Suffocating and Surviving

Maybe I don’t know who I am or what I’m doing but I am trying to figure it all out.  I lost a part of myself I was told I wasn’t allowed to be, leaving me hollow chasing a feeling I couldn’t imagine to be real. A life I never felt I deserved. I fantasized of a life more than this and far worse too. It wasn’t about an unwillingness to risk, more so it has always been the willingness to sacrifice my wants and needs for others to only find it was never enough. It always takes pieces of me and I’m not sure who it is that is left.
On no more than two to three hours of sleep a night for weeks now (or longer honestly) I find it difficult to raise to the standards some are used to. It’s much harder to pretend I am alright with little sleep, being awoken by horrific nightmares that continue to haunt me for days. My gypsy soul wants to wander, explore and feel alive but these things are selfish so I push them far from me.  So I work toward a better life for the one who needs me most regardless if that is the life that would make me happy. I’m not sure if my happiness has ever been a primary focus in my life though sometimes I’m sure it seems this way to others. I have been trapped in survival mode, enduring so much for such a very long time now. I’ve fooled so many into this strong version of myself unable to rely on anyone the way I truly need I’m not sure who I am anymore or if this is me. If a version of myself free exists some where or if that version is lost forever.
All I can think now at 1 am is, have I stayed up late enough to avoid these traumatizing nightmares? Will there every be a reprieve for me?

self portrait ©Andrea DiGiglio 2017

I soar out of bed grasping onto hope that what I endured was not real. It wasn’t but it feels so real my body and mind in fact believe it was and so I carry it with me always. The nightly nightmares I bare increasingly more traumatizing and horrific the worse my waking state seems to be. The more fighting or arguing, the more lack of support and help, my dreams feed on it and love to rub my nose in it. It’s strange to me how some people think because the words of support pour out of them without action that is sufficient. Claiming interest in the things you care most deeply about with little to no investment if it is not a shared interest with the expectation of a return on their own passions. Putting in ten percent while lying to themselves they are one hundred percent invested and expecting undivided attention and when its not given turning harsh and cruel. For someone with PTSD (and those without), it adds to the stress and when that person has spent more than half of their life enduring this suffocating existence trapped in survival mode continuously made promises however true at the time that cannot be and never are fulfilled it makes the enduring of this existence much more difficult to bare. This isn’t a blame game, regardless if my bipolar diagnosis is warping the chemicals in my brain to make me two different people shoved in this one broken shell, this shell everyone speaks so kindly about, that isn’t really me is it? With a constant fluctuation of moods and personality traits how am I to know who I am anyway? I was told the darkness within me was evil but it’s the only constant and safe part of my life. It takes a hold and comforts me when I need it most when I am at the point of quitting it all, washing away my tears and sometimes my pain if only for a short while. It never judges me and I wonder if denying it’s existence is the part of me missing that makes me feel whole. I am beyond damaged and more alone than I ever could have imagined trying to pretend I’m something I’m not for the sake to not cause discomfort to those I care most about. At some point they all claim I do not have to do that with them but if time proves anything at all, it proves the fallacy of what they can endure and the fact I can endure almost anything, but with great cost. 
How could I possibly trust or rely on another being when time and time again it is proven I must be the strong one? I am so very tired of asking for what I need only to be let down and challenged with the notion I should be grateful for what I have. Unwanted assistance in nearly an opposite fashion to what my mind is screaming for. I so wish that I was loved because those want to love me and not because they need to love me or need my love. I’m tired of being needed. In the beginning of all things I am wanted, chased and at some point I become some burden who is no longer giving them all the things they want. Eventually never enough all while draining the life within me while striving to be what they want me to be with no return.

Here’s the hardest part of all of this, I need help. So do many of you. I have a psychiatrist, therapist, trauma therapist, neurologist etc. Helping me fight for my right to not only endure or survive this life but perhaps live it. This isn’t the help I mean but clearly the help I do need will never come. I wish others would do the same, fight for themselves rather than live in a different sort of darkness they refuse to climb out of, playing the blame game attached to an idea that life or people owe them something when they don’t.  If only they took care of themselves rather than adding their baggage onto my back and wonder why I’m breaking and unable to help them, they may heal and maybe I could too. We are here to love, to live. “…All I’ve ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you…” To live… what a beautiful fantasy like three moons shinning over a clear blue sea, and sand between my toes. I am suffocating and trapped and every step forward I fight through the chains and weight of a thousand worlds attached at my ankles and yanked yards backward. I need my own space, I need more time than most to myself by myself, uninterrupted and not to be treated that what I need and want is not valid because it hurts someones feelings or offends them because fuck that bullshit. Learn to love yourself, be alone with yourself, survive on your own as I have done. To many being alone is a curse or the worst punishment of all but to me as a survivor I can always rely on my self to endure, to survive to fight through every god damn thing thrown at me. It’s people who break me. With intention to do so, without intention to do so. Does that part even matter? Being alone is where I can find peace in a world so horrible and filled with chaos and selfishness. I haven’t been alone with myself in so many years, taken from me just as the control over the chemicals in my brain has taken my control over my emotional and mental state. Taught wanting such a thing is wrong and cruel to those who surround me, smothering the light inside of me wondering why I feel so vacant. I have a gypsy soul and that was snuffed out too. So we are left with this shell, the shell everyone seems to love and I despise. Somewhere in the darkness I am screaming and clawing my way out, if only I had help. If only it mattered more than…

 

I’m Tired

I don’t remember the last time when I spoke the words “I’m tired,” and that was all I meant. Whether it was to someone or to myself. I’m tired has replaced I’m okay, I’m all right, I’m fine which often was retorted with, “Are you sure?” Sometimes followed with unsolicited advice which honestly was never much help in climbing out of that headspace. I’m just tired has replaced I’m exhausted. It’s replaced I’m sad, I’m depressed, I feel broken. It’s replaced I feel hopeless. I’m not sure at what point I am tired became so much more in those two words. It creeps in the darkness of the night stealing sleep or causing nothing but sleep. It has no shame on a warm sunny day and still keeps coming at you with clenched fists. Frankly, most times talking about how I feel traps me there and I want to escape it and I have therapists for that sort of thing anyway.

I suppose I may not just be tired and after so many years like this it feels as if this is who I am now. It’s not all days but it’s closer to that being true than not. Sometimes saying I’m tired, is to not burden those you care about with something you can’t help feeling. And after so much time has passed and those feelings are still there the compassion dissipates from the ones you need it from the most. It is not intentional to hurt but the truth is, sometimes it does.

Maybe I don’t have anything positive to say and I am a jaded, cynical pessimist. And life experiences and jacked chemicals in my brain created the monster I feel I am now. So no, I won’t complain about my day, the physical pain I’m in I try to ignore and fight through or for the mental warfare inside of my head just to be told to chin up or buck up or to play the one up game with people I’m not trying to compete with, especially a game where every one is the loser. To be asked how I am and for the response to my reply to feel like nothing more than a brush off, an obligation to ask but no substance behind it. And yes, I already know that someone else has it worse than me but I still have to live this life in this body, in this mind.

I miss truly enjoying things, things I used to or even new experiences or even something so simple as chasing after dreams. To be trapped in survival mode only because the chemistry in my brain is faulty. Some days, not all days, I go through the motions only to get to the next day and only to do it all over again like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day or Sammy in the “Mystery Spot” episode of Supernatural. But I haven’t given up yet and that should count for something shouldn’t it?

So yes, I’m tired.

 

Is there a difference between being supportive and understanding?

The short answer? Hell yes.

