Sweet mediocrity

People confound me. Not a certain type of person, character or even any one person in particular, not specifically the nosy neighbour twitching at the curtains nor the postman on his daily rounds, not the obnoxious kid with his negligent mother or the young girls feigning idiocy in a vain attempt to appear more approachable to men, I refer merely to every single person that ever there was or ever will be. Every beating heart, every mouth spewing with love and hate in equal measure, every warm body, every mind and every soul. Each and every one of them leave me flummoxed.

We each hold so much power in our hands, we have the ultimate power to make or break a person with the just the thoughtless or thoughtful words that spew forth, often with a mind of their own. So many people are destroyed every day with just words, cruel, taunting words… and in turn so many people are saved or brought a sense of accomplishment and assurance from mere words; where is the meaning? Where is the recognition of the power we hold? I sometimes wonder if perhaps words mean more to me than they do to other people, I have never told someone I love them unless I genuinely mean it in that moment, I have only ever told one person that I hate them and that is as true this day as it was then, I am always being told that I take things to heart and I know I do but why speak if not with your very soul? What is the point of an utterance if it says nothing about how you really feel and see the world. Words can hurt, words can heal.

I never seem to get relationships with people right. Just as my Bipolar disorder takes me from one extreme to another, high moods and low moods but never a normal mood to be seen, my relationships with people seem to work the same way I either come across as distant and uninterested or I am clingy, needy and slightly overwhelming. I don’t know how to rectify this. It is difficult for me to know how to behave around people; when everyone else was learning their social skills I was battling my mind and trying to keep my head above water; I was isolated, the one in the corner with my head in a book. Is it too late to learn how to relate to people in a normal way?

I grew up always knowing I was in the way, always feeling that I needed to move away, change myself be someone better, Words damaged me beyond repair, mere cruel and often thoughtless words had me believing I was a bad person, I was wrong in everything I uttered, I was worthless and as a result I always felt unwanted. Words can cripple a person and you might not even realise it has happened. It is so difficult for me to let my guard down and allow a person into my life, it is difficult for me to come to rely on someone and I still don’t quite trust that these relationships won’t be gone by morning. So, when I feel wanted, liked and sometimes even needed, I cling to that; I need it like a drug and I am terrified of losing it, of that person waking up one day and realising I’m not at all worth their time – I hold onto it for dear life and I am aware that can be somewhat suffocating for the recipient.

I am certain I have hurt many with my words and I have also helped – I am not innocent in this abuse of power our entire species seems to have but I will pledge to be more mindful of what spills from my mouth from this day. There is power in words.

My new medication is messing with me, my mind is swamped – there are side-effects galore, there is a deep depression once more and life has less meaning than it used to. I see clearly in the mirror now and what faces me is not pleasurable. What will save me now? Who am I?

It would seem that every facet of my life is all or nothing, there is no in-between… I will never be anything other than who I am, mediocrity has abandoned me, I am not normal.

Levity, love and laughter

There are times in all our lives when the weight of the world crashes upon us, everyone seems to want a piece of us and there is not enough to go around, the pressure seems never-ending, life seems hopeless, desolate and barren and in those moments all problems and negative elements of life gravitate towards us as if drawn to the desperation radiating from our pores, nothing is going well, nothing will end well, devastation in all its forms surrounds us… things are so bad that we can’t even make toast without burning it, the end is most assuredly nigh and what we need more than anything else in those dark and miserable times is for someone to set their own life and problems aside, to listen, embrace and comfort us and ultimately confirm that though the world (and the toast) burns around us, we are still loved, unconditionally.

