I’ve spent most of my adult life in a relationship. I’ve always put someone first, even at the cost of myself, my career or both. This is the very first time I don’t have to answer to anyone. I’ll admit, I kinda enjoy it.
There was an adjustment period after a tragic breakup with someone who had undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. He was also bipolar. Well, shit. If anyone could help him, it would be me, right? As a card-carrying member of Club Van Gogh, I understand crazy. I know what to expect.
What in themuther-of-fuck was I thinking?
The difficult part for me to swallow is that before I saw all the mental issues, I actually *thought* I was in my first healthy relationship. Yeah. Then I stuck around out of hope and loyalty. That really fucked my head up.
It didn’t help that of the two of us, I was the calm, nonviolent one (yeah…me!) and with his disorder, he had the ability to twist things around, convince me I was the problem and everything was my fault.
I spent a lot of time on therapist’s couches and having coffee with friends working on rewiring myself since. Luckily, these are also the same couches he sat on and friends who knew him, so these people had insight as to what was really going on.
My own bipolar medication doses have been spot-on the past few years. I get regular blood tests and the aforementioned therapy. I’d been better than ever. And yet, that happened. The lack of judgment and constant second-guessing made me unable to figure out what was up from down. Now that I’m dating again, I’m very cautious and wish I could rely on my instinct and judgment. You know, like normal people don’t. I over-think and get confused at times. Living alone has been challenging, too. There’s no one to reign me in when I go a little too far outside the lines. I think that’s one of the things you need to find in both your closest friend(s) and a partner when you’re bipolar, or it won’t work.
My Fucktarded Brain:
“Is this what’s going on in reality, or is it just my mind seeing things in the worst possible light?
What if I’m simply being paranoid that it’s my bipolar mind, but it IS really going on and I’m talking myself into staying calm and letting things go while I’m actually getting completely fucked over?”
That’s what it’s like to be crazy. Even on stabilizing medication, it never completely goes away. I’m just able to keep it hidden better.
It’s like a little MMA/Lucha Libre match going on in my head:
“In this corner, Irrational Thoughts! Coming in from Parts Unknown at 6’5” and 385 pounds! His opponent, the high-flying Lucha Libre sensation known simply as SANITY! Sanity hails from Doctor’s Orders and weighs in at a sleek but deceptively quick 135 pounds! Ring the bell!
Oh, wow. WOW! Sanity is just taking a BEATING from Irrational Thoughts! It’s going exactly as we’d thought. Irrationality is all over, just cleaning freakin’ house. It got real ugly, real RAPIDO, folks. He’s got Sanity locked in the WTF-Are-You-Thinking submission and is not letting go…oh, ouch!…but Sanity refuses to tap! He goes for the pin! 1…2…no! Shoulder raised!
Irrational has just put Sanity on top of the cage…he’s backing up…he charges at him… OH MY GOD…Sanity has KICKED Irrational Thoughts IN THE FACE! IN.THE.FACE! And here comes Sanity OFF THE CAGE with a flying triple Functionally Balanced! HO-LY SHIT! Sure didn’t see that coming! Ay, Dios mio! 1… 2…3! Sanity! Sanity! Sanity WINS!”
But Sanity doesn’t always prevail, does he? Sometimes Irrational Thoughts hits the ring and it’s a travesty of a squash match. There have been several times where I have connected the dots to something and let someone have it. Friends, lovers. Over something that wasn’t there. This, while stabilized. Meanwhile, those dots connected clear as anything to me. For me, it was a calm, rational connecting of dots. THE FUCKING DOTS CONNECTED. Not only did they connect, but they fit together like Legos.
But, the other person couldn’t have been more shocked at how in the blue hell I came with my dots OR connections. Oh, and my Legos? They can just piss the fuck off, mate. After that, my dot connecting ability was severely questioned. I lost a lot of my dot connecting credit. I was put on dot connection suspension.
Now, what kind of defense does one have in this case? “Well…you knew I was bipolar!”
Sure. OK. They can say, “I know. You were straight up about it.” (Or in my case, “I read your blogs.” Nothing like having it all out there.)
But does that actually work with someone who really has no clue what it’s like to be something they cannot possibly imagine? Maybe they can look past it, but are fissures not created, tiny hairline cracks?
Meanwhile, they’ve put you in dot connection Time Out.
(Note: There have been a few times where I thought I was crazy because I was told I was wrong – but I found out later I wasn’t. This has happened when I’ve been seeing someone and they simply weren’t comfortable with me calling something so accurately or being brutally truthful. I’m not one for games or bullshit.)
It makes me crawl inside myself. I apologize, back away. Far away. It makes me not want to interact with anyone. Because, clearly, I can’t. I can’t sustain a normal fucking…whatever you call it. Just when I think maybe I’m OK – surprise, mutherfucker! -Nope.
And this, onmedication.
Previously, I hurt everyone around me and walked away unfazed. Now, I just hurt myself trying to make sure others are okay. I suppose it’s an improvement.
Let’s skip the n-word (normal), in lieu of aiming for “functionally balanced”. One day. Not just out of debt, paying my bills, healthy and responsible. I’m already there. But I’d like to be completely balanced. I’d like my mind to quit fucking with me – and I’d like to retain the quick wit and creativity bonuses that come with being crazy, por favor.
