Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Good, The Bad, and The "Crazy"

Today I'm wearing a red thong, which kind of matches my skin. Instead of being lathered in sun tanning lotion, I've covered with aloe vera gel. I'm thinking that I read somewhere that spending too much time out in the sun was bad for you. Supposedly so is smoking, and apparently trying to channel dark forces into a human vessel in order to worship and placate them. Who knew life could be so dangerous?

For the sake of not getting side tracked, lets just stick with the aloe. Using it is a part of my "recovery" and that's the center of today's thoughts. As you might have guessed from reading my entries, I suffer from some mental instability. I've dealt with varying degrees of mania and depression for over twenty years.

When I woke up yesterday morning I "knew" something was wrong. There were no visible or tangible signs that the universe had been turned upside down, but I just "felt" this sensation that something wasn't right. I know myself well enough to understand that this is an indicator of trouble on the horizon.

For me, a hard day doesn't usually mean plagued with chaotic or unfortunate events. It simply describes a day where my mind is going to be my enemy instead of my friend. True to form, as the day continued, I found myself feeling more and more depressed. Combined with the sadness was this strong desire to retreat from those feelings by "medicating" with something.

I believe that most people spend a lot of their free time medicating themselves.  It's basically just a prop used to avoid feelings or thoughts that are uncomfortable. You could call it a distraction, or a coping mechanism,or a biochemical safety net. The label doesn't matter, "A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet."

My issue with that approach is that I know it's only a temporary distraction.  Eventually I'll get tired of watching netflix, or playing a video game, and I'm still where I was. The feelings I was ignoring haven't disappeared. More often than not, I end up feeling worse afterward because then I feel "guilty" for spending my time that way, instead of doing something useful / productive. 

Keep in mind, I'm not saying netflix or video games, or other forms of indulgence are "bad". I'm saying that for me, using them as a way to escape my thoughts, is counter productive.  It's like being an alcoholic to whatever thing you're using. Instead of drinking to enjoy the alcohol in moderation, what you're really doing is continuing an addictive cycle in some hope of "feeling" better, or at least not feeling at all. 

Knowing all of this about myself, and the nature of my "addictive personality", I understood the danger of giving in to behavior that would only complicate my problems. I chose instead, to try to do things that I knew would help me to feel better. I exercised, I wrote a blog entry, I watched a documentary. I spoke with Sarah on the phone and then another friend online. By the end of the night, I wasn't feeling depressed, or sad, or afraid. On the flip side I didn't feel joyous, or elated or accomplished, I just felt "okay".

This is just a glimmer of "a day in the life" of me. Each of us who suffer from mental illness have our own symptoms. Both my strategies and struggles will probably be different than yours. I only offer them here because writing helps me. It lets me feel that I've accomplished some small thing in my day. Sometimes I'm even lucky enough to learn something along the way.

Yesterday started out being scary, difficult, and painful, but ended up being a victory in the end. For me each day is just another coin toss. I never know when the sadness will show up, nor whether or not I'll be able to face it and overcome it. 

I used to say that I just wanted relief from the constant battles taking place in my head.  Over the years though I've come to realize the importance and value of my condition. Despite the failures and difficulty that I've endured, or perhaps because of them, I've had to grow as a person in order to survive. These problems have forced me to understand more about myself and this crazy world in which we live.

Although the idea of being "free" from the struggle is tempting, I wouldn't sacrifice who I've become along the way. If you take nothing else from this entry, keep in mind that your journey through life is important. Look within yourself and find that gift you've cultivated via experience.  Let its light be a companion and a shield against the darkness that sometimes comes. Believe in yourself, and live with love in your heart if you can. <3


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