Sometimes when I want to write an entry I start thinking about what has been in my head for the day and it seems like it is more of the same crazy and that becomes frustrating because I don’t want to be forever crazy. Sometimes I start to think that things are getting better and then I have a whole lot of Bad Head Days in a row and I’m floundering and wondering if I will ever find a way to be what I should be.
A Bad Head Day is kind of like a Bad Hair Day. Despite best efforts it is just so hard to make my thoughts and feelings not blow away and be a knotted mess. They squeeze at my throat and my chest and push heavily on the top of my tummy and make me feel so inadequate, useless, unable to be and do all the things I wish I could. Sometimes for me but mostly for Daniel or the kids. The problem is also that the two aspects of my illness feed into each other. Things make me anxious, scared, terrified and because of that fear I can’t just go about life like a normal person. Then my inability to be a normal person makes me feel depressed. Then I feel more worried that struggling with those feelings, I will be someone unfamiliar that Daniel or the children or my mum does not want to have to deal with. Then I feel more depressed at the thought of not being wanted or needed. Then it’s a fifty-fifty between whether I will be filled with fight or filled with the sense that I should just give up and let them be free from the burden of me. Or sometimes it is both because even when I feel the second way I hate that for them to be free of me, I would be free of them, and that would be worse than anything.
So anyway. Sometimes I don’t want to write the same things and I’d imagine that nobody really wants to read the same depressing shit all the time either. But I think my mum might be the only person who really reads this anyway and it’s not like anyone else is actually being forced to read it. And I feel that way about telling people or telling Daniel that I am having a bad moment or a bad week or a bad whatever. I know he already knows that I am crazy but him knowing and me calling attention to it are two different things. I don’t want to be his broken wife. I want to be his awesome wife. I don’t want him to work hard at his job all day and then have to deal with my failings when he comes home. I look forward to him getting home because I feel better when he is there and I can talk to him or do things with him or watch something with him or even just do something by myself while he is doing something else but sitting next to me. And I want him to be able to look forward to coming home for the same things. Talking about all the things I worry about and all the ways in which I feel pathetic and unworthy of being his wife and our children’s mother is not really fun times.
I didn’t realise when I was younger just how hard it could be to live in the world like this sometimes. I’ve always felt this way, inadequate, less, wrong. But it only affected me before. If something was too hard then it was ok to not do it. There was nothing I wanted to do so much that it was worth the internal seasick tornado to do it. Well, there was one thing. And I managed that mainly because the thought of not taking that chance and missing out on how amazing it would be with Daniel was more terrifying than the thought of doing it. But now when I have other people who rely on me I don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want to say no. Everytime they need something I feel unable to give it is a choice between making them angry or disappointed or somehow trying to do it and feeling the anxiety, the shivering self-consciousness, the fucking uselessness and trying to not let that show and keep it under control enough that I don’t need to spend an extended period hiding in a dark place afterwards. Sometimes I risk the angry people (and some of my family members have quite prodigious tempers) but usually it is the second option. Being Atlas. Wondering if one day it will be too heavy.
i’m feeling a little… tight in the chest this morning. anxious, i guess. scared. hopeless. the usual.
i don’t know if it’s me… actually, it is me, but what i mean is i don’t know if it’s part of me inherently or if it’s behaviour that was conditioned into me after years of being told and shown when i was young.. that everything i do is wrong and everything wrong is my fault. and i do try really hard to remind myself that it isn’t true but sometimes the devil voice is a bit louder than the angel voice. and that’s when i feel a desperate need for your voice.. your actions that are louder than words, louder than all the other voices. your hands and your lips and your other parts, telling me with every touch and every groan that i’m not wrong and that i am worthy. and i can believe you because i trust you and i believe, inside me, deeper than the parts of me that are affected by the bumps and challenges of life and the complexities of neurotransmitters and hormones.. i believe that you could only touch me and love me like you do if i was something wonderful. and because you do touch me and love me i believe it, a little bit. enough to smooth over those bumps and balance the chemicals in my brain and my body, for a while, at least.
