On The Topic of Mental Health

Sometimes it’s difficult to express. Anxiety bears down on you like a pressure suit. Breathing is a challenge, the sweat on your palms becomes excessive, and hope is not always present. It can be quite taxing and exhausting in fun new ways every single time. “This too shall pass.” you remind yourself. “This is just a moment. Moments come and moments go. I will be okay. It will be okay.” becomes your mantra. “I can do this” quickly becomes “I don’t think I can do this.” and that is where the paradigm shifts. Everything you’ve ever been excited or enthused for is just another cloud in your day. A thing that is there but its voice is muffled. Everything sounds like an adult in a Peanuts cartoon. Nothing matters anymore. Pain. You can only focus on the pain and stress and anxiety of life. It’s getting darker now. The sun is still there but if you can’t see it then is it really there? A solar Schrödinger complex.  Thoughts race, as does your heart. Funny how this also happens in moments of pure ecstasy and joy. There go those moments again. Passing all the time. It’s like a nightmare you cannot wake up from. The nightmare is your life, at the moment. All of the good dreams lose their worth and merit. “It gets better.” you try again. “My life is important.” you mumble with the imaginary gun to your temple. Those visuals may be jarring for those reading this who know me personally and in a familial way. Right now there is no reason to worry or cause for alarm. I’m here, right now, writing this blog. It’s okay. But it is important to me to express as much as I can of the torment and anguish that I sometimes go through. And it’s not just myself. A quick Google search will tell you that “More than 5.7 million American adults or 2.6 percent of the population age 18 or older in any given year have bipolar disorder.”

So what do I do about it? I continue to live in those dark moments. The ones that are supposed to pass. The ones that are supposed to get better, but never seem  (while you’re in them) like they ever will. Those moments that tear me down inside while I try to hide behind a smirk and an “I’m fine.” Those words, “I’m fine.” are strikingly familiar to anyone who is unfortunate enough to bare this burden of bipolar disorder. Chemical imbalances in the brain are supposed to be fun. Recreational. Addicting. Not a fucking torture chamber. But that’s what it is. A medieval dungeon where you are both the prisoner and the dungeon master. Your mind is the arsenal of torture devices. Trying to convince yourself otherwise is like trying to escape an iron maiden. The more you punch and claw your way out the more damage is done. You take the medication religiously. There is no separation of church (the pharmacy) and state (your mental state). You take your meds every day but one day it just doesn’t offer the same defenses as it did for so long.  Another paradigm shift. Up the meds? Gain the weight. Change the meds? Wait 3-6 months before finding out if they work or not, if you last that long. Yes, it can be quite the struggle dealing with a mental illness.

But it doesn’t always have to be. If you just hang on as much as possible it WILL get better. Sometimes it takes a literal lifetime, or it can take as little as 24 hours. Taking a mental health day is good to do once in a while. That’s what I did today. And it has made all the difference. As soon as I got the day off, I was actually talkative. I wanted to go out and do things. We went shopping for school supplies to stock a future classroom. We saved over $300. Tax free, back to school deals are a godsend. But Jake, what the fuck does school shopping have to do with being depressed, or manic, or just bat shit? It’s not about the thing, it’s about the process of the thing. Getting out of the hobbit hole is good to do once in a while. Getting sun is healthy, unless you suffer from a skin condition. Going and doing things across town is healthy. Finding the sunshine in mundane activities is yet another paradigm shift. Life can be its own medicine. All insurances accepted. Be who you are under that fog. Under that pain. That smirk and “I’m fine.” can be a smile and “I’m fantastic.” but only if you let it. I know that’s easy for me to say while I’m feeling it. But I am posting this as a sort of reminder for when I feel like shit’s shit. And I will feel that way again and again. That’s the thing about bipolar disorder. It doesn’t stay consistent except for only its inconsistency. The whole fucking thing is an oxymoron sandwich with a catch 22 on the side for flavor. Manic-depression. High. Low. There is rarely an in between. And when there is it is literally that sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you crest the peak of the lift hill of a roller coaster and see what lies ahead. A big fucking drop. I sometimes get paranoid about feeling too happy. Because I know that, like a yippie dog on the end of you leash that won’t shut the fuck up and stop shitting, there’s usually a depression right at the end of it.

So what now? What do you do about never finding a balance? Or at least one that lasts long enough to enjoy life? You take the moments, remember those? You take the moments and appreciate them and cherish them while you can. They pass, you know? The bad moments make the light of the good ones blinding. Of course that means that some of the bad moments are the lowest of lows. But you always get back up. You always have another day, should you choose to. And that’s what I have chosen. To keep fighting. My medication may not be working as efficiently as it once did. But I still take it. I still push through. I’m still here. I’m still blogging. It’s cathartic. Writing has always come naturally to me. I may not be the best writer out there. I’m no Thomas, I’m no Frost. I’m no King. But I still write. I write on this blog, and on other forms of social media. I write because it helps me get some of the shit out of my head. A lot of it is just that, shit. But sometimes you have to get some of the shit out of the way in order to get a really good fart. That was gross, I apologize. But you get the point.

I hope that if you’re reading this and you found it from the tags that you are seeking the help that you need and are actually receiving it. I need to schedule another appointment with my care provider in order to discuss a change in treatment. But that can be done. All I have to do is make that call. All you have to do is wait for these moments to pass. You have tomorrow. The sun will shine, and the birds will sing. It will happen. But it takes time. You have to be patient. I’ve been in the customer service industry for over six years. I have patience in my work life, but it is a daily struggle within myself and my own problems. Sometimes, however, I need a mental health day like today. If you need that too then I highly suggest you take it. Don’t subject yourself to more anguish than what is prescribed by your condition. Keep fighting. Keep looking up. Dance in the rain. Swim. Go for the gold. You can accomplish it. You may never walk on the moon, or discover the cure for cancer. But you can accomplish your own personal victories. And if you’re reading this because of clicking on the link from Facebook then I want you to know that I am okay. No smirk, no I’m fine. I’m okay. Really. Right now, at this passing moment and the next, I am okay. I know that I will continue to be okay. I know that there will be more times that I won’t be. But I also know, as I’ve stated, that those not okay moments pass and make the okay ones that much better.

I hope this post finds you all well. It may have been long-winded. It may have only scratched the surface. But whatever it is, I hope it is worth your time. I appreciate each and everyone who takes one of those moments out of their day, or night, to read what I have to say. If I could give a virtual hug, or really if a virtual hug did jack shit for someone’s situation, I would. Stability of the mental variety is hard to come by sometimes. But when you have it you are stronger than the last time you had it. Because it has returned. You have let enough moments pass for it to manifest into happiness. The pursuit of happiness is disillusioned. The obtainment of said happiness is where it’s at. So keep your chin up, as much as possible. Think about the good moments. Don’t drown yourself in self-pity or low self-worth. You are worth more than you know. Do you think the universe realizes how big it is? Stay stellar, folks!

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