My Mind and the Lack of a Middle Ground

Hi everyone. It has been a while. Nobody likes to hear excuses for anything, and I am included in that, but I would just like to give you a super brief explanation of my whereabouts. I opened a new business, The Witches Abode, and it sure has kept me busy. I love it though. I get to be creative and work on my craft and interact with amazing people on a daily basis. Everything that I have ever wanted as a small business owner is coming to fruition, and every day I wake up feeling more and more fortunate. I also have been working behind the scenes on a super-secret project which I hope to be announcing within the next month or two. Now, unfortunately, with all of this good in my life, there also needs to be some bad, because there always needs to be some sort of balance. 

One thing that is truly starting to trouble me is I feel like I have never been properly diagnosed when it comes to my mental illness. First, I was diagnosed with depression. Then I was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar disorder. Then I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Then, my most recent diagnosis is clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD. You see, I never thought that bipolar disorder was something that I had because I never really thought that I had manic episodes. I was always just very depressed with suicidal tendencies, but I never went up and down with my emotions. I am starting to realize that maybe I have had manic episodes, but I just never knew what they were.

The past couple of months have been a rollercoaster. I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t been taking my medications, which include Lexapro and Abilify, regularly. I don’t know what it is. I feel like I am starting to feel better so I stop taking them, and then I wonder why I come crashing down. I have started questioning life again. I have started having major anxiety attacks because I feel like I am not doing anything perfectly. I lay on the couch sometimes and list off all of the things that I should be doing but I can’t bring myself to do them. I have thought about self-harming. I haven’t purposely done anything to myself in about a year now, but there have been moments where I was shaking because I wanted to so bad. So instead of hurting myself in a negative way, one night while I couldn’t sleep, I bought a stick and poke tattoo kit. And when that kit arrived in the mail was when I knew something was wrong.

You see, I feel so much pressure that it almost feels indescribable. I am trying to work on The Witches Abode, I am trying to work on my secret project, I am trying to maintain my home and tend to my plethora of animals. I am trying to take care of my husband and try to have a social life that I can be happy with. And I am also trying to take care of myself. Well due to the pressure that I feel and my obvious lack of coping skills, I started to crumble. I became fragile. So instead of hurting myself in a negative way, I started tattooing myself. Then, before I knew it, three weeks went by and I have gained fifteen new tattoos. Fifteen tattoos that I did to myself as an inexperienced tattoo artist. And that is not to mention the three new piercings that I have gotten (by professionals) within the past two weeks. Let’s go back to the tattoos though. Now I am fortunate that I love every single one with the exception of one, and I have already been in contact with my tattoo guy to get that atrocity covered up, but fifteen tattoos in three weeks is worrisome due to what it represents. Each of those fifteen tattoos was done to prevent myself from self-harming. 

I believe that I have been in a manic episode, and I believe that I am finally starting to come down. I have spent money that I should not have spent, I have done things to my body that I probably should have spaced out more, and, to be frank, my sex drive has been even higher than it already is. I just know something is different, and I really think that there is something going on.

I have been talking to my therapist about this, and we have devised a plan to help me with my coping skills. Luckily, I do have a lot of work that I need to focus on, so instead of tattooing myself, I will just work on my business and on my secret project instead. I am behind on my project, so I need to use my time wisely to catch up on that. Also, I have a huge event that I am doing for The Witches Abode in December, and I need to work on that. I also have a new contract as a freelance writer so the assignments will help keep me busy. Luckily, I have work to occupy my mind. 

I think the thing that is scary to me is the fact that I am never just living and enjoying life. I am either so depressed that I can’t leave my bedroom or I am so elated that it doesn’t feel like reality. And when I feel like I am not in reality there is a part of me that tells myself to calm down, but I almost lose control over myself and my actions. It is an odd experience and I feel like a lot of people like feeling manic but I hate it. I hate to not feel control over myself. 

Anyways, I am working towards being more balanced when it comes to my mental illness, and I remain hopeful that one day I can feel somewhat normal if normal even exists.

Feel.

What does it feel like to have a mental illness? 

Every person has a different experience, but here is mine.

Mental illness is a type of monster that wants nothing more than to isolate you, torture you, belittle you, and test you.

Mental illness will make you doubt yourself more than anyone else ever could, causing your own self worth to diminish with every word spoken from your mind. 

Mental illness will keep you up at night. You think about every single thing that has ever happened to you, you think about and play out scenarios that never even happened, and you question every choice that you have ever made.

Mental illness will make you feel like you are in a world of euphoria, where you have never-ending energy and you can take on anything that comes your way. If you wanted to, you could save the world with your love, positivity, and energy. You can spend hours exercising, deep cleaning, calling and texting all of your friends and family, and not feel anything but extraordinary. You could quite literally do anything and everything, and you try to because you feel so good. But then, you crash. You spend eighteen hours in bed sleeping despite your partner trying to wake you up. You ignore phone calls and texts because you don’t have it in you to speak to another soul. When you do wake up, you’re a shell of a human being that just does the bare minimum to keep your body alive because at that moment your spirit is gone. This can last for as little as a day, or even months. You never know. 

Mental illness is either eating too little or too much. 

Mental illness is watching videos at four in the morning on “at home stick and poke tattoos” and considering buying the equipment yourself because you could “easily do that!”

Mental illness is wanting to tell your friends and family that you are sinking into a low but you’re too afraid to tell them because they go through this with you all of the time. Also, they sometimes throw your mental illness in your face when they are displeased with you.

Mental illness is staring at the scars on your body that you gave yourself and hoping with everything that you have that you won’t pick up that blade again.

Mental illness is knowing what is happening to you but not having any control over it.

