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.
Okay, I know it’s totally a first-world problem but I need more Internet in my life. My mental health depends on it. I can’t stand not being able to write down what I’m saying for the world to see, even if it’s tucked within the megapixels and nonsense spouting out from every other computer on the face of the Earth. It makes me feel better to post it in the ether and walk away. It’s not on a piece of paper for someone to find, for prying eyes. The impersonal nature of the whole thing is enticing to the point that I’m becoming one of those people. I need the Internet again. I need it more than ever. I’ve been sitting in the library for an indeterminate amount of time, watching my future plans fall to ashes around me and I’m completely helpless to do anything about it. Well, at one point I wasn’t, but now I am. It’s too late. The world is turning and turning and I can’t find enough courage to jump off…or jump back on.
Physically, things are what they are. I’m getting monthly injections, waiting for enough time to pass for my doctor to declare that the spinal cord stimulator is our only option. My other CRPS friend had one put in and has thus had a rash of complications. But I remain undeterred. I need this to make my life semi-normal again. Granted, it won’t fix everything, i.e. the inner turmoil that is my brain, but it will sieve off some of the pressure to conform, to walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator. To park in a normal parking spot instead of the handicapped one. And the pain will be over. God, that is what I look forward to the most.
I’m applying for University of Maryland, School of Social Work for the spring semester. Halfway down the application, they ask for three reference letters, none of which can be from family or friends. The problem with this situation? I’ve been so removed from the outside world, even in my academic pursuits that I have literally no one I can contact for these references. One of the professors I did attempt to speak with told me she would be hard-pressed to say anything positive about my work ethic. That’s what I mean when I say I can’t jump back on or jump back off. The world was spinning so damn fast that I lost it, got motion-sick and had to get off. And once I was off, getting back on was seemingly impossible. The hospitals, the medication, all of it threw me so far off the track that once I managed to reassemble a “normal” existence, it was too late. I didn’t make friends, I didn’t establish connections, I didn’t network, dine or have tea with the right people. I didn’t make acknowledgments the way I should have and now my future suffers because of it. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Part of me wants to blame myself; if I hadn’t completely lost my shit, this wouldn’t be an issue. The other part of me blames society as a whole. Why do we create these webs of connections that seemingly establish who we are as human beings? What we experience, how we live, what we do on a daily basis doesn’t matter a single bit. Who you know, how you communicate and your ability to manipulate both of those skills is what gets you through life. That’s how we ended up with George W. Bush as President of the United States. My inner turmoil, any sort of insight into human nature and the darkness that lurks in all of us doesn’t matter. What if you’re autistic and lack communication skills? What if you were sexually assaulted as a child and have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as an adult? What if you fought overseas and return to find your spouse in bed with another person? None of that matters if you can’t speak to your professors, if you can’t imagine yourself as a sexual creature or if you never developed a trade skill. That’s all your fault, according to society. The strength it took to survive those things, the courage, the determination, the struggle of bearing such a heavy burden doesn’t matter if you don’t have a white picket-fence, a dog, kids and are married. The American dream isn’t a dream at all. It’s a spoon-fed nightmare that all of us have been conditioned to want to experience. Despite the hoards of people that flock to fandoms, to conventions, to fetish chat rooms and underground parties themed with coffins and fangs, all of those people are considered abnormal. They’re considered to be the fringe of society. But if everyone is on the fringe, doesn’t that mean we’re all the majority? Doesn’t that push everyone closer, ever inward until the gap is closed and we are all united as a single group of people. Though we may look different, sound different, act different, we’re all the same. It’s like penguins. When the blizzards and snow storms hit the ice caps, adult emperor penguins, waiting for their mates to return from fishing, and waiting for the eggs nestled on their feet to hatch, huddle together in a huge mass of slick feathers. They rotate constantly, making sure that anyone getting hit with the impossibly cold winds on the outer edge of the cluster, experience the radiating warmth in the center. Everyone is cycled through the heat to make sure they all survive the storm, that their eggs survive and their mates return to happy spouses and little chicks covered in down. Why can’t we be like penguins? Why can’t we just wrap each other up and love each other? Instead, I am stuck questioning my very existence because I didn’t establish enough connections in college to receive recommendation letters from anyone. People suck.
