My brain broke a number of years back. Colloquially, it was what’s known as a “nervous breakdown.” In terms of bipolar disorder, it was a “major depressive episode.” Whatever you call it, it meant that for a couple of years, I was immobilized, irrational, and unresponsive. Unable to work, to take care of myself, to enjoy anything. I had it all – the tears, the fears, the despair, the loneliness. You name a symptom and I had it.
Gradually, with psychotherapy and psychotropics, I got better. In fact, I’ve been so much better that I felt my disorder was in remission. I wrote about that.
My strength, my renewed sense of self, my ability to cope was so strong that not even a tornado shook it. A literal tornado, one that ripped the roof of the house while I was in the second-floor bedroom. I went into taking-care-of-business mode, finding us a place to stay those first few nights, then diving into the morass of insurance, money, salvage, bureaucracy, government agencies, phone trees. Things as complicated as moving into a rental house and as mundane as doing the laundry. There were times when I was exhausted, when I’d had all I could handle for that day or that week, but after a night’s or a weekend’s rest, I pulled myself back together and dug back in.
This week, however, I have broken again. I sustained a psychological blow that threw me so off-balance that I can’t cope. I am back to immobility, depression, floods of tears, despair, misery. It was unexpected. And it happened during the holiday week, a few days before Christmas.
My publisher closed its doors. And just when my second book was on the point of completion. My first book brought me a sense of pride and fulfillment, though it was hardly a best seller. I signed copies for my friends and family. I did a reading at a bookstore. I had t-shirts printed for me and my husband.
Those t-shirts are now gone, victims of the aforementioned tornado. And I have no copies of the book left, not even the copy I inscribed to my husband. It is like the book never existed. The second may never exist either. I am bereft.
I know it was a mistake to put so much of my pride, my self-esteem, my psychological wellbeing into a thing, something outside myself. But I thought that the book was a part of me that would live on. That it might help other people who struggle with bipolar disorder, and maybe even their friends and families. And the second book would be even better, going more deeply into my experiences and bipolar out in the world – both an inside and outside look at the subject. Bipolar Us, instead of just Bipolar Me.
I don’t how this story ends. At the moment it feels like it has already ended. What do I have left but some electronic files and a half-finished cover? The remembrance that once I wrote a book – two books, in fact. At the moment I am not strong enough to look for another publisher and have no desire to go the self-publishing route. That would feel like another failure, at least for me.
I am crying while I’m writing this. I have been crying a lot over the holidays and staying in bed a lot, too. I made a brief post on Facebook so my friends would know what was happening, but now I have largely retreated. I’ve thrown away at least three blog posts I’ve started. I’m more than a little surprised that I have managed to make it so far with this one. It’s stream-of-consciousness and not likely to get the usual editing before I post it, but I honestly thought I’d have nothing.
I know this is not my failure. I know this is not my fault. That’s how it feels, anyway.
Comments on: "Broken" (5)
My Bipolar Disorder also reared its head last week 😦 Hugs to you!!
My Bipolar Disorder reared its ugly head last week too. 😦 Hugs to you!!
You’ve suffered a huge blow, a big disappointment during a season which in itself is stressful. My heart goes out to you. Hugs!
I don’t know what the heck happened. It said my post went through, but no post. I’m going to try to rewrite was I wrote yesterday, as well as I can remember.
First of all, Janet, I am so, so sorry that all of this happened to you, and I understand your feeling broken. I pray you don’t stay down too long. I hope your husband can take over now and take care of you. It seems women hold it together until everything is taken care of and then fall apart. We know we’re the only ones who can do it, so we put all of the pain in the backs of our minds.
I can’t believe all of the horrible things that happened to you, one right on top of the other. It does seem as though, when something falls apart, it’s like a domino effect. Please take care of yourself. Take a break; we’ll still be here when you’re back. You know how it works, one foot in front of the other, assuming you can get out of bed.
If not, that’s just the way it is. Stop feeling as though you made a mistake! You didn’t. Putting yourself out there is stretching the envelope, seeing if you can go further. For crying out loud, you did put that first book out! Just because they frigging company closed its doors doesn’t mean you did anything stupid! You wanted to help people; there is nothing wrong with that.
I hope you’ll get back on the wagon when you get through the dreadful depression you are now dealing with. We want to see that book, even if everything it lost right now. Don’t give up.
We care about you and appreciate everything you’ve shared with us all this time. Think of us as part of your support group.
We love you, Janet
Thank you for your encouraging words. I do have a strong support system, especially my husband and including you and other readers. Once the holidays are over, I will try to pull myself together and deal with everything. A friend has given me a lead on another publishing company that may be interested and I will start by pursuing that. I appreciate your concern. I’ve made it through so much. Somehow or other I’ll get through this too.
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