(Note – Yes, I am safe.)
1-6-13     6:30pm

Just got home from RENT. I went with Taylor. Cried through most of it. Exhausted now.

I miss Brandon. I miss my theater family. I miss being me. All of the goodness that I am now isn’t ME.  I miss Sarah and Mr. B, knowing I had a role, a purpose. All of that was taken from me.

It’s something we never talk about in therapy. We talk about sense of self. We don’t talk about me. Is it too late to get her back? Is she gone forever? Is the opportunity gone for me to be me? I so desperately need me.


healing card - therapyI pulled a healing card today that says this, “It’s important not to get stuck in therapy. Therapy is a necessary boat that takes you across a rough river to a new shore. In time, though, you must step out of the boat and onto new earth and never look back.” There is a passage with it about not carrying the raft forever and being wary of letting supports be a substitute for life.

I don’t understand. Illness took me. Therapy took my life. Therapy forced illness to cough part of me up and became my life. I can’t get the real me back. If I let go of groups and therapy I have nothing.

I wish someone had warned me, told me, “Don’t let go! Not for anything.” But they didn’t. They were living. Now I am scared to breathe.

A little girl wants me to teach her to dance. I’m terrified. Please don’t touch me. You don’t understand.

Who am I?

I am a little girl.
I am a friend.
I am a dancer.
I am an artist.
I am a patient.
I am a child of God.
I am me.
I am not what I feel.

(“I’ll Cover You”)

I want to scream out, “PLEASE HELP ME! Someone’s taken my soul!” But no one’s there to listen, only hear.

If I can’t be who I was, I don’t want to live at all.

You couldn’t tolerate the stress of who you were.

I can’t tolerate the stress of now.

Take your AZT.

I think if I got into a show it would bring me back. I would find me again. I NEED me.

Me is dead. She is gone.

No she’s not! I saw her last week.

Elvis has left the building.

My head hurts.
I want to die.

I know.
Do you honestly think in your state of mind you could do it?

I’ve done it before.

But not with the physical ailments.

What am I supposed to do?
I can’t do this anymore.

Sing, take drugs & teach.
Work your way up.
Peanuts to packing peanuts.

Fuck that.
When do we start?

I want to die.

I know.
I’m tired.


RENT memories
B- memories
USC memories
shame about my life
missing Sarah
believing I can never have me back

Vulnerability Factors

Janet’s death
pre-existing severe depression

Thankful Taylor is texting me. Need to take – and -.
Make a plan, Michelle. You can do this.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

I am not me

12/2/12     1:24am

I had a really hard day today. So hard I can barely write. Physical pain, funeral, ton of triggers. Nurse from my past, comparison to childhood friends, too much noise at music, people flirting with me, disaster at the end.

Please, I just want to be free. No one in my life but my mom now knows the real me. ME. I’m in here. Please. I’m not a “loyal jazz fan.” I’m a girl. A human. Someone who once was great, who is deeply pained now just to watch. It hurts to be alive some days. It hurts to be alive.

Photographer                    Actor                    Teacher
Dancer                                Writer                  Fundraiser
Singer                                 Speaker                Organizer
Idea-maker                       Tutor                    Traveler
Lover of Life

I was these things.
I was good.
Now I see myself as darkness and pain. Still. A motionless watcher. Shell of a soul. My core is still there but my body refuse. The worst part is that I know. I know what I am not doing, who I have become. And no matter how awesome others see it, it’s not me. I am not me.

When my mom picked me up after jazz tonight I just started crying. I was so upset – not at any person but circumstance. There was confusion over plans. I am not able to be spontaneous. I don’t drive. I plan my rides and they take a long time. Tonight there was a last minute switch and I didn’t get to go. I felt trapped, gypped. I can’t get out.

M- asked the other night why I don’t drive. I couldn’t explain it all. (crying) I failed at life. I feel ashamed & guilty & embarrassed. He called me out. I can’t take care of myself. I try to keep that a secret. I want to drive. I just can’t do it right now.

I want so much to be free. Not to feel lonely. To be independent. But tonight I hide & cry. I am not me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Now I am…

(continued from “I am from…”)

3-21-12     4:07pm

Now I am what?

Now I am stronger.

Now I am less afraid.

Now I am starting to own myself, to upgrade from the standard model.

