prisoners of war
i am trembling and my stomach is in knots.
i just woke up and checked the time. 12:36 pm. well that’s good, i’m well rested at least. then i saw the missed call and my stomach dropped. what’s the date? what day is it? june 2nd…
it was my sister. you would think a call from her would elicit a happy response but instead it represented something else: facing my family, who can be a real source of stress and trauma for me. it was the day after my class ended, so i knew my aunt would be calling to get in touch. i’d have to talk to my grandma about her new dog. my mom has been calling. oh god…
as it turns out, stress isn’t exactly my friend these days. when i went to my psychiatrist yesterday we created a timeline of effects of lithium. it turns out my hypomanic couple of days were right on time for when the lithium was expected to reach therapeutic blood levels.
(side note: i did ask her if that effect would occur in non-bipolar individuals taking lithium and she said no. i am only reasonably confident in her response though; still it’s more support for me having bipolar. bipolar: 1, me: 0)
then when i discovered my debit card number had been stolen and some bitch went on a beauty supply shopping spree, i made like a boomerang and went south. deep south.
suddenly i find myself imagining that suicide is painless. i was getting ready for a movie date last night and decided to dress up, to celebrate leaving the house for the first time in a long time. i put on a dress and styled my hair, took a look at myself and thought i looked nice enough to kill myself. i actually thought that hanging myself wouldn’t be that bad. mentally i started giving away my things. i got to figuring out who would take my pets before i stopped myself and called my friend. XBF was supposed to be there in 2 minutes but i didn’t feel safe telling him about it.
those feelings have dissipated, but i’ve now created a new rule for myself that i MUST be around people a few times a week. socially.
the phone just rang again. it was my sister calling me back. she sounded cheery, relatively speaking and i thought that was good. she asked how i was doing and i said, oh you know, up and down. ha. ha. ha.
she let me know she would call in a few minutes when she got back to my grandma’s house because they were out running errands. suddenly i’m starting to feel panicked. i don’t want to face my sister AND the dog issue at the same time. i start crying within seconds. i can’t stop it. tears are rolling down my face as i’m telling her she can call me back and that i’ll be available.
i don’t even know myself anymore. something has clearly snapped.
i want to talk to my sister, don’t get me wrong. but i don’t know what to say. she’s sensitive to stress and clearly so am i. what topics are safe? do i ask her about her bipolar? i heard she is only taking anti-depressants right now, and i want to tell her in a non-emergency mode kind of way that taking anti-depressants (plus going to VEGAS) can lead to a hypomanic episode. she’s also not seeing a licensed therapist who deals with bipolar disorder on a regular basis. i get that she likes the lady she’s been seeing for a long time now, but i think she’s MFT (marriage and family therapy), and i’m not confident in her qualifications to be treating my sister. at least i hope she would have some kind of specialist available, who isn’t a psychiatrist.
i just got off the phone and now i am more stressed and sad and confused. she has decided to throw out the bipolar diagnosis. she is simply ignoring it. i asked if she would consider getting a second opinion and she said she got one from her MFT counselor. i tried not to sound as urgent as i felt, but every time i tried to take a different approach i reached a dead end. my sister is really good at that, at stopping conversations she doesn’t want to have. i could sense that she was starting to get irritated and defensive that i kept asking about it.
she told me she was taking antidepressants and felt great and that life was totally manageable (yeah, that sounds familiar) and i could hear her rapid speech (especially noticeable when compared to my own pace) and we both forgot what we were talking about several times. i tried to be as delicate as possible when i mentioned that taking antidepressants when you’re bipolar can make the condition worse. after i said they can lead to a hypomanic episode she caught on to what i was saying and it was clear she didn’t like it.
in the interest of keeping the peace i decided to take a more affiliative approach and to drop the subject. silently i cursed my family members because i knew they were supporting her decision to forget the diagnosis. how fucking irresponsible could they be?
she went on to tell me about her plans to get 1) a part time job, 2) a volunteer position, and 3) a second volunteer position, so she can “ease” back into being busy. that doesn’t look anything like easing to me but clearly the bipolar subject was off limits for this conversation.
i found myself feeling increasingly stressed out so i made up an excuse and said i would call her back.
i can’t force her to do anything and she isn’t receptive to a second opinion from a QUALIFIED therapist. her feelings are bolstered by the support of my family, whose opinions i suspect are rooted in fear. the only thing to do is wait and see.
it brings a whole new meaning to the old saying, if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?