Riding Shotgun in My Own Body

riding.jpgOkay, so I guess technically my mind is a part of my body, and I am completely composed by my mind. But also, not really. My mind is basically a really bad driver – swerving, texting, dancing to really loud music, road raging, getting lost even with a GPS, and constantly looking over at me like, “sorry for making you feel like you were about to die just then, but at least you didn’t.”

And my medication, two counselors, psychiatrist, bipolar support group, and mindfulness group basically just strap me into the passenger seat like a really tight seatbelt. I still have to endure the unpredictability of the ride, and I’m only guaranteed that if I ever try to eject tf out of it, I will just end up in the psych ward.

Dissociative compulsion is a real thing that happens. Being a passenger in my own body is simultaneously scary and easy. But reading about symptoms and experiencing them are two totally different things, and this definitely contributes to my feeling of being misunderstood and being seen as crazier than I feel even by the people who understand mental illnesses in clinical terms the most.

These compulsions go beyond OCD. They’re also bipolar impulses and the product of simply going through the motions. Per my last post, I think part of the reason I’m such a slave to my routine is because I am on autopilot/cruise control/whatever about 99.9% of the time. This works for nonthreatening situations, but when I’m suddenly drinking against my will, texting or visiting people I shouldn’t, having the urge to run my car off the road, leaving the house like some sort of zombie when I’d rather sleep, staring at a wall while my mind projects my elaborate but completely fake world onto it, or whatever else, it can be scary to feel that out of control.

And I guess that’s the theme of mental illness: being out of control. My entire life is comprised of variations on that theme, but no one really understands unless he or she has experienced it. Coddling the whims of my mentally ill mind isn’t something I choose to do, which is supposedly what my mindfulness group helps with: awareness of my actions. But being mindful of my toxic mind is the fucking worst. It’s like meditating on this foreign voice telling me how terrible I am. I’d much rather dissociate from that.

It’s not like the goal of mindfulness is to love myself though. It’s more like being present with my thoughts and feelings no matter how detrimental they feel. Apparently, existing in them instead of dissociating from them will make them go away faster, but in my experience, it just makes room for more. Kind of like how therapy for one mental illness makes room for me to nurture another one.

Mindfulness is one of those loaded words that’s been coopted by advertisements and self-help aficionados to exploit people’s desperation for a profit. Also, it makes it really easy to blame mentally ill people for their continuous struggle if mindfulness is seen as a cure-all. Uh, no thank you. I can’t, in good faith, buy into that without skepticism. Sure, meditation probably works for some people, but for me, it’s like time to throw all these repressed emotions and thoughts at you at once lol.

Trust me. I’d give anything to just focus on my breath for a few minutes every day, but I usually just end up maladaptive daydreaming instead. That’s where dissociative compulsion gets a foothold. When I’m not present, my mind can act on the all the fake scenarios it has created. I don’t know if these scenarios represent my subconscious desires or if they’re really just a product of my mental illnesses, but either way, the line can get really blurry between reality and not when I dissociate.

I’m sure that sounds legit crazy to people with minds that aren’t constantly trying to inhabit an unreal world. But if I spend two hours having a fake conversation in my head with someone who isn’t really in the room with me, I can start to forget that the conversation didn’t actually happen. It’s like waking up from a dream and momentarily not knowing if it was real or not. This isn’t to say I don’t actually know what’s real and what’s not. I’m just constantly in and out of my dream world and my actual world. It isn’t psychosis. It’s more like sleep walking through real life more than anything else. It’s, well, textbook dissociation.

But therein lies the problem: textbook. The word implies a uniform experience in regards to the symptoms of mental illness, but if mentally ill people are passengers in their own bodies, then obviously, each body and mind make up a different vehicle.

That’s not to say I’m not responsible for my actions. Mental illness is more a reason than an excuse. But when life is one giant dreamscape, it can be difficult to convince myself I need to participate in the real world, which hinders my ability to function in it. And yeah, it sounds crazy, but it’s all part of the dissociation game. It’s time to stop ignoring the alien aspects of mental illnesses despite the risk of being viewed as psycho even if I’m not.

So, like, if I momentarily think I’m famous, just let me have it.

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