sometimes. or maybe a lot of times.. i am my own worst enemy. or maybe all the times. because what is wrong with me is what makes it so very hard to ask for what i need. on a good day, i can do that.. show you, tell you, that i want – need – to be joined to you, to show you that i think you’re amazing and beautiful and strong and brave and gentle and loving and hope that you feel that and know it, and know that i will feel that back from you. and that helps to keep me having more good days, it keeps me steady and i take less steps backwards than i do forwards. but on a bad day, when i have struggled and fought with my own mind about doing the things i must do, when i am tired at the end of a day and so exhausted from the battle.. when i most need you to hold me and remind and reassure me that you are with me, part of me, always ready to catch me if i stumble.. i have no energy left to tell you that i am stumbling.
i didnt actually mean for this to be depressing. i wanted you to know that.. that while i am having a bad head day, i keep trying because of you. because i want to be better for you, because you show me that i am worth it. and i am so grateful and thankful for you, even when i really don’t understand sometimes how you can put up with a person as flawed and broken as me. i hope that when i am the real me, not pulled down by my demons; when i am silly and hippy and witty and flirty and optimistic and naive.. i hope that i show you strongly and loudly enough how much i love you and how happy i am to share my life with you. how important you are. my air, my water, my sunlight, my daniel.
A while back I watched a movie. I think my mum downloaded it and gave it to me but it might have been me that downloaded it. It is called It’s Kind of a Funny Story. IMDb’s tiny description says “A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward”.
It may come as a complete shock to anyone reading this, but.. I really related to the movie. Like the kid in the movie there’s nothing especially wrong with me or my life.. it’s just not right. I think that is sometimes part of the problem in trying to express yourself and help other people to understand you – you can’t tell them what is wrong because there’s no specific thing you can say that explains why you feel the way you do. And in the absence of being able to name specific reasons why you might be depressed or anxious or paranoid, anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves or maybe with someone very close to them just can’t make the connections to understand how it really works. Maybe it’s vaguely comparable to the loss of a sense: colours and lights and sounds are still always there, in the world, but a blind or deaf person’s ability to interpret and respond to those stimuli is different than fully sighted or hearing people. Everything in my world is essentially the same as in anyone else’s world, but my ability to process and have the right reactions to things is impaired. And just like blind or deaf people have adaptations in their personal environment or habits that enable them to operate in the world even though it’s not designed to be easy for them, so do I do certain things differently to try to make it as easy and painless as possible for myself to continue to live a fairly normal existence. But no matter how good your guide dog is or what kind of changes you make, it still doesn’t change the basic problem that you can’t see. No matter how good your drugs are or your shrink or counsellor.. it doesn’t change the fact that underneath all of that, your brain does not always have the ‘right’ responses to various events.
So I think part of what I liked about the movie was that it showed other people struggling with things like I do. Not all necessarily with the same problems as me but people who had problems that are not easily explained like ‘I fell out of a tree and now I can’t walk’ or ‘I am blind’ where even if people don’t necessarily know how it feels to live with that, they do at least have some understanding as to how it affects you and how they can adjust their own interactions with you to make it easier. Someone might hold the door to assist when they see a person in a wheelchair coming, because it’s obviously awkward to try to open the door and operate the wheelchair at the same time. But when the problem is in the way you think and feel, it’s not as simple to say When you talk to me, it makes me feel hot and I get sweaty and there’s a pain near my heart and I feel like the inside of me is vibrating like a seismograph needle during a magnitude 8 earthquake, yeah, really, even though looking at the outside of me I appear perfectly still which is so strange when the rest is shaking and rattling that much, and all of those things make it hard for me to have clear and focused thoughts about the interaction you have initiated and what I am trying to do right now, and that makes me wonder if my mumbled or short or stilted answers make you think that I’m drunk or drugged or crazy or unfriendly or stupid or snobbish or maybe something else entirely and then that makes me feel bad because I am not trying to be rude or standoffish, and sad because I’m not unfriendly or impaired by alcohol or pharmaceuticals, and annoyed because it’s not fair of you to think that I am drunk/drugged/crazy/unfriendly/stupid/snobbish/other when it was your fault in the first place that I started feeling … this. And then so very sad again because I realise that it’s not really your fault, because talking to people is what (most) people do and you don’t realise that it makes me feel like that.. because the problem is my reactions, not your stimulus.
