"Do you have any artificial plates or limbs?"
This Is Spinal Tap
back in my goody-two-saddle-shoes Catholic schoolgirl days i was told, "Confession is good for the soul, my child."
"Now—drop your skirt."
oh, hell. that's where i'm goin'. direct to, one-way ticket, don't pass GO, don't collect $200 just KRA-KOW! smote straight to HELL.
s'all good. been there, done that, writin' the book.
blog, book: whatever.
stupid, clever: fine line between 'em. very fine.
confession, Hell: same damn thing. no difference.
sane, insane: between them, a very fine li—
sane, insane: between them, a very fine line — for some.
line, spine: how fine is the difference?
a practical question; a question of practice.
"Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are we gonna do 'Stonehenge' tomorrow?"
"NO, we're not gonna fucking do 'STONEHENGE'!"
well, maybe we're gonna do a little Stonehenge because at this point a question of practice raises a needling question; a needle that draws a'tap, tap, tapping at my spine to see of what stuff it's made—breakable bone, dwarf-crushable Stonehenge styrofoam or headbangin' heavy metal—because this is a confession and i've had me a few spinal taps in my horrific health history, all drawn by practical, well-practiced hands and—if i'm lyin', i'm lyin' but i'm not lyin'— those sonsofbitches hurt. not "practically hurt." literally, really fucking hurt like KRA-KOW! HELL.
this is gonna hurt more'n a little. line, spine—a question of practice: do i continue toeing the line or finally plunge the needle in? the tap is long overdue and even though i've never shied away from discussion—"Yes, I am, take me or leave me but judge me and you can suck me."— i haven't yet outwardly addressed or...i suppose, openly discussed the topic here, on my blog tagged with the labels "Health" and "Recovery" and this fluid drawn . . . . spills over both lines.
the third tag—"Humor"—well, more than a little overlap. then again . . . . stupid, clever: such a fine line betwixt 'em.
Everything In Its Right Place.
All These Things Into Position.
t'wernt merely my passionate devotion to Radiohead that recently drew me to reformat my blog with those sounding headers.
the fine needlework of my head doesn't make sense—unless treated. then, everything in its right place; all these things into position.
all those pills are swallowed whole.
my head, mind, me: chemically imbalanced.
me: Bipolar II.
funny—reflecting on all these positioned, righted things, i suppose i do possess a radiohead: it's What I Give To You—aural spectrums unbearable threading ragged; the too much, too much that occurs in the midst of a mixed state.
funny—as in many of you who know me well (or in the slightest) laugh at this confession. "Uh, DUH! Tell us something we didn't know!"
Well, whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much! It just so happens that my friends here are only MOSTLY in-the-know. There's a big difference between mostly knowing and all knowing.
Don't rush me, Sonny. You rush a miracle woman, you get rotten miracles.
status update i posted sometime last year that will always stick with me because, well, i'm a narcissist and make myself laugh. really think they should print up t-shirts with the following blasted across the front:
"BIPOLARS UNITE! Then, on rapid-cycles, split."
still, cracks me up. oh, man—no pun, no pun . . . .
"The review for 'Shark Sandwich' was merely a two word review which simply read 'Shit Sandwich'."
"Where'd they print that? Where'd they print that! That's not real, is it? You can't print that!"
such a fine line, people. the finest of lines. i make me laugh, anyway.
then again, i'm crazy.
my mother does not like it when i say that—"I'm crazy!"—because she feels the word "crazy" a slur of some sort or, more correctly, an inaccuracy of terminology and i suppose, technically, she's right. what i am is Bipolar II which is an illness that must be treated, like diabetes with insulin. take away my meds and watch me go into shock. or awe, depending.
why the double Roman columns? what does Bipolar II mean? did i come in second place—again? what, i'm not first place CRAZY?!
"You wanna get nuts? LET'S GET NUTS!"
different movie, different nut—call him Brilliant McMurphySexyAss—but the Cuckoo had to be quothed. he and the other strange birds of Kesey's Nest often come a'tap, tap, tappin' at my mind's door, reminding me:
crazy, often, a relative term.
crazy, often, misunderstood.
crazy, often, terrifying.
crazy, often, humiliating.
crazy, for a few colorful strange birds strong enough to steel our delicate spines and "At least try, goddammit, at least do that!"—we luckiest cuckoos in the nest who crashed through the cage and flew over, wings repaired . . . . for us, crazy: a long, strange but not-a-damn-thing-would-i-change flight.
i don't mind "crazy."
the term, that is.
the average person lives unaware of sanity's everyday glorious hallelujah; you don't know what it's like on the dark side of the moon. we crazy diamonds? we jewels embedded with inclusions internal—flaws that once set us: set us set, up, apart—until clarity burst through our deep, darkened cut, broke the shallow loop then honed upon we rare, indestructible gems the magnificent, magnifying eye of a trained loupe? we multifaceted, precious, crystals in the rough recognize, every day, sanity's brilliant everyday shine.
