Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
October 14th, 2012 by Mere Smith

Bipolar Leech

You are responsible.  You take your meds.  You go to therapy.  You get lots of sleep.  You drink water.  You exercise.  You do yoga for your peace of mind.  You keep busy.  You take the time not to be busy.  You are gentle with yourself.

You tell yourself you love you and are worthy and deserving of love.  You are a good person.  You have a good heart.  You want good things to happen to other good people because it makes you happy when other good people are happy, maybe even happier than when you’re happy for yourself.

You carry the threat of battle every day, every single, single day – some days okay, some days worse – with an emotional tumor leeched onto your amygdala and there is no chemo, no radiation, no remission, no cure, not ever a day when you will not be the host to that leech in your head.

You help other people who are hosting their leeches because it’s too easy to recall what it’s like to feel devastated and hopeless and like your skin is coming off but completely numb at the same time and you want to save someone else from that.

You realize that sometimes you can’t save someone else from that.

You realize that sometimes you can’t save yourself from that.

You are demoralized by the inability to protect yourself at all times.

You curse the shrinks and their thoughtlessly scribbled-on prescription pads.  You curse the therapists and their calm voices and the questions you’ve already asked yourself a dozen times and what will it change when they ask them instead.  You curse the meds that might as well be strung into candy bracelets for all the good they do and you shake the bottles and the pills whisper, “sucker.”

You curse the leech, the leech, you curse it, you wish you could rip the evil right out of your skull and set it on fire and burn it to ash.  You wish you could see it burnt to ash there in front of you and believe it is gone.

You have days or weeks when you love the leech.

You have days or weeks when the leech surges through you, unleashing stored energy, ideas, opening your hungers full-throttle, making it easy to fly on four hours’ sleep a night.  You feel your senses honed, your body invincible, it drives you forward forward forward, excited, thrilled and reckless, like free-standing on a ledge bolted to the front of a speeding train.

You have days or weeks when you hate the leech.

You have days or weeks when the leech sucks you down into a suffocating bog.  You can’t breathe.  You carry a 50 lb. rock on your chest, a 50 lb. rock from each shoulder.  You get headaches, backaches, neckaches, eyeaches, stomachaches, heartaches, soulaches.  You can’t sleep enough – 9, 12, 15 hours a day, it still can’t make you come alive.  You can’t think straight.  You forget words, names, events, memories, entire conversations.

You feel things so sharp, every emotion is wrapped in razor wire: happiness – razor wire; sadness – razor wire; anger – razor wire; anxiety – razor wire; regret –razor wire; guilt – razor wire.  You walk around gushing from hundreds of gouges that no one takes seriously and you are bleeding to death and no one can see it and you are furious at people’s blindness.  You also think you are self-pitying and pathetic.

You also don’t care and think what’s the point, what’s the point, what’s the point.

You go back.

You adjust your meds.  You work out harder.  You do more yoga.  You meditate.  You are even gentler with yourself.  You try to think positively.  You talk to your therapist.  You talk to your friends.  You talk to your family.  You talk until you’re sick of hearing yourself talking and reinforcing the leech’s presence and think maybe if you just ignore it, fake it, pretend the leech isn’t there, it will go away.

You know in the deepest, most inside part of you that it will never go away and it makes you sick and you throw up.

You sit in the bathtub naked and rocking and crying and raging with the shower running until the water goes cold.  You hate the leech.  You hate yourself.  You hate your brain.  You hate your DNA, your genes, you hate your parents, your ancestors, you hate feeling like this.  You hate feeling at all.  You hate thinking, hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, talking, being here, trapped inside yourself with no escape.

You think it will never end.

You wake up one morning, a morning just like the morning before it, and the morning before that, but on this morning you feel normal.

You feel it as tangibly as a change in air temperature.