There is a difference between being supportive and understanding. Someone can tell you they support you and even mean what they say without putting forth much effort into understanding where you are coming from. The problem which lies in this is without the understanding of your dreams, goals, trauma, illness (etc.); is their support will never be fully committed if those things inconvenience them. For example, if your time for this supportive person becomes less so you may focus more on any of the list above or others. The inconvenience to them may make them act less than supportive and although they want to support you they do not want to sacrifice or have anything taken away from them. When someone does not understand your illness or even your dreams you might assume they would look further into it. Order a book on kindle explaining it in more details so they can actually have an understanding on a level closer to your own and help ease their own feelings about the situation or future situations that may arise. It amazes me how a little empathy can go a long way and how many people do not know the true definition of the word. I find people who suffer from empathy (as that is how it feels for me) often have a clearer understanding of what someone else is enduring or even enjoying. True empathy is a gift and a curse.

We all have to live our own lives, needing to take care of ourselves and sometimes others too. We all have dreams, goals and aspirations and some may never come to be. Many of us struggle; it’s hard to endure and it’s often hard for others to watch. Sadly, we live in a world where “I” and “me” trumps all things. A world where people care more about power, greed and social media like’s. A world where other people’s problems and struggles are an inconvenience to our own lives. A world where it sometimes seems is filled with the Violet’s and the Veruca’s of Willy Wonka’s, who think “I want” is the same thing as “I need” and won’t compromise such things for what someone else may need. We live in a time where people want things easy and do not want to work for anything, even if it would be worth it in the long run.

Which brings me to another heartbreaking point, when no one notices you fading away or your love for things dissipating. When you are too exhausted to sleep and respond with doing the bare minimum and it still seems to never be enough. When someone makes you feel worse because, “they are not enough to make you feel happy or better.” When you are told someone supports you or wants to help you but their actions do not correspond.

Just know, you can survive anything and you are enough. Though people may not like it, you have the power to change your circumstances. I won’t say it’s easy as it rarely is but it is within your power to change yourself and your circumstances. Waiting for help, relying on other people is a fairy tale or a day dream. People can change of course but if you wait for them to change for you, you will be waiting a very long time. People change for themselves.

Endure. Survive. Endure.

Endure. Survive. Endure.

I looked at the ground, my heart broke. It took a deep breath in and tried to retain all the pieces it seemed to be in now. It didn’t. It couldn’t but be damned it still tried. Sometimes in life you are sitting still as the world rushes by you. Others, you don’t have enough time for all the things you need and want to do. Sometimes you are in motion at a steady speed until something hits you like a boulder knocking your ass back to the start line. Similarly, I had been struck with a still force across my entire being. I mourn the loss of something dear to me and feel as though I always have and will again. So many times I have roared back to life and tried again and again to reach a goal I fear I will never achieve. In this, my illness wreck’s havoc on me as it is the only constant in my life. It is cruel and meticulous. The noise in my skull is chaotic most of the time, especially this moon phase. You fear the darkness but its deep within me and all around me and feels like, home.  Many don’t get it and I didn’t expect you too. Yet, I was hopeful. Something that has never, not one time, ever paid off. Time and time again, the girl who thought Westley and Buttercup’s story was what true love really was or could be, reminds who I am today of the possibility, it could. So incredibly cruel. Another cycle burns through the night and I play a game within myself of Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde. No matter who wins, this sliver of my heart in my hand cuts me, deeply. A reminder of what happened here as to never forget, as if I could. Another toke, another drink, another pill. Numb. Wanting numbness to take hold, to give ample time to heal before I feel. My will laid at the waste side, unable to help me now. Endure. Survive. Endure. Repeat. As I reach up and feel my wet cheeks I know what I feared all along was true. My soul is in love with the idea of true love and I am far too jaded to play along anymore. As I am now as alone as some days I feel, I have the ability to do as one does when this sort of thing happens. For now I will recoil to the darkness that stalks me as it is always the same, always safe no matter how bad it is for me. Never lost I glide through the darkness until I catch the corner of a dresser. I open the top drawer and slide the shard into it, gently. I close the door and let the darkness absorb me until I am no longer present in this moment.  Silence. Endure. Survive. Repeat.

