Pills to Poetry: The Burden of Non-Compliance

The conversation between my wife and I when I don’t want to comply with medication or sleep. A bipolar dilemma. A caregiver’s burden.

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~The Burden That No One Sees ~

“It’s late.” She’s barely awake, squinting.
“I’m not tired”, I tell her, and continue working.
“That’s the point”, she says under her breath.
“What’s the point?” I’m lost.
“With your condition…” she’s exhausted. I’m making it worse.
“Seriously I’m fine.” I insist.
“Take your meds.” She isn’t giving up.
“I’m not tired”, I say.
“You have a big day tomorrow.” She’s more patient than I deserve.
“I know. But I’m wide awake.” I continue working.
“That’s the problem.” Her face is pretty, even half asleep.
“What’s the problem?” I’m lost still.
“You’re getting manic.” Her tone is serious.
“Not manic. I’m just really busy. It’s a project…”
“It’s 2am”, she informs me.
“Okay. In thirty minutes I will.”
“No. Take them now.”
“Fuck. Okay. Fine.”
The bedroom door closes behind her as I pour a handful of perfect little pharmasanity shapes from the burnt orange, child-proof bottle. I choke them down with a large swig of beer. She hates when I do that but does not complain because at least I’m taking the goddamned medication.

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After a week or so of these types of conversations, she usually ends up putting me on a bedtime schedule with a tight ritual involving complying with meds. Because I love my wife and trust her, I often go with it. Well, okay, I put up a fight half the time, which occasionally puts her in the position to give me ultimatums. This is love. This is bipolar disorder. This is a bipolar marriage. And I still fucking hate taking pills.

Touched With Fire: Bipolar Movie Review

My review of ‘Touched with Fire’, a film about bipolar disorder.

I saw it twice. Last weekend, and again today. I don’t get to see many new films and I hardly ever go to the movies. But I’ve been waiting for this to hit theaters. And hit it did. For me anyway. The first viewing of TWF ignited so many emotions in me. I admit my expectations weren’t high considering the media doesn’t paint mental illness too favorably. I guess my guard was up. I was rooting for this film so much before even seeing it. I was rooting for the bipolar audience.

Synopsis

Meet Marco, played by Luke Kirby, and Carla, played by Katie Holmes. Both of are incredibly talented writers. Both of them are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. From my educated opinion, research, and personal experience, I would say they have bipolar type 1. Bipolar disorder type 1 is characterized by extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression), and can be accompanied by psychosis. Both Marco and Carla are patients in a psychiatric hospital when they meet and they form an intense bond. Together they ignite each other’s fire. They sneak around in the hospital, and eventually form a relationship on the outside, which is front and center to a whirlwind rollercoaster.

Writer/director, Paul Dalio based the characters off of himself, and the film from his own experiences with bipolar. He incorporates the strong influence of art, poetry, famous people with mental illness, and the bipolar queen, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. Dr. Jamison even has a cameo in the movie.

Critique

One reason I saw TWF a second time is to make sure I wasn’t going to review it based solely on my rush of emotions. But the truth is, Touched With Fire is actually very emotional. Dalio represents a very realistic insight into the bipolar life. Manic episodes are unruly, impulsive, unbelievably creative, and indescribably passionate. These episodes are just as defiant and destructive. We see this in both Carla and Marco. We also see them crash. Again, each action and thought from the characters ring into true suicidal depression. As someone who’s lived with type 1 for over 16 years, I could absolutely relate to where these characters were, in each moment. I can’t imagine that the rest of the audience didn’t feel this spilling from the screen as well.

Another area that Dalio dove into is the realities of medication non-compliance. Non-compliance is a serious symptom of the illness. (I still fight my wife about taking my meds.) The film gives Carla and Marco an opportunity to demonstrate their views on why they don’t like to be medicated. Once off of the meds, there is a gradual deconstruction of their mental states, showing what happens when someone with severe bipolar disorder is not accepting treatment. It also involves their parents, who all seem to be pretty supportive and caring, while showing how the manic and depressive episodes affect them.

Katie Holmes makes a return to the screen, playing Carla, and her performance really did give me goosebumps. Luke Kirby was born to play the part of Marco. Both actors portrayed the challenge of channeling the characters’ emotions, actions, impulses, thoughts, desires, and talents. They nailed it.

