Inside My Head

the literary rantings of Angie Frissore

Good morning, Angela.

I wake up in the morning, drenched in sweat and confused by lucid dreams, which are side effects of an anti-depressant which is supposed to make me feel better. Sometimes I don’t know which is worse – the depression, or the fact that the side effects make it all but impossible for me to even want to try to date. I mean, inevitably, the night sweats will become an issue – if my moods don’t scare suitors away first.

I look at the scars on my body, which are the results of life-long skin picking – another aspect of my poorly-wired mind. I notice that the medication is turning me into a 5’3” blob of blubber, and I can’t help but examine my new fat parts. I hate them.

I hate every part of me these days. It’s as if I live in a bubble, hearing the muted sounds of the outside world. The bubble is transparent enough for me to notice how much living other people do that I cannot imagine myself belonging to that world. My emotions, which seem now to be controlled by outside forces as well as in, stream out of me into the bubble, with nowhere to go but back into my mind. There is no release. Only recycled air.

The bubble turns everything gray. There isn’t any color in a world so shaped by bipolar disorder, particularly when you’ve inherited the condition and it has been a part of your life for as long as you can remember. I don’t see the same normal world others do, and I don’t know that I ever will. All around me are vibrant lives, filled with stories of friendly get-togethers and family and love – all things that have become foreign to me as I age. I remember being loved, once, but that was almost twenty years ago.  I don’t know what love even involves anymore (unless it’s love for a dog).

I feel more connected to my dog than I do with other humans. It’s most likely because I’ve grown into this boring lump, sitting around waiting to eat or shit or sleep. My body language gives me away, despite how good I have become at faking it. Sometimes I don’t know if I will bite, bark or simply lay down.

I thought being open about it would help, but now it’s just used against me. To others, I am either a lost cause or a girl who seemingly has her shit together at her job. I can turn my public persona on and off as needed, though it always results in sheer exhaustion. So much energy is spent during a normal work week just to seem, well, normal. Once I am out of that environment, I break down into an exhausted, useless human being who lacks the simple joys of life she once knew. Nothing interests me anymore. The fear of acting out around people or having a PTSD trigger keeps me hidden on a regular basis.

I used to love travel, particularly traveling on my own. These days, I’m either terrified of wasting money by inevitably hiding away in a hotel room, or terrified of what lies outside of my daily routine. So now I simply stay put. I miss out, again and again.

I have regular conversations in which someone will ask, time and time again, why I can’t get a hold of the basic of things – my budget. They know it’s a bipolar symptom, financial irresponsibility. But there is always the same pressure and question of, “Why can’t you make this work? It’s easy.”

But it’s not easy, at least not for me. If I had explanations of why I can’t get my finances in order or why I forget the simplest of tasks, I would fix it myself.

I wish it were. I wish it all were easy. Perhaps it will never get better. But it might, though on the other side of better, nothing is left to welcome me back. There is no carrot on the string anymore, only the prospect of living out my life alone.

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September 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Monsters.

I wake up ready for the day, albeit sluggish from the previous night’s dose of antidepressant, and try to hit the ground running. The moment I am alone with myself in the shower (this is a benefit of having a dog: I’m virtually never actually physically alone), the battle with the intrusive thoughts begins.

I don’t hear voices in my head, let me make that clear. I hear a particular voice, one that keeps track of every slight, every injustice, every emotionally traumatic experience I’ve had in my 37 years. When we are alone, it seizes that opportunity. It sounds like my mother, but it isn’t her.

“No one stood up for you to her,” it reminds me.

“He does the best he can,” I insist.

“But he didn’t stand up for you this time, either. Remember? It’s easier for your family to place all of their blame on you because they want to keep the peace. Remember?”

The issue with the monster voice is that it does remember. It remembers well, and, at a moment’s notice, will call to mind historical evidence to support what it is telling me. It was built upon volumes of incidents involving abuse, a narcissistic mother, and familial gaslighting – and it knows exactly what buttons to push.

“They blame you more than they blame her, you know.”

“I didn’t ask for this.”

“Well, too bad. And do you really think others feel differently? You’re fundamentally flawed.”

“And you’re an asshole.”

“But I’m right. And that’s more important. Everyone grows tired of you, and so will he, eventually. I mean, you didn’t even give him grandkids like your brothers did. You didn’t give him anything. You are just a burden.”

“I guess you’re right.”

The monster offers an embrace, reminding me, “I’ll always be here.”

August 19, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Stranger in a Strange Land.