Ramblings From an Unusual Mind

When nightmares feel all to real

Most of my nightmares consist of me running, forever it seems. Being chased or chasing someone or something. Thankfully in my dreams I have stamina and the endurance to keep running. I often wake up with my legs feeling sore at times. I also tend to get into these grand battles, always fighting. Winning some, losing others.

Last night this was not the case at all, there was no running or fighting. Just panic and blood. It felt so incredibly real it took several minutes this morning to come to terms with the fact it was not real at all.

 

*Warning: Not suitable for all ages*


THE NIGHTMARE
I did not feel well and I couldn’t really explain how but it was different than my everyday pain and mental & emotional struggles caused by the 8 x 11 page list of disorders I bare. My heart was racing, my stomach turning. I stared into the mirror in the bathroom attempting to rid the awful taste of something horrible about to happen, out of my mouth. I rinsed my mouth out with mouthwash and as I spit five teeth coated in thick blood mixed with Listerine, fell from my mouth into the sink with a clank which seemed to echo. I covered my mouth with a shaky hand, attempting to bare my weight on the counter with the other. I coughed, choking on the blood and in reflex spit more blood into the sink. Followed by more teeth. My eyes widened. I gathered the pieces of myself I had just lost and I ran out into the house barely audible saying, “ER, watch him.” Referring to my six-year-old son. An argument or barter system would have played out if the blood had not been all over the outside of my mouth, leaking out into my hands as I spoke.

I drove myself to the ER as I always did in such situations. Salt stinging my eyes, begging a being I don’t believe in and even hate not to let this be it. My son needs me. My mind screamed, pulling into the ER, nearly colliding with a parked car parked over the line as people who drive SUV’s and other large vehicles always seem to do. I stumbled out of the car and into the emergency room doors nearly collapsing on the security guard. He caught me and partially carried me to the check in desk. I attempted to check in but when I spoke my words were colluded with blood and more teeth flew into my hands. I could only painfully stare into the woman’s eyes with trembling lips. Begging for help through my glossy eyes.

They took me back steadfast and most of the doctors in the ER came to see my strange condition. A specialist of sorts with sleek blonde hair pulled back into a low ponytail, tugged at her white coat while examining me. Her demeanor was cold and she made no effort to ease my discomfort or mental turmoil. She walked away to speak with the attending claiming my “infection” of sorts was due to a drug I most likely injected. So much judgment leaked out of her skin. Injecting myself was something I had never done and as I attempted to explain no words fell from my lips, only red and white. Unfortunately the only way to treat this insatiable infection was to know the specific strain and I had taken no such injectable drugs. For a moment death would be imminent. I began to thrash unwilling to accept this carved out fate. They attempted to hold me down and as ordered searched my body for needle marks anyway. I tried to tell them but was unable to speak clearly and so while they searched my skin I wrote in my own blood on the white bed sheet, “no injections, only medical pot.” Something I use to treat my disorders.

At this point my family and friends had begun to start showing up at the ER demanding answers on my condition. It seemed to always take something extreme for a response of care by action and not only empty words. I am not sure who it was who was actually able to speak with the doctors and chose to race back to house I live in to find my “stash,” as the doctor called it. Maybe my lack of faith to believe someone would think to do so. By some wave of luck the medical team was able to test the contents to find one of the glass mason jars of marijuana was in fact laced with a deadly substance causing rapid decay in my body. They began inserting the treatment into my IV and I felt it burning inside of my skin. Now I needed major surgery to remove the infection in my mouth and replacing all of my now missing teeth. They claimed they were optimistic in which the infection hadn’t spread anything further. At this point, I was not.

Assuming the treatment was working, a elderly woman with a limp wheeled a computer on a cart slowly and a stack of paperwork since I could not speak, into my room as naturally I had to apply for a medical credit card to pay for the expenses before they would start anything as they already screened that my insurance would not cover the “cosmetic” tooth replacement.  I filled out the paperwork. Twice, because I kept dripping blood accidentally onto it.

