I have a belief that we’re all addicted to something. Add in trauma and/or mental illness and that produces some unhealthy behaviors. I’m also convinced that addictions can be genetic. I’m sure there is science out there, but my memory is bad. Even worse on the new meds. I notice when I’m in a depressive or mixed state, I want to consume all things in great measure. I can’t just go through the Marvel movies in order over time. I must binge them one or two a day. It’s hard for me to do much else for two reasons: after work I am overwhelmed from sensory overload so I can’t do much else, and there is something in my brain that says I must push on until I’ve gotten through the list. These things always feel urgent. Especially during hypomania or full blown mania.
I do it with food. Too much or nothing. I ate three bags of Doritos last weekend, but to be fair, I also ate a lot of vegetables. The other day I smoked almost an entire pack of cigarettes. I had quit. In fact, this is one addiction that comes back over and over for me. I went for over 10 years without smoking and then one day during my last tumultuous marriage, we all thought a mini cigar and beers sounded good and boom, I needed nicotine again. My brain was a disaster those two years, so I can see a pattern. The time before that, my older three kids were small and I was also in a major depressive phase. I needed Welbutrin to quit that time. I wish I could take it again and have it work but it made me suicidal within 48 hours of the first pill a couple years ago.
It’s almost funny to watch how my brain or two selves try to manage cigarettes (or tumultuous relationships, another addiction apparently, oh…and sex, that’s one too). And I do realize it could be much worse. Alcohol, while definitely a major player in my 2011 mixed state, makes my body feel awful, (so do cigarettes, but only intermittently) I’ve never done hard drugs and am continuously astonished at that fact. Two of my boys did and are public about it, so I feel ok saying that. But cigarettes, yeah. Will still kill you and people will find you disgusting. Unlike my phase where I slept with everyone I could find back in 1995 but is applauded in the name of having a Hoe Phase. (which is fine but not if it’s bipolar)
I wake up in the middle of the night and some self will hide my cigarettes in my underwear drawer. Only to be fished out in the morning. Or I think hiding them in a cabinet will tell some part of me that they’re off limits. Like I’m a toddler who will forget about them if I don’t see them. I don’t know how many times I’ve broken them in pieces and thrown them away, only to feel like a completely different person in the morning and buy another pack. I feel that window open where I stop enjoying it, feel gross and it feels like somehow I can hold onto that self when in reality, it is like fine grain sand, slipping through my fingers.
Last night I wrote messages on the bathroom mirror to remind myself.
I Choose Health
You are a Warrior
And I have my vape device since quitting cold turkey isn’t advised and would likely either throw me back into depression or full on mania. Mostly agitation and rage, hence the Hulk Smash warning. But that gnawing hunger is already there. I hear my brain knocking that it’ll be fine. A slippery little lizard with a monocle and a goatee zipping in and out with a British accent. Just go get another pack, stop throwing them away, give it more time. And I might. I’m not sure I can stick with anything until my brain gets sorted out. I’ve tried to control it in so many ways, be a solid person, healthy, but nothing sticks. The guilt and shame that goes with that, especially The Child Everyone Depends On, growing up.
Sometimes it feels like a part of me is trying to end me the long way. I’m a ticking time bomb given my family’s genetics and every physical glitch that happens is now because I started smoking again. I go from enjoying it, feeling amazing to worrying all day that I’m now going to have a heart attack at any moment and hyperfocus on every ache and pain that comes up, analyzing it until my head hurts.
It occurs to me that I’m in a hypomanic phase. So I’m sure I’ll read this later and be like wtf. The moods are slipping around like tectonic plates daily lately. The severe depression started lifting last week and I’ve noticed I can’t stop talking again. Or smoking, apparently. It all comes back to impulsivity. That slippery little saboteur that derails my progress every time. If anything, I’ll try to remember that my brain needs medicine and maybe, over time, I’ll be able to deal with all these things I’ve been fighting for so long.
sidenote: I know it could be so much worse. I feel silly writing about this given the other things people deal with. But I think the feelings are similar and I can only write from my own experience.