Even dark clouds pass

3/8/13     7:31 amP1170855

I just woke up to pouring rain. It’s my birthday. I take this as a sign God is washing away my pain. From the comfort of my bed I see blue sky under the dark dark clouds and it’s taking over the sky. It never left. It was just temporarily covered.

I am warm, comfy in bed propped up against three pillows in a soft shirt my friend gave me and my Cookie Monster pants. Bright orange and pink socks on matching palm tree sheets. God is good.

I got out of the hospital on the 15th. Nineteen days. The most painful experience of my life, to my conjecture. And probably the best. 19 days. I don’t want to forget those days.

I went in for a severe mixed episode, rapid cycling from suicidal & lethargic to euphoric or agitated energy about every 20 minutes. I had two doctors because Dr. N was on vacation the first week. Dr. H was great. She put me on a new med that calmed the cycling but it caused such bad muscle problems that I could barely walk. I had dystonia in my legs, stomach & back. But my mood was great. At first. Until the pain wore on me and I couldn’t take it anymore.

When my doctor came back (sunshine) we stopped all my meds in 2 days to start over, find a baseline. We’d reached a deadlock. Ah, the pain. We expected either my body would get better and my mind would get better or my body would get better and my mind would freak out and we’d fix it.

Instead, my mind did much better than expected and my body flipped out. (remembering) Pain. Attacks of being stabbed in the neck with burning knitting needles that would break like thunder into muscle spasms all over my body. Out of control blood pressure. Random spikes in bp and pulse. The muscle spasms at night hurt so bad I couldn’t move or talk. They became constant. My face twitched so bad I couldn’t see straight, made me dizzy. My fingers were constantly tingling & freezing. My feet tingled. The roof of my mouth tingled. I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I became frail, which was pleasing to me but angered my doctor. I hid under the table from the voice in my head, heard an unfamiliar one for the first in a long time. My hands would stop working & turn cold and purple. My doctor didn’t know what to do.

God sent me angels. I could see and feel them with me. He spoke to me. He came as a hummingbird. All around me was God and I was never alone. I cried out to Him to take me home. I was so scared but He was not. He told me, through the words of my mouth and a cloud, “Don’t take your eyes off me. It is written,” quite firmly. I knew the storm was coming. I didn’t see the glory. Before each spike in pain I would hear God’s song. He gave me music. Calming songs would start before and play through and my angels were with me. I was never alone. Heart racing, shaking, body writhing, unable to breathe. They would ask if I was nervous, having a panic attack. No. I felt calm.

Many days of this wore on me. With no psych meds my mood was all over. I wanted to die. We started adding back in meds, building a new ground. The staff were amazing & my fellow patients priceless. Friends. Something finally clicked and I was ready to come home.

Which brings us to now – 3 weeks later. It is my birthday and I feel good. I can’t remember the last birthday I felt good or even semi-ok. Last year I screamed and cried and refused to get out of the car and slept most of the day, reclused. Today I feel good. It’s morning and I am awake. The birds are chirping. My kitty is watching. The clouds part and I feel JOY. Praise God!

This whole experience has drawn me closer to Him. I’m listening. I’m paying attention. I joined a church choir and am reading “The Story.” I don’t feel as scared. I’m taking care of my body, trying to lose some weight. I even want to decorate my room. Goals seem possible.

A different life seems possible too. I don’t feel trapped. I get to choose what to do and what not to. I can move in any direction. That said, I am still exhausted. Trying on shoes last night knocked me out. I am exhausted but not weary. I see the light. Praise God.

May 27 be the best year yet.
My goal is to LIVE.
My theme: Break the Rules.

Even dark clouds pass.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

My Brain is a Beach Ball

(writing from the hospital)
2-3-13     9:20am

I was just sitting in morning meeting thinking. A 2″x 2″ metal square is depressing the front of my brain. It has a nice matte dark finish. It’s pressing on my brain. Impairing, altering my ability to think. Throwing off track the course of my eyes. Making me want to die.

I began to desire the removal of this pressing weight, but my brain might float away as it’s done in the past. Filled with the glory of the Spirit and the creativity of a child. To twirl and leap in the sunshine, to build empires in the night. To despair and fall into self-destruction from harnessing such energy.

(distraction)

I certainly don’t want that, though it’s fun for a night. Like a beach ball flying up in the air when you fall off to the side.

I started thinking of the beach ball, of its resting state. It doesn’t require compression, being held under water, and it doesn’t float away – if cared for properly. I suppose proper genetics and nurturing allow a beach ball to progress without incident. But if it’s stabbed or over or under-inflated or dried out or forgotten, you never know. Under tremendous pressure it will pop. It may also take on water very slowly, become ever so much heavier until one day it is deemed unusable and its human walks away.
My brain is a beach ball.

