Manic Panic

Judging every smile

Looking at you – wondering when you’ll turn wild

I’ve never been one to be mild

I prefer to behave like a child

Carefree, a bit of a goof, slightly aloof

Dancing in my underwear

Feeling free, without a care

I’ve always been a little odd

Then I came to believe I was god

Now everyone questions my every move

It’s hard to get back into my groove

My words are under a microscope

Don’t sound too strange – that’s what they hope

Stay in line, return to being blind

Pretend like you never saw the light

Don’t let your brain take flight

Stay in your lane

Act sane

Don’t blame

This isn’t a game

No more laughter

Is that what they’re after?

If I seem slightly manic

They get in a panic

I’m just having a good time

It’s fun to lose your mind

Just a little bit – still able to press rewind

 

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May 1st

It’s hard to believe it’s already May. This year is going by so fast. I love the spring time, and I’m so thankful to be out in the real world to experience it. This time last year, I was trapped behind the hospital walls, in the psych ward. Last year, on this day, I believed the world was renewed. It was the beginning of a new world. I wrote about this day before, but wanted to repost it now.

On May 1st I watched the sunrise while sitting on the ledge of the window in my new stark-white room. I sat on the wide windowsill, my legs perched upon it. The sky looked different, like a bluish purple color. Indigo. It reminded me of book I came across years ago, about indigo children – a new generation of children with amazing powers and abilities. Was this the Indigo sky? Are we the Indigo children? But, I’m not a child. I pondered these thought as I looked out at the sky. I returned to my bed and sat in the same upright position with my knees to the sky. I buried myself in the blanket. Like a frightened child I sat with the blanket completely over me. I wasn’t afraid of the dark; I found the cocoon comforting. Inside the blanket that earthy, organic smell enveloped me. It was as if I was in a chrysalis and I would emerge a beautiful butterfly – or at least a beautiful and compassionate human-being.

I felt like that day was the first day of the new world. A more loving and compassionate world existed just outside the hospital walls, if only I could escape. Can we call this “one” I asked aloud. I nodded yes to my own question. I thought it was day 1 of the new world. It was a fresh start. All day long I asked everyone I encountered, nurses, patients, and doctors – “did you see the sunrise?” It was breathtaking. “Out of this world,” I proclaimed.

Then, looking out on the neighborhood behind the hospital I saw a house. It was a grand house, filled with many windows and rooms. It was a modern design, something I’d always admired. It was the grandest house in the neighborhood. It towered over the houses on either side. It was the house I had always dreamed of, “Is that my house? Do I live there?” My intuition told me yes, and so I believed that was my home. Or, at least, it could be and it would be in another reality plane.

I felt so much love for everyone and everything. Well, everyone but the people who were trying to get me to take medication. I thought they were trying to silence me and change the course of history. I believed they wished to harm me, and I feared for my life. I already believed Doctors had killed me in the ER when my heart stopped beating. I didn’t trust them at all. Each time they tried to give me medication I refused. I thought the Doctors were not real Doctors, they were simply projections I had imagined, with names that sounded like Charlton and bed-wetter. “These are not real Doctors,” I openly proclaimed.

The Doctors wanted to make it easy, to make me sleep, to make me stable, but I wanted none of it. I felt I had been enlightened, surely they wouldn’t understand. They could not see the world through my lens, and they weren’t interested in trying. I had been violent and aggressive and they needed to sedate me. I didn’t think I needed drugs, all I needed was some time. I would wail in the night, screaming and crying. I was fighting for my reality, for my vision of a less material world and a less medicated society. I wanted to create something new. A world where people helped one and other, where jobs were no longer needed. I was dreaming of a commune – a place where friends and family helped each other, where everyone enjoyed meals together. We would sing and dance and celebrate life each and every day. This was not the reality the Doctors had in mind.