It is easy to forget the support we have, easy to miss the people consistently holding us up – until that something happens that brings us to our knees, who are those around us? who reaches out a hand to help us stand tall once again? Those are the people to be thankful for, those are the ones we need with every fibre of our being. This week brought me to my knees; there was too much stress, pressure, too many significant events, I couldn’t breathe, life was crushing me, anxiety had me in its grip… by Thursday I was totally demoralised, mentally spent, I was a broken weeping mess. Friday was my birthday and I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I was woken early in the morning by my two magnificent children singing Happy birthday to me and I was then showered in kisses and cuddles – what a glorious way to start the day. The sun shone brightly and the sky was blue. From start to finish everything went exactly as it should do. I spent the morning with two of my most significant family members and the afternoon in a situation that just a few months ago would have filled me with anxiety and dread but now held nothing but comfort because that someone has unexpectedly become a friendship first for me and a treasured one at that. People bought the most thoughtful gifts I have ever been given; they were exactly me through and through and I felt genuinely touched that they know me so well. There was amazingly beautiful food that was so delicious I cannot even begin to describe it, rum punch, lots of banter and laughter galore, it felt good and right to be within this group of people and there was not a sliver of anxiety or paranoia in sight. When it was time to leave, my very best friend walked me to my taxi held me tight and told me she loved me and I’m certain even she doesn’t realise how much I needed to hear that and how much it meant to me.

The whole day, from the very start right until the end, served to remind me that life can be good, that I am loved and most of all it made me realise exactly what the people around me think I’m worth and it would seem, that to them, I am worth a whole hell of a lot!

I don’t have many friends. My Bipolar disorder, anxiety and complete lack of social skills often puts people off or alienates them. It can make me seem rude and aloof or just uninterested. If others don’t have the inclination to persistently attempt to befriend me then a friendship is never likely to happen. Sometimes, when overcome with self absorption and self pity, it upsets me that I do not have scores of friends hiding in every facet of my existence but times like these make me realise that what is significant is quality and not quantity. I can undoubtedly say with 100% assurance that the friends I have now genuinely care for me, accept me for everything that I am, know the very best and worst of me and want to see me happy and thriving and that I feel the same way about them.

Things may seem bleak, the darkness drags us down. We plead for the end, search for the eternal way out… Weep, scream, shout, writhe, hurt and bleed but life can be good – it will be good again and I am loved.

 

Whatever makes you happy

It has been around a year since I first sought help for my mental illness. At the time many of the people around me were reluctant to believe there was anything wrong with me; many thought I was simply seeking attention, After a while, if enough people believe that you are attention seeking or being dramatic, eventually, you begin to believe them too. There were pockets of support but overall the decision to seek help was one I made on my own.  It wasn’t an easy decision and even after I had made the moves to start getting help I fought hard with myself, was I really ill? Was I just looking for attention? I still fight with myself, I still wonder but everything makes so much more sense if I give in to the truth and accept that I have an illness.

Things have changed so drastically in the past year. The people around me have changed too, but I think they have changed their views because I have altered the way I deal with the symptoms of my illness; I am more open, I vocalise my feelings and though often it brings me a surge of guilt and paranoia – what are they thinking? Am I attention seeking? – it also seems to help the people around me deal with symptoms that can often come from nowhere and be hard for them to understand. When I talk about the symptoms of my illness or my feelings and how they are affecting me I speak with more confidence than I would have before, I feel sure in what I am saying and I have the knowledge of my illness to back these things up, people notice that, people feel that you know what you’re talking about and they’re happy to accept that.

When I first went to seek help for my illness I went with the belief that I had a chronic form of depression, which I had been treated for previously – I was afraid that I might get put back on medication, it was the last thing I wanted as my previously humongous dose of antidepressants had left me feeling unable to function and dead inside… eventually, through therapy, we discovered that at the time I was taking antidepressants I was in the midst of a psychotic break and so regardless of the dose of medication I would have felt dead inside and unable to function. Ironically, now I have been pushing for my psychiatrist to give me a mood stabiliser as I feel that though therapy has taught me how to manage my moods and symptoms it is not a maintainable way to live – eventually, without mood stabilisers I would relapse. So today I was prescribed Lamotrigine to take alongside my Venlafaxine; I’m nervous about starting a new medication, especially one that will likely have such a large impact but I know that it could well be the start of great change for me.

