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Posts Tagged ‘Bipolar Disorder’

PERFECTION IS FRAGILE

By Lauren Black

A flower looks beautiful and strong at first sight… but when you touch it, you feel how fragile it is;
just like women who felt strong, but had to face their fragility when they were touched by the hands of mental illness.

Lauren Black (not her real name) was born in 1991. Since her early childhood she has been having issues with anxiety and psychosomatic illnesses. After nearly a decade of incorrect treatment she was diagnosed with severe depression (suspected bipolar disorder) and several anxiety disorders as well as a mild perceptual disorder.

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Seconds and Eons

By Andrea Trent

“I’m waiting for my son”, she says, looking stubbornly at the door.

Her son has been dead for fifteen years.

“You have to come with me now, Ms. Cole”, I say, turning her wheelchair around slowly. “We need to get your exercises out of the way.”

“I’m waiting for my son”, she says again, a faint tremble making her voice shake and sway as it makes its way to me.

“I know”, I say, wheeling her to the therapy room. “But we have to make sure we keep your arms and legs healthy. And you always have fun with your exercises.” The last part is a bald-faced lie.

“No, I don’t”, she says. “My son will wonder where I am.” She tries to get up out of her wheelchair, and I rush to put on the brakes.

“Christ”, I say, hurrying to the front. I apply pressure on her shoulders and get her to sit down again, which is not difficult. Her legs, although they look like fleshy white tree trunks, can hardly carry her anymore.

“Ms. Cole”, I say, setting my mouth in a hard line. If she falls, I will not be able to stop her. She weighs about 250 lbs, and I weigh 130. “You need to listen. We have to get your exercises done.”

She looks at me, her cloudy eyes unfathomable, her ancient skin not unlike the bark of an oak tree with its decades of lines and gouges. I wonder what she sees through those eyes, who she thinks I am, where she thinks she is.

That’s when she spits at me.

The glob of saliva lands right between my eyes, and begins to slowly crawl down my nose before I think to respond. I reach a hand up to my face and touch the disgusting liquid. I stare at the shiny glaze on my fingers for a moment, then wipe it on my bright pink scrubs.

I think of this morning, in my home. I was getting breakfast ready for Alicia and myself, busily pouring orange juice into glasses, mixing oatmeal, putting out lunch money, when my 11-year-old slammed into the kitchen.

“HAVE YOU BEEN GOING THROUGH MY JOURNAL AGAIN?” Alicia yelled, her face turning an ugly, mottled shade of anger.

“Ali, wait”, I said, after staring at her for a stupid moment. “Calm down, let’s talk –“

“No!” she wailed, as she threw her journal at me. “You’re the worst fucking mother in the world! God, I wish I was DEAD!” She ran out the door, sobbing and gasping like someone she loved had died a sudden, violent death before her eyes.

I sat down heavily, stiffly, in the kitchen chair, and put my hands over my face. Alicia was right. I did go through her journal.

Alicia is 11 years old, and has slept with five people in little more than a decade of being alive. Two of them were adults.

Her therapist thinks she has bipolar disorder. We made an appointment to see a psychiatrist so she can get some medication to level her out, to calm the hypersexuality, the rages, the mania, the constant pushing, pulling, tearing and repairing between us, but it’s not for another two and a half weeks. So in the meantime, I read her journal. I want to know what she’s doing, who she’s doing it with, if I need to lock her in a room and throw away the key until the appointment date, or perhaps forever. It’s the only thing I know how to do. I’ve always been terrible at waiting.

Back in the present, Ms. Cole looks at me with a curious expression that is half smugness and half fear. She knows what she did, but she is not quite sure why she did it, or what to make of it. I take a breath, try again. “That’s not going to get you out of physical therapy, Ms. Cole”, I say, taking care to keep my voice gentle and calm, even though I am tired of being battered, of being used, of being treated like the bad guy in everyone’s story.

I’m waiting”, she says, looking at me, a silent plea in her gray eyes. “I’m waiting.”

And I think, So am I.

Andrea Trent has lived with a daughter with bipolar disorder for eleven years now. Some days are better than others. The doctors are unsure about what treatment path to take at this stage, so they wait.

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Sylvia Plath was born in the 1930s, and enjoyed much success as a poet from a very young age. However, she has been said to have suffered from depression, anxiety disorders, and possibly even bipolar disorder. She was hospitalized for a ‘nervous breakdown’ (a suicide attempt) and was given shock therapy. However, this did little to help her.

At the age of 33, Sylvia Plath committed suicide by sticking her head in a gas oven. She first sealed the kitchen off with wet towels so that her sleeping children would not be affected by the gas. She was found by her au pair with her head in the oven.

