Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy Anniversary, Demons

Some of you may know, others may not... For the last several years I've been waging war on some pretty dark demons. Some days I've been able to pass as mostly normal, but a lot of days I haven't even come close. Today marks the one year anniversary of having those demons under fairly good control. Now, having said that, I don't for one second think they are vanquished or that they have magically disappeared. Nor do I think that I am now miraculously normal. Oh, no. I'm still as whacked as ever; it's just kept under strict control with a chemical cocktail. I know that I have to maintain vigilance or I could be lulled into complacency. I have to keep my guard up, which, by the way is exhausting, or I could end up on a dead end road (again). I have to, even though I want to shrink away from those evil bastards, maintain a constant line of sight at all times so that I know where they're at.

Demons, dragons, monsters; all used to describe the horrors that go on in the minds of us diagnosed with a mental illness. I know I've felt trapped inside my own head on plenty of occasions. I can totally relate to that scene in Breaking Dawn Part I where Bella is turning and she's perfectly still and calm on the outside but screaming and thrashing on the inside. I've felt like that. Still do, sometimes. Like I said, there is no cure. There is treatment, damn good treatment, but this is something I have to deal with for the rest of my life.

To add insult to injured minds, society generally looks down on and fears those of us diagnosed as crazy. Actually, there is no psychiatric diagnosis of "crazy" and I should know. After all, I'll have a bona fide Psych degree by the spring. There are, however, about eleventy billion other diagnoses for all sorts of conditions and disorders. I am afraid of some of them, have a few of them, and am no longer embarrassed by any of them. A diagnosis does not make or define a person. There is a stigma associated with mental illness that isn't associated with any other condition and it's just plain not fair. It's not likely to change just because I hopped on my soapbox, but if one person who reads this considers, just for a second, that people with a diagnosis of something mentally related may not be of the devil after all, well, then, it's all good. I am who I am and will still be me regardless of what anyone else believes.

I have a batshit crazy family. My dad's side especially. Oh, there are no diagnosed mental illnesses, but there are no conversations about anything. At all. Ever. If anything makes anyone uncomfortable, let's just ignore it and it will go away. That's why it took until I was in my 20's before I was actually institutionalized (by my husband) and diagnosed Bipolar (now called Unipolar because I don't have the mania part, only the massive depression).

 I am, we'll say, the black sheep for that side of the family. I have an okay relationship with my dad. He's a hard guy to get close to, but that's what he knows and how he grew up. I have a stinted and rocky relationship with my 2 aunts and my grandmother from some other history stuff. These days, I really only talk to my dad. The last time all of that side of the family were together (for my twins' graduations) I was completely ignored, not even acknowledged, by everyone except for my dad and my cousin. The rest of them wouldn't even make eye contact with me. It makes me sad that it's come to that. And tired. It makes me really, really tired.

My mom's side is better, mostly. I have a good relationship with my aunt and grandmother and have gotten really close with my mom in the last few years. It seems as if one side of the family relationship's are deteriorating and the other side's getting stronger. I think about trying to find a balance but I can't take on other people's problems. I have enough of my own. I don't have the energy or the inclination to deal with your shit. If it's not worth it for someone to reach out to me when I've tried, am still trying, to make my life better, then it's their loss. I am starting to understand what I'm worth, and what's not worth it.

I never could have made it this far without the support of many people in my life but especially my husband and my mom. Without either of them, I really don't know where I would be today (certainly not here coherent enough to write about being demon-controlled for a year). With so much uncertainty in the world in general, and in the world of the mentally ill especially, you can't know how much it means to have that unconditional love and unrelenting stability. No matter how hard I tried to push away, they both just pulled me harder.

So, there's a lot of rant and rave in there, but I'm proud of myself. I've been on a straight path and doing better than I have in a lot of years for a whole 365 days now. It's a big accomplishment, and one I'm not looking to screw up. If anything, it just motivates me more to get to the next milestone.

Still counting.....