Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Living with a Mental Illness: Part 2

There’s an older black woman that comes to the library like I do. She sits at the computer, shuffles some papers around and talks to herself. Loudly. Her hair is kind of raggedy and her clothes are worn with holes. I feel for her. I think to myself, if I wasn’t on medication, I would be like her.

When I’m off of my medication things start to get weird. My ticks start to take over. I am talking to myself, loudly. I’m having full blown conversations that are all going nowhere. I can’t decide on anything so I’m moving back and forth and stopping and forgetting and thinking about something else. I’m all mixed up basically.

It feels like a dream, where you’re going around, doing what you’re doing and not even thinking about doing it. It just happens. You’re not even wondering why you did that. You’re just watching everything as it unfolds. Trapped in your head. I have dreams every night and they’re all weird. But when you’re doing something in manic mode, it all feels like a dream, till you wake up and find that it’s your reality. It’s a part of you now, a part of your life and what you experienced. You can’t wipe it away like it was a dream. You try your hardest to forget, but the more you want to forget, the more you remember. At first it comes in bits and pieces, out of order until you have a clear vision of what you did, like running into cars half naked or crashing your car into another car. Thank God in my case everyone was all right. But it didn’t have to happen. There were warning signs. I felt unsafe, unsure in a surreal thought pattern. I was rushed to take the kids to school and I dropped them off safely and then I broke into full manic mode. I remember the air bag slamming into my chest. I remember getting out and picking up the fragments of the crash and cursing God in the middle of the street.

I could go on and on about it, but that was years ago and everything, luckily turned out okay in the end. It’s still a part of my past that I try desperately to forgive myself of and move on, but it’s extremely difficult. It’s even more difficult when you have several bipolar episodes buried down deep that all take turns dwelling about. I was diagnosed in 2004, so 11 years of this still going strong.

The writing helps immensely. That’s why, even if I don’t have anything being published at the time, I still write. It keeps my mind busy and that’s always a good thing. I’d hate to be in that position like the lady from the library is in. Maybe she can’t afford medication. She keeps to herself and is pretty mobile. I see her on the bus sometimes too. So she gets around. I don’t know her full story, but I’m just relating to her issues. I could very much be the same way and I understand what she is going through.

Some people glare and are bothered by her. The librarians are sweet, they never say anything to her unless someone complains.

Anyway, my point is it sucks. Even on medication, I still struggle. Not as much but I do have bouts of self- talk that won’t seem to go away. I’ll be arguing with myself silently in my mind as I walk somewhere till I literarily say “Stop Mama!” It works only briefly then I go back to it. Again the writing and the reading do help. And keeping busy with the kids and the house. I have such wonderful support from my family. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be lost.
So the next time you see someone talking to their self, have some empathy for them. Some things are beyond our control.


Kenny Chaffin said...

Thanks for this and sharing this. Writing, even journaling can help tremendously!

Good Luck!

Lisa M. Cronkhite said...

Thanks, Kenny! Good Luck to you too!