Wednesday, July 15, 2015

One Size Fits All (But Not Really)

That seems to be the way of most mental illness diagnoses.

However, my experience has been more along the lines of a woman with large hips, a small waist, an extra small bust, and extra large arms trying on clothing at a department store.

Some things fit in some places.  But nothing fits all over.
I may have looked cute in this big boots, but there's no way I was going to get very far in them.
I find myself a bit detached from the bipolar II diagnosis because it was never a perfect fit and seems even less so over the past year.  My psychiatrist and I recently discussed another diagnosis with pretty much the same conclusion--some key aspects are spot on for describing my behavior, others are completely absent.

While I am grateful for the absence of these different mood and behavior issues--none of them are qualities or problems I wish to possess--it is frustrating to feel out of place even in the realm of mental illness.

I want a well-fitting diagnosis so I know how to treat it!

That was a koala bear back pack.  If it had fit better, maybe I wouldn't have lost it at the playground... :(
Sometimes I feel like whatever is wrong with me is like something from a scary artificial intelligence movie.  You know, where the AI learns faster than the humans and eventually takes over and its rate of progression is faster than the humans can control?  It seems like once I think I have something figured out, it either changes or never happens again.

At risk of alerting the potential AI parasite within my brain, here are the things I'm trying on for size right now:

  • Doubting and distancing pretty much all of my thoughts and emotions.  Instead, I am forcing myself to take some deep breaths and look at the facts.  i.e., HH continues to stick around and support me.  Therefore, he probably doesn't hate me but actually loves me and is gaining some benefit from our relationship.
  • Finally (hopefully!) maintaining a regular sleep schedule.  To bed by 10 pm, awake by 6:30 am (hopefully 6 eventually.  The morning person in me seems to be in deep hibernation).
  • Stopping the crazy anxiety-driven thought cycles.  This is kind of like the first bullet point, but it is specific for all the times that I ruminate over something I said or did forever, telling myself what a stupid thing that was to say or do and that now everyone who witnessed it not only thinks I'm a complete idiot, but is also telling everyone else they and I know that I am a complete idiot.  And other things along those lines.
  • Continuing to place one foot in front of the other in all of the areas of my life I have felt I should make progress in.  Even though right now, progress seems irrelevant and everything feels pointless and hopeless much of the time.
And the other big thing I am doing differently right now is trying to spend less time figuring out what is wrong with me.

Three people in three different settings told me last week that I seem more like myself than I have in a very long time.

That really took me off guard because I feel so decidedly not like myself when I'm on my own trying to sort through what is wrong with me and how to fix/cope with it.

At first I thought I should correct each of them and let them know that I am still totally not okay with scary and inappropriate thoughts plaguing much of my time.  But, this was not a very pleasant task.  People want to believe that I'm doing better.  It is disheartening to tell them they are wrong.

And after that third person I began to wonder if maybe I'm the one who is wrong?

Maybe I've just become so used to focusing on what is broken in me that I have failed to recognize the parts of me that are finally in recovery.

Blurry, but you can clearly see that I was not cut out for a profession in business.
Going back to school has changed a lot of different aspects of my life.  For six weeks it got me out of the house interacting with different people.  I made friends relatively quickly and I cannot tell you what a boost it gave me to find people with absolutely no obligation to me (not family, not church, not neighbors, etc.) seeking my company.  Of course, I had a panic every day on my drive home that I had said or done something that offended or bothered someone or everyone.  But, as part of my final grade my professor actually commented on the relationships and leadership position I had developed within the class.

Which brings me to the next point--going to school has provided a place where I get official feedback.  While there is nothing that can compare to sloppy kisses or a "Dude!  Mom, this tastes yummy!" from Darling A, it is also really nice to get consistent positive commentary on my work.

Going back to school has also really helped combat my confidence issues.  I am slowly overcoming my fears about not being able to commit to this.  I received an A in one class already and am on track to receive an A in the other one I'm taking this semester.  I am feeling more competent all the time.

And most importantly, it's helping me to feel hopeful in the future.  Consistent social opportunities are where I am found to be "more like myself".  School provides that (except for right now when all I have is an online class.  Boo.) and will lead to me having a career that will continue to provide that.

This does not fit the way I planned on, but somehow it is still a good fit and the most comfortable thing in my life.
So, maybe I really am more like myself than I realize.

Or, maybe I'm just more on my way to getting there than I have been in a long time.

Feeling like I am a good fit within myself would be a really nice thing.

I don't know if that made much sense to you.  But, that's the thing I'm trying on right now and although it's not a perfect fit right now, I'm really hoping I can grow into it eventually.