Saturday, February 18, 2012
Leave me my safe spaces, please...
The strange thing about being in the public eye... to a small extent is how often people read things you write that give no hint of the depressive side of the illness and assume you are "normal" again. What these people are ignorant of is that with BMD there is a conscious daily monitoring of mood scales and charting them on that -5 to + 5 scale and somewhere inside this scale is the range people call normal.
The other assumption is that if you are not dwelling in the depths of despair and writing about it, you can't be there when in actual fact the last thing you could find energy for at the -5 end is any time to string cohesive (or even non co-hesive) thoughts together as 'writing'. You are merely surviving of trying to disappear into the arms of Morpheus at every possible moment of that protracted period of illness. There is no today, tomorrow, later there is only this seemingly timeless 'now' that will never pass. One an only write this when you are rising out of the depth, and beginning to develop a degree of objectivity about the situation. The writing is innavriably about the past.
At the +5 end of the illness there is no time to write nor if there were would the writing be coherent or logical. Mania is also living in the now but with that added belief that there is a tomorrow and it will only be bigger, brighter and better. You thoughts race, you cannot type as fast as the thoughts occur and why would you? You can't sit still let alone 'capture' these moments of non-energetic motion.
Ah then there is the phase trying to reach that balance point, shall we say zero, instead of normalcy which is such a relative term. This is the point for me at least where I have pushed myself beyond what was a logical degree of pressure, attempting to overcome and surmount every obstacle thrown in my path, on all fronts. professional, personal, domestic and environmental. Words associated with mania and grandiosity are often attached to this phase.
My biggest problem is, like many manics I cannot and do not recognise this state in myself. To me I am not having grandiose plans and levels of attainment, I am simply pushing through to prove to somebody, usually myself that I can conquer everything the world throws at me, and not only conquer it do it bloody well. Just to prove to the world that those of us with mental illness can function at a very high level of productivity and intelligence. I carry the pressure of all BMD patients at this time. And that is grandiosity and delusion. It has been a very hard lesson to learn over the last few years.
Every time I begin a new job or work project I push myself ridiculously hard, and I even have enough self-insight tio know why. I will never be good enough for me... no matter how amny pieces of paper are framed on mhy walls, no matter how many times colleagues tell me how 'intelligent' I am. No-body gets it. I am not good enough for me.
And if you add to this a certain number of years being called lazy, work-shy (whilst plodding through studies as I cannot read fast and always feel stupid), unstable, irrational, over-emotional, irresponsible... those negative labels begin to take hold, especially if they are spoken with venon by people you live with, family or significant others. This is the damage thoughtless and ill-conceived words of criticism can have over a protracted period of time... on ANYBODY not just someone who is mentally ill.
These are the feelings of worthlessness that drive 'normal' people to plummet into unipolarity and hospitalisation. My gift is that I have bi-polarity and at times the excitement of riding the mania does allow me to produce good and valuable work... but not in toxic or negative environments. It's as if I am hyper-sensitive to dynamics between people and inside work places. I lose perpective on my own mental wellness states and lose complete capability for rational thought.
When something turns pearshape, my subconscous is screaming "get out... leave before it is too late", yet my bigger fear is returning home to condemnation and articulated words about "typical failure" or "incompetence". This being torn in both directions is what I have lived with for the last six years at least.
Yet, I know that by ignoring my inner self-awareness, mania will lead to the inevitable melt down, and then EVERYBODY around you has no time for the healing process. Apart from the medical teams and professionals who know the battle. I have just had one of he harshest 'talkings to' from my trusted General Practitioner who did not hold back. Knowing I had a virtually immediate appointment with my psychiatrist and knowing me better than I know myself... he told me stop pretending to myself that I am well or superwoman who could do it all... or not so much in those words but you get my drift.
He put in words what is actually my biggest fear, that I may be ill and not able to function under the levels of stress required in some jobs. For me that meant EVER AGAIN... yet as my Psychiatrist indicated, this was catastrophising and thus not a sensible framing of the future... again I am advised to live for the now and heal.
So off I go back to my PhD finding great solace and pleasure in writing and alone-ness and begin to chronicle this journey on the www. I am under the possibly mistaken belief that this blog will find readers who are in need of what I have to say about my experiences with BMD...
Yet what happens my ex-employers perceive the sudden onset of tranquility as a sign that I can function as a professional employee... even though I am an EX-employee, as they have a deadline and my melt-down did not help them, thus now that I seem better... can I just hunt through my computer files and find material I didn't provide them.
This from the woman who many friends knows does a complete hard drive reformatting EVERY time I come out of a crisis situtaion to give myself a metaphorical blank slate from which to begin life again... new day new life. I trash everything... reformatting all hard drives... I am now expected to find the old stuff (from where?) and get it to them asap as they paid out my holiday leave and sickness benefits so surely I must still be an employee open for contact.... Well no I am still very unwell and in the re-establishment of my health.
I am/was so unwell I couldn't even go on holiday relying so heavily on medical treatment at the moment.. . so i find the nearest place I can have a mental holiday (all less than 5 kms) from where I live but because I am seeking out places of beauty... I must be well and on holidays... When will I ever be strong enought to say... hey I like you guys personally but professionally FUCK off you are killing me (almost-literally).
Do not pollute my safe spaces with past toxicity... not from work, not from University, not from home... leave me heal.