Noun: mental illness marked by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions, and overactivity
For days. For nights. For weeks. For months.
Four months. Six months. Eight months.
Living around the clock and not living at all.
Months of just going going going until I’m gone all gone.
Weeks full with the witching twitch of legs.
Feet that buckle. Knees that jerk.
Nights of eyes wide open wake awake.
Feet that race. Eyes that pace.
Days of churning gut.
Belly button stones.
Surge of heat fire flash.
My meds ran out a week ago. Or is it a month ago? The calendar skipped forward. The calendar skipped back. It’s not the first time. It’s not the last. Fucking hell when is the last time I took my meds? Do you know? Because I sure as hell don’t.
I’m on a break, I guess. No meds means I’m on a break. A breakthrough? A breakdown? Call it what you want. No meds means I MADE A FUCKING BREAK FOR IT. A break from the solid where my feet once stood ground planted, where my arms once floated out stretched.
A break from you.
A break from me.
A break that punts me into liminal space, out of place. Perched on a ledge between the here of here and the there of there, the up of up and the down of down. Powered by the context of no context. I’m powered. Superpowered. Invisible. Invisible superpowers through doors and windows and walls onto a stairwell landing. Stairs go up. Stairs go down. Invisible between the floors. Superhero cape and tights stripped bare. Stripped bare. Stripped. Bare.
My lows are too low lows. And my highs spiral me up high high through a cotton candy clouded sky. The mood swings of mania rise and fall. They’re the convulsing tide of angry storms. The over-correcting upswing on gale force wind waves that send me into a tailspin of spinning tales. They’re the waging saging raging that makes my blood coil boil over in the basement engine smoldering coals of me.
Anything in the middle is just numb. All numb. Nothing.
I am all or nothing right now.
Or maybe I’m all gray area.
I don’t even know.
My manic panic mind thinks I’m stable. Stable is a fable. I don’t remember what stable looks like. What stable feels like. My manic panic mind forgot to take care of business. The business of self-caring. The basic and the not basic important-for-survival self-care things: exercise, meditate, masturbate, breathe, practice yoga, take a walk, spend time in nature, swim, drink more water, eat less processed foods, take all the vitamins, go to counseling. Breathe. Eat. Sleep. Suck. Fuck. Breathe. Shit. Piss. Take meds. Not just take meds, take meds every day. Not just every day, take meds every night. Not just every night, take meds 8pm 11pm 2am. Shit, I can’t remember which when.
My manic panic mind thought it could catch itself at the last psych appointment, or the next. Thought it could catch itself with the tweak of meds – more serotonin less serotonin, more norepinephrine less norepinephrine, more pills less pills, more milligrams less milligrams, more benzos more benzos more benzos. MORE FUCKING BENZOS. Just give me more mother fucking benzos dammit. Benzos catch me. Benzos slow the high speed frantic twitch under my skin, slow the sing-song speedboat race of words through my brain. Benzos lullaby my feet to rest. Benzos slow me down to catch my breath. Benzos come with a side salad slathered in crystal moonshine hope.
Noun: a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality
Me. Stick straight. Not the skin and bones of me. Not the flesh and blood of me. The deeper deep of me. That part of me that straddles the divide, the chasm of bottomless pitch black deep. The me that makes me me. The breath and wind of me. Stuck stick straight silent in the chatter of the chaos between flight or fight or freeze. That’s the only place I can be right now. Because anything else doesn’t feel safe. Hovering right here in place, caught in space, completely off balance within the balance.
This liminal space the only place that feels like what safe sounds like.
This A-B-C 1-2-3 do-re-mi of me.
Safe in my room. In my bed. Now you see me now you don’t. Shit let’s be real, just peek under the bed and you’ll find the childlike monster of me. Deep in the dark of the blanket fort. The hushed voices of the house vapor smoke streaming through the paper thin space under the bedroom door floor. Smoke voices billowing toward me gaining speed, gaining sound decibels, the screaming hushed voices of the house somewhere close by but out of reach. Playing keep away with the fragments of me. And at night I come out and roam the empty halls, where the only thing I can trip over is myself or the cats or the shoes lined up in formation by the door that should have a better lock to keep me in or keep me out.
I don’t know which is better right now. Locked in or locked out. I’m just locked.
Laying on the floor watching particles of dust, the sloughed off dead skin cell bits of me float through the sunbeam moonbeam rays that streak across the confinement of this broken mind prison cell. The dead skin DNA rainbow-frosting filled gene cells of me carried by the light through the dark through the window windblown bits of me and me and me.
Everything hurts at night. Fuck that. Everything hurts in the dark and in the light. Everything just fucking hurts. Light is too too bright. Blinding electric bolts zap-buzz-zap through the super highways of my veins. I can hear the sizzle as it oozes long river pathways through my blood. Sound is too too loud. Echoes ricochet against bone tunnel walls plaster painted with rainbow colored marrow. I can see the shake of sound waves bouncing off walls inside of flesh behind my eyes.
