The Slip

I slip a lot. On shiny floors, on icy sidewalks, socks on linoleum, you have it, I’ll slip on it. As I’ve always said, grace is not a fine art with me. But this slip was different. This slip was bad. This slip…yeah, I’m working through this as I’m writing, bear with me.

My meds stopped working correctly around the beginning of December and I ignored it. I started spiraling into a massive bout of depression around Christmas, and it was all downhill from there. By the time I got to LA in the beginning of February, I barely knew which end was up. And something happened. A slip. A bad slip. A slip that involved me and booze. Yeah, THAT kind of slip.

I was self-medicating. I was so sad, all the time, and nothing, not even Outpost31 could do anything about it. He said to me “you’re only hurting yourself, baby” and I knew it. But that didn’t stop me.

I went home and started drinking full time. Two weeks of haze followed, a mess of crippling sadness and drunken sobs, and of course at that point the concept of “you don’t use a depressant to treat depression” did not enter my mind. I went back to an old habit. I picked it up and ran with it. Or staggered, if you want to get technical. It wasn’t pretty.

Last Thursday I was at the bottom. It was barely the afternoon and I was fall-down drunk. I had destroyed my apartment, broken a table, and had fallen on the outside steps throwing the bottle into the dumpster. Classy. That’s me. I had slipped, and I didn’t know if or how I could get back up.

I panicked and through my sobs, I did a reflexive motion. I picked up the phone and called my mom. I was so scared and confused and the agonizing empty sadness had completely taken over. I slurred into the phone that I was so sorry, that I had fucked up, that I was drunk, DRUNK, I said it out loud oh god, I said it out loud, and she drove over to my apartment immediately.

Upon seeing the ruins of my apartment, my mom did the only reasonable thing as I sat, hysterical, on the floor. She freaked a bit, which, I mean, can you blame her? I certainly can’t. And then I said something stupid. Something stupid that I didn’t mean, an empty threat, words that fell out of my mouth without thought.

“I’ll just slit my wrists then”

She called 911. Do you blame her? I don’t.

It was a completely empty threat. But how was anyone else to know that? That was an ass move on my part, and if the despair wasn’t so all-consuming, so crippling, if I hadn’t been drunk, if, if, if. If didn’t matter anymore. The damage was done, and I would have to live with the consequences. I was summarily loaded into an ambulance and brought to the psych center of the ER. After many, many hours there, I was transferred to the bin. I signed myself in. I had surrendered.

I’m a loner. I live in myself, always in my own head, always consumed with my own thoughts, and that’s a pretty selfish way to live. My bipolar manifests in racing thoughts, a constant chatter of analysis and over-analysis of everything I say, think or do that never ceases. You know how sometimes you say something and then you think “maybe I shouldn’t have said that?” I do that with EVERY thought. It’s pretty noisy in my head most of the time. And the self-doubt, the wracking, nauseating guilt and shame that came with the wrong meds mixed up with booze had me in hysterics for about the first 36 hours on the unit. I still fell apart every time my parents visited throughout the entire week. Whooping, gasping, wailing sobs of fear, guilt, shame, and disgust with myself. I was told to keep it down by the nurses lest I scare the other patients. I was pretty loud for someone with a wrecked voice, I guess. All I knew was that the anguish had reached a point of oblivion, and all I could do was scream.

In a particularly “tough love” visit from my mother, she snapped that I was like a cat with nine lives, and that I was fucking pushing it. And she was right. I have treated my life in far too cavalier a manner for far too long. I’ve been told through abject frustration by numerous friends and family members that don’t I get it? Don’t I get that people care about me and would CARE if I was gone?

Not at the time, no. No I didn’t.

That’s the guilt and shame. I had secrets and lies again, things to be horribly ashamed of, I had taken my second chance after the coma and I had given it the finger. I was just so fucking sad all the time. Couldn’t I just numb it out, just for a little while? Couldn’t I mask the pain for just a little while, through a haze of alcohol? It was so nice to have moments wherein I just didn’t care.

And when I drank until I was drunk as hell, I didn’t care. The guilt and shame and disgust and sobs would come in the morning. But that night, THAT night, I just didn’t care. And that was good enough for me. Until it wasn’t. Until I finally, FINALLY had a single moment of clarity after breaking the table and sitting on the floor bruised and sobbing, when I called my mom. And that, my dear friends, is how I ended up in the ER last Thursday and that is why I spent a week in the psych ward.

