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For Women

Safe

I realized, after Timehop so kindly reminded me, that I haven’t blogged in a year. It’s not for lack of want. It’s not for lack of material. It’s not for lack of motivation…ok, one of those is a lie (hint: it’s the last one). I guess I just allowed it. I’ve been having this major roadblock when it comes to my writing life. I’m not sure where to go. I’m not sure what direction I want to go. But, excuses don’t get shit done, now do they?

For almost five years I’ve known a truth that I haven’t wanted to admit. I’ve actually only really started discussing it openly in the past six months. I’ve skirted around the issue, and everyone knows about my anxiety, my depression, my mental health turmoil. But in actuality, in August of 2011, I suffered a nervous breakdown. I held it together pretty well, as far as breakdowns go. I managed to keep my children safe, fed, loved and cared for. I would always say “Oh I came as close to a nervous breakdown as you can get” when I explained it, because I was afraid of people judging me. But ya know what? Screw it. I HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN or what is now called a “Mental Health Crisis”. I could not sleep, I could not eat (I functioned on about 400 calories a day) and I lost 20 pounds in 4 weeks (gained 30 back, but ya know, whatevs), I poured every ounce of energy and strength I had into making sure Olivia and Sophia were okay. Luckily they liked bed picnics and movie nights.

But that wasn’t the big reveal. The big reveal was when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I fought the diagnosis, because I couldn’t possibly have my father’s illness. In fact, I denied it the same way I did in college when the doctor tried to put me on anti-depressants, as I have always had issues with the idea of being medicated, for fear of “turning out like my father”. After sobbing to the doctor, he smiled and said “oh no, this isn’t for anything except your serotonin levels are very low! It’s okay, you’ll be just fine.” I’m not stupid. I knew what he was saying, but I chose to ignore his meaning and listen to his words. So, I did this when my psychiatrist told me I was “Bipolar Lite”. For 4 years I would say “oh yeah, I’m just “Bipolar Lite” so I’m not REALLY bipolar.

Uh. Yeah, except that I’m a card-carrying member of the Bipolar Disorder II society. I’m not a time bomb. I have bad days, but it’s not because I am “off my meds” it’s because I’m a fucking human. BUT. I do cycle, and I do have depression, anxiety and suffer from panic attacks (Oh boy, I was given a bouquet!).

If you know me, you know that I am generally a very happy person. I’m nice, jovial, friendly and typically very positive. This is my “normal”. This isn’t everyone’s normal. A lot of people can get annoyed at me and I’ve been asked how I can “be so happy all the time”. Ahh, grasshopper, it is because I know what low means, so when I feel good, I try to not take a second of it for granted. Because low is hard. It’s not just “being sad” or “depressed” it’s like depressed on steroids. Low is your brain telling you things that you know aren’t true, but believing them because for a split second it IS true. It’s fucked up. Sometimes it isn’t as severe as that, sometimes it is just bursting into tears when you see an inspiring video, and not because you feel good, but because you just can’t understand WHY there has to be such a video and WHY we have to have such suffering. Super severe empathy. During these times, I can’t watch depressing movies because they sit with me for too long. I can’t compartmentalize (but that’s a whole separate thing, I’m sure).  Sometimes I want to buy stuff, so I go online and put a bunch of stuff in my digital shopping cart and never check-out. And sometimes I do. But I trust myself to never spend more than I should. And I never have. That’s a taste of what Natalie’s bipolar is like, but trust me, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all illness. It hits people differently and people react differently.

I have grown very good at not inflicting myself on other people (okay, USUALLY, I’m not perfect). I didn’t want to be a burden. It’s pretty much what I have done my whole life, the handling of my anxiety has basically been me pretending it wasn’t there–pushing it all down, stomping on it and trying to throw it away. Unfortunately, piling shit on top of shit only leaves you with a bigger pile of shit. And sometimes, well, that shit starts to stink. So I had no intention of getting into a new relationship–I thought it wasn’t fair to fall in love with anyone while I was still healing, still shoveling through all the shit. That on top of being a single parent, well, I had my hands full.

But all the annoying cliches are true and life doesn’t really care if or when you are ready for things. Or maybe it just knows better than we do what we are ready for, who knows?

I guess Curtis is a part of my healing process. It’s not that I can’t do it without him, because I know that I could, but he is such a wonderful support system. But I didn’t realize the implications of it until recently when I commented to my therapist that I was worried I was in the wrong relationship because I seemed to fall apart more and more than I ever remember doing before. I felt horrible, felt like I was punishing this amazing person who was SO patient with me and SO good to me. I was more vocal about what I liked and didn’t like, I didn’t hold back, I allowed myself to be honest about what I wanted. As guilty as the outbursts made me feel, and as much as I would apologize when I did something I felt was “mean”, I also realized that I have never been happier. My therapist just listened, and when I was done, she just kind of smiled and said “You’re safe.”

Safe.

Something I don’t know if I have ever been in my entire life. I’m safe to be totally 100% irrational sometimes, safe to get angry at something he has done (no one is perfect), safe to sulk, safe to argue, safe to just be myself. The good, the bad, the ugly. Mostly good, but again, no one is perfect.

 

 

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