You wait.  You suspect it.  You disbelieve.  You lay still, waiting for the piano to drop.  You hold your brain’s breath.  You will not be fooled again.  You will not be tricked into thinking you’ve gotten through it because you have done this before and only ended up fighting it again and again and every time the leech reappears you hear the pills whisper, “sucker.”

You are tired.

You are tired of the battle day after day, month after month, year after year.

You surrender.  You withstand.  You endure.

You wonder how.


7 Responses to “Bipolar Leech”
  1. Modwild says

    I’m not diagnosed, but here’s an email exchange with mother from yesterday:

    Mom: Good morning! Email and let me know when you want to skype or talk on the phone………..love ya
    Me: I don’t want to talk. I’m in a foul mood and it’s not going to happen today.
    We can try tomorrow.
    Love you too.
    Mom: What happened? The job? Work? Man? Please don’t keep me out of the loop………
    Me: I said I’m in a foul mood. There is no loop for that. It’s a foul mood. If you want me to loop you in by calling and screaming at you for no reason and making you feel like shit, that seems like a swell idea. Misery loves company.
    See? That’s working already.
    We’ll try tomorrow.

    No reasoning, no logic. It just was building up for days and culminated in THAT. If only there was a way to explain the unexplainable.

    I <3 you. Keep fighting. Maybe someday there won't be a battle to wage, but until then, don't stop.

  2. It’s not only the days when I’ve fallen that hurt, but the ones after I’ve found my feet, when the relief is poisoned by the memory that it hasn’t ended, just abated, and by the fear that there’s a fall ahead where I’ll never find my feet. I wonder if I’m just buying time that’s being sold in ever-decreasing increments, until the day comes when I get kicked around without defense.

    Still, I guess buying time in ever-decreasing increments is what life is, and I’m luckier than I deserve with the time I’ve been sold, lent, and outright given. I’m still afraid that the leech will get stronger, or that I’ll get too weak to fight it; that things will go back to how it was before I knew there was a leech to fight. But if the pills can buy a week, and therapy can buy another, and friends and family can save me a day here and there…well, I hope that keeps being enough for a long while.

    All I know – or, all I think I know, I guess – is that for all the hurt and tired and fear, it’s worth it. Every time we get back up. It’s worth the fight.

    You withstand. You endure.

    You inspire by doing both.

    To you: Love and support and so much understanding and sympathy.

    p.s. Don’t worry, it’ll be back to hate soon enough.

  3. Much love to you, Ms. M. <3

  4. All I can say is how much I admire your strength and courage to share this – and to get through each day. There are a lot of people in the interweb world – and in real life – who love, respect and admire you. That may be hard to remember in the down cycle but try to keep it close when you can to use as a shield. <3

    • Thanks for the buck-up, Sams. Thankfully I came out of that particular ravine a couple weeks ago, but lemme tell ya: NOT fun while you’re down there. Think next time it happens (I’d love to think positively and say “if” not “when”, but I think that’s part of the bipolar amnesia — you know, when it’s 6 months later and you’re like, “Aww, it wasn’t that bad,” without remembering: yes, yes it really was that bad.) I’ll come back to some of the comments on this blog, like yours, and remind myself to be mindful of the fact that there are people out there who care about me, and that it DOES end — every time — I just have to hang in and not do anything too reckless or stupid in the meantime. Anyway, that was a long-winded way of saying thank you for taking the time to write the very nice things you wrote. They mean a lot here, and will in the future, too.

  5. Just saw this. Here’s all I got. I love you, Merest.

    • Thanks, QG. These rare nosedives (so very different from the occasional dips, which — don’t get me wrong — suck, but are entirely manageable) happen only once every couple years or so, thanks to the Med Fairy. Nonetheless, the nosedives are to the dips what double-pneumonia is to a cold: though in both cases you just have to wait for them to pass. Extremely difficult for a Type-A’er like me. I thank you for your love and support; I’m now firmly back on the upside, where I intend to stay for a long, long, EVER time. Of course, road to Hell blah blah… 😉

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