Slumber Party with Carrie Fisher

Fucking 6:00 am train, I used to think passing trains were cute, romantic even. Now I only hear the shrill, and screeching nuisance.The proper pain in the ass toss and turn in bed, cover a pillow over my head kind of bother.

The Insomniac or something different, just stardust cycling with the moon.

Some people ask if I remember my time in the nuthouse. I don’t, not well and not with a writer’s particular detail or flowery prose. I don’t even remember the weeks that came after, or before. You know, bipolar is trending, there all these ah-ha moment movies, that don’t feel real.

I couldn’t care less about the cinematic pretty vistas or shocking scenery. That’s not how it felt, at least not for me.

That’s not how being out of your body and manic mind feels. It feels too fast, too dangerous, too mind fucking to be real. It isn’t glamorous when it’s happening on the inside.

Three towering, evil nurses, guarding my door at four am stuck me with a whopping fucking needle of Haldol, that I remember well. The hysterical woman screaming down the hall in excruciating pain made my teeth hurt. I understood her wails; I wanted to howl at the moon right along with her. Instead, I screamed accusations at the nurses and sobbed the same kind of shrill a grinding train makes against steel.

The need to help was visceral, instinctual; I wanted to quiet her fear.

Two big dudes held me down, while one mean bitch, there’s always one rude, spiteful bitch nurse in the movies and in my head. Was she a fat, mean bitch? Yeah probably. She probably hated her sad job dealing with the quacks, and her miserable life at home watching Jeopardy all alone in the evening and dreaming of a beach cruise and umbrella cocktails.

What the fuck do I know? My writer’s mind fills in the blanks, and there are so many forgotten moments. Maybe the brain is kind enough to omit some of the gory details, or maybe the mania is so fast they get derailed and disappear. Poof, gone up into the stratosphere.

She stuck me hard with a smirk on her face. She was as mean as a rattlesnake. Ouch, that fucking hurt. First stick pricks, the body goes limp, and the mind gets real quiet. The dude was good at his job. Twenty years young, muscular, kind and sweet with a square diamond stud.

I had a restful, long and lovely sleep that evening. It was so fucking poetic and almost felt beautiful. There was a silence; I had not known before, no noise, no tossing and turning, no rustling and mussing the sheets.

Me, the insomniac with manic mind slept, a restful, peaceful kind of slumber.

That night, that one particular night I remember well because I woke up with a raging drug haze hangover and sore buttocks. The crazy lady screaming in tongues down the hall could barely remember her name, let alone mine. That’s all right; I spoke her language. She couldn’t know my buttocks burned like a motherfucker. She wouldn’t ever know my terror; I would grow stoic once the meds evened out.

I had a restful night’s sleep locked up high above the evergreens. Maybe this is how it feels to be dead. I am less afraid of death than ever going back.

Months have passed, and I’m finding my footing again. I’m relearning to trust my muddled brain. There is no film to date that portrays how it feels under the skin to lose your mind or the skin I inhabit. The skin I live in houses three pounds of unpredictable floating matter controlling my body, my muscles, my breathing, my voice and my existence. My 360-degree view of the world and beyond.

I do not see colors; I feel them, and no one can take away my Kaleidoscope vision. Sometimes, the world is so breathtakingly beautiful it brings me to my knees, and other times somber grey is the only hue in play. Sounds vibrate right through my down jacket permeating the layers of my skin, my brain, my blood, oxygen, and DNA.

Without the sounds of emotion, I would never have heard the screeching train outside my window. I was so doped up it wasn’t movie star glamorous, or romantic at all. It was bipolar bullshit, but there was coffee readily available. Just like in the movies or when you stay at some cheap, dirty three-star budget motels.

Carrie Fisher died recently. The whole world is in mourning. She was fearless, gutsy, honest, a unique, a creative and living her life openly with Bipolar Disorder. Carrie Fisher was so much more than a movie star, or Princess Leia. She was a role model and advocate for so many living with a disease that is as mysterious and exotic as she. She had smarts; wit and cajones, big ones and her courage made me feel lighter, bolder, and less afraid.

Me? I am feeling her stunning hues swirling and hovering, and the needle prick that stings my heart. Carrie was stardust in love with the moon.

