The Mixed Sessions

Depression: A bottomless pit that grows deeper and deeper each day. A vast darkness in which there is no escape, no light, no guide to safety, only emptiness. Only sadness, and despair. And the only way out is up.

Mixed Episodes: Hell. It is purgatory. It is up, and it is down. It is silent, and it is deafening. Hurry up and wait; run in 10 directions but don’t move. You are stuck in place of no certainty, no stability, and no way of knowing which direction you’re going next. You’re laughing one minute, and can’t stop crying the next. You truly feel as though you are starting to lose your mind. And it is frightening.

I’ve been in a mixed episode over the last week or so, one of the first that’s lasted longer than a day, and it’s been awful. I feel like the last leaf on a tree, withered and alone, fragile in the wind as the branches around me rattle. The smallest of things can ruin the day; it can trigger a complete meltdown. And the meltdown? It’s endless. It’s crying, and more crying, and more crying, and the moment you think you have yourself contained again, you fall apart once more into MORE crying. I feel out of control and more alone than ever. It’s easy to explain depression-most people have been there. It’s easy to hide or explain mania. Trying to explain the middle ground-not the plateau of sanity, but the middle ground of losing your damn mind-there’s no way to truly bring to light and understanding exactly the feeling. It is never ending pain. And it hurts-more than I can possibly know how to express. It feels endless. And it is exhausting.

Advertisements

The dark truth

This post is going to be brutally honest, and raw. It is a topic I have wanted to post about for a long time, but have not had the courage to do so. The timing wasn’t right, I didn’t know what to say and how to say it, and I was afraid of the possible responses I could receive. However, in light of recent events losing Robin Williams, and the pouring out of honesty I have seen from so many people, I believe there is no better time than now.

Suicide probably carries the greatest deal of stigma in mental health. People who don’t understand depression and the darkest depths it can carry you to have a difficult time understanding how painful it can be, and how beautiful it can look when you are below rock bottom.

Depression is a terribly dark place. And the greater the hold it has on you, the more painful it can be. Depression brings with it anxiety, paranoia, anger, sadness, sometimes physical pain, and irrational thoughts that you are absolutely alone. No matter how strong your support system of friends and family, your brain tells you that you are alone. It tells you no one could possibly want to know your pain, that no one will understand, that you will be judged instead of helped, and that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It is literally a struggle to live life. Finding the energy and motivation to do even the simplest of tasks is not only incredibly difficult, but getting yourself to get up and do something is draining. The joy in life literally has been sucked out of everything. It’s almost like the world has become gray. And the people around you, your friends and family who you once knew were there for you, you now believe they could not possibly care. No one cares. So why should you? Why should you continue to fight forward? Why should you continue to live so selflessly for everyone else around you? When do you get to help yourself? When do you get to be selfish? When does it end? What if it never ends?

The battle truly never ends. No amount of medication, no matter how well it works, will ever completely take away the pain or the ever present thoughts in the back of your mind. It is ever beckoning. She is a dark mistress who stands just over your shoulder, with hands wide open to offer ways to take away the pain. Just a couple drinks won’t hurt you. Just a couple pills will make it better. Just one cut will take your mind off of it all. But it’s all a lie. And eventually, no matter how much you drink, how many pills you take, how deeply you cut, how stoned you get, nothing works anymore. And realizing that there’s nothing that can truly take the pain away nor any longer keep the depression at bay; the end seems so much sweeter than trying to struggle through life hiding behind the facade of joy. And you learn quickly that it’s so much easier to paste the smile on your face and tell everyone your fine than have to explain to your loved ones that you’d rather end it all and be gone of this world than keep on living. Because living hurts too much.

 

I have been there. Often. And I have painted the smile on my face and told the world I’m content when really, all I want to do, is be gone. I have spent weeks at a time wondering when it will end. When will the light come back in to life and the laughter be sincere? When will getting drunk, getting high, and cutting deep no longer be a necessity to help me breathe again at the end of the day? When will I stop crying myself to sleep? When do I get to be selfish?

I’ve never known which is scarier: Being in so much emotional agony that you want to be gone from this world, or knowing the blueprint to how you would do it.

