Is there a silver lining?

I’m super-anxious today. I guess crisis mode has kind of taken over again. My house is overwhelming and my bills are overwhelming and the pain in my stomach is overwhelming, especially since I have nothing here to eat. Not that that matters anyway. I’m having a tough time making myself eat today. I’m too high strung to have an appetite.

When I made the decision to hospitalize myself four years ago, I went through a very comedic struggle to accept that I was, indeed, bipolar and that was never going to change. I mean, I’m just saying- no one would have even had to talk to me to make a diagnosis, my actions said it all. I showed up cheerful and compliant and asking for help, but promptly burst into tears as soon as I’d talked my way into a 72-hour-hold and couldn’t back out anymore. I cried myself to sleep. The next day I woke up feeling wounded and hostile and rageful, and exploded on my mom and Ian when they came to visit: I was absolutely incensed they’d abandoned me to the loony bin, even though it was my idea in the first place. After that, I stalked the floors of my room and refused to come out until dinner. Then, a roommate appeared: a younger woman who had tried to kill herself with sleeping medications to punish her boyfriend for some trivial disagreement. Obviously, she was overly dramatic and I’m overly dramatic and that was a thing and we quickly became friends. And then I was happy and silly and outgoing the rest of the stay, especially after they started me on lithium. My mood swings were pretty… obvious, to say the least. Especially in psych care, where the staff notes what you’re doing every time they check on you- crying, sleeping, pacing, talking to yourself, etc.

But even without that level of observation, I’d be able to spot it in a minute flat if I met myself from back then. There’s a certain denial that comes with being diagnosed as mentally ill. How I managed to go so long without being properly diagnosed is kind of a mystery to me. Okay, to be fair, my family had their suspicions. Most of my friends weren’t surprised. But to suggest it to me? No, not at all. Not me. That’s just the way I was. I just felt more deeply than other people. At least, that’s how I saw things in my strange little dysfunctional world. I suffered like a martyr and struck like a viper. My passions were fickle. In one moment I could be the most affectionate, loving, and devout wife: in the next, I would cry if Ian touched me. I had issues, and mood swings. And I liked to think of it all as very poetic, because I’ve always been like that. Live your life like someone’s going to write about it. That’s always been my philosophy.

So I did it all very dramatically, which tends to push away family and friends when that includes lack of impulse control and irresponsible behavior. My sisters have developed a theory that I’m just kind of a bitch, because they’ve seen my bad side but I’ve never really invited any of them in. The notion of that kind of leaves me unsettled, because they’re part of the reason I’ve lost myself so completely. I love them dearly but they have certain expectations of women and sexuality that I’ve never really identified with. I’ve always been very free-spirited, ever since I was a little girl. Between trying to hide that from my very dear, close sisters who talk about sex ALL THE TIME, and trying to mold myself into a more acceptable version of myself, it’s kind of put a wedge there. Plus I’m so… needy. My life has been so dysfunctional and I’m the one who’s always in crisis and always needs money and always makes bad decisions.

They think I’m doing it to be a jerk. In reality, my disorder has never been properly controlled yet. I just barely found a medication that seems to work for me, after four years of trying different things. The brain chemicals are still out of control, because we still have to find the ideal dosage. And since my depression inspires me to self-medicate with alcohol, that just makes everything worse. Without access to proper treatment, this all really does feel like a hopeless clusterfuckitall. I can understand all too well why people give up. I’m in physical pain. I’m in mental pain. I’m in emotional pain. Every single day. One day I’ll cry all day long as I clean people’s houses, trying to stay out of sight and silently scolding myself for losing it at work. The next I’ll be so high strung that I chainsmoke until my chest hurts. Most days I keep it together pretty well, but when I’m alone, I’m paralyzed. I don’t know where to start with repairing my life because it’s such total chaos. So I waste time on the internet or sleep and promise myself I’ll tackle things when I feel better. But I never feel better. And putting things off makes it even worse. It’s a vicious cycle, and the main reason my anxiety is so high.

Back when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t have the slightest clue how brutal this disorder is. In a way, I was kind of cocky, chalking up my failures to being on the wrong medications and expecting to automatically reconvene into my old awesome self. I had no idea I still faced years of mood shifting and manic episodes and misery. Mental and mood disorders are so completely misunderstood and stigmatized that, even in a family FULL of dysfunction, I wasn’t prepared for the full implications. I saw my father and his family as losers and failures much like the rest of my mom’s side of the family. I had no idea that I could easily slide down the same path as them, in spite of my best intentions. I guess I judged everything more harshly back then- it’s only after you’ve been through your own hell that you can really get perspective on others.

So when the doctors and nurses advised me that I might never be able to hold down a full-time job, I rolled my eyes and dismissed it. And I guess that was kind of how I approached the entire thing for a while. Like… I’ve got this. I can handle it. Don’t worry about me, dealing with this is a breeze. My bar for what that means has progressively grown lower over the past couple years. At this point, I consider myself successful if I do some dishes and don’t call into work. Oh, and of course my count-ups. One day sober. Two days sober. Three days sober. I never make it very long. When the depression comes on full blow, I give up, then feel absolutely terrible for the next day or two. And then I try again, because what else can I do but keep trying and keep counting? It feels utterly futile, true: but I just have to make it through this next month and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. A chance to get healthy. A chance to nourish my body instead of abusing it. A chance to balance my brain chemicals. All of this if I can just make it one more month without losing it.

Provided, of course, that I can actually come up with the money for the program. I’ve tried calling my dad a few times to see if he can help out a little, but he’s never called me back. My mom doesn’t really have much to work with, and Ian’s already carrying the weight of both our living situations. I only make enough to cover the bills; and I actually don’t know what I’m going to do right now because I need to get my car situation figured out and didn’t receive my SNAP benefits this month because of a communication error. So what do I do? Pay the bills or buy food? I haven’t decided yet, to be honest. And somehow I’m supposed to save up for medical intervention on top of this, when I can’t even remember to feed myself or take my contacts out at night?

You can see how I walk around a bundle of nerves all day. I don’t have the resources to get things stable and chaos makes it worse. So once again, I’m going to reach out to anyone who is reading this. Surely, if a clever boy can raise forty grand for a potato salad, I can find enough generous people to help me seek the medical treatment I need. So please, help if you can, and share this liberally. You guys are my only hope.

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