I want it all.
Functionally balanced. So much prettier of a phrase than the n-word.
April Hunter is a writer, professional wrestler, full-time student at Full Sail University, professional cosplayer and pin-up, Playboy and fetish model.
She’s also a fitness competitor, former Met-RX & Extreme Nutrition spokes-model, the subject of several comic book characters, an admitted coffee snob, road rage enthusiast, Mother of Chickens and world renowned potty mouth. She uses the C-word as liberally as you use butter on your biscuits. Which you shouldn’t be eating, since you know…carbs and gluten. She struggles with bipolar disorder and Lupus and chooses to view challenges as opportunities.
See more of April on Instagram @realAprilHunter, www.AprilHunter.com and Twitter @AprilHunter. She’s also on Facebook.com/AprilHunterOfficial and owns AprilsScentSations Soy Candles.
They say the way to stop time is kissing. She stood under the shower, warm water streaming down her face, and she imagined their wedding. A Hollywood themed wedding, with R.S.V.P. cards that looked like theater tickets, guests arriving on a red carpet and metal film reels for centerpieces. He loved movies, she thought.
She tried his last name on. Could work.
No, maybe not.
Of course, there would be no wedding. She had no interest in getting married again. But she imagined it, just because. Because she’s a woman. She did this with everyone she dated; tried on their last name. She just did.
Not with the redhead. There wouldn’t be any wedding, real or imagined. Because he was already married. She knew she should feel bad about dating a man who was committed, but she didn’t. She just didn’t.
She’d known him fifteen years. He was barely twenty-one years old when he arrived from a small farm town in another country. They sat across from each other on the frigid concrete floor in a dim locker room in snowy Pennsylvania, and he averted his eyes, polite, but intimidated. They faced each other around the ring, meeting the first time as fighters, and later as lovers.
He remembered what she’d worn that night.
She walked through the entrance and the host pointed to his table without asking who she was meeting. He embraced and kissed her, then she slid into a seat, once again sitting across from him. Now he was a man, with the confidence of someone who had been through the rigors of life and ended up on top.
She studied his face, which was no longer familiar. He looked like the professional athlete and fighter he’d become. His thick, muscular physique was covered in tattoos and his nose looked like it had been broken more than once. His unruly auburn hair was shaved into a punk style and he was attractive in an unconventional way. He looked like he stepped off the set of Vikings. They had common views and values, yet he knew little about her. None of the deep stuff. None of the illness. None of the things she struggled with. And that was fine. He was a fun distraction. It was genuinely light. After the heavy mess she’d gone through the year before, something sweet was welcome.
She rarely connected with people, but something felt right about him and she didn’t know what it was. They were cut from the same cloth – that’s how the host knew. He was familiar. They knew all the same people, they traveled all the same paths. He felt a little like home.
He made her feel things she hadn’t felt in a long time. Elated, euphoric. When he texted, which was frequently, she smiled. He was there as much as the other wasn’t. He was warm, sensual and animalistic. It wasn’t mental with him, it was physical.
She wanted to rip his clothes off and bite him, feel him pressed against her. He told her his dreams of her, how he couldn’t wait to see her in a few days, he wished he could fast forward.
She had never been attracted to vapid or stupid, no matter how pretty a package it was wrapped in. He was bright, not afraid to say exactly what was on his mind or ask for what he wanted. They never ran out of things to talk about, but there were no profoundly deep conversations. An avid reader, he asked about her writing, which fascinated him. He didn’t probe for more about her life, and she was grateful. He texted to say he was thinking of her, morning, noon and night.
She liked him.
I’m into you, he said. I like being with you, around you. You’re easy to talk to. I want this to keep going…if you’re OK with it. I knew we’d be right. I haven’t been wrong yet.
And they were, but in a different way than she was right with the other. She wondered if the redhead was like her, crazy. Game recognizes game. He laughed when she suggested it. She appreciated crazy. She appreciated redheads. She appreciated tattoos. She appreciated kissing.
Anticipation. Waiting to do things they weren’t supposed to be doing. It was utterly intoxicating. He brought out the best in her. He brought out the worst in her. He brought out her, the person she knew for a lifetime, before the bipolar diagnosis and stabilizing medications.
He will never be mine, nor me his. It’s fleeting. Safe. I know exactly where I stand with him. He was honest; never afraid to say how he felt, never holding back. They agreed to that from the start, brutal honesty. He traveled distance to be with her, driving several hours after a day rife with flights, appearances and filming.
It was temporary. Dangerous. Was it the illicit element? Living in the moment?
When he stopped on the street lit sidewalk on that first chilly night and pulled her into him, people stepped around them or stared as he wrapped his hands in her hair, his lips on hers, and neither of them cared.
Maybe eight minutes passed. Maybe thirty. He pressed her against the brick building, and with his hand still wrapped in her hair, he pulled her head back and his full lips were on her jaw bone, down her neck…he came back up, parted her lips with his, and bit one, holding it gently with his teeth. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he grinned devilishly down at her. It was an audition. An invitation. He never once touched her anywhere else. He didn’t have to. This is what I can do for you…if you let me. The glow of the street lamps glinted off his dark ginger beard as they sized each other up. He brought her hand to his warm lips and kissed it softly, then tucked her arm under his for the remainder of the stroll. He wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was. She already knew the answer, and so did he.
