Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Process of Unlearning and Relearning How to Live....

I want to start this off by saying that I do not believe that I am owed or entitled to anything.

I have always had a difficult time holding down a job and maintaining a normal life. 

In my short life, I have had over 20 jobs and very few of them have lasted over a year. A few people have jokingly asked me if I was in the witness protection program because of how many places I have worked. 

None of my past jobs have ever been full-time, not until the last two years anyway.  My work history is always marred with late arrivals, absences, no call no shows, etc.

When I was working a normal job I ended up spending a lot of time hiding out in the bathroom crying and muttering to myself. While some people can roll off douche bag comments from others like it doesn't matter, they wound me deeply. When I tried being open about my illnesses with managers and co-workers I felt like I shouldn’t have even bothered saying anything. The bottom line for companies is making money, it is absolutely not the well being of the people they employ. I always ended up feeling like I was a defective product sitting unwanted on a shelf and collecting dust. The end result, I was either let go or I quit the job.

Just because I am not able to work a normal job or function like what is expected, doesn’t mean I am any less valuable of a person. What it means is that sadly I have to fight harder to prove my value.

Why? Because people look at the mentally ill as if they are broken humans. There is very little awareness and education about mental health. A lot of people sadly think that it is all made up and that psychiatrists are feeding us all bullshit. 

Well, every day is a different adventure in my life.

I have no idea what each day is going to be like until I wake up.

There are some days that are really great, I am able to function and my emotions and thoughts are stable. I am productive, energetic and I can be fun to be around.

Most days however, I feel like I am living on the edge of a knife.

There are days that I am so depressed and numb that I can’t even stand the thought of anyone looking at me. I will randomly and uncontrollably break out into tears and have panic attacks so bad that I end up vomiting all over myself. When those attacks really set in I can’t breathe and all I think about is stamping my life out of existence because the pain of living is so overwhelming that I feel like I am drowning.

On days where I don’t feel depressed, I am going through a manic episode. Those are the days where I won’t sleep at all and have all this vibrating energy. My brain has millions of thoughts running through it, I have trouble focusing and I feel like I am running on fast forward. I often talk an excessive amount and the words just come out of my mouth like a speeding train. I have trouble keeping up with conversations and can’t follow a train of thought to save my life. 

My illnesses greatly influence how I experience emotions. I often feel things so intensely and deeply that it is overwhelming to other people and myself. It’s exhausting emotionally when your fears, abandonment issues and paranoia consume large chunks of space in your brain. I am terrified of really ever being truly angry as all I want to do is break things and pull each individual strand of hair from my head all just to torture myself. There have been times where I have been so emotionally unstable, family members have had to throw me into a running shower to try and calm me down.

As if all the other things I live with weren’t enough, I have hallucinations and I hear things. Every day even on good ones, I hear a bunch of static and mumbling. It sounds like the white noise on a fading radio station or an old television set. When I am manic, I will actually have conversations with inanimate objects because I can hear them talking to me. Sometimes, I have trouble telling what is really happening and what is something that came from my head. The lines between reality and dreams are so thin in my world that it is often hard to know what is real. My therapist and I have long since discussed the possibility of me being Schizophrenic, I even have an appointment with a Psychiatrist to explore that possibility.

It is incredibly scary and upsetting to know that you can’t always trust yourself because your brain doesn’t function how it should.

I’ve tried taking medications but I only ever ended up feeling sicker and finding no relief from my illnesses. People have this misunderstanding of how medication works for mental illness. They think if you take pills you are magically cured of all that ails you. Don’t get me wrong medication does have its value and can work for some people but it isn’t permanent or perfect solution. Your body can build up immunities to medications and even when they do work they don’t stop your illnesses from naturally occurring, they only help you manage. 

Like a lot of people diagnosed with a mental illness, I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. Therapy helps but it doesn’t make life any easier to manage, it gives me a safe space to talk to someone who understands mental health and doesn’t judge me. 

Trying to live a normal functioning life almost killed me. I could hear the voices in my head louder, screaming at me to do something stupid. I have scars on my body from where I cut myself with a razor blade. I don’t even know the exact amount of money it has cost myself or my family for all the emergency room visits because of suicide attempts.

A few months ago I tried to kill myself, for hopefully the last time. It was a real wake up call, not only for me but for a lot of people I love. I had reached a point where I felt like a caged animal. That day at work was one of the worst so I left. I spent hours collecting all of the pills in my house trying to come up with the perfect suicide cocktail. Had it not been for what now feels like a fated phone call, I would not be here typing this today. I am fortunate to have people in my life who love and support me unconditionally. Their support and love has helped give me the courage and strength to get help.

In order for me to be alive and taking care of my well being I had to rewrite my own reality. The first step was to stop trying to live the life that I was not meant to. Trying to fit myself into another person’s outfit just wasn’t going to work. I’ve been having to relearn what is normal and base it on my perspective. The biggest step I had to take was stop forcing myself to play a role that others wanted and needed of me. 

Taking charge of your life while you aren’t always 100% in charge in the first place, is in reality pretty terrifying. I had to learn how to start loving myself and accepting that my mental illnesses are a part of who I am and that I don’t need to be afraid or ashamed by being honest about it. 

While I will never be completely free of the thrall of my mental illnesses, the narrative of my own story can be decided how I want it to be.

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