untitled # 601

if anyone knows my name
when my days are done
I hope it is you,
you’re the one that means
the most to me

when my time comes
let me put my hand in yours
let me put my head on your chest
and let me hear your strong heartbeat
as I take my last breath
and sigh your name one last time

… glb

17 Years

It has been 17 years
My God
I remember the anguish
It is still in my bones
During the last weeks
I came in off visiting hours
So we could have
Quiet time without interruption
I cherish those times
Lightly holding your hand
Gazing into your eyes
They would close when you took
  Your mini-naps
I recall how angry I was
  When you to told me your decision
You were a fighter for so long
How could you just give up…
But it wasn’t for me to understand
It was for me to accept
It is for me to tell people about you
  About the woman you were
  About how amazing you were
  About how brave you were
  About how you cared for me up to the end
Time goes by
I am always grateful that you
Were in my life
— GLB

7 Minutes

Originally written 3-17-2018

PART I

There is a blank space
Not a slate to draw plans on
No foundation,
Not a place for hope or dreams
There is no starting place
No ending place, either
A middle space
Before the end
After the beginning,
I search for
The calm
A darkness
I pull back nothing,
An absence
That not even light can escape

PART II

There is an empty space
Not a window
Not a floor
There is no port of egress
Not even a door
There have been times
I passed this place
Never knowing it was here
I was headed somewhere different
With a plan in my mind
Looking for something different
Not a hint of where I would land

PART III

Spoken plainly…

There was no empty space
To go when I died
There was no tunnel
No bright white light
I did not experience anything
On this I can go no further
There is nowhere to go
For 7 minutes I was gone,
But I didn’t go anywhere

— GLB

California

“…and it’s California, where everything is powerfully strange. Everyone wants it to be home.  Everyone left where he or she was from with dreams of transformation.  Everyone runs away to California once, or at least all the lonely, hungry people do.”  “Madness: A Bipolar Life” by Marya Hornbacher

California, I can’t say it is where all my problems started, but it is where I started to experience the most prominent and life changing events of my existence.  My move to California was preceded by my two best friends moving out there.  One, with his growing family, to San Diego followed by the other and her new(ish) husband to the L.A. area.  Before those two moves, California never occurred to me.  But I visited him in San Diego and drove out to L.A. with her and I guess it was just a matter of time before I was on my way West.

Now, it’s not as though I wasn’t leaving anything behind.  I had lived Virginia Beach for seven years, my parent’s were in Southeastern North Carolina and my sister and her family were in the Washington D.C. area.  On the other hand, Northern California from Sacramento, to Petaluma, Elk Grove and well all over Northern California was packed with relatives.  Let’s see, two grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, a third cousin twice removed or, I don’t know, just a load of relatives that I never spent a whole lot of time with.  There was that opportunity as well.

So, my friend talked to some people he knew, and then I talked to those people and after a bit of time I was on my way to San Diego.

Virginia Beach is a Navy town.  Everything is geared towards the Navy.  There is a Naval Air Station there.  Jets fly directly over the beach, and houses and the mall.  Right next door is Norfolk, a Naval Base, the across the river is Newport News and Hampton, where Navy ships are built.  To me it was a big place with a small town feel.

San Diego, on the other hand, is a Navy City.  There is so much more going on there than Navy or Marine Corps.  San Diego is where “Top Gun” was set.  The Naval Air Station is now a Marine Corps Air Station.  I think the biggest shock for me was how big it was.  There were so many freeways, 8, 5, 805, 15, 163.  So many things to do.  Sea World, The San Diego Zoo, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, I could go on and on.  That was just San Diego.  The other friend I mentioned had moved to the L.A. area.  You can just imagine how overwhelming could get.

I was a bit overwhelmed and to add to that I had a brand new job I had to excel at. (I don’t think I knew any other way to work)  Not to mention, I was looking for a way to transform my life.  I was hoping I would find something in California that would be different, better, something else.  I was looking to escape some of the horrors Virginia Beach held for me.  My friend J, overcome by breast cancer, my own bout with cancer, starting to deal with depression.  It was time for me to leave.

After moving and finding a place to live (I stayed with my friend and his family for a few months) things started to settle down.  Work was good and not too hard, I started exploring the city some.  I was getting to know the people I worked with.  We were going out to bars and restaurants, pretty much having a good time, I didn’t drink so I was commonly the designated driver.  At the time, I had a blue Ford Expedition and everyone loved to pile in.

A few years later, my friend and his family have moved away, my relationship with my friend in L.A. has soured.  I was spending too much time at work and with the people from work.  The next couple of years are a blur to me.  When I concentrate hard on what went on in those two years all I get is working way too many hours at the office and at home.  I see going out a lot, in spite of all the work, and I see my mentor and now friend being diagnosed with cancer.  The cancer diagnosis is very clear in my mind, the rest is just a flurry of activity which ends with me in the hospital having just come through a psychotic episode.

Some days I have clear memories of sunny skies, a light breeze and a feeling of well-being.
Others are roller-coasters of faces and noise that are completely terrifying.  Those days I feel like California, at least San Diego, chewed me up and spit me out.

I loved living in
San Diego but it did
not like me at all

no joy

express no joy at
knowing the woods
have been escaped

focus energy on
consequences of
violence-filled results

holes dug can never
be filled with life

relief melts away
leaving hatred
for a procedure
well done

crashing through
expected reactions

spiral down
seeking questions
unasked of
professionals
responsible for
your own
well-being

— GB

Suicidal Ideation

I can’t say that I have never thought about committing suicide but it has been a really long time since I have. I mean, really, truly thinking about and planning ways to kill myself.  Even then, I never started to go through with anything.  I wouldn’t be here if I had.  I would have been successful.  I believe that wanting and thinking and planning ways to do away with yourself change a person in a way that I’m not sure I can put my finger on.  Suicidal Ideation runs low with me now.  I say that because every once in a while, especially while I’m driving I think “It would be so easy to end it all right now,  I could pull off into that ditch or I could just take my hands off the wheel and let the car drift into oncoming traffic.”  I have these thoughts whether I’m depressed, manic, or level.  I think that because I have experienced stronger Suicidal Ideation, I am more prone to have these thoughts even when I’m well and not suffering from any of my Bipolar symptoms.

Do people that do not suffer from mental illness of any kind have any Suicidal Ideation?  I’m very interested in hearing from you?