I slipped. It happens. It’s part of the gig, man.

But it was so much MORE than the booze. I had slipped on the emptiness, the pain, the all-encompassing sadness that was crippling me for months until I was a zombie, bereft of any happiness, full of misplaced anger, rage even. I shut down. I was dead inside. So I made it go away for a while. Until it bit me in the ass. And it bit me hard.

Before they let you go from the psych ward, everyone always asks the same question. “What will you do differently next time”? And so help me, if I had just swallowed my pride back in early December and said “something’s wrong” to my meds doc, to my therapist, to Outpost31, to any of my friends, if I had reached OUT instead of collapsing IN, maybe none of this ever would have happened.

Constant vigilance. That’s what I’ll do differently next time. No more crushing my soul inside myself. I need a support system, and it can’t just be one person I dump everything on, or call in the middle of the night in hysterics. It’s a constant watch over myself. Using that insanely loud inner monologue I always have roaring through my head for good instead of evil. Taking care of myself so I never have to end up in the psych ward ever, ever again. Yelling “SOMETHING IS WRONG” instead of pushing it down, down, down inside me until it HAS to explode. Constant vigilance, I said to the doctors, nurses, social workers and techs. Constant vigilance.

I slipped. I slipped out of protecting myself from my illness, my broken brain, and that’s something I have to make sure I never, ever do again. As for the guilt and shame, they’re still there. But I’m working on it. It’s a journey, but I think I’m finally on the right road.


The Slip — 56 Comments

  1. That had to be one helluva difficult post to write. As a recovering alcoholic with clinical depression, I am very proud of you for sharing this. While we may not know each other except for some Twitter dialog, know that you have my support in your recovery and healing.
    Brad last post: FIRST!

  2. Glad you’re out. Glad you’re okay. Glad to know you’re realizing that when you choose to isolate… most people will respect that choice. But if you choose to reach out, there will be – instantaneously – a thousand pairs of hands reaching back, linked to a thousand voices asking, “How can we help? Tell us what you need. We are here for you.”
    TwoBusy last post: And now- a word from my wife

  3. Miss Banshee, we most certainly do care about you! I’ll tell you a little secret if it will make you feel better. (No, it isn’t creepy or internet stalk-y. Ok, maybe a tad odd, but that’s how I roll.) When Stewie was so sick and you posted that he had gone to the great kitty palace in the sky, I was with a friend at a roller derby match. And we both looked at each other as our phones dingled saying that a new twitter message had posted, and we cried. That’s right: in front of friends and complete strangers, we cried for a cat that we didn’t know, because a woman we don’t know had made us care. Because we do care! So many of us have been reading what you write for so long now, and we would miss you terribly if you stopped writing. I am very proud that you found the courage to write this and to step back on to the sobriety wagon. There are a lot more of us pulling for you to feel better than I suspect you know about.
    Leslie in Toronto

  4. I think it’s great that you wrote this. It can’t have been easy, but really, you already lived through the worst part, right? The bottom. I’ve been there once, too, with a few bottles of pills that I hadn’t *really* meant to take, so empty words can easily turn into empty actions. I’m glad you spoke up, even if it was “assy.” Reaching out is good, always good, and you can always reach out like you did here – with your words.

  5. So, so happy that you are ok and that you made it out the other side. At the risk of being a complete tool because I don’t know you I will ask if you have considered that you might have ADD/ADHD? It is co-morbid with Bipolar in so many people. Your symptoms sound exactly like what my daughter used to describe and as soon as we added ADHD meds to her meds for Bipolar she was, and is, so much better. Regardless, I’m so glad YOU are better, I really missed seeing your words in my feed.

  6. *hugs*
    I can’t imagine how hard this was to write.
    While I know you regret many things you’ve done and said, kudos to you for calling your mom. Sure, you can play the “if only” game until you land yourself back in the bin with guilt, but the one thing you did right was calling for help. That’s what mommies are for. And in your shoes, I never would have called mine.

    Glad you’re back, and hope you aren’t too much worse for the wear.

  7. I don’t know what to say, other than I’m glad you’re feeling better, I’m glad you’re back, and I admire the hell out of you for being brave enough to share this.

    You aren’t alone.

  8. Your reflex in calling your mom and the “empty threat” may have saved your life. For that, I am grateful.

    We need you in this world, Miss Banshee, whether or not you believe it. I hope you do.

