“It Must Be Nice…”

I haven’t been able to work for eight months.  Most of that time has been spent sitting in my apartment, alone, trying new medications, trying various techniques suggested by my doctor and therapist and just kind of….waiting for time to pass to see if I’m going to beat this thing or not.  It’s been rough.  It’s been hard.  It’s been one long jumble, and most days I can’t believe it’s been as long as it has.

And yet, here we are.  Eight months of living in limbo, trying to make things better without much success.

It’s interesting – the people who know me well know the struggle I’ve been facing on a daily basis.  They know it’s hard for me to get out of bed.  They know my apartment looks like the apartment of someone who has barely been functioning for months…it’s a disaster area, in dire need of a deep cleaning and de-junking.  They know it’s not pleasant, and they know it’s not “time off”.  Being bombarded by BPD and major depression is like fighting a constant war with myself, and most days I’m not sure if I’m winning the war or not.  But, I’m sitting here and writing this, so I must be winning…for now.

And then there are the people who think it must be so nice to not be working – “You must be enjoying having some time for yourself!”  “I wish I didn’t have to work and could take time off like you are.”

Yes…I am enjoying having time for myself.  It is like a wonderful holiday, and I never want it to end.

/end sarcasm

Unless someone has had their own personal experiences dealing with multiple mental illnesses, the majority of people have no idea just how unpleasant and HARD things are.  It is fucking HARD to get out of bed every day, and some days I don’t make it.  My hair doesn’t get brushed for a week (or more) which means I haven’t showered for that long either.  About 3 months into this thing, I cut off all my hair…it used to be down past my waist, but not being taken care of for that length of time in between brushings made it almost impossible to deal with.  A lot of it also fell out due to the general stress I was experiencing, and it was just too much.  But it’s just hair…it’ll grow back, and I know that.

If you have someone in your life who is currently unable to work due to mental illness, please do not minimize their struggle.  Be supportive.  Instead of telling them it must be nice not to have to work, ask them if there’s something you can do to help make things a little easier for them.  Maybe they want you to bring them some food, or just be there to talk.  When people are in this state, we are extremely vulnerable, even if the majority of us won’t admit it.  It’s a hard place to be, and although we may say no 100 times when you offer your help, there may just be that one time where, instead of the “no” you’re used to, you get a “yes”.

We need friends and family to help us get through the rough patches.  And even if it all seems like one gigantic rough patch, eventually it’s going to get better.

I am currently taking things one day at a time.  Sometimes one hour at a time.  And sometimes one minute at a time.  Because every minute of every day is a struggle, and it’s exhausting.

But I’m still going, and if you’re reading this then you are too, and that’s all that matters.

When “A Little Time Off Work” Turns Into 8+ Months

It was only going to be a little while.  I just needed a few weeks to “recharge”.  Everything was going to go back to normal, and I’d go back to work.

That was the plan, anyway.

Here we are, 8 months later.  Haven’t returned to work.  Haven’t found a suitable treatment option for this time around.  Don’t remember a large portion of the last 8 months because it’s both blurred into one big clump of days and there were so many medication trials and failures that I don’t even know what’s what anymore.

I am lucky to have qualified for income assistance from the government during this time – I have a lovely doctor who filled out the forms I needed, to allow myself the time I needed to take to get myself in order.

But it’s taking a lot longer than I’d planned.  I’m not sure what I expected…When you push yourself to the full extent an already fragile, BPD and depression-riddled brain can handle, nothing good ever happens.  When you push yourself to that extent for work for months (maybe even years), it does some serious damage.  As my therapist has stated, “It took a while for it to get to this point.  It’s going to take a while for things to get back to normal too.”

She has a point…but I still didn’t think it would take this long.  This is an important lesson that those of us with mental illness must learn, and it can be a hard pill to swallow.  Recovering from things takes time.  Most days, I still feel like my brain has suffered some sort of trauma.  I can’t think properly.  Can’t remember anything.  Can’t even be creative, which was a major fuel for my work.  Hell, if I can manage to brush my hair and teeth, it’s a good day.

I know I’m not the only one in this boat…and that’s ok.  On the days where I feel weak, or like I failure, I just have to remind myself…it’s ok.  Things take time.  I am not weak, or a failure.  One of my friends has pointed out that, in fact, the longer this goes on, the stronger I am.

Because it’s been 8 months, and I’m still here.  I’m still fighting it on a daily basis.  I haven’t let it win.  And I’m not going to.  Eventually, things will get back to normal.

And if they don’t?

That’s ok, too.  I’ll make it work out in the end.  Because if nothing else, I am strong, and I am resilient.

When Mental Illness Makes You Ask: Who Am I Really?

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder and a number of other mental health conditions can result in us asking ourselves…who are we really?

I know I’m not alone in this.  I have Work Me, Socializing Me, Shopping Me, Family Get-Together Me, With Friends Me…but the one thing I can’t seem to nail down is who am I, really?  I like to be by myself, and although I seldom find myself without something to do, I’m never sure which one of the “Me”s is present.  Any of them?  None of them?  Is there another “Me” hiding in there somewhere…the Real Me?

For example – Work Me is very straight and to the point.  Professional, polite, full of smiles.  Shopping Me goes into the store, tries to avoid people she knows, gets what she needs, is polite to store employees, and gets out as fast as possible.  Socializing Me is capable of small-talk (even though I hate it), always seems happy and smiling, and tries to make everyone feel included.

But who am I, really?

After being diagnosed with BPD more than ten years ago, I am still struggling with the answer to this question.  I’ve been forced to take the last few months off work and life in general due to a significant major depressive episode with associated anxiety, and although it’s a struggle to get out of bed every day, I hope that one thing I will learn from this experience is why I really am.  I am currently on my fifth medication trial and am still working with my psychiatrist to try and find something that will work for me this time.

This, of course, brings up the next question – if I discover the Real Me, is that really “real”, or is that just Medicated Me?  Is there a difference?

I’m not so sure.

Can you relate to this?