Friday, March 30, 2012


One of the most infuriating aspects of mental illness is the way it strips you of your ability to give yourself credit for living with a mental illness. If the disorder in your head were to manifest in your body instead, like say some day you couldn't get out of bed because a disease has made both your legs shrivel up into useless toothpicks, or maybe one day you wake up and your eyeballs are only functioning at 25%, or whatever--you'd have this very clear, distinct thing you have to live with, this cross to bear so to speak, that you'd be a lot less likely to blame yourself for. It wouldn't make you question whether the thing that's wrong even exists in the first place, or if everyone's this way and you're just handling it badly because of some fault in your personality.

But man, fucked-up brain chemicals are just as debilitating as having a body that doesn't function that well. And I want to give myself credit for living with them without breaking my life into pieces, but it is so hard to do that. Today I was walking out to my car to go pick up my kid and I had one of those moments I've had a million times in my life, when there's this insanely powerful surge of emotion that rips a hole through my brain like a tornado and leaves destruction and silence in its wake, and once it passed, I thought, well god damn. Normal people don't have to live with that, do they? Normal people can walk from the house to the car and not have to think hard about breathing because there is this whirlwind serotonin onslaught wreaking havoc with thoughts and impulses like there's no tomorrow. Normal people can just get right in the car and start driving without needing to sit there and slam their head into the steering wheel a few times first. For no apparent reason. It's not like I just found out I was fired or I heard my grandma died or whatever, nothing terrible just happened, but my body is suddenly acting like I've heard awful news when I haven't. There is no news. There is only strong, gnarly ghost emotion. Teeth and claws that don't exist.

And then of course I think, well obviously I've been thinking the wrong thoughts, that's why I have that surge rip through me like that. Like I've dug this canyon into my mind by thinking the same wrong thoughts, and it's unearthed some slathering beast. Like it's my fault. My fault that I can't keep a better lid on my crazy, even if I do all I can to not let it show that I feel like I don't have a lid on it. Whenever it starts showing, whenever I do something that makes me think, oops, people are gonna know that I'm a nutjob, I castigate myself for being weak. Letting it show is a weakness. I am weak if I let it show. I've got to turn down my personality. It's too damn loud. Too much.

But that's the crazy talking! It's just the crazy! AmIright?! Yeah. Now I just have to remember that, at the times when it's hardest to remember.

And, huh, there we are again.

Anybody got any brilliant tips for breaking the cycle of suck? Maybe I could get "It's not your fault" tattooed in reverse writing on my forehead so every time I look in a mirror I'm reminded.

Then again, I usually realize about halfway through my work day that I haven't bothered to look in a mirror yet to make sure I look normal. That whole "crazy" thing.


  1. The never looking in a mirror plus out of control curly hair used to get me. I couldn't figure out why my psychologist filled out a form 5 years or so ago saying my appearance wasn't completely professional; I wore scrubs, wasn't like we were dressy. But I'm sure that's why.

    The answer to what made me see this as just as limiting as anything else has been, strangely, the paperwork for disability. Even though it is the same kind of assessment I spent career doing, it wasn't until I was asked if I could do this or that and why not and found that I couldn't do most of it and that I could explain why. Suddenly it felt a lot more real, like I truly was just as disabled as someone with a visible disability. I've read that social secrurity actually gets calls from people saying "my neighbor is on disability but they take out the trash, mow the lawn, and drive. They're cheating the system", when of course none of that matters. Personally I am not doing so well with taking out trash OR mowing but sometime soon we'll try them again.

  2. Reading this does a number of things:

    1.) It makes me realize how much "easier" I have it compared to bi-polar "1-ers" compared to myself. I have bi-polar 2.
    2.) It also makes me remember how much we suffer, regardless of levels. You describe it so fucking well.
    3.) Makes me want to recommend the book "Brainlock" to you. It's supposed to be for obsessive compulsive disorder, but you can use it for other things, like reprogramming yourself to not respond to your situation as though it's your fault. Cause you're fucking right. It isn't your fault, & that right there is just as debilitating as bi-polar itself. Walking around feeling as though you did something wrong to feel the way you are feeling is gonna make you question every little thing you do so that you are walking on eggshells for everything, & FUCK ALL OF THAT, right?

    Also, Just Me. Yeahhhhh. What Just Me said. Especially about people that don't know any better about disabilities in general. Cheating the system my ass.

  3. Thanks guys. You both just did a lot to help me feel like those thoughts that I deserve some kind of credit for this bullshit are in fact valid. Jen, it's interesting what you say about the paperwork--it's like that time I sat on my psych's couch while he sat there on the phone with the inso co and spieled off all this shit about why they should pay for my Abilify. You don't realize what a morass your head's in until you have to define it for someone else. That, really, is our bipolar mirror.

    I'll check out "Brainlock"--I'll take any help I can get, ha ha. And yes; FUCK ALL OF THAT!! I'm glad you put "easier" in quotes, because people with II can suffer just as much as people with I. I think it depends a lot on how you're raised and how early in your life the problem was recognized, and the ways you intitally tried to deal with it. If those ways are not healthy, well, it can leave you pretty fucked.

  4. There are always people who can't see past their own noses. They've never walked in someone else's shoes, and they wouldn't if you payed them. They'll never understand. Don't let the turkeys get you down. They're the same people who think all those folks who live on the streets are just lazy.