How does mental illness affect your life?

That is the question always asked on my disability review papers. It’s also a question,or form of the question, others have asked me when interrogating (that’s how it felt to me) about why I “can’t” work.

My illness IS my life.Maybe I have made it the center, but even if I hadn’t, the bottom line is it impacts EVERYTHING about my existence. People hear “mood disorder” and roll their eyes. Society has no problem calling you crazy, but to actually qualify for societally acceptable crazy, you have to wear a tinfoil hat, walk around naked, and talk about the spork people from planet Monsoon. Anything less than stark raving off your nut is simply your personality therefore you can suck it up.

How I wish it were that easy.

For about a week, I was a whirlwind of mania and all that accompanies it. High energy, vivacious mood, uber stress coping skills, the feeling that nothing in life can keep you down.

This week, I have been uber depressed, uber stressed, and my mind has simply been fading in and out of the coherent place. Like earlier today, I couldn’t even remember how to turn my wipers off. I’ve been driving this car 9 months now and I honestly just blanked out on how to shut the damn wipers off. It came to me five minutes and 100 tries later but at that moment…my mind was just blank. Like I’d wandered into an unfamiliar car and had no clue how to operate it. It was annoying but also scary. I mean, I am raising a kid, I can’t afford such mental slips. It also got the panic going thinking, “This could be a brain tumor.”

And ya know, the reality is, tumors can cause mentally ill behavior. But the panic rules supreme in my world so even if it is a big festering tumor of death, I won’t know about until a, I die, or b, I am in so much physical pain that the pain overwhelms the panic receptors. That’s the way it’s always been for me. Xanax helps, but when the panic is on ten, a hubcab sized valium wouldn’t touch the anxiety. Logic says get it checked out, right? Ha ha ha. My panic laughs at your logic. And panic trumps it, as well.

But it’s just slips like that. The other day I ordered something for R and my brain just kept clicking at checkout…And afterward, I realized I’d put his personal expense on the business card. SHIT. My brain was just not in the building. I run on auto pilot so much.

Today I overslept because last night I took a measly 25 mg Trazadone. It put me down good. When my kid didn’t wake me at the crack of dawn my body just kept sleeping. It’s not my norm. So by the time I got to the shop, I was damn near hyperventilating because I knew he needed me to take him to get his car tires changed and…He kept telling me to calm down. Which only makes the panic worse. (Yes, I also take the shop trash to his house, which is why when people call it “work” I have to laugh because mostly, I am just a damn errand wench for all the stuff he is too important to make time to do.)

Anyway…Bipolar, specifically cyclothymia, does impact every facet of my life. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to overcome it or how much I don’t want it to make an impact. It just does.

I know my personality is difficult.

But most men have been able to handle most of my personality. Of course, they don’t like my “open mouth and insert feet” approach to brutal honesty but mostly they complain about the rapid mood swings and the panic affecting their lives. So my relationships always seem doomed to fail because the primary issue is the one thing I can’t change. They get the luxury of walking away. I don’t.

How has it impacted being a mother?

During the worst down period, over a year and a half, I didn’t take my kid outdoors because I was TERRIFIED the neighbors were going to beat me up. In fact, other than grocery shopping and bill paying I rarely left the house, which meant she rarely left the house. I didn’t even attempt to put her in preschool or take her to places for playdates so she could socialize. My illness pretty much made her isolation a given because it was my life. It impacted her, and I still feel shitty about that. I was never gonna be the “mommy and me” or “baby yogo” type but it was…well, it was bad, for her, for me, even for the Donor. Yet he watched me drown and I couldn’t seem to do anything but drown.  THAT is why bipolars like myself MUST have a partner with a spine. Because we don’t always know we’re being awful, we don’t always know we’re drowning. Sometimes we do and we’re crippled, we literally don’t know what to do about it and can’t make ourselves figure it out. I’ve always found myself with submissive personalities who just let me drown. Which is not to absolve me of my responsibility, but to show that I didn’t realize just how bad things were and they were so bad, he left rather than deal with my state. Had he simply told me, helped me…Things might have been different, or might not have been.

