Kitt O’Malley over at Kittomalley.com, so generously reviewed my book on being Bipolar and Aspie and the fight for sanity and love, in a post on her blog. Kitt, a psychotherapist and mother and wife, writes about vital and informative topics pertaining to mental health, ranging from being a Bipolar parent to a relationship with God. She can also be found at @kittomalley on Twitter. A big THANK YOU to Kitt for posting this review.
I greatly enjoyed reading and highly recommend Ellen Stockdale Wolfe’s autobiographical story of love alongside psychological and neurological growth: Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things: Learning to Love as a Bipolar Aspie. In her memoir, Ms. Stockdale Wolfe writes of her struggle with Asperger’s and Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features. Her autobiography traces her growth in her ability to love deeply and truly, her mental health history, and how she overcame challenges of her unique Aspie brain (Asperger’s is an autism spectrum disorder). She uses that unique brain as well as her sensitive soul to create beauty, whether it be this memoir, a poem, photograph, or painting. To see more of her stunning work, check her out at StockdaleWolfe.com, her site is appropriately entitled MOONSIDE | TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART.
At age 35 I found someone who was more afraid of closeness than I was. I understood him almost from day one. This understanding came out of years of therapy that followed my breakdown at age 28. Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that I was depressed. Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that my failed relationships were due to my fear of closeness. Before the breakdown, I didn’t know I was Bipolar. I learned a lot of things in therapy that helped to change the direction of my life.
And then one day Thomas walked into the library where I had been working for 10 years. He got a job as a library assistant. He was a graduate student and wanted to work part-time. I took the first steps towards asking him out because it was obvious he never would. I had learned a thing or two after a stint at being gay. We bumbled our way into a relationship and, after 4 years, into marriage. We didn’t know that either one of us had Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder on the Autism Spectrum, until much, much later. We just thought we were very, very shy.
After some 23 years of marriage we are still shy with each other. Our instincts are still to run away from closeness, but now we are able to override the first gut feeling. We have grown together, becoming very, very close. So close that now my biggest fear is of losing Thomas. So close that sometimes we communicate without talking, as if we are on the same radio frequency. In fact talking often confuses things.
We have pushed each other along life’s path. Tom became a clinical social worker and I became a writer and artist. The road has been bumpy in spots. My being Bipolar has been hard for Tom at times. Many times. But there have been many more moments of joy that make it all worthwhile. We both feel the other is the best thing that happened to us, and the journey continues. New lessons are learned. There are still new magical moments and new epiphanies.
It is 3A.M. I lay beside Thomas in bed listening to his breathing as I watch a silent light show outside our bedroom windows. This is not a 3A.M. awakening born of despair as some are. At the moment I feel the Presence and that Presence fills me with love.
The moonlight beckons to me, and I respond by getting up and gazing at the twinkling stars and the hushed light of flickering fireflies. In the quiet stillness of a country night I am stirred by the music of the silence. My ears hum, the sound of the nervous system according to my husband.
The cool air is intoxicating. I go to the den to write and sit in a moonlit cathedral, watching the seemingly random flashing flames of fireflies flying in a frenzy of love. The madness of desire. Well do I know how love possesses one’s spirit and makes one fly through life, manic with emotion.
Yet sometimes, beneath the energy that stirs one’s blood, lies a silent union—a momentary glimpse of eternity in a loved-locked gaze into the eyes of one’s beloved. It is fleeting, at least for me. Gone in a flash, and yet it leaves me wondering just whom I am seeing. The inner voice says that God has touched my soul through Thomas, for the best of human love is merely a sampling of the Divine. Eye contact, so problematic for both my husband and me, is wondrous in this context. For a second, eternity beckons like the moonlight, whispering of another life, another world, something beyond the here and now.
(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.)
This excerpt from Chapter 2 of my Biolar/Asperger’s memoir of finding love shows the beginnings of a psychotic breakdown.
I feel the electric light glowering at me. I look around the room in my basement apartment. The men following me. The phone call from Yvonne. Nothing is making sense. Obeah island witchcraft? Danielle’s thing. Danielle is the island woman. The room spins again. I feel like someone is watching me. I feel someone here— looking in the window.