In the following – rather graphic – poem, she talks about the beauty of pain. Could she have been a cutter?

CUT

By Sylvia Plath

For Susan O’Neill Roe

What a thrill —
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of a hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white.
Then that red plush.

Little pilgrim,
The Indian’s axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Carpet rolls

Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz.

A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.

Whose side are they on?
O my
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill

The thin
Papery feeling.
Saboteur,
Kamikaze man —

The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Babushka
Darkens and tarnishes and when

The balled
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence

How you jump —
Trepanned veteran,
Dirty girl,
Thumb stump.

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Vindication

VINDICATION

By A.R.

The world is mad. I know this with the certainty that a mother knows she loves her child; that a newborn knows it will gain nourishment from suckling at its mother’s breast. I can feel it writhing like a huge, wet worm trying to eat its way up through my diaphragm. This dark, toxic place, this insanity, they will not let be me. There is no way out.

I step out onto the ledge. Twenty-five stories is not so tall, not when you’ve been dangling from a string in the stratosphere, watching all the demons on earth, for God knows how many years. I take a deep breath. Like the dying flower-in-a-pot on my desk, I turn my face upward, to catch the last rays of sunshine. There is a scream.

I look down, past my feet, past the edge of the ledge — edge of the ledge! I’m a poet and don’t know it, haha — and note a tiny dot of a woman. She seems to be trying to get someone’s attention. Soon, a crowd has formed. They look up at me and wring their hands. I smile.

Ah, Officer Jarvis – there you are. Nice to see you down there. No, I will not get off the ledge. No, you cannot make me. You see, the world is quite mad. And this includes you, kind Officer.

Flashes of memory light up my mind. A terrible pain in my core. A sudden release. People smiling, their faces veering in and out of my sight. A small, warm body snuggled next to mine. A small casket, looks like a toy. He’s gone. No, he’s not coming back. I’m sorry. There. was. nothing. we. could. do.

There is NOTHING YOU CAN DO! I yell at Officer Jarvis. I hover. Who needs gravity? Everyone sees me hovering. They know I am different. They look up at me reverentially, like subjects praying to a majestic Goddess. They raise their arms towards me, trying to imbibe my greatness. They spit at me, they hate me. They want to eat me alive. But they cannot touch me.

A most unusual development – here is Officer Jarvis, above me. His face shines like the Sun God as he looks down at me, pleading. But he cannot fool me. The skin of his face roils and undulates as he looks at me, pushing out first towards the sky and then towards the earth. Flashes of fire lick his eyeballs, letting me know there is a fearsome gargoyle that lurks underneath. I recoil, lose my balance. NO! yells Officer Jarvis. I right myself, look at him through the corner of my eyes, not wanting to face the monster head-on.

Please, he says. Please don’t do this.

I laugh, then cover my mouth with my hands. The monster has manners.

Talk to me, he says, his voice alternating between a normal human cadence and an inhuman growl.

I’ve seen your letters, I say, keeping my eyes averted so as to not lose my composure. I know what you are, what you’re doing.

What are you talking about? Officer Jarvis asks, his alternating voice creating a mockery of the compassion that he means to portray.

I KNOW I’M AN EXPERIMENT! I shriek, clawing at my face. THE BABY IS DEAD AND I’M AN EXPERIMENT!

Oh, honey, Officer Jarvis says.

Don’t call me that, I say, my voice breaking. I whisper, I married a monster. A guttural sob wrenches itself free of my throat and flings itself downward to the waiting crowd.

And lo and behold! The intelligent and very competent Dr. Carr now stands beside Officer Jarvis.

Come on now, Michelle, he says. You don’t want to die.

I’m dead already, I say.

What do you mean? asks Dr. Carr, his face a mask through which I see clearly now. Underneath lies a fearsome beast with orange fur and pink eyes with no eyelids.

I will be fooled no longer, I say.

Well, if you persist, they say together, in one gravelly, flat voice.

Suddenly, the building starts to move downward. I don’t mean that it is collapsing, but rather that it has started to shrink at an alarming rate. I expect to fall while I am being transported to the ground in this fashion, but I do not.

Then – the world explodes.

The sky changes from autumn blue to a seething, moving, poisonous black thing. The pedestrians, they are gone. There are only creatures where they once were, creatures with many heads and eyes that do not look like eyes, skin that crawls and spits and hisses at me.

They expect me to be scared. I am not. I walk towards them, my arms open, ready and waiting for their terrible embrace. It’s over.

I am vindicated.

A.R. has struggled  with Bipolar Disorder for 5 years. She is learning to live with it through a combination of pills, therapy, and lots of self care.

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