My skin is constantly on fire. A fire that starts in the deepest of the deep down basement furnace of my core and radiates out through bone and meat and plasma pores of flesh. The faint smell of char in my nose. I’m a living breathing campfire vampire. I wipe the sweat from my brow, from between my sagging breasts and the curve in the small of my back. Am I a wholly human liquid locomotive, or a bunsen burner in a flaming fireplace of a smoke stack burning off fossil fuels into the ever after ether filled with creatures, desperate to leave a carbon footprint or nothing at all. I wait in listening silence for an answer.
I can’t regulate. Anything. Not my mood or my temperature or my appetite. I am out of sync. Out of control. Out of body. Out of mind. Out of wishing pennies and rabbit tails, cats eye marbles and four leaf clovers.
Don’t touch my skin. Don’t hold me close. It hurts. I want to tell you how much it hurts but hurts doesn’t even come close to how excruciatingly deep the pain sits. I want to strip this fire singed skin of mine. One leg at a time. Peel the fishnet stockings down my thigh, over under my knee, slowly roll it down my calf, over my heel and pointed toes. Leave it in a steaming heap on the floor in the corner of the room. It looks good on the floor in the corner of the room.
I’m trapped inside of it. The it that is the pain.
I can’t breathe. I want to scream.
And punch you in the throat. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. It’s not me.
Only it is me.
On a deep dive.
Slipping sliding through the cracks.
Into pieces and parts.
Noun: a state or period of loss of awareness of one’s identity, often coupled with flight from one’s usual environment
Smoking in cars
Mold in my brain
insane insane insane
Barometric pressure dropping numbers melt together into ink blot tattooed cheeks on faces of clocks. Hour and minute hands severed from time. Parts of entire days lost to the blizzards in my brain. I started the day over here and found myself over there. It was the light light of day and now it’s the dark dark of night, no blurring of reds and oranges to greens and blues in between. Just black. All black of the blackest black. In the everything and nothing of this moment. I don’t know how or why or when I got from here to there. But here I am now, over there.
Mom’s night out Wednesdays. Spring break style. Slamming down shot after shot after fire numbing shot. Sparking the electric pain of misfiring synapses. Feeding the fire of mania. Frantic dancing to music raging inside of my hollowed out liquor sloshed head. Body spinning around the room. Spinning around the moon. Spinning around the unravel of me. The unwinding unbinding unearthing of me. Ending the night without remembering that it started or knowing that it’s over. An arm around my waist lifting me up off the spinning sticky bathroom floor. Vomit smeared on my shoes and tangled in my hair. Fridays, repeat. Saturdays, repeat. Mondays, repeat. Spinning around in spinning shoes crusted and smeared with vomit and mud.
The drive home across the Marquam Bridge or the Ross Island Bridge. Shit I don’t even know which bridge I’m on. Is this even a fucking bridge or is it just an overpass? Suspended over the gulp and swallow of fire singeing water. Navigating toward or against the concrete and metal railing of the in-between. The point of no return. Musical chairs with bridges. Musical bridges scream-singing metal hair-band lullabies. Coaxing me to go all fucking Thelma & Louise and sail right over the rail. Slow ride. Nose dive. No jive. Hit send. The end.
Someone should really hide my car keys.
Noun: an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present
Fingers drape in the breeze from weeping willow trees.
An astro-baby in a rocketship inside of the freezer case in the ice cream aisle in the grocery store.
Carnivals with acrobatic bearded dragons on the moon.
A cat perched on a lamp…my house doesn’t have any lamps.
Teeth click and chatter in pots and pans on the stove.
Cell phones suspended like fireflies in mist.
I walk on water.
I sink into fog.
A vanilla violet bunny with barber shop poles for ears, spinning red and white and blue, shadows my feet step by step. Bubble gum pink nose shiny with sticky sweet spit.
The colorless boy who laces his ivy fingers through mine and toddles beside me wherever I go, and when his ivy finger vines unravel and slip out of the skin of my hand, he climbs up the stalks of my legs, up over the hills of my hips, shimmies up the slope of my belly, softly slides his small colorless boy arms tight around the summit peak of my neck. Hanging along for the ride.
English accented talking tree frogs sticky suction toe to my arms like bright green tattoos ribbit barking at me through a forest.
The snake-haired warrior-paint-faced woman with eyes of 80s neon pink and skin of cerulean blue spins pirouettes around me so fast my hair whips and wisps with the wind of her.
We’re a goddamn new year’s day parade. The warrior-paint-faced woman and the barber shop pole bunny and the colorless boy, always with me wherever I go. They sing and banter and scream and whisper to me, at me. Sweet nothings in the car, pep talks in the grocery store, at the dmv; they rage at me in the kitchen, in the shower. In the heat and in the cold. In the day and in the night. In the dark and in the light.