Time stood still.
She rarely felt the child-like excitement about things she used to when she was off her medications. No matter how much effort she put into Christmas, vacations, food, it wasn’t there. It bothered her. She was so goddamn sane and rational. Here was a deadly taste of that hypomania she missed so much…that drug…her drug of choice.
The drug, that ever pervasive drug, from which she managed for so long to stay clean.
There it was, seeping its way into her life again.
*This blog is dedicated to Dr. Wendy Potts, who committed suicide after she was suspended from her practice because a patient of hers complained about a blog in which she openly chronicled her struggle with bipolar disorder. For those who battle this challenging illness and try to make sense of it by publicly exposing ourselves and our issues, while hopefully helping others in the process, her death won’t be in vain because some self-serving asshole used her disorder against her. It’s difficult enough to deal with this. Having it used against you in life, court, work; to destroy everything you’ve built and worked for is criminal, inhuman and immoral.
The highway asphalt gave way to bridges flanked by sun-soaked palms and colorful beach motels. The Florida heat, oppressive for June, beat through my windshield while my air conditioning struggled to keep up. I turned onto a street where everything looked the same; block after block of Spanish tiled houses, pink, yellow and blue pubs boasting live music, Cuban restaurants. I slowed to “Florida driver status” looking for the turn that would deliver me to my new home.
Thoughts pinged around my head like mad on the drive from Valrico to Redington Shores. One resounded above all others. Fuck me. How did I get here?How could a man who claimed he loved me file a restraining order against me when I hadn’t done anything to harm him? Why did I have to hire a criminal attorney?
Someone I barely knew from a dating site offered me a place to stay. I swallowed my pride and accepted, since the (fantastic) friend I’d been staying with was expecting company and needed her spare room.
Oh, this is where I casually mention that this was the same man I’d basically declined for the one who’d just had me removed from our home.
I opened my car door and the humid, sea air enveloped me. Bob Barker ambled over to my car with his tail wagging. I hugged his big, blond Labrador head and kissed his pink nose, waving at Scooter (not a dog) who was stretched out barefoot, sitting in a lime Adirondack chair on the deck. He came over for a hug and proceeded to help me haul my belongings into his tiny beach bungalow.
“Women,” he muttered. “None of ya can pack light.”
I put my fat, gray cat down, and opened the pre-filled disposable kitty litter box I’d picked up from the store. Whoever created the portable cat poop tray is brilliant – and hopefully a millionaire. Bob shoved his face into the pet carrier, hoping for a playmate or a treat. Finding neither, he decided his water bowl was more interesting.
After loading the little tiki-style bungalow to capacity, Scooter and I sat opposite each other on patterned blue futons serving as couches. The hard surface bit into my tired body and I shifted around; trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable. My health had been an issue lately. I hadn’t slept right in weeks, hadn’t had a period in months and was doing all I could to keep the painful Lupus joint flare-ups and rash to minimum. I felt nauseous and weak. Trouble jumped up and laid next to me, purring, satisfied with this new living arrangement.
Scooter spoke directly, skipping the small talk as usual.
“So,” he said. “What happened?”
I handed him the injunction, which removed me from my own home on a false domestic violence charge for thirty days. My boyfriend – pardon, ex-boyfriend – listed bogus claims alleging I was a drug user, had a violent criminal record, was non-compliant with my bipolar medications, and previously had a restraining order issued against me. Of course, he knew all of this was untrue. That did not stop him from stating lies under oath in order to (successfully) achieve his goal of having me removed from our house. This, after a weekend of arguing.
To prove to the judge what a threat I was, he’d even listed my “intimidating” wrestling height and weight that I use for gigs, instead of my real size and actual measurements. How could this man lay next to me every night and not know how tall I am, or what I weighed? I wondered if he knew my eye color when he filled out the “description” for the police. Or did he have to Google that too? He also marked down that I was armed… with toys. Costume props to be precise.
He blatantly used my career and illness against me to achieve his goal. Of course, anything can be considered a weapon, even a pen. This meant that an Airsoft bb gun and plastic sword can potentially kill someone, as could my coffee cup and hair dryer. Jackie Chan could prove this theory, but with five magic words he got his wish. “I fear for my life.”
Done. Signed, sealed and delivered. I was evicted.
Scooter shook his head. “What’s his deal?”
“Wish I knew. Never saw this coming. He said all his exes were crazy. Giant red flag, right?”
“Well, all my exes are crazy,” Scooter said.
“Here’s a thought: maybe you guys are the ones that drive us crazy?”
Unlike most ex-girlfriends who were (allegedly) crazy, I am legitimately crazy. Bipolar 1, with a side order of anxiety, ADD and OCD, which I’ve gotten under control with stabilization medications, diet, exercise and regular therapy. I get mandated blood tests every couple months to verify all my medication levels are on target and I’ve never once (ever!) not taken my meds. I love them. Being a control freak, I like that I finally have power over of my emotions and temper. I’m happy to have the choice to decide whether or not to get upset or just let something go and walk away. I have an extreme dislike for the saying “I’m in good place” but that’s exactly where I’d been before all the bad stuff with C (that’s what I’ll call my ex – C. It’s an initial, not a grade) started happening. (Note: I am the one with bipolar disorder, although C has a couple of his serious mental diagnosis’ I can’t disclose. Because of what I went through when living with my father, who had bipolar disorder, then getting myself on the right stabilizing medications, I honestly thought I could help him. Who better to understand it all than me? Ha.)
