You can't help but go among mad people. We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad. You must be mad, or you wouldn't have come here.
~Cheshire Cat

01 February 2015

Falling up

It has been nearly a year since my last post. I have several rough entries waiting to be finished, each with its own unique point. Each untitled document is a stream of consciousness that will someday turn into something useful, but for now all I have is a metaphorical pile of ramblings from a bipolar brain.
This is typical.
But instead of dreading fixing each entry to make it useful, I have decided to use the opportunity to illustrate how the mind of the afflicted "works."
Many sufferers of bipolar have other symptoms, usually resembling those of people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The two often overlap, like a nervous Venn Diagram. One in particular is perfectionism.
Perfection, as some call it, is bullshit. It is unattainable. It takes minutes/hours/days/months/years of trying something before the realization overcomes you and you shut it off. The result is a lot of unfinished projects spread out over a lot of living room floors.

The best example I can use is doing laundry: you have a big pile of dirty, smelly clothes and you have the solution. You start sorting the items according to their instructions, you designate loads, and you fill the washer. You already start to feel better. Now you wait.
The wash cycle ends, and you carefully put your newly-washed clothes into the dryer. You set it on tumble dry low, and put the next load in the washer.
Then, the wash cycle is over. But the dryer still has 40 minutes. Should you have even put this load in the wash? How could you not have realized your mistake? What are you supposed to do with all these wet clothes? Why didn't you just do the delicate load next, so you didn't have to wait for the dryer? Should you put all of your wet clothes in the dryer with everything else? You can't just leave them there, can you? 40 minutes isn't really that long for wet clothes to set out, is it?
So you set your wet clothes on top of the dryer and go do something else.
But now it's ruined. Your plan didn't really work out. There is a wrench in the process so you simply say, "eh, fuck it."
Two days later, you revisit the dryer. Your first load is dry, and your second load is musty. You reluctantly throw them back in the washer for another try. Maybe tomorrow.

And that has been my mind for the past year.
I have made a lot of progress.
I bought a car (not a nice car, but it works).
I moved into my own house (I have two roommates, but we hardly see one another).
I got a real, grown-up job (goodbye minimum wage!)
And maybe I am beginning to see that elusive light at the end of this stupid tunnel everyone keeps talking about.
And it hasn't been easy.
I quit one of my jobs because I couldn't handle the stress.
A back injury severely offset my momentum.
I was fired from a job I loved. For the first time in my life.
There have been too many deaths to count. I won't try to list them all, because it doesn't seem fair that they even belong in the same category. Friends, friends of friends, family, family of friends, children, adults, illness, accidents, etc etc etc.

And forgive this for being poorly written. I thought it best to publish something without even thinking about it first.
Because you can't edit a bipolar brain.

10 March 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole, Part Three: Eat Me

What good is a door without a key?
After enjoying her drink, Alice suddenly began to shrink. In one moment, she became only ten inches high – the perfect height to fit through the door. She was careful to not get too excited, though, because there was the possibility that she could keep shrinking, and shrinking, until eventually she would disappear altogether, like the flame of a candle. But she did in fact stop shrinking, and at just the perfect height!

Excited to finally visit the previously unattainable garden, Alice ran to the door. But in all the commotion, she had forgotten the key. How was she supposed to predict that the bottle marked “Drink Me” would cause her to shrink? That assumption would be absurd. So of course she forgot the key. If she had remembered it, that would be too easy. This presents a problem that Alice has no choice but to resolve. She tried tirelessly to climb the glass table to reach the key in vain. Overwhelmed, she started to cry.

But despite her failure to make bizarre assumptions being completely understandable and forgivable, Alice scolds herself anyway. She ordered herself to stop crying, which only furthered her shame, and she cried even harder. Alice scolds herself regularly, and is so ashamed by herself that she remembers trying to box up her tears after she scolded herself for cheating in a game of croquet (against herself). It’s as if she has two people inside her – someone with whom she can play against, and someone who can scold her. She often pretended to be two people at once.

