And when the sunshine showed
Her face I felt like I was ready to die
Went looking for a place to hide
A hole I could crawl inside.
My eyes jerked open. My mind rushed to figure out where I was and I couldn’t get a deep breath for the life of me. The alarm clock next to the bed read 3:11 AM and I began to remember my surroundings. I was on a cross country trip from South Carolina back home to Texas.
I had moved to South Carolina just a handful of months before to get away from a toxic situation but, as it turned out, I was toxic and the situation followed me to the east coast. I was having countless panic attacks and my mind would not slow down. I was averaging about five a day.
I woke up to find myself in another one. I saw my phone laying on the covers but was too afraid to use it to call for help. I told myself that I didn’t want to wake anyone up and bother them with my insane problems. Part of me knew that nothing was truly wrong but the other part was freaking out because of every decision I’ve ever made in my life that led me to this hotel in Jackson, Mississippi.
For the first time in my life, I started pacing and I couldn’t stop. I was hugging myself and pacing back and forth for about two hours straight when I finally called and woke up my mom. She talked me down and I apologized for waking her up. I finally stopped pacing and laid back down in bed. I laid there wide awake for about three hours as my brain spun on and on.
I got up and continued my journey back home to Abilene, Texas, crying all the way just as I had the day before. I knew something was wrong with me but I couldn’t figure out what. There’s nothing quite as terrifying as driving through the DFW traffic in tears. I just stayed in the middle lane and hoped for the best.
I got back to Abilene around 4 o’clock on a Saturday. The first thing I chose to do was go to all the saddest places I could think of to intensify my despair. I went out to the lake and sat in the car listening to some indie rock song no doubt made for such a moment. It was like I was living in an episode of One Tree Hill but without the douche bag estranged father figure. After this, I went to a park and walked around listening to John Mayer’s amazing cover of Beyonce’s “XO” and held back tears because I was now in public.
About a mile in to walking, I got a text from a friend saying that they were going out to drink that night if I wanted to join. Before I started my down spiral, I wasn’t much of a drinker but as my mind started spinning like a top it was the only way I could find to slow down my thought process.
Case in point, about six months before this I found myself in a “situation” where I really didn’t want my head spinning and obsessing about something so I decided to get schloshed by myself. In a WalMart parking lot. This was stupid for so many reasons.
The “situation” was me obsessing about a woman that I was dating who didn’t feel as strongly as I did. In her defense, I went hard when it came to relationships. I was basically a Nicholas Sparks character at this point in my life. My spinning mind and unstable emotions made me fall quick for anything in a skirt. You could have put a ham sandwich in a halter top in front of me and I would have spent the entire night in its front yard with a boombox over my head like John Cusack in Say Anything without even a second thought.
The current problem with my obsession was that she was going out with friends to a club and I didn’t feel secure enough in what we had for her to be surrounded by drunk men. So, instead of sitting and stewing on that all night, I headed to the liquor store to numb my brain. It probably would have worked out if I hadn’t been a handful of minutes after their closing time which forced me to forego my Snoop Dogg inspired typical gin and juice.
Things went awry when I chose to get “four lokos” at a nearby gas station. I only got two and will never touch one again. I had never had one but thought it couldn’t be that bad. As it turns out, drinking one is like drinking a six pack of regular beer and I had bought two!
So there I was, parked at WalMart, listening to Cat Stevens, getting unknowingly blitzed. I have never in my life been as drunk as I was that night. The only upside was that my brain finally slowed down. Unfortunately, it slowed down too much and I had to find a way to get inside the WalMart to go to the bathroom.
Of course it was after ten so the doors next to me were locked so I had to stumble to the other side of the store to even get in. I played it cool til I got to the bathroom and then exploded from the mouth. I vomited like it was going out of style. My head was spinning even worse than before.
It was spinning so bad that I laid down on the nasty WalMart bathroom tile floor. Don’t worry, I made what looked like a chalk outline with toilet paper and laid on top of that. From time to time, I would get up and vomit some more. I saw no end in sight. This was my life now.
After awhile, I heard a voice saying something. It was a manager saying that a customer told him someone was dying in the bathroom. That someone was me. He talked me out of the stall and led me to their breakroom where he allowed me to ‘sit it off’. I sat there for hours not getting better and making random trips to the bathroom throwing up some more.
I finally felt okay to go back to my car, not to drive but to stop being a spectacle, only I couldn’t walk. So, classy member of society that I am, I got wheeled out in a wheelchair while holding a tin foil pan to throw up in because the world was still spinning.
The only way I could make this deal was to let the manager hold on to my keys so that I wouldn’t drive. Clever girl. I wouldn’t have driven at this point because, I couldn’t walk, but having to trek back in to get my keys was a good hurdle to clear before allowing myself to drive. I sat there in my tiny sports car listening to music on my phone until minutes before dawn.
I knew my head was recovering when it started spinning in the old way and the horizon stood still. I made my way back in and thanked the two managers profusely for helping me when I deserved to go to jail for being drunk in public.
The whole thing was basically an accident due to my not knowing the strength of four lokos but after talking to a group of friends about it, I realized it was becoming a regular thing. I would go a few months without drinking a sip of alcohol but then my mind would get the best of me and I would need a break from it and I chose alcohol each time and most of the time, I was alone.
