June 20, 5:39pm
I’m writing this at least partly to prove to myself that yes, I can still write, because a few hours ago, I couldn’t. I was so mad, to put it very mildly, that I could no longer conceive of doing any of the writing that I had planned. Everything in my head was just a firehose of hostility and resentment, and part of it was because I felt I had been largely left to my own devices by people who said they were my friends, and that’s mostly because of Facebook itself than anything else. This does not apply to everyone, of course. This is more of a condemnation of Facebook itself than any people in particular because as we are all aware, you actually have very little choice over what Facebook shows you. However, there were several people who tried to pop in to my wall every now and then, because I knew I was posting at a volume that likely caused a lot of folks to hit the “unfollow” button. And for your input and presence, I am grateful. If you read this and think to yourself that it doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t. This is for people who, whether purposefully or not, left me alone at a time that I sorely needed my friends, largely by doing nothing, although even then I recognize that the nature of Facebook itself contributed to that, so please read on because it’s very likely that you did nothing out of no fault of your own, and I’ll talk about how Facebook is nothing but a cesspool fooling people into thinking they have real connections when they don’t.
Basically I hit a wall yesterday I couldn’t get past (actually, it happened last night but that’s a personal moment) and just said “nope” and went to bed, with every intention of staying there for however long it took to be able to face the world again, a world which doesn’t/didn’t seem to want me or care about what was happening to me.
I was awaiting a phone call to my shrink because he wanted to discuss some emails I had sent him describing my state of mind and giving some medication ideas that might help. He had tried to call earlier but in what I swear was a cursed moment in time, it was precisely the moment I woke up from a nap. So no, of course I didn’t want to talk right then, I couldn’t. No one who just wakes up can talk on the phone, let alone about anything important. So he said he’d call back in six hours.
I kind of lost it. I had explained myself very thoroughly in my emails and didn’t understand what there was to discuss. My brain ran with the possibilities and kept coming up with “if he didn’t have a solution to present when he called the first time, then what are the chances he has anything to contribute when the next phone call comes?” The prospect of having to listen to someone in charge of my mental health potentially telling me there was nothing to be done and that I would just have to suffer was simply unbearable and unacceptable.
At the same time I had been attempting to reach out to people to talk to them, because that’s what friends are supposed to be for. And I just kept hitting one roadblock after another, and when I finally did find someone who could talk, I was so angry about something else that I couldn’t chat anymore. It was like the Universe didn’t WANT me to talk to anyone. The last straw was an attempt to sign up for a bipolar disorder Meetup wherein the link to join the group failed and just sat there and spun. I went to my husband’s office to ask him to try and when he tried to find the post on my wall with the link to the Meetup, he couldn’t find it because Facebook is a piece of fucking shit that doesn’t show people posts in directly chronological order, not even on their own walls. A little piece of my brain broke and I just left the room to go and smoke.
When I was done I went back upstairs and went to bed. I laid there getting angrier and angrier at the potential prospect of what my shrink might have to say and why he wanted to talk in the first place, combined with my frustration at not being able to talk to anyone. Finally I went downstairs to find my husband and said we needed to talk outside. We went outside so I could smoke and talk about how I was feeling, which boiled down to “no I don’t want to kill myself but my options for getting out of this hole seem to be narrowing and I don’t feel like anyone is really listening to me or to how much pain I am in”. I said I couldn’t talk to my shrink because I just couldn’t handle what he might have to say seeing as how he had nothing to offer when he called the first time. A little voice inside of me was asking incredulously if I really did have to try and kill myself in order to get the help I needed.
So I went upstairs, put on some music, and got in bed and stayed there, with every intention of staying there however indefinitely. Some time later I realized I wasn’t so angry but that I still wasn’t sure if I could talk to my shrink when it was time for the phone call, so I got up and found my husband, who was sleeping on the couch, and said that when it was time for the call he could come in and see how I was doing but that I could not promise I would be able to talk. Then I went back to bed.
