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.