I wrote a post for Bring Change 2 Mind, Glenn Close’s mental health charity, and it got published! Now you all get to know who I am. I am conflicted about this but I’m proud of this piece so I’ll share it anyway!
I bet sometimes you feel like you just don’t want to leave the house. You’d like to stay in and do nothing or goof off or just chill. Imagine feeling like that all the time, except it’s pathological and the mere thought of leaving the apartment is terrifying. This is what it’s like to live with agoraphobia. I am bipolar, I suffer from bipolar depression more often than mania, and I have panic disorder which has led to me sometimes falling prone to agoraphobic tendencies. It starts slowly, with me falling deeper into a depression and ends with me literally trapped inside the apartment because everything outside is panic-inducing. Trying to explain this to people is difficult, which is why I thought I’d give it a shot here. I read one account, a book called “Agorafabulous” which was an excellent description of what it’s like to live with agoraphobia, and one that I recommend if you’re curious about the subject. But aside from that book there isn’t much writing out there about living with agoraphobia, just “how to bust agoraphobia with this one trick,” etc. Yikes. There is no one trick. I’m sorry. It requires work. Therapy, meds, work. Lots of work. Did I mention work?
Have you ever received a compliment and laughed it off? I do this all the time. I have learned how to accept compliments with genuine enthusiasm, but I am instantly dubious of the other person’s intent. I can’t possibly be worthy of a compliment, so what’s your angle? What are you trying to do to me by telling me this false nice thing? I’m a fraud, an imposter. I’m not good at anything. I’m not even good at being alive. I feel very ambivalent about it. Today, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. I spent hours trying to tell myself that my small goals were good enough, that I showered, went to my therapist, went to my psychiatrist, practiced my Ukulele, etc., which is more than I’ve done in weeks. I try to say well I’m back in school so I’m working on that goal. But it feels too slow and I still feel like I don’t know anything. I feel like I won’t be able to do the work in the fall and I’m just faking my way through these courses. Nevermind my actual grades. They don’t mean anything. I still know nothing. Continue reading “Impostor Syndrome”
Yesterday I had an energetic epiphany and decided to take a shower for the first time in a while. I will refrain from saying how long because it’s sad, and I don’t want to be sad. Suffice it to say this was an accomplishment for me, and I feel better for it. I had my cousin over for hang-out time last night and that was refreshing as well. We goofed around on my Ukulele (which I’ve been spelling wrong forever??). Today I got up and actually went to CVS to pick up my meds. It was the first time I’d left the apartment in over a week. It was nice to be a part of the world again. Sometimes I forget that it’s not the end of the world to leave.
This is a friendly neighborhood reminder that no matter how rough shit is, you just have to keep going. Eventually things will get easier. Continue reading “Energy, Parents, and Charities”
Sometimes I feel as though my mental health issues rule my life. Bipolar can take over whenever it feels like it, sending me into spirals of mania or depression of its own will. I do lots of preventative things, like taking my meds, going to therapy regularly, sleeping appropriately, etc. But that doesn’t always keep the demons at bay. BPD is similar, because the rapid cycling moods and sensitivity can be more than I feel like I can handle. It makes it easy to write a blog about mental health because mine is constantly shifting, but it doesn’t make it easy to live in the world. It’s hard not to get my identity wrapped up in these diagnoses. For one, as someone with BPD I’m prone to an unstable sense of self, so sometimes identifying with a disorder is grounding, but it can become all encompassing. I want to remember that I am ME in all of my flawed glory. I am more than these disorders.
My therapist brought up agency the other day. I have a tendency to say, “Oh, things will change,” instead of “Oh, I will change things.” I need to get my shit together. I know the things that will fix this low mood but that doesn’t help me when I can’t motivate enough to get anything done. I thought she had a good point though. I have to maintain my agency and say that I can do things instead of waiting around for things to happen to me. I always say there will be a catalyst that spurs me into action (and for the most part that’s been true), but what if I could shift it so that the catalyst was just me? Can I do that? Will these disorders let me? Will I let myself? Continue reading “Get Your Shit Together”
I asked my Twitter community if it was possible to be in denial about depression, and the consensus was yes. I am experiencing a depression without my most typical depression symptoms. I have some of the normal ones: difficulty showering, isolation, trouble getting out of the apartment, lack of affect. But I don’t have my usual sadness, hopelessness, lack of appetite, increased or decreased sleeping. What I’ve concluded is that I might be in a mild depression. My therapist has been pointing me in that direction. It’s not hindering my life too much right now, but she worries that it will continue to worsen until I’m not functional at all any more. I worry about that too but I don’t see it happening right now. I’m generally in too good of a mood.
Typically when I write, I end up crying. It doesn’t matter if I’m in an episode or not. Something about the process is so deep and raw that I always end up welling up with tears. Sometimes Husband will look over at me with surprise and ask what’s wrong, but all I have to say now is, “I’m writing,” and he understands.
I’ve always loved to write. I’ve kept journals since I was 10 or 11 and my favorite genre to read is memoir. I’ve wanted to blog for a long time but I didn’t know what to say. When I decided to transcribe my journal last year, it made me think, as Hemingway said, “Write what you know.” I have tried to follow those words as much as I can because I believe that the best writing comes from the heart and we can only heartfully share that which we know ourselves. This blog is a collection of my truths. Not all of them, but as many as I can share with you. Continue reading “Tears and what I know”
I read a post by Giving Voice to Depression about the phrase “a cry for help,” and it got me thinking. The phrase itself should be a benign request for assistance, with no judgement tacked on whatsoever, but that’s not the case. It has this pitiable sense, as if we are to automatically feel bad for someone asking for help. Stigma has coopted the phrase to the point where a lot of people say “cry for help” with a dismissive, even patronizing affect. To me, a “cry for help” is just the manifestation of a person’s pain in whatever way they know how to express themselves at the moment, which often isn’t in words. When your head is all scrambled up from mental illness, it can be nigh on impossible to express yourself sensibly. Sometimes a half-hearted attempt at suicide is the only way one knows to get the medical attention one needs. You’ve simply forgotten how to say the words.
This post contains some potentially triggering self-harm and suicidal imagery.
Suicide and mental health have been taboo for ages. Tomes have been written about their respective histories. Much of it depressing and even gruesome. People who committed suicide were shunned and often the body was desecrated. Dante left a special place in hell for those who died by their own hand. They became trees who were constantly eaten by harpies, the only inhabitants to be denied their human forms. In some places services were held for the survivors, but not the victim. Sometimes bodies were buried with the a stake through their hearts, at a crossroads so the body couldn’t make its way back home. These archaic practices have lasted well into the 21st century. Until 1993, suicide was illegal in Ireland. In her book Night Falls Fast, Kay Jamison writes, “The harshness of centuries-old views of suicide still touches the present, both in social policy and in more personal ways” (18). In her estimation, these age-old links still inform our beliefs, which we can see clearly when we encounter the stigma around mental health and suicide.