Callie & Co.

Callie & Company refers to how my different moods make it seem like I have several personalities. My best friend, Doyle, called me this in our group chat once and it summed up perfectly what a complicated wreck I am. It’s kind of a cute way to address my different personalities. That’s why it stuck.

The first time I started to worry that I have bipolar disorder was when a therapist I was seeing at 19 started suggesting I had it. I just dismissed it whenever she brought it up. She was some kind of life coach that my parents were making me see because I wanted to drop out of UCSC. My parents wanted me to go through these sessions to make sure I wasn’t making an impulsive decision. So when this therapist starting talking to me about bipolar I was annoyed. I did, however, accept the prescriptions she gave for anxiety medications to help me with my testing anxiety.

I have failed nearly every test I’ve taken since middle school. The higher up I went, the harder it was for me to pass. Not because I didn’t study or because I partied too much, but because my mind goes blank and I start to feel like I am having a heart attack the second I am handed a fucking scantron or blue book. If these pills are going to help prove to people that I actually am smart, I’d gladly take them. The suggestions about bipolar disorder? Hard pass.

My early 20’s were one long depressive episode. I gained a lot of weight. I stopped seeing my friends. I went to work and school, but had no interest in going anywhere else. Since I lived at home, it was easy for my mom to spot. She offered to help me find a therapist and pay for whatever costs weren’t covered by insurance. A lot of people aren’t as lucky to have parents that are not only comfortable with therapy, but also willing to help get you therapy. I didn’t want to, but it felt like an opportunity I should take.

A couple of months in with my new therapist, she asked if any of my previous therapists discussed mood disorders with me. I told her about the other lady. We revisited the topic but she never told me I have bipolar disorder. Even if she did, I don’t think I would’ve been able to take her seriously. She was only a few years older than me and she seemed too innocent. There was just no way she could know more about life than me. I would lie to her all the time and she wouldn’t even press me about it. I would constantly lie so that she wouldn’t bring up taking antidepressants because it always irritated me when she did.

Do I have suicidal thoughts? Of course not!

Yeah, I see my friends all the time.

The weight gain is because all I eat is fast food since I am so busy with work and school.

My boyfriend is super supportive.

I stopped seeing her because I was tired of having her pry into my life. I get that is pretty much her job, but it was really fucking annoying.

It took me five years to start going to therapy again. I felt like I was completely losing it when COVID started. I moved into my apartment in early April. Of course I chose a really chaotic time to live on my own for the first time. I felt like I was bursting with energy, but it felt scary instead of fun. It worked its way up to feeling terrifying. I called the number on the back of my insurance card for the emergency psychiatric line. A very nice woman talked me off the ledge and set me up with my current therapist.

I’ve been seeing him 10 months. We started with every other week and now speak once a month. I cancelled my last session and I’m not really sure why. It just felt like the absolute last thing I wanted to do when I woke up that morning.

This guy has really helped me realize I am not bat shit crazy. Whenever I am able to tell him honestly how I am feeling, I always ask if I’m normal. He tells me I am and it sounds sincere. I accept the reassurance. He was the first of several therapists to get me to try anti-depressants. I was reluctant, but four months into using Zoloft and I am feeling thankful. I don’t feel cured or better, but what once felt impossible to control is now manageable. It has allowed me to pay closer attention to what I am feeling. My meds aren’t a magic pill, but they’ve helped me start to understand myself in a way I never thought possible. Because of this, I’m learning about the different mood states– how I can think and feel like a completely different person. This is how Callie and Co. was established.

When I am in a manic episode, everyone loves me. I am outgoing, spontaneous, funny, and most importantly I am social. I become an extrovert overnight. I always start dating when I’m manic because it’s when I’m the most confident. This is the Callie that loves to go out drinking and dancing with friends, too. When I ride this high, I make up for all of the time I am M.I.A. because of a depressive episode.

Everyone around me sees my charismatic mania fueled alter ego and think she’s fun. I hate her sometimes (most of the time) because she brings me to peak self-destructive behavior. I manage to spend all of my money and I don’t even realize it until I have a bill I need to figure out how to pay. I have become a bit of an expert at scraping by. It’s a great life skill to have, but I have a really good job that I work way too hard at to be living check to check.

