Disclaimer: If you don't like what I'm saying or you feel the need to say hurtful things, go do some gardening or something else productive. You don't have to read what I write. Oh, and I'm a scientist, not an English major. My spelling and grammar aren't always perfect - don't bother correcting me !
Mental illness is like many things in life; it doesn't matter how many times, or in how many different ways you try and describe it, you can never truly understand it until you've experienced it. To be fair, I really hope none of you do, but I know so many people out there are struggling and really have no where to turn. I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but due to the mental health system in Australia I'm still waiting for an appointment with a psychiatrist to get a confirmed diagnosis.
All the trouble started when I was about 14. Cute little B. officially left and was replaced with some kind of short tempered, moody swamp monster. I thought I'd grow out of it, and I think my parents prayed I would, but I never really did. There's so many different dimensions to who I am and how I feel, it'd be impossible to fit it all into one reasonably sized blog. To summarise..
The downs; Feeling stupid, ugly, like no one would ever love me, worthless, I didn't even feel human. I feel like I've been wasting my time for years and I was running out of it, time I will never get back. Never being able to sleep, but this progressed to being so tired I can never stay awake. Sometimes I cry, with the same pain and intensity as grief. . My chest feels tight and heavy, like something or someone precious to me is gone and I can never get them back. It's a feeling of total loss of control and every single sob consumes your body. The pain in your head becomes real physical pain. It feels like you don't exist outside this moment and you'll never feel good again. Sometimes it's not so tragic, sometimes I just wake up and don't feel anything, I feel totally empty. Everything feels pointless and strange, like I'm awake but stuck in my dreams. I just watch the world go by like I'm not really a part of it. There's also the pain that goes with depression - chronic aching and tingling in my bones, concentrated in my joints, headaches, stomach aches from the anxiety (worrying about everything that has happened, is happening and will ever happen). The main way I describe it, and this is just my own personal silly way, is that my soul is hurting. . The essence of who I am, in every single cell of my body, is aching.
Then there's the ups; there's so much energy stuck in my bones, my muscles feel like they're full of electricity, I could run a marathon and I feel like I'll explode if I don't move around. It feels like the universe loves me, everything is going my way, I feel a part of the world and no one can stop me. It feels like someone turned the volume up in life - sounds are so loud, it can be scary - like the world is screaming at me. Colours are much brighter, it can be almost overwhelming. Everything is so much more funny and pretty. I think, 'god damn, life's going to be different from now on'. But it always goes back to how it was.
There's also the neutral aspects, not really ups or downs, just strange things I feel no matter what my mood. I constantly feel alien - like I wasn't meant for this earth and one day some space craft is going to land in little old Adelaide and take me home. I look in the mirror and it shocks me, every single time. The first thing I always think is 'wow, have I really been walking around all day looking like that?' It's not negative, it's just I don't feel like I look like this. . two eyes, a nose, a mouth, the right amount of limbs, etc. Customisations aside, I'm essentially the same as everyone else ! It's so strange to me. This is where all the piercings and tattoos come in - I could spent years visiting psychiatrists to try and learn to accept I'm a person like everyone else. Or I can get piercings and tattoos, colour my hair + wear funny clothes to take control over my appearance and feel a little bit more at home inside this shell. In addition, I also always feel like my skin is always so tight around my insides (think alien who stole the farmers skin in men in black ! ) and it feels so uncomfortable. This is amplified during the 'ups' and I feel like I'm claustrophobic inside my own skin.
Imagine going from months of 'downs' to an 'up' fortnight or so, then back to feeling 'down' and never ever feeling like you're in the right place, or even in the right body. It's tiring and confusing, and I'll probably never get used to it. Constantly feeling out of control is frightening, not just for me, but for the people around me... The poor souls who put up with me (my parents, my siblings, my partner, my friends) and I'll love them eternally for it. I would certainly describe mental illness as a battle, and so far, what I've shared hasn't even began to scratch the surface. It's so difficult to put into words, but I've really tried, and hopefully I've provided a bit of a picture of how it can feel.
I'll be looking to cover more specific things in blogs, such as: medication + mental illness, studying + mental illness, working + mental illness, friendships + mental illness, relationships + mental illness, family + mental illness, with the additional rambling blogs with details of my day to day life. If anyone has any topics they want covered, feel free to contact me on facebook or anonymously through formspring ! I'll post the links below. Thanks for reading - and I hope to find you back here soon !