However, for the sake of safety to others, I should mention that his name is Christopher Leonard Harris, born May 23, 1971, he is also known as BlueEyedPrince71. Hopefully, this never happens to anyone else…but it will, over and over again.
With luck, the next woman Googles him and reads this. By the way, dear future ex-girlfriend, keep reading. It gets better. While you may think I *could* be making things up out of spite or bitterness, there are quite a few of us, and you’ll hear tragic and heartbreaking stories from all. It’s a damn Ex Wives Club. Actually, the “Nearly The Ex Wife” Club is more like it. The devil doesn’t come to you with a red face and sharpened horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wanted. The reason Chris seems so into you and asks so many questions is because he’s trying to find an “in” to work.
He will be so damn perfect – the most perfect man you’ll have ever met. And, we, his exes, will be “crazy”. Or, he’ll read this and change his tune a bit, but it’ll be the same ending for you. It never lasts more than about two-ish years and you’ll be broke and broken, because he’ll have taken everything from you. He’s a sociopath who can’t feel, and he preys upon women he finds online who are independent and doing well in life. Therein lies the challenge. Sooner than later, he’ll be pushing to move in with you. After passing six weeks of church pre-marital counseling with flying colors, he left one of us at the alter two days before the wedding. He packed up and walked away from another while she was at work without any reason or goodbye – and she’d paid for him to go back to school, supporting him while he got his degree. He threatened to have a pet dog put down by animal control for “attacking him” if one woman didn’t shut her mouth when she started to come forth with the use and abuse she’d dealt with. And me? Well, this is my story. Read on to see a little of the details from when he demanded a five-figure payout on a house he didn’t buy after leaving me in debt while in school. The best part? He filed a completely bullshit restraining order against me for ‘domestic violence’ (I never laid a hand on him) which had me kicked out of my home for thirty days until court, where I had to hire a defense attorney. Charming, huh? And the threats? Lies? Back stabbing? Head games? It’s still going on to this very day.
Another lesser thing to be aware of: his flag only flies at half-mast and the guy was never interested in sex. None of us could figure out what was up with that. (Or, wasn’t up with that.) Not much of a conversationalist after a while, either. Anyway, no matter how “perfect” he is right now, you are simply a means to an end. Not the wonderful, beautiful soul his empty heart has yearned for like he’s likely telling you. Even if you are all that. And chances are, you are. Because he tends to go after women who are amazing, smart, talented and beautiful. Which is why I am warning you!
Once this blog was published, other’s surfaced with similar stories. These women let me know that what he did had nothing to do with a head injury. It’s just how he is, and that it’s part of his Borderline Personality Disorder. He is what’s called a Narcissistic Sociopath, which I didn’t realize…until I did.
There are two sides to every story…and then there are screen shots. Please scroll to the bottom for more information.
A few days after Memorial Day, two deputies knocked on my door and served me papers. I was sitting on the back porch in my nightshirt, with a coffee. I was told I had twenty minutes to pack and leave the house. I was also instructed that I could not come within five hundred feet of my property, and when I looked down at the phone in my hand, I was warned not to contact C and ask him what in the blue hell he was thinking, or they’d arrest me on the spot. He already had the courts issue a no contact order.
We’d have to go before a judge to find out when – and if – I could return.
To my house.
Which I paid for.
Where I lived, worked, and went to school. With my pets. Where I planted fruit trees and veggies. (The majority of which didn’t survive my absence. I waited two years for those damn pineapples and almost managed to save them. But “almost” only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.)
I put in for an emergency withdraw from the university I was attending. Since most of my “day job” work was done on my desktop computer, size and circumstance forced me to leave it behind. I also left my shoot clothing, school books, wrestling gear, chickens, dog and the life that C and I made for ourselves.
In a roundabout way this sudden “forced vacation” was probably for the best. But that was not my mindset at the time.
After being served the order, my head was spinning. I grabbed as much as I could make sense of in those few precious minutes I had: clothes to sleep in, gym stuff, makeup, an overnight bag, medications, important papers, cash, laptop, protein powder, the cat, and very little everyday wear. Oddly enough, I packed my travel coffee pot first. Priorities? Foreseeing how long I’d be gone? I put the chickens in their coop, refilled their water and food, fed Bella, grabbed my stuff, locked the door, and not-so-silently cried every step of the way. I figured it was all some kind of huge mistake and I’d be back later that night. I was advised to go straight to the courthouse and file an appeal.
My ex-husband, Jordan, whom I remain on good terms with, went over later with a police escort to get Bella. At that point, the neighbors were sitting at the end of their driveways, unabashedly eating popcorn and refilling their Cokes. To his credit, he kept his “told-ya-so’s” to a minimum that day.
This also happened:
Cute Deputy: “So, I guess that relationship’s over.”
Me (standing in front of my car, wiping tears): “Ya think? I can’t believe he would do this.”