My spending isn’t the only reckless thing about Manic Callie. When I’m that version of me, I am always seeking an adrenaline rush. I always go on solo drives just to drive too fast. For a long time I drove like a square because I got my license suspended. I had too many speeding tickets within an obscure amount of time. They took my license for 30 days but told me if I got another speeding ticket in another obscure amount of time, they would revoke my license forever. Now that I’ve made it through the time frame, I often catch myself speeding like Ricky Bobby ready to shake-and-bake on the freeway.

Manic Callie also makes a lot of careless decisions in her sex life. I’m sex-positive so I can’t shy away from how my mental illness impacts nearly every aspect of my sex life. For example, the last person I slept with was a soon-to-be-lawyer in the backseat of my car. I am not an exhibitionist, but there is a definite thrill to having sex somewhere you can get caught. Since I am blessed, I have to stand up to hop back into my pants to get my thighs, ass, and belly back in my skinny jeans– let’s be real, I hop into all jeans and not just my skinnies. Anyways, as I’m jumpin’ back into my favorite black skinny jeans, I read the sign on the building we were parked in front of… It was a preschool. Thankfully, it was the middle of the night and no children were traumatized by my recklessness and I didn’t end up on any lists. I told the soon-to-be-lawyer that he better pass the BAR because the story is way cooler for me if I can say I fucked a lawyer in my car in front of a preschool. This is a situation that would only happen to Manic Callie.

Even a pandemic can’t stop this completely reckless behavior, which makes me trash. Trash with needs, but still trash. I’m not even remorseful for my pandemic hookups. I do whatever the fuck I want and ignore all possible or actual consequences.

While Manic Callie can be a riot, Depressed Callie is no fun at all. Depressive episodes are never something I will be able to get used to. They progressively get scarier each time I have one. Depressed Callie is scary because it’s impossible to help her. You’ve got to just wait it out.

The last depressive episode I had hit me out of fucking nowhere. I was in a good mood, as Default Setting Callie, listening to music on the way to the dispensary. I was excited to finally be getting my hands on some good bedtime edibles because I’d been having trouble falling asleep. I have to take melatonin every night, but it’s not enough most nights. I was in the middle of singing my heart out to whatever I was listening to and all of a sudden I felt frustrated. That frustration quickly turned to sadness. That’s when I started sobbing uncontrollably. I was in the fast lane and realized I should probably get off the freeway because I couldn’t stop crying. The suicidal thoughts started before I’d switched lanes. This particular flashing suicidal thought was instead of pulling off of the freeway, I could just drive right into the center divider. I shook my head in an attempt to literally shake the thought out of my mind.

I really hate these thoughts, but I still get them. I don’t think anyone wants to have suicidal thoughts, but for the longest time I told myself that I thought about it because I want to. If I didn’t want to think about it I could just stop. If that were true I would’ve stopped having these thoughts in high school, but I don’t have any control over Depressed Callie.

Even though I have passive suicidal ideation, the frequency I think about suicide terrifies me. Since I’ve been having suicidal thoughts for about fifty percent of my life, I’ve normalized it. This subconscious coping mechanism has helped me survive. They become less scary when you accept them as a part of your day to day life.

One of my biggest fears is that my passive suicidal ideation will become active. There have been a handful of times were I felt like I was getting pulled into active ideation. It’s like getting caught inside when surfing. There was one time I really believed I was going to drown when surfing, this feels exactly like that.

In 2018, I couldn’t catch my breath. I was with my ex and I asked him to drive me to the hospital. I was so terrified that I’d kill myself that I would rather be admitted. He said no. I wasn’t in a state where I could drive myself. Instead, I curled up in a ball on the floor. I decided I needed to call the suicide prevention hotline. As I was doing so, my ex asked me what I was doing. I told him who I was calling and asked him to give me some privacy so I could talk to them. He took my phone right out of my hand before leaving the room and closing the door behind him.

That was the moment I realized I had two battles I needed to win. The first was getting out of the abusive relationship I felt trapped in. The second was overcoming my depression. Either he was going to kill me or I was going to kill myself. What’s fucked up about that is that Depressed Callie doesn’t have the strength to win battles, but she’s the one that needs to fight the most.

