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.

I had therapy today. I wanted it to be meaningful, as some of my latest sessions have simply been voicing my complaints about daily life: the droll and dribble of work, my home life with Brendan, paying bills, etc. This session was certainly meaningful but not quite in the way I’d hoped. I follow someone on Instagram (I know, stories that start with social media never end well) that was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. They disagree with their diagnosis. Watching this person everyday has been like staring into a very clear mirror. As they explain the inner mechanisms of their mind, I can hear my own thoughts, my own words spilling out of their mouth. It’s completely terrifying. I am forcing myself to watch their story, to feel what they’re feeling because in truth, what I do is simply mask. I slide into this character that I think everyone wants me to be, but it’s not who I am. The truth is, I don’t know who I am. When I was first starting recovery, that was always a big question for me. Who are you, as an individual? What are your interests? I could never answer that question, and I still can’t. Borderlines usually describe feelings of emptiness and boredom. That’s exactly what my entire life is. Any semblance of pure enjoyment I got out of things was sucked out of me at a young age. I sort of think that’s why I can’t remember 99% of my childhood. I’ve blanked it out to make more space for anything else people might need me to be. I’m a hollow husk of an individual, waiting for someone to come along and suggest a new obsession. When I first starting working again, that was it. I poured all of my energy and time into my job. When I become friends with someone, I pour myself into a mold of that individual. I like what they like, I dislike what they dislike. I know all about the movies they enjoy, I’ve been to the same places, even if none of it is true, until they stick around. Once they’re stuck, the lie is forced to continue until a different husk comes along for me to mold myself against. I’m a pod person. The worst thing about it too, is that when I’m alone, as I am right now, there is no one to mold myself to. That’s why my free time is spent doing mindless activities like cleaning, or sleeping. It takes the reality away. I don’t want to know that I’m just the sum of an endless string of traits that are not my own. Being an individual is so important to me because I have no sense of self-identity. Most of the time, what comes out of my mouth when I’m talking to someone is a lie. Trying to explain to people that I can’t enjoy certain things because it will send my brain into a spiral of existentialism that I may never come back from is very difficult. I have to adapt, quickly and on the spot, and confirm that I know what they’re talking about. I’m the mysterious world traveler that has experienced everything and anything, because if I’m not, they’ll know that I’m a rock. And we don’t want that. That leads me to wonder if my relationship with Brendan is the only genuine one I have? And if it is, why is he still here? What makes him want to stick around with this Ditto of a girlfriend, that is so fake and cold? And he knows that. He’s called me out on it. He’s told me the absorption/regurgitation of facts picked selectively from conversations won’t work on him. He knows when I’m lying. I know when I’m lying and those obsessive thoughts, the worry behind the exposure is so terrifying it’s almost crippling. How do I convert from pod person to actual person? Is that even possible? Am I going to have to sit on the sidelines of social interaction forever, because you can’t retrain a person’s personality to understand the dynamics of friendship? This is why I think about death so much. Before, admittedly, I was depressed and wanted to die to end the pain I was feeling. A lot of the time though, the thought of death is sort of relaxing, as weird as that sounds. Almost like, I’m tired of being who I am and death would provide me the exit I need. It almost seems like the only escape. Sitting on the sidelines can be torturous, especially because life is a full-contact sport. Death is the only sport I’ll be able to fully participate in. My brain will finally stop. I will finally experience quiet, calm and the nothingness I feel. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suicidal. My brain is like a beehive, constantly teeming with thoughts, urges and insatiable questioning. My body is the tree, holding the beehive. It’s completely independent of the beehive but if it falls, so do the bees. While my body may be young and semi-functional, my mind is ancient, heavy and exhausted. Death seems to be the only reprieve to that. Scary, but true.

Having a keyboard under my fingers feels so normal to me. It’s weird and fantastic at the same time. I haven’t written in quite a while (as usual) but I am here to tell you a winding tale about a birthday, a nose piercing and a few ups and downs. There is some self-harm mentioned so **trigger** warning to everyone that may have an issue. I’ll let you know before I start talking about it if you want to skip over that part. Alright, here we go, my children…

My birthday was this past Sunday. Now, I have an easier time making a big deal out of other people’s birthdays. The spotlight is away from me and easily focused on another person. Plus, most people love celebrating their own birthdays. Anyway, hanging out with friends I met at work on Friday and a casual evening with Lily on Saturday meant I was just about spent. I felt the love in every ounce of my body and had such a fun time. When I went to my parents’ house though, that changed very quickly.