Jumpy thoughts. Buzzing mind. I know the signs. Feeling the victim of a plot. Fear of being followed— of being watched— of evil spells coming out of an inanimate object— panic— magical thinking— paranoid ideation. I have made the break with reality. I have entered the deep, dark hollows of the paranoid’s world. Terror! I pick up the phone and dial. 242-6637.
“Hello, Dr.’s office.”
“Hello, may I please speak to Dr. Agostinucci?”
“Hold on a minute.”
“Hello, this is Dr. Agustinucci.”
“Hello, Joey. It’s Ellen. I’ve got to talk to you. Can you talk?”
“Yeah, you got me at a good time. I’m just in between sessions. What’s up?”
“Joey, I don’t know. I’m flipping out. I can’t sleep. I called Danielle last night and told her.”
“You told her what?”
“I told her what I told you— that I loved her. And then she told me that she wasn’t ‘that way’. And then . . . ” I start crying. “Oh, Joey, I’m so scared. I mean it means that all along I couldn’t see reality. I’ve been living in this fantasy world all this time, thinking Danielle’s in love with me and gay, and I’ve been drinking and drinking because I haven’t been able to sleep. And then today I started thinking that spells were coming out of the elephant that Sundra gave me. So I took the bus up to Columbia to throw it away. And then I thought two men were following me home. And Yvonne called me up from work and, Joey, I think it’s all a plot . . . ”
“Wait a minute, calm down. You’re all upset!”
I continue. “Yvonne and Danielle are in cahoots. Maybe they’re both testing me to see if I’m gay. Joey, I don’t know how I’m going to go to work tomorrow and face Danielle and face Yvonne . . . ”
“Calm down. One thing at a time. You’re overwrought.”
“But, Joey, I don’t know what is real and what’s not real anymore. I can’t sleep and I can’t stop crying.”
“Okay, look, I’ll give you a prescription. I’ll call in the prescription to the pharmacy. They’re probably still open. I’ll have it delivered. Just give me the name of the pharmacy you use— the one nearest you.”
“Uh . . . I’ve got to look it up— just a second . . .” I run to the bathroom to find a prescription bottle.
“Joey, it’s Rexall on 76th Street. The phone number is 663-7684.”
“Okay, look, I’m going to give you a prescription for Valium, 2 mgs. Take one pill and see what happens. If you still feel very anxious, take two.”
“Listen, I think you should go to work tomorrow.”
“Joey how can I? I keep bursting into tears.”
“Look, the Valium will help calm you. It’ll be a whole lot worse if you stay home. I suggest you call the Health Service first thing in the morning and make an appointment to see someone. Tell them it’s an emergency.”
“Okay, Joey, I guess you were right. You always told me I needed therapy and I always told you that I felt I’d go to pieces one day and now it seems that day has come.”
“Listen, you’re extremely upset. Take the Valium and try to get some sleep. If you need me you know where to reach me. And if things really get bad you know you can always go over to the emergency room in Lenox Hill.”
“Yeah, that’s right, I can always go there.”
“Listen, when I call in the prescription I’ll arrange for them to deliver it, too, so you don’t have to do anything. You have enough money to pay for it?”
“I don’t know. Let me see. Yeah, I think I do,” I say as I scramble through my purse.
“Okay, look, are you going to be able to answer the door? Or are you still scared of those men?”
“No, the doorbell only rang twice. Whoever it was is long gone. I’m not scared of that anymore.”
“Good. So just wait for the delivery. I’ll tell them to speed it up.”
“Thanks a lot, Joey! Thanks for everything!”
“Okay, take care, get some rest. I’ll call you tomorrow to see how you are.”
“Okay, thanks a lot, Joey, bye.”
For information on the memoir see: http://www.amazon.com/Eye-locks-Other-Fearsome-Things-ebook/dp/B007TOOF56/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345051643&sr=1-1&keywords=eye-locks The book is also available on Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks and Smashwords.
