Psychologists and/or psychiatrists are assholes. This isn’t a credibility check on how effective they are at treating peers. It’s that for some self-gratifying reason – I envision these sadists touching themselves in appropriately stained lab coats – brain researchers do some really horrible things in the name of knowledge and understanding and whatever else lofty and erudite serves as an excuse.
On rats. They experiment on rats. And a good thing, too, because if these researchers tried this shit on people we would have fewer providers than we do already because they’d all be on trial in Nuremberg v.2.0. Psych researchers do deplorable stuff to rats that somehow produce results that are analogous to the human psyche.
Still, there are some experiments of which I’m aware that are, if nothing else, wonderful parables the likes of which would thrill the nursery rhymes for kids who like to experiment on rats and other small animals themselves. Think of these parables as sociopathic primers.
One experiment I learned of in college was this deal where rats were put in a round tank of water with sides too high for them to climb out. The rats would swim and swim and swim until they just give up in what amounts to a hopeless situation. They swim and give up hope. Coupled with larger abandonment issues and it’s understandable why a rat might choose drowning to get out of this impossible situation.
Hark! The rats did not die! Just at that point where the rats said “I don’t know what asshole put me in this impossible situation, but I swear, I’m coming back as a rat-ghost and I’m going to haunt the hell out of his corn flakes and garbage ” . . . That’s what rat-ghosts do, yes? I’ve never had a rat-ghost haunt me and I myself am not a rat-ghost so I’m just pissing in the wind on this one.
Right, the rats did not die, for the researchers grabbed them out of the tank at just that fatal moment. They fetched them from drowning, bathed them, dried them, set them up in a luxury rat-suite with warmth and all the corn flakes and garbage a rat could dream of . . . and when the rats began feeling content and secure once more, the researchers then threw them back into the tank, and this time they let them die.
The odd thing is the rats did not die from drowning. These experimental rats died of exhaustion. They swam and swam and swam until their little rat bodies could hold out no longer and they died from exhaustion. This is important. The rats did not drown. It was physical exhaustion that did these rats in.
So what’s the parable here? Well, these researchers (assholes, remember) concluded that because the rats had come close to death and then were rescued, their little rat rationale was “I made it through the first time so I just have to hold out and I’ll make it through again.” Only the researchers did an absolute dick thing and let them die, just to see what would happen. Do you understand why there is a definitive fascist undertone about this type of experiment?
Sometimes, whence in the midst of a depressive or manic or psychotic episode, when life feels most hopeless and I want to let myself slip under the murky surface of mental illness and effectively drown in suffering and misery (that’s some Hemmingway-caliber wordplay there) . . . I will myself to remember all those times before that if I just ride it out, regardless of how painful, sinister, and hopeless reality is at that moment, I’ll come out the other side of the severe symptoms of a mental health crisis wiser and stronger. And alive. Unlike the rats.
This parable only goes so far other than to say that each time I’m in the middle of a crisis I’ve resolved to die of exhaustion rather than drown. This is because I made it through before. Exhaustion is what will do me in and not giving up.
Thoughtcrimes is my journal recording my recovery journey, and as such, I chose to compose this particular article tonight because I just might have reached that point of exhaustion. That sounds dire and perhaps it is. This is an important milestone in my recovery journey and regardless of outcome I believe sharing this part of my immediate life story might resonate with other peers, much as a tank full of exhausted rats resonates with me.
I haven’t really condensed the reasons I’m exhausted previously so I’m drawing the trials and tests and turmoil over the past several moons that just might have sapped me of any reservoir of strength I’ve stored up to ride it out through to the other side. It’s easier to bullet these components and right now the path of least resistance is wise. No need to tap into the reservoir just in case.
– I was hired on to work at the NMCAL Warm Line. It was my first job outside the house in over 15 years (I used to get fired a lot so found a way to make a living from home). Because I chose to protect a woman who lied about domestic abuse – when it was this woman who threw a glass framed picture at me and sliced my left ring finger severing the nerve – this dream position was taken from me before I could even start. Protocall’s policy is they won’t hire anyone with an open domestic violence charge.
– When I graduated from Mental Health Court (full dismissal of any DV charges), I contacted Protocall and asked if they were hiring any time soon. I was told they already hired the needed CPSWs and “best of luck in all you do.” The message was plain. Something happened to my credibility in the one year I was in Mental Health Court.
– Clare died. My Hua Hua had alcoholism and her body finally gave out. Needless to say, I was devastated.
– Through the fabrications and deceit of Clare’s “father”, I was barred from saying goodbye to her as she was slipping away in the hospital.
– MHRAC (Mental Health Resource Advisory Committee). I detailed this in great detail so I’ll go straight to the sentiment and fallout. In the one year I was absent from the committee (with a professional stand-in for me while I learned how to live with severe PTSD symptoms), I was ousted from the committee with a bullshit email stating “We voted you off the committee several months ago and used the bylaws to do so.” This from Pastor Danny Whatley a full week after saying I was returning. He lied. My God does not condone lying. I suppose Danny’s does. I was devastated and confused.
– Because APD and MRHAC did nothing to reprimand Paula Burton, the PTSD symptoms she induced by physically and verbally attacking me have launched me back to where I don’t trust APD again. This sucks. Getting myself to the table with APD after all the negative history I have with APD officers in my past nearly cracked me. Now it has.