Impossible and yet naturally her darling mother, Debbie Reynolds would pass away one day later of a broken heart, some say. I choose to believe her mom was her moon, and she was her sun, and one cannot bounce back light or exist without the other.

Simply. Life goes on until the curtain falls, but the light only diminishes and never really fades. It shines brighter in others, and your beloveds forever.

We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges. Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic—not ‘I survived living in Mosul during an attack’ heroic, but an emotional survival. An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder.— Carrie Fisher

Her words and her life inspiring mine, emotions mixed together stronger on paper. Thank you, Miss Fisher.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore Flickr via Compfight cc

  1. Stephanie,

    We are in this battle together, all of us living with mental illness and others wins
    are mine and vice versa. I’m so proud to know you, call you friend and fight the
    good fight we all battle. Every day we wake up and choose life, we win.
    Carrie, like so many living with bipolar brought awareness, purpose and humor in the face of great adversity.
    What a spectacular life.

    Xx Jackie

  2. Duluth,

    It’s hard for me to accept such beautiful compliments, I just see me as me.
    The girl with the big mouth, raw and unfiltered. lol
    To think that my truths might help one person feel less alone, well that is a beautiful, big responsibility and
    source of pride. YOU are an original, raw and wonderful storyteller as well.
    I take strength and comfort from your words.

    Let’s keep sharing the hard truths, and making a difference. Carrie would have liked that, I bet.
    She inspired so many, and left such a huge impact on those living with mental illness I’m grateful
    to KNOWN she was on this earth paying it forward.

    Thank you so much.

    XX Jackie

  3. Dori, to know that I am in excellent company with the very BEST, kindest, creative, sweet, passionate humans (Like yourself), struggling and thriving with bipolar disorder makes the weight less heavy.
    For me, writing about the experience frees me to move on, and also leave the truth on the page.
    Maybe someday you’ll share your story. I would be honored to listen, and maybe you won’t.
    I will adore you either way.
    Carrie remains forever in my heart, with so many beautiful collective souls touched by fire.

    xxoo Jackie

  4. My dear Kindred,

    Please don’t be sorry, because your love and strength, and guidance
    helped so much during those crazy (for lack of a better word) days.
    I will always be forever grateful to know the depths of your kindness and soul,
    in spite of my off color behavior.
    Be proud. I am proud to know you, and I know that you understand. Thank you.

    XX Jackie

  5. Elaine,

    There is a quieting wisdom to all your comments and posts that I look forward to.
    Thank you for being such a compassionate, evolved soul in tune with nature and able to tune out the chaos.
    It’s funny how compassion was the one thing that could not be stripped away.
    I was relieved to learn that about myself in spite of the fear, the spirit is whole.

    XX Jackie

  6. I’m amazed that compassion remains when all else is wild and destroyed: “The need to help was visceral, instinctual; I wanted to quiet her fear..” I don’t understand what it’s like to be locked up, helpless, dehumanized, and held down–unless you tell me. Thanks for daring to tell the truth. In response, I send the quiet of Seneca Lake last night, the still water that absorbs the turbulence. I was amazed by Nature’s stillness when so much is nuts in this world. I’ll tag you on FB so you can see the image. Thank you, Jackie.

  7. This is a gorgeous and gutwrenching write, Jackie, thank you for sharing it. I am so sorry, and will forever be so sorry. I love you, sharing this with love.


  8. Jackie, I LOVE that you share your story in a raw, authentic, unapologetic way ( Just as Carrie has )
    This allows others to come forward, too. This allows others to KNOW they are not alone.
    —What to know the truth? The people I know w/ mental illness are some of the strongest people I know….because they GO ON LIVING, fighting, writing. WOW. That is amazing.

    xx From Duluth.

  9. You put into words beautifully (dare I say poetically?) the saga of my Pajama Hilton stays. I try not to remember them. Unpleasant little bastards. The beauty of bipolar. The curse of bipolar. Finding balance on the tightwire. This is so fine, Jackie, an essay Carrie would have loved.

  10. Your words inspire me, Jackie. Like Carrie and many others, your strength, honesty, and openness about mental illness reaches so many people who are in need of comfort and a reason to live. This is beautiful my little ocean, keep fighting the good fight.

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