I’ve spent a great deal of my time trying to convince others, and myself, that I shouldn’t be ashamed of the paperwork I have in a manilla folder that holds the words ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ and ‘Manic Depression’ associated with my own name.
I’m still unsure whether I’ve been convinced, let alone everyone else. When I first started recognizing my mental stability was fleeting, I spent a great deal of time making fun of myself for the way I was acting and I did it so much that everyone else started doing it too. While I laughed at this newfound personality trait I dubbed ‘crazy,’ the negative connotation is what was really crippling.
When people start saying ‘psycho’ with venom in their voice it doesn’t do much for your self esteem.
Some odd years later, I decided my pride wasn’t as important as my mental stability. It took a few boyfriends who sent me off the edge, a spoiled reputation, and my first born son to finally commit to healing while speaking out on mental illness for the greater good.
There are plenty of people who call a suicide attempt a cry for attention but fail to see the extremity of such a cry. Instead of knowing how to ask for help, our brains go into overload and we do something detrimental.
My point is, someone with a stable emotional balance will more than likely seek help from a family, friend or coworker before they swallow a handful of pills in an attempt to get ‘help’. That’s where mental illness chimes in- a healthy brain doesn’t have that kind of reaction to trauma. A healthy brain will not say yes to that feel good drug, knowing it could kill you as soon as it enters your bloodstream. This is not like a cold you can buy Mucinex for and know it will make you feel better. This is something that can take years to finally get right.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was crying all the time thinking I need to check myself back into an in-patient facility because my first initial thought was that I was getting ‘bad’ again. This is normally a word to replace “going insane” or “losing my shit” us ‘psychos’ use to describe a temporary halt in the stability of our mental health. To my surprise, the doctor said those three little words that finally made it all come together. “You are pregnant.” I was neurotic and manic before these new hormones were pumping through me- imagine me pregnant.
The pregnant wife you see in the movies? The ranting, screaming, crying one? That was me. Except I wasn’t married, I was single, and my child’s father was addicted to drugs. Pregnancy hormones, and a toxic relationship full of untreated mental illness, you do the math. It was a recipe for disaster. For 9 months I battled the most crippling anxiety and depression of my life.
I did this without big pharma being able to interfere and hand me a bottle of Xanax when I was thrashing around my car and pulling my hair out (literally) because I was out looking for my unborn son’s father again. After my son was born, I cried for three days straight. They told me it was normal, but it didn’t stop and pretty soon a week would go by without me sleeping, and I threw my remote across my bedroom. It sounds trivial but my son was sleeping on my bed and I knew as soon as it happened I needed help. .
I was so embarrassed to cry when the pediatrician asked how I was. But I’m so thankful I did, because I found the medication that makes my brain slow down. I’m the perfect example for why women need to get help. Postpartum depression is no joke. This isn’t to demean anyone, but before you start throwing the word depression around, will you please google ‘baby blues?’
My point of all of this is that if you want to get better, you can.
Mental illness is not terminal. You can beat this, even if you have to battle it your whole life. This isn’t a cancer that has spread to every part of your body, and this isn’t your heart stopping on the operating table. This is an obstacle in your life (yes, another one) that you can overcome but you have to want it.
No matter how often or how it was explained to me, I never committed to my medications like I was supposed too. I never grasped the fact that if I missed a day or two of my medication that I wouldn’t feel good enough to get out of bed and go to work.
Depression will knock you down like that. I didn’t understand that if I abruptly started taking it again, I would be excited and impulsive and go spend my last paycheck all at the mall and not be able to put gas in my car for that week. That’s the manic side of it. And not taking it properly can make these ‘crazy’ side effects much worse than they need to be.
If you live with Manic Depression, you might have days of some stability and you feel totally normal and your phone doesn’t give you a full blown panic attack. Then you will have a day when you don’t shower or brush your teeth, and if you manage to pull yourself out of bed to go to work, you wear the clothes you wore yesterday because those were the ones in a pile on your floor beside your bed.
This could last days but it could also last hours. You might wake up the next day ready to greet the sunshine and sing at the top of your lungs by yourself on your way to your job. You might see that it’s payday so your bank account looks good and you’ll make plans to go out with your friends because you’re just so happy and so excited that it’s giving you an anxiety attack but it feels so good to feel so good.
You go out, you get wasted beyond belief and you spend the next few days hiding away because you’re so ashamed that now you can’t put gas in your car.
You bought everyone’s drinks, you paid for all the Ubers and you ordered a whole pizza, even though you were the only one who wanted a slice. You spend your Friday night trying to convince some guy he didn’t want to get involved with you but he swore he didn’t care. You still cringed when he said, “Psycho… I can dig it.” I’m the only one allowed to call me that.
It’s taken me a very long time to realize I don’t have to be defined by my diagnosis. My borderline personality disorder isn’t who I am. Neither is my manic depression, and I am not psycho.
I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that I wasn’t always able to understand. I didn’t take responsibility and there was a time I was in denial that there were medications that could help level me out. The only thing that being in denial ever did for me was lead me down a path of destruction. I self medicated, and that’s a dirty path to go down.
I take Zoloft at night before I go to bed. Sometimes at work, I’ll get panicky for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes I have to go in the bathroom and cry because I’m so damn frustrated not being able to figure out why I can’t stop losing my shit. Sometimes I have to take an Ativan.
But rest assured I always move forward. I always see the light at the end of the tunnel and I always recognize how far I’ve come.
Take a stand for yourself. You aren’t psycho or a crazy bitch. You’re human, and you’re allowed to feel the way you do.