Now I am more honest, less moody, more willing to be vulnerable.

I am learning to trust.
I am learning to be me.

Now I am sharing my writing.
I am putting it out there, even through fear.

Now I understand there doesn’t have to be a what.
And that’s scary. But I’m here. I’m not leaving.

I come back to that.
Now I am.

The cadence makes me nervous.
The content makes me cringe.

(breathe…) Just be.

Face burns, stomach turns. I feel tingly.

I need to paint the sky.
About to pass out.

I feel scared of being.
No identity.
I feel scared of me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

When I lost…

4 minute writing exercise at a workshop

3-17-12     11:30am

When I lost my faith I stopped dancing. When I lost my dancing I lost me. Somewhere in a corner she is locked up, crying quietly. I lost me. I don’t understand. She understands less. When I lost my faith, I lost me.

I used to believe I could do anything, that somehow God had blessed me and I would do good. But now I do this. They say this is me. But in the mirror she’s not what I see. When I lost my faith, I lost me. I miss being me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

I am not a teacher

1/17/12     3:44pm

I was thinking about Mrs. Lindsay asking if I want to be a teacher. I would LOVE to be a teacher. But I think my adherence to rules is quite lacking. I do things my own way, follow my own rules. I couldn’t get through college. My options would be plenty if I had finished.

Teaching dance is something I love to do. In my own time and my own way. I get to use my quirks to help others understand. And to understand them on their way. This kid came up to me today and told me his aunt died. I don’t know why. People tell me things. They always have.

In my 6th grade yearbook we all had to answer where we thought we’d be in 10 years. I said I’d be on Broadway or teaching kindergarten. (sad) It’s almost 15 years later. (sad) I am successful in what I do. But it’s not Michelle. How do I find Michelle?

Kids think I’m a teacher. I buy school supplies, love glitter and often carry markers. I color-code, categorize and specialize in creating systems to increase efficiency. I own a billion dry erase boards and use them every day. Systems, colors. I use sticker charts to pay my bills. And I live at Staples. But I’m not a teacher. I’m just me.

I don’t know how I got here. It was so great to see everyone today. I wish I had something great to tell them. I am the kingpin of a local non-profit. I run my own empire. Pretty cool when worded that way. I want to want me.

I miss teaching SO much. But I am not a teacher.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

To Eliminate Me

9-14-11     1:07am


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

Who am I?

7-29-10                10:33pm

I ran into an old friend at the show tonight who told her friend I’m a great dancer, “like dance dance,” and said we should go dancing sometime. I said I’m better at choreography than freestyle, social dancing. I should’ve just said thank you, but these days dancing makes me nervous. It has me wondering who I am. I haven’t answered that question in some time.

Who am I?

I am a person who’s been here for 23 years, sometimes a girl, sometimes a woman. No, 24. I am often lonely. I am here to help others.

I am not who I used to be or who I will be in the future. Today I can’t say that I have a purpose. I am thrown around in the tide. I should let go.

I am sad. I am affected by other people, more than they could know. I am a person who is so sad that her dreams are gone and who cries at night.

I got an email announcing Rockette auditions today. The first kid in line for rush is moving to New York for the dream. My friends are making it. I’m just idling. Party cuz I’ve stopped believing, partly because it’s physically and mentally too taxing. I can’t handle it. I KNOW I wanted nothing more than to be successful in performance. It’s what makes me truly happy. It’s who I am down to my core. A person who dances to all emotions and hears music constantly, who sings and recites lines randomly, who has no idea who she is without these. It’s like Susan’s poem. Who is a dancer without the dance? I don’t know.

The show was incredible tonight and I felt happy. But that small reminder of what I am now has me fighting back tears on the trolley.

The things I hear in my head: I am nothing. You have failed. Street team? Are you kidding me? You’re a fucking joke. You may have a fancy title and a glossy business card, but you’ll never be more than a crazy person playing pretend. They’ll find out, and they’ll leave you, and you’ll have nothing. They’ll leave anyway. You, are nothing. Actor, always remember you are replaceable. I know.

