Continued rant from Stigma
The thing that bothers me, I think, is that we apply benign labels to what mental health issues are. I mean, even that “mental health issues”? Do people describe lung cancer as respiratory health issues? When someone says “depression”, “anxiety” or “bipolar” it sounds neatly packaged and contained. Ah, yes, your brain chemistry is off, and with a pill or two, you will be tip top.
I’m sorry, no. I was chastised by a few people (including my psychologist) for “blogging so openly about things…” per my psychologist, “well, you just don’t know how this can be used against you.” I’m sorry, what the actual fuck are you saying to me? So, by this stellar logic, I should just keep this all to myself. I’ve said countless times that writing has opened the door of understanding myself and loving myself, but it’s messy and makes people uncomfortable, so I best go back to cutting myself and binge-ing. On it!
I should just politely say, I have anxiety. That is so much more easily digested than, say, “Well, my panic attacks often cause me to start twitching and stuttering. One time, I had a panic attack while I was driving. Thankfully, I was only 2 minutes from home, and I was able to white knuckle myself home while breathing and praying that I didn’t black out. No biggie!!” I guess euphemistically discussing “mental health” makes everyone feel better, so that when people are struggling with the reality of these “disorders” they can think that they’re fucked up among fucked up people.
I always thought that, if I am bipolar, it is tied to something specific. As I’ve perused my timehop, I have seen exactly when “Mania” and “Depression” surface. For 9 years, I’ve read through my batshit insanity with eyes wide open this year. I’m talking TO THE DAY – “I went to the gym for 2 hours! cleaned my house, rearranged my fridge, and baked the kids 8 dozen cookies! phew!” over and over. So, my brain chemistry apparently has a calendar. Buuuut, I need to shut up, because that’s not comfortable stuff to wonder about. “IT’s nothing to be concerned about, you have medication now, so this won’t bother you anymore.” O.o Really? Because..uh..3 of those 9 years, pills were popped. No need to look for roots when you have pills, amirite! Addiction, likewise, is all about being sober, not figuring out what exactly you are escaping from in the first place, right? Is it seriously that ridiculous to think we’re all unable to handle realities of things?
As we’re all encouraged to talk about it via euphemism. Bipolar, for me, looks like me sobbing in my bed rocking back and forth as I grasp my ears screaming and begging myself to SHUT THE FUCK UP. Bipolar, for me, is/was imbibing any and all depressants to try and make my brain quiet. Bipolar, for me, is arguing with myself not to kill myself. Bipolar is accepting that I was, apparently, born with a condition that makes me not want to live, makes me difficult to be friends with/love due to my irrationality, impulsivity, and stubborn personality. That’s bipolar. Bipolar is knowing 9/10 relationships will blow up in smoke with people wishing they never met me.
Bipolar is staring at your three angels and worrying, “Did I give this to you? Oh my god, what have I done?” See, for me, the word bipolar never entered my reality until I was 31 years old. I had a nuclear meltdown and went to the mental hospital for the first time. My initial diagnosis was schizo-affective disorder. The diagnoses have changed every single time, so I don’t bother keeping track anymore. All I can say, with certainty, is my brain has never shut up, I struggle mightily with depression and anxiety. I’m also pretty funny, and I like to ponder cool things when I am not depressed. Oh! Shit right, there’ s a human behind that diagnosis. But, fuck, doesn’t that diagnosis control a lot?
In reality, I have to wonder if, I knew these issues were going to surface, would I have had kids? I mean, every time my kids have a meltdown or struggle or whatever, I immediately worry that “they’re like me”. There’s been more than once I’ve cried to Jack ala Forest Gump “Are they…are they…like…me??”
I refuse to use anything as an excuse for anything. I take pride in that, but I also realize it’s actually cruel to myself. My exhaustion is overwhelming, and as I sit there trying to rest, equal parts telling myself that rest is necessary and “you are failing at life, the laundry..” I genuinely have to wonder, again, “Am I doing this to myself?” More people than I can count have told me “You set expectations for yourself that no human can achieve.” I asked my super-helpful psychologist to help me establish healthy minimums for myself. I want to understand what “reasonable” is. According to her recommendations, it’s “Stop overthinking”. Super. So…maybe my excessive use of alcohol and/or marijuana was the way to go? “Reduce your anxiety” Okay! I’ll quit my job, drop my kids off at one of those safe harbor things, and live in a Himalayan salt cave. Done and done!