Fri., October 28, 1977
I hardly sleep at all. Ever since yesterday I am totally confused. I am no longer sure that Danielle is interested. Danielle talks again to the department head. She says something about love in a very loud voice to catch my attention. I am so upset and nervous that I don’t hear what she is saying. All I can make out are individual words: “she . . . love . . . candy.” Then when I walk by her desk she gives me a big smile. I am panicked. I don’t know what she is smiling about. Was I supposed to hear what she was saying? Did I miss my cues? I am somewhat cold and distant because of her statement yesterday. I ignore Danielle and she runs out of the office and goes to the ladies room. I follow her in there and see she is crying. “What is wrong?” I ask, wanting to throw my arms around her and comfort her but I don’t have the courage to do it.
Danielle says, “Ellen, please just leave me alone.”
I am panicked. I go over to the department head in desperation and ask, “What is wrong with Danielle? She’s in the ladies room crying.”
Sheila says, “Oh, she’s upset because they’re reducing the retirement benefits.”
I think she is lying. I don’t know what is going on. I tell Yvonne I think people are lying to me. Everyone is all upset. I overhear Dr. Lencek, the medical cataloguer who trained as a psychiatrist, say that I am a troublemaker and a flirt. I want to say I am not. I am desperate. I leave a note on Danielle’s desk when she is not there saying, “Don’t you know I can’t hear or see when I am so nervous? I am sorry.” I hear Yvonne say, “It sounds like a heart-felt apology.” But Danielle shows no response. I feel rejected again and go home in a panic. Now I have really made a mess of things. Everyone seems to know what is going on except me. I have made a scene with the head of the department. I have hurt Danielle’s feelings. They think I am playing games and hurting Danielle’s feelings. Am I? I don’t know. I don’t know why I turn so cold and hard at times. Yvonne, Dr. Lencek, Nina— they all seem to want me to love Danielle. I have to do something. No sleep now.
I close the diary after reading Friday’s entry. Joey was so negative about the whole thing I didn’t dare tell him all this and I certainly didn’t dare ask him what I should do. Why hadn’t I been able to explain the whole story to Joey?
YOU WERE TOO NERVOUS. YOU COULDN’T THINK STRAIGHT. JOEY JUST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THIS KIND OF THING. YOU HAVE REJECTED DANIELLE A FEW TIMES NOW. AND NOW SHE IS REALLY GOING TO THINK YOU ARE PLAYING GAMES. YOU MADE DANIELLE CRY. DANIELLE WASN’T CRYING ABOUT THE RETIREMENT BENEFITS. GET REAL. YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING AND YOU HAVE TO DO IT NOW. IT’S CLEAR YOU HAVE TO FORCE YOURSELF TO COME CLEAN TO DANIELLE. YOU HAVE TO PROVE TO DANIELLE YOU’RE NOT PLAYING GAMES. YOU HAVE TO SHOW HER YOU WERE JUST SCARED— THAT YOU DIDN’T WANT TO REJECT HER— THAT YOU ARE INTERESTED. YOU HAVE TO TELL DANIELLE THE TRUTH. BLUNTLY. OVER THE PHONE. TODAY IS SUNDAY. DANIELLE WON’T BE IN TOMORROW. SHE’S TAKING A VACATION DAY AND TUESDAY IS ELECTION DAY. YOU WON’T SEE HER UNTIL WEDNESDAY. THAT’S TOO LONG TO WAIT. TONIGHT WOULD BE THE PERFECT NIGHT TO DO IT. YOU HAVE TO DO IT. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. DO YOU WANT TO LOSE HER FOREVER? REMEMBER THAT LOOK ON HER FACE WHEN SHE CAME OVER TO YOU AFTER HER VACATION? THIS IS REAL LOVE AND MAYBE YOUR ONE AND ONLY CHANCE.
I pour myself a Scotch. Then another and another. I take out my phone book. I am still shaking. I dial Danielle’s number, then before it rings, I hang up. I drink the last of my third drink and dial again.
This excerpt from Chapter 2 of my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir illustrates a manic love and an Asperger’s difficulty with social cues. For full information see:
Also available on iBooks (iTunes), Barnes and Noble Nook and Smashwords.