My brain is beautiful. Beautiful in its complexities and creativities and jerks. In its random fuck yous and kindnesses and deep appreciations. In its expression of itself and God to others. I sometimes want to hide it. I feel ashamed. I hold it under water and I pray for it to die. I hide it in the shed. I drag it through the rocks. I leave it in the sun. The damn thing is indestructible. I don’t know why it loves me. I don’t know why it sticks around.

For some reason my brain has yet to kill me or allow myself to do it. It hasn’t banned me from knowing how or walking through it many times. It just says, “Not now.” God says, “Not now.” I trust Him. He sent Dr. Harvey to sit with me last night. My brain has never left me. I have altered it, drugged it into submission, injured it, begged & pleaded. It has a passion for life. For learning and love. It holds tight all the things I’ve let go of for me, all the things I’ve forgotten. It tucks away what I can’t tolerate. My brain is amazing. I love my brain.

I really hope they can help me here to make a safe zoo for my beach ball brain so the world will be fun and I can think but I’ll be okay. I so want to be okay. Please help me be okay. Someone is standing on my brain.

My brain is a beach ball.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Listening to God

10/28/12     11:36pm

I’ve been listening to God lately. It’s an interesting thing.

I’ve been growing in my faith lately. A lot. It’s strange to me but quite welcome. I’m having a lot of memory problems and other issues so I don’t remember if I told you or not. Last week I watched this sermon online and it struck a chord – Family of Origin Part 5: The Lost Child. I’ve been attending The Rock Church sporadically and hadn’t been in a few weeks so I decided to watch online. It was just what I needed and it talked about something I hadn’t thought about in awhile – the still small voice.

I hear that voice a lot. The still small voice that tells me what to do.  I hear it more lately. No, I think I just trust it more lately. It tells me things and I do what it says. I’m never sure why I’m supposed to do these things or go these places on instruction, but there’s always a reason. I find myself in the right place at the right time, even though it was exactly the wrong place to me and I’m often upset about being there. The voice tells me where to go and what to say and whom to say it to, or not to. It redirects my path when I’m straying in a different direction, creates anxiety when I’m headed away or tells me to stay through the anxiety when I’m not supposed to go. Or to give or to compliment or to pray.

I am at once comforted and confused by this voice. The still small voice of God. I am comforted because I trust it and believe I should do what it tells me. I feel I have a companion, like intuition or a gut instinct that’s always right. But I’m confused and sometimes I doubt. Not because I don’t believe or I think it’s wrong but because doing what voices in my head tell me to hasn’t always turned out alright. It gets really scary sometimes and I end up in dangerous situations or do risky things. Or I give away all my money or run away or in some other way harm myself. I want to listen and obey this voice in my head that sometimes tells me to do things I don’t understand but that don’t seem bad, but I have a hard time trusting that He’s not one of “them.” The them that are out to get me, who tell me things in my head. Who scream at me and haunt me in the night. Who make me believe bad things and hurt myself. How do I know the still small voice is safe?

I guess the answer is that I don’t. I have to take it on faith. It’s just hard trying to tease out mental illness from religion when they’re so closely tied together. When God or experiences with God are such a part of my illness, or what society calls illness, it’s hard to know what’s real. I believe that when I am manic I’m not delusional, just closer to God, more able to experience Him and His presence. Somewhat of a spiritual emergency. When I’m experiencing weird spiritual things I have a choice to categorize them as spiritual experiences or psychiatric symptoms and how I define them determines the course of action. But what I’m hearing lately I don’t consider either. I just hear the voice of God. I listen for it. And I’m surprised because I follow it about 90% of the time.

I’m listening to God. I feel peace. In the midst of chaos and crises and illness, I feel peace and assurance. I seek to raise others up, to show love. I’m becoming a better me. Listening to God, letting Him work through me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Rainbow Update

5/30/12     9:09pm

I know I haven’t blogged in forever. I feel it only fair to give an update.

Today I woke up with a horrible headache, probably from a new medication last night, and I cried and cried and cried. I put on a pretty dress and went to lunch with a friend. I’m so glad I have good friends. When I got home another friend was waiting in my driveway to take me shopping for items for my Comfort Drive. I’m exhausted.

I’ve been really all over lately. I haven’t posted because there haven’t been many postable things. I’m swingin’ and switchin’ and crashing all the time. In the span of a day I can hit happy, productive, rageful, depressed, suicidal and euphoric. There are hours that I am a Rainbow and light is God and God is in me and I am God. When I hear him talk to me and I twirl and skip and there is this peace like I’ve never felt. A quiet calm in the middle of the storm. My head hurts almost constantly and whatever’s going on in my neck comes and goes. Yesterday I found myself hiding behind some dumpsters crying and fighting my thoughts.

