I have done some pretty awful things in my life; things I wouldn’t confess to a priest much less the general population. I regret doing these things and if I thought God would forgive me for them, I would ask. But no matter how awful my actions of the past have been, I don’t deserve to be bipolar. I don’t honestly know anyone who deserves to be bipolar.
Mental illness has been persecuted for thousands of years. It is the way of things. The way things have always been. And while, in my good times, I will continue to advocate for those of us that suffer these terrible diseases, today I don’t have it in me. It is literally taking all my energy, my grit, my determination, not to simply close this laptop and not even write about it.
But there is a small part of me that can heal when I write about mental health. Let me state again, it is a small part of me. But sometimes that’s all we get in this life; a small part. I rarely, i.e. can’t think of one time, when there is a large light of joy and happiness in my life. I don’t get the joy of life, the joy of cooking, the happiness of a new shiny object; I get the life that this disease determines is mine.
To be controlled by a disease is not an experience that is easy to understand. I can describe it to you until the cows come home, but understanding a mental disease is like trying to crack the Vernam cypher. It is impossible especially to lay man who lives his or her life in the real world. But being controlled by a disease is something that I, and millions of others, must adapt to every time something changes. And in case you missed Philosophy 101, everything changes all the time.
I get up most days and spend five to ten minutes in my bed just trying to anticipate what my day is going to be like. I always have grand plans that include everything from cleaning to visiting a beautiful locale. I lay in that bed for those minutes imaging the things that I could do; the places I could go. But no matter how long I try to picture it in my mind, my mind already has a picture that I don’t have any say in. My mind is a whirling, dreadful, anxious, exodus from everything I want to be. Doesn’t matter how many mornings I lay there, my mind is going to systematically change all my hope, my dreams, my possibilities. There is no therapy to make this different. There is no pill that will change the rules, despite those annoying commercials, and there is no smile on my child’s face that can make it better.
Lately, and by that I mean about year, I haven’t been able to walk out of my house and go…anywhere. I can’t go to the store. I hate going to my incredibly brilliant children’s concerts, recitals, award ceremonies. I can’t go to my doctor’s appointments, I can’t go on vacation, and I can’t go on a romantic dinner with my husband. My life has shrunk to walls of this house. My world has shrunk to the places that I live, not the places I could experience. Sometimes I need an over-the-counter medication and I can’t go five minutes up the road to pick it up.
If I try to simply get in my car and go, my anxiety is so bad that more times than not I either have to turn around half way there or once I get there I have to turn completely around and go home. I feel like I am sweating. I feel like I am going to go the bathroom in my pants. I feel like my heart will go so fast it will break. My tremors make it hard to hold the steering wheel and I often end of taking risks (turning into traffic at the wrong time) just to get it all over with. I am not a hundred percent sure why this started. I have little fear about going to new places and certainly before this I could. I am not worried about dying. I am not worried about crashing. All I am is physically sick to the point that I can feel panic attack starting just typing these words.
I have tried numerous things because I don’t want to be this person. I wear diapers when I leave the house (try explaining that to your husband). I take extra anti-anxiety medicine. I don’t drink or eat before I go. I sit in my car for at least thirty minutes prior to leaving to calm myself down by convincing myself that I can easily get to the house at any time (try explaining that to your kids). I try to push myself out the door. I listen to music in the car that is soothing and songs where I know all the words. I take every precaution to find ways to make it a little less scary to walk out that front door. And while for the most part these horrible roadblocks in my way to where I have to be are exhausting (and can I say anxiety again), it is now starting to be difficult for me to walk around my neighborhood.
This isn’t who I want to be. I don’t think this is who I am. I think that I love traveling and seeing new things. I think that I have dreams that can only be explored outside this house. I think that I am a person that above all is practicable and predictable. I know this isn’t normal. I know this isn’t who I am. And yet I get a panic attack writing about it to perfect strangers.
I am tired of this spiral that my mind controls and convinces my body to follow suit. I am angry that I can’t use my real brain to conquer the bipolar which is driving this rig. I am frustrated that I am this person; quite frankly, I am already a mess, why is this the icing on the cake? I can’t wrap my good thoughts around the stupidity of not being able to handle driving down the road. And it doesn’t matter that I know this is a mental disease. It doesn’t matter how many pills I take or tears that I cry. I literally, and fully, hate the person that I am.
No one should hate the person they are. No one should sink so low that giving up is the viable option. No one should have as many doctors as I have and take as many pills as I do and still not be able to find a way through the darkness to a resting place on the other side. I know darkness. I know suicide. This, the inability to be a functioning human, I don’t know at all.