My only less than positive critique is that this film is not for everybody. I guess this isn’t really critiquing the film, but rather the audience. For people who know absolutely nothing about mental illness, or who are not here to learn about it, go see something else. I was biting my tongue each time the woman down my row would obnoxiously laugh at the psychosis Marco was experiencing or the manic love the characters had. She took no social cue that nobody else was laughing until about a third of the way through the film.

Last Words

The first time I watched Touched With Fire, I got choked up so many times. I felt Paul Dalio was pulling material from inside my head. The moon plays a heavy influence in the film, and I have a huge obsession with the moon. And I’m sure many, many bipolar folks are writers with moon obsessions, but in the moment, it spoke to me. The frustration of Holmes’ character as she tries to learn of her life prior to becoming sick, to Luke Kirby’s character philosophizing every single thing. My mania has dragged me to that point too many times. I was crying at many points during the film. I was scheming on which medications to stop taking. The second time I saw the film, it was much more cognitive. I studied their behaviors and of course, compared myself to some, but mostly just watched the transformation from hypomania to mania to severe depression to being stable to impulsively triggering instability.

Overall, an excellent film. I will be adding it to my personal library. It’s only in select theaters right now, but if possible, go see it.

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Positivity and Creativity for a Healthy Mind

I was determined to start this weekend better than the ones I’ve had in recent months. No demons allowed, only positive, healthy activities. Since photography is one of my long lost hobbies, I decided to tackle the project of my son’s 9-month photos. It was a beautiful day for the nearby park. My baby finally fit into the outfit his aunt gave him. My wife agreed to help me. I had no excuses.

I did have a period of irritability when a fellow amateur photographer made some rude remarks, setting me off. My wife had to stop me from fighting with her. Other than that, we had a really great day. And his photos turned out really great too!

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I practiced positive thinking, while utilizing creativity, in a healthy manner. I’m pleased to say that I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something to nurture my mind and abilities. I know it’s not always easy but I consider today a baby step.

 

For Shits and Giggles, I Now Have a Tumblr

Because two WordPress blogs weren’t enough. Because a Facebook blog page, a personal Facebook, an Instagram, Pinterest, and two Twitter accounts simply weren’t enough. You can now find my crazy self on Tumblr as The Bipolar Lesbian.

My purpose for creating this mini blog is pure simplicity, all the while combining two parts of myself- my sexual orientation and my mental illness. I plan to showcase media such as photos, gifs, videos, and music. I also want to make this a designated space for my poetry, which I will be pouring more of myself into here in the future.

Tumblr has been around for a little while now, but is growing at an increasingly fast rate. If you have a Tumblr account, or are interested, I recommend checking out my baby blog. I want to have fun with it and with an audience, I can deliver just that!

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It Went Too Fast, Love – a poem about heartbreak

If I could, I really would
Catch every tear that fell.
Though I know I really should
Accept that time will tell.

It was a lost cause,
But you’re not lost, love.
It was a past love,
It went too fast, love.

I imagine her expression,
As she quickly shut the door.
All too clear was her rejection.
I clean the pieces from the floor.

Strawberries fragrant in the air,
Strawberry scented, like her hair.

Tire tracks provide evidence,
Matching tread marks on my heart.
Spinning sick, it makes no sense.
There came an end before a start.

It was a lost cause,
But you’re not lost, love.
It was a past love,
It went too fast, love.

Her fingerprints left in the dust,
Silky strands clogged in the drain.
That skin was more than glowing lust,
Her ideals around this room remain.

Strawberries fragrant in the air,
Strawberry scented, like her hair.

Need an intervention of the soul.
May I have the will to dream?
Once was fire, now burned a hole.
Is this as broken as it seems?

It was a lost cause,
But you’re not lost, love.
It was a past love,
It went too fast, love.

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New Year, New Baby, Creative Non-Resolution

Big changes for the new year over on my end. First- A NEW BABY! Yes, our little bundle of baby boy was born December 17th. Another change for me right now is my lack of work. I have been laid off for the winter season, left to collect unemployment benefits. What’s more, I seem to have lost my creative edge and/or motivation to write- poetry or blogwise. Perhaps my priorities have just been in other directions. Or the lack of sleep is getting to me. Whatever the reason, I hope it passes quickly. I try to avoid blogging hiatuses such as this last one.

