About 2 months ago, I was driving home and The Outsider by A Perfect Circle came on. It’s one of those songs that felt too close to home about myself. I was singing and thinking how I had been punishing myself for everything that happened with my kids, my marriage, and my life. I wanted to forgive myself, and I wanted to stop feeling how I always feel. I was so tired of trying to kill myself without actually killing myself. The worst part was, it wasn’t a new revelation. It was one I have all the time and I file it away. Even now, I can’t say I don’t go down these dark, overthinking, ruminating spirals.
I never wanted to be crazy.
The word scares me. It makes me feel how the lyrics in The Outsider make me feel. I don’t know why I always self-destruct, and for awhile I convinced myself I was faking it. It seems like since I was a teenager, my brain was just like the computer in LOST. If I didn’t enter the codes in, *kerploof*. On a good day, my mind is a running commentator from FOX news, and I’m not Republican. The word crazy feels close to home, even if the connotation is unkind. Words like this – crazy, drama queen, attention whore, etc. are tossed around so freely. Words like those keep a lot of people quiet when they shouldn’t be. If I hadn’t been so scared to talk about being crazy, I might not have gone quite so … crazy.
Most of the people in my life found out about the last 20 years in my brain on this blog. There’s a part of me that wishes I never started writing, and there’s a part of me that thinks I wouldn’t make it to my 35th birthday if I hadn’t. Every time I write about “my bullshit”, I feel nauseous and worried I’m being a drama queen. Then, I remember I don’t care anymore. For the last 5 years, I’ve tried to varying degrees to get help. I’ve been hospitalized 5 times, and I’ve been on lots of different medications with lots of different diagnoses. The only difference in the last 5 years versus the rest of my life is that I couldn’t hide what was going on anymore and I was trying medication/psychiatrist/therapists. I fought when the medications completely changed me, I stopped taking medications, and I ultimately ended up having a psychotic break and generally unsure about my reality anymore. It’s all good. Haha.
Oddly enough, losing my mind is what is helping me learn to control my mind.
Except that is not the right word. I’m learning to stop fighting with everything. For almost my entire life, my focus was on fighting. I didn’t want people to know I was crazy. I don’t know how I knew that I was crazy, but I did. Even though, to this day, if you were to ask me to define crazy, I would say, “I don’t know, me I guess. People that go to hospitals and take meds. I guess.” The word doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s the feeling behind it. Not right, different, not normal. Even though those words make no real sense anyway. Maybe anxiety made me hyper-aware of how I was compared to others and depression just made me believe I was a burden. All I wanted was to be perfect, so I fought with myself until I wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t until I connected with Buddhism that I began understanding I have control over nothing except the moment I am in. It also helped hone my perspective from seeing the negatives of being crazy, and seeing instead the blessings of being crazy – even if the connotation of the word is unkind.
I know the dangers of the mental health stigma because I held it against myself.
My ex-husband had asked me many times to go see a therapist. “Only crazy people see therapists.” were my usual replies. It wasn’t until I found myself sobbing huddled up on the kitchen floor, twitching from a panic attack in the middle of my workday I thought maybe I should talk to someone. A few months later, I would have a nervous breakdown and spend the next few months in and out of mental hospitals. My first thought when I went into the hospital was, “Oh my god, I’m fucking crazy.”
The biggest key to my recovery has been acceptance.
I feel like that sounds cliche and trite, but having the ability to press the words, “no, I’m not okay” past my lips is a Shawshank/Andy Dufresne moment for me. Today was one of
those days for me, I spent half the day trying to get myself out of bed, simultaneously being pissed it was like this and understanding I’m having a rough go of it. My obsession with TOOL led me to study Buddhism and Carl Jung. Jung’s writings on the Shadow and Buddha’s teachings on love, compassion, impermanence, and forgiveness helped me let go of a lot of the reasons that were making me want to self-destruct. Call it karma, call it shadows, demons, or trauma, I learned how to work through it instead of fight it.
Once I stopped hyper-focusing on my own stigma against myself, I started seeing what I loved about myself. Bipolar/Mood Disorders/Whatever is up with me make me really creative, imaginative, passionate, and spontaneous. Anxiety and Depression made me sensitive and more empathetic. I would always try to make everyone else laugh to cheer myself up when I was depressed. I still do. It’s a double-edged sword because I became so reliant on making other people happy that I stopped making myself happy. (Oops!) Depression taught me compassion, but I only recently started applying it to myself. The instability, self-destruction, and suicidality made me appreciate the good in my life. I know there are days I am going to go down dark rabbit holes, so I do my best to take care of myself when I can. I remind myself constantly that I get a fresh start every day.
I’ve been going through this process for 20 years, and it’s only recently I feel as though I’m getting all of the pieces together. The biggest piece of it, though, was to stop hating myself for being myself. Ironically, I’m becoming a writer who has little regard for words after giving so much power to five stupid letters.
Previous Posts regarding suicide:
- No, Seriously, Suicide is Not Selfish
- Depression is Selfish
- Won’t Someone Think of the Children?
- 13 Reasons..
- Suicide Prevention Month – My Story Pt 1
- AFSP – Association for Suicide Prevention
- If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741
Things to watch:
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