Hello; Goodbye!

Hi there, people who are reading this blog! It’s been a while; I realize this. I think part of me was waiting for something to happen to me. Some breakthrough in therapy, some new job, some sign that I was going to return to New York sooner rather than later.

Nope. And that’s ok. Part of this whole process, I’ve come to realize, are the days when I’m not necessarily living a blog-worthy existence: the days when just getting up, showering, and powering through are enough. There are a lot of those days in the month. But let’s catch up, in case we’ve missed each other. I’ve missed you.

I’m still working at the antique store in town, and it’s been fun wearing dresses I’ve gotten there. Fifty percent of the time my mom looks at me wearing them and says, “Huh.” Moms, amirite?

I’ve also been modeling for art classes at the high school I went to, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got smizing down. Just kidding — it’s eagle eyes for days. Check em out.

Eagle Sam

Smoulder.

Smize

Look, Ma, my hair is growing back!

Modeling means that I get to work on meditating while attempting to detach myself from any lingering sense of vanity I might have snuck out of the psychiatric ward. One side effect of my medication (I’m pretty sure it’s been Depakote, that sneaky mood stabilizer) has been weight gain, so I’m a bit more paunchy than normal. Then again, I also have a larger cup size, so one woman’s weight gain is another woman’s treasure… chest… Needless to say, it’s been humbling to have high schoolers draw and sculpt my heavier body, but it’s also a reminder to me that my weight does not determine my worth. Yes, I’ve been proud of my body before, especially in the context of playing a sport that I love, but is it the be-all-end-all? No. Thanks, modeling.

I did not come here to make friends.

Another feature of life with bipolar has been a feeling of restlessness, accompanied by the worry that this restlessness will never cease. I start to sit down to read, then wonder if I should work on a MOOC, instead. But wait, I have to fold my laundry. No, I should look for jobs in the area. Scratch that, I really need to work out.

I got to fight this restlessness in January, though, when I was working remotely for Bottom Line (the non-profit I used to work for) by making phone calls to measure where our students were at and see what they wanted to focus on for the next semester. Yes, I did need multiple breaks throughout the day, and sometimes I had to lie down after several phone calls in a row because I found it too difficult to move on immediately. Slowly but surely, though, I got through them. I can still do some work, which is a relief, and I am overwhelmingly grateful to Bottom Line for the opportunity to prove that to myself. I know it’s going to be a while before I’m fully recovered, but I’m a lot further along than I was in September, when I could barely hold a conversational thread for five minutes, much less work for two hours straight.

My last update is that this is my last post on this blog. I do want to continue to explore what it means to be bi and to have bipolar disorder, but these are just two aspects to my overall personhood. Freedomfreys has served me well in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. And you, my friends, will continue to be there for me, as well.

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My Personal Portal

I can’t believe it’s December already. When I moved home in August I was expecting to be back in NYC by October at the latest. I didn’t expect to be at home this long, and I didn’t expect to grow as comfortable as I have become, here. I still miss my friends more than anything, but looking back, I have needed this time to come to a more stable place. I ran across this journal entry from August, when I was at home recovering from my second episode of depression but before my highest manic episode:

“I am writing who I would like to be. I would like to be loving and open and flexible and kind and I would like to be able to experience joy in the world again. I would like to give joy to others, as well. Be one of those back and forth fountain things.” P. 49

Yes, I number the pages in my journals for ease of reference. What’s important here, though, is my intent to grow into this person, regardless of whether or not I was that person before. One of my favorite quotes from Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B (which I highly recommend if you’re going through a hard time. Or if a friend is. Just read it) is when her friend Jeff tells her, “It’s like you’ve been through a portal… You can’t go back. You’re going to change.” (Sandberg, P. 90)

I was talking to another good friend who referred to having gone through “an unavoidable phase of questioning and self-worth.” These two quotes capture, in a nutshell, what I’ve been going through over the past four months. Who am I actively becoming every day? What happens next?

One large aspect of this is work. I’ve been lucky enough to have landed a part-time job at an antiques store a mere five-minute walk from my house, and the owner is a lovely man with a lovely border collie named Cecil. While the shop is sometimes too quiet on the weekends, when I run it by myself, it’s interesting to talk to the people who visit, and I like knowing that I’m helping Jonathan, the owner, get out to shows in Chicago or Nashville. It’s given me insight into my ability to find meaning in helping others, regardless of the job title.