When I have a string of bad days where that feeling is there more than it’s not, it becomes harder and harder to stay hopeful and cognisant that it will pass and I will feel better. It’s a type of exponential slope, and the further I slide down, the steeper the ground I have to climb to get back to the top. Or near the top, because I don’t ever really get to the top. Occasionally, I leap high and fly for a few minutes, gliding far above the ground hand in hand with my love and from up there everything looks so small and it becomes hard to understand and remember how I am always pushing, pushing in an uphill direction when I am on the ground – partly because from that far up you can barely even tell that the ground is inclined.
Having flown, I gain more energy to climb further, I get closer to the magical top of the mountain. For a while, it is easier to keep hold of the terribly steep ground that it is so easy to slip downwards on. I remember that I can get past bad days and I can be hopeful and I feel that maybe I am not actually a terrible mother and wife and daughter and person. Being hopeful and believing that I can keep going through to something better is one of the most important things I need to have. It’s quite cruel that the miswired parts in my mind that make me feel the bad things also rob me of the ability to maintain that hopeful belief. When I have a cold I know that I’ll be better in a few days or a week. When I have a Bad Head Day I feel like I will never ever have a Good Head Day again and the Bad Head Days are so black and gloomy and terrible that I might as well not even bother having them either.
The people in the psych ward in the movie all know that each of them is there because for some reason they can’t quite deal with the outside the way people are supposed to be able to. And because they know that other people are climbing the same mountain, fighting the same battles, they’re able to be empathetic without being pitying, supportive without having to understand. The mere knowledge that other people struggle and other people try gives them more hope and more energy to push off their fears and doubts that are holding them back.
This scene, where they are having some kind of group therapy which involves music, is so representative of that thought to me. They can’t really play instruments, they can’t really sing like Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, but knowing that everyone has doubts and fears equalises them and lets them just do it. It lets them dream that they are the best, most confident, talented, unafraid, outgoing versions of themselves. And the song that they’re singing has some very thoughtful lyrics. I have always liked Queen, but after I watched this movie, Under Pressure has become one of my favourite of their songs because it reminds me of this scene and this HOPE and that I’m not the only one who must climb uphill all the time.
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
It may push down on me but it’s not only me. And no one wants to feel this way, but generally, people do keep fighting.
It’s the terror of knowing
What the world is about
Sometimes one of the worst things is knowing that I’m not supposed to feel how I do. Knowing that so many seemingly simple tasks really are simple for lots of people and don’t cause them to feel scared, worried, panicked, unworthy, inadequate. So then: why me?
Chippin’ around – kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
Bad Head Days are like rain. Lots of Bad Head Days in a row are like .. summer in Queensland where it pours, continuously. And there’s no break and the water threatens to flood and there’s a serious risk of drowning.
Pray tomorrow – gets me higher high high
Remember that hope. Remember that tomorrow I will be higher up the mountain and the flood waters will be receding.
Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
It never really makes sense. Why do I have to keep climbing and falling, climbing and falling, the same struggles over and over again. Can’t I just climb up and stay up? If I’m just going to fall down again, why bother climbing up?
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
And loves dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
You bother because.. maybe this time I will stay up without falling back down. Because I’ll never get the chance for that if I don’t try. Because there are people who care about me who have invested time and effort and love in helping me to get up and stay up and I don’t want to be undeserving of that. Because I’ve had glimpses of what it might be like to live at the top all the time and not reaching out for that would be much worse than getting there for a bit and then slipping down again. Because time is not infinite and as long as I keep trying I will keep having Good Head Days that make it worthwhile. Because this is the only life I get, and that’s such an amazing gift that I am obligated to myself to try to live it as happily as I can.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about .. the nature of .. things.
(Some people don’t like dots in writing but I put dots where I pause in my thoughts, because I think it helps to show that I am considering what words are best to express the ideas I want to express, and also that the words I eventually settle on may be the ‘best’ ones but they’re not necessarily precisely representative of what I want to say. Just FYI.)
About .. how I am separate from any conditions that I have, or that my body has. But the weaknesses of my body are such that they sometimes directly influence the expression of my self. These thoughts are a strange combination of scientific and existential. There’s a quote I’ve seen on pinterest, and it’s usually attributed to C.S. Lewis but according to wikiquote this is incorrect.
