I smile. Another diagnosis. Just keep ’em coming.
I write this while in a very strange state of mind. I am on the edge between hypomanic and real fucking crazy. This has thus led my psychiatrist to the conclusion that I, in fact, am Bipolar (of some sort).
It all started with the addition of prozac to my medication diet. It was necessary to calm the shit-storm of my eating disorder. However, this little bit of extra antidepressant took its toll and shifted my mood up. Way up.
Imagine the best day of your life. Now intensify that (because of my BPD – feeling emotions intensely). Then replay that heart-fluttery, floating feeling again and again. Then you might be close to how I am feeling currently.
Apparently I have been hypomanic for a solid couple of weeks. Dressing up and going out, drinking amazing amounts of coffee, sleeping less and less but having tons more energy and motivation, dancing around my room alone to a soundtrack of Disney music, spending all of my money and more.
At this moment I keep having to pause and erase what I’ve just written as my fingers are simply flying across the keyboard and paying no attention to spelling. My heart pounds, my eyes flutter, my hands have so much energy, my thoughts race. I’ve never quite felt this high before in my life. And I’m not even technically high off of anything at the moment. I’m drowning myself in sound – BLASTING Disney music in my eardrums. I’m so eager for this day to get going that I can’t even sit still. I don’t know how I’m even going to finish this blog post. Perhaps this shall be the end of it, for simplicity’s sake.
It all started with a handshake…
That is how I introduced myself to Brodie. He went for a hug and I countered with a formal handshake. And this would then start a chain of events, ending, I don’t have a clue where.
If you aren’t familiar with some of the psychology of BPD, often what happens is a thinking pattern called “splitting”. This means that you see thinks in black and white. This splitting leads to the perception of certain people as being “all good” or “all bad”. There is no in between. So, occasionally, I totally idealize people, or devalue them, depending on my perception of them. The idealized people then take a position in my brain called FP (favorite person), where they can do no wrong in my eyes.
So, the first thing that happened when I met Brodie, is my entire interpersonal clock got reset. He usurped the place of my top FP and is now my most favorite person in the world, despite only having met once (thank goodness, because I think my family was getting sick of my constant clinging and dependency).
This complete takeover of FP led to much more. My adjustment disorder took a say; explaining that we can’t just DEAL with changes, we have to freak the hell out about them – despite the change being very awesome. This is just how my adjustment disorder works. Even if it were the best change that could have ever happened, I still will want to stay stuck in my old habits because I can’t handle the change. But in this case, I am welcoming my adjustment disorder with open arms, meeting her halfway, listening to her tales and woes, inviting her in for a nice hot cup of tea. I needed this change. I needed to become unstuck. Brodie’s sudden introduction has gotten me unstuck for the first time in years.
This change means that I have to be totally gentle with myself in the coming week or so. I must be careful, lest my emotionality take hold and drive me off a cliff – as it so loves to do.
Why is it that I cannot have a normal conversation with people about non-mental illness related topics? For what reason do I find it necessary to bring forth the subject, putting myself and the relationship in harms way to needlessly sprout my theories about my own psychology? Is this simply my ego taking control?
It’s because, dear Jenna, your mental illnesses have taken over your life. Not necessarily in a bad way, but just because your brain is scrabbling to try and make sense of the mental turmoil that’s going on inside. You are a deeply intellectual individual, and the fact that you cannot make sense of this phenomenon has you very concerned, and leads to obsessing over it. Thinking constantly about it. Writing about it always. This is fine. This is necessary even.
Bringing it up with other people, being truly open about your mental state, is also fine. You just need to be somewhat guarded with whom you share things with. But, sharing is also a totally normal thing. I crave connection and validation. These are my main motivators in life, along with my self-image. So it is unsurprising that I would bring up the subject of my mental health regularly – I am looking for CONNECTION with others. Waiting for someone to say “yes, I understand”. I will elaborate on this need in further posts. For now, just bear with me when I talk about my mental illness – it is literally all I can do to cope with it.
As has been previously demonstrated, I have a certain delusion regarding myself and my place in the world. I have a belief that I am simply not “good” enough. This story is one that originated in childhood. Somehow my underdeveloped brain decided that it was advantageous to think of myself as a lesser being, perhaps because it served as an excuse or a crutch to help me handle my intense feelings, and for when failure inevitably struck. Anyways, my thought process is thus: everything that happens is because I’m not “good” enough. Somehow I messed it all up.
I’m not good enough? Who defined “good”? What authority decides on “enough”? I allowed the media to help define these things, and the media is a harsh judge. It said that I wasn’t skinny enough to be “pretty”, wasn’t smart enough to be “clever”. And the worst of it? I believed all these false standards put in place, practically brainwashed into me, by the mainstream media.