Mental health issues, these days, still seem to hold a bit of a stigma to them for those who suffer from them.  Ask anyone who’s been diagnosed with depression or other mood disorders (you do know someone if you take the time to look closely) and, though hesitantly, they will most likely admit that they are, in fact, suffering from it.

 

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.1 million American adults, or about 8 percent of the U.S. population ages 18 and older, in a given year.  More alarming, however, is that approximately 80% of people experiencing depression are not currently receiving any treatment.  Only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment.  

 

The mental health stigma in the US costs lives.  Depression can put women at risk of suicide.   While more men than women die from suicide, women attempt suicide about twice as often as men do.  Those who live with depression and other disorders are often misunderstood by friends and family, who still see mental health as just that – mental.   A great deal of those who haven’t experienced these disorders first hand will instinctively label those with depression as weak and self-pitying.  Oftentimes those with depression are told by others that it is ‘all in their heads’.  Stereotypes and labels are thrust upon those who suffer from mood disorders, and oftentimes it is these stereotypes which keep patients from seeking much-needed, and effective treatments.  

 But you know better.  You know that it’s not just in your head.  It affects almost every aspect of your life: you don’t eat the way you should, sleep is affected, you have ongoing aches and pains, even digestive issues.  You come to wish it was only in your head.  Your friendships suffer as you retreat into your own world, for fear of being chastised and judged by others.  You know you aren’t you, and you want nothing more than to hide that stranger from those who know and love you.  

 Perhaps you’ve forgotten that people love you.  Perhaps you simply cannot see that through the cloud of hopelessness that you’ve come to accept in your life.  You’ve lost sight of the person you used to be and no longer wish to be around this strange, new you. 

 So don’t be.  You didn’t choose depression, but you can choose to recover from it.  It can start with anything, any small step in regaining that which made you, well, you.  

  •  Exercise.  You’ve heard it before.  The magic cure-all which is physical exertion.  We’re not talking becoming the next body-building champion or hundreds of dollars in gym memberships.   Just move.  For ten minutes, a half hour, get up and let your physical body take over.  Think about every person who’s told you to just ‘get over it’ and that it is all in your head – if it’s in your head, then perhaps it’s time to let your body take over.  In my darkest days, I eventually learned to succumb to a being much more capable of helping me than I was at the time – my dog.  Our morning treks outside would, on the harder days, turn into a forced walk.  The dog knew – better than I did most times – that by refusing to end her walk early, she was helping me to get those endorphins pumping, and thus, giving me back something long missed – a smile.
  • Write it out.  So you don’t feel that you can turn to any of your close friends or relatives.  That’s understandable – not everyone is equipped to properly understand what people with depression experience, and thus, aren’t equipped to help in any way.  When your thoughts are your enemy, write it all out.  Don’t write for someone else to read – I would even suggest writing as if your depression was your reader.  Get angry with it – tell it how you feel.
  • Baby Steps.  Once a week, think back to something that used to bring you joy before life with depression, and just do it.  Force yourself to.  I have spent many a Sunday baking sweet treats I know I’m not going to enjoy myself, simply because I knew that baking always made me happy.  If you keep denying yourself activities that used to bring joy, how will you be able to remind yourself that you CAN feel joy?
  • Keep your eye on the prize.  Understand that your depression is a treatable medical condition.  Would you suffer through the flu without treatment?  Always keep in mind that as long as you’re willing to seek the help, the help is there.  You will return to you.  Life will get better.

 

Other Depression facts (www.nami.org):

  • Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15 to 44.
  • While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5.
  • Major depressive disorder is about twice as common in women as it is in men
  • At least 90 percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in women, and there is a strong relationship between eating disorders and depression.

September 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

You can run, but you can’t hide.

It always manages to find you.

The moment you think you’ve beaten it, risen above it…it sneaks up behind you and follows you closely, waiting.

Waiting for you to let your guard down.  Waiting for the inevitable dramatic moment in which you flew too close to the sun…waiting to catch you.

It waits for vulnerability.  A poorly-received criticism from a supervisor, from a friend.  A moment of bruised egos and hurt feelings.  It’s there, knowing that you’ll soon run back into it’s embrace.

And so you retreat.  You hide in your safe, solitary world where the lack of drama provides a lonely comfort.  You ignore it.  It follows your every step but you look elsewhere, hoping it won’t be there still when you look back.

Inevitably, you embrace it.  You surrender to it.  Because deep down, you’ve known nothing else.

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment