I have known for a very long time that there is a severe lack of understanding when it comes to mental illness. Not only a lack of understanding, but a lack of willingness to understand. With things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, and the like people have the tendency to say the same thing: just get over it.

Do you know how insanely frustrating that can be? When someone tells me to just get over it, I want to die inside. How wonderful would it be for it to be that simple? I don’t like how I feel, I don’t like not having any control. If I could just CHOOSE to no longer feel the way that I do, I would absolutely make that choice.

The analogy I use all the time is one I read somewhere else. I wish I could remember where. But it is actually from a Christian’s perspective. Apparently the church is huge on ignoring mental illness. I have personally witnessed this, and it is why I have struggled a lot with my faith. “If you believed in God, you wouldn’t feel this way.” “Just pray about it.” So, on to the analogy: if someone came to you with a broken arm and said they were in pain would you tell them to “just get over it.” “Did you try NOT being in pain?” “Did you pray about it?” “If you believed in God, your arm wouldn’t be broken.”

Sounds pretty silly, right? So why do we – from a secular and a religious perspective – tell people with broken minds to just get over it? Why do we not encourage them to seek help as we would for a physical ailment? Why is it so hard to understand that our insides can work just as poorly as our outsides?

I had started to be a lot more open about my mental health in recent days because I thought there was a surge of understanding happening. I thought “people get this, FINALLY!” and though I do not bombard them with it on a regular basis, I do make mention occasionally when things are particularly bad, or even when I feel like I’m doing really well. But it has come to my attention that some of the people I thought were understanding have actually been saying some pretty terrible things behind my back. A lot of “wait, she isn’t over that yet?”

I can’t tell you how much I hurt today. How much I hurt for myself, and how much I hurt for my husband. Do you know how hard it is to be a spouse of a mentally unwell person? I know he doesn’t have it even remotely easy. He is carrying so much on his shoulders. Then these people act as if what we are both facing together is not as serious as we believe? That we should just be “over it” by now? I can’t wrap my mind around the… ignorance of that statement. It hurts that much more when it is coming from someone who you thought cared.

I’m just feeling a lot of hurt today. I don’t know how to process it, or how to bring it up. This blog will continue to remain a secret to all those in my life. Because processing my thoughts through written word has been extremely helpful for me so far, but I can’t imagine someone reading it and thinking how silly it is I’m not “over it” yet.

If you feel like me, if you struggle like me, know this: It is absolutely okay to not be over it. It is absolutely okay to not be okay. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’ll see you soon.

Honestly, life sucks right now

“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Going well! How about with you?”

This is my script. Things are going well and I am so blessed. Whenever anyone asks how things are, I am aware that it is just a social statement, a kindness – they do not actually want to know. So “it’s going well.” is what always comes out of my mouth, and then I immediately return the gesture.

It would be silly to respond truthfully, it would be awkward. No one actually wants a response that is blunt, honest, and to the point. Because if I were totally honest with anyone lately, it would be “life sucks right now”. Then what? How would they respond to that? “Sorry to hear that”? Then awkwardly shuffle away? Who knows. I would never subject anyone to that position.

Right now, however, I need to be honest. Life sucks. I hate that life sucks, I wish it didn’t, but that’s where we are at for the time being. I love my kids, I love my husband, and for the most part I know I lead a very blessed life. There are times, like now, where it just seems like everything is going wrong. Where I am just grasping at the air, trying to find a life line. It is suffocating, overwhelming, terrifying.

I recently started back seeing a psychiatrist and she is working to get me into a therapist as well. I am on low doses of two medications, both of which will be upped over time until they take affect. Then we will assess and see if they are working and/or if we need to add any other medication as well. I am very thankful for my psychiatrist, I think she’s awesome! The last few I have had were all terrible, so it is reassuring to get along so well and feel safe with her.

That being said, the doses are very, very low for now. Every two weeks we will raise the dose. So while I know this is a step in the right direction, it’s not really doing anything right now. Thus I still feel trapped.

It’s just – things always seems to go badly all at the same time. It can be little stuff, it can be big stuff, but if they all happen at once it just feels ridiculous. I cry a lot these days. I hide in my room and distance myself from everyone. I cannot function on a day to day basis right now. I just don’t know where to turn or what else to do. I can just rattle off what’s going on, try to process it, but does it matter? Really? I don’t think it does. It’s easier to just say “Life sucks right now”.

There is no profound message to this entry. I will continue to trudge forward, doing what I can to keep afloat, and hope that a lifeline will be thrown my way soon. Keep going, keep trying, wait for the shift. Wait for the light.

I’ll see you soon.
Steph.

Spontaneous Combustion

If you are like me – and by like me, I mean BIPOLAR – then you have had moments where you have lost all control. Unfortunately, when you are bipolar you learn that can also mean you have an anger issue. Bipolar manifests itself in different ways in different people, that much is true. I do not have the manic episodes filled with sex, over-spending, and bad long-lasting life decisions like others that I know. They do not have the self-harm riddled, suicide-attempt filled, blackest of days lows that I have. It’s all different. Which really sucks sometimes.

The big thing I am dealing with right now is my outbursts. When life gets stressful (well, more stressful. it’s never not stressful) I can slowly feel the build up over time and I just know it’s coming. It’s like a ticking bomb, but the countdown doesn’t make any sense at all! It could explode at 10, 3, o, or -20. I have no idea, I just know it’s coming. I never know what that one thing will be that sets it off.

I hate it. I hate being scared of myself. When these moments happen that I am just overcome by rage and stress – I am not myself. I am not attached. It’s like a leave my own body and watch myself completely lose it while desperately trying to make it all stop. But I can’t. It just keeps going.

I have found the best way to cope with these moments is to go for a drive. I drive around our neighborhood a lot. To the point that I wonder if the people around us know what’s going on. “Oh there goes Steph…she must have snapped again.” “Poor hubby, he deserves so much better than this.” “Man, I hope her girls are coping okay. Their mom is nuts.”

Who knows. But what I *do* know is that driving helps. I cut on a worship album, buckle in, and just go. I have 3 different routes of varying length depending on how bad the episode feels. And I’ve also had extremely bad episodes that have landed me in a different state. That being said, I only live about an hour from the border, but it’s still a sobering experience to realize I’ve left my home state just trying to get away from myself.

These drives are not the end-all, fix-all, as much as I wish they were. They help in the moment, so I don’t hurt someone else or myself. So I don’t say or do something I might regret. It’s a very small comfort in the long scheme of things to know that when I am about to lose all control, i have just enough to get out. To get away. To protect those that I love and protect myself from whatever is about to come.

These outbursts take a lot out of me though. I will either sleep for as long as the world will let me, completely shut down for a few days, or just cry for a few hours. It always leads to exhaustion.

I don’t know how to deal with these. I had a combustion tonight. I drove. I feel better, but not really. It was a small explosion, so I am waiting, terrified, for the big one. I hate having no control of myself. I hate it so much.

I’ll see you soon.