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Anonymous Confession #1

Hello.  If you saw me on the street, with my friends and family or at work, you would think, “What a semi-normal person!”  What you don’t see is the years and years of crazy I keep buried down inside of me.  True, sometimes a little slips out, but I work very, very hard at keeping my insanity hidden.  Truth is, I have treatment-resistant schizoaffective disorder. This means, that about 90% of the time, I am struggling with profound depression and suicidal thoughts, and the rest of the time (and sometimes overlapping time), I have schizophrenic tendencies; basically, I hear voices and occasionally see “dead people”.  It is a full time job pulling off the “just as sane as you” act, and it is terribly exhausting.  I have tried various ways to cope with my illness.  I was a cutter for eleven years…not too healthy, but it was effective.  When I realized I was being self-destructive, I sought out other ways to feel good.  I turned to shopping and eating.  Cut to years later, $17000.00 in credit card debt and 70 lbs. overweight.  I am proud to say I have lost most of the weight and am working at chipping away the debt.  But all my searching for “highs” came at a cost.  And, when the “good feeling” wore off from each of these temporary fixes, I was left feeling even worse than before.  I am sorry to say I have looked for more permanent solutions, a.k.a. killing myself.  I have tried, seriously, three times and half-heartedly, about a dozen.  I used to think I was a failure because I couldn’t even succeed at suicide…which from books and movies, seems so simple.  I ran out into the middle of a busy road at the high traffic time of day.  People who weren’t trying to get hit, were almost hit all the time.  Of course when I tried, I would run out in front of the one car with a good driver quick enough to hit the brakes, give me the finger and keep going.  I tried to O.D. on prescription and non-prescription pills and alcohol, and when that didn’t work, I tried more pills and alcohol.  For awhile I played a sort of “Russian Roulette” with God.  I would take some stuff and go to bed, praying, “Okay, God, let’s see if you wake me up!”.  In the morning, when I did wake up, I would say, “Okay…I guess I will fight a little longer.”  It was a crazy, dangerous game to play. Yet, God kept waking me up.  The last time I seriously tried to OD, I went to bed and this time prayed, “God, if you love me, you won’t wake me up.”  But, He did.  And for a good year I was enraged at Him,  And I was sad.  I was in a sort of mourning, because I wanted to be done with all of this.  But God has His own reasons for doing what He does.  I am by no means worthy of all the second, third, fifteenth, etc. chances He has given me.  On better days, I fear He will kill me in a car accident or by murder as a way of saying, “Gotcha!  You tried to die so many times and now that you are okay with being stuck here, I am taking my vengeance!”  Deep inside, I know God doesn’t work that way, but the paranoia won’t let that thought go away.  Right now, I have made my peace with being stuck here a little longer.  Do I still hope for a massive heart attack at the age of forty?  Most of the time.  Am I going to do anything to actively try to take my life?  Not right now.  It is true that most days, I wake up and say, “Crap!  I am still here!”  But I figure as long as I am here, I may as well do what I can to earn my being allowed to survive all the stupid crap I’ve done.  So, I am writing on behalf of all the “lunatics” out there.  We shouldn’t have to pretend to be “normal” just to avoid judgement.  Just because we struggle, doesn’t mean we aren’t fighting like hell to get through this life, or even just this day.  I tell my family that I fight harder than anyone I know, and that is the truth.  I take all the psychiatric drugs I am supposed to; I have frequent shock treatments (which are no picnic…but more on that some other time); I see my psychiatrist regularly as well as a therapist.  What more can a person be expected to do?  So now I am searching for new ways to cope.  Exercise is a big help, as it releases endorphins and tires me out enough to make doing anything destructive seem too exhausting to try.  The problem with that is getting motivated enough to actually do it.  But I am trying.  I also journal.  It gets the racing thoughts out of my head for a bit and onto paper.  I have a whole shelf full of filled journals…maybe someday someone will find them and read them; and, maybe, just maybe, it will bring them closer to understanding mental illness from an insider’s perspective.  I have been called many negative things and accused of many negative things because of what I deal with.  Those people are generally just self-righteous and ignorant.  But, knowing that doesn’t make the words sting any less.  So, I am blogging.  Maybe someone will come across this and it will help them in some way.  Maybe I am one step closer to redemption by doing this.  Who knows.  I am a sojourner on a winding, sometimes dangerous, path to find my purpose and the answer to the question, “Why am I still here?”

