Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Very Personal Post

Basically, in the above video, a very brave man who probably deserves a dozen medals talks about his experiences with mental illness, and has asked that anyone with a blog to write about it. So, about my experiences: I am slightly autistic (Asberger's Syndrome) and am mildly bipolar.

If you know me, you probably wouldn't have any clue that I was autistic. To be completely honest, I had no idea either, until my cousin told me when I was 11 that I had been diagnosed with it when I was young. When I got home and confronted my parents, they said "Well, you didn't need to know". because they had successfully trained the symptoms away (well, them, doctors, and a specialized school). What impact this had on me: I didn't learn to talk until I was 4. When I drew, I couldn't press a pencil to the paper hard enough to make a mark, so my parents had to buy me markers, and whenever they complimented anything I did, I would wad up the paper, throw it away, and not draw anything else for the rest of the day. I also loved just picking up handfuls of sand or rice (uncooked, of course, but I would never use the same bowl of rice twice. It always had to be fresh rice) and pouring grains from my hands. I also needed to have an exact same daily pattern, or I'd get bent all out of shape.

Mind you, this was all told to me by my parents. I don't actually remember anything from my childhood until I'm around 6 years old. And I'm sure there's things they've left out (or forgotten, or just haven't been asked about, since I hate talking to my parents). I'm not actually sure how much effect my autism has on me now. I do know that if I'm in a room where there are several conversations going on at once, I find it hard to filter out the background noise and concentrate on what's being said to me. I still have tiny, light handwriting, and I still hate letting anyone see anything that I've created that's important to me. Other than that... I really don't know how much of my behavior is "me" and how much is "autism". I don't think I much care, either- I can function well enough and that's what matters, right? And that's not even getting into the question of "is autism part of who I am or is it something separate that should be gotten rid of?" or similar musings.

Although I didn't recognize autism in myself, I certainly recognized being bipolar. Actually, it came as something of a shock to me- people don't actually think about suicide? You mean people manage to forget they're awful, loathesome creatures all the time? Really?

Yes, when I'm in a depressive cycle I spew constant mental abuse at myself; tell myself that I'm horrible, selfish, stupid, doing nothing useful with my time, don't spend enough time doing X or Y or Z or A worthwhile activity, and really I should kill myself now because it's just utterly amazing that anyone puts up with me in the first place, and it's actually because I'm very good at hiding what I'm really like, and of course if I ever let anyone see who I truly am they'd be repulsed, and why not spare them the feeling of betrayal later, just get it over with? Of course, all this mental badgering doesn't mean I actually get any motivation to do X or Y or A, or manage to write a decent goodbye letter, or clean my room so the rents wouldn't have as much to go through and have to get rid of. Honestly, the only reason I'm still alive is because I never had enough privacy within the house to slit my wrists in the bathtub (I never considered cutting myself in my room, mom's told me enough horror stories about how hard blood is to clean off basically anything), there was never anything poisonous that actually worked quickly in the house, and I never found any spots high enough to hang myself from. Heh, when people talk about suicide prevention, I doubt they're really thinking about being too lazy to pull it off XD.

Of course, when I'm in a maniac swing, I don't think of those thoughts. In a maniac swing, I have a ton of energy, and I start doing tons of projects (everything from actually doing homework to painting or writing or cleaning... you get the idea), and I'm all sorts of cheerful (which, looking back, has probably annoyed a ton of people... but I digress). I think of myself as an actual person, with a decent life and a decent body and everything is great! I don't remember how it feels to be depressed- I will intellectually remember that yeah, a month ago I wanted to kill myself because I was a useless waste, but look at me now, I'm useful, productive, cheerful!

I also have a third state of mind; I'm not actually sure if this is another side of my depression, or if this is what people call "normal". But in this state of mind, I'm... hollow. Things that should have me rolling on the floor with laughter leave me with a weak smile, things that should have me bawling my eyes out leave me with a tinge of sadness, things that should get me furious just get me mildly annoyed. If I'm around other people, I can laugh and smile and joke and fake my way through interactions, but it is calculated, and if I don't remind myself to be cheerful I end up just staring into space, not paying attention or doing anything. I'm not actually sure if I'm good at faking this social interaction, or if people are too preoccupied with their own lives to notice, or if they do notice but decide to let me pretend that I'm fooling everyone. When I'm alone, I spend all my time in the Internet, reading about various things, occasionally raiding the house for junk food, so I have something to relieve the monotonous boredom. I know I should do things, but I just don't have the motivation to actually do anything. I don't shower unless I'm going to be appearing in public, I don't exercise unless the rents badger me into it, I don't clean, I just... don't.

