I’m coming to the point where I am starting to accept the way things are and the way they will be in the future; that there will be certain conditions, certain considerations that I will always have to be mindful of, and that I cannot change that. At this point I realise that acceptance is far different from making peace with something, but I’m sure in time that will happen.
In actual fact, that above paragraph isn’t strictly true. I wrote it after coming home after the first proper day of the getting back into work course. A few hours later I went and visited the bipolar support group in Croydon. Going there, and then coming home and having a long talk with my mum, showed me that I’m still far from really being accepting of my mental illness and have certainly not made peace with it. At the support group I couldn’t shake the feeling of ‘so this is it then? This is what I have to look forward too? Still struggling decades later?’ Everyone there was older than me – but I have to stress friendly – and I had a good chat with a guy whose son has bipolar; I explained how I felt and he said his son was the same. It also turns out that my bitterness towards my doctor is something a lot of members in the group shared due to their own bad experiences and misdiagnoses. The guy who runs the back to work program at the mental health charity has also told me of his own struggles and bitterness when he was first diagnosed, so I know it’s normal and part of the process. I think part of me is bitter because I still – however stupidly – thought the truth would set me free. Opening up, telling people, going to the doctor, getting help. But no, obviously it doesn’t work like that and now I’m open to the world, vulnerable and in full knowledge that it doesn’t get easier.
I sometimes feel almost apologetic for talking about these things, but really there is no need to, I’m only speaking the truth as it is to me, sharing reality as it is for me. I sometimes also feel selfish, somewhat indulgent, even that I am wallowing in self-pity, but the truth is I’ve spent so long hiding the truth, so long holding it together, plus the fact that I have a clear conscience in so much that I am a good person and know that I have actively put others needs before my own when necessary, that if nothing else I have earned some respite, some time to reflect and vent my feelings for a change. Even then, I choose a blog and counselling, rather than talk to others, out of a sense of guilt I suppose, and of course fear of being judged, which, in terms of mental illness, is this harsh, elemental fear that I have come to realise is shared by most of the people in my position.
I have again been reading extensively about bipolar, again I have recognised myself more than I care for and again I come back to the feeling of acceptance (Edit: well not quite, as I explain above), but not peace. I’ve read articles such as –
I stress that it isn’t a case of being morbid in reading some of these articles, just the fact that Natasha Tracey has written exhaustively on the subject and all of these topics are things that I have thought about a heck of a lot.
There’s a lot I resent about the shape of the future and I have found myself asking things like why me? Why has my brain decided to do this? You see, I’ve always been compassionate and had empathy for those with mental illness and it just seems a little unfair for it to have plagued me as it has done and will do.
This from the ‘I’m too tired to keep fighting bipolar’ article sums of my general feelings pretty well at the moment –
It’s freaking exhausting.
And you never get a break. You never get a moment’s rest. There isn’t a time when the illness takes a vacation and so you never get one either. Every day, every day, every day, the same. Fight, fight, fight. There might be the best reasons in the world to fight a mental illness but that doesn’t mean it isn’t gruelling as all hell.
To be honest I never even realised I was so mentally tired until all of this happened, but I am, I really am. I realise that it obviously stems from hiding it for so long and the tumult of emotions that has followed telling people, plus I’ve taken on a lot by going full throttle on tackling it and signing up for counselling, work groups, support groups and so on.
It’s hard and I need space to say that, to admit, because I need to feel everything fully, 100%, get it all out, to cleanse, because I’m going to need my strength – the strength I used to pride myself on, the strength I used to consider a cornerstone of my personality – to go again, to allow myself to live without the handbrake, without fear, as much as I possibly can.
One of the most frustrating aspects for me at the moment is that I feel like life is trying to teach me lessons that I already know the value of.
As for the immediate future, there are things coming up that I am dreading, like having to tinker with medication (I’m going to expand on this in a post tomorrow because I had a chat with my auntie today about other possible, non-medication routes) to get the right combination for me, like I am a guinea pig, some test subject that needs fixing, that is somehow not whole. Everything I ever needed to survive, to thrive, to feel, to think, to love, used to be inside me and now I’m told I need something else, something from the outside, to function.
Everything is a symptom. I feel in love with the world, like everything is great. It’s a symptom. I feel low, alone, tragic. It’s a symptom. I feel somewhat normal. Ah, in the grand scheme of your illness, even that is a symptom. I’m a walking symptom.
Acceptance, not peace. Not yet. Not even that, for now, but not forever. Hope? Positivity? They are there, flickering at the moment, not as strong as I like, but they will be, they will grow strong again, just as I will.
As I say, I had a long chat with my mum; she knows what I’m going through because she suffers from ME (or chronic fatigue syndrome), which was similarly misdiagnosed for years. She explained she went through the same thing of anger and denial before acceptance. She used to be active, have her own business etc. so I understand that she understands the emotions I’m feeling. But the message is the same, you have to be positive, you have to fight. And I will, I have those qualities in abundance, I just need the space to admit that right now I need the time to fortify those again.
I’m a big fan of boxing, I admire the dedication, skill and motivation, the tenacity, bravery, all qualities I feel are important for life, qualities that are within me. I can fight if I have too, and I know I have to, so I will. In the end I like the feel of success, of fighting against something, of beating it. Life may have given me one helluva an opponent, but trust me, I’m one helluva fighter!