what a wonderfully crippling world.

And ya’ll actually thought I had given up on writing. It was pretty believable for a while there. My facebook page is gone, and I haven’t posted a single thing since July 3rd. But here I am, here to tell you the things in my life that I don’t always know if people will care about, but are still relevant to the mental health community.

So the move happened, and I’m finally settling back into this life of living at home and regrounding myself. The beginning was rough. As soon as I got off that airplane, and walked out into the 95% humidity, I immediately started crying and regretting the decision I made to leave Colorado. And for about 2 to 3 weeks following coming home, I was pretty depressed while still trying to figure out what I was really doing here.

Familiarity is always good. Feeling the warm hugs of people who genuinely love you make you remember that life isn’t always so lonely. Sitting down in front of the easel you abandoned so long ago and just painting every color that you feel in your blood and soul is an instant release of everything that feels bad. Seeing my old therapist in person was weird, but ultimately relieving. Even when you go back to the gym you used to go to and see the same people doing the same things feels both homey, yet slightly sad, but I mostly find it hilarious. Finally, after one good night, it’s like something in me finally opened up, and I finally felt like I could dig myself out of my depression once again.

One night towards the end of July, I peeled myself out of bed on a particularly dreary rainy night to go see Andrew McMahon in Baltimore (if you don’t know him, please do your mental health and your soul a favor and look him up). Standing in the crowd of all types of people I would normally hate, there was this weird community where we all felt that Andrew had changed our lives in some way, and was still continuing to do so as he sang his little heart out on the stage of Ram’s Head. After the show, it was pouring down rain. I mean POURING. I got a flash flood warning on my phone. But regardless, I had gotten this far, and I decided to be an idiot and stand out in the pouring rain for an hour because I was that determined to meet Andrew for some weird life-fulfilling reason.

After waiting in the rain for an hour, or so it felt, Andrew finally steps out of the venue with no shoes on, and a giant plastic cup filled with wine, looks at us all standing in the rain waiting for him, and with a huge smile on his face, says “What’s up, everybody?” He made his way down the line of people and when he finally got to me, I gave him a hug and started crying while I told him how his music saved me when I was the most alone I had ever been while in Colorado. I’ve never felt like anyone has actually listened and understood how I felt in that moment until then when he looked me directly in the eye, and gave me another hug like there was nothing more that needed to be said, and I could move on now.

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sometimes people make you feel the impossible

After that night, I started using my synesthesia for painting. I stopped caring about making my painting good, and making them look how I felt emotionally and physically. Synesthesia presents itself in different ways, so for me, I perceive emotional and physical sensations as colors. Instead of feeling the warm fur of my cat, I sense a warm campfire orange. If that makes sense. Feel free to ask me more.

I was painting everyday. I was painting so much that I was stepping over the paintings in my room to get almost anywhere. And it felt so good. I looked forward to just sitting down with a bottle of wine and my paintbrush and watching the colors form across the canvas. And as I kept doing this, I kept feeling more and more at home, and happier in some way, which is a weird thing I’ve never felt.

A couple more weeks passed and I had never felt so great. I was beginning to feel at home with my new job, some new friends and old friends I had reconnected with. I could socialize comfortably for the first time in years. I started doing great workouts at the gym and was starting to feel comfortable in my own skin after months of hating my body. I felt great, I looked great, and I knew it. Each day was better than the next. I would try new things, and do things I wouldn’t normally do, and that was totally ok because I was finally stepping out of my comfort zone and into this new, confident, happier me.

But finally it hit me. This “new” me, wasn’t me. This was hypomanic me. This was the uninhibited, no impulse control with nothing in my brain to tell me to “stop” me. I wasn’t sleeping much, would eat a lot or nothing at all, and got annoyed when people would try to stop me. I felt invincible. I was a goddess and nothing could bring me down.

And it’s amazing what small things will bring a person down from that kind of high. This post is brought to you by my post mania depression that resulted from a bad night of drinking, yelling at people in the street, and spraining my ankle, my wrist, banging up my knee and elbow and ultimately, an extremely bruised ego. I can’t walk, can’t exercise, can’t paint. I went to my first ceramics class of the semester yesterday and walked out feeling completely defeated because my ankle hurt too much to use the wheel and everyone was making beautiful pieces while mine kept falling apart.