Can you tell, from the excessively long paragraph, that right now I'm in the numb phase? Yeah... Actually, these moods work in cycles; for a couple of weeks, I'll be maniac, and then for another 3 weeks or so I'll be numb, slide into true depression for a week, then end up completely numb again for a couple weeks, then I'll be maniac for a week. And to further complicate things, when I'm maniac there'll be one or two days that I'm really maniac, and for the rest of them I'll just be sort of maniac. The same goes for the depressive sprees and the hollow days. These cycles aren't regular at all, they just happen pretty randomly. Or at least that's my perception. I haven't actually had the thought to record my mood regularly before, so for all I know these cycles are regular, and I just have a bloody weird sense of time. Well, I already know I have a bloody weird sense of time, but moving on...

You know the saying "knowing is half the battle"? Well, see, there's the other half of the battle, known as "actually fighting". JT talked alot about getting help from people, and about people needing help with mental illnesses in general, but you know what? I have already had help with my autism, and obviously had vast improvements, so there's that, but I don't even consider getting help for the bipolar. He talks about how people with mental illnesses get attached to their conditions, and I think he's right. I honestly believe, from the bottom of my heart (on the days I have a heart) that people, if they have a need or even a wish to go through therapy (or go on drugs, or do anything else they think might help), they should. Yet I never consider the option for myself. I can know intellectually that I probably need it, but... I just don't want to.

 I really don't know what a therapist could do for me, since I'm apparently so good at hiding my awfulness even my closest friends don't see it, so how would I expose the dark, rotten core of my heart to a random stranger? That random stranger deals with crazy people all day, zie* doesn't need me to add to her workload. And even if I did end up showing zir everything, what could zie do about it? Tell me that I'm a decent person after all, even though I've been hearing that all of my life from people I trust and the message still hasn't sunken in? I know that, by any objective standard, I am not a bad person- I don't steal, I don't intentionally hurt people, etc. etc. I just don't do enough good things to earn the label of a Decent Human Being (despite helping my friends out through all their issues, providing entertainment to acquaintances, etc). And I am terrified to go on meds, because I had a hard enough time dealing with the shit side effects birth control gave me. Plus, I'm entering the military, so there's no way I want to expose all this and deal with getting kicked out, when it isn't even that big a deal anyways. It certainly doesn't keep me from functioning like normal, which is really all that anyone needs, right? Besides, it's not like I'm dead yet...

Um... I am seriously unsure how to finish up this post. I'm not even that sure I have a point with all of this. I don't see any ribbons to wrap into a fancy bow (even if I knew how to make fancy bows, which I don't). Hah, when I first started this post I was thinking "uh, how long can I stretch this out...." But this thing is a freaking monster! So here, JT, have another post detailing the thoughts of a mentally ill person who doesn't actually consider herself mentally ill, hope you and other people find it useful ^.^

*zie, zir, etc. are gender-neutral pronouns one can use for a single person (without throwing the confusion of a singular "they" into the works) that don't seem so hack-ish as a she/he combination. They're worthwhile to use, because really, unless you are referencing bodies specifically (like, talking about medical issues or sexual issues), the gender of a person doesn't matter that bloody much! But that's probably another post.

So, I write out this huge post I think a couple months before shipping to Basic, then promptly get cold feet and hide this within the drafts folder. And then I come back from Basic, take a look, and think "why the hell was I such a pussy? This is probably a decent post, there's probably people that'd want to read this", and figured it should probably get posted. Well, it would look kinda weird being posted in April 2012 when it was written in November 2011 , so I'm hijacking a nothing post within that timeframe and switching it out with this instead! Hah, and this way the two people who actually read this blog probably won't see this post and I get to dodge the bullet on that one, so yay ^.^

1 comment:

  1. Hidden post eh? Clearly didn't count on me searching for a website you mentioned ages ago. Annoyingly it was the post I was looking for you overwrote. Sigh...


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