"What do you think you are, for chrissake? Crazy or somethin'? Well you're not! You're not! You're no crazier than the average asshole out walkin' around on the streets and that's it."
sometimes, i believe this; people snap, lose their proverbial shit, lapse momentary of reason then commit unthinkable acts. or they don't snap and give in to greed, lust—one or some combination of the seven—and, with the help of the victim's wife, murder a best friend for his Lotto winnings, but the murderer and the wife are not insane; just average assholes trying to cash in on the dead man's will. are the Goldman Sachs conglomerate crazy or (above) average assholes? i find their acts rather insane. the socialite wife, so bored with the high life she one day, for a thrill, pilfers a pair of $40 earrings from Bloomingdale's, gets nabbed by security—how crazy is that when credit cards of limitless value lined her wallet? the husband standing vigil over his beloved wife in the bedroom they've shared for 32 years, reaching for her bedside PCA, disabling its computer and running wide open her morphine drip, allowing her to slip easy into death rather than one more second battle the agony of terminal cancer then, minutes after she smiles and slips, he fills his mouth with cobalt, closes his eyes and sighs around the barrel, thinking, "This is what heaven tastes like."
crazy? asshole? average? angel?
"Turkle, what the fuck are you doin' in here? Go out and talk to her!"
"I'm doin' the same fuckin' thing you're doin'—hidin'!"
that's all right—tough questions, heavy as an institutional sink. hiding is understood. but not considering those questions? call me crazy, but that i cannot understand.
"Who's the head-bull-goose-loony around here?"
Brilliant McSexyAss, at your service!
so just what kind of head-bull-goose-loony is Bipolar, anyway? well, in a nutshell—
a nut's shell?
"They were still booing him when we came onstage!"
i'm sorry, i'm so sorry, i'm blind to the line — stever, clupid — groan, boo but it's gettin' me through. "nut's shell." oh-so clupid.
okay—what the pole-y hell is Bipolar? first of all, you may know it as manic-depression which some people find offensive but….thing is, Bipolar means the brain doesn't hang chilly, steady—it cycles between mania and depression—so um, for those who take offense to the term "manic depression" i gotta' wonder: do you similarly take offense at the sky being called blue? or blood, red?
"This is my exact inner structure, done in a tee shirt. Exactly medically accurate. See?"
"So, in other words, if we were to take all your flesh and blood—"
"Take them off. This is what you'd see. "
"It wouldn't be green though."
"It is green. You see how your blood looks blue."
"Yeah, well, that's just the vein. That's the color of the vein. The blood is actually red."
" . . . . Oh, then, maybe it's not green. Anyway, this is what I sleep in sometimes."
ah, nutty shell, indeed.
look, i could get all technical on you but Bipolar is manic-depression, and manic is mania and depression is depression: we cycle between the two drastically spaced out poles of emotion. now Bipolar I peeps bi-cycle a lot; severe cases can cycle on an hourly basis which is a Hell i cannot begin to fathom, my heart aches at the very thought because as a Bipolar II, i know less Hell than they and . . . . that much cycling must be . . . .
everybody has heroes: many of mine are either on soul-sucking medications, locked up in institutions, or dead by their own hands and i don't give a fuck if you understand that or not.
Bipolar II is considered "the preferable Bipolar to be"—as the shrink who originally diagnosed me smartassed. we don't mood swing as often or rapidly as BP I peeps; in fact, our minds favor the lower pole on the looney-tunes jungle-gym—the lowest pole: depression. rarely do BP II persons spike manic; in fact, some endure one episode of mania—ever. but when that manic pole THWAPS! you upside your already cracked head?
still hurts—more'n a little.
"Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation."
oh, don't i wish 'cause the pills i pop these days? yeah, they ain't the sedating kind.
mania: sedation . . . . woulda' been . . . .
mania: here we go. might wanna pop a . . . . bottle of Thorazine.
rather than sedating, my current medications run the strain of stabilizing; preventive, to be more accurate. as in, preventing of thoughts/behavior such as:
"RUNNIN' 'ROUND HAUL-ASS WAHOO ARE YOU SHITTIN' ME WITH THIS SHIT LET'S GO HIT THE ROOF BONK BONKERS BLIND WHIRLIGIG ECSTATIC, ELECTRIC, EUPHORIC, JUMPIN'-JACKASS-FLASHIN' TOO MUCH SKIN PUTS A HITCH IN YER' TOO MANY GIDDY-UPS SO -shh- LET'S IX-NAY ON THE TOO MUCH EX-SNAY AND GET OFF ANOTHER WAY THISAWAY TO THE HIGH-HIGH-HIGHWAY, A GATEWAY LEADIN' US TO A HEYDEY! WHATTA' FINE DAY FOR SOME SPREEEEE SHOPPIN' 'CAUSE I GOT CREDIT CARDS FOR EVERY SINGLE BANK, BOUTIQUE, STORE IN THE MALL, BED, BATH AND BEYOND ME—LET'S LAY THAT PLASTIC OUT ON YOU, TOO—YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS YOU BROUGHT ALONG FOR THE RIDE ME, YOU, THEM THEY AND EVERYBODY WANG CHUNG TONIGHT CRAZY!"
exhausted? yeah, me too. try living it for a day, which is how mania within my brain bi-cycled: rarely, for a few days at a time. i think my longest episode lengthened into approximately one month and i say "i think" because those four weeks? barely recall 'em. that particular episode of euphoria was strongly, strongly catalyzed by a dumbass doctor who prescribed for me a large daily dose of Wellbutrin (might well instead have written a script for Dr. Kevorkian, saved me the time, cost, lunacy and effort) aaaaaaand the tee-little-bit of narcotics i was so fond of ingesting back when. just a tad bit. a tee-tad-bit of MAD QUANTITIES OF PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE-A NARCOTICS.
opiates induce euphoric states? who-said-who-to-the-what-now?
now: if you follow my blaaaargh you know that when it comes to even the simplest math, Annie adds up fucktarded; however, this be some addition any idiot with a degree in nuclear physics can figger!
mania = a state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal, and/or energy levels. The word derives from the Greek for "madness, frenzy" and that from the verb mainomai, "to be mad, to rage, to be furious."
Soma = Annie's favorite drug for a very long time, so we shall use it as an example of pharmaceutical grade-A shit; is a centrally-acting skeletal muscle relaxant. The drug is available by itself or mixed with aspirin and in one preparation (Soma Compound With Codeine) along with codeine and caffeine as well. (do ya think Annie went for the Soma Compound With Codeine? oh, you BETCHA’ dumbass she did, Sarah Palin! and that shit'll dumb yer ass down on the Intelligence Quotient scale to Palin Points, too! WOOOOOO! you talk about a MAVERICK! Palin ain't got SHIT on ANNIE!)
euphoria = medically recognized as a mental/emotional state defined as a sense of wellbeing. (uh, seriously? "wellbeing?" i gotta much more appropriate "term" and it's up above in streaming, caps lock, Wang Chung italics.) Technically, euphoria is an affect, but the term is often colloquially used to define emotion as an intense state of transcendent happiness combined with an overwhelming sense of wellbeing. The word derives from Greek, "power of enduring easily, fertility". (SNORT.) Euphoria is generally considered to be exaggerated, resulting from an abnormal psychological state with or without the use of psychoactive drugs (but let's just say "with" for our example) and not typically achieved during the normal course of human experience. (Annie? typical? human? normal?! psshht!) However, some natural behaviors, such as activities resulting in orgasm (a what now?) or the triumph of an athlete (wouldn't know), can induce brief states of euphoria. Euphoria has also been cited during certain religious or spiritual rituals (really wouldn't even BEGIN to know) and meditation. See also: Soma (In Mythology). (or howzabout REALITY?!)
Google that shit. consider yourself cited, Wikipedia.
so, if i calculate correctly (and trust me, Sane Souls, i do), then:
ah, drugs. is there anything they can't do?
Doctor Dumbass didn't know i was Bipolar and neither did i; he was a rheumatologist prescribing an anti-depressant because, as it had been from the time i was 12, i'd been misdiagnosed "clinically depressed" and he believed the lifting of said sadness would alleviate my physical pain. (by-the-bye, i dunno what constitutes one who is "unclinically depressed." are they unprofessional? less analytical? more emotional? if so, they sound like cooler, better peoples.) the opiates were my own dumbass doctoring: an attempt to numb away the psychological turmoil i didn't yet understand but, somehow, knew for many years by its rightful name, and that its name rightfully belonged to me.