Deputy: “Well, when it all calms down, do you want to go to the beach or something?”
Me: “Um…too soon?”
But, let’s be honest… it’s only sexual harassment when they’re ugly. Or someone is trying to make a quick buck. Everything else is flirting.
On the way to the courthouse, I called an ex-boyfriend, who was an attorney.
“Holy shit. Are you serious? OK, wait. Don’t fill anything out yet. Let me make some calls. We know the right words and most of the judges,” he said. (See a pattern here? I generally get along with people after we split up. This one had been particularly sweet to me with the many legal issues I’d encountered this year.) He referred me to his close friend, who quickly filed the appeal paperwork.
Several hours later, the phone rang and the thick New York accent told me what I didn’t want to hear.
“It’s Friday. No one at the courthouse does jack on a Friday. C. fucked you. He fucked you good. Judges don’t consider injunctions a high priority, so prepare to sit this one out. I’ll do the best I can.” My phone rang again and it was his office collecting their (discounted) fee. I’d been sitting in the courthouse cafeteria all day, waiting, with a soggy sandwich in front of me, too nauseous to eat. Surrendering, I walked out to my car. I opened the GPS app to enter an address and realized that I didn’t have one. That’s when the weight of the situation I was in hit me and I fell apart in the parking lot, in tears.
My lovely friend, Matt, used points to get me a hotel room for the night, which was highly appreciated. After unceremoniously appearing on my best friend’s doorstep in the form of a snotty mess while she was making dinner for her kids, I headed over to my new current residence. Despite copious amounts of Xanax, there was no sleep. I still couldn’t believe what happened that day. The next morning, I gathered what little I had with me and drove the hour out to Valrico to stay with my friend Lexie and her family for a while.
I experienced a lot of feelings at that time, but the most prevalent was utter disbelief and betrayal. I would have preferred him to cheat on me. He’d never so much as broached the subject of splitting up. It was insane.
Let me give you some back-story for context. Seven months’ prior, C had fallen at an ice rink and hit his head so hard that he’d suffered some brain damage. This was only four short months after we bought a fixer-upper house and renovated it together.
Living together was awful from the start. We powered through a series of not-so-comedic tragedies which included contractor rip-offs, a nasty stalker for a neighbor, pet deaths and learning that our HOA was intent on taking us all the way to court over a shed, our pet chickens or both. As you know, I’m a fighter, so we kept moving forward.
Unable to drive or work, he wound up on disability. The rational, patient, fun man I knew and adored was replaced with someone who was unpredictable, hostile, violent, emotional, and depressed to the point of being suicidal. He reminded me of me before I was on meds, and I wondered if this was some karma coming back to me for all the bullshit I’d put my exes through. (Dear Jordan, Paul and Rick… the words “I’m sorry” don’t nearly convey what I feel now that I’ve been on the other side. I’ve since learned to deeply appreciate and understand all you did and gave for me. I’m grateful to still have you in my life, as you three are amazing – and forgiving – human beings.) There were countless days I skipped the gym, or blew off work, because I was afraid to leave C home alone.
At one point, he spelled out to his niece and me exactly how he was going to hang himself from a tree out back, so I called his doctor on a Sunday in a panic asking what to do. She told me to Baker Act (institutionalize) him.
“I can’t. I can’t do that to him. I wouldn’t want that done to me.”
“Then reduce his Depakote by half and let me know how he does in a week.”
My friends and therapist said I should have Baker Acted him. They were right. He continued to put us both through hell.
That Memorial Day weekend, we argued.
I was on edge from end of semester school overload, and he was dismal from having officially been let go from his job. We found out we were about to lose our health insurance and had spent the week cramming in doctor’s appointments and med refills. For once, I didn’t back down when we bickered, and I should have. After arguing all evening, it culminated in him trying to leave the house intoxicated on sleeping pills and xanax. I asked for his keys and he refused. I then tried holding him back by the waist, to stop him from leaving and driving while under the influence, insisting he sleep it off in the spare room. He said he wanted to sleep in our bed instead. I said OK, and the issue was put to rest for the evening.
The next morning, we decided to take a break. He agreed that he would go stay with a friend. He stood in the doorway with his duffle bag in hand and told me he loved me. Little did I know that when he left, he contacted his friends, family and police. C claimed that he thought I wanted to ‘murder him’ and single-handedly blew our entire life up. He was advised to get a restraining order.
He even contacted my own brother. I wasn’t raised with my brother past the age of 13, and my brother was barely 10 years old then. After our parents split, I was sent to live with our father because my mother felt he could ‘handle’ me better. My brother has never known me since I’ve gotten medicated, which has turned me into an entirely different person. (C has never known me as anything but medicated.) Brother has mostly only ever known me through stories and my mother’s rants about what I’d done this time, often inserting himself into situations that had he little to do with, which made them much worse. Gas on fire. To this day, he has no idea what bipolar disorder is or how someone acts with it. He doesn’t know that things he had done were exactly what someone should never do when dealing with someone with bp. Lack of education destroys. Lack of understanding keeps wounds open. Lack of forgiveness makes it hard to move onward. Despite these things, we had managed to put issues behind us and move ahead to the point of being acquaintances. For Mom. Honestly, I was happy about it. I have almost no family left and lots of fun, shared memories with him from when we were kids.
