I don’t really talk about the details of my mental illness here a lot. When I do mention it, it’s kind of in an oblique way. But tonight I’m going to talk about some really personal things.
I have bipolar disorder, which while I’m on a great couple of meds that keep me feeling pretty good most days, I do occasionally experience what’s called hypomania. Literally, “below mania.” It’s like being able to have super focus, really get into tasks, get all the things done. It’s sleeping a little less, but because you’re not really manic, and that string of depression is still there, you’re still in control and able to steer the boat. You’re still taking care of yourself, eating meals, getting enough sleep, bathing. You’re driven to succeed, and the more you get done, the more you need to do more.
And after a few days, maybe a week, it stops. Now you’ve got the motivation of a sleepy sloth and maybe you will sleep for 12 hours because there’s no real reason to get out of bed.
This is a real thing for me. I just spent 4 days hypomanic and after coming home tonight, I crashed into the don’t cares. But before I crashed, let me tell you what I did.
- I went to a special sale at my moms work, which was kind of like a mini Black Friday. Between my mom and I, we came home with a lot of stuff.
- I went through all the stuff and divided it into 5 categories. For Tracy, for Jami, for Jessica, for myself, and to be stashed for future giving.
- I put everything away that I was going to keep. Not only did I put things away, I reorganized half of my craft room because once I started moving things around, a light went on showing me how I could make everything better.
- As I worked to reorganize, I started pulling stuff aside to be donated to thrift. As it stands right now, the entire backseat of my car is filled with donations. I didn’t stop at just my craft room. I went through all my clothing, my entire closet, things on shelves in my room. I also selected some things to offer up for free to my online friends.
- I did 5 or 6 loads of dishes, several loads of laundry, collected the recycling from around the kitchen, and bagged up several kitchen trash bags full of trash. I put the old lemons down the disposal and I cooked a couple meals.
- I visited with our neighbors. They’re great people, but I tend to keep to myself, so being social like that is also tied into hypomania for me.
- I worked for several hours on projects. I framed a big project I finished a while ago. I removed some listings from my shop and added others.
And it all came to an end today after taking a big exam in class. I was suddenly exhausted, and had to make myself gas up the car and head home. Once I got home, I heated some leftovers and crawled into bed to watch Netflix. Hypomania over. I don’t even want to get up to pee.
So why am I telling you all this? Because this is how I work. I can’t do anything for weeks and then, if I’m “lucky,” an episode comes on and I get everything done. I make new art. I make jewelry. I stitch some stuff up.
Right now I’m currently taking one single course at a community college. Next semester I’ll be taking two. And two the next semester. And then I’ll be going full time to learn the skills needed to become an MLT. I’m excited but I know it’s going to be hard. I’m going to have days where I just can’t do it. But I want this and I want to put myself in a better place financially. I want to be a functional member of society who is self sufficient.
But I’m taking it one day at a time. Baby steps.
I’ve collected a few tweets that highlight things I find myself thinking about – mainly what the hell is wrong with us as a people that these are the things we have to be worried about?
I just asked “Wait, which one?” about a school shooting, so that’s where we are as a species.
— Elizabeth Hackett (@LizHackett) May 22, 2018
Stop thanking men for not being creepy jerks. This is expected & required behaviour, not something to be lauded as exceptional.
— Kung Fu Kanga (@_little_old_me) May 21, 2018
It is sickening that more kids have lost their lives in schools this year than servicemembers who willingly risk theirs in combat zones https://t.co/qetCduPqwE
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) May 22, 2018
Raise your hand if you were bullied as a kid (hell, as a teenager, as an adult) and never massacred a group of people because of it.
— Krista (@krittabug) May 22, 2018
I don't know what an incel is. I don't know what the concept of "redistribution of sex" is all about. I don't know where the whole idea of "let's kill people because women won't fuck us" came from all of a sudden. I just know I'm super disgusted.
— Baconator Supreme Matt (@aceofknaves88) May 22, 2018
In the past I have behaved in ways when rejected by women that will always and forever make me deeply ashamed when I think of them, but I have never assaulted or killed anyone.
— Baconator Supreme Matt (@aceofknaves88) May 21, 2018
Stop saying that the Sante Fe victim "rejected" the shooter's "advances" – he wasn't "making advances". He was harassing her. She told him to stop and he killed her and a bunch of others. Stop making it sound like he awkwardly passed her a note asking if she liked anyone.
— Geraldine (@everywhereist) May 22, 2018
My therapist asked me to write about my own success story as a kind of graduation out of one on one therapy. To start with how I felt when I started with her a year ago, and end with how I feel about myself today. This is what I wrote.
