For as long as I can remember, I have had a very odd ability to remember dates. I’m not 100% at it; I do not have an eidetic memory. But I can recall (with fairly good accuracy) a high number of events and the date they occurred throughout my life.
Don’t worry. The ones I can’t remember drive me crazy.
So this is how a mixed episode works: I basically exhibit symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. I have made the very bad (and tactless) joke in the past that “it means I’m suicidal but I’m really enthusiastic about it.” This is inaccurate overall, but it is a catchy way to explain it to people who don’t understand. They always nod in a way that conveys comprehension while I wonder if they just want me to stop describing it to them.
My diagnosis is usually a mixed episode. It is a rare occasion where I escape unscathed from either end of this thing. I remember arguing with my doctor in 2011 that I didn’t want to take Saphris to stop the manic episode because “I spend so much time on the depressive end.” She gave it to me anyway; I know it is shocking to learn I didn’t take it. And then 2011 turned into quite the doozy.
A year ago yesterday, I was two weeks off medications, fully immersed in the world of “out of control,” and completely destroying the lives of everyone who knew me (or so it seemed). The reason this date stands out is because of what happened 24 hours before it. On March 14, 2017, I sat in my living room and sobbed in a way that I genuinely don’t remember ever crying before. My thoughts meant nothing to me other than I was a horrible person doing horrible things and ruining the entire world.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus. The only thing that saved me was Google Hangouts and that is not an advertisement for its usefulness. It was just the lifeline I had. That is a lot to give to someone and it pains me to consider it.
Have you ever considered what the ugliest version of yourself looks like? And what if the same person saw that version over and over and over again but didn’t know it? My god.
Anyway… 24 hours later I was unstoppable. March 15, 2017, was one of those days where I know everything I did. It stands out as remarkable because of how easily I did whatever I needed to do to get what I wanted. It stands out because I was annoyed at reality. I was face-to-face with barriers and people who were directly impacted by my decisions and I blew through them like they were nothing.
It is the day that I said something that had not been premeditated. As it came out of my mouth, I knew it was a blatant lie but had no recollection as to its genesis. All I knew was that it allowed me access to doing what I wanted to do. The reason it stands out was the location. It’s funny when that happens. [Editor’s note: It was not funny.] How we become attached to certain locations that mean certain things to us…
I know, today, that I will never set foot in that little bar again. And that’s sad to me because for 15 years, it was my surrogate small town home. It was the only place I tolerated country music. I laughed so much with my softball teammates and wrote my name on the beams and bought people cheap crappy beer until all hours of the night. And on March 15, 2017, while in this very familiar place, I stood up and lied to a group of people that I had no reason to lie to and walked out.
There was no recognition of its significance at the time. It just filled right in all the gaps in my psyche; of course I would lie to them to get what I felt compulsively drawn to. Why would they care? I asked myself. They wouldn’t. That was the beauty of them as a group. I was funny and I was enjoyable and I bought them beer and what the fuck did they care about how I actually was doing?
This is all nonsense. Some of them cared much more than I assumed they did.
Sometimes I think about one of the dumbest things I’ve ever said in my entire life. (Editor’s note: Sometimes?) It was 2007 and there had been this awful accident that killed someone who played softball in our league. The reaction was intense from everyone but most especially from the team she played on. And I remember looking at my team and saying, “I just don’t know if our team would care about each other like that.”
But that is downright asinine. Of course our team would care about people like that. We already did. I was so dumb. I still have the bandanna we all got when our pitcher (one of the nicest people I’ve ever known) had cancer in 2004. Every evening, even now, we turn on the light of the dragonfly lantern my team gave me in 2016 when Carrie’s mom died.
Solidarity in Michelob Golden Light on Wednesday nights.
But this is the point. I was a good person who simply didn’t understand. I still believe I am inherently a good person, but I understand why someone would question it. That is just a product of the actions I took once upon a time; March 15, 2017, was unfortunately not a strong outlier.
What matters here… why I tell this story… is that on March 16, 2017, I swung back the other way, exhausted by the sheer overwhelming nature of feeling completely shattered and then entirely unbreakable. That’s how long each part of this lasted. What would have usually been an enjoyable experience turned into a judge, jury, and executioner of my irrepressible awfulness.
I want to shout, over and over, at everyone who will listen, that I am sorry for these days. But no one cares. I know that. I live with that. I try to find redeemable parts of this in the little cracks between crazy; the wishes of happiness, the adoption of the belief that good things will happen to all of them, complete with the recognition that none of them give a flying fuck about what I wish.
Still. My name is on a beam and I have the bandanna and the only people I wanted to see on June 1, 2016, were my softball teammates… and even though I locked my doors on Sixth Street last year, that doesn’t mean I wish any of it any less.
All in all is all we are.