He came and cuddled with me for a while and I tried to explain myself yet again, that I didn’t think anyone truly understood what it meant to me to get my long-lost libido back, to be able to reconnect with my husband and fall in love with him all over again, only to have it snatched away just days later within the space of 24 hours, because that’s about how long it took for me to go from joyful, happy, and full of hope and promise all the way down to the blackest pit of despair where every glimmer of hope seemed to be snatched away as soon as it was presented. I could not possibly convey the depth of my sadness at what I had finally rediscovered and then lost again so quickly.
He left to make the phone call and came back shortly later to say that my shrink had sent an email (seriously? after all that fuss about a phone call?) saying that he basically agreed with my assessment of the situation and that we should a) increase the amount of a drug that we had reduced because of side effects and b) restart a drug that I thought I had made clear was a major contributor to the years of my life that were lost to the sensation “I believe I can see the future, because I repeat the same routine.” Every day really was exactly the same, and without going into detail, it was gross and disgusting and I can’t believe my family stayed with me.
And that was it. My once wide open world shrank to the size of a small room with no doors except one I was unwilling to go through called DEATH. So I went to bed, where I knew I’d be safe. I had never been so sad in my entire life, not even after the death of my beloved cat, YinYang, who represented the first time I had ever had to grieve over the death of a loved one.
The following does not apply to the people who made an effort to engage with me when I started my little musical journey a few days after I made my way back to Earth following my manic break beginning May 21. But I’ve got some things to say about Facebook and the way it’s used that I think are important to say.
Basically Facebook is a cruel joke promising connection with friends and loved ones that is algorithmically and deliberately designed to thwart those very connections. It’s also a way for people to congratulate themselves on being “friends” with someone when they have little to no interaction with them, not even to send a message to say hello. Many Facebook friends’ lists are no different than the mental lists shallow people kept in high school, because to them, the more friends you had, the better of a person you were. No small part of my despair over the last couple of days after my mania dropped out from under me almost instantaneously, and for days before that, was due to the lack of even the smallest response from most of my friends, save for an occasional reaction. Whether it’s because they didn’t see it thanks to the algorithm, or they were just busy, or they saw it and didn’t care or know what to say or had merely grown tired of the volume of my posting doesn’t matter anymore.
When I first had my breakdown during the week of May 21, people were interacting with me, though they were worried as they were noticing what I was failing to recognize: the manic state that would grip me for weeks afterwards. I left Facebook for a few days, during which I really did lose my mind, which I describe in another post.
When I returned, I found myself using music to heal myself and posted the songs and videos to my wall, along with an explanation that I was declaring my Facebook feed a “safe space” because it was the only place I had available to process my shit in the absence of my older, more preferred social media outlets, and all of my friends were on Facebook. If Livejournal were still around, I would have been dumping and posting over there because frankly, it’s better suited to what I needed. But Facebook has sucked the life out of most of the old social networks and so I used what I had left. I gave lots of warnings about what people might see me write about and said they were free to leave at any time without guilt. At the same time, I restricted a few people, unfriended some others, and blocked a few more because I was establishing firm boundaries and I did not consider them trustworthy enough to share my experience with.
I knew I was using the site against its intended purpose, but I didn’t care. I remembered having a Livejournal account and associated online community, as well as how wonderful and supportive it was during really awful times like recovering from a c-section following the birth of my child. A friend whose husband had just killed himself and didn’t even live in the same city took it upon herself to form a phone/email/LJ tree and arrange for food to be delivered to us every day for two full weeks. It was an incredible act of generosity I will never forget and that involved people whom we had never even met. And it was my desire to use MY Facebook page to similar purpose by saying to people who were my friends that I was having a hard time and needed their support, because there was no more Livejournal, or Silverchat, or MySpace, or any other true online community within which people actually interacted outside the realm of the internet.