" . . . . These go to eleven."
thaaaaat . . . . pretty much sums up Annie McManic.
after a day or few of "WAHOO ARE YOU SHITTIN' ME WANG CHUNG CRAZY!"...the inevitable came crashing down: depression. the "Ohmygod, what did I do?" realizations: shopping spree receipts, bags full of clothes, electronics, cosmetics, gifts for loved ones, junk no being in the universe could rationalize purchasing, empty pill bottles, empty wallets, pissed-off friends refusing to speak to you (and you do not remember why), unfinished homework, untouched work-work, sudden Steve Urkel flashes of memory: "Did I do that? There's no way I did that.... Did I?"
must've been high to the sky, you say, in order to not recall total what's happenin'! nope. sure, there were plenty of instances where, absolutely, that was the case but—the Bipolar butterfly fluttered fragile into my mind—delicately alighted upon my cheek and for the first time sweetly kissed my temple—at age 19. addiction? that bitch didn't show her face until my mid-20s.
manic, narcotic: same damn thing. no difference. euphoria is euphoria and . . . . it's difficult to recall total that which occurs in a state of such complete and utter bliss.
but the brain is a muscle and, given time, will reflexively kick reflection like a stubborn old mule. the body, skin remembers like clay; fingerprints, risings, caresses impression themselves permanent stain yet somehow, you can only recall the sculptor's face....but not their name.
horribly depressing stuff, yes? oh, you have no idea. unless you do. in which case, "Hi! Hope all is stable with you today! So much love to you, My Darlings!" but yes, it's wretchedly depressing, the post-mania crash and that's where the mood stabilizers work their secondary preventive magic—they prevent the following thoughts/behavior:
("Author's" Note: The following excerpt has been lobotomized from what Annie considers the worst episode of her Bipolar II in conjunction with raging prescription drug addiction, circa fall 2002, Houston, Texas. This rambling road to nowhere drives a true account of thought which occurred at an intersection of street names Annie cannot remember because she was so gorked out of her mind, she often fell asleep face-first in plates of food when not rampaging through Neiman Marcus on WAHOO! shopping sprees. But she does know she was in her black Ford Escape, headed to workshop at The University of Houston. Bless their dear hearts. Additionally, the irony of the model of her old automobile is not lost on her.)
once more unto the breach, dear friends? you survived mania; why not dive into depression?
"Here lies David St. Hubbins.... And why not?"
and why. not.
"Kurt Cobaining it now 'cause I-hate-myself-and-I-want-to-diiiie so I'm feelin' like stompin' on the gas pedal, lurching head-on into rush hour traffic, knowing instant the terrific cacophony of a crunching metal dissonant solo, sonic youth steel, stolen, oh that sounds like goddamn nirvana unbuckle the seatbelt grip the wheel so they might have no choice but to bury me in this twisted black heart-shaped box 'cause fuck me, fuck you, fuck the WORLD oh, whatta' world, whatta' world, who would've thought a good little girl like me would want to destroy my sweet wickedness? I'm melting, melting.... And FUCK your little dog, too. Why's there never a shotgun around when I need one? Well then fuck shotguns, too. And FUCK KURT COBAIN!"
"It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."
"You know what I want you to do? Will you do something for me?"
"Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, okay? Kick this ass for a man, that's all. Kick my ass. Enjoy. Come on. I'm not asking—I'm telling with this. Kick. my. ass."
thankfully, Life indeed favored me with a kick in the ass, though not until several years down the proverbial line.
line. ooh, those years. yeah, Cash, i know all about walkin' the line—and it is fine.
"As long as there's, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll."
ehhhh, not so much. subtract the drugs and a little thing called "reality" shocks the now un-anesthetized yet naturally chemically imbalanced system: blows your amps, speakers—the fundamental mixing console, annihilated—and before you can so much as open your mouth to sing a note for help....total, complete system breakdown.
everyone else around me kicked the drugs, they're rocking and rolling yet i'm....trapped hello? Hello? HELLO, CLEVELAND! HEL-LO, CLEVELAND! ROCK-AND-ROLL!
the breakdown, it turns out, not a bad thing. because the result is this:
in other....words: you manage to release at least one arm from the Prison Pod and reach out for help. or to signal an ovation of awesomeness, whichever you like.
i reached out for help—and got it. my life hasn't been the same since. thank The Druids for that. no one knows who they are or what they are doing, but i thank them nonetheless.