I’ve also been using this time to reflect on what I want for the future. I’ve decided that, ultimately, I would like to return to school for a PhD in Sociology, with the goal of being a professor. I’ve applied to schools in NYC, because I love the city and my friends who are there. If I don’t get in this year, which is quite possible, I will start applying for jobs that will get me back in the city, anyway. And I may reach out to people to see if anyone has connections that would help me. Miss you, crew.

Beyond work and education, though, I hope to place a greater emphasis on quality time with people, and less emphasis on activities that keep me busy. I’ve realized that my friends have made it possible for me not to go insane. I’m pretty isolated out here in northern Indiana: going to a boarding school means that none of my close friends still live in the area. Instead of meeting up with friends, I’ve been talking to friends on the phone. Your voices have warmed my heart. Your messages have made me smile. You are getting me through these months with a song in my soul, and for that, I thank you.

That brings me to the last part of this blog post. If you are going through one of these phases of questioning yourself, or if you have been, or if your friend has, and you want to talk about it, I am here. You can message me on Facebook or text me at 574-360-0859. I’ve been having a good last few weeks, and there is a non-negligible chance that I may grow more depressed, again, but while I’m in a better place I want to make this offer. And, selfishly, I want to hear your voices and catch up with you.

Much love,

The New New Kanye

Four Voicemails for Meds

I’ve taken to referring to my pre-summer self as the Old Kanye, mostly so I can say, “I miss the Old Kanye.” And I do. I miss being able to interact with people lightly and easily, and I miss being able to make people laugh. While part of this is due to my location in rural Indiana, no small part is also due to my mood stabilizers. A wise former teacher said of them, “The good news is, you’re in a band. The bad news is, you’re in a band.” It’s true. I don’t feel depression as deeply as before, but I don’t really feel joy anymore, now that they’ve kicked in. Which is why I asked my mom, “What if you tied me down for a few days and let me go off my meds to see what happens?”
That was when she played me four voicemails. The first two were from me.
In the first I said, “Hi Ma, please get me the White House’s phone number. It’s ok if you can’t or won’t; I’ll just call someone else to get it.”
The second scared me even more. My voice was colder. It sounded like I was reading off a prepared statement. I said something to the tune of: I’m sorry I got mad at you, but it hurts me when you don’t give me my friends’ phone numbers. I vividly remember leaving this voicemail for my mom because it followed a phone conversation during which I screamed, “GIVE THEM TO ME!” before hanging up the phone and screaming the c word.
This is why I want to state, again, that if you received a phone call from me between August 22nd and roughly mid-September: I was either manic or coming down from mania, which meant I was fundamentally not who I am. Or rather, I was who I am dialed way past a sustainable point, and the devilish speed of my brain made it seem like I didn’t care about how my actions were impacting those around me. Another New Kanye.
The third voicemail was from Charlotte, who was and is beyond amazing. This was before I was in the inpatient center, back when I was still at large in New York. Charlotte told my mom that they hadn’t seen me at home yet. I was supposedly meeting with my “manager” at a restaurant (my manager, Chuko, was a neighbor I’d met on the street), but she’d called the restaurant and I wasn’t there. This was when I was at Target, weeping because I couldn’t spend $1,000 on Michael, a homeless man I had left at said restaurant. It hurt me to think about how much sleep and sanity it cost Sam and Charlotte to keep me alive. And how terrifying it must have been for them to live with me during those days. In fact, every friend who I saw on my birthday a month before must have seen it— the terror of not-me fighting with the me who could feel the flames.
The fourth voicemail was from Mr. Pretzer, my high school chemistry teacher. This was the morning of the first day I was back in Indiana. He told my mom people were concerned about me, having seen me in the dining hall and at the coffee shop. I was singing and shouting and giving away everything I owned. He told her to take the day, the week, whatever she needed to take care of me. My mom told me, “I woke up to this voicemail.”
This is why I take my meds. Remind me, friends, if I ever seem in danger of forgetting. I take my meds to avoid hurting you, or hurting you more than I already have. I love you. Thank you again for saving me and delivering me to a place where I can be safe, even if that place is far from you.
And to my family, who literally slept outside of my room those first few nights when I was back from Bowen, thank you beyond what I can express.
XOXO,
IBM (ISIS Baby Mama)*
*I’m going to go back through all the notebooks from Bowen at some point, but I don’t know that I have the energy for it yet…

Worth = Work?