That brings me back to that night at the track when I got the text. My mind was once again spinning and I needed a break. At least this time, I wouldn’t be alone. I left the track and met them at a local dive and started drinking rum and cokes. I had many rum and cokes. I had so many that the feeling of anguish that had been living in my gut finally went away and I felt more free than I had in a long time. I started making jokes again and laughing. I felt great. So great in fact, that I decided I didn’t even need my glasses anymore. In what I termed a “feat of strength”, I broke my glasses in half and threw them onto the table. Everyone was horrified for me.
When it was time to leave, I was talked into going to stay with a friend instead of driving. I was just sober enough to know I should listen so I did. I slept on a friend of a friend’s couch but I sobered up and woke up at straight up six o’clock back in complete agony. Worse than ever, honestly. It was like my anguish knew I had tricked it the night before and now it was pissed.
I tried to lay there until other people woke up so they could give me a ride back to my car
but i just couldn’t do it. I put my shoes on, locked the door behind me, and walked at least two miles back to my car. It is important to remember, from this point on, I’m basically going through life blind without my glasses. I can make out things but everything is insanely fuzzy and it takes me forever to figure out what stuff is.
I felt a little better walking to my car, just because I was doing something. I got back to my car in about an hour and made the 45 minute drive over to where my mom lived squinting the whole way to see 18-wheelers. I knew my mom was at church and the anguish in my stomach was raging.
I called my aunt, Dana, and luckily she had stayed home from church that Sunday so I
went over there and cried on her couch. I sobbed more than anything and I said the words that I had been feeling inside for months but hadn’t been able to voice until now. “I just want to give up”.
We both knew it was time to get real help. I finally realized that if I continued the way I was going I would become a full-blown alcoholic if I survived at all. As it was, alcohol was the only thing I could find to slow my brain down and that was going to end up being destructive.
My mom and I had already talked about going to a treatment center in Dallas that my aunt had told her about so that was the plan. We are from a fairly rural area of Texas and there weren’t very many options close. There were a few but they didn’t have the best reputation.
Part of the problem, though, was that I had quit my job a few months earlier and I had no insurance. I can’t remember the exact price but this place was not cheap. All the three of us knew was that I was running out of time and I needed something that was going to work.
I had hit rock bottom that night on the WalMart bathroom floor but I was just now realizing the fact that I had fallen so far. This wasn’t where I ever expected my life to be. For those who have not read the original Bipolar Express, I was not raised to be living how I was.
I was born into a Christian family here in Texas. It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but my dad never hit me and my mom never tried to sell me for a pack of smokes. I can honestly say that they tried their best with the situations they found themselves in and what else can you really ask for?
My childhood wasn’t the problem. My parents divorced, what I remember as days, after I graduated from college. I spent pretty much the next decade angry at my father who moved to Colorado. Angry isn’t even the right word, I was full of rage. It drove me in so many ways. I lost around forty pounds from working out to try and deal with my anger.
My anger and spinning mind were not a good combination. It made me horrible to be around for everybody. I loved my mom dearly but even she saw the ugly side of how I was feeling through this period in my life. My mind moved so fast that I was always six steps ahead of everyone and I would get pissed if anyone slowed that down. My poor coworkers probably got the worst of it, though, as I would yell and cuss at them randomly.
I’d like to say I thought about all of this while packing up the truck to leave for the treatment center but my mind no longer worked. The years of speeding from thought to thought, coupled with the panic attacks, had taken its toll. The three of us loaded up the truck and headed towards Dallas. It was the least exciting road trip of my life. I laid in the back and made sarcastic jokes in between tears. The sarcasm never left me.
When we got to Dallas, we met my cousin, Cole, at In and Out that had just recently made its way to Texas. I had my favorite: a double double, animal style, with well done fries. As far as last meals go, it’s pretty choice.
Cole is about eight years younger than me and was doing church work in the DFW area around this time. Our relationship, when we were younger, centered on the video game, Madden. I came out on top in the early days but haven’t gotten close to a victory in years. That’s not to say we hadn’t had real talks. I can remember countless trips over to Abilene together in endless conversation. Cole and I have completely different mindsets but have always understood and appreciated the others viewpoint. He would prove to be a priceless asset in the upcoming week.
That night before admitting myself was a stressful one. We all laid around the hotel talking while I sent messages out to basically everyone I’ve ever met telling them what was going on. I got some great messages back and it helped me sleep a little more sound.
I had some of the weirdest dreams of my life that night. For some reason, in the year 2014, I had a “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper’ dream. It had something to do with racism. All I really remember was racism never stood a chance. As I opened my eyes to a new day, I knew nothing was ever going to be the same.
We drove over to the mental hospital from the hotel and sat in their lobby for a few minutes, waiting for me to be checked out. Basically, they were making sure I wasn’t on drugs and that I was the right kind of crazy.
The lady that interviewed me was very kind. We talked about everything that led up to this point. I told her that I had been drinking too much in hopes of slowing down my mind and that I was having countless panic attacks a day. All the while, I was in tears.
After I told them my story, I was admitted. I hugged my mom and aunt and was led away as the three of us sobbed in unison. This was never meant to be my life. At least that’s what I thought as I took in the last view of what I had begun to call normal and felt the doors close and lock behind me for the best, and worst, week of my life.