A Day in the Life   1 comment

I spent this past Sunday alone.  My girlfriend had to work all day and I had no plans.  And instead of sleeping until mid afternoon, I decided to get up at 9:30 and see what kind of trouble I could get into.  The early morning light hurt my eyes.

First of all, I don’t mind being alone.  I had an entire day where I would get to do what I wanted whenever I wanted.  I think in life as bipolars we have to make so many compromises.  You take the medication to feel better, but the side effects ruin your sex life.  Or, they make you so fat you think nobody will be interested in having sex with you.  So last Sunday I wasn’t even compromising on my coffee.  Had to have a Peets Dark Roast.  Black.  Why emasculate the flavor of those bold beans with Equal and 2% fat milk?  Go drink a Slim Fast Frappacino.

So, when I left Peets I decided to go to Union Square, more or less the center of San Francisco’s shopping and financial district, and pop into Macy’s to buy some cologne.  The drive down was delightful.  Windows open.  The Eagles “Lyin Eyes” on the radio making me think of past girlfriends that have done me wrong, the sky was crystal blue and the fresh air felt great.  And right as if a horseshoe perfectly rung the pole with that distinctive clanging noise, my mind shifted to the fact that my car registration stickers had been stolen so I needed to avoid the police.  Suddenly I felt like less of a citizen than everyone else.  Like I really didn’t have the right to be on the road.  Even though it wasn’t even my fault. It was a familiar feeling of not belonging.  A sensation I’ve felt many times as a bipolar trying to suppress my anxieties in order to function normally in public.

So I pulled into a parking garage and got as far away from my car as soon as possible just in case the SWAT Team were training their sites on it.  California is anal about raping you on fees, fines and flat out make-no-sense tickets. I have so many parking tickets I have yet to deal with I was sure the Department of Motor Vehicles was going to give up on getting my money and just destroy my car one day.

I ended up getting a jumbo hot dog, desecrating it with onions, mustard and ketchup and a can of chemicals; a Diet Coke.  I sat down on some steps in Union Square, ate my hot dog and watched the tourists.  I was trying to figure out which tourist was most like the kind of tourist I would be if visiting San Francisco.  So I looked for the person trying to have fun a little too hard.  Often when I go on vacation I’m a little insecure about being away from home and wonder if I am acting properly in this new venue.  Plus I want to act interested in my surroundings and gracious to the locals.  I’m terrified of being asked to leave a city or state for not conducting myself properly.  Bipolar Illness  makes us doubt our outward persona because we have such a skewed version of ourselves in our heads.  It leaves us with an estimation of what we think is proper conduct.  And we often over-compensate by being too nice, helpful or pretend interested.  Then we ruminate on whether anyone noticed.

San Francisco was over-run with tourists that day because it was Bay to Breakers weekend, when thousands of runners in and out of costume and various degrees of nakedness run from the bay to the ocean.  Then they drink and party all over the city for the rest of the day still in full race attire.  It’s not even really a race, because some people are drunk, others pushing floats full of people or some just walking and gawking.  I used to run in Bay to Breakers, but I am not in top running form anymore.  And every time I saw a serious runner walking around it reminded me of why I am not running.   I know running is an exercise excellent for relieving depression.  However, when I’m tired and depressed all the time I don’t feel like running.  So now I’m out of shape which makes running seem even more foreboding.  This is one of the most common aversions to exercise I hear from other bipolars.  You want to exercise but are too depressed to get out there and do it.  It’s simpler to figure out than a Rubics Cube.

Macy’s was packed and I did not want to deal with it.  Since it was my day, I decided to go to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco famous for it’s 1960’s counter-culture to visit my favorite CD store.  It was awash with racers in costume, partial costume, conscious, partially conscious and every state in between.  It was impossible to move down the sidewalk without bumping into someone.  And I was enjoying every minute of it.  I love the diversity.  But of course I began to wonder where I fell on the spectrum.  Did I look hip?  Did I look too straight?  Was I dressed grundgy enough?  I felt like everyone on the street was judging me.  I couldn’t understand why they were so concerned with how I looked and carried myself?  Why did I have to be evaluated?  Nobody else was drawing so much attention.  Then I realized; nobody was noticing me.  I was a small face in a sea of drunk and high people.  The last thing anyone cared about was evaluating my right to be on Haight St.  It was my bipolar head talking again.  Just like I feel inferior to high achievers, now I was distraught that I may not be degenerate enough to be a low achiever.   I don’t have that red and irritated gaping mouth and bad skin of a true Haight St. dude, out to score some weed and listen to his favorite indie band.  But in this case I had to smack myself.  Did I really want that?  Or, did I just want to belong.  To anything.  Just so I fit somewhere.  The insecurity caused by Bipolar Illness can leave you with an alienating identity crisis.

After I got my CDs, which I always buy used, I wanted a beer, but all the bars were four people deep.   Just waiting to throw up on the side walk was four people deep as well.  I ended up buying a couple of six packs and headed home.

I hate my neighborhood.  It’s in no-mans-land out by the Ocean.  The neighborhood is mostly Asian and all the shops and restaurants are run like flea markets.  You can buy underwear and deodorant at the green grocer.  The local coffee shop is completely counter-intuitive; for there is no wifi because they don’t want you to sit down with your computer and the coffee tastes like instant.   To make matters worse, driving is an obstacle course between of people slowly creeping along cross walks against the light like bowling pins asking to be knocked down.  Plus, drivers just drift aimlessly from one lane to another at no more than fifteen miles an hour creating bottle necks everywhere.  I keep thinking maybe driving on the sidewalk is safer.  I questioned myself for being too critical of others.  Now I was a bad person.

When I got home I flopped down on my bed face first.   Another day of being bipolar.  Even a day all to yourself becomes all about yourself.  The thoughts I was having were not new.  But suddenly I understood why some people with Bipolar Illness become agoraphobic with terrible social anxieties.  So terrible, that they can’t even go to work.   I know some agoraphobics, and it made me want to call them and say, “I finally understand.”

In my skewed view, just understanding something new is a red letter day.  There are so many things people with bipolar illness don’t understand.  What it feels like to walk around without a care in the world.  To function normally without having to try, and then second guessing your performance.  The constant thoughts of never being as good as non-afflicted people.

However getting a better understanding of Bipolar Illness, even if it’s just a peak through the window,  is invaluable.  I believe the more we understand our bipolar selves, the better we can manage our lives.  It’s like having a general understanding of how an airplane works.  When the plane start to shudder a bit during take off, you know it’s normal turbulence.  You may not like it, but you know what it is, making it a lot less scary.

Everyday a bipolar person’s life shudders during take-off.  Knowing what it’s about makes it a little less scary as well.

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Posted May 24, 2012 by Buzzkill - Official Booksite in Uncategorized

One response to “A Day in the Life

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  1. I got your book yesterday 🙂 I’ll let the world know what I think after I read it on the trip! The little bit I scanned, through, I absolutely love your humor! And Dr. Melt Face…..I could really picture him heh. Anyways…..you’re right everything we learn can only better ourselves. I hate public places, your day made me exhausted and I wasn’t even the one to experience. Oh! And Bethlehem isn’t all that……. 😉

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