I handed the paperwork to the woman, suddenly dropping on the edge of the bed clenching my stomach as a sharp pain followed by cramping erupted through me causing me to vomit. I puked up some strange large mass of sorts that I honestly thought was an organ I might need. Finally, the doctor decided to start the surgery regardless of the status of my potential medical credit line. She up’d the dose of the treatment as they rushed me down the hall.

It was a strange feeling watching them as I felt myself leaving myself in a way as they put some sort of mask on me to help knock me out while someone else injected me with something but from my point of view it just felt like the ice queen specialist was putting a pillow over my face to smother me and I wondered if that would be so bad? I choked trying to talk through that mess, trying to say my sons name. I tried to smack the bed to draw anyone’s attention to it but I’m sure it only looked as if I was tapping at what I had already written as they were wheeling me down the hall toward the OR. It read, “single mom, autistic son. All he has. Please.”

I woke up in the dream alive, in a panic after the surgery. Wanting to see my son, to hold him.

Immediately I shot out of my own bed, actually awake. Not sure if I was in reality or not. Not realizing for a while that I had been dreaming all of those horrible moments.

Unsure which was worse.

Today was a hard day

Today was a hard day. Days similar to today have tried to break me and sometimes I think where I find my strength is keeping it all deep inside of me wrapped up tightly with all the other things I bury for the sake of others.

I often write about how being bipolar feels to me. How depression binds me. I tend to shy away from sharing the part of what it is I actually go through to heal, to survive. The experiences themselves I hide only showing the pretty words strung together in a useable quote. To protect myself, to protect other’s maybe. Not today. Today I had to start over with a re-assesment of my mental health and well-being. I have come quite far from when I started my self-care just over five years ago. Yet, I cannot seem to do more than survive. 

I walked into the office feeling the same I do most days though it’s hard to describe. I mostly go through the motions of what needs to be done to get to the next day only to repeat the cycle. Lying to my brain that tomorrow, we can breathe, we can relax, we can have a good day and maybe we can do something we want to do without criticism, without guilt, without a time limit as my time has not been my own for such a long time now. So, I walk in and sit down and BamBam the therapy dog climbs up his giant stairs onto my psychiatrist’s desk and sits right in front of my face waiting for his pets.

Isn’t he adorable? So sweet and seemingly concerned of my well being. Throughout the session I would watch this look overtake my doctor filled with sadness, concern and so much empathy for what it is I endure. I was uncomfortable, I didn’t understand why? It seems that look is gone from so many familiar faces it was unrecognizable. Conditioned that what I endure is not as bad as it feels or not as severe because I am strong, because I survive, because I am a talented actress and the best performance of my life, is my life and because I am shown that I am selfish making such an experience feel unworthy. I fought tears during the 90 minute season as if crying was painful, or not allowed but really when I start I often cannot stop. Sure sometimes I want to be held, in silence but mostly I prefer these moments are when I am alone. I feel myself betraying myself by doing such a thing in front of another human being. Every part of my being screams to stop, Stop, STOP! I do temporarily, at least until she pokes another trigger.

I have control issues. Anytime I have “let go,” the consequences have been astronomical and I carry them always. They are as much a part of me as my bones, skin and blood is. The things that break me in session, are the same things that have been slowly killing me, making me sicker physically and mentally. It is part of who I am, to feel everything so intensely or feel nothing at all. I’m not really sure if that is part of my personality at this point or just a combination of Bipolar Disorder and all the other labels slapped on my chart. The main triggers, are naturally things I am not in control of. I drift while she types, watching BamBam now in his tiny dog bed, belly up and snoring louder than something so small should be able to. The third time she mentions how difficult my situation must be due to my son’s autism, I correct her firmly. “He is not a trigger.” My love for him and his for me is unconditional. WE accept each other exactly as we are. No one else does that. Maybe that is why the bond between mother and son or father and daughter seem to be so strong. I explained and she accepted.

