Bipolar Déjà vu

“There are places I remember, all my life,
Though some have changed.”  -the Beatles
I avoid you.  At least I try.
And I steer clear of you.  And it makes me sad, knowing why.
I have a little knot of fear
bunching up at the thought of you,
At the thought of entering into your domain once again.
My memories and my terrors of my past haunt me.
With every section of the sofa,
Every black and brown barstool.
Every cup and every plate
Every bowl and the silverware I have no choice but to take.
A stumble into every room stings my mind a bit,
The dining room table is no longer the same table,
And that spot on the Oriental rug that tinted the living room floor
No longer brings the carefree happiness it brought 4 years before.
I can pinpoint the month,
Is that the scariest fact of it all?
July 2012
The onset of my third downfall.
I can’t walk through your halls
Ascend up the stairs
My memories haunt me
Sometimes it hurts to be there.
It’s like a tart, bitter taste
You wish would go away.
Instead, as you try to make yourself comfy
Bad thoughts are there to stay.
For me, there are certain places I can never return to. Places I visited when I was ill back in 2012. Places I avoid because of the feelings it brought upon me that day or night I visited them. This would include certain restaurants, stores, and sadly, the house I lived in for 6 years after I graduated from college. The place I called home.

I manage to make it there--to my former house. If need be. If my sister, her husband, and my niece are visiting from Vegas. If we are having a family or friends party. A holiday gathering. A bbq to celebrate national holidays. If I have to pick up my mail or want to steal some drinks from my mom’s fridge in the garage. If I need to see my mom and ask her for advice. Or drop off some clothes for Teodora to wear.
If it serves a sensible purpose, I will go. But certain parts of the house I try to avoid. The upstairs bathroom, I used to use when living there. The hallway that connects the doorways of all of the bedrooms. (how do I manage that, right? I scurry down it quickly.) My mom’s room, especially, due to things said during my illness. I can never stay long in that room. My old bedroom which, thank God, no longer looks like my old bedroom. But I still feel the trepidation, the apprehension, the inability to get out of my head...the inability to experience any feelings of happiness or joy. The kitchen where for months I struggled with what cup to use or what spoon to grab. What drink to pour, depending upon the label on the bottle. Where to sit. Where not to sit. Do I want the porkchop on the left or the right?

And I still hear the dogs of neighbors barking. I remember thinking they were barking words about me. That their trainers had trained them to say certain phrases. I remember not being able to not shut any of it out.
I could never spend another night in that house. My anxiety would have a field day. I can barely stay there for more than two hours at a time which sucks because I want to remain there longer and relax. But at a certain point, I have to leave. I cannot stay. Or else my anxiety would return and transform into a mountainside.
Places evoke certain feelings from me. Some good, others bad. And it’s funny how you let the bad ones dictate how you live. What actions you perform. What measures you take to get as far away from that feeling as possible--physically or emotionally.
Apart from places, there are certain songs I forbid myself from listening to. I have a “black list”. A list of songs I absolutely, positively refuse to listen to. Why? They bring back too many bad emotions. I have certain feelings attached to these songs. Whenever I hear them, I cringe and immediately change the station. Like IMMEDIATELY. So fast, you won’t even know what happened.
These songs are songs I heard between 2002 all the way up to the fall of 2003, some songs from the latter part of 2001, too. Not all songs. But ones I remember the most and put a foul taste in my mouth. Like...Fifty-cent’s “Go shorty...it’s your birthday.” Most Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. And Jimmy Eats World’s “In the Middle”. Oh, and especially, Sean Paul’s “Gimme the Light”...”jus gimme the light yea yea, jus gimme the light yo yo”. I thought he was saying “jus give me the light, it was a joke”, which sent me on a whole other whirlwind. At that time, I thought the American government was trying to brainwash America, staging scenes, and spreading rumors about me, and that Sean Paul was telling me, “it was a joke!”
Anyways, those songs and more can cause a bad shiver to crawl up my spine even 14 years later. I can’t bear to listen to them. All the old feelings return and for a moment, I can barely breathe. My head starts to hurt from the anxiety it caused. I feel like someone is pressing their hands against either side of my head. A million thoughts swirl about in my brain. If for some reason, I can’t turn the song off...like, I’m in a car with friends and am not in the driver’s seat, I feel like drowning in old familiar emotions. And I fail miserably at trying to block those emotions and memories out.
I hate that memories can be bad or good. Can tear you down or lift you up. Make you smile, or glare or cry or pout. But I guess with the good, you must take the bad. 
You must accept at times, you’ll be radiant, but other times, you’ll be sad.
I guess I would compare my very real “deja vu” to a bad relationship that ended. If you remain in the same city you lived in while you dated your significant other, then you’re bound to pass places you’ve been, that favorite little hole-in-the wall restaurant you guys loved to go to, the songs you listened to together--and now only serve as a painful reminder of him--perhaps even down to the food you ate.
It is painful to come across of all these things, especially if you never fully healed from the break-up.
So I guess it’s safe to say, I never fully healed from my break-up with reality and my past self. Because I am not the person I was 14 years ago. Hell, I’m not even the same person I was 4 years ago, or a year and a half ago. Everyday I aim to mentally travel further and further away from that which harms me, that which once made me far from sane. I try to block out all the negativity and strive to find the positivity. I look towards the future and kick aside my caustic, unrelenting, menacing past.
I have to recognize that who I am today, though partly a product of who I was back then, is someone who has grown, who is still learning from her mistakes, and trust that God will be at my side, where He will remain. I am not that same person. I mean, I still smile at everyone, am kind to everyone, crack a joke now and then, stand up for myself or someone else, but in ways, I’ve changed. 

I am 31 years old. 10 years ago, I graduated from college, thinking I would surely have changed the world by now. (In 2003, I had a chart, if you will, of the non-profit organization I was going to found and the different branches I would form. I was going to change the world. I like to think that little idealist is still inside me.) At age 31, surely, I would have my dream job by now. Surely, I would be a published novelist. 
Yes, I am 31 years old. You’ll hear me talk a little bit more. I’m gaining confidence one new face at a time. I think 9 years of customer service experience has now allowed me to converse with random strangers. Okay, okay. So I was already doing that once I hit college.
So...I still get anxiety attacks, but most days, not as severe. Still have irrational fears followed by more anxiety attacks. My past still haunts me along with the places that house my past.
Being 31 feels old and not so old at the same time. I live with the fear my illness will come back. I freak at times. But like I said, I’m learning. I suppose the learning will never stop. If only my mind could learn that the past is the past and that I shouldn’t let it prevent me from leading a full, happy and healthy life. I need to break down those walls that confine my fears and smash the fears away. Realize they once existed, and yes, they were real, but I am stronger than them. I am the one with the power to win. I am a physical entity. And they are merely spiteful specks in the air, mini-intruders, they take on no shape or form.
I hate feeling this bipolar “deja vu”. My stomach churns at the thought.
So screw deja vu. I’m going to start living in the present.
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