Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm Blogging for Mental Health: May 15, 2013

You guys.  I can't believe I forgot about Mental Health Month Blog Day.  Well, actually, I can believe it because, quite frankly, I've had a lot on my plate lately what with leaving my husband and tough-loving my kid and trying to keep myself together AGAINST ALL ODDS because oh, yeah, I'm MENTALLY ILL.  Whatever the fuck that means.  So here's an oldie but goodie and I hope you'll like but it won't bother me if you don't because I'm really not paying attention to anything besides hanging on by a thread on this emotional rollercoaster ride I am on at the moment.  But you should pay attention to mental health and stuffs because it sucks being blamed for being sick.  You just never know what's going on with someone so just don't assume.  Unless you see me wandering around in the supermarket in my bathrobe.  Because then you should assume that you need to take my elbow gently but firmly and lead me back to the car and drive me home.  But I digress.  Surprise.

I wrote this post before I even had a blog.  I was inspired by a friend who had just been diagnosed.  She was in a full-blown manic episode.  Watching her go through that reminded me of what my own episodes were like.   I'm calm enough now to articulate what it feels like to be so brilliant that you can't describe it.  Which is pretty goddamn ironic, if you ask me.

A Beautiful Mind--it's a lot like that
The hallmark of mania for me is how I feel like a superhero.  Creative and brilliant and simply on *fire* with wit and humor.    When I was riding the crest of a manic wave,  I used to say that I didn't need to eat or sleep because I was bionic.  I got really angry with people who said I was wrong to feel that way and that I needed to go to the hospital and take meds so that I wouldn't feel that way any more.   I would get so angry that I would snarl at them and claw and hiss and refuse to get out of the car.  Wouldn't you?  After I was finished the treatment that stopped that wonderful, invincible, genius feeling, I would quit taking my meds cold turkey.  I would carouse until all hours of the night, telling anyone who would listen my bright new ideas that tied up every loose end in the universe with one beautiful bow.   Holding court on the floor of my room in college, knocking over the bong with my expansive sweeps of my arms as I pontificated to my housemates, who thought I was brilliant, but knew I was nuts.  Destroying relationships.  Winning hearts and breaking them. Staying in my room for days, talking to myself and scaring my roommates away.  Ending up in the nut house time and again.

Now I can recognize when that superstar quality starts to burn and I know I have to nip it in the bud.  I let my husband know (like he can't tell) and I go see the shrink and get extra support and what have you.  It is the hardest thing in the world to voluntarily let go of that genius feeling.  I simply cannot tell you.  But I know that I must.  As great as the high feels, the low is going to be a gut-punch that knocks me flat, even though I know it's coming.  So I take my meds and gather my loved ones around me and brace myself.

The hallmark of a depressive episode for me is not wanting to be here. I don't think about suicide per se.  I don't want to die.  I just want not to be here.  Everything I've done wrong (which is basically everything), every mistake I've made, every conversation gone awry, every wasted opportunity with my kids, my career -- they all gather together in a threatening thundercloud that hovers over me.  The horrible angry voices of what I call "The Committee" begin the litany of exactly how worthless, no, harmful my presence on the planet has been.  As evidence of why I shouldn't be here.  Shouldn't *have been* here.  This whole time.  I just want to curl up as small as possible, until I take up no space.  No one sees me.  I'm not here.

So.  Staying in the middle is a good thing.  Boring and safe.   Learning to feel my feelings, but not too much.  That's a tough one.  Because I feel my feelings.  A lot.  Possibly more than I should, whatever that means.  Apparently there is a normal amount of feeling, though how you could measure it, I don't know.  It certainly doesn't sound very fun to me.

My job is to stay safe.  To have creative energy, but not too much.  And to channel it in ways that make me glad to be here.  And to let it be okay to feel sad, from time to time.  But if "worthless" pops up on the psychic horizon, it's time to blow the whistle.  Time to remember to do the things that help me, in addition to my meds.  Swimming.  Playing music.  Creating this page, working out my thoughts, writing, laughing.  Making people laugh and shake their heads in self-recognition.  And maybe a little relief that they are not alone.

I have a mantra that is blinding in its banality.  It's insultingly simple.  And yet it works for me.  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but my mantra comes from a sitcom (yeah, I watch TV, I have teenagers, don't judge) called "How I Met Your Mother."

"When I'm sad, I stop being sad, and be awesome instead.  True story."

Of course it's not that easy.  But it reminds me that this too shall pass and I will be awesome again.  Until I'm not.  And so on.  In the meantime, I have a blog and a page.  And a lot of friends I've never met.  Who get it.  More than most people I know in real life.  I'll take it.  I mean, what else ya got?

Namaste.  And if you're wondering what that means, suffice to say that we meet in the middle where there's mutual respect and understanding.  We give each other the benefit of the doubt.  We forgive ourselves and each other.  We're good to one another.   We don't have a choice.  This is it.  Namaste.


  1. And the DSM-IV is getting a smack-down from NIMH. Stick those nice, tidy classifications and stick 'em in a pipe. We nutjobs are nutjobs. Namaste Klonnie.

    Sidenote - the last time I commented on your blog, my captcha code was who diedsat. Does Google think I'm a killer, or a psychic?

  2. I don't have mania, but your description of a depressive episode hit me in the gut. I even sent it to my husband; because I've never been able to describe it so accurately, and I want him to understand what I'm feeling at those times.

  3. I feel like this a lot, though I think my highs and lows so far are .... sort of manageable. Love love love the highs, but there is ALWAYS the dangerous dip afterwards. Balance is key. Namaste.

  4. namaste to you. thanks for sharing. it feels good to not feel alone.until it doesn't. And on we go. ;)

  5. I know this is an oldie - but I actually sat and read your whole front page after the post you put forward on Facebook today.

    "I don't think about suicide per se. I don't want to die. I just want not to be here. " - I have said those very words when I was trying to explain it to someone - thank you for being someone somewhere else with exactly the same take. And keep plugging. Because you are awesome.