I feel there is no greater pain for oneself than being lost in the darkness of your mind. There is no greater mourning than losing hold of your own sanity and desire for your well-being. There is no greater loss than losing your desire to live. And it is a battle so many fight every day, and so many choose to give way to.

 

I have suffered from depression since I was a young teenager, and bipolar disorder for 6 years. Too often, the desire to give up has crossed my mind. I’ve never acted on it. I’ve battled hard and long to fight through the empty dark that is depression. I have reminded myself that eventually the roller coaster will pull me up from rock bottom. But words, I find, are insufficient to really bring to light the pain one feels at the bottom of that pit.

This is not a cry for help. This is a confession. This is an effort to express the raw and vulnerable truth that is depression. And an effort to, hopefully, allow for a better understanding of what too many people in this world go through every day. Do not discount people when they are reaching out for help. Listen, console, and be a soul to lean on. In our darkest hours, it is what we need most.

Living for Joy

It has been quite a long time since I last posted, and I have gone through a great deal within the last few months. It has been a theme park of emotions between the stress of moving back across the state and removing myself from a toxic relationship and coping with healing. I have learned a great deal about myself and what it is I need and want in life. Included in all those lessons, and probably the most important one, is learning the importance of living for joy.

I have spent a great deal of my life living for others. I spent the last 5 years in a relationship where in I bent over backwards to make someone happy. It was toxic to say the least. But the worst part was that I spent a great deal of time convincing others and myself that I was happy. Stepping away from the relationship and looking into it from the outside, I realize just how miserable I was.

I have always been a firm believer of surrounding your life with happiness. You should do what you love. And you should surround yourself with people who make you happy. I have failed to follow my own advice and beliefs for as long as I can remember. But within the last couple months, I have learned better of this and decided to change my life for the better. I want to surround myself with happy and positive people. I want to do what makes me happy and that which will help me follow my goals for a better life in the future. And best of all, that I deserve to be with someone who will make me happy, appreciate me, and treat me as I deserve. 

Happiness is key to living life and making it through the hard times. You can not be happy in life if you do not allow happiness to thrive within it. And this is my time in life to change that.

Black Box Thoughts

There’s a new show that premiered on ABC tonight called “Black Box”. I have some mixed feelings about it.

I think that a show focusing around the subject of mental health is incredible. It’s a very taboo subject that I feel very strongly about. Open communication and education about mental health is exactly what is needed to break the stigmas surrounding the subject.

The lead character of the show, Catherine Black, has bipolar disorder. While it’s not specified, I’m going to assume based on what they showed that she has Bipolar I. There’s a few variations of bipolar disorder, but it is primarily classified into category I and category II. Bipolar I has more extreme mood swings between mania and depression. Usually people with bipolar I are not as functional or stable off of their medication. Bipolar II is a little less extreme, but individuals still face swinging between episodes of mania and depression. The issue that I have is how her manic episodes are portrayed.

Manic episodes can be extreme. An individual can experience rushing thoughts and ideas, decreased need for sleep , be easily distracted, more talkative and active than usual, inflated self-esteem, and even lead to risky behavior related to pleasure seeking actions such as unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretion, and drug or alcohol abuse. Essentially, a person in a manic episode, especially an extreme manic high, can feel as though they are invincible and can conquer the world. But I feel as though Catherine Black’s manic episodes, which she flies in to as soon as she stops her medications, are completely misrepresented. She catapults in to a frenzy of having sex with anything alive with two legs and a penis.