Red-bellied demons trample through a dead forest of purple hued bones. They hot-spit-scream into ear size gill slits on the sides of my head. Spiny fingers of panic ribbon lace crisscross applesauce around my ribs through the moments in between each breath. Cats-eyed beasts leapfrog through the veil of nightmare black, and bear down on my belly. My manic panic belly.
Noun: the disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected; separation of normally related mental processes
The me of me vapor drifts up through the air. A flea perched on a pea on the wing of an eagle soaring sky higher and higher. Peeking back down through coke-bottle-thick spyglass shards of old tv tube static screen, squinting through the blur to make out the pictures of me.
I can’t see without my glasses. I can’t see with my glasses. I can’t find my fucking glasses. Wait. Stop. Back up. Rewind. Do I even wear glasses? I can’t find my thoughts or my words. I can’t find the reason why I’ve walked upstairs 6 times in the last 5 minutes. I can’t find the end of this sentence and I only just began it. I can’t find the milk when I look in the pantry, or the cereal when I look in the fridge.
I can’t find my hands.
I just can’t.
I am quicksilver. Mercury molecules sliding sweaty chest to back. Friction side to side rubbing against my thighs. All fingers wet and moaning sighs. Tremble and peak and melt into a sticky white hot scatter. Divide divide divide. Multiply.
I slip on the downward turning tip of my axis ripped off its axis. True North the billiard black eight ball struck into the far corner pocket. Halley’s Comet tail and cue chalk dust. Game over. Rack ‘em up.
I have no patience. Lost my cadence.
Losing my words. Losing my mind. Or at least the parts of it that I’m still able to articulate. Articulation isn’t really a thing for me right now. I’m not articulating well at all. I’m a writer with no ink or paper or words. I’m a chef with a stovetop full of pots and pans containing all the ingredients, but no spoons to stir or forks to whisk, no spatula to flip or tongs to grasp. I can’t find my words and words are the secret sauce that low slow boil simmers on the blue bottom burner of me and tethers this body to this soul to this water to this grounded Earth. To not float away and become stardust once again.
Ice and dust floating through the darkness.
Particles. Beaming screaming streaming. Careening.
Tick tock clock fast forwards.
Tick tock time ticks by.
Noun: a mental condition marked by alternating periods of elation and depression
My manic panic mind says “I’ve got this”. Well, my manic panic mind is wrong. I don’t have it.
I DON’T HAVE SHIT.
I was sure that once that new psychotropic med cocktail titrated up to that sweet spot right amount dose, I would be good. I would have it. My feet would plant back onto solid ground. And for a short time it was like a placebo honeymoon, I thought I had it. At least some. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. Maybe not. But honeymoons end. And the chaos is back again. The anti-depressants too high, the mood stabilizers too low. The counterbalance out of balance. The axis tipped and the downward slip down down through the black rabbit hole. The fall. The crash. The slam into the rocks of rock bottom rock. I wish I had a bloody nose to show for it. I’d be much happier right now with a bloody nose than with what I’ve got.
What I’ve got is an empty shell.
A sagging skeleton skin.
No meat, no muscle, only threadbare sinew string.
Wind whistling through hollowed out brain.
Electric zaps that make my head and shoulder twitch together on the magnets stitched under my skin.
I walk around like a fucking mud-clawed zombie risen up from the grave. One stiff-kneed leg-jerk step in front of the other.
A deep vacant blank in the dark shadow of my eyes.
As I stare into the space between.
The tight in my chest a solid fist jammed up high-hard into my sternum, compressing any air that might balloon blow-in in or might balloon pop-out out. The heart race pump of cortisol down through the drunken wobble of my sea legs. The roller coaster drop and soar in my belly, that slow chug climb up to the peak then free fall twist and turn and dive below the tracks and splash my gut empty dry.
I know the anxiety and PTSD of me. I know the depression of me. I’ve worn them for so long. They snuggly fit all the lines and angles of me. Their hands swell over my breasts, pooch out over my belly and fold up under my ass, slide their tongue down the tickle of the backs of my knees and down my calves to that sweet soft spot on the inside of my ankles. I enter them and they enter me. Slide their fingers deep into the arch of my head thrown back.
This bipolar me. I don’t know this me. It’s me, only it’s not. Not yet. My skin doesn’t slip slide like silk into it quite yet. Or, it does. Only it doesn’t. I don’t know all the ins and outs and sexy curvy lines of it. We haven’t adjusted to each other into a familiar comfort. I don’t feel safe in this skin.
This moon-faced two-faced skin of mine.
I need more time before I can trace the arch of its spine in the dark. Before I know the scent of it on my fingers. Some time until I can reach out and beg, pull close the heavy fullness of its hand to grope between my legs into the blinding wet of me. Before I can breathe into its neck and exhale silent soft shudders into its chest.
Now, who has my fucking car keys?
Melissa Lynne is a writer, motherless daughter, mental health advocate, and mermaid witch. When she can’t see through the tears of grief or think through the episodes of mania, she writes her way down and through and out. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her 3 kids and 2 cats.
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