    Even though you don’t “know” me, I have two of those thousands of helping hands that TwoBusy mentioned. We will support and love you in any way you need.

  9. I am so sorry you were going through this alone. I am very happy you are ok and that you are detoxed and ready to start again. I also wish you could realize how many people you really have with you in your corner and even though we are on the internet, we still care just a much and are here for you just much. 🙂 Anyway, glad you are doing better and I hope you will continue to get better every day.

  10. I never know what to say when I hear things like this, I should think I would, but know I feel very much about it… you are a brave strong woman and an inspiration to all us crazies out here, support is a very important and scary thing to look for… I my self hate to have to depend on other people, but I have other people who have to depend on me and it is selfish when I refuse to do that… Thank you for sharing, I know it’s hard and must be terrifying to let yourself all out but you share your story and we (well I know I will) learn from it… we’ve all been there, down at the bottom underneath it all and we either have to figure out a way to pick ourselves up or ….well there is no or is there.

    Thank you for sharing you w/ us, thank you for telling us the truth about what happened, I for one have a whole new level of respect for you… and know this, if I ever were to pass you on the street I would squee and then give you a giant bear hug!!!

  11. Oh, wow. I can relate to much of what you have written here–the need to repress one’s feelings, self-medicating to ease the pain of feeling those feelings, boiling over. It is so difficult for me to reach out. Anyway, I’m so happy and relieved that you made it through. Your voice is important to me. xx
    Juli last post: Are you real online

  12. Miss Banshee, you are a constant reminder of how complicated and beautiful the human condition is, even in its darkest of challenges. I know how hard the reaching out is. My therapist does an exercise where she literally holds my arm and moves it in a reaching out motion in tiny increments (we haven’t gotten it fully extended yet). I’m glad you have resources. Keep remembering that they honestly and selflessly want to support your well-being. Abnd your internet community will also be here.

  13. Miss Banshee,

    I know that I don’t have your courage and I admire you greatly. I don’t think I could ever expose myself in an embarrassing situation the way you have. Your words teach us why some people self-medicate. I’m glad that you have made it through your bad season and I hope your medication keeps working for you.

    I have faith that you will stop being so hard on yourself and let your friends, family and medical professionals help you before it gets so bad the next time. You are not weak; you have a medical condition. In fact, I think you are a very strong and independent woman.

    And you are razor sharp funny! Take care of yourself,

  14. Hey honey. I’m so proud of you for posting this and for trusting all of us who read your blog with this. Writing is some of the best therapy around. I am more than willing to be part of that support system and you can call me whenever you need to.

  15. So, so glad that you are ok. I can’t imagine how hard it was to go through that or to write about it, but I am happy you did both. Wishing you the best. 🙂

  16. If bravery could cure BiPolar, you’d be cured. I found you through Roger Ebert and would hate to lose you. The world needs witty, sarcastic souls like you, or at least I do. Remember, a lapse is when you go back to alcohol, but do the next right thing when you realize what you’ve done; a relapse is when you keep drinking once you realize you have lapsed.

  17. This is one of the hardest things you’ve ever written and possibly one of the hardest things I have ever read. But it’s also one of the very best and I want (need) to thank you for sharing. Sometimes we hit bottom so hard we bounce twice. You slipped but you got back up and that last part is all that counts. You got back up. Constant vigilance is how you will stay that way. And if you need a hand? I’ve got two.

  18. This must have been hard to write. Thank you for sharing it. I don’t know what to say that isn’t trite or ridiculous so I’ll just say I’m glad you called your mom and I’m glad you’re back.

  19. My dear Mizz Banshee: I wish I could give you a big hug. Thank you for your honesty. You brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could be so honest… You hang in there sister! I’m wishing you the best & hope I can face my pain one day as you just did…
    Lynne last post: My First Video Blog Post- backstage…

  20. I think about you so often, Danielle. I wonder and worry and think and hope. I admire your tenacity so.

    This sounds absurd, but I looked for your Bachelor recap last week and it was not there and I knew something had gone kaflooey. I’m so glad you called your mom, I’m glad you’re here. And I understand every last bit of how hard you are on yourself, and I truly hope that part of this right road is peace, and kindness to yourself as well as others (because you already have that part down.) You truly deserve it. You deserve all good things. xo.
    Laurie last post: Bites

  21. Welcome back,you bright and shining soul.

    Thanks for the reminder we all need:vigilance. Those of us that have twists in our wiring have a terrible tendency to think it will get better if we ignore the downward spiral. Yours is a cautionary tale that I will keep with me.