When I learned about mixed states, that’s when I started to accept the fact that I am probably bipolar. I am currently Mixed State Callie. A few nights ago, I went from feeling like unloveable garbage goop at the bottom of the dumpster to dancing around the kitchen eating raviolis right out of the pot pantsless. I was also been chipping away at the pile of dirty dishes in my sink that had been there for a really long fucking time. It didn’t go as efficiently as I’d like because I’d wash one fork then dance around like an idiot to three songs before washing one more thing.

Also, the edible I took kicked in and I ate the entire pot of raviolis. I don’t know what an appropriate amount of raviolis to eat is while dancing around without pants, but probably a little bit less than the whole bag labelled “family dinners.” I’d blame it on the munchies but I’ve been binge eating my entire life. Truthfully, I am not ready to talk about Eating Disorder Callie. Therefore, I’m going to pretend that a family portion is the same as an individual portion.

Mixed State Callie is a hot mess. Overall, I’m depressed. I spend a majority of my time at home dissociating. Dirty dishes pile up and get left untouched for days, maybe even weeks. There are several piles of laundry throughout my apartment and now I have no idea which ones are clean or dirty. I’m late to work every single day, even though my alarm wakes me up on time. Typical Depressed Callie behavior.

The difference is that Mixed State Callie doesn’t sleep and is extremely irritable. This is the version of me that is difficult to be around. I know that if I could just get myself to rest, to sleep, to shower, to eat something healthy, to drink some water, or to cry that I would feel so much better. I don’t have the energy to do any of the things I need to do to take care of myself. Instead, I stay awake all night listening to music or scrolling on my phone. Even when I try to do the right thing and go to bed without the distraction of electronics, I can’t relax.

I have racing thoughts– literally, non-fucking-stop. I get extremely tense and uncomfortable, which I think contributes to my high irritability and easy temper. I have to remind myself to relax my shoulders and stop grinding my teeth. Any sleep I do get is just me tossing and turning. I wake up with all the pillows and blankets on the floor. Even my weighted blanket doesn’t get me to chill the fuck out. This kind of sleeping makes me desperate for a generic depression nap–the kind where you don’t move at all for several hours and actually sleep.

I could release this tension by screaming, but I don’t want my neighbors to feel weird.

I would love to have a good cry to release this gross mixed state tension. The kind of crying that’s really ugly but feels so good afterwards. Every time I start to cry because of all the intense feelings of shame, loneliness, and abandonment I feel when I am depressed, I stop before I can really get going. It is like when you have to sneeze but lose it for no reason. Needless to say, this adds to my irritability.

Mixed State Callie is the most frequent member of Callie and Co., which makes it hard for people to notice. This current episode has been going on for over a month, but since I have no understanding of time I can’t remember which month it started. Maybe late February? I’ve been hoping Mixed State Callie would transition into either Manic Callie or Default Setting Callie with the help of extra daylight thanks to Spring. Since that hasn’t happened, I’m constantly anxious about the possibility that Mixed State Callie will fall back into Depressed Callie. Yet, that hasn’t happened either.

My whole body aches from carrying all this tension. If I can’t get myself to cry or sleep, I will fucking explode. Since my mood isn’t changing on its own, I have to actively work towards feeling better.

Today, I started this process. When the tension feels unbearable, I remind myself to take a deep breath. I paid my rent and some past due bills so that I can feel good about being (somewhat) financially responsible. I went grocery shopping and I’m actually going to cook myself dinner. I took my dog for his walk, but I didn’t push myself to workout today– I prioritized rest. I took a long relaxing bubble bath and stayed off my phone. I’ve been cleaning the depression out of my apartment, but not stressing about perfection or deep cleaning. Again, I’m prioritizing rest. I am going to go to bed by 10 tonight. No phone or TV, just a good book. I deleted my Tinder (for the millionth time) and I’m taking a break from Instagram. This isn’t to withdraw from the outside world, taking breaks from my phone helps me be more mindful and ground– two things I desperately need to feel better.

Writing this out helped quiet some of my racing thoughts and released a little bit of tension. This makes me optimistic, which is a nice change of pace. If I stay consistent, I will hopefully start feeling like Default Setting Callie soon. Key word: consistent. Alternate key word: hopefully.

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