Alright, let me state, for the record, that I had to change my password and wait at least 20 minutes before logging in today to get this all written down. Irritated to the max! Anyway, I know this is a blog about mental health and illness and just generally cruddy things but I want to make a statement. I’m climbing up onto my soapbox to let y’all know what’s up. If you aren’t interested, please, do continue passing by me on the street. I’ll let you know when it’s safe to return to the blog-o-sphere.
I’m mixed race. My father is black and Native American, while my mother is a blend of European cultures (and my grandmother was from Canada, if you want to count that separately). My biggest peeve while growing up was that I was always considered black. There’s nothing wrong with being black, I just didn’t feel like it was a true statement. How can I deny a whole half of my heritage because on the outside, I appear to be black? It used to enrage my parents as well, with my mom even fighting the affirmative action check boxes on my report cards and enrollment forms. She usually won the argument too, and would have me and Thomas identified as “other.” A lot of times though, there wasn’t an “other” category and we were blocked off into being “African American.” Why am I bringing this up? Because the Black Lives Matter movement has finally moved into the forefront of my consciousness. Before, it was hard to concern myself with things that were far off and distant, but the other day I was faced cyber-head-on with the reality of it all.
A girl I attended high school with, infamous for being a devout, tightly wound Catholic with extremely conservative views, posted a status about the stand-off between Black Lives Matter protesters and the usual highway traffic on the interstate. She wanted to know why people would do this, knowing that others had to be at work. I commented, something I usually dare not do because of my temper, and the stupidity of people on the Internet (not y’all, you guys rock!), saying that their protest got the point across. Apparently, some older gentleman didn’t agree and replied with a snarky, sarcastic comment that got my blood boiling. I managed not to reply, except to say that the sarcastic tone wasn’t necessary since we were all adults. It backfired, as per usual, so I blocked the girl and any notifications I may have gotten from the post.
The old dude was upset because 8 policemen had died at the hand of a crazed sniper, specifically targeting white police officers. I understand that their deaths are tragic and I empathize with their families. One of them had a 4-month old baby. It was horrible. But, and this is a tentative and large but, Black Lives Matter. Just because an outlier in the movement went rogue and started sniping people does not mean that the movement is a terrorist organization as some have claimed. It does not mean that everyone involved in the movement is intent on violence and massacres until the job is done. That’s not the issue. The issue is that black people are institutionally and systematically oppressed, and have been for generations.
For me, it starts with not being identified truthfully. Because I look one way, people box me into a corner and make assumptions about me. However, I don’t have kinky curls, I don’t listen to rap music, I don’t know all the black celebrities, except those that have been in the news as of late. I don’t watch BET, I don’t care about cars, so on and so forth. Stereotypes are usually based somewhat in truth but they aren’t meant to be held as a standard for everyone and all people that fit into a certain category. Cutting off my feet to make sure I fit in with the rest of them isn’t how it should be done. I’m not African, my family hasn’t been African for generations. We’re American. I am an American, and nothing else. That’s how we should be identified, not based on the color of our skin. Because when people get it wrong, it’s offensive.
Now, let me explain the point of my blogging this, besides getting it off my chest. Mental illness. (Ha, you didn’t think I could come full circle, did you, but surprise!) Gunmen that go out and shoot a bunch of people are not necessarily mentally ill. Mentally ill people are not all violent and dangerous. All through my therapy career (as a patient, not a therapist) and my psychology studies, people have been saying how much the field as changed as people become more tolerant of those with mental illness. With the recent turmoil that has become our current state, mental illness has taken hundreds of steps in the wrong direction. People with a history of mental illness cannot own a gun, people with a history of mental illness cannot protest peacefully. Everyone is the scapegoat for other people’s problems. Being “black” and mentally ill puts me at the lowest space on the totem pole. I’m left to wonder when I’ll be exterminated, when I’ll lose everything. Because I’m considered black, my votes are barricaded, my input is devalued. Add in the mentally ill mixture and I’m equivalent to nothing. And my mental illness has never exhibited violence! I’m not a crazed ax-murderer or anything, but that doesn’t matter.