My psychiatrist says he’s proud of me for surviving the crises and that I’m doing a good job. My therapist is becoming a life coach. My mom has a boyfriend and a job. And my cat cries a good portion of the day. I agree that I’m doing a good job handling crisis, but I want to be more stable. I want to be able to live one day at a time instead of fighting for moment to moment.

I saw a new doctor yesterday way the Hell up in Encinitas. He seems a bit cocky but like someone I could trust. He wants me to get off as many meds as possible to figure out what symptoms are side effects and what symptoms are organic. This terrifies me, as I know what happens when I don’t take medication. Last summer I was all for a wash. That’s what they call stopping all your meds. I was ready to do whatever it took to get better. But right now I just want to stop hurting. I want to be better or dead. A wash is a long painful process that doesn’t really establish any betterness. It’s sole goal is to bring out the worseness and identify the actual problem, which in this moment I don’t care about. I care about not hurting. And about preserving my inpatient Medicare days. I might be willing to do it at a facility that did not affect my Medicare days, definitely not at home.

I use my phone a lot as a coping skill and tool. I work on the bus, communicate, look up my medications and bus information. I went to group with my phone a few days ago and didn’t leave with it. It walked away. So now I have my old phone, which is great for texting but does none of the things I use my phone for now. I feel like I’m in some other world. Like everything is changing and it’s only a mirage. Today I shopped with a friend for stuff for people in the hospital. I had a good time. I felt bad because he was paying and I was shopping and I usually finance my own impulsive spending. But it was his idea. I just feel like I’m on the edge and I’m livin’ it.

I keep fighting. I’m not writing much. I’m switching too fast to follow. When I do write it’s in several colors. I go in and out of being afraid of certain colors and there are voices talking/writing that have their own colors. I’m exhausted. I need some time as Rainbow.

Thanks for listening. I really appreciate it.

Love, Michelle

PS – I gave up on brushing my teeth after a bad encounter with the dentist. I still like the toothpaste.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

To Eliminate Me

9-14-11     1:07am

**Vent**

I just got an email from the International Bipolar Foundation. I get emails from them all the time. I get so much email that I don’t pay much attention but something caught my eye at the end of this one. The mission statement:

Our mission is to eliminate bipolar disorder through the advancement of research; to promote and enhance care & support services; and to erase associated stigma through public education.

This is so incredibly upsetting to me. The second two parts don’t apply if they achieve the first, which is the one that gets me. They want to eliminate bipolar disorder. Really? There must not have been any bipolar people on this mission-making crew. To eliminate bipolar disorder. That’s personal. They might as well just say they want to eliminate ME.

There is the whole movement of person-first language and the “I have bipolar disorder” instead of “I am bipolar.” I do not subscribe to this movement. Whether I have or I am bipolar disorder, it is a huge part of my life. Without my symptoms I wouldn’t be me. Being bipolar allows me more creativity. I get to experience higher highs, bigger ideas, grander plans. I sink to depths that are extremely painful but bring intense poetry and understanding. I see things other people don’t. I feel and sense things other people never will. And I wouldn’t ever trade that. Ever.

My psychiatrist even said yesterday, “If you didn’t have these extremes, you wouldn’t be Michelle.” I LIKE being Michelle. I like seeing colors and numbers and being creative and making connections other people don’t. I know I’m not always happy. But I’m me. Why would you eliminate me? Cuz you don’t wanna deal with me? Cuz I cause too much trouble?

Some of the most successful people in the world are or have been bipolar. Would you eliminate them? Would you eliminate the things they accomplished through their extra bipolar abilities? 

I know I’m not the easiest person to deal with. And I know that a lot of my life has been very painful. There are so many times I just want to give up. To actively end this pursuit. But I would NEVER choose to end bipolar. It’s not like curing cancer or AIDS. It’s not all bad. It’s taking a part of me away. And stopping the greatest part of someone else from ever happening. I mean think of it. If they eliminated bipolar disorder eventually it would just be a line in a textbook. What could’ve been, buried in a book. 

It just baffles me. Makes me angry. And sad. That kind of sad where my heart is quiet because I can’t stop these people from hating bipolar for whatever reason they do. And I can’t stop them from trying to eradicate it from the planet, to eradicate me. All I can do is watch. And get angry reading my email. I guess if you have enough money you can attempt to eradicate anything. You should just hope other people aren’t making it their mission to eradicate you.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2011