January 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm (Medical, Mental Health) (, , , )

Every time I feel like I’m looking up from the bottom of the well, the floor gives way yet again.

Monday morning I woke up and had a feeling. It was complex and intricate and hard to define. I knew I was angry – it’s usually easy for me to recognize anger – but I was also depressed, hurt, lonely, frustrated, ashamed, tired, and put-upon. So I did what people with dissociative disorders do best – I shut down. I told everyone to fuck off, and I stopped allowing myself to feel anything.

It was too big, too much, too difficult; unpacking everything that lead to this moment felt so overwhelming that it was just easier to sit back and hate the world. The situation was definitely aggravated by a series of recurring headaches and a sleep schedule that a 14 year old would be envious of. (And better equipped to handle, I think.) Another thing that happens to be a specialty of mine is that I became completely blind to anything good anyone had ever done for me. Everyone I knew were selfish bastards who were terrible examples of humanity and I should just give up on all of them and go live a secluded life in the wilds of somewhere that doesn’t actually exist. Of course, in those moments, I completely forget that I would probably die (in the literal sense) if I did that. But that doesn’t stop my crazy from making me think that.

Now, I’ve been in therapy long enough that even in these moments of emotional despair and dysfunction, I make some important insights. It became clear to me that I had been engendering this attitude in others – that because my body forgot how to play the home game, I had many people close to me doing just about everything for me. Then I got angry at them for treating me like an invalid, but I was doing everything an invalid does. I spend most days in bed; I live in PJs; I only go upstairs to shower unless there’s an emergency; I don’t make my own food; I’m not capable of running errands outside of the home; I don’t even wash my own clothes or make my own bed.

Yes, there was a certain irony that as I was finishing a blog post about what my weaknesses were, I was being completely blind to the fact that I was letting my weaknesses, and the reaction to those weaknesses by people around me, to dictate the majority of my social interaction. It isn’t lost on me how unfair it was that I yelled at Ninja for being more concerned about his ability to “take care” of me than his desire to “be with” me.

What happened on Monday is what I like to call a “crash”. These are moments in my life when my crazy, in all it’s wonderfully terrible forms, decides it’s been playing nice for way too long and grabs me by the short and curlies and decides it may be better at running my life than I am. I have three mental health diagnoses, and all three were readily apparent. I’m betting I’m not the only person to whom this happens.

The hard part now, is figuring out what lead to the crash. Although I take responsibility for some of my terrible behavior, I also do not just dust everything off and say, “Sorry about that. Crazy, you know.” and go back to the status quo. Something caused the crash, although it’s probably more correct to say a bunch of somethings caused the crash, and I need to figure out what those legitimate issues are, and how to deal with them in a mature and less-crazy manner. The first part is the most obvious, but also the most difficult, because there’s just no easy way to do it – I need to own everything I did when I was not sane. I said some shit that wasn’t very nice, and did some things I heartily regret; but I need to own up to them in a way that doesn’t invalidate the very real and sane problems that caused the crazy in the first place.

I have found that in the past, if I rush into the “Sorry about that. Crazy, you know” part without being also completely ready to address the somethings means that the people involved, including me, will just assume that everything was caused by the crazy and try to go from there. And if I try to go back later and say, “Actually, there was something going on when that crazy shit happened,” the automatic response is, “Oh, I thought we had talked about that already.” Because we did. I just left out the part where there were legitimate causes for concern.

It’s one of the lesser-discussed stigmas of having mental illness. It’s really easy for people to chalk up every emotional outburst, or wacky behavior, or uncomfortable feeling, to the illness. However, sane people have no problem recognizing when something is caused by actual strife (I assume), but it’s much harder for someone with mental illness to differentiate between an emotional reaction to an actual issue and crazytalk.

So to those who are reading this who I have had some form of crash with on or since Monday – you should be aware that I’m actively trying to process the difference between my mental illness(es) running amok, and what really happened. I know that at the heart of it is that I feel I perpetrated the illusion that I was/am an invalid, and so over time it became normal to treat me as such. However, it is obviously important to my mental health as well as my physical stability if we all assume that I’m still a functional human being who just can’t do everything they’d like all the time.