I share a birthday with my maternal uncle. It’s pretty cool, sharing a birthday, because it gives you a special connection to that person that no one else seems to understand or have. Maybe a bit to metaphysical, but still true! Anyway, he came to visit and brought along his friend, Debbie. Now, I love Debbie. I’ve known her since I was a little girl. She’s always bubbly and energetic and fun, albeit sometimes it’s a little much. But overall, she has a good heart…an honest and true aura, if you will. I also invited Ms. Dolores on a whim, thinking it would be enjoyable for her and my mom to catch up. They rarely see each other; Ms. Dolores sort of lives like a hermit and is very hard to reach by conventional means. I’m talking, a carrier pigeon might be easier than trying to send her an email. I also invited Brendan, obviously, but he had to work that day so he was going to show up later. The gang’s all here!

My uncle, Chris, wanted a dish called Chicken Kiev. It’s something to do with breaded chicken and onions…I don’t know. My father made it and it was delicious. The food was great. My problems started with my mom. I got my nose pierced as a birthday present to myself. I really wanted a septum ring and was happy with the outcome. I didn’t tell my parents because I’m now old enough to make most decisions on my own. I had cleared the acceptance of the piercing at work and even planned on buying enough rings that I could flip them up if I needed to look more professional. It was all considered and worked out. Except for my mom’s reaction. I had pegged both of my parents as being disappointed, as they are with most of my decisions, but not overly so. I was ready and armed with a prepared defense; this jury would believe me and would not convict an innocent man! Well, they did. They formed a mob and demanded his head on a pike. I had my back to my mom as she came over to give me a hug and I warned her I had pierced it. When I turned, she cried out and gagged, turning away from me. She shook her head and just kept saying she couldn’t look at it. My own mother couldn’t look at me on my birthday. Thomas and I had been planning a walk so we left for the trail after that. That moment was the beginning of the end for me.

We walked, Thomas dutifully listening to my sob story as I told him how much that hurt my feelings and how I was angry that everything I did was wrong to them. Towards the end of the trail, I started to feel better. We’d changed the subject, were talking about faire folk or something. Then, a jogger passed us. He was wearing a t-shirt that said “Rowan University.” That was where I was interested in going before I fucked up my life. That was where I could have made a decision and instead, chose to do nothing and idly watch my life crumble to pieces like sand through my fingers. Thomas was reassuring and full of brotherly love, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. I couldn’t shake that this was how my life was always going to be. Full of disappointments and a reminder of those disappointments flashing like neon signs every single day.

We left, went home and had dinner. It was really good. The conversation was more directed towards our guests, which was fine with me; I didn’t have many nice things to say. Brendan showed up just before it was time to open presents. I was thankful and smiling, but underneath the table, I was holding his hand. The conversation with my mom was still reeling through my head, like a warped record whose needle kept returning to the rim, driving deeper in until it couldn’t, and pulling back to repeat the process. We left, everyone scattering to their vehicles and off in different directions, the darkness swallowing the warm evening.

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I bought razor blades a few weeks back in a rather desperate attempt to make myself feel…anything. I was depressed but not quite at the bottom of the pit. I wanted to hurt physically, so I could drain the white noise in my head. I bought them and promptly lost them in the depths of my car, only to find them shortly after restarting my medication. I got off track with it, something that’s rather usual for me, and was feeling the effects. I should have thrown them away but I didn’t. I kept them. I can’t explain why, I just did. I would idly twirl the little case at red lights, listening to the soft tink of them hitting the plastic, thinking. I got in the car the night of my birthday and knew, knew that I wanted the mental pain I was in to stop. I knew there was a way to do it but I also knew there were consequences.

When you cut, normally (at least not me), you don’t worry about scars. You don’t care who sees or who knows, you just want the urge to stop. That was true of this night but not entirely so. I was worried about the people that know my history seeing what I’d done, knowing that I’d relapsed and being afraid. I didn’t want to hurt anyone else but the pain I felt inside was unbearable. I asked Brendan if he’d be upset if I cut and in a rather neutral tone, he declared he wouldn’t be. I’m not sure if he was enabling but he was as supportive as he could be and I was thankful for it.

I drew a bath, sat in the hot water and splayed the four razors on the edge and chose one. I dragged it over my wrist and forearm. God, the rush was so what I needed. It was almost like a drug. I immediately relaxed. My mind was still whirling, thinking of all the disappointment, all the lines, all of it. But the pressure behind it was gone. The driving force that made me want to scream out and cry had disappeared. I was as close to myself as I was going to get that night.

