Most of us who are mentally ill know that our emotions, whether they be up or down, come in waves. I know that my low periods are going to be inundated with a thousands pin-pricks. I know that my highs, the few that there are, will be a combination platter of a variety of known and unknown feelings that create inside of me a mess that can’t easily be cleaned up. I know this about my disease. And while I often can concentrate on one or two of the many waves that are lapping at the shores of my brain, I can also feel the madness in a greater glory.
Not many people want to speak about the various dents that are made by the combination of emotions one feels during these times of upheaval. The general population, I would posit, would much rather believe that madness is just madness, that depression is a simple feeling of sadness, or that mania is more energy coursing through a blood stream. No one wants to complicate the scary; and for those without a mental illness, things do get scary. People want a easy solution. People want to look at someone and be able to easily characterize a person and their possible madness because to look at it in any other way creates a deeper misunderstanding of the complexities of mental illness.
I am currently going through hell. While I have gone through hell in many ways, many times, and many reaction, no two are exactly the same. Even the mental illness combined with the postpartum depression after my son was very different than it was for my second child. When the doctors thought I should mix up my medications and nearly brought me to my knees before I could stabilize, the thoughts and feelings of that time was very different than any other time. These differences, the changes that happen each time I go through either an up or down crisis, are a part of my journey through my mental illness. I can’t predict it, I can’t describe it, and I can’t often understand it.
Currently I am in the midst of a long and almost unbelievable journey. It isn’t an easy stroll through memories or a simple understanding of a problem that is forcing emotions to my surfaces. Currently I am in the midst of a mental break; a time when all that I know, all that I feel, all that I depend on simply doesn’t exist. It is the bottom curves of the roller coaster. It is the undeniable proof that there are things going on in my brain that I can’t control or predict. About a month ago I started falling and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get around that dangerous bend.
Usually in my journeys of mental illness there comes some part of the process where I start to get frustrated and begin to demand of myself some surcease. Just a moment of peace. I am at that point for this break, but I find that unlike during other breaks, my own frustration doesn’t seem to be pushing the talons away from my brain into the regions they belong. For a reason that I can’t articulate, this break isn’t giving me a break, no matter how hard I push. I can’t find my footing and there isn’t a drug, recipe, or simple moment of peace to be found. I am floundering and while I have before this time its like comparing the Mississippi River to the Nile. This time is like none I have ever known.
While there are multiple emotions happening during this break, I have narrowed down three separate emotions that are working together to keep me from the relief I now deserve. These aren’t the only emotions I am feeling but its a start.
The greatest emotion I seem to be feeling these days is fear. I fear leaving my house. I fear disappointing my children because I can’t do something they need me to do. I fear going to the bathroom. I fear travel. I fear the repercussions of what I can’t escape. While the doctors are trying to keep my medicines in check, and I am taking more of those drugs than I have before, nothing is changing.
I enjoy the outdoors. I enjoy going places. I enjoy finding ways to make my children happy. All of this requires a certain confidence that I can’t find. The frustrating part of this is I am not truly scared of the car or different places. I enjoy taking care rides and seeing the countrysides. I enjoy opening the windows in my home so that fresh and clean air can come into my space. I don’t mind taking a book and finding a parking lot to read it in; it is quiet and calm and in its own way unselfish. But today, like yesterday and the day before, the idea of walking out my front door scares me spit-less. It causes my hands to tremble, my body to feel as if I am falling apart, and it cause me panic. The panic that induces the attacks. And it just keeps coming.
Second, I would say that I am exhausted. I don’t mean I need a nap, although that wouldn’t hurt, but rather tired of feeling like panic is my default button. I am not a young chick, I have some years on me, so why is it happening now, these great and unappealing attacks on my body, my mind, my soul? And how long until this passes? Because if it gets worse than my kids, my husband, my life will be systematically destroyed slowly and determinedly. And who wants to voluntarily live in a world of fear? Especially this world. So I am tired of this feeling. Which leads me directly into the third feeling.
Desire. There are all kinds of desire and I wish that I could tell you that I am currently talking about that beautiful feeling between two people in love. Or that I could talk about a shirt that I saw in this store recently that I can’t stop thinking about. I wish I could talk about any kind of desire than the one that I will. The desire I am talking about is the soul crushing kind. Its the kind that exists because you need or want something but simply can’t get it. And unlike the shirt I was talking about earlier this desire is the soul deep need to feel differently than you do at this moment.
I try in many ways to find ways to live in the moment, to enjoy the little things that I have. I try to be a certain kind of person; not perfect but rather healthy. I work hard to be as healthy as I can be. This kind of health can’t be found in a gym. This kind of health can’t be found in a store or with your credit card. This kind of health is bone deep. It isn’t always rational, practical or even understandable by the masses. Its the kind of health that allows you to fake what is going on inside of you. Its the kind of health that allows you to depend and be depended on. Its the kind of health that you have to feel to know.
The desire for this health, for a simple break from the chaos, a simple moment away from the fear is as powerful as any other emotion. And today, for some reason, it is so far from my possibilities that I honestly don’t know which way to go. And that, I think, can be the worst part of desire, when you know there is no solution to any of it.
I don’t know what is going to happen next. I don’t know when this current that is rushing through me will finally be stopped. All I know is I don’t know how much longer I can live with these emotions without finally finding that footing I desperately need.