Where do I begin?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

This post started out as a post about something completely different. But as I was writing, the topic morphed, and I realized that I needed to process through something.

Where do my illnesses end and I begin?

And not in a “I am not my illness” kind of way, but in a “I need to take responsibility for my actions and not let my illness take the blame for all of it”

I talk a lot about how I do or don’t do things because of my list of labels. The depression will keep me from cleaning the kitchen, executive dysfunction from ADHD will get in the way of doing the dishes, mania will have me spending all of the money, or anxiety will cause me to cancel plans with friends.

Any of them can send me running to my bed with covers over my head.

Maybe my kitchen is a wreck because I don’t feel like cleaning, maybe bipolar has nothing to do with it.

Maybe my sink is full of dishes right now because I’m just being lazy. Maybe it’s not executive dysfunction.

Maybe I want to spend money because I’m just bad with money. Maybe it’s my own fault and not the bipolar. Maybe I just need more self control.

Maybe I cancel plans with friends because I’ve become more introverted and I’m more comfortable being alone.

Maybe, sometimes, the illness is easy to blame, but maybe it’s just as much my personality as anything.

But, I wonder if it matters.

No matter why I’m not cleaning, I need to figure out a way to get the kitchen clean and the dishes done. It doesn’t matter if its because of my illness or because I’m a lazy lump that day, I need to find a way through it so the job gets done.

And I need to do it with kindness and compassion towards myself.

Same with the money, and finding ways to follow through on plans.

Blaming myself isn’t doing anyone any good.

I also wonder how much these things became part of my personality because of my illnesses.

Where do I end and the illnesses begin?

 

 

Will to live.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I used to have this feeling, when sitting in therapy, or the psychiatrists office, or at PHP, that they knew something that I don’t know. Like there’s some big secret they aren’t telling me, something happening in the conversations behind the scenes.

Like they know the outcome and just weren’t letting me in on it.

That feeling was so strong last year.

I haven’t thought about it in awhile.

But back then, last time I was here, I wanted to scream at them.

“Tell me, what does the ending of this story look like.”

“Does the main character live, or does she die?”

“What type of story is this?”

I hadn’t thought about that in a long time.

I’ve been feeling like I’ve taken 20 steps back.

Like I’m right where I started.

Like the past year has been useless.

But somehow, in the midst of this crisis.

Even while buying bottles of pills.

Even while checking into the hospital.

Even while sitting in the rooms at Partial.

Even though I don’t know what the ending of the story is.

I know the main character makes it out alive.

Of course, it’s kind of funny (and horrifying) that today they let me in on a little secret.

The last time I was sitting in the rooms at Partial, they weren’t sure what the ending of the story was going to be.

They had their own doubts.

Not that I was in immediate danger, they would have gotten me safe, but that overall, I hadn’t solidified my will to live.

I remember being that person. I remember the wish to die being so strong that I could feel death surround me. I remember that darkness. I remember feeling no connection with life.

I remember.

Suicidal thoughts are different now. Even at their worst. Even in absolute crisis. Even when I’m truly in danger.

It doesn’t make them any less dangerous.

They could still make me just as dead.

But there’s a will to live that wasn’t there before.

There’s a fight.

There’s a chance.

There’s a light.

There’s hope behind it.

Yeah, shit still sucks sometimes and I’m honestly not sure just how far I’ll be able to go with this fucked up brain of mine.

But at least we aren’t questioning my chance at survival anymore.

And I guess that’s some pretty significant growth.

In the grand scheme of things.

Sick of Being Sick

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m tired.

I crawl in bed and close my eyes.

But this is not the kind of tired a nap will fix.

I’m tired of being sick.

I’m tired of knowing this will never go away.

I’m tired of not knowing what days will be good and what days will be bad.

I’m tired of it being out of my control.

I feel like I do the right things.

I take the meds and I go to the classes and I go to the groups and I do the therapy and I work hard. I practice mindfulness and all of the skills I’ve learned over the years. I stay active and I eat well.

I give myself all of the things a little plant needs.

And I still never know when I’m going to have a bad day or week or month. I never know when it’s going to come back.

And I know it will get better, and that’s great.  That’s wonderful. That’s fantastic.

But I can’t plan around it getting better. I can’t even plan around it getting worse.

It will always do both, on it’s own timeline, and sometimes it doesn’t matter what I’m doing at the time.

I could end up suicidal on my wedding day, just because the chemicals in my brain decide it’s a good day to go haywire.

I could end up manic the day I’m supposed to have surgery (which has most likely been cancelled, again, anyway).

I could end up fine as they’re checking me into a psychiatric unit.

I’m tired of being sick.

I’m tired of it being out of my control.

The idea that I just can’t do things now, but that maybe one day I’ll be able to do them, seems like bullshit because I have so little control over this shit.

And it’s not fair.

I didn’t ask for this.

I didn’t do anything to deserve it.

I got out of PHP 15 months ago with the idea that after DBT I’d be able to return to work, because DBT was going to give me the skills to better manage my illness.

