Get ready for a long one today.
I’ve been struggling today, as my madness takes the form of depression once again. Despite having accomplished a big task this morning (which I felt proud of for about a minute and a half), I began to feel negatively about myself. I did some more cleaning in the grow room (storage room) earlier. I wrestled pieces of a deconstructed shelving unit out of a small cubby, I hauled the pieces down the two flights of stairs into the basement (with the help of my mother in law), and placed them in the grow room. I didn’t intend to do much other than acquiring the parts and bringing them down, and I surprised myself when I put the unit together and placed the scattered items onto the shelves. I even pushed the heavy bags of soil close to the shelves, so that even more items were out of the middle of the cramped room. During the minute and a half that I was proud of myself for what I did, I took a picture and sent it to my husband. He was very pleased with the progress. I felt like that should have made me feel better than it did, but whatever. The depression madness settled in. The dark cloud nearly storming overhead. What happened, I wondered to myself.
I wasn’t in a great mood at the beginning of my day, either, but it was better than what it has turned out to be. I can’t really figure out what happened, but I suppose these things happen. The madness strikes without warning, with what appears to be outside of reason, and for no reason. It’s part of life for me, it’s part of my madness. I’m now sitting here on my cozy couch, after taking a nap, and I haven’t even felt like turning the lights on again. It looks a little stormy outside, like it will probably rain, and is quite windy. The air is thick and humid, fairly warm in temperature, the sky is a dull, heavy blanket of gray. I love the color gray, but not so much in the sky. Gloomy skies add to my drowsiness, and rain adds to my depression. I’ve never enjoyed the rain.
My brain has decided to bring up some old experiences and thoughts for me, cooking up a batch of feelings of worthlessness. I’m on disability, for Bipolar Disorder, and I have been for the last seven years or so. Getting on Social Security was one of the best things to ever happen to me, let’s just be clear. I became so ill in my early to mid twenties, my former psychiatrist and my therapist both fought for me to get SSDI. I am beyond grateful to them for their kindness and hard efforts to give me what I need. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but it has been a blessing for me.
There are people in my life who don’t understand why I need SSDI. They have never really seen me in some of my worst states, and they have never witnessed even a fraction of my madness. They, for instance, don’t understand why I can’t “just buck up and work”. They don’t see the work I do and the money I bring in every month as “contributing”. For some reason, these things are coming up for me today, and they hurt. These notions and feelings of other people bother me, when they shouldn’t. I’ve become adept at showing only the parts of myself that I want people to see. If they saw my madness, they might think less of me or think I’m simply too much for my husband to deal with. He has never thought of me as too much to deal with, by the way. Here I sit, in the low light, worrying about what other people have thought about me in the past and what they probably continue to think about me.
I want to tell them that this isn’t how I pictured my life would pan out, either. I went to college, and had to drop out, I was ambitious and wished for a degree in Biology. I wanted a career, I wanted to make my own money. I dragged myself along and I did “buck up” for several years. I went to school full time, I worked a couple of part time jobs, I volunteered, I was engaged in extracurricular activities. I was in the prime of my young adult years, and it all came crashing down. I ended up in the hospital in 2010, when I was 20 years old. The pressures of the life I built for myself had finally become too much for me. I would stay in that hospital, on the ward for the mentally ill, another seven separate times over the next several years. I did my best, I truly did. By the time I was hospitalized another two times or so, I was ready to apply for state disability, at last, under the direction of my psychiatrist. Eventually I could apply for Social Security Disability Income, once my state disability expired. I had to apply twice to get accepted, and on the second application I had the help of my psychiatrist and therapist. It worked.
To the people who say I should be able to just buck up, I’d like to inform them that I tried my absolute best to make “normal” life work for me. I continue to strive for stability, and I honestly don’t know if I will ever get there. In order to feel mostly ok mentally, I need to be on higher doses of medication – which causes side effects that are very hard to deal with most of the time. Surely they understand medication side effects, right? To those who think I don’t contribute enough to my household, I’d like to remind them that my entire SSDI check each month goes toward paying our bills. It’s not like I just have random fun-money to use, and I know it’s not very much money per month. Also, I take care of all of the chores for my husband and me, plus more in the main household. I want to say that I’m not useless, I’m not pathetic, I do work (it just happens to be in my home), and I do contribute. My brain is telling me the exact opposite of what I really want to say. It’s beating me up, making me feel as though I am useless, I am pathetic, I should be able to do more and work more and be more.
I am who I am, and I am capable of what I can do right now…isn’t that enough? In my heart, I know that I’m more than enough, that I try, that I succeed, that I also falter sometimes. My husband always tells me I far exceed his expectations, and that he’s impressed with the way I move forward every day. I know I’m human, and I have an illness that makes me different from anyone else who in my family. So what? I really don’t need to allow the opinions of other bother me, but sometimes my brain just screams at me that I’m not good enough, that they’re correct, that I’m a failure. Other people’s opinions of me get to me, a lot, but not nearly as much as they used to. I’m learning, slowly, to let go of those negative opinions. They don’t know me, they don’t understand, and in some cases they don’t actually want to understand.
So – be who you are, do what you need to do to take care of yourself in your world. Don’t be afraid of what other people might think of you, because in the end their opinions don’t matter. I’m learning to do this, little by little. Today I’ve slid backwards on my journey to self acceptance. That’s ok. The rest of today will end up being about self-care.
Stay insane, friends