I only ever seem to cut in rows of three. When I got to work the next day, my manager immediately asked me about them. I lied and blamed it on my cat, declaring that he’d scratched me in the process of giving him his daily medication. Whether or not he believed me, I can’t say, but I did feel the genuine concern. Another coworker asked me and where I could have been just as honest with her, I wasn’t and told her the same lie. I’m beginning to spin a web that I don’t want to. I want to be honest with my coworkers. I like them, I care about them, but this is something that I don’t think they can, nor want, to handle.

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I’ve returned to group, I’m seeing Craig once a week instead of once every two weeks. Things have started to spiral downhill again. I’m not sure what to make of it. But the keys under my fingers, having it all out and here definitely helps.

**TRIGGER WARNING**

I’m being used as a pillow by Brendan, which I don’t really mind. We’re all (we, as in Poco, Czar and Brendan) cuddled up and ready for bed but only the animals are sleeping. I’m wide awake, with my mind racing at about 10 lightyears a minute. It’s impossible to get anything out coherently but I’ll try my best. It has been quite a while since I last blogged and a lot has happened. We moved into our new apartment, a swanky building with rude leasing managers in the city. I love the neighborhood and I’m quite proud of us for achieving such a nice residence. However, maintaining this residence has pushed me almost to the edge of sanity. I work nights now so I don’t want to accomplish much during the day. It’s in an effort to reserve my energy and limit the pain aftershock after work but it also means that I accomplish literally nothing. The bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, all of it is just scrambled with stuff and lacking any organization. We’ve been here since November and the only real proof that we’ve made any kind of effort was when Brendan put the coffee table together, assembled the lamps, and mounted a mail holder thingy per my request by the door. It’s frustrating. My mom maintained a very clean house and after Sparks, which needed 24/7 maintenance and cleaning (something my stay-at-home grandmother was more than willing to provide!), I thought I would be better at maintaining this space. But I’m not. And it’s definitely throwing off my chi. Speaking of work, it pretty much sucks. I come in everyday and I’m constantly thrown off track by a million missing things. We don’t have what we should for each shift and because I’m the shift leader, I’m the one that has to deal with everything. Plus, my Spanish isn’t all that and when Mama, one of the cooks, gets frustrated she only speaks Spanish. Not being able to communicate is much more frustrated than not having things. Because it limits my ability to fix the problem. I hate it. My pain and depression are also on another. I’m stuck in this limbo of insurance approval for the spinal cord stimulator trial. My doctor is willing to work through the process but I’m stuck waiting for it, waiting for approval for something that means I won’t have to be on opioids, or treated with drug therapy long term. Really, the only logical decision is to approve me but insurance companies don’t work like that. They don’t always do the logical thing and they are definitely not interested in providing patients with the care they need. That’s what the woe of the world has become. It has become a devastating mess of not caring for thy fellow man, and treating everyone like shit so you can get higher up in the chain. Alright, see, this is where my depression becomes a problem…

Last night, I was watching a video about the death of Emmett Till (I will not go into detail here, but please, please, please Google his name if you don’t know who this is! Warning! There are GRAPHIC pictures in the search results). Afterwards, I became so overwhelmed with the problems and circumstances of the world that I wanted to do nothing more than throw a blanket over my head and cry. And that’s exactly what I did. My heart was swollen with pain for what the United States has become, for the racial struggles so many Americans are facing, the poor, the hungry, the refugees being refused asylum in every part of the globe. Tears brimmed my eyes and spilled over. I couldn’t take the hand squeezing my heart, manically laughing and watching me struggle in pain. Even now, as I type this, I want to cry for the horrible, horrible things that are happening in this world right now. And last night, the only reasonable solution was the Cave of Sadness (that’s what my blanket fort/escape has been dubbed under these circumstances). The Cave of Sadness did not help as much as I would have liked, even while searching for pictures of baby goats, dachshunds and owls on Pinterest. Coping skills, right? Well, it wasn’t working. I was playing with my cat earlier, a frequent source of my contentedness, with his purring and passive-aggressive nature, and he scratched my wrist. We were playing, it didn’t hurt, and I’m used to his claws but he scratched me horizontally across my wrist. It blends in perfectly well with my scars and makes me want to cut so f***ing bad (sometimes, bleeping a curse word has more effect than actually saying it). This crushing, overwhelming….betrayal. I feel like I’ve been betrayed by my fellow man. And I know I constantly talk about my hatred for the human race but I think what makes all of this more intense is the fact that I fundamentally don’t hate the human race. Humans, as individuals are not evil. They may not always make decisions in the name of what is good, but they are not fundamentally evil. And knowing that someone could hurt another human being in such a horrible and radically bad way is literally, physically painful to me. My chest hurts and my eyes are pressed with tears, my throat closes and I feel as though all the light in this world has suddenly died all at once. We are left in this piercing blackness, holding closely to the ones we love, linking hands and freezing. We can’t move for fear that there is no ground except what is underneath our feet. And in the dark, lurking, stalking and waiting for us to make a mistake, to let go, to sever the connection, is the evil that is slowly ripping the world apart. We cannot fathom the deepness that is rooted in this evil but we know, we inherently know, that it will systematically destroy the core at which we are all connected. And once that is destroyed, none of us will ever recover. We will never be the same. And that is horrible. There is no word for that deep sadness, at least not to my knowledge, and we need one. Work is pressing on the back of my head, while the world’s woes are slowly crushing me. Rather than futilely pushing the rock back up the hill, only to have it roll down, I’ve been pushing and pushing but am being run over like a bug. I am Indiana Jones, constantly running from the large boulder that is meant to end my life, rather than achieving splendor in the successful moment the boulder makes it up the hill. It sucks. There was a Greek dude (I know I reference the Greeks in this blog, a lot, but they were on to something!) that had his intestines eaten by an eagle and as soon as the eagle was finished, rather than being granted the mercy of death, his intestines grow back and he is subjected to the eagle’s beak again and again. That’s who I am right now. Helpless to stop anything, helpless to end the world’s tumultuous turning, but able to feel it all. Empathy can be a blessing, but when the world is so utterly….sad, empathy is the enemy. I don’t know how long I can stand this and I hate that I have to.