– The hypokalemia that landed me in both the psych hospital and physical hospital won’t improve. The psychosis and paranoia always seems right on the edge and my muscle dexterity is still noticeably diminished. I don’t believe I’ll recover fully and this creates limitations on how I enjoy life.
– Did I mention that not one of my “colleagues/friends” on MHRAC or any committee I volunteered for reached out with condolences when I lost Clare? This is even after sending an email to everyone sharing the world lost one of the kindest souls in the entire history of ever and I was grieving. I reached out to folks like Jeremy when he lost a job. This hurts.
– I’ve alienated so many people, typically when I was symptomatic with unrecognized mania. Sadly, the symptoms are truly alienating. Self-centered grandiosity, inability to focus on others’ needs and words, extreme irritability and impatience, feelings of persecution, artificial emotions that are so far removed from how I actually feel it’s like being possessed by one of those scary Hollywood demons full of puke and naughty words. . . there is zero fault for everyone losing patience and faith in me. I really should be better at recognizing manic symptoms before life erodes to the point of alienation. Many years of practice and I still suck at it.
– It’s a constant source of regret and embarrassment that I wasn’t able to follow through with my career in geology, never having completed even a B.S. degree at New Mexico Tech. There are so many “should’ves” involved here, primarily focused on “I should have realized I had bipolar before I committed a felony in Carlsbad and effectively torpedoed my life-long dream.” My mom and dad worked so hard to send me to college. Massive fail.
– I have a sister and I don’t have a sister and this is on me.
– There hasn’t been an opportunity to financially support my son’s dream and career properly. As a father I should be able to help him like my mom and dad helped me.
– There was a final roll of the dice for me. After Clare died and I said, “Okay, I’ve given it a good go at it, it’s time to hang up the gloves and quit emotionally harming women in a misguided attempt to grasp at happiness on loan.” Sorry, Bex, It was selfish of me. Really selfish, considering your kids now have to deal with the wreckage I created.
– Worst, my lack of awareness of escalating mania robs me of empathy and understanding for the ones I love most. The signs were there for all to see, especially me. I lasered in on my bogus needs and forgot about everyone else. And my needs are artificial and contrived. They aren’t real. A malfunctioning brain composes a symphony of lies and deceit and everyone else gets to pay for it. I’ve come to understand that it’s better for me to be suicidal and sequestered because the only one I harm is myself. When I allow myself to become manic, everyone else is hurt in the wreckage I create. Not paying attention to the early signs of escalating mania turns me into a person I don’t want to be. I dedicate my life to helping others feel strong and accepted. When I allow myself to become manic, I do the exact opposite. I hurt the ones I love the most. By being lazy I become selfish. This most recent manic episode came to a head after two months of escalation and concluded with me throwing my phone in the Rio Grande so I could stop texting Bex horrible words. Too little, too late. Two months too late.
– I failed my colleagues. I was in severe PTSD crisis and was unable to convey this to them so they could help me.
– Everything else.
So there it is. This is what’s inside my head coming through the other side of a manic episode to the inevitable epiphanies and admittedly characteristic bipolar depression. Quite plainly, this is a full-realization and full-revelation of what it’s like to have bipolar. I loathe bringing Stand Up To Stigma to the fore because wih SUTS I’ve failed my family, my brother Derek, Sarah, Ryan, Meggers, Bex . . . the list gets longer the longer I linger on all the ways I’ve let down the ones I love. Still, the vital purpose of SUTS is peers sharing their life experiences living with mental health challenges so others can understand what it’s like looking from the inside out. Through understanding stigma is temporary.
Gawd, that sounds like a dead-hour infomercial following Saturday Night Live and Live at the Apollo. The point is I’m in the throes of bipolar-tude and this is a unique and great opportunity to fully expose and explore a bipolar moment exactly in the moment. Hopefully, this chronicle might prove useful.
I am exhausted this time. Here’s a strange observation I have, being viscerally exhausted. There is a sense of serenity permeating my being. It’s almost euphoric and peaceful. Also, there is the ultimate realization and understanding that it was my choices that brought me here tonight. I have myself to credit and blame for all the decisions I made that harmed others and harmed myself. That is the crux of serenity is what I’ve learned.
There is a sense of spiritual composure, where there is no need to crack open the NIV for a useful scripture because the entire tome is present simultaneously.
One thing I want made clear is I’m a peer like any other peer. There is a vocalized assumption I have my shit together at all times, perhaps because I’m “so articulate for a peer” or perhaps because I’m better at faking being well when I’m not. Please understand, I struggle. A lot. I suppose a difference with me is I own my life experiences and hold myself accountable to being presentable as a citizen in our community. We all have the same social contract. There is no free-ride just because I have mental health challenges.
That’s it. There’s what bipolar exhaustion is like for me. Pushing through is plausible although it doesn’t feel necessary, such a weirdly peaceful sensation I’ve not experienced. This might make for good reading later if in clearer mind and being.
By the by, in earlier versions of The Sims you can take the ladder out of your pool, and if your neighbor is enjoying a swim, he/she will eventually die in the pool. Drowning or exhaustion? A debate for the ages. Just don’t ask me how and/or why I figured this out.