I am a survivor. I have thought those words so many times during my life time. I have survived things that many have never had to endure. And I say that knowing that there are people out there who have endured worst than me.
And my heart goes out to anyone who are struggling with any sort of struggle.
I have gotten back up, dusted myself off, screamed inside my head to “shut up and survive”.
I have not always been the kindest person to myself.
That was probably an understatement.
Actually no, that IS an understatement.
I am one of my biggest and harshest critics. For everything.
For my writing. For my coping skills. For everything that is going on inside my “pretty little head”. I criticize everything. Every aspect of my being has been at one point or another picked apart and critiqued by me.
And it has been harsh….to say the least.
Somehow I have not only survived the things that life has thrown at me, but I have had to try to survive the way my mind picked the situation apart, bit by bit, layer by layer.
Surviving my own mind…..How does one even do that?
There have been times in my life when I have felt completely alone while standing in a room full of people. Alone in my thoughts while hundreds of hearts beat all around me. Faces smile at me but I see no one and am unable to return the gesture. Blank eyes trying to focus on unfamiliar faces, deaf ears refusing to hear the words that are spoken, instead hearing a steady hum of misunderstood chatter.
In this setting, although there are people surrounding me, I feel completely alone and completely helpless.
Sometimes the crowded setting brings anxiety. A spin within myself, an urge to get out of the situation and get out now. Anxiety that is an almost deafening, roaring in my ears. Sheer panic building up within me, coming from somewhere deep inside my soul. In this setting I am unable to get out fast enough. But I try very hard, and refuse to let myself break down before I am out of the situation.
And then there are the times when I am in crowds and I feel fine, I feel more then fine. I am having a good time, hanging out with friends, having a few laughs. Giggling. These are cherished moments that I try to hang on to.
Because if I do not hang on to these good moments in crowds I would never let myself be put into a crowded situation ever again.
I try to remind myself that not every time I am in a crowd something bad happens, sometimes it is fun or sometimes I get through it just fine.
Not all crowded situations are good for me, but then, not all are bad either.
Morticia Adams said it right when she said “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly”.
You cannot look at someone and say they do not conform to the normal standard of a mental illness. Because , do you want to know a secret? Normal does not exist, even in mental illness.
No cookie cutter, cutting out perfectly shaped bipolar copies of each other. No mold to shape out perfect play doh depressive shapes that all look the same. No stamp coming down and stamping out borderline personalities for everyone. We are not slowly going by on some conveyor belt, shape after perfect shape like a line of perfectly sculpted copies of each other.
We are all different. Sure I have bipolar disorder, and maybe you do too, but we are different. We are not mirror images of each other, facing each other in some mirrored time warp where we do everything the same, just on opposite sides. When I am depressed you are manic, when I am manic you are depressed. No, this too is an illusion.
We are each a part of a world where normal does not exist. Morticia said it completely right in saying that it is just an illusion. Some made up magical concept in our minds. Nothing is normal. Everything is the way it is meant to be, whether it is perceived as normal or unusual.
We are all different. Each and every person ever diagnosed with a mental illness are different from each other. No two are alike. We have different patterns, different issues we must deal with and different abilities.
We lie somewhere on a spectrum of the illness we have been diagnosed with. Some things the same, some things different. We range in severity, we range in symptoms, we range in color, shape, size, we are all different.
And you want to know another secret? This is okay. It is okay to be different, it is okay if you are not a text book example of the mental illness you have been diagnosed with.
I keep getting a very strong urge to write. But when I begin, I can’t. So if this post does not make sense or is very different from my usual posts forgive me, I am just going to write whatever I feel and it may be a bit random and all over the place.
I feel like I have just jumped off the edge of a cliff and am free falling into some unknown cavern. Anxiety is gripping my heart while my mind is bracing for the impact of hitting bottom, but bottom never comes. I am still free falling, anxiety building higher and higher because I see no end. No landing place.
I feel like my skin is crawling.
