I told Dawn when she asked me to write this, that I would have it to her in two weeks. That was in May. It is now July and I’m just now starting what I hope is my last draft of this.
There is entirely too much to say about my mental health. If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you’ve witnessed my manic and depressive phases live and in action. I joke about it a lot. I give advice about it a lot. I’m pretty transparent about my mental health struggles in general, but there is actually a lot of shit I don’t talk about. That’s mainly because I don’t have all the words to explain it in a way that doesn’t immediately make people want to ship me off to Lakeside. Another reason is that I’m usually high functioning, and in moments that I’m not, it feels like an inconvenience to everyone around me to ask for additional help.
When writing this I didn’t know if I should be writing a timeline of my life, recommendations for coping skills, or motivational words for anyone for shares my struggles. Which ailment should I go in-depth about? The bipolar disorder? The dissociation? Or maybe how external factors like racism and capitalism make those “chemical imbalances” ten times worse. Like I said, there is entirely too much to say. But I’m going to talk about needs right now, and how I’m coming to terms with the fact that I just need different things than other people.
I’m an emotional person to my core. I’ve always been sensitive to my needs and the needs of people around me. I am the biggest crybaby I know. I’m very passionate about a wide amount of things, and that also means I can get very angry about a wide amount of things.
So you have this child who is naturally very emotional, is destined to have a couple of gnarly mental illnesses, and is the middle child of three girls by some pretty young parents who are dealing with their own trauma and stressors. What do you get?
Very little emotional support.
It is what it is. My parents know where they messed up and now that I’m grown, I know that they can’t do anything to “fix” me. That’s my responsibility. But as a kid, I became very emotionally repressed. I became very angry, but it was a quiet rage that hurt me more than anybody I was supposedly mad at. Then the bipolar disorder started showing up by the time I was 14. I began self-harming in multiple ways and I attempted suicide twice.
When people see how I present myself now, they don’t believe that I’ve experienced these things and more. I get it. I wish I could remember my exact roadmap from wanting to die to buying crystals and examining my feelings and all of that wellness shit I be talking. People have openly admired and abhorred my self-assurance. I’ve been called arrogant and cocky, but also unreal and a goddess. Y’all might need to compare notes. Somewhere both parties took a very wrong turn in terms of understanding me. I get it. I don’t talk about a lot of shit. So because this year has been very tough emotionally, I’m going to be very transparent about an aspect of my mental health in hopes that it will help somebody else know that they’re not crazy or tripping.
The truth is, while I have a lot more tools to cope now, I’m not cured. At all. I will have to deal with mental illness for the rest of my life. I love myself the most. I believe in myself 1000%. I know I deserve and am capable of getting everything I want. At the same time…
I still think about dying every single day. I’m slightly disappointed when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes when I’m on the way to work I think about getting into a car accident. If a meteorite crashed into my house as I was typing this, I would ask “what took so long?”
This isn’t normal. I’m not proud of this. But it is what it is until it’s not. I found out earlier this year that this is called passive suicidal ideation and there’s technically not a cure. In all honesty that scares me. I can do the things, I can take the meds, but sometimes I’m scared that I’ll have a really bad episode and I won’t be able to stop myself.
Sometimes we think adopting a more positive mindset will fix all of our problems. The self-care I practice is not a treatment for my mental issues but it does help eliminate a lot of the negative noise in my head. It’s bad enough that natural selection set me up for the kill, I don’t need any additional negativity affecting my thought process. There are relapses. There are bad days. When the bad days are significantly bad, I feel like I’m at risk of damaging very meaningful relationships. I shut down. I shut people out. I become detached. Sometimes I overcompensate so no one will notice that I’m not completely there. There are expiration dates for some coping mechanisms just like there are for actual medications. I’m learning that now.
Therefore I am relearning how to ask for my needs to be met. I am relearning how to be transparent with my feelings in a way I haven’t been. Being able to rely on myself is a skill I don’t take for granted at all. It’s kept me safe. It’s kept me out of dangerous relationships and situations. It’s my last line of defense. But it’s very hard to admit that I’m tired and I need relationships that fuel me and hold me accountable. I grew up thinking that I was overly sensitive and that my emotional distress was an inconvenience.
It doesn’t feel fair. It feels selfish. However, I owe it to myself.