I guess the lesson in all this is that it’s not a bad thing to have unmedicated bipolar disorder. I wouldn’t trade my hypomania for anything because it’s the best thing I could possibly feel and it feels like a gift to feel so alive, and to feel something that no one else can. Sometimes it’s even worth the horrible, crippling depression that follows and the stupid mistakes you made (like wearing heels while drinking and dancing). But there’s a difference between managing your mental illness, and living with it. And obviously, I can’t just live with it and expect to be okay. It’s not okay to start acting psychotic and screaming at people in the street because voices are screaming in your head. It’s not okay to become a total klepto during a hypomanic episode. It’s not okay to let depression make  you sleep for 3 days straight despite having an ankle injury and avoid contact with everyone.

But I will be okay. I always am. And at least this time, I’m not alone because I’m finally home.

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A letter to my friends who think I’m a huge flake but I’m actually just a social flaky croissant shaped trainwreck

I guess that title said it all. I am the flakiest friend that if I was a pie, I would literally just crumble into a pile of dust. Pie dust. I guess you could sprinkle me on a more stable pie and then it’d be like, some serious pie on pie action. Or any kind of pastry. Except that I hate pastries. So there’s that. Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. I’m the definition of a flake, and I don’t mean to be. I really do love my friends. They’re great people. But I have reached a point in my social anxiety where being around more than 1 person at a time (maybe 2, and that’s pushing it) is basically a nightmare for me. Get some alcohol in me and I’m fine. But otherwise I’m just a gross flaky croissant from Safeway or King Soopers (seriously Safeway, your “croissants” are just a curly lump of buttery, over salted dough with burned flakes that get f**king everywhere).

I’ll stop talking about pastries now. Because they’re gross. Especially eclairs which are basically a phallic cream filled ball of especially disgusting dough. Case in point.

I didn’t really realize how much of a flake I’ve been until D texted me and pointed out that I’ve been bailing on my friends a lot and asked me if I’m okay. Answer? Absolutely not.

It’s not that I don’t want to see my friends, I really do. Since D has been back home in Maryland the past couple weeks, I’ve been really lonely. I told myself that I was gonna use this time that he’s away as an excuse to see my friends, but instead, Netflix and my bed and a bottle of wine have been the only friends I want to see (side story: don’t drink a 1.5 liter bottle of wine in one sitting. Or attempt to. I don’t think I need to expand on that story actually. But please, for your own health and sanity, don’t do it).

I know that I should push myself to get out of the house more and socialize more, but I’m kind of just okay with not being okay right now. Yeah, social withdrawal is one of the biggest signs of depression, but by pushing myself out into the great unknown of socializing, that just makes everything worse. I’ve also reached a point where I’ve bailed on everything I was invited to this week to the point where my friends are threatening to kidnap me. I guess that’s what makes them good friends.

If you know someone with this kind of anxiety, don’t make them socialize if they’re literally hiding in bed crying about it and comparing themselves to flaky pie dough. Text them so they don’t have to talk on the phone. Bring them their favorite food and watch Netflix with them so they don’t have to leave the house. Social anxiety isn’t just being awkward around people. It’s a legitimate fear of engaging in social activities. It’s the fear of not having an escape route for when I need to climb back into my anxiety cave.

So, I’m sorry friends that I’ve bailed on every holiday thing that happened this week. This isn’t a good time for me. I love you all. Come kidnap me if you wish.

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that time I realized I was no longer allowed to be vulnerable

I never realized how much one person can break you so easily. In most relationships throughout my life, I’ve always been the one to end them and as time wore on, I was able to brush it off more easily. Until this one time.

Relationship abuse is a tricky subject because most people don’t even realize they’re being abused. But remember in health class when your jock gym teacher started talking about the difference between emotional and physical abuse and you probably still associated abuse with the physical type? Well, to be honest, the emotional abuse has left me more damaged than the physical abuse because at least I knew it was wrong. I could fight back or know instantly that I needed to leave. I was trapped in a cycle in which I was being pushed to be as vulnerable as I could be and being assured that I could be vulnerable, that they could be trusted. I was caught in a dream world where I was imagining things and putting this person up on a pedestal, thinking that they were someone they weren’t. As time passed, they slowly started pushing me away. They didn’t want to hear about how I was feeling or how my day went when they had pushed me so far to be vulnerable around them. In a way, I was betrayed. Suddenly, I felt like I was being punished for having emotions. They would shut down, they wouldn’t answer my texts or just sit in silence and do nothing while I’d be depressed, crying, and hiding in my bed while in the past they would tell me to let it out and that they would be there to comfort me. And they did for a while until they slowly started withdrawing from me. They didn’t understand or they didn’t care. I still don’t know which.