After adding another diagnostic issue to my chart she asks cautiously if I would be wiling to see a trauma therapist. (Meanwhile I can still see my regular therapist.) Now of course how far I’ve come seems minuscule at this point. She says something along the lines of, “I know to you, you may not think what you have experienced is trauma but it doesn’t have to be physical to be considered trauma. You show classic sign of PTSD from the trauma you have experienced (specifically these 2 instances, including the sudden seemingly random onset of your disorder almost 18-19 years ago) and you have been in survival mode ever since.” My eyes filled quickly and suddenly. So much truth is, hard. I answer her questions, telling her things I would never tell another soul (but I want to feel better, so I do.) Telling her things I have told other’s but had received no reprieve or true help besides empty words, disinterest, judgment, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

We make a plan of action, the best we can with the hand we are dealt. BamBam wakes and comes over to me to say his goodbyes. I leave physically exhausted, mentally drained. Today was a hard day.

I left to pick my son up from school and we went home. Continued with all the things I am supposed to do, have to do to survive. Did all the things I can muster the strength to do with a smile; so my son is happy, healthy and feels loved for being exactly who he is, every single part of him that makes him who he is and allowing him to exist the way he needs ands wants to. My turn isn’t a real thing. It’s a wish list my doctor has on my chart and on this list there are other things she wants for me that I won’t allow myself to dwell on, to want (when I can help it), knowing there is always a barter to be made for a fraction of what I may want and sometimes a punishment of sorts for thinking about myself. Fighting for things I should have a right to, well I do not have the energy, will power or time for such silly things.

Tomorrow I will feel a little better, until I don’t again. Back and forth. My mental illness is a neurological (and genetic) condition I did nothing to aquire and no longer can tell if I deserve. But don’t worry, in a few days I’ll gather myself and be back to the approved version I have been shown, I am allowed to be.

Today was a hard day.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

― Robin Williams

Cinderella isn’t Dressed in Yellow, She’s Dressed in Black and She’s Depressed

© RussTurnerphotography
Cinderella isn’t dressed in yellow. She’s dressed in black. And she’s depressed, in pain, ill and exhausted but still getting the damn job done. She’s on mood stabilizers that don’t help nearly as much now that she quit smoking cigarettes. She doesn’t live with step relatives but blood and her dad isn’t dead but he’s not there. Her time doesn’t belong to her and if she attempts to steal any of it she is punished for being selfish. When she asks for help there’s always a price to be paid. Prince Charming brings her home (back to the house) at midnight when she can get a sitter. She sleeps a lot or not at all. She forgets to eat. She’s dying and she doesn’t even care anymore. All they think is, how selfish what about me?

© Andrea DiGiglio

This is what depression looks like

This is what depression looks like:

© Andrea DiGiglio
© Drea DiGiglio
This is what depression feels like (to me anyway.)
It’s more than the really bad days of not being able to get out of bed. The idea of getting out of bed is exhausting. Not showering for days on end and not giving a rat’s ass about it. Not eating for days or perhaps the opposite and shoveling food mindlessly and probably guilt tripping yourself for it every step of the way. Its not just the days where you cannot muster the strength to get out of bed. It’s the days where you feel like that but you do get out of bed, too.
If you have kids, you still have to get them ready for school and take them to their appointments. Sure, maybe your in sweats instead of actual clothes but who cares. You clearly don’t. If you work, you work. You don’t socialize, you don’t count the minutes. You just work and you’re not entirely sure if you’re grateful it’s over because you hate working but now what the fuck are you going do with your time? Every activity takes effort. Every activity. The world looks as if it is tinted in a lower temperature color. Food doesn’t taste as good. You drink, whether it’s to be numb or shut the noise in your head up or just to feel, settled. Or perhaps some other alternative to cope.
Your body and you argue. You’re sore for no reason or just tired all of the time. Or both.
At first you say how you feel. Then you feel like a burden. Maybe you are. Maybe you aren’t. You take care of everyone except yourself because all you are trying to do at this point is survive. This is usually the point when people bring up the things you do (or don’t do) because you’re depressed, because you seem to always be depressed and yes you’re already aware of them. When people bring them up a feeling erupts, a cross between; feeling guilty and angry. Guilty for your behavior or lack there of and that they noticed and want you to know they noticed. Anger because you now feel as if your feelings are no longer valid and only their feelings are and why not just do it instead of making me feel bad about it because obviously on this day I am struggling?
People who love you try to understand and maybe they really do. But let’s be honest it’s annoying when a family member isn’t contributing or is grumpy, sad or angry all of the time.
So you stop saying how you feel. It’s too hard to continuously repeat yourself and it’s not going away, it just keeps coming back. So you smile. You laugh. You try to, fake it till you make it.
Then people like us see these smiling photos stream across social media. Smiling, happy. All the while suffering. Enduring. Fighting. They don’t know they aren’t alone.