My perceptions about a lot of things have also changed drastically throughout this past year. The way I feel about my life and the people who are/have been in it is very different now, I hold no bitterness or anger – I have come to terms with my past, I have let go of my baggage and it feels like freedom. I feel better about myself as a person, I am a good person, as good as anyone else; I feel deserving of love and friendship and comfort… I have never felt so good about myself. My relationships with people are also changing, particularly those with men; I am not seeking unhealthy relationships with men anymore and this large amount of time as a single woman and the therapy I had served to heal things in me that I did not even know where wounded – perhaps meaning that should I become involved in a relationship in the future it will be one forged on real feelings rather than my need to feel wanted.

The stress of this week and the multitude of new things to cope with is weighing heavily upon me but I will survive; just look how far I’ve come already.

Melodrama

Next week I am inundated with appointments. Appointments to get help seeking work, with my OTA, with my psychiatrist, my GP… the stress and anxiety these looming events are causing is unbearable; sending me into a manic episode, which I’m sure will be clear in the erratic nature of this post. It’s ironic really, considering these appointments are all supposed to be in aid of my condition, all meant to help and yet I really just want to curl up in a corner and sleep. I wonder, sometimes, if the medical professionals even try to understand or empathise with the diverse and vast number of idiosyncrasies of this debilitating disease, surely if they fully understood they would not send us jumping through hoops for a small semblance of help? Can I really claim to know any more about my disease than they do?

Some days I feel as though I have it all figured out in my head, but of course my head is not a very reliable place and so the surety that I have finally found the meaning and reasoning behind all of this insanity soon slips away. Perhaps it is not even really possible to understand Bipolar disorder, not fully anyway.

Coping has become a burden that I would sooner toss to the wayside than carry for the rest of my life. I feel erratic, I can see the lack of logic and sense in my actions and yet I am powerless to stop them. I feel guilty for expressing my fear and pain; do they think I’m attention seeking? Am I being dramatic? Do they care? How do I know when I have spoken about this too much? I could talk about it forever and still not feel purged of the things that plague me.

Last week I had a massive delusion, one of my first – I found myself believing that I had murdered someone and gotten away with it. It sounds ridiculous and laughable now but it all seemed so real to me at the time, so plausible; The thought leapt upon me quite suddenly, from nowhere, I couldn’t see how I had done this or to whom and sometimes I wasn’t certain whether it had actually happened or if it was just a dream from a long time ago, the thought that I had done this terrible thing niggled at me for almost three days; a constant presence in my mind that I couldn’t shift. I didn’t talk to anyone about it at the time, I thought about telling my psychiatrist but I was afraid of what might happen and of what she might think. I told my friend about it a few days ago and ever-understanding as she is, she was not taken aback by it at all. I was terrified though, terrified of myself. Even now, I’m ashamed to admit to this delusion, fearful of what others will think, afraid that this is a sign that my illness is progressing… What should I have done in this situation? What should I do now? What will people think of me? Even though I am terribly ashamed of this part of my illness and terrified of the repercussions of  discussing such a symptom in such an open forum; I refuse to lay down to the stigma of mental illness that would keep me from sharing this along with all of the other painfully honest accounts of my experience of Bipolar disorder and so though it is frightening to share I have resolved to do it anyway. Come what may.

Sometimes I wonder if my Bipolar disorder is getting worse, my symptoms and mood swings seem to become more and more obvious as the days roll by. But perhaps it is just that I am now more aware of what is significant to my illness and more comfortable with announcing that this is what I am afflicted with and so what were inward symptoms previously, now radiate outwardly. Personally, even though this may make those around me rather uncomfortable at times, I think it is healthier that my symptoms are more visible now, when the façade is brought into play it is time to worry at the severity of the latest mood swing. They say alcoholics are at their worst when they hide their drinking and likewise I believe Bipolar sufferers are at their worst when they feel they must hide their symptoms.

As if the stress of next week is not enough, tomorrow I will face a fear that I didn’t even know I had. Tomorrow I see my uncle for the first time in 14 years. He has Bipolar disorder too and I’m afraid that when I see him, what I will really see is my future… It is sure to be an experience, though I will hold judgment on whether it will be a good or a bad one…