Assumptions. That’s the problem. Assumptions and excuses are what makes our country spin on its axis at the center of the universe, pulling the rest of the world down the drain with us. But we can’t let this continue. No matter who you are, no matter what color or creed, state of health, it cannot continue. It’s true, all lives do matter, but that standard cannot be maintained until everyone is equal. And that won’t happen until people understand that black lives matter. The mentally ill matter.
Who loved Andy more, Woody or Buzz? Who’s parents were better, Nemo’s or Dory’s? Which sister had a harder time, Anna or Elsa? If you can argue one over the other, you are part of the All Lives Matter movement and don’t understand. But if it takes breaking it down to Pixar level, I am willing to do it. Because everyone matters, and choosing one over the other is not the answer.
Alright, I’m jumping off my soapbox. I’m finished discussing this issue. It made my blood boil last week to the point that I could get nothing done. I couldn’t focus on anything else and didn’t feel better until Brendan was sitting with me in the car and listening to my endless rant about the whole thing. The library isn’t currently holding the level of happiness I usually receive. I’m going home, I think.
Alright, let’s break this shit down really quick. I’ve been trying to pump out a blog entry for the past 2 weeks and have been unsuccessful (obviously) every single time. Therefore, I’m going to sit here and do this. Problems of the past 2 weeks that may be worth mentioning…hmm, might have to think of a way to narrow that one down. I guess we’ll start with…
Medications: I’m supposed to be on lithium (a low dose, for “maintenance”, my psychiatrist calls it) and Prozac for the depression. That’s all I take. It’s not a lot to remember. And yet somehow, I have managed not to take any of it for 2 weeks. Instead, I’ve happily been consuming Klonopin (I was prescribed that for something else and then started taking it for sleep), and liquor. Doesn’t matter what kind, doesn’t matter what it’s mixed with. I’m not a big drinker, I really only do it socially and when there is someone sober to drive. I know it’s a slippery slope with me and anything that could be cause for addiction. Alcohol is no different. I don’t have any clinically defined addicts in my family but I know my personality well enough to know that once I get hooked on something, it’s not going to stop. That’s why I binge eat certain foods for months at a time, or only watch particular TV shows until I run out of episodes. I go through withdrawal, even in those circumstances. This week was no different. I knew I was drinking too much. I would wake up and still be woozy from the drugs and the alcohol (because I was consuming them both at the same time, safe or not). I would think about going home from whatever I was out doing and drinking myself to sleep. It was my escape, it’s always been my escape, and this time was no different.
Them: I don’t know how else to refer to them, except as Them. It’s a collection of everyone imaginary that I wish was in my life but aren’t because they aren’t real. Leon, my imaginary friend from childhood. She’s my twin except that she’s the ideal of what I want to be: skinny, thick-flowing hair, confident, brave and magnetic. Then, I’ve got 2 empty slots that sort of fill up with anyone that I’m currently thinking about at the time. This week, because They made an appearance…sort of, was Sherlock. Brendan and I have been watching the BBC version with Benedict Cumberbatch and it’s wildly fantastic (I’ve seen it before but he hasn’t so we had to rewatch the whole thing, but totally worth it). Alright, let me break the scenario down for you. I was driving home from a visit with a girl I know from Girl Scouts (and social media) and haven’t seen in years and years. It was nice, fun, awkwardly polite. On the drive back to the farm though, my brain went all fuzzy. I don’t know if it’s from the previously mentioned issue, or if it’s the lack of medication, or a combination of both, but Leon was visible in my mind’s eye, lounging in the passenger seat, looking incredibly relaxed and at ease with herself and all the worries going on in my head. I could imagine her voice, telling me to relax, to ease up off the reins and have a little fun. She was ridiculously couth about the entire thing. Then, in the backseat, my mind’s eye saw Sherlock, sitting there, calmly cloaked in his winter coat and scarf, playing the devil’s advocate. He and Leon were having a cool, relaxed argument, the way two people that don’t have a personal interest in the matter do. The three of us went back and forth, silently, calmly and before I knew it I was pulling into the driveway of the house, trying to decide who was right in the situation. And for Leon to argue with Sherlock Holmes is mightily impressive, even if neither of them are real. While the conversation made me feel better, the actual thought of Them being there, and giving me comfort is sort of weird. Like, I can’t confide in anyone else right now so I have to make up my social circle. That’s a very strange concept. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, per se, because I’m not actually seeing physical beings but still…I’m 25 years old with imaginary friends. Which leads me into my next topic of conversation….why I need imaginary friends.
