Mental Health Day

As anyone who has a brain akin to scrambled eggs at times, when dealing with a mental disorder, I usually find that at least once a month I need to take a “mental health day” from the world – my work, my co-workers, anyone except the cat that I feed. I woke up this morning and although I wasn’t immediately filled with dread about the day that loomed before me (thanks to a lot of Benzos yesterday), I just couldn’t imagine myself there today. Not in that office. Not in the “real” world. I need another day to collect myself before I am ready to face the coming week.

Someone thankfully took my shift that was assigned for me today (not that it’s been busy at all this summer). That was all that was on my calendar, and although I implied it was my back acting up again (which it does every day due to the chronic arthritis in my hip and a whole lot of mess going on in my lower back), I refrained from explaining that the sick day was more for my sanity than it was for anything else. No one there would really be able to understand. Only someone who suffers from acute anxiety and panic attacks (and I experienced a delightful one yesterday as I was pumping gas. I was sure I was going to pass out from my body betraying me with this wave of panic, shaking and vision closing in. I was terrified. It hurt to breathe. But somehow I got through it). Miracles or sheer will power will sometimes do the trick.

I suppose a part of me imagined the same thing happening to me today. Usually, they come to me as I am driving – certainly not the most ideal place to have a panic attack. Yesterday’s was different, and really scared the shit out of me. It took me back to the horrible day of driving to graduate classes and as I was cresting a giant hill on my way to the school, my entire system closed in on me – the sweating, heart palpation’s, shaking uncontrollably, my heart ready to explode out of my chest. I was sure I was going to die that day. Just as when I was trying to stay conscious while pumping my gas, yesterday. I do not need a repeat of this anytime soon.

So if my partner scolds me, as he usually does when I take one of these day – though I do not understand why after 8 years together he doesn’t get it – I will ignore him and just focus on me and finding a peaceful place in my apartment where I can just simply be. It’s Monday, so I am not alone in the house. The girlfriend upstairs stays here all day on Monday’s, though I do not know why. But she annoys me. I’ve spoken to her once, and she was bitchy. My partner said she’s nicer than she first gives off – he’s had more interaction with her. But my radar says, “stay away”.

I am trying to use today to collect myself and prepare for another week where I feel nothing about the job I have. The passion is gone, just like in a romantic relationship when it putters out. You both know it’s not working, but what is harder – leaving or staying and settling? I simply cannot settle. Not for something that does not make me happy or I feel wastes my remaining years on this planet. I need something good to happen – a door to open – to get me to the next phase of what I want to do. And that is being an independent writer, creating works about what interests me and not writing papers that may or may not seem “scholarly” and which will be judged, harshly.

So, if people want to think I am “weak”, I say go ahead and let them. They do not know how strong we are – those of us dealing with all these internal issues that stem from our brains and affect the rest of our bodies. We find a way to get beyond that, and keep moving. It is not fun. It is certainly not the life I imagined, having to lug around a brain I love for its intelligence and abilities, but with my bipolar I never know what will happen from day to day, and that is never far from the forefront of my mind.

So today is a mental health day. I will relax. I will get myself back in order and (hopefully) ready to face another week of unending boredom and being alone. But at this point, I’m rather used to it, so until I find the magic key, compass, map, I am stuck. That doesn’t mean I’m not done fighting. Nor does it mean I want to stay where I am. I want to expand, grow, leap. And I no longer believe the “straight and narrow” life of having a career with an organization I am no longer passionate about. There is no leeway or sympathy for those of us who struggle – yes, everyone struggles – but I think we are always at war.

So I keep writing. I keep trying to find my niche. I will never “fit in”. I have known that since high school, but I was never one that wanted to. All I can do for myself today is to take care of me, be gentle with myself, and prep for the week ahead, as boring or unfulfilling as that may be. Something will change. I believe that. And I am holding onto that belief, because if I wish for it enough and it is meant to be, then it will happen.

Perhaps there is a reason no one else wants to hire me. Perhaps this is the end of the line in this career I chose. And now, I have to figure out how to create the life I want, on my own – one that will touch others and help them understand that we’re not crazy, our brains just work differently, and we need to be kind to ourselves. I am trying. Desperately. Because more than anything, I want to embrace life again and enjoy it, more so than I have in the last decade. Time is running out. I do not want to leave without something that remains…

© Sorrow & Kindness


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