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.
“It won’t happen again. Never. Never. Never. It’ll never happen again. No. No. No.”
The words to a song by Yusuf, better known as Cat Stevens, about a love affair gone awry. The words reverberate in my head repeatedly in true Bipolar style, as in true Aspie style, I listen to the song over and over and over and over again. My perseveration on the song fashions the words into a mantra, sending me full throttle into another state of consciousness, like the whirling dervishes of Istanbul who spin until they enter a mystical state. Since I no longer alter my consciousness with alcohol, cigarettes or recreational drugs (was too crazy to go that route), and since I am on anti-psychotic medications which keep me in reality, I have to use music, meditate and take refuge in nature to venture into my much-missed mystical states of being. The states today are washed out versions of the vibrant intensity I was accustomed to earlier in my life. But then, at age 28, my mind, never too strong to begin with, broke down and reality shattered into so many smithereens of glass. “It’s always a trade-off,” the experts say. But (and a “but” with a capital “B”) the psych meds hold me together and, most importantly of all, they allow me to love.
“It will never happen again. No. No. No.”
I can’t say that. My first major manic episode was ignited by a flaming crush at work that catapulted me into the fractionated world of psychosis for a very long time. Some thirty years later I am unsure just how far away that world is. It is not unusual for love to trigger the first manic episode in Bipolars, and I had another when I met the man who was to become my husband. This time the psychosis lost the war– because the love was reciprocated and nurturing– the most stable thing I had ever experienced. And (big “and”) because I was medicated. Though it felt like another break with reality was encroaching on my psyche, it never materialized and has not since.
But there have been close calls now and then. Writing my memoir of madness while working part-time, I would go to my job with all the raw feelings I was writing about whirling around inside me and, seemingly, outside me as well, as though stamped on my forehead. The memories and flashbacks bubbled up from deep inside like a lava flow of feelings. But no breakdown.
Mania is not the only state that flirts with psychosis. So, too, does the underbelly of the beast, depression. Loss of loved ones and caring for my dying mother brought me perilously close to the precipice again but extra medication kept me on the sane side of psychosis.
Even now any highly emotional experience (and being bipolar there are many) can shake the foundations of the self. Beholding great beauty in ecstatic encounters with nature, profound connections between thoughts and ideas, connecting deeply to another person—all these can send me reeling into space wondering if I can make it back to earth. These are all dangers I engage in somewhat recklessly for they make up the majestic magic and mystery of life. Friends and family I have helped keep my feet on the ground, but my husband is my real anchor to reality. Should something happen to Tom, well…
No. Unlike a dead love affair, I can’t say the descent into madness “will never happen again.” As I drift in and out of tantalizing trips into mania and try to flee the inevitable free fall into depression, I hang on for dear life and will not let go.
Enjoy the song sung soulfully by Cat Stevens, “MaybeYou’re Right…”
(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.)