I don’t understand how the hell I’m supposed to “reduce” shit when life seems to be increasingly unmanageable and stressful. I finally realized that I am Clark Griswold with life. Not just holidays and vacations, though, I tend to be like “Ahh, fuck limitations! Do it all!” Maybe it’s that black and white thing. I don’t know, what if it’s just how I am? If I didn’t have bipolar slapped next to my name, aren’t I “Driven”, “Motivated”, and “Proactive”? I mean, couldn’t I just be a highly anxious Perfect Corporate Drone?
At some point, it’s not my brain, it’s my personality, right? I don’t think anyone walks around identifying themselves as their disease, do they? “Hi, I’m Carl, I am Colon Cancer.” At some point, I am allowed to look around and wonder why, in the hell, my brain is so insistent on fucking me up, right? At every point, I don’t think it’s “symptomatic of my disease” to fucking write about the reality of my existence. It’s also difficult to comprehend how burning bridges and bipolar are attached, yet they are. It’s in the DSM V – tumultuous relationships. Awesome! My ex, I’m sure, would nod heartily at how the last 4 years of our lives have been.
See, that’s the actual face of “mental illness”. It’s one thing to do battle with your own brain, everyone does it. It’s being forced to sit front row and watch as you hurt the ones you love. It’s being forced to “trust” that these pills you pop will prevent you from going nuclear again. It’s being forced to “hope” that you don’t have to tell your kids “Mommy has to go to the hospital again.” or “Mommy needs you guys to stay with Daddy for a day or two, because I’m not feeling well.” It’s managing an illness that is not an illness. I’m sorry, but how the hell can I tell myself that my brain is sick? I’m not sick, but I certainly am not handling life well.
My son is having a meltdown right now, because he was fighting with his brother about a video game. Where do you think my brain is traveling? “Is this normal? Do I need to take him to see someone?”
The thing is, I can’t change any of this. I can only change how I think about it. I love the fact that my holistic means of managing myself – writing, meditation, (used to be) yoga, and music are kind of poo poo’d, yet they have helped me most. I mean, shit, meditation connected me with memories/emotions that I repressed and allowed me to start getting those parts out of me. It’s kind of nice at least knowing, sometimes, that my “bullshit” is me being triggered. Meds don’t do that.
I don’t think it is all that crazy to believe that life is making me far more ill than my mentality. I just think that maybe it’s impossible to adhere to any of today’s standards anymore. I don’t see how anyone can work, mother, household shit, bill shit, child stimulation shit, wonderful family dinner shit, PTA shit, homework shit, shit shit, and be anything other than lovingly boxed in euphemistic labels. To me, the reality is quite simply “This world is fucking unrealistic and batshit crazy, the expectations placed upon people – mothers especially is unsustainable, companies are running humans into the ground because profits are more important than people, and so forth. ” I genuinely believe all of us crazy people are the sane ones, because we at least see and feel that this is not right. I believe that it’s difficult to actually be healthy in a sick world; to improve when the “helpers” don’t actually treat you as a human being, just a paycheck and mouth for pill depository.
I don’t think it’s all that crazy, either, seeing as every band I listen to keeps saying to open our eyes and wake up. Maybe it’s not that crazy to think that there’s a reason “mental illness” is such a hot topic. Maybe the only truly crazy thing is to continuously externalize our own power, minds, and opinions to others. I certainly know that, me myself and I, are far too accustomed to getting used, manipulated, and taken advantage of. Maybe my mind is sick of it. Maybe my motherly instinct is worried sick about what happens to my kids, because I am not generally seeing an improvement. It seems every aberrant behavior gets letters and pills applied.
I can’t say I have any answers, but I do have a hell of a lot of questions. The only place I’m finding peace is when I pop some crystals on my body, close my eyes, and breathe. I have yet to find a pill that will give me more hours in a day, make my Facebook life more perfect, or allow me to achieve the standards of clean house, perfect kids, awesome cook, able to keep up with the thousand communications sent from school, work, and actually enjoy my own personal existence. Well, I guess meth? Maybe I’ll try meth.
I don’t know, I’m not ashamed to admit I can’t handle this bullshit, but I’m the crazy one, though.