So this is the current paradigm that I am trying to shift. Understanding that the people who defined “good” and “enough” know nothing of my life and thus cannot be the judge of me.
This is me, redefining good. Taking control over my own definition. From now on, I will be “good”. “Good” is whatever you make it out to be. From my unsightly scars to my bulging thighs: good. My quirky brain with its myriad of mental illnesses? Good. All that I am, is, in fact, good.
Goodness is totally subjective. I will evaluate good to be joyful, kind, compassionate, confident, truthful. Good is not perfect. There is no such thing as perfect anyways. I’m not buying into that bullcrap anymore. I’m not going to let a piddly little amount of self esteem spoil my fun in life any longer. As I let this go, I will make room for more of what truly matters to me, and what aligns with my values. No more of these superficial, judgmental, awful, unlivable and unattainable standards. Only peace and love is left.
(I think I might be turning buddhist guys).
Sitting back in bed, with little Pip snuggled on top of my feet, things don’t seem all that terrible anymore.
I have just evaded one of the worst nights ever. Which is saying something considering my recent history. I think, despite this dramatic labeling, that it could easily have been true. I was this close to running off into the night, with nothing but the clothes on my back. I was this close to downing a bottle of Advil. I was this close to doing something that I really would have regretted. Looking at me, you’d barely know anything was wrong, let alone that there was really a war being waged inside my head: me fighting against me, trying insanely to just end my own suffering, while simultaneously being the cause of it all in the first place.
And yet, the night has ended peacefully. Somehow, I have avoided the dread, and have managed to keep my head in spite of everything that was trying to pull me under. Somehow, I will allow myself to try and “sleep it off”. Somehow, I will keep going. Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow will be better. I have to believe this, even though its never proven to be true yet. My tomorrows are all the same, and I never get better. But I will, for now, pretend that isn’t the case. I will close my eyes to the truth. I will plug my nose to the stench. I will turn up the volume on my music and I will tune out the rest of the world. Just for tonight, I will be normal. I will be sane.
And just like that, everything changed. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that supplied the feelings that now rage inside my brain. I was in “wise mind” all morning, but my mental state took a turn when I realized that I had skipped lunch without even meaning to – my first thought was “good job Jenna”- thinking that it was a hidden success by not eating. This is a clear indicator of being in the judgmental “emotional mind” headspace, where my feelings run the show. This can be a dangerous place to be, and it also happens to be where I spend the most of my time, viewing the world from atop my tsunami of emotion. It is in this state of mind where I am most reactive, impulsive and most likely to do something to make the situation worse, in an attempt to make things better. So it is unsurprising to me that I would end up feeling anxious and empty, oh that dreaded, classic and deadly combination.
In an attempt to placate my feelings and to try to make up for my missed meal, I ate two dinners. Obviously, knowing me, this was a bad idea. I felt stupidly guilty and gross and just generally not deserving of having just eaten two dinners. How lame.
Strategies for coping? I sat for a good few minutes with my dog Pippa in my arms, snuggling quietly. I ate a box of mints. I cried. I talked with some friends to try and distract. Yes, I did purge – sneakily and quickly. But, no, it isn’t the end of the world. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not getting better. I’m still generally optimistic about my situation. I had my first dose of prozac tonight, and I’m excited to see if any benefits come from that.
Purging is bad, but sometimes ya slip up, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for the inevitable hiccoughs.
I hate everyone. Or, rather, I am somehow under the impression that everyone hates ME. I hate my brain for making me feel this way.
One of my various mental health professionals has an interesting theory about why I am the way that I am. This is the notion that we all, as children, tell ourselves stories to understand reality. We therefore all have our own narratives that we tell ourselves – interpretations of the world around us. Unfortunately, these narratives are seldom accurate, seeing as the human brain is not fully developed during the process of finding our stories.
As it so happens, MY personal story; the narrative that rules my life; the lens through which I view everything – is that I am not good enough. That I am somehow inferior to everyone else, and that people will never like me, and that I will never succeed, and that I am just less capable than the rest of the world.
This was originally an adaptive story. It must have started as a tactic to avoid a fear of failure. Originating as an excuse and explanation for my failings, it became a crutch. Something that I used to validate my mistakes and failures.
Unfortunately, this would happen to progress into a vicious self-hatred. I literally see myself as being in a lesser league than everyone else in the entire world. This fuel so many of my interactions. If I ever say “Is it because you hate me?” in a vaguely jokey tone, don’t be fooled. It is no where near a joke. I am genuinely questioning whether the world hates me or not. Having this uncertainty, or perhaps the near certainty that I am inferior, hated, ugly, stupid and gross – all contribute to my awful awfulness of a self-esteem.
This fuels, FUELS, all of my mental illnesses. I just perceive my place in the world to be less deserving than everyone else.
SO now you all know my deepest darkest secrets. There ya go.