I WAS IN MY SECOND ROUND OF DBT WHEN THIS EPISODE STARTED!

I’m doing the work and it seems pointless. It seems like I’m never going to get any better than where I’m at now.

And where I’m at now means two pages worth of medications daily, suicidal thoughts almost daily, a severe mood episode monthly, not being able to work or even hold down a part time volunteer position.

It makes life itself seem pointless. It makes me want to give up.

I’m tired.

Bounce Back

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I started an all day, 5 days a week, Partial Hospitalization Program last Wednesday.

The school semester started today.

Therapy every Friday afternoon.

Derby and NAMI Wednesday nights.

I need to get back to the Gym.

Somewhere in there I need to clean the house and grocery shop and cook dinner and pack my lunch.

I keep expecting myself to be 100%.

This weekend I got so mad at myself because Friday I ended up melting down. I was exhausted, emotionally and physically. I was overwhelmed. I was realizing that there was so much that needed to be done with school starting and here I was away for the weekend.

But the alternative was staying home alone for three days which didn’t feel like the greatest idea either.

So while I was in the car trying to nap I was also beating myself up. The crisis was over, why couldn’t I handle this?

Because I’m not 100%. I’m not even 50%. I’m not suddenly, overnight, all better, just because they let me come home.

They only let me come home because I’m safe.

But that doesn’t mean the thoughts are gone.

That doesn’t mean this mood episode has totally passed, even though I try to act like it has.

The good news is, Saturday and Sunday were a lot better. I was able to relax into the flow of a tournament. I met some new people. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in awhile. I watched some great derby.

I enjoyed myself.

But the knowledge of what was coming as soon as I got home was still looming over my head. I looked at my classes online a few times. Tried to read some of the coursework. The words got jumbled in my brain. My focus isn’t quite where it should be, quite where I need it to be.

I’m overwhelmed.

And that’s okay.

Because I’m not 100%. I’m not even 50%. I’m not suddenly, overnight, all better, just because they let me come home.

I still have a lot of healing left to do.

I need to cut myself some slack.

No one is expecting perfection.

Except me.

Except me.

Except.

Me.

Maybe this isn’t the semester to worry about deans list and honors programs. Maybe this isn’t the semester to return to full time classes. Maybe passable work and part time classes are just fine.

Maybe a messy house and Instacart and frozen meals.

Maybe it’s time to reconsider some priorities, even if just for now.

Maybe I’m allowed to be less than 100%. Maybe even less than 50%. Maybe I’m not expected to be suddenly, overnight, all better.

Healing takes time.

Working on myself has to be the top priority.

Otherwise, I’ll never bounce back.

Day Five – Going Home

(These are a series of posts I hand wrote while I was inpatient on the crisis unit)

Trigger Warning: Suicidal Stuff

August 20, 2019 Five Days on the unit.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

“Going home today unless they change their minds.”

We’re at the mercy of the man.

“Did they tell you what time?”

Hurry up and wait. The wheels of the machine move ever so slowly. We keep going about our day, waiting for someone to change their mind.

Excited, but on the edge of angry, ready to go off at hte slightest mention of us staying another day.

“I feel so much better, so much happier, everyone sees it, except the doctors”

We spend more time helping each other then they spend helping us. Groups are a joke. Lets watch another movie, lets listen to more music and color.

Here, pop some more pills.

Let us drug you into wellness instead of helping you with coping skills. It’s no longer a combination of both.

And then we dangle the carrot.

Home.

But first they need input from all sides.

You’d think they’d cover that first before telling us we’re going, but that would be too simple.

Too easy on us.

Day Four

(These are a series of posts I hand wrote while I was inpatient on the crisis unit)

Trigger Warning: Suicidal Stuff

August 19, 2019 Four days on the unit.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

The unit is quiet at 4:30 in the morning. The sound is only broken by the quiet um of the floor machine. I guess they have to get cleaned sometime.

My back and legs hurt from sleeping on this shitty mattress. I’m taking my tramadol more often here.

The meds they give me for sleep have both good and bad sides.  It’s great that I fall asleep easily and sleep deeply. It sucks that I wake up after 6 hours and can’t always get back to sleep.

But the unit is quiet at 4:30am and the quiet is nice. I don’t get much of that in here.

I should enjoy it while I can.

Day Three

(These are a series of posts I hand wrote while I was inpatient on the crisis unit)

Trigger Warning: Suicidal Stuff.

August 18, 2019 7:05 pm  Three Days on the unit.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Today feels better.

The thoughts have settled into a dull roar instead of screaming in the back of my head.

The unit is still loud.

I can’t get a moment of silence no matter where I go.

Twenty-five beds, filled to capacity, eight people came in overnight.

Everyone has their own brand of crazy.

Some of them are easier to ignore than others.

I try not to judge. I try not to judge the people who are judging.

I try not to judge myself.

Today feels better.

I’m talking more, interacting more. I ask Wonder Woman for one of my skirts. I want real clothes.

I feel human.

I’m still so tired. Mental illness is exhausting. I’m not quite there yet. But,

Today feels better.