But anyway, yes the wonderful new element in my life is my precious, perfect baby boy! Since he is our first baby, my wife and I have been absorbing so much as new moms. Being a parent truly makes you examine your life, and everything that’s real. Priorities change so much, and you suddenly no longer tolerate things such as other people’s drama. The important things in life are if my son is hungry, how to soothe him when he cries, and what’s the best way to hold him to make him feel comfortable. I am feeling emotions like I’ve never felt before. A whole new kind of love.

It has been both beneficial and frustrating not going to work this past month. Of course with the baby, the lay off couldn’t have come at a better time. It gives me the advantage that many new parents don’t get, and that is to be a part of my newborn’s every day life, all day, for a few months. For that, I am grateful and count the blessing. But of course as a person with bipolar, not having my routine for a lengthy period of time can be problematic. Even with the baby and all the visitors we’ve had, I have found myself getting bored. Getting restless. I like going to the office. My schedule keeps me on track, and my disorder in check. When I don’t have structure, I tend to be more subject to triggers. So far I’m doing what I can to tend to the baby, the house (I clean it daily), coordinating guests, and whatever small projects I can find. The holidays were a nice distraction, even though we just stayed in and had a relaxing Christmas with our little guy.

I did not make a resolution this year. And I don’t intend to. I am, however, hoping that this creativity slump passes soon and I spew out some poetry or something. I realize I haven’t contributed anything to this blog in over a month. Therefore -in a non-resolution way- I intend to pick up on my slack. I aim to become motivated. I have no doubt that this little angel will provide me with new levels of inspiration. So, you’ll be hearing more from me soon.

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Purge – a really intense poem

I check my pulse to see if I’m still living
In the spillway to the remnants of my thoughts.
I just might daydream about a daydream,
And harness a fantasy about the ones who came before
The ones who came before the ones who didn’t care.
 
I search my heart to see if I’m still yearning
For the roadway to the seedlings of my life.
I just might embrace feeling this feeling,
And open my soul to quench the thirstiest thirst
Of the thirsty firsts for the needs to which I bear.
 
I clean my mouth to see if I’m still tainted
In the airway to the speeches of my intention.
I just might mix poison with poison,
And demand an understanding as I visualize
The lies of the lies that I cried in despair.
 
I wrack my mind to discover the key
To a pathway of authentic ramification.
I just might abscond the chains of sanity,
And infect my cerebral gears that speared the fears
Of indifferent years I grew from what was spared.
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Today

Today
Today I feel like a star,
Today I’m more alive than ever.
This time I know I’ll get far,
It’s time to show them my clever.
Today my mind is sound,
Today I manipulate the waves.
Upon me is a new sense of found,
Clothe me in fragments that saved.
Today I dress up the world,
Today I invest in my heart.
I am no longer a tortured girl,
It is no longer backward from start.
Today my blood is hot,
Today I depend on my fire.
An action shows what you’ve got,
Reaction will lead to desire.
Today the sun bathes my skin,
Today electricity swallows my veins.
I thirst for the notion to begin,
I absorb these emotions, wild and strange.

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Parade of Pills

Just a little ‘ol poem flirting with lunacy and pharmaceuticals…

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PARADE OF PILLS
The drama mask,
Tie it tight.
Toxic prisms
In the light.
Choose your mind
Blue, pink, white.
Wash it down,
Pose no fight.
Happy, shiny
Crystal height.
My jester hat
Falls off at night.
Behold my thoughts,
And take a bite.
Smelling voices,
Tasting sight.
Dance on arrows.
Choke me right.
Bells are screaming
Crash down kite.
Veins are ticklish,
Flesh so bright.
Parade of pills.
Test that flight.

Sunday

A quick poem I wrote about the mental roller coaster:

Lost in my delusional devise.

Taken from myself in a dream.

Did my hysteria come as a surprise?

I never meant to make you scream.

Please just listen to what I say.

Hear me out, hear me clear.

I promise I won’t go away.

But at this point, I may just disappear.

Creative Genius & Mental Illness

Ever since I was a young child, I've shown a great interest in being creative and writing things like stories and poetry. As I got older and fell further into my diagnosis, I relied on my creative mind to carry me through every day living. As time goes by, I find the scientific link between mental illness and creativity quite fascinating. Here is a link to a Swedish study connecting the two.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/creativity-mental-illness-bipolar-disorder_n_1972391.html

What do you think of these findings?