And for a while it worked, though I noticed that it was a very small core of people who chose to interact with me, though I am aware that many people are too busy to read Facebook or simply don’t like it anymore, for a variety of hopefully obvious reasons. And of course there’s that stupid algorithm Facebook insists improves our online experience, so I tried not to let it bother me that it didn’t seem like very many people were taking notice of the fact that I was deeply troubled and could use some interaction. Those who did, however, commented on my posts, offered music I hadn’t heard before to help me along my musical healing journey, and were generally supportive, which I greatly appreciated. I have saved and bookmarked those posts and will continue to use them as reference in my writing.
Then I noticed less and less interaction, and I truly do not know if it was because they were tired of being part of my support team, or because the Facebook algorithm wasn’t showing them my posts, or if they had simply ceased to care, or what. I think it was all, really. I know my husband wouldn’t see my posts for a full three days after I had made them, and he has me set to see my posts first thing before anyone else’s.
Whatever the case, it was clear I was pretty much talking to an empty room and unless I tagged someone, it was unlikely the post would get any attention at all. Again, whether that’s because of Facebook itself or because people no longer knew what to say to me, I do not know, even though I had it on pretty good authority from the people closest to me that I was not only making sense but that I was writing better than I had in a very long time, so I felt and still feel confident that it wasn’t anything I was saying that was causing the lack of interaction.
And frankly I don’t fucking care anymore. I can’t. Whether people are too scared to say “hey I’m sorry about what you’re going through but it’s too much for me to handle”, or whether they just don’t care, or if they just don’t see my posts, or are simply leading busy lives, I just don’t fucking care anymore. Facebook is a cesspool designed to destroy, not maintain, real relationships, and I can’t tell if Mark Zuckerburg did that on purpose, or if he really is what I think he is: a frightened little boy who knows exactly what he’s accidentally done and has no idea what to do about it because its tentacles have stretched so far into even the far reaches of the internet that it would be nearly impossible to reign in. He created a monster he can’t control anymore.
And that’s why I left my email address and instructions to talk to my husband if they don’t want or can’t talk to me for some reason. I haven’t read the main Facebook feed in weeks. I can’t stand in the firehose of absolute flaming bullshit anymore, which is virtually unstoppable no matter how many things you unfollow or block. I’m done reaching out, at least using Facebook, which is nothing but a lie telling people they’re connected to one another when they’re really not. The people who care about me and love me will take the time to send me an email or a Hangout invite, and I will be happy to talk to them, because a real conversation on Facebook is an extremely rare thing, at least on my wall, unlike Livejournal and other older social media networks that are now defunct. But at this moment in time, I will never make another Facebook post again unless it’s to say that I’m done using it as an archive and no longer need it and will be deactivating the account, because I do run a group and a page that I’m not ready to give up on yet: my Dancing Barefoot page, which I am leaving up and will be utilizing more as I make more posts because I still believe I have a good idea there that has the potential to spread at least a little happiness, if not instill change in the way people think about one another, and my Bipolar Bodhisattva group, which I suggest to anyone who has interest in my life and how my recovery is going since that’s where those blog posts will go.
I’m sure some people think I never should have tried to use Facebook like that in the first place, but to them I ask what choice I had. Facebook has sucked the life out of every other social network on the planet except for the ones who have managed to wrangle an interface that differs enough from Facebook to be appealing to people, and even all of those sites make connections to Facebook that make automatic posts whenever one of those sites are used to make a post, provided the user has enabled those connections, as though Facebook has become the black hole driven social center of the internet’s galaxy. I will be removing those connections to my main Facebook profile, as I do plan on using other sites to continue exploring my memories, thoughts, and emotions and I don’t want them on Facebook anymore, even though my page is friends only. It is now impossible to use Facebook to keep track of what friends are up to without wading through the unceasing onslaught of sewage that has become the news, whether you consider it fake or not.
And that’s something I just cannot handle anymore. I cannot look at their faces, I cannot read or hear their words, I cannot handle the results of what has become an indescribable horror show to me. This is not the America I was raised to believe in. This is a gross perversion of everything that I was taught was great and good about America, and I just can’t look anymore. Truly, I haven’t the words to convey how I feel about what is happening in the outside world. Perhaps the death of my libido is reflected in the death of American potential and possibility.