  22. It is great to “hear” your voice again. I am so relieved that you are ok. Keep on fighting, you make me proud to call you a friend!

  23. Yes, it is a journey. Thank you for sharing yours with us. I’m sorry you went through this all, but happy you had support as you went through it. We care and we are here.

  24. I am so sorry to hear this, but glad you are well enough to post about it.

    And I had noticed your absence, just from this blog and Twitter, and you were missed. You should know that.

  25. Sorry I didn’t leave love sooner, as I was felled by the latest Pirrhana Flu going around… You’re brave, Banshee. And you’re FIGHTING like hell. That’s all we need to know. We’re going to keep fighting with you.

  26. I just don’t know what to type here… I’m so sorry you slipped.

    So sorry you were in such a bad place. So happy you have the automatic reflex to call your mom when you need help. Everyone should be so lucky to have a mom that comes when you call. I’m so happy you’re working your way back. I agree with everyone… it’s a brave thing to share your slip.

    Whether you get it or not… you’re a very loved person.
    Colleen last post: A week on my iPhone

  27. I don’t know exactly how I found you. I was diagnosed bipolar in 2007. While I haven’t done any in-patient time in a hospital, I am sure there are more than a few times I should have. I don’t know you from Adam, but I know your story… it sounds so much like mine.
    I wish there were words to say to make a difference. I know, that this journey? Is one you’ll have to find your own way. Know that there are ears to listen and hands waiting to help. All you have to do is reach out.

  28. Like everyone else has been writing, this is a brave post. More than that, it is a well-written, truthful, no-holds-barred account of why we, as your readers, read you, why you, as a person, are special, and why Roger Ebert, as a follower, tweeted this.

    Just remember: if you slip again, there are many people willing to catch you and stand you upright again. Remember that, and good luck.
    Greg Salvatore last post: Litdreamer Exposed!

  29. Your empty suicidal words were the same as mine when I told one of the nurses in the ER that I wanted to be euthanized. I didn’t mean it. But I was trapped. What else was I supposed to do? Take the next step? My nose was already touching the wall. I couldn’t take another step. And I sure as to hell didn’t want to turn back. So I went to the ER and said my empty words. Later on I realized that they were not empty.

    You’re meds stopped helping you. You’re drinking did nothing. Destroying your apartment, apologizing to your mother, and having her with you did jack shit to releave you of your mental pain. What else were you supposed to do next?

    You said that you were going to slit your wrists. Why? Because you were up against the wall. There was nothing more ahead of you. You were trapped.

    Your words weren’t empty. At least, not in the way you think. Those words caused your mother to phone 911. Those words admitted you to the mental ward. Those words made you realize that the wall was actually a door. So you opened it and stepped through. (God, my writing is fucking cheesy.)

    My words may not mean anything to you. I don’t have the same mental illness you have, but I do have depression and anxiety, and I was also admitted to a mental ward. I’m glad I stayed.

    Very little comforts me. I’ve gotten compliments from my friends and family. I brushed them all off. I’ve gotten compliments from some people who are well known writers. Brushed them off as well. I still do that. I may have meds that work (most of the time), but I’m still very critical of myself, and that’s why my words may not affect you in any way. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to send them to you.

    You slipped, and your mother helped you back up. You may still be trying to regain your full balance, but you are standing. And you can still walk forward.

    Good luck!

  30. Hi there,

    First time visit and really enjoyed this posts and the others I read. You’re very brave and strong to write about your life. And a great writer! Best of luck to you and with regaining the balance.

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  37. I honestly believe this is your best post so far. I love the honesty. Asking for help when you’re at your worse is difficult. It’s an enduring cliche because it is so very true.

  38. I keep typing sentences in this comment box, but deleting them because they all sound ridiculous when I read them. I guess what I really want to say is thank you.

    I’ve been at The Bottom. I practically have an apartment there. And reading your post made me wake up from my month-long fog and realize I am taking that slow, shitty, spirally ride back down there.

    Today I’m making the changes necessary to reach OUT instead of collapsing IN. I thank you, my husband thanks you, and my daughter thanks you for having the bravery to write this and post it and change one stranger’s life for the better.

    Constant Vigilance, man. It’s the only way to go. I’m glad you got back up.

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