I should have known they stopped caring. One night, I hit rock bottom while I was with them. I started binge drinking to make myself feel better but it only made it worse. They shut down. In my drunken blur, I took a handful of Xanax. Realizing what I had done, I told them what I did and they did nothing. I remember lying on the couch wondering if I was dying and they sat beside me and said nothing. We sat in silence. It wasn’t until I texted a friend and told him what I had done that an ambulance was sent for me and I was hospitalized for 3 days because my blood pressure had dropped low enough that I was at risk of going into a coma. They visited me in the hospital. Brought me food and books and comforted me as I wallowed in my self pity. They played the boyfriend role for those few days. I told them I loved them and I thanked them for being there for me and they told me they loved me too. I later found out they only said that because they thought it was what I needed to hear. In those moments, I thought they actually cared. After I recovered, we went back to our normal routine as if nothing had ever happened.

I was lead to believe so many things that turned out to be untrue. I was more alone with them than being by myself. They said that they still cared, but I couldn’t see any hint of that being true. And when it ended, they denied us ever being a thing despite that we were more than friends for over 7 months.

I’ve suddenly come to realize all the lies I put myself through. I trusted them and let myself be vulnerable only to have that backfire and be punished for being vulnerable in the first place. Is that why I took the pills and landed myself in the hospital? My drunk self must have known something that I didn’t. The truth was right there in front of me and I refused to believe it because I have a bad habit of always trying to find the good in people. But sometimes, you have to realize that there are some truly awful people out there who maybe don’t mean to hurt you, but leave you with scars that won’t fade. You can’t even look them in the eye in passing or be around them without feeling like your throat is going to close up and you spend the rest of your work shift in the back hallway trying to not have a panic attack, pushing away all the PTSD-esque flashbacks and trying to keep yourself busy until you’re allowed to leave. I still have nightmares. I still have trouble being intimate with anyone.

All those times I spent trying to defend them was just a waste of time. I was lying to myself and to everyone else. And the worst part is that I’m more angry with myself than I am with them. Angry that I let myself be so vulnerable. Angry that I trusted them. Angry that I let myself push through it believing it was going to get better and they would come back to their old ways when they sent me surprise flowers and took me to the aquarium.

Because of all of this, I have to force myself to be vulnerable. And even then it still feels fake. I feel fake. After years of me breaking people apart, the universe decided it was my turn to be broken.

that time I fell asleep in a field and made friends with a 15 year old girl

That actually did happen. And at least it was the field of a music festival and I was just listening to whatever was playing. That’s acceptable at a music fest, right? Everyone was placing bets on how many bottles of wine I would go through throughout the 5 day affair and my answer is this: 1 bottle in one night. But only one night. That’s like, a record for me. So go me for kicking alcoholism?

But I haven’t kicked my other problems apparently. Why do we always settle for the people we know are not right for us? Well, I’ll tell you why. Human kind is a desperate species. We are always seeking companionship. If the person comes off as not creepy and for the most part nice, then yeah you only see all the good parts in them… and then the honeymoon phase ends and everything they say and do gets to every nerve ending in your body. The emotions become overwhelming and you try to fix them to be the way you thought they were, but the truth is you can’t change anyone else but yourself.

I guess I could have seen that coming. Here’s my advice: if you are an emotionally unstable person and have a tendency to lash out at the people closest to you, don’t hang out with borderline sociopaths. Granted, I’ve had my fair share of feeling like a sociopath when I was not completely integrated because all of my emotions were stored in other personalities. But now that it’s one big part of personalities integrated in my brain, “emotionally stable” is not in my vocabulary. After going so long without emotions, once they come back, you’re not sure what to do with them. It’s like being thrown a bicycle and being instructed to ride it and you’ve never learned how. I guess that’s what changed: I started having emotions, and having no idea what to do with them, I threw them in the face of someone who’s close to me and is completely not used to it. But the truth is, I’m not completely integrated because Alice keeps running away (hence my lack of mania in the past month, and then transitioning for the first time in a month on the last day of the music festival).

