Here we go. I’m letting you into my brain. I hope you enjoy roller-coasters. For easy reading, everything in black italics are my thoughts.
I forgot my medicine again. I’m such an idiot. I set alarms on my phone as reminders and pack medicine in my purse and in my medicine cabinet at home so I hopefully would have access to it wherever I am when it’s time. I recently purchased a phone case that holds two cards which has allowed me to not lug around a purse everywhere. It never crosses my mind that I don’t have my medicine with me until the alarm goes off. Why can’t I be more responsible? If I weren’t so crazy, I wouldn’t need to take it anyways. I need to pull myself together. When I know that I didn’t take my medication, I like to blame all episodes on that fact. However, it’s not true. I would have the same episodes when I take my medication, but I would experience them differently.
My boyfriend came over for date night, mind you, I’m completely charmed by him. We watched a movie and took a nap because we both had exhausting weekends behind us. I woke up, looked at him and smiled. Gosh he’s cute. Looked around and noticed that while I slept, the sun disappeared. I hate how dark it gets in the winter. I wish it were always sunny. For me, natural light is a huge component of my happiness. I sat up on the couch and realized that I didn’t feel okay. I walked into my bedroom in attempt to pull myself together. Does he realize I’m gone? I need to go back so he doesn’t get suspicious. Pull it together, this is date night. You’ve looked forward to this and you haven’t seen him the past few days – of course this has to happen tonight. I took a few deep breaths and walked back to the living room. He was on his phone. Who is he talking to? He would rather be with them, I know it. Smile, don’t forget to smile. He asked me if I’d like to grab dinner with him. I told him sure. He wants to leave I know it. Why did he ask me that? Why does he want to spend more time with me? Despite my usual “I don’t care” response, I suggested we go to this casual steakhouse that I like. We put on our coats and walked out the door. What the hell is wrong with me? Why does this happen to me? What happened? I like him and he did nothing wrong. Smile, don’t give him the impression that he upset you. Why does he want to be with me? I’m crazy. We got in the car and I turned my face towards the window, tears fell from my eyes and I breathed through my mouth so he couldn’t hear me crying. He held my hand and my tears poured heavier. Why is he holding my hand? Does he feel bad for me? Does he know I’m crying? OMG why are you so dramatic. Don’t look at him, don’t let him see. I got out of the car and quickly wiped my tears and walked inside with him. Why did I agree to come out? I’m not fun right now. I’d rather be at home. He noticed me staring off and asked me if I am okay. I told him that I forgot my medicine the past few days and noticed that I am in a funk. Here we go. He’s going to break-up with me. Why wouldn’t he? No reason to stay. Why would he want to be with someone with so much sadness? This can happen any day, I’m just baggage. I hate myself. I’m lucky he was even interested in me. I tried my best to be chatty for the remainder of our meal. When we were done, I stood up and walked to the exit door. I turned around and noticed he wasn’t behind me. My heart raced. Where did he go? I saw him walking towards me and he made a joke about me dining and dashing. I was so full of my thoughts that I didn’t notice that he needed to put his coat on. I know he’s just joking. What if I hurt his feelings? Why did I do that? I’m so inconsiderate. Just when I thought I couldn’t make this night any worse, I do. I don’t deserve him. On the ride home I turned to the window once again and let my tears pour. Why is he with me? Why does he like me? Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he’s just being nice. When we entered my apartment I went straight to the bathroom. I stare at myself in the mirror and held my arms up to open my airway. I took deep breaths. Look at yourself. This is pathetic. Pull it together. I actually pitied myself. I felt sorry that this was happening. I walked out of the bathroom and he held me. He must’ve noticed I was crying. Great. I buried my head in his chest and felt the warmth of his body. That’s it. You got this. Take deep breaths. In… Out… In… Out… In… Out… Moments passed and he asked if I could breathe because he could hear my inhaling and exhaling. I told him yes. After I regulated my breathing, we decided to play a game and I was able to distract myself and truly smile. I explained later that night that if I do not have a distraction I literally need to focus all of my energy on breathing slowly. If I do not, I breakdown. He slept over that night and I felt so much comfort in knowing that he was there even though he did not know what exactly was going on or what I was feeling. As I type this experience I wonder why some people have the accusation that people suffering mental illness “do it for attention” or share these feelings and thoughts “for attention” and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’d do anything for my mind to silence, which is why everyday I cope the best way I know how.
Some of my feelings dragged into the following day, as it does with unresolved episodes. On those days I have been able to lean on a friend who talks me through my feelings and helps me feel understood, cared for and not alone. Most importantly, like I am not crazy. I attended counseling a few days later and discussed what had happened because it wasn’t over. As you see, these dark thoughts stick to me like glue. I never forget them, just replay them over and over, training my brain to think poorly of myself. She asked me an important question over and over – is there any proof? She wanted to know what happened that justified my thoughts, what my boyfriend had done to make me question his feelings for me. I was speechless until I said “nothing”. He did nothing but compliment me, show me affection and be there for me. My image of myself has been tormented by mental illness for so long that it has had a long-lasting impact on the way I see myself. It had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with the way I see myself.
As homework, she gave me advice to use until our next session to help me counter negative thoughts with positive thoughts about myself. It will not be a quick process whatsoever, but when I think for instance “I am crazy” I counter it with “I have a disease and am experiencing an episode, it will pass”. For anyone struggling with self-image please refer to Skin in my previous post I Am Not Hungry and watch for my upcoming post Healthy Coping.
I challenge you to answer the question, “Is there any proof?”, whenever negative thoughts about yourself creep up. It helps separate what thoughts are caused by mental illness and are untrue vs. not (try to show yourself some compassion, everyone makes mistakes). It helps you take control. I hope it will give you reassurance that you are an inspiring fighter and give you comfort in knowing it will pass.