What is the futility of being an adult? We run all through grade school, run through college, sometimes a little further and then we’re forced into jobs that initially make us happy, but we later come to hate. And sometimes enjoying the job isn’t even in the equation. We work until we die and once we’re dead, well, it’s over. That’s it. How did society devise that this was the way to do it? That this was the way to spend our entirety on this beautiful planet? Make money, spend money, die. It was a rough day at work. At least, it was when I left. It started out okay, I got plenty of sleep and left home in a good mood. At work, there was a shit storm waiting for me. Our new assistant manager was pissed off at the lack of respect our current employees have for the general manager and the overall lack of work done in the restaurant. Granted, he still wasn’t doing the work that needed to be done. He was just bitching and complaining about it. He called our GM (he was off today) and then when he was unsatisfied with his response to the situation, he went above the GM’s head and called our regional manager. Our regional manager told him what we’ve always done in times like this so, unhappy with his response as well, he threw up his hands and went home. The GM came in for a little while but still didn’t get a lot done. His plan was to come in tomorrow morning, earlier than the opening staff and try to knock some stuff out. Regardless, everyone left pretty pissed off and upset. I was fine for the first 2 hours of my shift but then…do you ever think about something, and the more you think about it, the more upset you get? Even if you weren’t originally upset about it? As the shift continued and the AM continued to moan about what hadn’t been done, I got more and more pissed off. I’m a shift leader at this restaurant, which means I’m supposed to have some sort of control over the restaurant when the managers aren’t there. 9/10 that doesn’t happen though, and I’m used to it so I micromanage (in a good way) what I can and go from there. But today, every time either manager needed to speak with someone or work something out with another coworker, they went and spoke to Lauren. I love Lauren and have absolutely nothing against her. But this is bullshit. What is the point of me having a title and Lauren getting less pay if she’s going to do my job? I appreciate the money, I really do, but it’s not fair to her to give her all of my responsibilities and not pay her for it? I’m already getting paid for it and no one wants to give me any responsibility, or credit for that matter, for the shit I do handle on a daily basis. Now, at the end of my shift, most of this was relatively gotten over. I didn’t care, I just wanted to go home. But then I realized that this is going to be the next, like, more 2/3 of my life. Having to deal with shitty people, working shitty positions, and never catching a break. WHY?! I think I’m swirling around the drain, ready to head into a depressive episode. My medication is keeping it at bay but work is so stressful, it’s not enough. It’s never enough. I need to clean the apartment, I need to throw stuff away, I need to finish unpacking a lot of shit, and when I get home from work, I’m too fucking tired to do any of it. And before I go in, I don’t want to do anything in anticipation for the shit storm that awaits me. It’s a catch-22 and sometimes those resolve themselves but other times, like now, that problem is not going anywhere. I’m going to have to sacrifice sleep or free time to do what needs to be done and I don’t want to. I can’t quit my job because I need the money to live in the apartment I never clean. I want to believe it will all work out, I really do, but it’s hard to think that right now. It’s hard to trust that this shit will resolve and I’ll eventually be able to come home to a relatively clean apartment from the job I don’t like, not necessarily hate though, rinse and repeat. This is going to be a short post because I’m tired, but I needed to get it off my chest. This is bullshit and I’m tired of being forced to smell it.