For starters, I’ve asked Ninja to operate under the assumption that I am 100% capable of doing absolutely anything, but to be prepared for me to ask for adaptations or offer refusals depending on how I’m feeling. It’s difficult, because it is actually the norm for me to need adaptations or to refuse, but when we start to live in a world where we assume that, I become an invalid. Does that makes sense?

I also recognize that I’ve been a little more (read: quite a bit) depressed and withdrawn this winter than normal for me. I’m sure part of it is because of my health being fairly poor, but there’s more to it than that, and I need to go digging to find what it is. Being depressed makes me a lot more sensitive to slights by others, as well as fairly misanthropic, which is definitely a key to Monday’s crash. I am actively looking at ways to try to regulate this depression, but it will take time, trials, and effort. I may need to put some of the physical health stuff on the back burner while I do this. (I only have so many mental spoons a day.)

So, uh, thanks for reading all of this, and for those of you to whom it directly affects, I thank you beforehand for your patience and understanding while I try to sort everything out. Hopefully this will have a good outcome, whatever that may look like.



  1. Eric S said,

    Luck in battle my friend. I know only a little of what you are dealing with. You are striving and that is honorable.

  2. Kate said,


  3. LMQ said,

    ” It’s really easy for people to chalk up every emotional outburst, or wacky behavior, or uncomfortable feeling, to the illness. However, sane people have no problem recognizing when something is caused by actual strife (I assume), but it’s much harder for someone with mental illness to differentiate between an emotional reaction to an actual issue and crazytalk.”

    Beautifully, beautifully put. I’m still struggling with the whole concept of “All emotions are valid emotions” because my inner snark can always say, “Oh yeah? And if that emotion was predominantly fueled by depression? Or hormones? Or it being Wednesday and I f&*^% HATE Wednesday?”

    I think there is an issue here of essence versus velocity or volume. The essence of the issue may be “I dislike when you don’t listen to me.”

    The velocity may range from “I’m going to have a stern talk with you about that and hope you listen this time” to “I’m going to CUT YOU just so I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you are *&%$%#@ LISTENING!!”


    • dying for a diagnosis said,

      @LMQ: I think there’s a difference between “valid emotions” (in your phrasing) and “useful emotions”. All emotions are valid, in that they are no “wrong” emotions (even if they’re caused by mental illness); but not all emotions are “useful” – in that some emotions, mostly ones that occur due to mental illness rather than “something”. I think my depression isn’t very useful – I’m likley depressed because I have major depressive disorder and I usually get depressed in the winter, and it’s aggravated by my isolation – but it’s still valid. Does that make sense?

      • dying for a diagnosis said,

        Meh, I shouldn’t write replies when I’m half asleep. Let me try that sentence again. …but not all emotions are “useful” – in that some emotions, mostly ones that occur due to mental illness rather than “something”, may not have an actual cause or reason to exist, but they do anyway.

        I think those emotions are still valid – there are no “wrong” emotions – but they don’t end up being very helpful. Well, I guess in the case of helping diagnose/treat/understand the nature of your mental illness, but once you’re past that, they just feel like irrational reactions due to illness.

      • LMQ said,

        Yeah, understood. I’m thinking there are several different ax…um…plural for axis?

        And now I want to go make a graph….sigh.

      • dying for a diagnosis said,

        I see it more as a checklist to go through before you decide what to do with the emotion you’re sitting with. Sort of like HALT? (That comes from AA – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. The lesson is, if you’re feeling HALT, it’s best to stop engaging in whatever you’re expressing and deal with HALT first.)

        I mean, if I had applied HALT to this particular crash, I might have fared better. I am definitely lonely, and a lot of what triggered this was feeling like I was being excluded and left behind. However, I didn’t know how to address that sanely without letting my overwhelming emotions get in the way, so I just blew up instead. :shrug:

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