Now, to be fair, I have bipolar II. I have experienced manic episodes. They aren’t nearly as extreme as the ones portrayed in the tv show. But I’ve gone through my fair share of spending money I didn’t have on things I didn’t need, driving too fast, bouncing off the walls with a million ideas and a million and one things to say at once, and laughed and laughed and laughed endlessly about absolutely everything-even on medication. But I’ve never flown in to such a promiscuous frenzy. I’ve met the family members with flyers in hand showing pictures of their missing loved one who has bipolar disorder and stopped taking their medication. I know there’s many homeless individuals out there who suffer from bipolar disorder and are in fact homeless BECAUSE of their mental health and inability to maintain a stable lifestyle and keep a job and spend money responsibly. But I’m able to maintain a job, keep an apartment, spend money on the essentials first; I’m able to live a functional life. So, while I can relate to the experiences, I have not lived through such extremes myself. My fear is that the show will paint a picture for viewers who are ignorant to bipolar (and really, all other mental disorders) that is completely false. Though it is common to face the thought process of “I don’t want to have to take a pill everyday to be happy”, not every person on medication dumps their pills down the toilet. Not every person who flies in to a manic episode is going to go on a rampant sex spree. Not every person on a manic high just starts dancing and loses their damn mind in one day. Some may, but not everyone. While it’s refreshing to see that a major network is taking on such a subject, it’s a little frustrating to see it being portrayed in such a way. It touches on some pretty legit information and experiences, but I feel like showing the character running off and having sexual encounters all over the place is painting bipolar women as hyper-sexual and largely promiscuous. It’s creating a false idea and representation. And the previews I saw for the season showed even more encounters, some of them completely undesired. I’m really hoping that this show turns around. This is a subject that is very real and should be taken very seriously. Not used and edited for the benefit of increased profit and entertainment.

Love Who You Are

There has been a sudden appearance of posts on Facebook from several people I know coming forward about who they are. My friends have embraced themselves and shamelessly stepped forward to tell their story about their mental health. It has been a stunning cascade of courageous honesty. Some have depression, some bipolar disorder, some with ADD or OCD. And every single one of them is a beautiful soul.

I started talking openly about my mental health to people because I thought to myself that being punished by a stigma for something I can’t control is outrageous, and I was not going to live my life keeping it a secret for the sake of other people’s opinions and judgements. Mental health is not a virus floating around in the air that can be caught by shaking hands. It is a real and rough world that clings to the effected people like the roots of a red wood tree in the ground. It is something that, with the exception of a small bit of help from medications, can not be controlled. We can not turn off our depression, or our obsessive compulsive tendencies. We can not help that our ADD causes us to be unfocused and forgetful. We can not help the voices we may hear or the thoughts that beat us down. And unfortunately, because of the stigmas and misunderstanding that comes along with mental health, the thoughts that haunt us will follow us for life. We live in our minds filled with “you’re stupid”, “you’re worthless”, “why can’t you just be normal?”, “what’s wrong with you?”. It is a painful life. Day to day is about pushing through the darkness, surviving the storm, fighting away the painful temptations of giving it all up, and struggling to make it through the day with smiling facade.

There is help out there. There are open arms, there is support, there are ears around you to listen and understanding souls in your life. There are people who love you, all of you, for all that you are. And, to steal some advice from a friend who struggles with us all, no matter how minimal and meaningless you think your life story and difficulties are, it doesn’t make them or yourself insignificant. You are the world. You are beautiful, and you are courageous. Embrace yourself, love you for all that you are, and when you are ready, face the world with that shameless pride and give stigmas the finger.

One day at a time

There are many reasons behind the meaning of life. One of them however, and I think one of the most important ones, is survival. Survival is more than just your Boy Scout lessons of the wild; trapping dinner with a box and a string, building shelter with a branch and finding home by following the moss. Sometimes survival is so much more, and so much deeper and complicated. Sometimes it’s about keeping yourself from completely losing your shit.

Life is great about bringing us challenges, hills, bumps, holes, pit stops, and flat tires. Sometimes the more displeasing of events are bigger than others, but we usually are able to adapt or find a solution to our problems. However, sometimes, without any warning, the road just disappears. We come to the edge of a cliff with a box and a note that says “you have to build a bridge. Here’s a tooth pick, a rubber band, a piece of chocolate, and some Kleenex. Good luck.” We aren’t always prepared for the hard times, but it is especially moments like this that the true test of life happens.

Whatever that event may be, these events are usually pretty traumatic emotionally and bring a lot of stress with them. We do our best to make due. But it isn’t long before the depression sets in and soon you find yourself falling quickly and stuck deep in the mud of the darkness. You either don’t want to eat or can’t stop doing so, you don’t want to be around people, you stop caring about everything else, you stay enclosed in your blanket fort because it’s safe and cozy there, and the haunting voices of your chosen weapon of self-destruction are calling laced with sugar and dangerous promises. Each day gets harder and each moment your body gets heavier. You’re a zombie just going through the motions. You stop caring about your job, your bills, your dishes, your laundry, yourself worst of all. You have fallen to the bottom of the totem pole and every time someone reminds you that you are loved and amazing, it hurts. Every time someone reminds you that you will in fact persevere, you cry a little more. Not because it really hurts you or is offensive, but because you yourself can’t see it. They are glimmers of light that are intangible reminders of your survival. And you hold them close because they are as fragile as you are. And the crying?? Don’t get me started. In the shower, in the car, on the couch, at work, at the grocery store. You’re in an infinite state of choking on your tears and having to damn them up until your first moment of privacy where you can truly just fall apart into the ugly cry. To say the least, you are an absolute hot mess.