Relationship: Brendan and I are sort of in a rocky place. But literally, it’s all in my head. I’m holding things back, I’m not expressing myself to him the way I should be and it starts this snowball effect. I block him out and slam all the doors to myself emotionally. Then, he does the same thing in retaliation, or return, I don’t really know. And it continues like that until we’re pissed at each other for no particular reason. Everything he does upsets me, down to the way he breathes when he’s sleeping. And some part of my brain knows that most of this is the result of being off my medication. I know that the dips in my emotions, the inexplicable anger is the bipolar but it still bothers me. Like, what if that’s how I really feel underneath it all? I don’t think I do but that doesn’t stop the thought from popping up and buzzing in my ear like some annoying bee. And by his breaking point, Brendan will tell me that he doesn’t think he’s ready to handle all of my emotions, that he isn’t sure he knew what he was signed up for when he started dating me (though I told him straight out the gate). It stings when he says that because it makes me feel defective. It makes me feel like if he can’t love me, and I know he does, then who the hell could? If someone who was so willing to give me leeway when it comes to my emotions and crazy attitudes, can’t handle it, what the hell am I going to do if he leaves me? Conversely, I’m so pissed off and low when I stop taking the medications that I don’t care. I convince myself that things would be better off without him here, that I should take the advantage of us having to move to break out on my own. I want to blame all of my problems on him. My financial situation, my living situation, stuff like that all magically seems to be his fault, even when it really isn’t.
It’s easier to live in this world with Them. It’s easier to think that someone, anyone is on my side and completely and utterly understands me in every situation, in every standing and in every problem. Putting my own face over that is not possible though. Trying to explain to the emotional side of my brain that They are me, that Their voices are my own, just divided and situated into different faces and bodies, doesn’t work. If I say that sort of thing to myself, it means nothing. If They say it to me, it’s exactly what I need to hear. It’s the type of support I need to boost my mood enough to get me through the day, or the drive, or whatever I’m trying to get through. Coping skills should be involved somewhere but I feel like this is it. This is my only option and I’m left with nothing else. I’m left to invent friends since I have very few on my own and encourage myself through their words and mouth. It’s pathetic and completely ridiculous.
In other news, I graduated. I’m moving. I’m applying for jobs and organized to apply for the spring semester at University of Maryland. That’s all that’s happened recently. Besides the whole, hearing-voices-sort-of thing. But hey, what’s a girl to do?
