These are starting to feel more and more like confessions. When I open my laptop to begin writing, I am frantic, short of breath. I don’t write because I want to anymore. I do it because I have to. The things inside of me are building pressure, building pressure, building pressure until there is no more room to take up. No more pressure left to build. Until I cannot breathe. Or think. Or function.
I am occupying space in that coffee shop I usually write these things in. It’s busy. There are at least twenty others around me, and for once, I am thankful for the company. I came here so I didn’t have to be alone while my husband is in class. I can’t be alone. I don’t trust myself to be alone.
It isn’t often that I seriously consider driving myself to the emergency room and begging someone check me into the psychiatric ward, but today is one of those days. As was yesterday. As, I suspect, tomorrow will be as well. I can feel the gentle buzz of my meds keeping me calm, keeping me safe. I don’t have to use them too frequently, as they are set aside for panic attacks and nights I cannot sleep. But it’s been four days and the panic hasn’t subsided. Once the meds wear off in the next four hours, it will come back; the paranoia, the overwhelming sense of doom, the helplessness, and, eventually, the emptiness. It’s that numbness that pushes me over the edge. Have you ever experienced it? The inability to feel anything at all? I hope you haven’t.
I’ve been sleeping a lot the past few days, very intentionally. It’s easier to handle feeling empty when you’re unconscious, but even that doesn’t work anymore. I awoke this morning after sleeping nearly 12 hours from dreams of death.
So, here I am, shakily typing out words I know so many of you will not understand whilst surrounded by a bunch of strangers who are unknowingly keeping me safe.
At the beginning of March, my new psychiatrist mentioned the possibility that I may have Bipolar Disorder, Type II. He said, especially at my age, things that were once diagnosed as major depression or severe anxiety often reveal themselves to be symptoms of bipolar disorder. Of course, it takes years to accurately diagnose it, he said. But my behavioral patterns, my depressive episodes, my thoughts are consistent with the illness.
In the weeks following my appointment, I did what any hypochondriac would do and incessantly researched bipolar disorder. I have a friend with an official diagnosis who I’ve been asking way too many questions recently. And I’ve found comfort in the tentative “diagnosis,” as though random puzzle pieces of who I am that haven’t previously fit are suddenly finding a place to rest. I’m finding it easier to understand myself and my behaviors/impulses I’ve always hated so much but never could control. Things that couldn’t be explained by my diagnoses of major depression and severe anxiety have finally been accounted for.
But not even a once-comforting-tentative-diagnosis is enough to keep me from hitting rock bottom.
If you’ve been following along with my life in the past year, you may already know my once-lively association with religion and evangelicalism can now be described as DOA. Things I once used as weapons against someone’s personhood became weapons used against mine. I was accused of being demon-possessed one too many times; accused of having too little faith too often; told my depression wasn’t “honoring to the Lord” more times than a person should ever be told. Maybe someday I’ll address the people responsible for these claims, but for now, I’ll write vague blog posts about trauma and hurt and mental illness stigmas being perpetuated by dangerous theology in the name of “love.”
Here I am.
Hanging out in Rock Bottom, trying to get my thoughts in front of me before they do something I can’t reverse. And if I weren’t being kept under control by my meds, I would probably feel some kind of rage against stigmas and the shitty theology that pushed me away and occasionally fuels my nightmares. I’d probably be afraid to post these words, knowing they’ll likely spur some kind of avalanche of “I’m praying for you’s” and “Jesus wants to heal you’s.”
But I can’t really feel anything right now. I don’t have any hope to offer anyone else. If I did, I’d probably keep it for myself, just to make it to tomorrow, unscathed.