It’s not like I’m not trying. It’s overwhelming and I have no idea where to start sorting through how to feel, embrace, and behave accordingly with the emotions I was once lacking. And with that, I managed to push a lot of people out of my life because they can’t understand it. I’ll take the blame for that one, but I won’t apologize for having this problem. I can apologize for the way I act. I just kept ignoring how I was acting and not addressing what the real problem was. I still don’t know what the problem is. But step 1? Be selfless, be kind, and when someone doesn’t know how to handle me, tell them what I need instead of shutting down.

I want to get better. I want to stop crying everyday for no reason. I want to have the energy to be a better person. I want to believe that I will move past all of this. Moving cross country won’t cure me, and I know that. I want to be able to stop apologizing for what happened last night/yesterday/last week/a few hours ago/a minute ago. And most importantly, I want to stop regretting everything. I can wish I didn’t do a lot of things, but it doesn’t matter now because the only direction to go is forward.

You may call it in this evening
But you’ve only lost the night
Present all your pretty feelings
May they comfort you tonight
And I’m climbing over something
And I’m running through these walls
I don’t even know if I believe
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that time that my mother told me to go to AA

The worst thing about mental illness is that you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late. You see the train coming, but you know that you have the sense to move before it gets too close. But trains travel a lot faster than you think.

So I just spent an hour talking on the phone with my mother. That’s seriously a record considering I only call her when I need something and I usually put the phone down and walk away while she’s talking and she doesn’t notice. 10 minutes is usually my limit. But it’s true: she told me I should go to AA. She does this freaky thing where she can suddenly get me to tell her everything that’s going on in my life from who I’ve hooked up with to how much alcohol I consume on the daily. Things that you usually don’t want to tell your parents. I am way too hungover for this shit. And shaking with anxiety.

I transitioned last night. So that’s a thing. Thank god it didn’t last long but Alice did leave me high and dry with a shattered phone screen. So that’s another thing. Drunk Alice me is apparently extremely unattractive. I asked Blob what he found unattractive about her and I think the word he used was the most accurate description of her: explosive. After angrily telling him to just go home after work instead of coming over, I started driving away and started crying, then called him and begged him to come over. I felt better once we got home and I cracked open my bottle of wine. Alcoholism at its finest. I don’t understand how that man puts up with me on a day to day basis. Or really anyone. But those who do put up with me I guess are the ones who are worth keeping around. And the ones who get up early and make you awesome breakfast after the whole episode are definitely worth keeping around. Don’t let your ego get too high, Blob. You still annoy the fuck out of me. This is just an appreciation paragraph.

Why do I cry so much now after having a total dry spell for a year? I might have to call out of work because I can’t stop crying. I’ve skipped class a few times because I can’t get out of my house without my face being a total wreck. Why do I wear so much makeup? My eyes are always red and puffy to the point that only black eyeshadow can cover up this damage. I am a wreck. You know how on the internet you find those little inspirational quotes that say things like “those who suffer from mental illness are the strongest individuals” and shit like that? Man, I don’t know who came up with that because we are such a train wreck. But I guess those who don’t have any mental illnesses would not be able to deal with the kinds of things I go through on the daily. I guess I gotta give myself some credit here. This is just an appreciation paragraph for myself. Bipolar disorder/DID is a gift and a curse. I can feel things that no one else has the ability to feel, which sounds great sometimes. Mania is awesome, who can argue that? But with mania does come the depression that just drags you down like you’re tied to a 3 ton boulder. Days like this are difficult. I’m trying to find some silver linings.

I really don’t want to go to AA. I’m such a stubborn person. I know I have a problem but I just can’t stand the thought of being Marla Singer in a support group. I am Jack’s wasted life. No thank you. So here I am today sitting at my computer and trying to get the courage to get up and out and hopefully make it through the day without having to end it on a drunk note. My mom told me to try not to drink tonight. I’ll try. I’ll try to color or play with my new hula hoop that’s coming in the mail tonight. I’ll try to not disassociate from myself. I’ll try to not run away from everything.

I’m always running from something.

I just can’t outrun my brain.

that time I realized that I am Jack’s cold sweat

Good days for me are the ones where I accomplish things. And by accomplish things I mean I went to the gym, ate breakfast, showered, and went to work. A really productive day would be that, but I also went to the bank, put gas in my car and even bothered to shave my legs while in the shower. That was today. I am exhausted. If I make time to see someone somewhere in the midst of all that then, damn, that was a really good day. But you know, people like me who have the most crippling social anxiety are just proud of themselves for shaving their legs or making it through the work day while maintaining a good mood.