C was quite aware my brother and I had a tremulous relationship at best, which was based upon our mother’s dying wish for us to get along, yet he managed to drive a wedge into it. Why he would contact someone whom he’s never met, who has never been to our house, never invited us to visit, never even sent a Christmas card, was beyond me, but he seemed to think the advice held validity and later blamed the entire thing on my brother. My brother blamed me, even though he used the opportunity to twist the knife to scare someone whom he knew to have brain damage by plying him full of stories about irrational behavior during manic episodes and urged him to get the restraining order.
C, who doesn’t have strongest of spines on his stellar days, decided this was the best possible advice, despite there being no threat, no violence and having never seen any of that behavior. Ever.
C never experienced anything more violent than me raising my voice and the rare smashed plate on the floor. I handled him with kid gloves. Apparently, worst thing I ever called him was when I told him he was acting like his brother by ignoring issues when he needed to be there.”FUCK YOU, YOU CUNT,” was his response. I think my reply was, “Well, thanks for finally getting back to me.” I was told saying that was “unforgivable”. (He wasn’t a huge fan of his brother’s. He viewed him as an eternal fuckup who did nothing but complain, was ungrateful, entitled, didn’t raise his kids, hurt everyone around him and completely self-centered. Then, C moved the guy into our house a few months later, while I was gone.)
Anyway, just like that, my brother and C had me removed from home. I was unaware any of this was going on until C later told me, pointing the finger at my brother for all of it. He even named him on the court document. But, at the end of the day, it was C’s writing on the paper.
Brothers, huh? I knew I should have let the end of the see-saw drop a little harder when we were at the playground.
I’ll never know what happened, so if I use Occam’s razor, with the simplest answer usually being the correct one, here’s my gut feeling (which has a very high success rate when I bother to listen to it): I think C didn’t like or respect me as a person any longer (that, he told me), especially when I asserted myself a little and explained that I needed care and help, too. I’d recently been diagnosed with Lupus and the stress was wreaking havoc. Before that, it had been all about him. I think he got overwhelmed with everything we’d been through since buying the house and was looking for validation to do what he wanted to do, which was leave in any way possible. My brother simply gave him enough information to make him feel OK about doing something shitty. This is the only explanation that adds up.
(When confronted with this theory, he shut down. The court dismissed all charges in a matter of minutes on “no sufficient evidence” and the judge reminded us that injunctions shouldn’t be used as revenge. Only 30% of restraining orders are actually legitimate. 70% that are complete bullshit. That is a serious system failure.)
I never understood any of this insanity with C. This man, who had been in the military, was freakishly strong. At almost four inches taller, and at least fifty pounds heavier than I, was suddenly “afraid of me” (on paper at least), even though I never threatened, let alone harmed him. I’d never done anything but look out for him, even when he pissed me off. It just didn’t make any sense.
Remembering back, his ex-girlfriend emailed me through my blog with a warning back in 2014. She said that he was a “sociopath”, the most vindictive person she’s ever known, would ruin my life, and I “wouldn’t even see it coming.” (She also said some other stuff I won’t print here that was a little, ah…revealing.) I did not presume that she was clinically trained to make any kind of medical diagnosis and figured she was simply being spiteful. After rereading her words post-eviction, I wondered if his irrational behavior was not part of his head injury at all. I recently remembered that C told me he had contacted her ex-husband on Facebook (who had nothing nice to say about her, thus giving C the words he needed to hear), which seemed to be a pattern for him. He contacted my first ex-husband as well. Rick chose to ignore him and alerted me.
Normally, I have caused the majority of the problems in my relationships. As most bipolar people who aren’t on (any/the right) meds will (delusionally) tell you, “it’s always them, it’s never me!” But guess what? That’s a load of fucking horseshit. If the constant in the equation is you; if you have done this to everyone, then it’s you.
It was always me. I’m fortunate to have forgiving people in my life and the opportunity to be stabilized.
However, this time it was notme. And I am no longer delusional. Even our therapist took me aside and said he didn’t understand what was going on with C.
Before the accident, if things were going smoothly, C would find a way to create conflict. He could never just be. He always had to be doing something; playing a game, on Facebook, checking email, cleaning, or rattling around. Sitting still, reading a book, or enjoying the patio just wasn’t possible. He had untreated anxiety issues and started spats over cleaning, how I folded towels, or how much room my varied coffee creamers took up in the fridge. For a guy who’d nearly died from a heart problem a couple years earlier, he didn’t seem to treat his second chance in life the way most people would. C was the world champion of causing death by paper cuts.
Our values and morals weren’t aligned and I didn’t realize this until we lived together. I came from a household that managed on one military paycheck and a stay-at-home mom. We had a garden, used a wood stove, and if we ever went out to dinner, it was an event. We got what we needed, not what we wanted. He came from privilege. I conserve (read: am cheap as fuck), don’t believe in debt, am environmentally conscious and think taking care of yourself is important. He viewed me as “narcissistic” (and later posted about it publicly), abhorred exercise, spent time looking up articles that stated recycling is a waste of time, put everything on credit cards while making minimum payments and had no issues running water full force for two minutes while brushing his teeth.
