The Crying Game

Dear God, how I hate crying.

I’ve never been much of a crier. I take pride in that. I have this thing about dignity, and running off at the nose and having red, puffy eyes are not dignified in the least. One of the most embarrassing moments of my teenage years featured my bursting into tears—in public!—over winning an award. Needless to say, I was horrified and took great pains to make it look like my allergies had suddenly decided to flare up. In fact, I hate crying so much that I even avoid movies and TV shows that I know will give rise to the waterworks.

So when I have to give up wearing eye makeup because I can’t STOP crying, you know it’s a bad day at Black Rock. A series of them, in fact, that goes all the way back to July 25, when we learned that my husband was deathly ill. Now I find myself having to hide out in the bathroom at least once or twice a day to let the tears flow and to scream silently at the unfairness of it all, hating every second of it but helpless to stop until I either vomit or can’t cry one more tear without my eyes exploding.

Living this way is exhausting, to say the least. As dangerous as lack of sleep is for a bipolar, not even my trusty medications are enough to override the fear that gnaws at me in the night. I sit up late, watching Will sleep and fighting the anxiety, my thoughts racing around madly like squirrels in a cage. Last night I didn’t get to bed till after two AM, then woke up almost every hour to check his breathing after repeated bad dreams about him. I was almost sure he was going to pass last night, he was so weakened after minimal activity and I couldn’t keep his blood sugar up even with small meals every couple of hours.

But then, when morning arrived he had enough energy to get up, make coffee, and take the dog out. Then later, after he’d rested and taken a power nap, we even went out to lunch where he ate more heartily than I’ve seen him do in a week. And on top of that, we watched the movie Bridesmaids and laughed so hard we almost peed our pants……and for the space of two blessed hours, I listened to Will’s cackling and utterly forgot that he’s sick.

Like everything else about him, I’m trying to memorize the sound of his laughter. Ironically, that’s the only thing I remember about my maternal grandfather, who died almost fifty years ago, but whose braying laughter still echoes down through the years whenever I think about him. I love it when Will really breaks up…….you don’t even have to know what’s funny, just the sound of his genuine amusement is enough to make you laugh in spite of yourself.

But as pleasant as the day has been, the inevitable late-night fears are back; it’s going on three in the morning, and as much as I need rest, I have no desire to attempt to sleep until I KNOW I can get through the night without waking up in a cold sweat because I’m so afraid of finding Will dead. It’s become a nightly ritual—watch him sleep, freak out when I note a change in his respirations, then go into the bathroom and weep until I’m ill.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

And at the center of all this is my secret terror of losing control when the inevitable DOES happen. We haven’t reached the end of the world, but I can see it from here…..and for the first time, I can see why folks might be a little concerned about me. But no, I still wouldn’t do anything purposely to harm myself, not only because it’s the coward’s way out and my kids would be rightfully angry with me, but because I have that dignity thing.

Perhaps it’s the way a good friend of mine puts it: I’ll have to choose whether to live, or merely exist. Right now, making my exit when Will does sounds pretty darn good to me, but that’s not going to happen……for even though spending part of every night crying in the loo isn’t my idea of living, it sure as hell isn’t dying.

Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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