“You don’t have a soul, Doctor. You are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.” Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz
I do think that basically, I am a happy person. I am an optimist. I may not always act like I am those things, but that’s because of mismatched chemicals in my brain which are preventing me from remembering that, from living that, in this physical existence. Me, the soul, is a blissful being who believes that the greatest happiness and potential for realising our inner power comes from loving and accepting and being loved and accepted. The me that is here and now in this lifetime still believes those things but is held back from truly living this and touching this power because of the limitations of the vessel required to participate in this physical existence. Perhaps it is that I am not yet evolved enough to be stronger than those limitations, to be able to believe despite the doubt inherent in the body. I have a memory of a scene from an episode of TOS popping into my head. The crew are under attack from a source that they know is not real, an illusion being planted in their brains. And they can understand that intellectually but are unable to face the situation with absolutely no doubt that it cannot harm them because of the nature of their humanity. Spock, being only half-human and having the rigid mental control characteristic of Vulcans, can face the situation with no doubt and by mind-melding with the others allows them to share his absolute conviction. (Googling informs me that the episode is Spectre of the Gun.)
So how is that relevant to me, and this caravan of thought? A couple of things come from it.. The suggestion that if only I had better mental control I could make myself immune to the ‘demons’ that plague me. Or that reality is only what you believe it to be and can only affect you as much as you allow it to? The first idea is one I rank up there with the whole snap out if it type mindset, or even worse the just take some vitamins group. I’m not saying I think vitamins are useless, it is obviously documented that certain deficiences can cause similar depressive symptoms. But that’s not everyone. Not every person on this planet who struggles with depression has a vitamin deficiency. And with snapping out of it, the point is that you can’t do that: no matter how much you tell yourself about the things you have to be happy about, no matter how you try to focus on those, no matter how logically you look at your life to see that there is no reason for you to be feeling this way… you still do. I know I have a fantastic husband, and the kind of connection with him that lots of people only dream about finding. I know we have three brilliant and awesome (if occasionally frustrating and annoying) children. I know that we have a roof over our heads, clothes and food and many things that are not really necesseties. But for all that those things give me joy — I still also have pain in my heart and my brain at the same time; doubt that I am not deserving of these things, doubt that I am doing enough to make my family’s lives’ as good as I possibly can, despair that I won’t ever be able to give enough, doubt that I am good enough for them, fear that one day my fears and doubts will push my family away because they don’t understand why I feel those things. Guilt, because I wish they could understand but knowing that true understanding can only come from experiencing and experiencing what I do is not something I ever want them to have to do.
It’s not always that terrible. Most days, because of the medicine I take and the counselling I have recieved, it’s a background noise that you are so used to that you forget it’s there. It’s the buzzing insects and chirping birds and rustling leaves making the soft noises they always make and they are just part of the landscape. It’s never perfect quiet but you learn to ignore them enough to go about your day. But every now and then, a cockatoo will fly into my garden and the screech he makes is an explosion of pain inside my heart and soul that feels too big for my body to contain and makes me feel that if only I could create some openings in my body, some of the pain would escape and I would feel so much better. I haven’t done that but sometimes when the peace is disturbed it is so hard to hold onto the rational part of my mind that knows it wouldn’t work.
It’s very hard to admit that I think about things like that sometimes. I don’t want to seem like (and I realise the irony of this statement) a real crazy person and I don’t want to seem like an emo who wants to do this because all the other cool (uncool?) kids are doing it too. We often joke about being crazy but truly I don’t think I am crazy, because that to me implies a loss of the awareness of reality. I do think that I have tendencies towards exaggeration and paranoia in what my mind tells me people think of me and feel about me but I try to remind myself that I am probably wrong because I don’t think those sorts of negative things about people so why would anyone else do it about me? The place where this comes undone though is when I get reminders that many of my thought patterns do seem to be different than the ‘average’ person — sometimes on big things.. live and let live, make love not war.. and sometimes on random things like writing on roads that always seems to me to be written backwards (they recently painted DOWN SLOW all around the driveway of the complex that we live in) but obviously if everyone thought it was backwards they wouldn’t do it that way.