No matter how much I work on loving myself, how many hours of therapy, positive affirmations, “friends” on FB… the number of hours I feel happy to be alive, I come back to the reality (my reality) that I am nothing.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Me feeling helpless giving everything to God. But I can’t imagine that’s what he wanted. For the default state of His people to be suffering. I try really hard. I do good things and I help people and pray…

But I am still sick. And I am still sad. I still have no money and my family is approaching crisis. And I can’t go to the dance convention in a few weeks. And I can’t breathe. And I don’t want to be here anymore. Drama at my group, in my inbox, in the mail. Now even in the place where I go to escape. There is no escape. Don’t know why I keep running.

I don’t know who I am. I just know how I feel. Confused. Tired. Sad. My body hurts. At times I feel happy, joyous, angry, anxious, befuddled, undone. I am simply the canvas to their art.

I once was the star attraction, the main event. Now I am the crew. Cellophane. Eject please.

I thought about killing myself tonight but I don’t have the energy to recover.

7-30-10                6:37pm

Part 2

Today I am sick but right now I feel happy. I am a person with unpredictable illnesses doing my best to get by and enjoy life. Yes. That’s an answer I like.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010


5-27-10                 3:41am

I feel so very tired tonight, and sad. I’m here with my book light again. Tomorrow marks one year from my last admission. It’s been a long year.

Tonight I think about money. How it affects and limits me. M- asked awhile back on FB if you’d rather grow up rich or poor. I’ve thought about that a lot. I’m glad I grew up poor, that I can truly appreciate. But I could use some money now.

It’s like being trapped. My mom drives me nuts. She is my x-factor. I can’t stand her and I can’t change her, but I can’t move out. Why? No money. I’m not going to get more money. It’s not going to change. I have to figure out how to deal with it.

I don’t want lots of money, so much I don’t know what to do with. N- was talking Sunday about the average starting salary for his dream job. It was in the hundreds of thousands. I asked what he would do with that kind of money. He said, “I know. Really.” But I mean it. What does a person do with that? I don’t even know what that looks like.

I just want to not have to worry about money, to be able to be free and not tied to so many things. I don’t enjoy scouring a menu for the cheapest thing or not going out ‘cuz I can’t afford it. Money may seem trivial to some but it changes things.

I don’t claim it would solve all my problems, but even my life at USC was better. If I didn’t have to worry about the cost, how would my life be different? What would I do or change?

  • I would be less dependent on others, less limited
  • I would move out
  • I would get new glasses for me & Mom
  • I could get the dental work I need
  • I could dance (body pending)
  • I could order food I want instead of food my wallet wants
  • I might be able to get an answer to my medical problems. Doctors are NOT motivated by Medi-Medi
  • I could buy things like M’s bag just because I want to.

That bag has caused me much grief today. It’s beautiful. I want to be able to just buy it, but I can’t. He said it’s a bag “you” can afford. I’m not a part of that you. An affordable designer bag is still almost 20% of my income for the month. I could buy the bag with the last of my credit, but instead of feeling pretty while carrying it I would be plagued with guilt. That’s no way to carry a purse. My current purse cost $9 at WalMart and has taken my abuse for the past 5 months. I’m impressed. But it doesn’t decrease my desire for this purse or my anger and sadness that I cannot indeed have it. It also doesn’t make me any less aware that I do not NEED that bag.

When I look at something I want there is this fight in my head. The question is not just can I afford that? It’s do I deserve it? Because if I can’t afford it, then surely I don’t deserve it. But there’s a part of me that believes I do deserve it and gets pissed that I can’t have it. Why can’t I have x? I’m a good person. Why is this happening to me?! It becomes more existential crisis than shopping trip.

What I can afford affects how I present myself and how I’m perceived, defines a part of who I am. So I never know just who I am. There are these many different parts in different clothes with different roles, that eat different foods & wear different shoes. And I’m treated differently for every one of them. They’re all me but in different tax brackets.

I just want to be me and free. But that requires money.


5-29-10                 1:41am

I thought more about money yesterday and what it can’t buy me, what it can’t change.

Money can’t change my health. It can’t take away the days I can’t move or talk. It can’t bring me closer to the people I love. And all the money in the world couldn’t buy me someone who cares about me like my mom does. She may drive me nuts but she’s always there.

I’m grateful not to have many days like yesterday. I’m so exhausted. So sick. I had some good hours today & a long nap. But money can’t change that. It can’t bring me back.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010