All night long I looked at the limited number of vehicles in the parking lot. Some of them seemed familiar. I thought they were my rescue crew, waiting for the cloak of darkness to move me to someplace new. I thought the problem was that I looked dead. I thought they needed to move me at night, so I would go unnoticed by the government, or by other people. I looked like a monster, or a zombie, I thought. Would they be frightened of me? I believed I could not be resurrected again until I could leave the hospital. I was patient all night long. Eventually I clothed myself in the blanket and began singing an REM song in my head, “it’s the end of the world as we know….I feel fine….I feel fine.” I was in so much pain and had such fear that I was rotting, of dying. Shadows of darkness crept into my mind and I had a long night of singing and praying before the sun rose again.

Made Whole

It’s been a year

I think I’m in the clear

I’m tired of living in fear

Fear of myself

Fear of my health

I’m ready for something new

I want to see it through

I’m better than I used to be

That’s easy for me to see

But issues still linger

Like I need to pull out a stinger

But it’s a part of me now

The trauma, the horror, the things I allow

I’m integrating various parts

It’s like a fine art

All the moving pieces, sliding about

Some move in, some move out

What’s left is my bare soul

I’m being made whole

I’m More Complete

These days seem so significant. It’s that time – it’s been a year since I lost my mind. On this day last year I was fully insane, unable to comprehend what was happening to me. I thought I died on this day and was resurrected. I was scared of what was happening to my body. I was outside of my body. Outside of my mind. Floating in thoughts and daydreams. Chanting, convulsing, cold sweats and vomit.

It seems like a day for celebration. Certainly a time for contemplation. I’ve survived the most horrific time of my life. I’ve come out of it. I’m here. I’m sane. I’m relatively fine. I’m outside – in the real world. I even have a job. I have people who love me. I love me.

It’s funny though – despite all the horror of what happened to me, I don’t see it as a bad thing. My husband tells me to stop glorifying it. He has a point. I do see it as something special, a blessing of some sort. Something like that doesn’t just happen for no reason. There has to be some good to come out of it. The days leading up to my breaking point were pure bliss. I felt like I had attained enlightenment. I felt privileged and special. Chosen, even. Just because I lost my mind, that doesn’t negate all of those feelings, that experience. Still, I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone go through what I went through. It was frightening. It was like I imagine death to be. In fact, I thought I died three times during the early stages of my episode. That is an intense experience. Yet, it is strangely comforting – peaceful even. See – I’m all over the place, the horror – the beauty. It was both things. It was a complicated event.

I guess I always thought bipolar was simply a mood disorder, an inability to regulate feelings. I never imagined that it could lead to hallucinations and complete disassociation. Utter insanity. I always thought those things were relegated to some other disorder – schizophrenia maybe. I had no idea. Who knew that an elevated mood could lead to an inability to live in this world – a complete break from reality. I thought the nurses and doctors were people I knew, only they were in different bodies, on a different reality plane. I couldn’t comprehend that I didn’t know these people – I kept calling them names of people I did know, people they slightly resembled, or just “felt” like. That was just one small piece of the confusion going on in my mind.

Some people don’t believe anyone can ever recover from something like that. They can’t accept that healing is possible. They are afraid of mental illness and they don’t want to believe it can happen to a “regular” person. Well, it can. It does happen. You can overcome it. I think I just have more depth now, I’m more complicated. My soul has been carved with some deep lines and ridges. I’m more beautiful. I’m more complete.

Feel the Magic

I want to feel the magic again. The feeling you get when you sit outside, with a cool breeze blowing, the trees swaying back and forth. The feeling of pure bliss, with the sun shining and the birds singing in your ears. The smile that spreads across my face as the squirrels run up and down the fence and bunnies hop about – chasing each other and fleeing from my adorable dachshund. The beauty of the moment. The joy I feel as I let go of myself completely – when I dance wildly, limbs flailing, eyes closed, hips gyrating. The emotions that overwhelm me – the joy that brings tears running down my face. The love I feel in my heart as I thank the universe for giving me the opportunity to experience so much happiness in my life. I want to feel it again. The complete surrender to some force greater than myself. The loss of control. The loss of fear. No more anxiety. No more worries. Complete bliss.

