Saturday, January 26, 2008

Crazy Love, Crazy Talk

You know, I'm beginning to understand the value of talk therapy. Very much.

OK, so I always had a 'tude about therapy in general. "I don't fucking need to talk to no steenkin' shrink."

Wrong. So wrong. I'm almost ashamed to say that while I would pop the pills the shrink gave me, that's all the cooperation I'd give. Yeah, I'll take the pills and be done with it. For a long time, that's how I saw it. And that's why my treatment was really half-assed. Because I wouldn't open up, to anyone. I kept my dark manic secrets to myself, completely. Nobody, not even my husband, knew some of the things I did and thought.

I inhaled Oxycodone, while keeping my addiction a secret. I spent money and hid it from my husband. I went out and did wild things in the flush of mania. And then, I'd come down. Nobody knew what drove me to depression. I did and I hugged it tightly. I suffered through the horrors of Oxy withdrawal because I was too full of myself to seek help. I wasn't giving up my nasties to anyone. In fact, they were my blankie. I'm a BAD GIRL and I should punish myself for my sins by torturing my psyche. Jesus, how pathetic.

And then, along came my best friend, N, who is a recovering alcoholic, which is why I do not name him. He's known the depths of despair, the misery of life, and the epiphany that one needs to have when you hit rock bottom, whether it's through alcohol abuse, substance abuse, or the agony of mental illness.

When we first met, N told me up front that he was a recovering alcoholic. I, in turn, told him that I was bipolar. And knew then that here was the first person I had ever met with whom I could unabashedly and without any reserve talk about the awful things I had done in the past. He would never pass judgment on me, nor I on him. I would trust him with my life and I hope he would trust me with his.

I started talk therapy again six weeks ago. This time, I went with an open mind, checked my ego at the front desk, and gave myself completely to my therapist, Mim. One of her initial questions during that first therapy session was, "Who's your gatekeeper?"

Huh? What dat? "It's the person who knows you the best, who can tell you when you're getting off balance, the person in your life in whom you can confide" says Mim. Oh. I didn't hesitate with my answer. Yes, I knew immediately. N. He's as sensitive as I am, so he knows when I'm out of kilter right away. "Boy, you're AWFULLY snippy this morning." And he's always right about my moods. (Of course, it works both ways--I sure know when he's out of sorts, too.)

Between N and Mim, I've begun to see the light. For the past two Saturdays, I've gone with my beloved friend to his AA meetings. And today, I had yet another mini epiphany.

It's good to be with people who understand your illness, who've been there themselves. It's past good. It's wonderful. And where I always pooh-poohed group therapy, I now see its value. The group supports, the group loves, the group knows. Although my addiction was to a different medium, as it were, addiction is what it is. Often, it's self-medication to mute the sadness, the insecurity, the agitation. But the lesson I have learned from attending these meetings is that when I open my heart, nobody's going to thrust the stiletto into it.

Tonight, before I began writing this entry, I went to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance site to make contact with the East Stroudsburg support group. I will continue to go with N to his meetings, because I love him and I want to support and understand him always, but I will also go to my meetings too. And with an open heart, an open mind, and a giving soul. That's the guidance I've received from my Higher Power.

So stop. Look. Listen. And keep yourself open to all possibilities. You'll benefit endlessly. Life is filled with these epiphanies, if you let life happen to you.


Catherine said...

Today your blog really hit home with me. I am an alcoholic and have been diagnosed with depression. I thought that I had hidden the mania from family and friends. Sometimes I thought that the feeling of euphoria was my reward for the days/weeks when I felt like staying in bed with the covers pulled over my head. I have been sober for three years. I go to meetings. The support and love I have received from the group is amazing. i no longer hide what I am. Thank you for writing this blog, your honesty and courage inspire me. I am not a pollyanna but for the first time in my life I am happy with who I am; warts, sarcasm and all.

Matthew said...

I too know exactly what you're talking about. The meds keep me stable, but the talk therapy helps me stay on track with, and understand, the rest of my life -- emotions, relationships, work, and so forth. An outside perspective on my life helps me understand my own behavior and my interactions with others so much better.

I've also been affected by addiction/alcoholism, through my family. And the members of my family that had those problems were also depressed or bipolar -- big surprise. I still don't understand why I'm "just" bipolar. But I've often felt I was addicted to being depressed -- that it allowed me to just stay in bed and put off dealing with life.

My twin sister has 2.5 years from alcohol, and whenever I visit her I love going to meetings with her. Finding my own support group is now number one on my to-do list.

Sarah said...

It is wonderful that you now have this other important treatment in your arsenal. It is also great that you are going into your talking cure armed with pmeds that are helping. That can make quite a difference in the work you are able to do in your psychotherapy. It is work, but it is worth so much. I wish you continued success as you work to broaden your support network.

Bluejinx said...

Long time listener etc. I admire you for speaking out about your journey. I have a situation with my 21 year old son. The backstory is long, but the gist is that he has gone off his meds and is now only taking zoloft. I went with him to his last Dr appt, spoke with the Dr and voiced my concerns that my son seems to be running "high" since Thanksgiving. These are the same concerns I have told him about. Of course, since he is no longer a minor, the Dr is going to follow my son's lead, which is "I feel fine". Son has taken drug vacations in the past, and spoken up to me in time to prevent a large crash.

Wow, this got longer than I intended. How do I/you/we help someone who doesn't think they need help? He is living at college, so I don't see him every day. I have tried not to be one of "those" controlling moms, but the thought of a major crash requiring a trip to "the room with the view" scares me to death.

You have written about your adventures, and off the top of my head I think that you policed yourself without giving anything away to your family? My son hasn't developed those skills yet, I can see the manic behavior increasing.

Sorry to ramble on. How would you, Mar, help someone who doesn't want it? Or are you gonna tell me what I already know, which is that all I can do is be here to pick up the pieces when he crashes?

Thank you again for sharing the ugly stuff on this blog. I'm not brave enough to put my baggage out there to folks, but it is getting a little easier.



I am glad that you are writing. I was concerned.

We all have our stories. Mine is that I am a relapsed alcoholic (after 16 years in recovery.)

I have vanilla depression. I'm getting older. And I am glad that my Sweetie offers me unqualified love all the time.

I live on the river called De Nial.

Best wishes to you in your journey.

Anonymous said...

I was misdiagnosed as clinically depressed for four years and just last year found a team of people who have helped me find my way through a BP II diagnosis. I have a great pdoc who stinks with the people part and a great talk person who really understands me.

And I never thought of my husband as my gatekeeper, but he is.

I'm still dealing withe the whole BP label crap. I've told them all to call me what they want just help me feel better.

And I am, little by little.

All the best to you and thank you for writing. With hope, next time I'll be able to leave my name with pride.

torKNITtoh said...

Hey. Howya doin?
I miss your writing.