Dr. John Gottman wrote that when people argue, it’s not really over money or chores. It’s rooted deeper. Their values are different and that is the problem. So, despite trying to resolve things, arguments keep happening. One of the main factors in relationship success is finding someone whose values match yours, or getting on the same page as far as understanding and respecting each other in this department. I felt C misrepresented who he was to me, but we were in a thirty-year mortgage together and I loved him, so I wanted to try and make the best of it.
To be fair, he tried. We both tried. I posted a rant or three on Facebook myself, before hastily deleting them. I am most certainly not saying I’m wonderful and he’s evil. That’s not the case. C had a lot of really amazing qualities about him (which I’ve also written about), and that’s why I wanted to share a home with him in the first place. But this is the story of how it all ended… abruptly and without any rhyme, reason or remorse on his part.
Perhaps with the injury, C wasn’t able to hide who he was any longer. Or, with a head injury that scary, it consumed him (us) and thinking about others just didn’t matter to him anymore. All I knew for sure was that I didn’t know this person who had me put out of our home with absolutely no regret. I’d never touched him in any harmful or physically violent way. My best friend, who used to adore the ground he walked on and often defended him when I complained, said: “He’s just a fucking asshole and liar! No real man does that. He’s a pussy!”
Over winter, he became violent. He first snapped when I reminded him the doctor told him to stay off device screens for brain rest, which he found impossible, and threw his iPad across the room. He ran over and stomped it repeatedly, breaking it and the heel of his foot in the process. In a rage, he went out to the garage to throw the iPad away and when he came back through the laundry room, he looked at me like he might kill me. I don’t rattle easily, but he scared the shit out of me right then. It was the first time I was afraid of him, and it wouldn’t be the last. He smashed picture frames, threw his eyeglasses at me and broke them, threatened to put me through a wall, called me every name in the book and punched a hole through our pantry closet. He screamed, “I hope you rot in hell, just like your father.” (My father was a firefighter pilot and died in a plane crash putting out wildfires in California when he hit a mountain.) I was told I should put my sixteen-year-old cat to sleep (several times) simply because Trouble didn’t care for his young Siamese kittens and would go to the bathroom outside the litter box as his way of acting out. (He later apologized for both comments. C, not Trouble. Trouble doesn’t do apologies. Trouble also starting using the litter box again as soon as all the strife disappeared from home.) C didn’t understand that what I did for work was actually work because I did it from home. “Just get a real job.” My dog, Bella, was afraid of him. I often sent her to stay with my ex-husband, Jordan, who shook his head. “You can’t date a civilian. Let alone a mentally unstable one.”
In calmer and less hurtful moments, C asked if he could get me anything on the way home, offered to proofread my writing, helped cook dinner, slaved over keeping the up the pool or fixing things around the house, and was as sweet and affectionate as one can be. I thought I could help him. If anyone could understand his erratic behavior, it was me. In other words, despite his regular psychiatrist, neurologist and neuro-psych visits, I was living with an unstable psychotic who often told me I was the unstable one who “needed to have my meds fixed.” It was always “my fault”. I “pushed buttons”. It was never him.
It was extremely rare that I lost my proverbial shit and yelled back because my stabilizing medications kept me calm. He once screamed at me, “I can’t push your buttons. You’re like a fucking stone wall.”
However, C managed to drive me close to the edge a few times, and after smashing a jar of my favorite jam in the kitchen out of frustration (which I instantly regretted, because it was Bonne Maman’s Four Fruits and not that easy to find, dammit), I realized living with him was not healthy for me.
I spent Christmas Eve in Starbucks. He’d started in on me because I left the laundry in the dryer and it escalated. I turned away from him, shattered my lunch plate on the kitchen floor (a month after the jelly incident), grabbed my purse and left. We had gone to the beach the day before with my friend Joe, who drove down from Louisville to visit (which is why I didn’t finish the laundry) and my debit card was in another purse, so all I had in my wallet was my Starbucks gift card. I camped out with a breakfast sandwich and a cappuccino. He texted, repeatedly: “Please come home.”
When things were good with C, they were really good. I honestly thought he’d get better. But, they didn’t, and I felt trapped in a mortgage and a school commitment with a half-lunatic, hanging by a thread of hope that was stretched to its limit.
“I’ve heard of this happening from some of my buddies, but never a female,” said Scooter.
“Yeah, well… I guess I’m just lucky,” I said.
“Yeah, well… you’re also kind of like a dude. How many women do you actually hang out with? Women are fucking crazy,” he said. He was wearing glasses and looked good in them. I like glasses on men. I think it’s the whole sapiosexuality (Google it) fetish I have. I prefer the men I date to be intelligent, curious and witty. Most people aren’t.
“I know. I’m in a locker room full of men and hear about it all the time. I just never thought it could happen to me.”
I had to leave for an appointment back in Clearwater. Despite his hospitality, it gave me an uneasy feeling leaving my cat, makeup, clothes, cash, passport, medication, mortgage papers, and laptop with Scooter. Trust was now an issue. It took everything I had not to completely lose my mind after what had just happened. All he had to do was lock his door and what little I had in my possession would be gone. I’d be fucked. My stomach churned with uneasiness until I pulled back into beach bungalow a half day later, where he was still barefoot on the same green chair as before.