Then there is the concept of my mind being in control of my reality and if I wanted it enough I could re-form my reality so that this problem did not exist for me. This is a difficult one.. it’s all kinds of philosophical and quantum physics-al and some of the research and theories there sort of make my head hurt. On some levels I do think that we are in control of the reality we exist in but I’m not sure that it’s controllable on the level of.. the person in the physical body. If I can change my reality then I can change other people’s reality, since there are so many overlaps, and that would just create a mess and paradoxical states where different people were trying to create non-compatible situations and it would all end up very… chaotic. I think it’s probably more on the level of… the me that exists beyond the physical body, my higher self if you like.. has collaborated with the same parts of the people who have lives overlapping my own, and we have ended up with this reality and time and place and circumstance that allows each of us to learn and experience what we need to learn in order to grow into something more. Saying that, however, suggests that I chose to be like this and then that just sounds.. well.. masochistic. Or else it implies that ‘all suffering has a greater purpose’ which is not something that I agree with either. But I think maybe some suffering has a greater purpose.. and if the learning does not come from the suffering itself, then perhaps the suffering is necessary to shape you into a person who will be receptive to lessons coming from somewhere else or necessary to strengthen you into a person who can do something important to help others with their lessons.
Maybe it is hard to live with this, to deal with this, to watch the sky and worry about when a cockatoo will flutter in and disturb the peace with it’s screeching.. because I don’t know what the purpose of it is. I don’t know what I am learning or what I am meant to learn. I don’t know with absolute certainty that there is a purpose and a lesson and that I can survive. I don’t have a Vulcan to give me that peace of mind but even if I did I don’t know if it would help. Knowing obliterates the need for faith, and knowing you can survive something means that you don’t have to feel the pain as deeply since you are assured that you will come out the other side anyway. Feeling the pain and struggling to keep the hope that you will survive, struggling to remind yourself that you are not the pain and the blackness, that is the hard part. Keep struggling, keep fighting, keep trying.. trying to remember the true me.
A lot of people are in the habit of also asking how you are when they greet you. I am not. I worry sometimes that they think I’m being rude, but I’m not.
I hate being asked how I am, because I know that they generally expect me to say something like ‘fine’ or ‘good’ or maybe even ‘great’. But I can’t answer like that.. because very often I’m not. Or I’m not necessarily not good but how I am cannot be summed up into a simple word. So I am left floundering wondering how exactly I should answer, because I don’t want to lie, because that would be rude, but I also don’t really want to give a truthful answer because I’m pretty sure that’s not what they actually want to hear. And depending on who it is asking, there’s a good chance that I might not really be comfortable with explaining the whole truthful answer to them. Revealing the extent of my struggles is not something I can do with everyone. So if I manage to get past this hurdle and mumble out a ‘fine thanks’ or similar, I’m still off kilter from the momentary panic caused by trying to figure out the right answer to give, that I generally forget that the social convention is now for me to return the enquiry until after they’ve already walked past or moved on or whatever.
So then I’m left wondering if they are now walking away thinking that I’m rude, or maybe just strange, and that bothers me because I’m not rude (well, sometimes I am, but in these cases I am not trying to be), I’m actually a nice, polite person.. it’s just that they were the ones that flustered me by asking me a question for which there is no simple answer. And that in turn makes me feel annoyed at them for putting me in that position in the first place.
Hence the reason that I don’t ask people how they are, even if I am the first one to extend a greeting or even if I have more than a passing interest in their wellbeing, like with Daniel or my Mum or someone else who is a friend rather than just an acquaintance. I don’t want to inadvertently cause someone else the same inner discomfort that I get caused every time someone asks me how I am. And I am reasonably sure that for the people that I do care about, if there is something I need to know about that is upsetting or annoying or making them sick.. they’ll tell me anyway. (Some of them will even tell me multiple times. Not mentioning any names. Kristian.)
Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to not have to struggle. To ask everyone you greet how they are because you genuinely have no concept that for some people it’s not a simple enquiry but an interrogation that sparks off a mini panic on the inside because they don’t know how to answer. I wonder, because I can’t imagine. I really cannot comprehend being so unencumbered by the inadequacies of my own intellect that these interactions could be so simple and honest that as soon as you’ve asked and heard the positive answer, you’ve already moved onto the next topic since that one didn’t require any further action by you.
What do these people do with their brains the rest of the time, when they are not struggling against themselves? What else could I do with my brain if so much of it wasn’t dedicated to just managing to do the things I have to do?