Leaving The House Can Be Terrifying When You Have a Mental Illness

Today, I have plans with family I love who live about an hour away. I’ve been looking forward to seeing them ever since I made the plans.

Now the day is here and I’m dizzy, taking short breaths and I have to keep reminding myself not to grind my teeth.

My brain doesn’t let me access the positive emotions I’ve experienced in the past while visiting this part of my family. That’s a horrible part of my own personal mental illness circus.

Why am I so anxious? Is it the thought of seeing them? Nope. Is it the car trip? Yes, somewhat. Is it the thought of being away from my home, my nest, for hours at a a time? Yes it is.

Leaving the house is one of the hardest things in the world for me. It doesn’t matter how much I know I’ll love time with family or friends, it doesn’t matter that I love my car, it doesn’t matter that my fiancé will be with me the whole time. I am very anxious.

What does it feel like? Imagine standing at the edge of a very high cliff and leaning as far forward as you can until you’re on your toes. Unless you’re a lover of high places, you can imagine this would conjure feelings of sheer panic, terror and a sickness in your stomach.

That’s what it’s like to have a serious mental illness where part of it is social phobia, anxiety and a panic disorder.

I’ll put on make-up, a nice dress, get in my car and we’ll be there in no time. I’ll enjoy catching up with everyone, I’m almost sure. Later, on our way home, I’ll berate my stupid self for being anxious about the visit. I’ll beat up on myself and tell myself that next time I’ll be better. Next time I’ll be fine.

That’s part of the circus, the pretending that it’s all a choice.

Hello Mania! Welcome Euphoria! Where’s my Credit Card?!

Woohoo, everything’s fine. Manic today and ready to change the world, fix everything that’s wrong, start new projects, begin again and all that jazz!

new new

Awake at 4.30am, hardly slept at all, mind tick tick ticking; Sell the house, plant pumpkin seeds, jump on a train and just go wherever it takes me, apply for another credit card, plan a new career, write another book. Mania how I love thee right now.

Euphoria, thou art so much frikkin better than depression.

Come on, decide, choose, know what to do with this energy. Hurry up. Don’t waste precious up-time. Ignore the banal, forget what needs doing and go for what feels good. Shopping! I could go Christmas shopping.

My hubby wants to chat about paying the bills. Pfft. He has no idea how to have fun with money. VISA, electricity, rates, water. Pfft. Maybe we need a festive dinner set for Christmas day? A really pretty one. They have those in Myers!

…The beautiful/horrible thing about knowing you are Bipolar is that you can kill the euphoria with the understanding that this is a temporary up, high, rush, impulsive state. Sometimes that doesn’t occur to you, and you get completely carried away on the wave of the fantasy life where you can do anything your passions want. That’s when very big money gets spent on rediculous things, very big projects get half-done and discarded. Expensive projects, ones you fought for, yelled about, defended to the last breath while manic.

Today I know everything, I am everything. It’s so easy to think that now, in mania, the meds are working perfectly because surely no bad thing could feel this bloody good. Just one thing; please take my credit card off me now! Oh, wait, it’s already maxed out. Pfft.

be you xx Rachel

21.11.12

I’m sitting here at my computer, just after midnight, with cold feet. The only sounds I can hear are the whirring of my laptop, the ticking of my little blue clock and the occasional car driving past my house.

I’m grinding my teeth and my left foot is tucked up behind my right leg, just a little too tightly to feel comfortable. There’s something I want to share with you, but I’m nervous about saying it out loud. It’s one of those things that, once said, can’t be un-said. I can’t just tell you and then change my mind and un-tell you. It might change the way you think about me, the way you feel about me. It might confuse you, or it might even be obvious to you.

While I was preparing to write this post, I did some research online about what it has been like for other people to share similar truths about themselves. The range of experiences was vast. There truly seemed to be as many people advocating openness as there were people pleading for silence on the subject. I felt so sorry, reading about the lack of understanding and love that some people had experienced. Some of them lost friends, became estranged from family members and lost jobs as a result of their willingness to tell the truth about their own life. That frightened me badly, I have to say.

I also read incredible stories of lives changed through courageous openness. I felt encouraged and tempted to share my own story, in my own way.

Sitting here at my computer, with my cold feet, a thousand thoughts are going through my mind. Most of these thoughts are tethered to this core question: what will happen when people know? Can I survive whatever happens, whatever is said to me, whatever is said about me, after I tell? I just don’t know. One thing I do know, is that as a writer, a woman, a human being, I will never be able to be my true self in this world while I keep fighting an inner battle every day to keep the hardest thing in my life to myself. This is why I want and need to tell you that I struggle, every day, living with Bipolar Disorder.

Seeing those words on the page, getting ready to click the Publish button and send this post out to the www, I’m more than a little jittery. A thought occurs to me, pushing the jitters aside; once it’s out there, I can start writing about life as it really is for me. I can blog my mighty high ups and my deepest dark downs. I can share how easy it is for me to help other people succeed, no matter how I feel on the day, while daily sabotaging my own efforts to get ahead in business. I can tell you what it’s really like to be me: awesomely supercharged, terribly depressed, and best of all, those times when I get to cruise the middle road, even if it’s only for a few delicious hours.

If you know nothing about Bipolar Disorder, (BD) I recommend this Australian site: Black Dog Institute for a definition and other information.

I’ll tell you more about BD in another post. Right now I really just want to click on that publish button, before I change my mind for the thousandth time. If you’re reading this, I guess it means I published this post and therefore I have more courage in November 2012 than I’ve ever had before. No more cold feet.

be you xx Rachel