t listen. I know things that need to get done, but everyone works against me because they have their own agenda. I try to save money, but more expenses appear, mostly medical bills. I want to do things, but I get sabotaged or I am too lazy. People push my boundaries at work and have no clue that I am struggling inside. I have become afraid of thunderstorms, and I obsess about being crushed by a tree. I have had a tension headache for over a week, and nothing will take it away. I’ve been angry but I bottle everything inside because I’m told that I’m lashing out and dealing with the situation in an unhealthy way. I have a child who won’t do anything to take responsibility for her own life; she simply wants everything to be handed to her with no effort on her part, and refuses to make any positive changes for herself.

How did life get so fucking complicated?

But that’s not important. Just pretend everything is a-ok, suck it up, and keep working.

No wonder I want to run away, or have the inevitable heart attack and die.

view from the top

The trip to North Carolina went perfectly. It was very relaxing to get away from life for a while. There were no problems with the car, the house, the sharks, my mother, no food poisoning, no sunburn, and no drownings.

sunrise

The duplex was right on the beach, and we could sit on the deck and drink coffee in the morning watching the ocean. We were away from the tourist areas, so it never felt crowded at all. The beach was clean, which is uncommon on the east coast.

the beach

I cheated death twice during the trip. I am afraid of water and heights, but I put those aside to go visit the lighthouse. The ferry pilot said “if you fall out, just stand up, it’s that shallow.” I could see the sandbars and salt marsh grasses, so I knew he was right. We also saw some wild horses on the way. I wasn’t going to go to the top of the lighthouse, but there were older and fatter people lining up to go. I thought if they can do it, so can I, so I climbed the 200+ steps to the top.

from the lighthouse

My mother and her husband came up from Georgia to stay for the last three days. She was very grateful for inviting them, and it was good to have her there despite the little bit of chaos she brings to every situation (she has ADD). She still doesn’t feel like “Mom” to me, but we can be like family, and she accepts that without putting a lot of pressure on me.

I planned the whole trip with not much input, so I was worried they might not like something. Both Anne and Nicole were raving the whole week about how great it was, and inside I thought “you’re welcome”.

vacation from life

We are leaving for a week at the beach in North Carolina. We spent our entertainment budget on a beachfront rental house in a quiet area away from the crowds. We will be doing a lot of relaxing for the first few days, then maybe visit some stuff in the area. I’m not going in the shark’s house, but I might dip my foot in the warm water. My birth-mom will drive up from Georgia to visit during the second half of the week, so we will get a chance to discuss some family history.

Nicole is going with us, and I hope she will be okay being away from home for a whole week. She has had a problem with being away from her “safe zone” (her bedroom) for long periods of time. I asked her about this, and she said as long as she can be connected over the interwebs she will be okay. I really hope that she doesn’t start having problems in the last few days of the trip, missing her cats and being away from home. We will let her have as much space as she wants during the trip.

I will be trying not to think about stuff at home, but you know how I worry about stuff. What if the indoor cat gets out, what if a tree falls on the house, what if we have problems during the trip … so many things that could go wrong. I really hope my fears are unfounded. We need a week to stop thinking about all the negatives in life right now.

10 Things Bipolar People DON’T Want You To Know

I don’t often reblog, but I felt compelled to share this. This post by Michelle really captures the feelings of bipolar people who don’t want to scare away everyone else. We never tell our loved ones the whole truth because of the fear it might be too much for them to handle. Michelle writes some of the things we want to keep secret from everyone.

To Be an Equal

I can’t count the number of articles I’ve come across with the title # Things Bipolar People Want/Wish You Knew or the List Of Things People With Mental Illnesses Wish People Understood. And for the most part, they’re pretty spot on. But I want to come at it from a different angle. I’ve done my best to keep it pretty similar in format, but if you feel I got something wrong, or missed a key point, drop me a comment! (Images thanks to Google-I own nothing.)

  1. We’re scared of our symptoms too.

bp2There’s nothing quite like the dive between (hypo)mania and depression when you feel like you can see the world crumbling around you. Or the emptiness that makes you feel like a dead (wo)man walking-no cares, no love, nothing. Or the darkest parts of depression when it hurts to cry because you’re trying not to wake anyone, so you…

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on the rocks

One time in Reno I was in a manic mood, so I kind of broke up with my girlfriend and went climbing on dangerous rocks at Donner Pass. I was clambering over the granite outcrops in the light of a nearly-full moon, in the middle of the night, and I was wearing flip-flops. I could have slipped and fallen and died, and someone would have found me with crows pecking out my eyeballs.

My first rock concert was when I saw Rush in Sacramento. I had just started dating the future Mrs. Fish, but I had previously promised my formerly-not-quite-girlfriend Lisa that I would take her. Lisa and I went with another couple, who were somewhat confused about our relationship status. We had a great time, but we were a little scared of a bear-like, drunk Rush fan who started screaming the lyrics to “The Trees” as we were walking by. I made it up to Mrs. Fish by taking her to a Rush concert two years later; she merely tolerated it.

When I was young, and playing outside to hide from everyone, I used to throw rocks. I threw a lot of rocks. One of my favorite targets was a dead tree in the forest, and I would throw rocks at one particular branch trying to break it off. I hit the branch numerous times, but I never could break it. I also threw rocks at an electrical transformer right in front of our house. I wanted to hit the insulator and break it so the power line would come into contact with the metal transformer and explode it, I guess. Explosions are awesome.

During the Manic Las Vegas road trip of 2004, I wanted to find obsidian. I found a place called Obsidian Dome in the Inyo National Forest, and collected some fine samples. I tried to break the rock to make a sharp edge for hunting like the Native Americans, but all I did is smash my finger. I still have the rocks, in a box in the garage.

I was at work early Saturday morning. To make the time go faster, I was listening to some progressive rock/metal on Youtube. It was a band called Magic Pie out of Norway. Great music, but you have to like that style.

One of the best times when I was a kid was when we made homemade ice cream. You mix the cream in the center pail, then pour ice and rock salt in the tub, then start turning the crank for a half hour. Pineapple was my absolute favorite, but one of A-mom’s friends always ruined my idea by suggesting we use walnuts or maple flavor. Later, I found out there were ice-cream makers with electric motors, which did not require manual labor to earn the treat.

There is this dopey guy at work who has about a dozen cliché phrases he says all the time. One of my (least) favorites is “Let’s rock it out, bro!” He also says things like “kegger, baby, double kegger” and “I’m livin’ the dream, baby.” Sometimes he even howls, as in “owwoooo!” This is a forty-something professional in an office environment, and he acts like a 19-year-old frat boy. Very irritating.

Finally: my picture of Lembert Dome, a very large outcrop of granite in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, it’s at 37.880435, -119.348982.

lembert dome tuolumne meadows