The thing that breaks my heart is that once you are labeled bipolar you are told you cannot feel these things again – that is mania, and mania is bad. Fuck that! I refuse to give up on pure bliss and love. I WILL feel it again. I have no desire to lose my mind again – hallucinating, hearing voices – that is not fun. But, the magic, the love – I know I can find it again. Before I ever had my episode, I felt these feelings. I have always had moments of bliss, of feeling at one with nature – of feeling in complete control of my destiny, of feeling powerful in my own life. Call it mania if you like, but I am determined to experience it again…and again…and again. It’s how I want to feel. It’s how I’m meant to feel. It’s who I’m meant to be. I will be happy again, I will continue to seek enlightenment and I will find my bliss.

One Year

I just got an alert that I started my blog 1 year ago today. Wow. What a year it has been. A year ago this blog had a different name and tagline – I think it was “Enlightenment. The Road Less Traveled. Integrating Light and Dark” Something like that. The url was my full name – shaynalashway.com. I’ve since changed that for job searching/professional reasons. A year ago today I was blissful. I felt like my life finally had a purpose. Everything seemed so crystal clear. Just four days later I experienced psychosis – first seeing shadows, then eventually seeing full blown hallucinations like a helicopter crashed in my front yard. I believed I was telepathically communicating with friends and family while I tossed and turned in my bed, rolling around in vomit and sweat. Two days later, and less than a week after I wrote my first blog post I was hospitalized for a manic episode and diagnosed with bipolar 1. It was an intense experience that has changed me forever. I’ve spent the last year trying to understand what happened to me, and why. There are so many questions left unanswered. I still feel like what happened to me was somehow spiritual – even if it was some type of spiritual crisis.

As I approach this week of anniversaries – the day I went insane, the day I was hospitalized – I’m in a contemplative mood. Where do I go from here? What is my new “normal”? What do I want in this life? How do I recapture some of the magic of my mania? How do I avoid another episode? How do I manage the bipolar and live a med-free life? How do I help others in a similar situation? I have so many questions and so few answers. I cannot even imagine what the next year will be like. I hope that a year from now I’m happily off of the lithium and loving life. I hope I can move past this experience, spend less time thinking and speaking about it. I hope I can feel that sense of purpose and love for everyone and everything. I want to be better. Better than I’ve ever been before. More complete. More content.

I’m Fine

I just met with my psychiatric nurse. I’m not sure that went as well as I’d hoped. She thinks I’m unstable. I told her about the last few weeks – about my obsession with the commune idea and the difficulty I was having with my marriage. She was hesitant to make any adjustments to my medication, and in fact tried to increase my lithium level – again. I already went up from 300mg to 600mg a month ago. I don’t want more medication, I want less – in fact, I want none. After a bit of nudging she agreed that I could stop taking Zyprexa. That was a win. She wants me to call her in a week to check in, and then do an in person visit in 2 weeks. She is keeping a close eye on me. She also wants me to start with a therapist, one that she recommended. She is a pretty open minded lady – she was very clear that she doesn’t think I’m crazy, and that there are a lot of things going on inside me. She ended the visit with a hug. That was kind of nice. I’m not sure what she thinks of me, but I was kind of offended that she thinks I’m unstable. What does that even mean? I’m allowed to have different emotions and experiences over the course of several weeks. That’s life. I haven’t done anything irrational, I haven’t acted out. I think I’ve handled myself very well, especially given the challenges I’ve had to face. I’ll have to keep a close eye on myself – and I need to take better care of myself too. The nurse said if I can’t make adjustments to my life in the form of exercise, diet and balance that we may need to look at making some adjustments to my medication. I think she was warning me – shape up or get drugged. I really don’t want to be on any more medication – and I hope to get off the lithium soon – so I need to incorporate her suggestions. Cook. Garden. Walk. Exercise 4-5 times per week. These are the things she wrote down for me to remember. I think I can handle it. I sure hope I can – I want to have a good visit next time. I need to show her that I am stable. I am just fine.