Do you ever feel like you need to act as if you are “okay”? Most of us have people in our lives that understand and support us, but there are also people who don’t get it and don’t care to. For example, at my last job, it took a lot of effort to keep my mental health a secret. I’m not ashamed of my mental health, but I didn’t want to spend time trying to explain it to people and I don’t want people to look at me differently.
There are also a lot of people who don’t consider depression, mania, or other mental health issues to be a “real” problem. Some people think that if you can’t see it, it’s not a real issue. Well, I have learned that issue is their problem. I’m lucky to have the support and understanding from family and friends. My friends are those from my previous support group. We shouldn’t have to pretend we are okay when we’re not. That’s what our friends and family are there for.
I’ve realized that I’m very good at pretending to be alright. I’m not trying to be strong. Most of the time, it’s just easier to pretend to be okay than it is to express how I’m really feeling. I think that’s because I don’t know how I’m actually feeling. I’m stuck between several different emotions and no emotions at the same time. I know that pretending I’m okay when I’m not cannot last forever.
At some point, my emotions will come rushing back to me. It seems that I either have every emotion or no emotions, there’s no balance for me. That’s how it goes with bipolar disorder. When that happens, I know that I have a lot of support from my family and friends.
I talk a lot about staying positive and how positive thinking is beneficial. Sometimes I feel like a fraud when I talk about being positive because it’s not how I naturally feel. My mind almost always goes to the negative side instinctively. Some people are naturally positive, and others are not. For me, it takes a lot of work to be positive, most of the time I’m faking my positivity. There’s a catch phrase that says, “Fake it ’til you make it.” That’s what I’m doing most of the time. I try to talk and write positively in hopes that eventually I’ll end up believing my own words. Sometimes, when I’m dealing with an anxiety provoking situation, I tell myself over and over, “I can do this.” Even though I don’t necessarily believe myself, it gets my brain to start thinking about something other than what is scaring me. It almost always ends up working out okay. That specific strategy helped me while at the airport, which is a huge anxiety trigger for me.
Lately, I’ve been seeing the negative side of everything. I will vent for a little while, and when I’m done, it turns out that I’ve talked myself through the negativity and into positivity. Even though my mind sees more negative things than positive things, at least I see some positive things. I may start out venting, being angry, and negative; however, it helps that I’m able to end my thoughts on a positive note.
I may not always be positive, but I am grateful. Even though my life has been difficult, it could always be worse. I try to remain grateful for at least one thing, no matter how difficult life gets. Gratitude can seem impossible, but there is always something to be grateful for. For example, despite the difficulty I’ve experienced over the past many years, I still have my sobriety. I’m also extremely lucky to have a family that accepts me and does their best to understand my bipolar disorder. That is more than many other people have. No matter how bad life gets, I can always fall back on these things that I’m grateful for. It’s been very helpful for me to have these things I know I’m always grateful for; my loved ones can remind me of them when I forget.
Right now, I feel like a mess inside. Life is chaotic. I’m getting ready to go back home and I’m almost all packed, but I’m not ready to leave. I wish I could take my mom with me. At the same time, I can’t wait to go home and see my husband. He ended up having a radio frequency ablation on his spine today. I’m still waiting to hear how it went. Waiting is not my best quality, it is making me nervous. I wish I had been there to take him and make sure everything was okay. Maybe I’m being a bit overprotective, but I just want to be sure he has everything he needs. Being a caregiver is something I’m good at.
I went to see my grandma once more before I leave. I have a hard time saying no to anyone, so I ended up staying and having dinner with her. Many of the things she says make no sense at all. I did my best to ignore the ridiculous things she said, but they have stayed with me all evening. At least this time I didn’t snap at her, but I’m still mad at myself for feeling the way I do. I get so frustrated and irritated with her. I don’t know why I’m mad at myself because of how I feel, especially since I was nice to her despite the comments she made and questions she asked.
I also received a phone call from an unknown number yesterday. I answered it thinking it was a doctor; I was waiting for a few calls. Turns out, it was my husband’s ex, the mother of his children. I’ve never spoken with her before and I’ve never wanted to. She was extremely nice to me on the phone, overly nice. From what I hear, she is manipulative and holds things over everyone’s head, even her own children. Once I realized it was her, I started to freak out, but I tried to remain calm and polite on the phone. Why was I so polite? It’s just my automatic reaction. She wants all of us to get together for a meal some time. All I could think of was that I would let my husband know. I hope I never have to have another conversation with her. I told my husband about it right away, and he reacted much better than I did. I wish I could go back in time and not answer that phone call. The situation is tearing me up inside. I don’t really know why, the situation is over. I put the phone number to my automatic reject list, that way I don’t accidentally answer a call from her again.