I just didn’t realize until after the fact how bad I had gotten. I had stopped living. I was existing. And I had dragged those around me down with me.

Which is why I now try so damn hard with my that it is killing me. I can’t handle 7 kids 7 nights a week in addition to my own. Maybe some people can. I’m just not the Michelle Dugger type. I think for all my deficits, I do pretty well.

Another example of the panic/paranoia aspect..

It’s 5:30 pm. We have been home two hours. Not one kid has appeared. That is an anomaly and my stupid brain is telling me I did something to somehow offend the kids or parents and now my kid will suffer for it. I should be relieved for the peace. But my kid keeps asking where her friends are. And I keep thinking it must be my fault.

And it’s not without a basis in reality. The other day the chick from next door came over snarking at me about how I had no right to talk to her son the way I did and she would never talk to my kid that way and I didn’t know what was going on because the other kids weren’t mine. I stood there and watched her son throwing rocks at one of the kids at my house. It hit the car. I told him not to throw rocks and if he couldn’t get along with the kids here, he needed to go away. His version he told her was very different. I became this big adult bully who hurt his fragile feelings and made him feel threatened.

Maybe I could have been more…I don’t know, less me, perhaps? I am pretty rough around the edges.

What gets me is I was so damn submissive with this woman, because the panic kicked in and my mind began to spin.Instead of defending my actions and telling her what her snowflake actually said to me that brought about my tone and actions, I just said, “No, that’s not what happened, but you’re right, I will come talk to you if there’s ever another problem.”

I feel like an utter moron. Because now she thinks I am scared of her (my panic attacks and property kind of are) she will exploit it. Her kid just looks at me and grins now. She glares and mutters things. Of course, she is the woman who called a 7 year old girl a bitch the other day for daring to walk on the edge of the road near her trailer. So I don’t suppose she is the fine upstanding adult here that I should care about her opinion.

Ahhh…A kid has appeared to play with Spook. Sigh of relief. I live in terror that one of my altered mind states will cost her a friend. Kids forgive. Other parents of said kids do not. I just want peace and yet, I freak out when they don’t appear because I fear I did something to offend. I’ve built a life out of trying to offend or shock and yet, here I am, worrying over doing just that. Because it’s one thing to alienate people for myself, but I soo don’t want that for my kid. If they are to be alienated, let her do it for herself (lol).

I took Spook out to Dollar Tree today, was going to get her supplies for the party I am going to have here on the 10th for her friends. My mood just crashed and suddenly, I didn’t want to get party stuff. So I let her pick out the invites and said I’d get the stuff after I find out how many of the kids can make it. Another instance where the moods alter my mindset and interfere with daily life.

R, when he doesn’t have his head up his ass, takes note of my sudden quietness and morose expression and inquires. I tell him I am just low, and he asks why. That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I’m depressive, ffs.

And there is a major factor in dealing with someone like me, ie, bipolar. Or maybe this is just me personally.

If we are making the effort to be quiet and keep our mood crash to ourselves, then you can make the effort to maybe give us a comforting pat on the back, or a compliment, and move on. We don’t expect to be coddled. We just need to ride it out, without an inquisition, without judgment. It was a big bone of contention with the donor. I tried so hard, fought so furiously, to keep my mood crashes in, to shelter him from it. I would just be quiet, maybe go do something in another room. And he still took it personally and made it about himself, as in what did he do. And when i said nothing, he insisted something had to cause the mood swing.

In cyclothymia, no, that’s not true.

The more he tried to cheer me up, the more annoyed I became. I would assert myself and say, “Just let me ride it out.” He would keep badgering with the humor, then with the “woe is me, what did i do” whining. And I would blow up. And no matter how many times it happened, he never could grasp how he was making it happen. That’s not to absolve myself. I should have handled it differently. But then if I were in the right mind to handle things well, I wouldn’t be mentally ill now would I?

How does mental illness affect my life?

In every possible way.

And it sucks.

 

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