I’m just going to tell myself that today was really productive because I studied for an exam I have this week, but really, I kind of just glanced over my notes and read them and I’m telling myself that that is better than nothing but knowing that when I get to that test, I am going to have no idea what is what. And then there’s that anxiety of knowing that but being kind of unmotivated while also overanxious about having to study in the first place. See, this is anxiety. Anxieties have anxieties and it’s always a downward spiral. So how do you stop it? Anyone?

In the past, my anxiety could be avoided by me saying goodbye to the world for a few hours while my alternate personalities take on my life for me. Now it’s just me and my brain. My overly emotional, hypersensitive, overly anxious brain. It’s a really dark place in here. Earlier this week I felt great about myself. I knew that yeah, I have a lot of issues, but damn my makeup is on point and I felt alive and free being outside playing with a hula hoop. Now I look at that hula hoop and I feel sad because I’m frustrated about it. I have social events I’m supposed to participate in this week that I’ve had several months notice about but I just can’t bring myself to go.

So I decided that eating a whole box of cookies and writing would be a better option than hooping for a bit, having a glass of wine, listening to good music and then getting some possibly well-deserved sleep. And now I’m having anxiety over the fact that I just ate a whole box of cookies and that’s why I’ve been gaining weight lately. The worst part is that anxiety isn’t even really an emotion. I don’t feel sad or depressed. Anxiety is just this state of being.

And then there’s social anxiety. In the past, I’m normally saved by alcohol. If there’s going to be alcohol involved, then yeah, I got this. Funny, charismatic Emily brought to you by Alcohol. If there’s not alcohol involved? Well.. Maybe I’m just gonna have to either bring a flask or flake at last minute. I am that notorious friend who flakes last minute. I guess that makes me what they call a “flake.” It’s not that I’m a “flake,” I just can’t do social situations that don’t involve alcohol. Clearly, I’m a social drinker.. or maybe I’m just an alcoholic. You decide. We all remember that time in Fell’s Point when I had 10 drinks and.. oh yeah that time at the Phoenix when several beers in.. and that other time when I ran away from my boyfriend at the time.. oh and I guess everyone definitely remembers that time I drank too much tequila and took some Xanax and ended up in the hospital for 3 days.

And now there’s that time when it took drinking a whole bottle of wine just to write a fucking blog post, play with my hula hoop, and say “yeah! I’ll be there tomorrow!”

I am Jack’s wasted life.

 

that time my coworker accidentally broom raped me

Got ya. I totally just wanted to use that as my title because I told him that I would. Shout out to Mik for playing it cool. Mostly. Shout out to me for keeping it togeth-hold up. I don’t think sitting on the floor tearing up from laughing is keeping it together. It’s ok though, guys. Now I know that rape CAN be an accident. And that broom handles and vaginas do not go well together. That’s probably how IUDs get dislodged. Moving on.

24 hours later, I’m finally lucid. I finally have my body back. Most of the time, my dominant alternate personality, Alice, only sticks around for roughly 4 to 5 hours, which is just enough time to do a lot of damage and then fuck off when she doesn’t want to deal with the damage she’s caused and leaves me exhausted and often high and dry. So try 24 hours of that. I checked my phone and it wasn’t pretty. Dammit, Alice, I even password protected my phone because of you! So I guess that doesn’t work on alternate personalities that have your memories? Identity theft taken to another level.

Being the manic and kind of your worst nightmare psycho girlfriend type is exhausting. Transitioning into another person is just weird. For me, it’s more of a depersonalization because I was there the whole time, but it’s like being behind a sound and bulletproof piece of glass and watching your life happen how someone else would play it out. The other weird part is that she is strong enough that she knows my entire life. She even knows how to do my job, which is convenient (because damn, I made out good serving today and I didn’t have to do a thing or somehow get my shift covered), but she is an awful human being. Maybe kind of misunderstood, but awful. Alice didn’t have to keep sneaking really terrible notes to Blob about wanting to take a bunch of xanax and calling him a sociopath repeatedly. He knows he’s a sociopath. And I do not want to end up in the hospital again. But here I am, thankfully with no pills in my system, at home and somehow I think I managed to stay sober the whole time (someone correct me if I’m wrong). I’m sorry Blob.

Alice is like a drug. When I’m Alice, I am unstoppable-

holy mother of jesus fuck.

Excuse my language.

I think I had my first bipolar manic episode. Back to diagnosis square one.