Someday, things will get better. But in the meantime, it’s about survival. It’s about keeping yourself going and pushing through one day at a time. It’s about forcing yourself out of your blanket fort after sleeping all day to have dinner with a friend. It’s about allowing yourself to thrive off joy and letting yourself giggle or laugh uncontrollably-and living off that. It’s about forcing yourself to eat when food doesn’t sound good or eating healthy when you just can’t eat enough. It’s about making yourself look good-not just presentable but good-instead of staying in your sweats and gross hair. It’s about choosing the funny movies and the kids movies (which are in fact the best) to watch instead of the more depressing ones. It’s about allowing yourself to just lose it when you need to, but pushing yourself to move forward and climb out instead of remaining stuck in the mud. It’s about figuring out how to build that bridge with patience instead of panicking that there wasn’t one to begin with. And sometimes survival isn’t possible with all the Boy Scout training and badges in the world, but rather taking it one day at a time….. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

The Meltdown

It’s coming. You can feel it. You feel like everyone around you is shutting you out, walking away, or simply not interested in interacting with you. Your relationships are falling apart. You’re denying the depression and tucking it away in a box in some cluttered corner in your mind for the sake that you be able to continue on in life because you have far too much to do and no time to deal with this bull shit. You feel like you’re going to cry. At everything. You cooked your food a minute too long, you’re learning how to play Spades and you don’t play a hand well, a sad song comes on the radio, the coffee shop is out of soy milk-EVERY thing is making you want to break down into uncontrollable sobs and you are fighting around every corner of your life to choke back those tears in the back of your throat and hoping desperately that nobody notices. And you start to grow angry. Now not only do you want to cry, you want to scream. And you want to disappear. You don’t want to be here. The stress and depression is taking it’s toll and all you can think is “Why am I still here? What’s the point? When does it all end? When do things finally turn around and work out and when do I stop failing and when do I stop living for other people? When do I get to stop being selfless? Why can’t I just walk away?” And the bad thoughts, those ones your therapist and everyone tells you aren’t healthy to have start to pop up. I could drive off this bridge or into oncoming traffic or lean over this railing too far or take all the pills in all my bottles or  . . . .

 

Then, by some miracle, the right person says the right thing. Whether because you said “I need help” or they saw it in your eyes or the greater powers out there just made it happen, the very things you need to hear are spoken. You are reminded that you are strong, that you are an incredible person and that you are here for a reason and that there are people in this world that are able to keep going because of you. That the person who wakes up and falls asleep at your side, the people who light up to your laughter, the people who look to you as a role model and for their own strength, they need you in their life. And all those tears that have been suppressed in the back of your throat, and all stress and anxiety and anger and pain and every emotion you’ve been squeezing into your spirit’s shoe box that you had to tape at the seams because it was so full is now exploding. And the ugly cry-the sobbing, snotty, gross, ugly cry you really needed to have all along-is finally coming out.

 

Sometimes you just need to have a meltdown. Not a temper tantrum, not a single tear down your cheek, but a solid ugly cry meltdown to regain your stable grounds and regain hold of your life and sanity. Sometimes you need to reach out to someone you love and tell them “I need help” and be reminded that you are strong, beautiful, wonderful, incredible, inspirational, and the reason that someone else is still going. You need to be reminded that life and love suck, but love perseveres and life is beautiful and sometimes they have to suck for a minute for you to remember those truths. And sometimes you need to fall apart to remember that you are strong, but you are not invincible. You are incredible and but you are also human.

 

Be good to yourself my friends. Love yourself, let yourself fall apart once in awhile, and remember when you feel like you can’t keep going anymore that you may be the reason that someone else still is.