I will have to address the people who think I should have just gotten a therapist in a separate post, because I have very strong feelings about that borne out of years of experience as well as participation in online mental health groups that boil down to this: the way in which modern mental health care operates in the United States and a few other places seems to be deliberately designed to instill conflict between doctors, therapists, patients, and their caretakers and friends, and therefore designed to instill potential failure for a large majority of the people who use it. And given the cost of mental health care in America, making such a statement constitutes ignorant wealth privilege except in the most troubling cases. Besides, do you know how much therapy I would have to get to process my baggage on a stranger’s weekly terms? I’m sorry, there isn’t enough time in the rest of my life to dig through my dirt at that pace. And I will not talk about the hilariously exploitative cost of therapy here or this will get even longer.
We have become a country that works long, hard, typically underpaid hours so that we can rent a small apartment, lease an old car, and spend all of our time at work so we can drive that same car back to the same small apartment and go to sleep in it, unable to find time to watch a tv show, let alone talk to a troubled friend. Or maybe we’re better off and actually live in a house and have a nicer car and aren’t underpaid, yet pay in other ways that again sap free time, let alone time to help a friend. And of course there are those with plenty of money and time and freedom to not only pursue things that give them happiness, but to also spend time with friends, as long as they’re not burdensome friends.
And that’s how some of us treat our friends and family with mental illness or neurodivergency or even physical chronic illness: like a burden, one that needs to be medicated using an admitted crapshoot and sent to potentially ineffective and likely untested therapy as quickly as possible so they can stop being so annoying and go back to being a productive little worker who meets stockholder guidelines, or student who will maintain good attendance and standardized test grades, which is how schools make money, or at the very least doesn’t post music videos instead of the latest news of a black man getting shot by a white policeman who will never see the inside of a court of law.
If you’re saying “hey wait a minute” then I’m not talking to you. I know you’re busy, or just don’t read Facebook anymore or not very often, if you even have an account, a rarity these days, and of course there’s that damned algorithm Mark Zuckerburg and his buddies wrote because they decided they were better at deciding what you wanted to know about your friends than you do. But if your cheeks are red and you’re not saying “hey wait a minute” because you know you’re one of those people that did not take the guilt-free exit from Crazytown that I offered, that could have stopped by every now and then to say “hey, how are you doing, by the way these are great songs you’re posting, I hope they’re helping you feel better, let me know when the party is” and then didn’t, then yeah, I’m talking to you.
Was I too open? Too honest? Too triggering? Too revealing? Too much of a reminder of what the outside world has the potential to do to someone? Too much of a reminder of some part of yourself? Too much reality in your newsfeed amidst the school shootings and utter destruction of the government and country? Or did you simply not know what to say?
I don’t expect an answer to any of these questions. I’ve grown used to being a person that gets talked about, not talked to. People have done it to me all my life, and I know it’s not because I’m an asshole, which is a primary reason I am leaving Facebook. The lack of interaction makes me feel like something I’m not: an asshole or a jerk, or some other undesirable element of society, and I had enough of that growing up. I am, however, direct and truthful, and those are qualities that are appreciated by fewer and fewer people in our Dunning-Kruger effect world, and they are appreciated even less by someone wearing the stigmatic label mental illness or the even more stigmatic one, bipolar disorder.
And so I have become one of those people who will not say they have mental illness, let alone bipolar disorder, to someone’s face, not until I know them, and will instead choose to wear the label neurodivergent, which is more accurate, more inclusive, and isn’t stigmatizing due to centuries of largely religiously-generated superstitions. And it’s not because I’m ashamed of having it, I’m not, really. It’s because of how I’ll be tried and judged by just about every person who ever meets me who doesn’t understand what bipolar disorder is all about, let alone what any other neurodivergence really means.
This is not to say that I will not continue my blog Bipolar Bodhisattva. I went through an incredible experience that was healing in many ways and left me with many important things to say, and perhaps the hope that one day I will be able to reconnect to my husband the way we did for those brief, wonderful days before the window to joy rapidly shrank to a pinhole, for what reason I may never know.