I’ve been reading a book called Feeling Good by David Burns, and it’s pretty much the Bible when it comes to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. I’ve been using a technique called the “triple column technique,” where I write down a distorted thought, point out the distortion, and write a rational response to it. My favorite distorted thought from today was, “Everyone else has a car, and that makes me a failure.” My literal response to this was, “Just because I don’t have a car in Indiana does not mean I’m a failure as a person.” It’s crazy, but just having the space to say this to myself helped me feel a little better.

In a later chapter, Burns talks about the silent assumptions that we make to determine our personal worth. One of the examples he gives is, “My worth as a human being is proportional to what I’ve achieved.” That one really hit home for me. I think I’ve spent a lot of time doing things because I was maybe secretly afraid to just be alone with myself. Anyone who visited me in New York can attest to the fact that I ran them a little ragged with activities, possibly as a way of showing them I was worthwhile. My internal equation has been:

Self Worth = Work + Friends + Activities

When in reality it should be:

Self Worth = Self Worth

Ideally, I will have a job that I care about, again. I will be able to see good friends on a regular basis, while taking part in activities that I love. These will come in time, I hope. But even if they don’t in the near future, I still have worth as a human being. And I made a little dance vid in my onesie to remind myself (and you) of that.

Under the Bridge, If the Bridge Remains?

I remember my little brother telling me, while I was [manic] at a water park during our family reunion this summer, “I just want you to be careful about not burning bridges.” And I said something like, “How could you imagine I would burn bridges?” And proceeded to call one of my best friends in the world to ask him to be the father of one of my children (I also wanted to make a baby with someone in ISIS to show them how idiotic it is to fight anything other than the idea that one human life was worth more than another, but that’s another story). So yeah, no potential for burning bridges here.
This is my “sorry if you got too close to the flame of my Icarus” post, because I was talking to a LOT of people. I didn’t have much control over myself at the time, but if you interacted with me at some point in late July or late August, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about. It’s not like I was setting out to burn a bridge per se, but it was next to impossible for me to walk into a coffee shop without deciding that I was suddenly into French press and needing to buy one. Oh, and applying for job in said coffee shop. While wearing my H&M unicorn swimsuit under my overalls. Happy birthday to me. I am truly sorry if you were there when I kept sneaking out on said birthday, or if you were one of the wall of people around me that night, when I kept trying to aggressively dance with other concert-goers.
I’m sorry if you got burnt via me very aggressively hitting on you. (Unless you were flattered, in which case I’m not sorry? Life has not prepared me to handle this one.)
Same goes for if I called you towards the end of August – mid-September to tell you how you could quit your job and work in the Trump administration with me (I was all about change from within, in case you couldn’t pick that up from my ISIS baby). Or be part of the musical I was writing. Either/or. Both? Neither? Time will tell.
But also, thank you, good people, for being that protective buffer between me and a world that could have trolled me for all of my money and/or my life, if you hadn’t been there. I love you lots. Hopefully we can stay in touch for when I unveil my “manic journals,” aka the five notebooks I “filled” while I was at an inpatient facility in Indiana. Rich subject matter to be had, there.
❤ ❤ ❤ forever
Galloping Gertie, the OG nutty bridge

Hello From The Other Side

Hi hi fam. So, the thing about starting something while hypomanic (not all the way up, but much higher than normal) is that it’s harder to continue with said project when you are, uh, depressed. People have been reaching out, and I love you for doing that. Thank you for continuing to care for me, especially when it’s been hard for me to care for myself.

That’s pretty much all this post is about. I’ve been down recently, and it’s not the worst it’s been, but it’s made me quieter and less responsive. I’m sorry if that means I’ve been slow at texting you back, or haven’t gotten back to you at all. I still really really appreciate it, even if I’m too withdrawn to respond in the moment. Onwards, and hopefully upwards,

Sarah “At least I’m not planning to solve ISIS from within anymore,” Freymiller

Times To Seek Help

Who Knows How Many Years of Anguish I Put Myself Through?

by Anonymous

When I was in high school I was pretty depressed (but everyone probably knew that) for obvious reasons. But even before my mom killed herself I would not say that I was ever happy. Let me put it this way – the last paragraph of my mother’s suicide note to me (because yes, she was the type to write a special note for each one of us) finished with a paragraph about how I needed to get psychiatric help. So, naturally I resisted that. A LONG TIME.
It wasn’t until I had a bad breakup in college that was like a bad penny [insert part about awkward love triangle filled with jealousy and hurt] … not at the same time but definitely in the same 6 hour window. Anyways I digress – I ended up on the regular crying on my dorm room floor, glad that I didn’t own a gun, and then I finalllllly went and made an appt at the campus health center and got on xanax. Xanax was great for like the first three times and then the ex started using me for xanax but that was a whole other chestnut. I got onto lexapro and besides the high cost I definitely was able to get enough bearing in my life to work back towards a more stable me.
I dont take it anymore, sometimes I wonder if I should. But the moral of my story is that who knows how many years of anguish I put myself through out of fear of taking the same medication that my mom was on when she decided to end it.

