Mental illness and fear

I have mental illness. I’ve seen doctors; they’ve diagnosed me. I suppose I could go into all the gritty details of my diagnoses, which would make all the armchair psychologists come out of the woodwork to give me advise on how to overcome my mental illness and become a better person. I’m not going to do that.

2016 was a very bad year. I went into it very optimistically, thinking that maybe I could finally line up my ducks and move forward with my life and plans. That didn’t happen. One thing led to another, which led to disappointment following disappointment. I tried writing it all off, but there are some things that can’t be swept under the rug and ignored.

2017 hasn’t turned out so hot for me either, in many ways. There has been a lot of good. I won’t say that everything is bad, because it isn’t. It’s just that the bad outweighs the good, no matter how much of each there is. The bad always weighs more. It bogs one down until the load feels too overburdening to carry. And then I want to lay down and just stop breathing.

It’s been a very long time since I last updated this blog, so I should back up and fill everyone in on what’s going on in my brain. I returned to college after a 23 year absence and started working towards a degree in a field that interests me. It hasn’t been easy for me, because I’m much older than most of my classmates, and it’s a heavily male-dominated field. Every time I would get excited about achieving something, I would get knocked down by friends who mock me and accuse me of bragging. I guess I’m not supposed to be excited at finally being good at something. School has not always been easy for me – not now, and not back in my high school days. When I struggle with something, my brain tells me that I’m not good enough, and that I should just give up. My parents were always good about reinforcing the fact that I was never good enough, and that I’d never be as successful or intelligent as my sister. I don’t recall a single time when either of my parents have ever said they were proud of me, for anything. I’m not praiseworthy. I’m not anything. My brain tells me to give up. It’s not worth fighting for a sliver of recognition about anything. I’m not worth fighting for.

Logically, I know that my mental illness is giving me bad messages. Logically, I know that my thoughts are damaged. Logically, I know that depression lies. Mental illness isn’t logical. Mental illness is pulling my hair out by the roots or digging my nails into my own skin until I bleed, just to feel the pain. Mental illness is downing the last half of my prescription bottle of painkillers, just to see what would happen. Mental illness is jumping off the end of a pier, just to see if I would float. Thankfully (?) so far, mental illness hasn’t won. It probably will, someday.

According to my family, I could permanently cure my major depressive disorder by thinking happy thoughts instead of dwelling on negative ones. According to my family, the medications I take are unnecessary and probably filled with all kinds of things that are bad for me, and may cause cancer. (Then again, I’ve had cancer, so maybe they’re right.) According to my family, if I would just change my diet and exercise more, I wouldn’t feel sad anymore. It would seem that I’m the only person in the entire history of both sides of my family to have ever battled mental illness, so it must be in my head. Well yeah, that’s exactly where my mental illness is… in my head.

That’s the mental illness part (for now), here’s the fear part. I’m scared that I’ll never get better. I’m scared that something will happen that will hit me at just the wrong time, and I’ll actually push myself too far. I’m scared that no one will care. And after that, I’m scared that no one will take care of my cats. Let’s face it, they are the only reason I’m still alive some days. Some days, the pain (both real, physical pain and mental pain) is so bad that I don’t want to be here any longer. Right now, the stabbing headache from my screwed up spine hurts so badly I can barely breathe. I overcame my fear of chiropractors a couple weeks ago, when I met a very kind one through a friend. He’s been trying to help with my headaches because he says the pain I’m experiencing doesn’t match up with what the x-rays tell him. In 7 visits, we’ve gone from “no change at all” to “severely worse pain.” This is not an improvement. I want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head until the world goes away.

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It’s 3:30 am on a Thursday morning and I can’t sleep

So, the next best thing I can do is try to clear out my head by compiling lists of things I need to get done in order to figure out what I’m doing with my life. One thing I’m doing this year – for sure – is participating in Nanowrimo, the annual “write a novel in 30 days” challenge that begins November 1 and runs through the end of the month. I have no idea what my novel will be about, but maybe it will help me get my butt in gear and actually accomplish something productive for the first time in what seems like forever.

I’ve had a bad week so far. So many things have gone wrong in so many ways, I can’t even begin to explain why it’s bad, but I’m sure part of it is the impending arrival of November and December. Those are always really bad months for me, emotionally. October usually isn’t great either, but I can usually muddle through it with only occasional spells of depression. This year seems to be worse in terms of my mental health, and I don’t see that improving much over the next few months. I’m just desperately hanging on until things get better. I hope they get better.

Every day, my desire to get out of San Diego grows stronger and I feel the melancholy ache of knowing that I don’t belong here. This is not my home. (Most of) the people here are not my people. I need to be back in the place where I was happy. I’m trying to figure out all my loose ends so that I can wrap them up, so when that magical day comes when I am finally released from worker’s comp hell, I can load up and head east. The longer I stay here, the more I realize that it’s slowly killing my spirit.

The depression is really strong right now, and I think it’s going to get much worse before I can drag myself out again. Lots of Xanax and chocolate, hugs from my cat, and occasional messages from friends are all that are keeping me going right now. I’m lost. I’m alone. I want to go home again. Is it too much to ask the universe to just kick a favour my way just once?