Sometimes I play pretend. I realize that I’m a grown-ass adult, but sometimes I still pretend to be a ballerina. I gracefully glide across the floor instead of just walking down a hallway. But this is different from what Alice does. Instead of pretending to be someone else, Alice pretends to be two distinct Alices.

“But it’s no use now,” thought poor Alice, “to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!”

While pouting on the corridor floor, Alice spotted a glass box and opened it. Inside there was a beautifully decorated cake. Alice figured she might as well eat it. There can only be two possible outcomes: she will grow tall enough to get the key, or she will shrink enough to fit through the space under the door. She didn’t care which it was, but she had to do something besides just sit and pout. She took a bite.

Alice waited to see which direction she would go. From her earlier experience, she assumed that she should make the supposition that something would happen, like last time. When nothing did, she sighed and concluded it was silly to expect something so absurd to come from eating cake. After all, that’s what usually happens when someone eats cake: nothing. So she figured, what’s the point? and ate the whole thing. 

19 October 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole, Part Two: "The Landing"

…down, down, down.

Alice was growing very bored and very sleepy. How long had she been "falling?" What will happen when she lands? With nothing much to do but think, Alice quickly realized that her absence will leave all of her responsibilities to others. Her anxiety over the situation grows, and with no one else around, she begins talking to herself as if it were a common thing to do in this situation.

Who knows how long she will be gone? What if no one remembers to give her cat her milk? And with the thought of being gone forever of course, now she is concerned. Can she trust that someone will take over for her? Sure, she’s only 7, but in Alice’s mind she is very important.

Who will feed her cat? What if no one does? Will she be okay? She misses Dinah and soon imagines she is talking with her. And it is certainly not strange to be talking to a cat. “Dinah, my dear! I wish you were here with me!” But then again, maybe it was a good thing Dinah stayed behind; there are no mice in the air (and mice her Dinah's favorite). She continued wondering out loud, as if Dinah were next to her.
But maybe there could be bats. They’re mouse-like, right? Can Dinah even catch a bat? Wait…has her cat ever eaten a bat? Has any cat ever eaten a bat? Or, maybe, has a bat ever eaten a cat? As stated in the book …she couldn’t answer either question, so it didn’t matter which way she put it. All of this seemed like quite normal conversation to have with oneself. Or with a cat. “Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?” She was not sure if she expected an answer. It certainly would not surprise her.
And after she began to doze off, she landed.

THUD. She’s knocked back into the moment. She brushes herself off.
She looked around, and there he was. The White Rabbit! The moment she catches a glimpse of the creature with a waistcoat and pocket watch, he disappeared.

Alice wandered into a long corridor with dozens of locked doors. And considering how things had been going so far, she knows she will not be able to get through a single one. Of course. That would be too easy. And she was right.

But then she sees a key, sitting on a 3-legged glass table that she swears was not there before. She hesitates, but gives it a try. The key is pointless; it does not open a single door. But determined to get out of the long hallway, she tried the key in every door again. And just like the glass table that seemed to appear while she was not looking, Alice finds an additional door behind a small curtain. She tried they key again, and to her surprise, it worked! Relieved, she unlocked the door. But again, as fate would have it, Alice cannot even fit her head through this door.

Peeking through the opening, Alice could see what appears to be a beautiful English garden just like the ones she had only heard about in books and only seen in paintings. And there it was, right in front of her.
“…even if my head would go through, it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, if only I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if only I knew how to begin.”

For Alice, the problem is not that the door is too small; it is that she is too big.
Hoping for another key to show up, Alice stands up, collects herself, and heads back to the table. As stated in the book, “For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.”

This is when she finds a bottle on the table where the key had once been, and it was labeled “Drink Me.”
Despite the wave of optimism that had surged over her, Alice wasn’t about to do that in any hurry.
“If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison,’ it is
almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.”

But this bottle was not marked “poison,” and as soon as she determined it was safe to drink, Alice found the taste to be so delightful that quickly finished off the whole bottle. 

Alice liked to give herself good advice, even though she seldom ever followed it.