Dear Security at My High School,

by Sarah FreymillerGoing In 1

I am trying to write this letter in a serious way, because what happened is serious. Do I happen to make comedy on the side in my normal life? Yes (ish). Does that make this experience “funny” or a “bit” that we can all laugh about together later? No. This was serious. I came armed with white privilege and a loud voice and crazy eyes, but I could have come with nothing to lose. I am so, so glad that I was not the latter, and that my “incident” will make campus safer in case you face other people struggling with their mental health in public places.

[For those who were not on campus the morning of Tuesday, August 22nd, here is a rough play-by-play of what happened.

7 AM: I stop by the Coffee Company, open a tab, and tell the barista to put everyone’s drinks on my tab until I get to $300. They can leave notes, if they want to, in my little notebook that says “F*** Trump”.

7:30 AM: I make my way onto campus and run into some girls I know from summer camp. I tell them to follow me and explain my message: there is no such thing as white. We are peach bitches. We are tan and olive and cream with pink. We walk to the dining hall, chanting, “We’re peach bitches.” Strike that. I think it was just me chanting. Don’t want to get any high school students in trouble.

7:40 AM: I burst into the dining hall, singing either “Wrecking Ball” or “I’m Proud to Be an American” (memory is pretty shoddy here. Strike 1). I swear at a boy who says we shouldn’t be swearing (strike 2). I sing a song of the history of white terror in our country. I do this despite the presence of a well-meaning adult who says, “This is the first day of classes.” (strike 3) I disrespect her and the system on the first day, in front of several hundred students .

8 AM: I run from the dining hall to admissions. I say, “I’m going to make you an amazing video for free” and bob back out. (For those who are curious, the song goes: “——-, ——- wokest high school, USA! ——, ——-, it’s reparations every day.”)

8:05 AM: I chant, “We’re peach people!” To the boys going into main barracks. One stops, a wrinkle in his brow. He says, “But we’re white,” and looks very confused. Multiple military personnel escort me out at this point. They take me to a campus security car. I ask if I can follow them for a day and they take me to meet the head of security. He gives the go-ahead to drop me off at the Coffee Company.

8:10 AM: Back at the coffee shop. My tab is closed at $307 and the owner is crying because she didn’t realize I was manic. I am confused.

8:20 AM: I’m back at home, packing all my clothes to give away at Linden, like so many castaway rags.

8:30 AM: I run into two teachers outside of CC, on my way back to campus. My former Chem teacher drives me home. My mom comes home, weeping. I stay upstairs so I don’t freak her out more. I record a message about what is going to come next. Here it is, verbatim:

“This is a sad time. My mom is literally weeping downstairs because I am breaking her heart with what I am doing, because she is so scared, and that, my friends, is a tragedy. It means we haven’t made a world yet that is ok with me just being me for the rest of my life. Like, I haven’t even told her I’m going to be homeless. I haven’t even told her I’m going to shoot myself in the back, or that I’m going to give myself AIDS and live in jail. She’s not ready. She will never be ready, and that’s what being a mother is. And so, America, let me be your mother. Let me hold your pain. Let me weep downstairs because we don’t know what’s going on upstairs. This is the only way we will heal. This is the only way we will love.”

——— security, you helped me go to a much-needed institution (an inpatient center). Thank you for saving me. Thank you for saving me from myself, or, to be more accurate, from this mix of chemicals that has been eating my body and brain. I am more than happy to help you understand what brought me to this place (not that I am entirely aware myself) to help you build a system to respond to it. Or, if I need to stay away from campus for five years, I completely understand. I put you in a very difficult situation, and you never treated me with disrespect. I disrespected your system, but you still saw me as a human. I cannot thank you enough for that.

Sincerely,

Sarah

P.S. Mania can look like a cool idea, but it also sped me up so fast that I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I needed to do as a one-woman atom bomb of social justice. These things take time. And a lot of people. And a association with a Sarah who is mood-stabilized, not with one who is manic. Keep doing the good work, friends. I want to be there with you, when this has cleared.