This is certainly a trying time. Mentally ill or not, the world seems to have turned on its head and retreated into one of the darkest times in human history. While rife with the triumph of the human spirit, it wasn’t always that way and we have to face that as a nation, as a world. But we’ll come back to the inner turmoils that may rip the world to shreds in our lifetime. I want to talk about something else.
I’m a psychology major. I hope to get into a school in Pennsylvania to get my Master’s so I can become a counselor. I’ve been on this side of the trench and want to let people know that there are ways out. There are ways to climb through the mud to get to the other side and enjoy life. It might not be the life you’d thought you would have (mine certainly isn’t) but I’m here. Self-care is a very important aspect of all of this; it’s the only buffer we have that keeps us from other people’s demons. But what are you supposed to do if the demons are already inside?
I have Bipolar Disorder and I struggle more with obsessive, irritable mania than depression. I also have Borderline Personality Disorder so the minor discrepancies between my actual personality and the illness are quite hard to detect, even for me. I’m a cynical person so finding the irritability as a symptom takes some skill. My psychiatrist recently classified my illness as “treatment resistant,” meaning there might be something wrong with the way my brain uses amino acids. I may take them in and store them (thanks to the medication I’m on) but I don’t necessarily use the stores I have. Which explains the severe dips I’ve been experiencing. While it’s kind of comforting to know it might be a physiological problem, and not some subconscious resistance, I still have to handle the symptoms. The people in my life still have to deal with the negativity, the irritability and the depressed thoughts and actions that I have. Being a psychology major, I can easily analyze and diagnose others. I have an unbiased perspective (usually) of their behavior and actions and can make an assessment. With myself, I’m too personally invested. I am like a child that needs constant supervision. That’s what that boils down to. I have to be constantly monitored with everything related to my treatment plan. If I’m not, I implode.
Right now, I’m living with my boyfriend. He is, by no means, an expert on mental illness. He tries his hardest to understand and empathize with what I go through but there’s only so much empathy can do. My symptoms definitely affect my relationship, usually in a negative way. It’s impossible to constantly explain what I’m thinking or what’s going through my brain when I struggle to grip reality myself. How could I possibly explain it to someone else? Explain that small, inconsequential thoughts fly through my mind at a million miles an hour and turn into these existential crises, each one greater and harsher than the last. They all end horribly and I can’t ever recenter the image. I can’t focus on the now and what I’m specifically doing. Suddenly, I’m a speck of dust in the cosmos that has no control over what happens. None of us do. Alright, it feels like I’m getting a little too far off the track. Let’s regroup.
When I’m having problems, I know what I’m supposed to do. Exercise, eat (my typical inclination when depressed is to restrict), leave the bedroom, socialize, be in nature, all of that. I know that’s what I’m supposed to do but it never works. Amongst the grand thoughts of our purpose in this universe, I become glued to my thoughts. I physically can’t break the cycle until someone breaks it for me. Today, it was Brendan coming home from work. I’d been wrapped up in the blankets, with my dog, watching Criminal Minds. Usually, these types of shows give me emotional excitement. It’s not the crimes that gets my blood rushing, it’s usually the relationships on the show that I admire. I want cohesion like that. Anyway, unemotionally watching an episode (spoiler alert) where a girl gets her head bashed in by her best friends, Brendan walks in the door. He’s flustered from work and muttering his grievances to himself. Suddenly, I’m caught! The realization that so much time has passed without me doing a damn thing, with me drowning in my thoughts, I jumped to my feet and threw myself in the shower. Wandering around for another hour or so, I finally left and attempted to do one task today. Just one. Get my laptop to the shop. And guess what? Through various dawdling, it wasn’t done. I missed my appointment. I’m actually sitting in the library now, thinking I should get some books or a movie or two to occupy my time instead of sitting on my ass when I get home. I have essays to write but the thought is too overwhelming. Plus, in my current state, I don’t think I would have anything positive to say about myself.
It just seems so ridiculous that I know the treatments, I know the science behind them, I know how this system runs and yet, I fall into the same trap, over and over again. I’m an eternal child that will always need someone to make sure she’s doing what she’s supposed to. I had two major fears when I was first hospitalized for this: that others would find out (it has served as my ultimate shame since) and that I would get stuck in this pattern. Others did find out, usually within my control so it wasn’t so horrible, but getting stuck was not in my control. And I’m definitely stuck. The parts of my brain that hold the should do information can’t connect to the actually do information. Like, I know I need to take my medications and keep my appointments on a regular basis. So what do I do? Stop taking my medications completely and miss two appointments in a row. That makes no sense. I had to download several apps to remember to take my medications and I still struggle with it. It’s shameful. I already feel like I’m living life the wrong way (we’ve talked about that before). To add the shame of needing a babysitter, to make sure I’m taking care of myself is so, so shameful. I can’t even think about it right now. I’m logging off to regroup.