There are people in this world that don’t have mental illness, which is weird to me. People who are normal and whose mind works properly, who aren’t burdened with knowing that when eugenics eventually gets adopted and only nonbroken people get to live I’ll be burned in the trashheap with the rest of the crazies. Probably alive, because who wants to waste money on killing crazy people, am I right?
This post is going to discuss my decades of mental health, in a fairly sardonic way in hopes of sharing with others the types of struggles my mind deals with. It is not, at all, a guide to understanding certain diseases – in part because every individual suffers differently, and in part because if this were a guide I’d have a whole bunch of people coming at me saying “You can’t say that these things are an illness, or that people suffer!” The fuck I can’t, watch me. My mental unwellness makes me feel like a monster and years of therapy and drugs have shown there is no silver bullet that can put me out of my misery.
I’ll begin by sharing that I’ve been diagnosed as Bipolar II. This was, once upon a time, “Manic-Depression.” If you went to high school in the 90’s or 2000’s you know this was the mental illness all the “crazy and cool” kids claimed they had because it was so random and cool and “you just wouldn’t understand.” Some would argue it was overdiagnosed. I think those people just hate the idea of others getting help. Basically, I have a cycle where I am full of unfocused energy and my mind won’t work for the life of me but hey, at least I feel good. Then I have lulls where I can only do the most basic of functions. The roman numerals at the end of it aren’t because this illness is a sequel, but to designate a type – my mania tends to be more tempered, but my disease as a whole is more cyclical and the two tend to last a bit longer. Thank God for small favors, because if my mania were truly full blown I’d have accidentally committed suicide by cop by now.
When I was a young adult, a lot of people who would self-diagnose themselves would be like “Yeah, I’m manic, it’s so crazy! Sometimes I have so much energy and I have to bake a lot, or I can do nothing but game for 12 hours straight, you wouldn’t believe it!” Great for them, I guess. Manic episodes from me have gone as far as to throw away money I didn’t have gambling (especially on gacha games), get super invested in “the next thing” that was going to make my life “so amazing” only to have the thing and instantly feel disappointed, make excessive plans based on skills I didn’t even have, become hyper focused on wanting to have sex with everything that walked and a few that didn’t, reckless driving, picking fights there was no chance in heaven I’d ever win, and having all the creativity in the world that my feeble mind can’t actually do anything with because FUCK.
Mania, for me, is usually feeling irrationally happy, but also hating almost every minute of it.
But let me tell you right now, if that was all mania was for me, I’d be okay with it. Yeah, it sucks, but I could work with it.
But mania (for me at least) also always comes with increased irritability (especially with people who get in the way with my way of thinking or my plans) and INCREASED PARANOIA. Which is a thing no one told me was an actual symptom until maybe four years ago, so I have over 2 decades of history with this mental illness where I thought people were out to get me that, at times, would completely derail relationships. I was a member of a popular role playing chat room and got myself banned because I was firmly in belief the moderation staff was conspiring against me because they didn’t like something I said to a friend of the moderation staff. To set this right, I constantly harassed the person I knew had said something to staff about the way I treated them. I then spent days campaigning against the whole team on Livejournal.
I take context clues and blow them way the fuck out of proportion, and then wonder why people can’t “read in between the lines” to see what’s really going on. Some people blocked me over social media? Clearly a conspiracy and they’re going to attack me elsewhere. Someone had a complaint about something I was doing? Police are going to be called at some point.
This sucks enough, but then we get to the next component of my mental unwellness: the anxiety disorder and the unhealthy ability to “catastrophize.”
Not too long ago, I was having a panic attack about how I was going to handle the fact that I was in prison and the guards were going to kill me since I didn’t accept treatment for the slashing I got from my cellmate, and I did not know what I could possibly do to stop them because I was confined to the prison and was completely powerless. As my mind raced, I struggled to breath (I had used an inhaler, at least) and I had to calm myself while in bed.
Because I was not in prison. There were no guards. I was never stabbed. But in the moment, I was worried about it, because prior to this I was worried about how I’d handle the judge that would sentence me for threatening to kill his family after he had sentenced me to a life sentence, and while I was awaiting sentencing my children had died in the care of Child Protective Services. Prior to *this* I was worried about how I’d convince a judge not to find me guilty of child abuse, and how I’d bond out when I didn’t have the money because I don’t make enough. Prior to this, I was worried about how I would keep from getting arrested and keep the police from shooting me. Prior to this, I was worried about how I’d keep the police from getting called on me…
Because my house was a pig sty and try as I might I couldn’t get on top of it.
I was having an anxiety attack over a dirty house, and in my mind I was going to be murdered in the prison I was in.
Hurry, anxiety and my ability to “snowball.”
But Bipolar II isn’t just unbearable highs, oh no. I also get to feel exceptional lows. Where I wonder why I bother trying, where I wonder if I should find another parent for my kids. Where everything I do I do in a rote fashion and not with any zeal. I don’t have serious suicidal ideation, I haven’t really since I was a teenager, but sometimes I wonder. During this time period I have a harder time putting in effort, I struggle more, I feel disinterested in things. Even my hobbies I put the most minimum of effort into – I’ll do dailies in a game for the sense of progress and then that will be it, for example. I won’t really want to read. I won’t want to listen music, sad or otherwise. I just want to fade into nothing.
Whenever I was depressed as a kid, I was told in some way or form to just get over it. “I’ll give you something to be sad about,” I’d hear quite often. Because sadness is for the weak and there was some starving kid in Africa who had a real reason to be sad so shut up and don’t be sad. So, of course, I got great at ignoring it, going through the motions. This was life.
One of the most frustrating issues with Bipolar II is how hard it is to treat, at least in my case. The wrong medicine can either send me deep into mania where I believe I’m an untouchable God, or make me start seriously considering suicide. Or maybe I’ll work better like a good little cog in the machine, at the cost of living in molasses and having no ability to enjoy things. I’m currently not on medication (outside of an antihistamine commonly prescribed for anxiety) in no small part because I’m at a point in my life where I know what to expect from my mental illness. Medication, especially as I adjust to it, always has god awful side effects, and I’m not in a place in my life right now where I can afford to handle those side effects. Which sucks, because I’d like to be happy and normal and not a miserable pile of human flesh.
Not that it matters, because as I mentioned, there isn’t a silver bullet that can kill the mental illness, or me, anyways. Silver works poorly as a bullet, severely hampering accuracy and impact.
I guess I’ll have to continue being an werewolf.