I have thoughts that are mixed up, confused. Words and letters are jumbled up in my mind. Like someone took a bag of scrabble letters, shook them and dumped them into a big pile and expected to make sense of them.
Do I feel manic? No. I don’t. I feel mixed. I feel confused. I feel a lot of anxiety, more then I have had in a long long time. I feel frustration. I feel weight. I feel stuck.
I feel pressure.
I feel like my brain is fuzzy.
I am tired, but I am not tired. I am exhausted, but yet I cannot sleep. I do not even want to sleep.
I feel tingly.
I feel a weight pressing down on my chest. A crushing weight.
I have spent a huge amount of my life pretending everything was fine. But the truth was: I was barely holding it all together. Using glue to hold the pieces in place. Plastering on a fake smile and going about my day. All the while the rapidly drying glue was cracking in places and the plaster was crumbling. No one else knew, no one else saw what was happening. I knew exactly when to smile and where to hide so I could keep my secrets to myself.
I perfected the art of camouflage.
But inside, I saw what was happening. I felt the storm raging on in the dark corners of my mind. Pulling me further and further into the darkness. I felt the tug from both directions at once threatening to tear me in half, to break me.
I was using all my energy trying to make sure not to show any signs of weakness on the outside. But inside of me I was exhausted. All I saw was where I went wrong, what I did wrong, and how very weak I really was.
For me the signs of mental illness were there as a child. I had some very traumatic experiences at a very young age and the problems began not long after. Anxiety, rapid speech, pressured speech, followed by severe depression then back full circle again.
I was struggling with who I was behind my dim soulless eyes. I was changing, and I was not sure I liked who I was becoming.
My days began running together. Wake, Eat, School, Sleep, Rinse-Repeat.
I was like a ghost at school drifting through the walls from class to class, teachers did not know how to speak to me, guidance counselors did not know what to do with me. And I had all but given up on myself.
My grades went down hill and I began loosing interest in school. I lost friends and I most certainly lost myself.
I remember situations where my mouth kept talking where I should have kept it shut. I talked and talked and talked. At times people couldn’t understand me, I was constantly told to slow down. Breathe.
I spent more time with anxiety and in depression. I cried myself to sleep. I was ashamed, I was afraid, and I prayed. Boy did I pray. I prayed for help, I prayed for guidance, I prayed for a savior. But none came.
This is something that has always been hard for me. I tend to see things negatively when it comes to myself. So I thought I would challenge myself. In doing so I am also challenging you. Yes YOU!! The readers of my blog. I want you to write 10 positive things about you that have nothing to do with any of your mental health issues. Post them on your blog and link the link in the comments. If you are not comfortable writing a blog post and linking it, you can write the 10 things in my comments section on this post.
I am looking forward to reading them.
10 positive things about me that have nothing to do with my mental health issues.
1. I am a Wife, and Mother. I have 3 wonderful children and a wonderful supportive husband. They mean the world to me. They are my biggest accomplishment.
2. I actually like my writing. I write what I feel, I write it as I would say it. My spaces and pauses and commas just in the right spots for me. Right where I need them to be. This is my style, and I love it. Some day I would love to publish. It is one of my goals in life.
3. I love animals. We have a dog and a cat and they are like having two extra children for us. Albeit furry and four legged.
4. I have 2 bucket lists. One is a yearly one, things I want to do this year. The other is a lifetime one. Things that I would like to do in my life time, before I “kick the bucket”.
5. I have won several awards for public speaking and volunteerism.
6. I love to run. I am a big girl. But running calms me, I love to do it. I would love to have a treadmill so I can run. (currently I am not confident enough to run outside.)
7. I love to read. I have more books on my ‘to read list’ then I can possibly read.
8. When I am involved in an activity or project I am very, very, passionate about it.
9. This is kinda positive sad – But my Dad died when I was 13. On my wedding day, just as I got inside the church the heavens opened up in a pouring rain, it rained the entire service and stopped once we were married. This makes the song “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” so real for me. I believe without a doubt my Dad was there, watching over us as we said our vows.
10. I am currently obsessed with music by P!nk – I find her very empowering.