"This is our monthly 'At Ease' weekend. It gives us a chance to let our hair down, although I see you've got a head start in that department. I shouldn't talk, though, I'm getting a little shaggy myself. I'd better not stand too close to you—people might think I'm part of the band. I'm joking, of course."
you, still with me—those not too ill-at-ease with letting your hair down though, perhaps a little shaggy at the edges? dozens of people spontaneously combust each year—it's just not very widely reported. well, just so you know, i'm tired, too: a little green globule, stain, left on the drum seat. if you've hung in for this entire ride, not only are you brave souls, but also good, kind and magnanimous peoples. no need to identify yourself because i understand: don't want people thinking you're part of the band. regardless, i thank you, sincerely.
i'm joking, of course.
thank you. sincerely.
"We say, 'Love your brother.' We don't say it really, but..."
"We don't literally say it."
"No, we don't say it."
"We don't really, literally mean it."
"No, we don't believe it either, but..."
"But we're not racists."
"But that message should be clear, anyway."
"We're anything but racists."
i love you, brothers. i love you, sisters. i really, literally mean it. i don't believe it but that message should be clear. anyway, i'm anything but racist.
"I mean, people should be envying us, you know?"
"I envy us!"
me, too. :)
"Well, I don't really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It's like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how— What does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops—what's stopping it, and what's behind what's stopping it? So, what's the end, you know, is my question to you."
"We're very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they're like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They're two distinct types of visionaries, it's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like . . . . lukewarm water."
The True….end Final Statement.
"This pretentious ponderous collection of religious rock psalms is enough to prompt the question, 'What day did the Lord create Unfiction, and couldn't he have rested on that day, too?'"
"Lick My Love Pump."
End Why Not?
End-Know-it: This nut wouldn't have had any guts to write what cracked, scrambled, runny egg you just read were it not for a friend I've never met; a kindred soul who picked up on a wisecrack I....cracked wise in a Facebook thread and we Bipolars, we have a tendency to intuit each other, regardless of tone, regardless of anything: I've picked out my kind without them having said a word to me, by aura alone. This beautiful, brilliant woman sent me a message that simply stated:
"are you type I or type II dear? i could be misreading or feel free not to answer. just curious i suppose."
And let the sharing and healing begin.
So you, A. Nonymous Love, what poor scrambled mess this is, I dedicate it to you. To all of my friends who have been so bold, daring, strong to share their own stories of mental illness with me, the world; to everyone who deals with any aspect of mental illness, fights the stigmatization, the health care system, the back-and-forth debates of pro/anti-medication, the levelings into sanity and lapses back into Hell: for all that you endure, this is for you.
But it's dedicated to you, A.
Thank you for giving me the courage.
A song My Daddy has been singing to me since the day I was born that, when I thought of strange birds, reflected on cuckoos, came softly whispering in my ear as soothing lullaby:
Poor little Robin,
Walkin', walkin, walkin' to Missouri,
He can't afford to fly....
Gotta' penny for'a—
Poor little Robin,
Walkin', walkin', walkin' to Missouri,
Got a teardrop in his eye....
Now I hope my story don't make you cry,
But this birdie flew too high,
He flew from his old Missouri home.
He fell right into the city ways, like dancin' in cabarets,
From party to party he would roam....
He met a birdie who looked so nice,
A real bird of paradise,
Good lookin' but fickle in the heart.
She gave him kisses and gave him sighs,
But oh, how she told him lies,
'Cause she loved another from the start....
His dreams are battered, his feathers bent,
Now he hasn't got a cent,
He feels like his heart is gonna break....
So if he ever walks up to you,
Please throw him a crumb or two,
'Cause you could have made the same mistake....
I look at that picture and wonder: was it already there, always there, behind my eyes just waiting to show its face?
Or was it later, post-circumstances? Did Life's merciless winds randomly float the kissing butterfly delicate and treacherous upon my temple, wing the strange bird into my already devastated nest?
Two practical questions. II. Both of which, I believe, answer themselves.
"Given the history of Spinal Tap drummers, uh, in the past, do you have any fears, uh, for your life?"
"When I did join, you know, they did tell me—they kind of took me aside and said, 'Well, Mick. It's, you know, it's like this...' And it did kind of freak me out a bit. But it can't always happen to every... Can it? I mean, really... "
"Because the law of averages..."
"...The law of averages..."
"...Says you will survive."
(R.I.P Brilliant Mick SexyShrimpton.)