So, apparently. This is what depression looks like. We put makeup on so we can feel normal, look normal and maybe to fake it. Maybe it’s so the people in our lives will stop asking if we are okay because no, we are not okay. Maybe we don’t wan’t the shame and guilt of feeling how we feel. Maybe we are just too damn depressed to have another conversation about it. Today I am not okay and that is okay. Just maybe, tomorrow I will be and that smile might be real. If it’s not? I suppose you might not really be able to tell because we live in a world where those who carry the burden of a mental illness feel like a burden. It’s not just the words people say it’s their actions time and time again. Actions which do not say, “I understand you are suffering.” Rather say, “When will this end this time so the ‘real you’ will be back” (For them.) The longer someones struggle is with their disorder, the longer they suffer. The less patient I find people to be. It’s a sad world I find us to be in. Where those who always have the kindest of hearts are often the most broken.

Much love to you all, be kind to one another. Keep fighting through the darkness and know you are worth fighting for, your life is worth fighting for. The good days are worth it. Don’t give up.

XO
-Andrea

Surviving with a Bipolar disorder diagnosis

Surviving with a Bipolar disorder diagnosis
I am not my illness. No matter how many disorders they slap on my chart, they do not define me. They do not own me. I can only take care of myself the best I can and hope for a little compassion on days it’s hard to get out of bed. Having been diagnosed with Bipolar Type I disorder; rapid cycling, was horrifying initially, but also a huge relief. All of the hardships I had endured over the years at times where there was little wrong in my life finally had a reason, an answer to the question, what is wrong with me?
Simply, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that greatly affects mood and behavior. With extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression.) It took three different doctors over the span of seventeen years to diagnose me correctly.
         Depression with or without the bipolar component is no laughing matter. It drags you down by your ankles and holds you under water. You may feel as if you’re drowning but it won’t seem to end and you want it to desperately.
I will tell you from experience, “Why can’t you just be happy?” Is the cruelest sentence one human being can say to someone who suffers from depression. We do suffer. To me, it has its own identity living inside of me. I call it, the Darkness. Similar to Dexter’s Dark Passenger, I suppose. (Except for the entire murder part of course.) I don’t know if labeling it is healthy for everyone or not but it gave me some power over it.
Every human being is unique therefor no treatment is one size fits all. Don’t give up hope.  I suffered without treatment for fourteen years. It took three years of treatment and a lot of trial and error to find what worked for me.  Finding a psychiatrist I could feel comfortable with and trust was the biggest step in my recovery. Though I should use the term maintenance as all people who suffer from bipolar disorder will in fact relapse. (This is not failure. Pick yourself back up and keep trying to feel better, to be better.) With proper treatment, often through medications (commonly a combination of mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and “talk” therapy,) these relapses can be less often and less intense in nature. There are many treatments out there. The key is working with your doctor to find what works for you, as not all will. I personally work with an Integrative Holistic Psychiatrist, (combination of alternative and conventional care.) For me this was the only thing that worked. Stay strong.

Remember, you are not alone. I am not alone. Say it with me.