I don’t know what mentally ill means. I am ill because I am diagnosed as such and everyone says that is so. I don’t know how any other mind works, so I can’t tell you what falls into “mood disorder”, “psychosis”, or whatever. I look at the sky and I see my shade of blue, as does everyone else. I can’t differentiate the sick parts of me from the good parts – I don’t even know I’m depressed until after the depression lifts – because that’s my sky for the day. I spent a long time worrying that everything I have ever done wrong was because “I am crazy” but if that is the case, then all the good things I’ve ever done are also because “I am crazy”. My “crazy” self brought the kids I love so much I’d desperately try to kill myself for. I’ll be the craziest woman in the world for them, and I will always work to be the best example I can be.
My sons have ADHD, and I have always told them it was a superpower. I said, like Superman, there’s kryptonite – sitting in school, paying attention – it might be harder, BUT ADHD also lets them do things with their mind that other people can’t – like maybe you are more creative, or you are better at music, or you can do 50k things at once. Like me, they have a hard time with the world. Everyone wants them to do things their way, and their way doesn’t work. In my own stigma against myself, I had somehow determined ADHD is totally okay, but whatever was wrong with me was unacceptable because this is what crazy people do.
My personality and all of my accomplishments are not caused by or undermined by anything that is “wrong” with me. There is nothing wrong with me, but my brain works differently which allows me to be creative, funny, and all the amazing things that make me my itchy assed self.
This focus on labeling and diagnosing everyone is beneficial in some ways, but in other ways, I think it reinforces this notion that mentally “ill” people are different then mentally “healthy” people. I think that is all a huge crock of shit. Once I accepted I was crazy, I began to see the world differently. Instead of fighting to be like everyone else, I let me be myself. Once I did that, I started seeing most people are crazy. Everyone seems to struggle with anxiety as a baseline nowadays; my panic attacks are just probably worse than most. Personally, I think people who get up at 5AM and run are crazy. There is no such thing as mentally healthy. Everyone has their own unique brain that works the way their brain works. Like a body, maybe there are medications or changes needed to help certain problems, but diagnoses do not define anything beyond what needs help. My fear of being crazy kept me from seeing that.
I have a mood disorder, I had psychosis. I am not a mood disorder and I am not psychosis. At the same time, this affects every facet of my life. If I am depressed, it’s like eating at the most amazing restaurant in the world with a stuffed nose. It’s like I am trying to keep on going while my soul slipped in a quick coma. But, to me, that’s how it has always been and how it always will be. I don’t know any other way to explain it. When I am depressed, my brain creates a reality where happiness is an ocean and I can’t drink, and I won’t even know the ship I’m in is called depression.
The bipolar side of my mood disorder is the compensation for the depression. People call it mania, I call it holy fuck I can feel feelings again! Holy fuck, I can be a mom again! Holy fuck, I can be here again! I imagine my days after depression are how people feel coming out of solitary confinement. Because I can do things, I do all the things. I start making plans like crazy, I start writing like crazy, I start yoga’ing like crazy, because I can. I essentially become a happiness camel, storing every precious drop of amazing-ness to surround me in my depression boat.
The capacity to feel pleasure is equal to the capacity to feel pain. ~Alan Watts
If anyone has ever described life with bipolar more accurately in my life, it is Mr. Alan fucking Watts, and he’s talking about consciousness, philosophy, and zen. I can describe pain very well. Pain is when you are able to immediately cease any joy, happiness, or bliss when you remember Newton’s law applies to your moods as well as gravity. Pain is when you feel happy and you dismiss it with, “I wonder if I’m manic?” I mean, to get through depression I have to remind myself it’s not me, it’s depression. Naturally, my logical mind says to my mania, it’s not me, it’s mania.
The true sting of pain is knowing that all the happiness I create fills that ocean I float in. When I notice I am happy, there is an almost immediate, instinctive reaction of “Fuck, this crash is going to hurt…” which makes me recoil from my happiness. I think this is why suicide becomes a comforting thought. I get so tired of this rise and fall, and if you essentially fear your own happiness, where do you go from there?
