trigger warning: brief suicide/self-harm mention
I miss the security of my mental instability. I miss my big, beautiful and ugly bipolar self.
Yes, I said it. It’s taboo, it’s terrible, it’s so bad to crave chaos right?
The past couple of months are probably the most stable I’ve been in over five years. I’m at a salaried job in the field I (thought) I wanted to be in, my moods are mostly even with just tiny beast that flare up now and then, my meds are good, my relationship with my family is better.
We’re pretty even now.
However, I don’t think people write or explain about the pitfalls of “recovery.”
What I mean is, what about the cravings?
If you’ve been mentally ill for a long time, you get used to it. It can suck, but you adapt. It’s predictable in the fact that it’s unpredictable. You adjust all of your coping skills and abilities to maintaining yourself and handling the illness. You milk its benefits. You adapt to its faults. But it’s in you. It feels like it’s you at times.
Eventually, you’re fed up. You can’t keep up with it. Maybe you finally take a grip on it. You seek out therapy. Psychiatric drugs. You’re trying reeeeeaaaallly hard and you’re making progress. Or maybe you just snapped and started from the ground up.
Me, I did both. And it was hard. I struggled and cried and have tried almost every stinking brand of antipsychotic, trying to find the correct dose, crawling out of that deep, dark hole I nose-dived into when my mania crashed. We all have our medication frustration, am I right?
Then why in the hell would we WANT to be sick again?
Because it was safe. Because I could predict myself. As a bipolar control freak, I’ve tracked my moods since I was 16, for the last 8 years. When they decided to mega evolve in my early twenties into proper manic-depression, I was even more meticulous about following them. I learned how to act and maintain myself while high, using the energy to complete tasks, channeling my muse to stay up all night creating, having the best sex ever because I was euphoric. When I was low, I learned how to fake it, how to wrap myself in it like a soft numbing blanket when the noise of the world just got too loud, and I became oh so soft. This balancing act left me drained and unable to move forward in life. I worked and lost several jobs because of my alternating highs and lows. I started and fucked up several relationships. I scarred up my pretty little arms. But it was all okay because it was my illness’s fault. My bipolar was why I was a failure, not me. I’ll be so successful once it’s under control.
Except, I’m not.
Mind you, I still have times when I’m “moody.” I’ve had a perpetual anxiety attack for the last week. But it’s no where near the god-like highs and the underworld lows. It’s pretty chill. But I’m still struggling. I feel like I’m terrible at my job, that I’m under qualified, and they made a mistake hiring me. My relationships are still a muddled mess. My finances are awful, and I still live in my father’s spare bedroom.
I can’t blame my bipolar. It’s (mostly) in remission. That’s all on me.
And that suuuuuuuucks. It makes me feel like I’m innately inadequate, that I’ll never be a “good thing.” That I am completely awful and just a wrong creature. But the madness, that’s my security blanket. I know how it functions. This big new world is confusing, and I’ve never learned how to handle it or completely forgotten how.
I think, in the late teens-early twenties when people develop the skills to handle adult life, I was too focused on handling my budding illness. So I guess I missed the class in “proper adulting 101.” I can’t manage this world. I never learned how. I’ve only been in it for about two months compared to the six-ish years of the illness. But still.
It’s like when abuse survivors want to go back to their abusers. That seems crazy. But it’s what you know. It’s how you’ve adapted. It’s what you’ve been trained to think you deserved. It’s what I learned.
So here’s the recovery so far:
I tried to kill myself last May. I felt like I failed in that endeavor. Sometimes I still do. I can’t figure out where I’m going or why I’m here.
My meds are much more stable than the chaos they were before, during, and after my hospital-inducing mixed episode.
I’ve got a real adult job. I feel like I’ve made a mistake and chosen the wrong career
I can’t remember the last time I cut myself. I wonder why I don’t crave it when I’m stressed anymore. I don’t know what to replace that feeling with.
I’m better at verbalizing my feelings and stating when I’ve been mistreated. I still wonder why I think I deserve that much dignity but I still keep defending myself.
I see so much growth in myself and I’m so raw and green and clean.
But I miss my madness. I really do.