Definition of a mixed episode: having a panic attack after thinking about nothingness/how no one really thinks you’re sick/how you’ll be stuck like this forever and immediately taking a bunch of tumblr-sad-girl selfies when it’s over. Like oh my god I’m so dramatic and histrionic and my mascara is perfectly running down my cheeks rn. How’s that for an attempt to regain control over your own mind?
Well, if rolling around on the floor struggling to breathe and tearing at your scalp saying, “get out of my head,” doesn’t make you feel utterly out of control and crazy, maybe nothing ever will.
So why go into the dirty details of my panic attacks if it’s only going to make people think I’m really crazy? Well, two reasons: 1) panic attacks go just as fast as they arrive, so even though I’m exhausted when they’re over, I go from 0 to 100 and back to 0 in a 20 minute period and 2) I’m getting really tired of myself italicizing the adverb “really” when it modifies crazy in lieu of what I actually mean, which is “psychotic.”
There’s definitely a side of mental illness that I believe most of us are pretty good at hiding unless we do cross that bridge into actually losing touch with reality, and for me, all the things I hide are the things that would make people stop and go, “wow, something probably is wrong with her.”
So what am I talking about specifically here? Well, maladaptive daydreaming to the point of having an extended two-way conversation with myself, throwing stuff around my room (which probably isn’t that weird but whatever), almost completely motionless states of obsession about the same person or anxiety for hours on end, experiencing happiness as a feeling of being ready to die, pacing, the snot and tears and feelings of being taken over during a panic attack, the double-takes every time I see a shadow that wasn’t there (the other day, I saw a figure sitting in a chair and I blinked and he was gone. So.), the good ol’ state of hysterically laughing and crying simultaneously, the wanting-to-make-myself-bleed-for-any-number-of-reasons thing, and literally any manifestation of an actual emotion.
All that and I still find myself questioning whether there’s actually something wrong with me, so I can’t exactly fault other people for doubting my reality. But I am so caught between the desire to be viewed as actually sick so people will not view me as my mental illness and the fear of being seen as, well, crazy.
Let’s be honest here, I was the same before and after anyone knew I was mentally ill. I still have my entirely complex, human qualities or whatever. I’m just dealing with my own ailment like everyone else is in some capacity. Mine just happens to be really deadly, and sometimes, it makes me see and do weird shit. That doesn’t mean I stop being myself. But I have to say that I’m incredibly mortified by the thought of being perceived as that crazy girl just because I’m open about my problems. It leads me to one of two trains of thought. Either people pity me or people are scared of me. Neither of those is fun to ride.
Honestly, even typing the words “really deadly” or “mentally ill” feels like I’m being melodramatic, but one quick Google search says otherwise. So why do we know mental illness is real in theory but deny it when it manifests? I don’t know. I don’t really fucking care what the reason is. All I have to say is JUST STOP.
Seriously, it makes me angry that some of mentally ill people’s most pressing struggles deal with their usually founded fear that they aren’t believed. Do you have to buy into their irrational obsessions and anxieties? No. Do you have to buy into psychotic people’s hallucinations and delusions? No. Do you have to enable us? Definitely not. But please accept that it’s part of an illness that is out of our control and feels very real because for us, it is. I’m preaching to myself here too since I’m incredibly good at invalidating myself to the point of not seeking the treatment I need.
You don’t have to witness someone’s hysterical breakdown to accept that they’re ill. I repeat. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WITNESS SOMEONE’S HYSTERICAL BREAKDOWN TO ACCEPT THAT THEY’RE ILL. I doubt people with chronic, physical illnesses want to be seen at their lowest moments. The same goes for those of us with sick minds because let’s not forget that the mind is part of the body. The mind literally enlivens the body. Don’t think what we’re dealing with isn’t largely physical.
I’m not creating problems for myself. I’m not trying to spice things up. I’m not selfish and looking for attention. Don’t you think I’d pick a more fun way to do any of those things? I have what I have, and I cope the best I can so I don’t become another fucking statistic.
Sometimes, that means I need to take a selfie after a panic attack to feel like I have some semblance of control over what could very well – and terrifyingly – be a lifelong struggle. It’s a much healthier coping mechanism than some of the ones I’ve chosen in the past.
I don’t need you to fix me or offer halfhearted condolences for my “condition.” I don’t want pity and I don’t want concern, but sometimes, I tend to solicit those things as some sort of ass backwards way of getting heard. You don’t need to see me at my lowest (or highest. Lol @ mixed episodes & hypomania). You wouldn’t want to. I don’t want you to. I don’t need constant attention and validation, but my illness makes me think I do. Not everything I do and say comes from me. Sometimes, I’m merely a vessel for OCD and bipolar disorder to have their say in the world. But sick or not, I’m usually just me in all my sarcastic, moderately fun-loving, quirky glory. That doesn’t mean I magically got better though.
Again, don’t deny me my “sick card.” I don’t feel like any of us should even have to pull one, but not letting us only makes us feel alone and rejected. Never make mentally ill people believe their illness is “them.” If you want us to get back to our “old selves,” you have to acknowledge the ailment that has taken our “old selves” away from us. Chances are good that we want our “old selves” back too. So let us keep hope alive that we can be cured or at least enter into remission or even just stability. Yes, stability would be really nice.