When I’m not depressed, I am happy. I don’t know how else to describe my general life. I’m anxious, I’m not great at taking care of myself, but I’m trying, I’m super crazy about my kids, but never remotely meet my expectations as a mother, and I like doing stuff with things and whatnot. However, when I’m busy, creative, super happy, etc. I’m apparently manic, hypomanic, or baseline. Similarly, when I’m depressed, I don’t know I’m depressed and I might be mildly to severely depressed. To Alan Watts’ point, as happy as I can be is as sad as I can get.
Lately, I have had this carpe diem on xanax attitude. Sieze the day gently and lovingly. If you’re not up for it, spoon the day with youtube and a nap. I’m so tired of the extremes – chasing so much happiness to escape so much sadness. Zen, to me, is when you notice the little things in life and you allow them to have the profound impact they were intended. Zen is when you become aware of the miracle of life contained within every breath you take.
See, the reason I connected with Buddha, Alan Watts, and philosophy, is because they are the only words that have helped me understand mental illness, but they were talking about everyone. I struggled to connect with CBT, DBT, and therapy in general because it felt outside of me. It felt foreign to me and fake. The reason why I write about my bullshit as (I will continue to call it) is it is articles/posts/blogs like these that helped me find myself and start to find my way out of the endless corridors of my mind. It’s interesting, because I am growing increasingly comfortable with talking about all of my “crazy” shit, but I still shy away from the “really crazy” shit – my experiences with meditation, why I thought I was god during pscyhosis, etc. That’s where I am focusing myself in this next revolution around the sun.
I have never entirely trusted my mind, and Buddha is the first person who made me feel absolutely okay for it. I was drawn to studying Buddhism when I remembered meditating when I was a little girl. I had read a book on meditation from somewhere, and I fell in love with the hot balloon meditation. Every night, I would lie down in my bed and I would picture my problems going into my basket, and I would blow them all away in a hot balloon. I would inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth. Then inhale through my mouth and exhale through my nose.
Thanks to the mental hospital, I connected with mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhism again. I had no idea what any of those things were when I was a kid and as I got older and dumber, I forgot it. Even still, it took me years to actually bring the philosophies, studies, and practices into any sort of consistency. I’ve been meditating consistently for a year now, which is (aside from mothering) one of the only things I have done regularly for that long in my life. I go balls deep into everything and give up, pretty much – either because I deemed myself a failure, or because I can’t actually chew whatever I impulsively bit off. Meditation, Journaling, and Writing are my big major consistency achievement. Yoga is still in development, and everything else is a masterpiece in progress, just like me.
Today is my 35th birthday. Last year, I had said I was done hurting myself. I suppose last year was one of those tear down to build up years. This year, I want to understand myself, deepen my studies into the world of eastern philosophy and philosophy in general. For all the highs and lows I have had in the last year, the one constant was the warm embrace of philosophy. If I had to suffer psychosis to fully connect with all of these different parts, I’ll take it a few times over. I’m tired of looking back, and I am tired of thinking of myself as crazy or different. Zen is teaching me to accept all of me as I am every moment. While all of these things affect me greatly, I find Zen is helping me smooth the edges and slip out of the grasp of fear and ego.
As that happens, I find myself more free to learn more about the world I live in, connect with myself, and connect with greater insight and freedom. If that is crazy, I truly do not want to be sane.
Previous Posts regarding suicide:
- Suicide Prevention Month – My Story Pt 1
- Suicide Prevention Month – My Story Pt 2
- Suicide Prevention Month – My Story Part 3
- Suicide Prevention Month – My Story Part 4
- No, Seriously, Suicide is Not Selfish
- Depression is Selfish
- Won’t Someone Think of the Children?
- 13 Reasons..
- AFSP – Association for Suicide Prevention
- If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741
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