So Long, For Now,

Your Lunatic Friend

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Anonymous Confession #5: The C-Word

I have been called a lot of things over the years.  Some didn’t bother me, actually, most didn’t bother me.  But last night, someone called me the C-word: “Crazy”, and it really made me upset.

Now, I know I am crazy…or at least mentally ill, but it is one thing for me to call myself that.  It is completely different for someone else to say it, not even to me, but about me.  I know I am probably being overly sensitive, but it really did bother me.  I’ve had family and friends call me crazy to my face in a way that meant I was being really silly or funny or weird, and that is okay, because it is not said in a derogatory way.  However, when someone says it about you, you do not know the intention it was said with…maybe they meant it the same way my family and friends do, but what if it wasn’t?

Now I feel like I have to walk on egg-shells around this person and their family, because their children have already been warned that, “Miss Abby is crazy.”  And, again, maybe it was meant like, “She has blue hair…she is crazy!’  But, how do I know?

It brings to mind the same feelings I get when someone flippantly uses some mental illness to explain someone’s moodiness or some other negative side of them, such as, “Jeff totally lost his temper over nothing…He must be bipolar.”  Really?  Really?  If you knew what I with my illness or bipolar people with theirs really went through, you would know how completely insensitive and ignorant you are being.  That is what I would like to say, but instead I keep my mouth shut and hope the person saying that doesn’t realize I, too, am mentally ill.

There has been so much work done to erase the stigma of mental illness, but I guess we still have a long way to go when people are still using the “C-Word” in a negative way.

Sincerely,

Your Sad Lunatic Friend

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Anonymous Confession #4 : Bored out of my mind…literally

Today I took a sick day…I woke up with a horrible migraine.  I tried to go to work, but I only lasted there an hour.  So, following the advice of a coworker, I took today off to recover since I will be working a long  weekend and cannot afford to be sick then.

I came home and laid in bed for a while, but the pain was too searing to let me relax and sleep.  So I did some cleaning; I put away laundry; I journaled; I read and studied a chapter in my Bible.  But then I looked at my clock, and it was only eleven a.m.!!  Another eleven hours or so until bedtime.  What the heck was I supposed to do to fill the time since sleep, which is what I needed, was not an option?

Boredom is never fun for anyone.  For me, it is toxic.  When there is not enough to keep my brain active, I start to lose it…literally.  I get extremely depressed, the racing thoughts begin, and soon, I start going stir crazy (emphasis on the “crazy”).  So, I always have a plan…sometimes it works, and other times, it fails miserably.  But, at least I have a plan in my back pocket.  I have a list of around 90 things to do when I am bored.  I have compiled this list from various Pinterest sites containing bucket lists, things to do when you have no money, things to do in the summer, things to do when you have nothing to do, etc.  The result of compiling all these things is a list that is quite frequently my savior.  Not only do I have a list of things to do when I am bored, I have a list of random acts of kindness to try, I have a list of things to do for self-care…heck, I have lists of lists I’ve made.  In fact, making lists is one of the things I do to settle down when I start to go a bit wonky.

So today, I put together a bunch of outfits from the clothes in my closet, some of which have not seen the outside of the closet in a while.  I did some budgeting.  I went to the gym for about an hour (partly because I was going stir crazy, and partly because I was hoping perhaps the exercising would lessen my headache… it did not).  And, I journal-ed and made more lists.

Why am I writing about this?  Well, for one I am a believer in doing whatever you need to be healthy, and for me, I need to be busy.  When you don’t have enough to do, it is easy to become very negative and very depressed and very critical of life and the lives of others.  And the way my silly brain works, the busier I am, the less likely I am to hallucinate or try anything dangerous, because when you are really busy, there is just no time for those things.

So, you are down, you are restless and you feel worthless, useless (insert adjective here). Step one:  Change out of the pajamas, take a shower, put on a fun outfit and act like you have somewhere exciting to be.  Step two:  Do something…anything.  The more productive, the better.  Cook a meal from scratch, and then share it with someone; create something; work on a project you have had on the shelf for a while; research something you are interested in, and then do it.  Things are so much better when you are not sitting around, wallowing in self-pity or whatever negative feelings afflict you.

Now, there are times when the depression, anxiety, etc. are too much, and you literally cannot do anything.  There is no condemnation coming from me in those situations.  I have been there.  But I also know that once the meds/shock treatments/therapy sessions kick in and I can handle life a bit better, I need to start filling my time with productive things.  That is how I cope with my illness.  My way of coping may not be for everyone, but it works pretty well for me most of the time.