I’m in the public library. It’s been quite some time since I’ve done this. But I needed to be here. I spent all day in bed, watching NCIS and scrolling through Facebook. I needed a change of scenery, a change of pace. I was getting pretty restless. It’s sort of funny that you can get restless during a self-imprisonment. I’m supposed to be working on not one, but two papers. Instead, I’m listening to music and writing a journal entry. I just couldn’t help myself. I should probably also be outlining the next few chapters of my sociology textbook to make sure I friggin’ pass that class but again, not doing it. At least, not yet. It may happen after this post. Mostly because I won’t have anything to preoccupy myself with once this is finished. I’m feeling….God, even after all that therapy and junk, I still hate saying statements like that. “Use ‘I am’ statements.” Um, no. I don’t wish to be possessive of most things, let alone my emotions. That’s too much liability. My legal representation (my brother, Thomas) wouldn’t not approve of such admittance at this time. Let’s say, instead, that this sort of knot is building up in my guts. It’s twisting them and tying them and I’m not really sure what to make of it. I’m having spontaneous urges to throw things, punch things and any other manner of destruction. I also desperately wish to take drugs until I’m pooping blood but that’s mostly out of pain. My hip has been hurting so badly lately that I can’t walk, I rarely leave my bed (not like I was doing much of that before this became a problem) and Brendan has been driving me around as of late. I have an ultrasound scheduled with my gynecologist on Wednesday but I’m not holding my breath. Usually, when I am in pain, there is no cause and I’m left to splutter through the endless days and weeks until a doctor decrees they will take sympathy on me and prescribe a temporary sedative or opioid. It doesn’t last long and once a doctor has admitted to such weakness, it isn’t long until I’m stonewalled into finding other help. It makes me look like a drug-seeker but I’m being framed by the system, I swear! That could be part of the problem. Right now, I’m shaking from the pain being so intense in my hip but I can’t express it. I can’t explain anything to anyone or convince them that I’m in horrible, agonizing pain. It just doesn’t work. I’m too tough for them. My mother shows pain like a normal person. I mean, she isn’t a sucker, but she will concede to her limit. My father is the opposite and never admits defeat. He would saw off his own foot and walk 20 miles before he even considered saying something about being in pain. Me? I’m sort of the neutral party. I will concede that I’m in pain, I will admit that my body has reached its limits but like my father, I can’t express it. It stays cramped and bottled up inside until someone shuts the door in my face and I’m out on the streets again, looking, begging for help. Wow, I didn’t know this post was going to twist into a pity party about pain. My apologies. Really, I should have been talking about the knot that’s twisting my intestines (and probably contributing to the pain I’m already in). It’s leaving me feeling both uplifted and elated, like I’ve got the energy to bang out both of these papers and complete my sociology class by tomorrow. It’s also got me feeling like I need to destroy, to self-destruct, to do whatever it is that the villains of Gotham did to piss off both Superman and Batman. It’s confusing and I feel trapped, like that poor elephant at the National Zoo. Mother, TomTom and I took a trip to the National Zoo over our mutual spring breaks. It was a grueling walk that left me out of commission for days but it was enjoyable to spend time with them. And I’d never been to the National Zoo so I got to see pandas! Anyway, off topic. The point is, while we were there, one of the Asian elephants, housed across from the pandas, was throwing its front legs out in front of it while standing in place. It sort of looked like the potty dance on four legs. Except, elephants can pee wherever they want so I attributed it to nervousness. Like, he was anxious, all cooped up in his pen with the others. It was sad. That’s how I feel though. I’m not a tiger pacing in its cage. The danger in that would be too obvious. People know to fear tigers. They aren’t as wary of elephants, creatures that have been used by mankind for centuries. We sort of treat them like passive horses or something, but really, elephants kill a lot of people every year. They’re destructive and docile at the same time. That is how this knot in my stomach is making me feel. It’s making me feel like a time bomb that could go off at any second, that only needs a bit more pressure before the bough breaks and everything falls apart. If I ever wrote an autobiography, that is a title I would seriously consider: When The Bough Breaks or Everything Falls Apart or Why Elephants and Invalids Are Alike. Ooh, I just thought of that last one and I like it! Alright, focus, time to actually write something. Or sit on Facebook for the remainder of my time here. Who knows what could happen? I certainly–oh! And to top off this growing knot in the pit of my stomach, I’m doing two things. One: I’m binge-watching NCIS to the point that every sentence that comes out of my mouth usually makes some connection back to the show. Not a good thing. Whenever I get this binge-y, it takes a while for me to snap out of it. It also makes me really depressed when I reach the end and can’t continue at the current trajectory. Two: I’m not seeing Craig this week. He cancelled early this morning, which means this blog will most likely be the last confession I will make this week. I realized when I was driving here that even Craig, the person I’ve spent two years with, doesn’t know me. I can divulge lots about my illnesses or my past but it’s much, much harder to say anything definitive about myself. My dad asked me once why Craig accused sabotage as being my saboteur in my “recovery” (*gag*). I told him I didn’t know, that I couldn’t know because I was ultimately doomed to spin on this hamster wheel until I died. Like, if I’m subconsciously sabotaging myself, it would theoretically never end. Well, at least not until I died. I need to get out of this headspace. I’m going to actually go work on my paper because it’s both boring and horrible, two things I excel at.