I don’t feel like I can handle my emotions or life right now. I just feel overwhelmed; I feel like I’m drowning. I’m capable of getting things done and I can fake being okay, but the fact is that I’m not really okay. However, I’ve been pretending I’m okay for so long that it’s just become the natural thing to do. Everything is in chaos and I am defenseless.
I almost always fake being okay. It’s not often that I actually feel well, but it’s so much easier to respond to people by simply saying ‘I’m good’ with a smile, than it is to tell people how life really is. Most of the time, I can’t even explain to myself how I’m feeling. The words are easier to say, but not easy; however, the smile can be extremely difficult, if not impossible at times. Usually, when people ask you how you’re doing, they’re doing it to be polite. So what’s wrong with a polite answer?
I was having trouble falling asleep last night, so I was watching TV and trying to figure out what was going on in my mind. Even though a big part of how I’m feeling is because of the Clozapine, some of it is my own mind, and it has really been bothering me. What I came to realize is that when I fake being okay to others, I’m actually lying to them; even if it’s just lying by omission. One of the few things I’ve truly been proud of over the years is my honesty, and now I’m unsure if I can even count that.
This doesn’t mean I have to tell strangers in passing about my life, but I should tell those that love and support me how I’m doing. However, I don’t know if I can do that. I haven’t even been able to be honest with myself regarding how I feel. It takes a lot of work to be able to honestly tell others how you’re feeling. I just assume that most people don’t really want to hear it. When you’re bipolar, how you’re doing can change from day-to-day and even moment-to-moment. I think the people who I need to be honest with are those closest to me. Sometimes I withhold information for a little while, but I always end up telling them at some point.
I used to think that I was an honest person; but I am wondering if I’m dishonest because I withhold information at times and fake how I’m feeling. No matter how much honesty comes out of my mouth, it’s still not all there. I can only think of a few people who really want to know, and I am always honest with these few individuals; my closest family, husband, best friend, and doctors, to the best of my ability. Maybe I can still think of myself as honest; I do my best to be honest with loved ones. Not one person is 100% honest; I guess this is where I cut myself some slack.
Friday was the beginning of the Clozaril rechallenge (generic is Clozapine) process. I had my blood work done; there was some difficulty getting the lab to send the results to my doctor and my pharmacy. It was partially my fault, I did give them the wrong fax number for the pharmacy, but it took 4 phone calls to try to fix the mistake. Even when they finally said the problem was resolved, it turns out that it wasn’t; the pharmacy never received the results. Luckily, I ended up talking to one of the nicest and most caring pharmacists since my father and aunt. He was happy to call the lab himself and request my results so that I could get my prescription. Once he got my lab results, he realized that I had to be registered again in the Clozapine Database because I hadn’t taken the medication since this past summer; all patients need to be registered by both their pharmacist and their doctor. My pharmacist told me he would call me once the registration is complete so I can get my prescription filled. There aren’t many pharmacists that are as polite and happy to help as he was.
Sometime tomorrow I should receive a phone call from the pharmacy letting me know I can bring in my prescription. I admit that I am nervous. I’m not nervous that I will end up with some of the horrible side effects of Clozapine such as neutropenia, which is an abnormally low level of white blood cells, making the patient susceptible to infections. This is why there are so many protocols with Clozapine. I feel like I should be nervous about it, but I’m not. What I am nervous about is the fact that I don’t know if this will work or not. I’m trying to remain positive; I keep saying that this time it will work, I won’t get a fever, I won’t have to go to the hospital, and there won’t be any problems. I’ve been so nervous about this rechallenge, my anxiety level has been much higher than normal; I’m anxious even sitting at home in my comfort zone.
Is this weird that I’m more concerned the medication won’t work than I am concerned that the med will cause serious side effects? I think it’s just because I don’t know how much longer I can live like this. I have had suicidal ideations for more than 5 months. My hallucinations keep getting worse making the paranoia intolerable. And in my mind, the worst part of it all is that I won’t do anything about it. I can’t take my own life, no matter how much I think about it. I know that technically that’s a good thing, but if you lived in my mind for even a day, you would understand. Every day I put a smile on my face and do my best to pretend everything is okay, but inside I’m a disaster. I want to live and be happy to be alive. I need this medication to be the answer. I’ve taken pretty much every other medication and I still do ECTs. I currently take 7 other psychiatric medications, 2 additional meds to treat side effects, and 3 other medications for physical conditions. I just need to catch a break, I’m hoping that will happen with this Clozapine rechallenge. We’re all about to find out.