So now it is 8:13 p.m.  I feel fairly confident that I will be able to sleep (with the aid of a great sleeping med) in a few hours.  Only a couple more hours to fill.  So, I will do some yoga, take a shower, write down ten things I am grateful for, try to focus my mind enough to read a book or watch a television show…even for just fifteen minutes, and then, I will go to bed, having SURVIVED another day.

Sincerely,

Your lunatic friend

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Anonymous Confession #3: None

via Daily Prompt: None

None…that is the amount of emotion I feel today.  None.  Emotionless days are the worst.  I can handle profound depression and extreme mania or psychotic episodes better than I can handle feeling nothing.  When you are numb, you just feel dead inside.  Then the brain starts going into dark places:  I am already dead inside…why not just kill myself and be done?  But I am fighting these dark thoughts.  This is nothing new.  I blame the antipsychotics.  They keep me sane, but at what cost?  Still I could never stop taking them.

In college, I took a psych. class.  We watched a video about mental illnesses.  A man with a similar diagnosis to mine was featured.  He had stopped taking his meds, and they found him living on the streets, making wall art from his feces.  This image alone is the reason why I am almost religious about taking my medicines.  I fear becoming this man.

So, today, I am stuck with “none”.  Maybe it is the dreary weather or exhaustion or some other outside forces messing with my mental state today.  Or maybe, it is just me.

None…how I wish I could feel the whole gamut of feelings…sad, angry, happy, ecstatic…but I feel none.  Today is a good day to stay in bed.  I would say today is a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”, but I don’t even feel terrible…just numb.

So to all who, like me, feel nothing at times:  Hold tight; don’t give up; keep fighting.  At some point, you will experience emotion again.  And, like me, you will probably take it for granted until another day like today comes along.  I hope the next time I smile or whatever, I cherish it, knowing that at any moment I could be right back at “none”.

Sincerely,

Your lunatic friend

mental illness survivor

Anonymous Confession #2: Lights, camera, action

Hello from your Lunatic Friend,

Part of my illness is that I, on occasion, hear voices and have visual hallucinations.  Sometimes, I see people who are not really there.  Last week I had the opportunity to act in a student’s video project.  I got to play a “crazy” person…which is right up my alley.  So, the premise was that a nosy neighbor was going through my mail, and she gets my name and also the sender’s name.  She comes to my door with cupcakes and says, “Are you…” so and so??  I say yes.  And she tells me that Jan asked her to bring my cupcakes.  I say, “Oh how thoughtful…won’t you come in?”  Then I offer her a glass of wine, which I have spiked with a tranquilizer or something like that.  When she comes to, the table is set for a party and she is at the head, but she is paralyzed.  I go to the door, fuss at my invisible dog, and greet my invisible guest.  I am conversing with this guest as I head back to the table.  Then I make introductions.  When the nosy neighbor, who at this point is terrified, doesn’t introduce herself to my other “guests”, I lose my temper.  I then turn to another “guest” and excuse myself saying that I will put on some music to lighten the mood.  Then I just sort of dance around like an insane person and shove a cupcake in the nosy neighbors mouth.  I keep dancing, and the camera goes to a close up of the neighbor’s face, cupcake stuffed mouth, eyes wide in terror.  I have to be honest.  Playing up my craziness was a BLAST!!! I work so hard at keeping the crazy in.  To be allowed to just have fun with it was like FREEDOM!!!  I didn’t have to pretend to be normal.  Instead I got to go overboard and really exaggerate the lunacy.  Now, as a side note, I would never poison anyone or do anything like what the video portrayed me as.  But, it was a lot of fun.  Toning down the crazy is hard work.  I don’t think people realize how exhausting it truly is.  I don’t have many “fun” days.  The best I usually get are numb days and small bursts of mania.  Generally, if I am productive and get stuff done throughout the day, and maybe, I smile once genuinely and not forcing it, I consider that a good day.  But that shoot was truly enjoyable.  Maybe, sometimes, it is okay to give in to the nuttier side of myself.  To truly relax with who I am may be the release I need sometimes.  I just have to figure out a healthy way of doing it…that is the conundrum.  How crazy can I go without being self-destructive?  Oh well, time will tell if I find a balance and can figure out a healthy way of doing it.  But, it was fun to sort of make fun of my craziness.  So, I recommend finding a creative outlet to “unleash the inner beast”.

Until next time,

Your lunatic friend