Mental illness is taking medication and having a therapist because life would be awful without those things. 

Mental illness is relying on animals to bring you a glimmer of happiness and a sense of calm. 

Mental illness is living past memories so vividly that you have to remind yourself that those memories are in the past and you are safe right now.

Mental illness is constantly having to listen to people tell you to “grow up” or “deal with it” or “snap out of it.” 

Mental illness is sobbing in the shower or on the floor of your bedroom because you can’t stop thinking of the worst. 

Mental illness is a curse. It’s a sickness that eats away at you. It is always there, taunting you in the background just so you know that it is still there and can hurt you at any time. 

If you know someone with mental illness, please take it seriously. Ask them what they need. Make them tea, put on their favorite movie, give them their favorite book, make them their favorite food. Do whatever you can to make them feel loved and cared for and valued because when they are in a low they can’t see how incredible they are. The pain is unbearable, and even a tiny bit of effort and love from the people around them could quite literally save their life.

Dream, Oh Dream

****TRIGGER WARNING: PLEASE BE WARNED THAT THIS PIECE TALKS ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT.

Isn’t it amazing how one dream can ruin your entire day? Last night I had a dream about him, the guy that stole my security, amongst other things, and now he stole the opportunity for me to enjoy my day. I woke up feeling immediately anxious, and I woke up wanting to immediately break out into hysterics. I woke up wanting to die. 

The ironic thing is that it wasn’t even a bad dream. We were together, like in a committed relationship. I loved him and he loved me. We were laughing, having meaningful conversations, and even having consensual sex. The fact that I was so happy in this dream really fucked with my head, and the moment I woke up I felt sick to my stomach with disgust. How could someone who brought me so much pain be in a dream that could have been interpreted as something so beautiful? I felt so confused and overwhelmed, and it just added to the rest of the emotions that I felt. 

Usually, I take my time waking up in the morning. Since I loathe morning time and I consider it to be vile, it takes me some time to get adjusted. This morning, however, was not like my typical morning. Since I woke up feeling so awful from this dream, I already woke up fully awake. Plus, whenever I tried to close my eyes, all I could picture was him. Him and his grimy hands touching me, me smiling at him, me having feelings for him. Seeing those visions was too much for me to handle, so I decided to get up and distract myself. As luck would have it, I already had a therapy appointment scheduled for today, but I had a couple of hours to kill before that time. So I went to the store and walked around for a bit, picked up some medication, and then drove back home. 

My therapist has always told me when I am having bad thoughts to do whatever I can to distract myself. Whether that is writing, going out to the store, getting coffee, going for a walk or just hanging out with my animals, I need to just do something to distract myself. Since I woke up so anxious it was a goal of mine to try to calm down before my appointment, but I wasn’t able to help myself. After I left the store and pulled into my driveway, I just sat in my car. My anxiety was even worse than it was before I had left, and I felt as if it were physically impossible for me to move my body. Then my thoughts transitioned from thinking about my dream to what actually happened in real life. Thinking about what happened always does me in. My already horrible anxiety turned even worse, and for a moment, just a moment, I thought about how easy it would be for me to open my garage, pull in, and close the garage door behind me while leaving the car on. Obviously, I didn’t do that because I am writing this right here and now, but having those thoughts, as brief as they can be, still do some sort of damage.  

One of the biggest problems that I am having is truly moving on from that incident. I feel as if he has me in a chokehold, and after all of these years, my freedom is still at his mercy. I absolutely hate what happened, I hate him for doing what he did, and I hate myself for not being able to be strong enough to break free from his grip. In the past, I told you that I was fragile. Now, here is your proof. 

Luckily my therapy appointment helped me a lot. I told her everything that happened in the dream, how I woke up feeling, and how it affected my day thus far. One thing that was killing me that I needed help understanding was why I had that dream. Usually, when I dream of him I dream of what happened or scenarios that closely resemble what happened. But this was so different. You see, her answer was not as complicated as I thought it was going to be. She asked me there were any personality traits of his that could be considered “good.”  I had known him for a decent amount of time. I was eleven when we were first introduced, and the big incident didn’t happen until I was fifteen. So in that time frame, I saw things from him that I thought were great qualities, but at the end of the day, it was all a lie so that he could deceive me so that he could get what he wanted. He wanted me to trust him, and he was able to get that from me. So was he actually “good?” No. But the perception that I had of him was that he was. I told her about this memory that I have of him that I will never forget. My parents took a bunch of us to this fair that happens every summer, and I went off with him and his friend. I was wearing a skirt and a halter top, but I had to have been twelve at the time so it wasn’t too revealing. There was this one man that was running one of the game booths that just stared at me for the longest time. He and his friend didn’t like that, so they blocked his view of me in order to protect me. I just remember them both becoming visibly upset and rushing me away from that guy, and that is probably the one and only good memory that I have of him. That is the only time I remember him actually being genuine. 

So the answer ended up being pretty easy. I had a trauma and the body and mind hold on to that trauma. Supposedly, as an attempt to protect myself, my subconscious gave me that dream to try to push the negativity and the trauma away and to put him in a good light.  Dreaming of something that could be interpreted as “good” could help me move on from the bad. But I would like to give my subconscious a heads up about something. If given a choice, I really would rather not dream or think of him at all. So thanks for trying but next time just refrain from “helping” me. 

I don’t think that I will ever fully break free from him. That memory will always be there, however, I am learning that I have control over my life now. Whenever I think about him and what he did I can take comfort in knowing that he isn’t apart of my life now, so I don’t have to keep ripping open those wounds. Now is the time for healing, and although I will always have those scars, those scars will symbolize my strength.