And yes, Dancing Barefoot, the lovely brainchild borne of my desire to do something to instill some joy and possibly change in America, will remain, even though dancing is also something else the crash took from me. I’d love to dance like no one is watching in my kitchen again, but that impulse is gone now, to whatever place mental illness takes the joy, libidos, and memories of its victims.
I will prevail somehow. No matter how many times hope is snatched away from me, I’ll find it somewhere else. I’m a Goddess and have been through things that would make people come crawling back to me covered in blood and permanently scarred begging me to take my shoes back. You wouldn’t just stumble in my footsteps, you’d fall into pits you’d have to figure your way out of again, just like I did, sometimes with help.
And truly, if you just didn’t know what to say, I understand and I forgive you. But know that all you had to do was say hello, and if you couldn’t muster that, there are plenty of articles on the internet written specifically for people who really don’t know what to say to someone in the middle of a mental health crisis. You could have talked to my husband. You could have done a lot of things. If you feel bad, that’s fine, though that’s not the purpose of this letter. Use the lesson to reach out to the next person who is in trouble and move on. If you don’t feel bad, then I don’t know what to say to you other than to wonder why we were “friends” in the first place.
If you’re really just a stranger that made friends with me because we had people in common, then you’re off the hook, though you should know what it means to a person in crisis for even a stranger to come and say “hey I see you’re upset, but I bet it’ll pass, okay?” Just keep it in mind for next time.
So yes, I’m upset, and angry, and sad, and I feel largely rejected with several notable exceptions who probably know who they are, and again, that’s probably not your fault. That’s a combination of people’s lack of actions for whatever reason along with the leviathan behemoth of Facebook, the website that claims to bring people together but sets them further apart than ever before without them even realizing it because of all the little tricks it uses to get people to make it look like they interact, when they don’t. Not really.
So here I am joining the “delete your Facebook” movement. Not because of privacy issues, because the horses left that barn a very long time ago, if they were ever there, and we only just noticed. Delete it and then sit down and write your parents a letter, or give them a phone call or just a funny text made of emojis, or send a birthday card instead of just writing it on Facebook on their birthday. Get them to use Google Hangouts or blow the dust off Skype, or use something else to actually have a conversation with someone. There’s an awesome thing called email that is a fantastic way to get a hold of people if you don’t have stamps or don’t like using the post office.
Because almost everything we build inside Facebook is completely fake and maybe I’m stupid for not figuring that out sooner and relying too heavily on it at a bad time in my life, but like I said earlier, all of my other options had been sucked away one a time, leaving me in Zucc’s white-with-blue-trim Spartan world.
Thanks for making me feel like I was back in high school, Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook. Luckily I’m not a teenager anymore and have a pretty good handle on my shit when I’m not actively losing it, not to mention a family that was watching over me, and yes, a core of Facebook friends that did make tiny gestures such as love reactions, because honestly that’s all it takes sometimes to let someone know you see them and acknowledge them. Otherwise you may have had one more person livecasting their suicide on your precious social network. Leave the incel and racist posts, though Zucc, we all recognize it as your way of staying classy while you delete photos of breastfeeding mothers and suppress news of police brutality.
I seriously doubt that anyone who read my goodbye as well as this post thinks that I’m accusing them of deliberately ignoring me because that’s really not what this was about, but if you did see yourself in such a way, you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and take a look at what you really mean when you call someone a friend, or even a stranger. Do you make ‘friends’ with someone, only to put them on a filter they can never see, or make it so you don’t see them? Then they’re not really a friend and you should do them the favor of cutting them loose. Otherwise you’re just being cruel for the sake of making yourself look better by having more friends, or worse: making someone think you’re friends, even virtual ones, with them when you’re really not.
Ah, and here we are at high school again. Thanks, but I have a choice I didn’t have back then. I’m fucking leaving this shithole before it kills me, literally, and if you really care about me, you’ll not only understand and not be offended by what I wrote, but know how and where to find me.