A year ago I started therapy. I was anxious, even scared, about what it would be like. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t bathing, or sleeping well, or putting on clean clothes. I worried about everything. I had just broken up with my now ex-boyfriend and my entire world was upside down. I had to move back in with my mom and I didn’t want to. I was worried about living with her because we didn’t have the best relationship when I was a child.
I learned pretty quickly that my therapist was non-judgemental, and open to discussing whatever I needed to talk about that week. She gave me a safe space to not worry about what might be thought of me, and to reflect on myself with her gentle guidance. At the same time, I started doing things that let me feel in control of my body, since I couldn’t control anything else in my life right then. This took the form of several piercings, some easily visible, some more intimate. I changed my hair. I started wearing make-up more often. I showered. I put on clean clothes.
I got a puppy, and I started cleaning the house. I slowly stopped worrying about the things that had bothered me- if my pup was safe, if I was safe, if I would have a place to live. My piercings became less frequent, though I still got a few new ones, as well as a tattoo. The word WORTHY on my foot. Because I am.
I learned to look at things that had happened to me in a different way. My mom did the best she could for me. Not all the bad things that happened to me as a child were her fault. She loves me and thinks I’m just fine the way I am. Realizing that made a big difference in how I felt living with her and her boyfriend, and things got better.
I realized my ex was even more of a self-centered, bullying, and verbally and emotionally abusive asshole than I had let myself see before we broke up. Good riddance to bad garbage. I stopped talking to him completely and blocked him on social media. There was nothing good he brought into my life. I felt good about that.
All of these changes, and talking about these things while my therapist reframed them for me to consider made me see I am worthy of my own love and affection. I am worthy of others’ love and affection. I am worth working on to become a better, strong, more emotionally secure person. I’m worth taking care of. I am, all of me, worth it. I’m smart. I’m capable. I’m a good craft artist and a great dog mom. I can and do learn new things all the time. I can take care of myself and I can be my own success story. I am not a failure.
I AM WORTHY.
So next Sunday is my birthday. I’m turning 37. And with it being my birthday soon, just like every year, I’m depressed. It’s not because I’m getting older- I really don’t mind aging and I look forward to one day having beautiful silver hair. But for me, my birthday is a reminder that I’ve failed. I still haven’t managed to be self sufficient, I still have to spend on others to get by, I can’t even afford a shitty little apartment or trailer. And now I have all this stupid debt because I haven’t been careful with my money so I’m at least 3 years out from being able to start saving to actually do something about my living situation. And it makes me want to crawl under a rock and fucking die.
I’m not suicidal. But I’m so fucking low and on top of the birthday depression, I think my current living situation only adds to it as does the knowledge that my debt has dug a hole I can’t immediately get out of. And all of this is so fucking exhausting.
I really hope by this time next month I’ll have bounced back a bit. Tracy and Jami will be wanting to get together in the coming weeks, which will be a good thing. I haven’t seen friends in months, and some of my friendships are feeling neglected.
Tonight, after everyone was asleep, I took a shower. And while I was in there, I realized showering is recently a much more complex affair then it was two months ago. I have antibacterial soap to cleanse my numerous new piercings. I have facial cleanser to wash away the day’s makeup. I have body wash for the rest of my skin. I have an expensive tar shampoo to wash my hair and soothe my scalp. And after I get out, I have a fancy, delicious smelling coconut oil conditioner to work into my hair to make it smooth and shiny and soft. And that’s not even counting if I’m shaving – then there’s soap and razors. Maybe baby oil to rub over my skin afterwards.
Makeup. The day’s makeup. I went literally years without a touch of it on my face and now I’m wearing it almost every day because I feel beautiful with it on. My new piercings. 6 total in the last ten weeks because they make me feel pretty with more planned.
I’ve purchased jewelry that I’m actually wearing. I signed up for Ipsy. I bought nail polish twice in recent weeks and I’ve done my nails 3 times in the last week. My hair is currently in curling rods in the hopes of having fabulous cascading curls tomorrow when I wake up.
My next body mod will be a small tattoo that will be a reminder that I have value and I am worthy of so many things – love, good health, friendship, family, good things in my life. This is a thing I have a problem with and I often forget but I’m working on it with my therapist and all these things above are signs of progress. I feel good about myself for the first time in at least 6 years. I feel WORTHY of self – care for the first time in longer than I can remember.
Depression is a mother fucking bitch. You lose track of what’s important (yourself) and you stop believing in your WORTH. Even with medication, my environment was still a big determiner of how I felt about myself. Getting away from my ex was the best thing I could have done for myself and I only regret not doing it sooner.