After the Dust has Settled

It's been a while since I've shared a journal-like post on here. Honestly, last time I spilled my heart out, I got a lot of negativity back so it kind of frightened me away from being open and honest for a bit.

In the beginning of 2016, I set a list of goals for myself. I achieved some of them but lost myself in the process. That year started strong. I had just gotten married, I had just gotten a fantastic promotion at work, and I was generally content. Then, somewhere in the middle of January, something happened that threw everything into flux. I quit my job, I lost my mind, and I almost drank myself to death. Funny how one seemingly insignificant moment can change the trajectory of your entire life, sort of undoing everything you'd worked hard for. Before last January, my mood disorder had been palpable but the shifting between depression, slight discontent, slight content, and euphoria only felt like minor tremors. Enough to throw me off but not enough to shake me. I'd liken January's event to more of a quake-- or whatever is bigger than that. It rattled me to the core and the aftershocks are still being felt over a year later. 

I've never really parted on amicable terms. Relationships, friendships, jobs, my education-- it's just something I haven't been able to do well. In a sense, burning bridges have lit my way. That sentiment makes for some great lyrics but it's no way to live.

Bipolar is not fun to live with but the worst part about it it, by far, the shame felt when coming out of an episode. For those of you who do not have bipolar, think of that heart-racing, short-breathing, sense-of-impending-doom feeling that happens if you narrowly escape a car accident or see a cop in your rear-view mirror after speeding by the police cruiser without realizing. Try to imagine a time when your sense of survival kicked in and staying alive was the only thing that mattered-- if only for a second. Now think of feeling that way nonstop for a week or more at a time. Mania isn't always this blissful unawareness that leads to irresponsible decisions like impulse tattoos and unfathomable credit card debt. (Though it can, and it has for me in the past.) It's exhausting. It's easily to become irritable and even delusional. Every motion you make is an effort in self-preservation. Words from others are infinitely magnified. Their actions are misconstrued, regardless of the intent. At my best, I alienate myself and at my worst, can be hostile. I know it sounds irrational, like, "if you don't want to be that way, just stop acting like that." But that's the thing. In the moment, it not only makes sense, but seems like the only way to protect yourself. Now, think of how you felt after a night of heavy drinking: that sudden sober clarity leaves you feeling embarrassed, stressed out. You're reeling, attempting to make sense of up from down while trying to blink the unshakable sleepiness from your eyes. Once I snap out of the episode and start to stabilize again, I get what I call the "apology panic." I have to back track and figure out who I've gone and hurt or pissed off then sheepishly apologize. It's rarely well-received and has often been met with responses such as, "yeah your illness shouldn't be an excuse." That, of course, drives me right back into the arms of depression and the cycle repeats itself again. 

It's no way to live but these are the cards I've been dealt. Millions of other people manage to make it work out so I don't see why I can't. 

Once I finally started to get help, it was a long process to get to the stability that I have right now. Trying to find meds that worked took months and made my illness worse at times. Living in such close proximity to somebody who may or may not have understood what the illness felt like was really difficult and didn't help the situation at all. Finally, nine months after this whole ordeal began and I realized how much I needed professional help, I found the meds and the dosage to help me, got myself on a daily schedule to journal and reflect, and, most radically, got myself out of that questionable environment. Now that I'm in a much better place than I've been in years, (and yes, I can actually say that) I've feeling some large-scale "apology panics." 

Since I tend to not be the best at forgiving, I tend to be pretty horrible at apologies. (That makes sense, right?) I guess that's why I find saying "goodbye" easier than saying "sorry." What I've learned in my relatively short time as an adult is that most reasons for apologizing come from that self-preservation. It's just a reaction. A defense. We just let them keep piling on until the stack gets too big. We can either knock it over or pick them apart, one piece at a time, and reconcile. I want to become proficient in that second situation. 

For now, I'll keep my head up and draft apologies on every torn piece of paper I can collect, scraping the letters onto the surface until I know them by heart. I'm not ready to toss them out into the world just yet but I'm working incredibly hard to get over those pointless grudges on my side. It helps to often remind myself of who I am at my best. I'm still trying to get there and this is definitely a step in the right direction. Thanks for listening.

xo, e.m.

P.S. I've been sober for over a year now! It feels great. I feel great. Highly recommend it.

10 comments

  1. thanks so much for putting yourself out there and sharing this. i cam sympathize with you and this was very encouraging. lots of love. <3

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    1. Thank you so much! <3 <3 <3 lots and lots of love.

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  2. ❤️ I appreciate your openness, Erika. I'm so glad you're in a healthier place. And I will always be rooting for you and praying for you as you navigate through your illness. I'm looking forward to getting together with you soon! Much love ❤️ !

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    1. So excited that you're coming back to the easy coast! Thank you so much 😊

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  4. I'm so glad you shared this. It's great insight to people suffering from bipolar and those of us in close proximity to people who are. Thank you for articulating it so well.
    I'm glad you're feeling better about things and taking positive steps. Keep it up.

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    1. Thank you so, so, so much. It seriously means the world.

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