You can't help but go among mad people. We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad. You must be mad, or you wouldn't have come here.
~Cheshire Cat

20 July 2012

"Haven't you learned?"

This is either the best time, or the worst time, to be posting.

It could be the best, because it will demonstrate the intensity of living with a stigmatized "condition" (not an illness, not a disorder, but a personality flaw) that is the elephant in the room. The elephant is alluded to but never mentioned outright. It may be through facial expressions. But worse, it is usually through unfinished sentences or insults.

It could be the worst, because I am in no condition to be writing anything because it will end up being incoherent nonsense. It doesn't even make sense to me as I'm writing it - and it is coming out of my own brain.
Ignore grammar. Ignore comma splices. Ignore fragments. They don't make sense, nor are they needed, in a situation like this.

But I hope you can follow along:

I am upset.
I don't even know if that is what I am. I don't know if there is a word for it.
And when I am upset, my body doesn't know what to do.

Instead of getting mad and angry and eventually coming down, I shake, scream, kick, hyperventilate, and sob loudly. Tears won't stop flowing from my eyes. It is like I'm not even crying - tears are just falling.
`I wish I hadn't cried so much!' said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. `I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears!

If the stigma of mental illness didn't exist, I wouldn't be so upset.
But because it's the big elephant in the room everyone is trying to ignore, everything blows up.
No one wants to say, "Listen, your mental dysfunction is making you stupid. Get over it."
Well, actually, they very well may want to say it. But they've said it in the past. And it didn't do any good then. So what good would it do now?
I've caused everyone to walk on eggshells.
They don't say it outright, but I know that is what they mean.

The situation itself doesn't matter because it could be this, it could be anything.
It all has the same underlying theme. It could be where I parked the car. Or that I decided to go into the lab to finish up my projects. Or that I drank the juice that was in the fridge.
It's always the same, "Can't you ever learn?"

The assumptions that I am stuck in my childhood and can never "grow up" or "learn" isn't just in the heads of those around me: it rubs off.
I believe it, now, too.

The frustrating part is that the very people who are "helping" me are the same people who are baffled that their "help" is countering what they assume they are doing.
It's like yelling at a dog who is barking to try to get him to stop, but he wont. So you yell louder. The louder you yell, the louder he barks. Yelling, "BE QUIET!" at a barking dog does nothing to calm him down; it further excites him.
"Listen, I know you're trying to be an adult and you're trying to do everything on your own, but..."

But what? I'm failing? That is the worst insult.
Yes, I am trying, but when the people around me are suppressing my ability then it does not work!
I can't "be" an adult and I can't "do" anything on my own when all the control is taken away from me!
So when I do "try," it's suddenly my fault for being too stupid to assume that I'd be able to do anything on my own.

It is the same conflict every time. It has little to do with the context, and everything to do with the idea that the people around me may never trust me.
And it's not because of me.
It's because there's something wrong with me.
Well, the part of "me" that they don't trust is the illness, but they will never be able to separate "me" from the "wrong" in me.
To a degree, it is not possible to distinguish between the two; attempting to do so would be irresponsible.
Having bipolar affects my every day.
But it does not mean that is who I am.
It is part of me, but it does not define me.

There are no isolated incidents.
For those close to me, as well as for most of society, this is something that happens all the time and it will never change, and they treat it as such.
Of course, they see the world through a different lens than most: they live with me. They always have.
Their experiences from the past are still with them.
Their earliest memories of me breaking down are still their current assumptions.
They claim to see progress, but then come to me telling me that I never learn and just repeat the same things they've been saying all along.
Repeating it like I'm stupid does no good.
I heard you the first time.

Yes, something that happened last week due to a miscommunication was unfortunate. But telling me what I "should have" done and why it "doesn't make sense" does not solve anything.
So what am I supposed to do about it now?
There is no going back in time.
So something that happened last week with an outside party has not gone away. But it's not my fault for that.
What happened happened, and it was not my fault.

So what am I supposed to do at this point?
I can't calmly explain myself when I am being insulted and interrupted.
And as it escalates, I find myself screaming,

And of course that doesn't help my situation.
I have just proved them right.

I have just proved that I can't keep composure when I'm being ridiculed and criticized.
And that feeling of failure eats away at me while it just proves that they were right in assuming that I can't "handle" anything.

And I walk away believing it, too.

I am not making this sound as bad as it is.
But I don't want to say something I regret.

But you can't call anyone stupid, especially when you know the person is not stupid but rather they have a mental block that might make it seem true.
It gets under my skin.
Is it not enough that I have been proving myself by doing well in school? That I can continue with studying and doing projects? That despite all of the deep, dark, looming demons, I can live a "normal" life?
Doesn't it say a little something that I tend to regress when I am stuck in a situation that is not conducive to leading a conflict-free life?
It's not living in blissful ignorance that got me through everything: it's knowing that I am in a safe space.

The assumptions from others have convinced me, too.

But if I did the right thing medically, that would cost money.
And that's what this is about.
My stupidity is costing everyone a lot of money.

That is where the guilt lies.
The guilt isn't in that I have an illness; it's in the fact that my illness is seen as something that just keeps costing more and more money.
Money that doesn't really seem to be going anywhere promising, because I'm still "wrong."
Of course, going the hospital would cost money. And that would make me stupid again. Because anything that I do that costs money makes me stupid.
Circular logic might work on stupid people. But it doesn't work on me. Hence...

But here are the common assumptions that I hear all the time:
-Having bipolar doesn't make me sick.
-Having bipolar isn't an illness.
-It's an excuse for not being able to grow up and learn.
At least, that's what I'm being told.
And it's what I'm believing. They're probably right; they're the ones telling me what I apparently can not see, and because they can see it, I should believe it.
And I'm not being told anything else except by myself.
But I'm told I shouldn't believe me.


  1. people are idiots, and money isn't always the most important thing. health and happiness, on the other hand, are always most important. at least, that's what i believe. i don't know about all those other shmucks...

  2. People may be idiots, but not in this case. The people around me are frustrated that my debt is growing and my income is...nothing.
    Insurance is not only a money issue, it's also an issue of entitlement.
    Despite my age, I'm still listed as a dependent on my parents' insurance because of my diagnosis. I can't make an appointment without checking with them first.
    This issue came about because I hadn't checked with them prior to making an appointment with a doctor who does not take our insurance.

    The guilt is eating me alive...

  3. Loosing it with your family is a common occurrence.You proved nothing other then that you responded to a very stressful situation. I've lost it with mine similarly so many times.

    You have done amazing this year. One incident does not define you or alter your accomplishments.

  4. Thanks! It's just hard to see that despite my progress, I will still slip into these moods and have quick and inappropriate responses.