I felt foolish for being so paranoid and angry at C for making me think that way.
The night, the moonlight shimmered off the ocean as the waves broke and lapped at the sand. Walking along the beach, puddles of sea water felt warm and cold at the same time. Bob pranced alongside us, a glowing ball in his mouth. Scooter said this was the only time Bob could play in the water since The Powers That Be decided dogs weren’t allowed on the beach. Makes sense. Dogs digging holes or pooping is far more devastating to the beaches than the endless broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, cans and plastic wrappers humans leave.
We were in a parallel situation with our significant others, but his was without a deputy eviction or lawyers. He was mostly angry; I was mostly beaten down.
“Oh, your neighbors are definitely talking about you,” Scooter said.
“The minute you guys leave, they are SO turning that place into an age 65+ community.”
“Probably,” I said.
“What I want to know is how this happens,” he said, gesturing around with his hand. “This. How two people, who mean the world to one another, get to the point not being able to stand each other?”
“How it goes from that person consuming your every waking thought to just-get-the-fuck-away-from-me?”
“Yeah. Exactly.” He threw the ball out to the waves and Bob scampered off into the darkness to find it…
Note:I’m writing about this because I withdrew from nearly everything from this time until the present with little explanation other than “lots going on right now.” Work, customers, friends. I blew a lot off and let people down. It was too much to talk about and explain. I’ve always been better at writing than speaking.
Thank you to Danielle Dadamo, Hubert O’Hearn, Jeff Ritter, Carroll Grant, Matt McDermott, Brian Hairbottle and Mick Foley for their suggestions and valuable time editing. I am deeply grateful to my psychotherapist, Amy. She goes above and beyond, keeping me grounded in times of upheaval despite having her own battles to fight.
Thank you to those who have reached out to help. So many of you were good to me during this time and I feel incredibly fortunate.
You know who you are, and so do I.
Disclaimer: This is my recollection of events and I’ve related them to the best of my knowledge. Some names have been changed or omitted.
Thank you to Pam Ella Lee for the photos around my home. Thank you for Steven Griffey Photography for the cosplay photo of Thundra (not Flash!)
No part of this blog may be copied or used without permission.
This is a guest blog by Jennifer Scott. You can find more about her after her article below.
About 56% of people with bipolar disorder will suffer from addiction at one point or another. Though addiction to drugs is common at 41%, the biggest risk is alcoholism at 46%. Though researchers haven’t pinpointed a definitive causal relationship, the rate of addiction is clearly higher in people suffering from bipolar disorder compared to the population as a whole. There are several theories on why this correlation exists.
Bipolar causes physical discomfort such as an inability to sleep and mental discomfort such as anxiety, leading a person to self-medicate. Here are a few reasons someone with bipolar disorder might self-medicate, how to recognize addiction, and the consequences of substance abuse in those living with the disorder.
Self-Medication is Often Used for Sleep and Relaxation
People with all kinds of mental illness turn to alcohol in an attempt to silence racing thoughts, numb emotional turmoil, and jump start sleep. For Self-medication is more common in people who are are not receiving treatment, as they believe they have no other way to stabilize themselves.
Preventing self-medication is a matter of ensuring that the person is receiving proper treatment. A person suffering from bipolar disorder needs a regimen of medications, talk therapy, and a set daily schedule to avoid stress. A consistent schedule can resolve many of the problems a person with mental illness might use alcohol to treat including insomnia and anxiety.
Addiction in People Living with Bipolar Disorder Should Be Recognized and Treated
Common signs of addiction can include visible, repetitive use of a substance, shirking of responsibilities in favor of the substance, and an inability to function without the substance. With bipolar disorder, it can be a little confusing whether or not the person is showing symptoms of addiction or is having an episode. If you are concerned, confront them gently.
To treat alcoholism, therapy programs and replacement treatments for bipolar are necessary. If a prescribed medication is given to replace the alcohol, the person is likely to have more success kicking the addiction as they will no longer feel the need to use alcohol.
Abuse of Alcohol Has Detrimental Effects on People with Bipolar Disorder
Though alcohol can dull some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it actually causes more serious episodes in the long run. The actual drinking can cause negative thoughts and impaired thoughts which can easily lead to poor decisions. A night of drinking can set months of therapy back even if it may seem like it will offer temporary relief.
If you have a person struggling with bipolar disorder in your life, it is best to avoid drinking around them. Keeping detrimental substances away is the best thing you can do for them.
Spending time around someone with bipolar disorder can be worrisome for those who have not experienced spending time with someone struggling with this disorder or another mental illness, as they may be unsure what to expect or how to help. Certainly, people who are untreated may lash out, experience suicidal thoughts, and take unnecessary risks. If your loved one is behaving in these concerning ways, it is important that you convince them to get help.
However, if they are already receiving treatment, a person who suffers from bipolar can live a very successful life with healthy, solid relationships. All you need to do is be understanding, be aware of the risk of substance abuse, and be courteous.
Jennifer Scott has been experiencing anxiety and depression since she was a teen. She shares her journey toward improved mental health on her website, SpiritFinder.org. When she isn’t blogging, Jennifer loves to travel, volunteers at her local animal shelter, and rock climbs.