I’ve been wondering lately, who am I? I know a lot of different things that are a part of me, but they’re not who I am. For example, I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a dog owner. I have bipolar disorder and PTSD; these things are also a part of me. I like things to be neat and clean, I like to eat and to cook, and I love family. All of these things are a part of me, but none of them are who I am.
Maybe I’m like a puzzle; each of those things is one puzzle piece. When you put them all together in just the right way, you complete the puzzle and find out who you are. My only problem is that I don’t know where all of my puzzle pieces are. I don’t know most of the activities I enjoy and the things I don’t like. I have a lot of memory loss, making it difficult for me to know any of these things about myself. There’s so much of my past that I don’t remember, how could I ever know who I really am now? My past is a huge part of me, not all of me, and I’m missing so many of those memories.
I suppose that who I am is made up of my past and my present. Every little and big thing about me is a puzzle piece. My bipolar puzzle piece is no bigger or smaller than any of the other pieces; it’s a part of who I am, just like every other piece. I just wish I knew what the final puzzle looked like. Until then, all I know is that I’m not just one thing, I’m many things. I’m made up of so many things, positive, negative, and indifferent.
I often feel like I’m two different people. This is the ‘pretend’ or ‘fake’ person. It’s not that I’m being fake, I’m just holding back. I’m one person when I’m around people I trust, such as my husband and my mom. I can fake being okay and my paranoia, anxiety, and fears decrease. This is the person that I make up; the person I let others see. I can also be this person around other people such as family members and friends. It’s just harder for me to keep up this person. But for some reason, I always feel like I need to put on this other persona. I don’t exactly know why, especially with the people I trust the most. Maybe, I’m just trying to give myself a break from the other person that I am; allowing myself to release some of my anxiety and paranoia. I usually need the help of Valium to do this with people other than my husband and mom.
Then, there’s this second person, the real me. I’m the person who jumps at every little noise. This is the person who sometimes keeps a baseball bat by the door and keeps a knife in my pocket when out for a walk, just in case. My paranoia increases when I’m alone. I have more auditory hallucinations when I’m by myself, although I’m learning to tell which things I hear are real and which are hallucinations. When I leave the house by myself, I’m constantly looking around, especially behind me, so I can see everything that’s happening. I never want to be caught off guard. I rarely ever take anti-anxiety medication when I’m by myself in my house. I prefer to use it when I leave my house or when I with others, that way I can be that other ‘pretend’ person.
I wonder if I’ll ever feel safe again when I’m by myself. Despite the fact that I’m pretending when I’m around others, I do feel safer than I feel when I’m alone. I feel like two different people. Each ‘person’ comes naturally. People I trust tell me I don’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything, but it just happens. For some reason, I don’t feel like I have control over which person appears, it’s just instinctive. Does anyone else have this issue or feel this way?
I always thought that asking for help was a sign of weakness or dependency. I felt that I was always better off doing everything on my own for many reasons. I don’t like letting other people know that I can’t handle everything. It seems as if my flaws are already extremely obvious to everyone; I never saw the purpose in pointing out my shortcomings and vulnerabilities. Plus, when I talk to others about my weaknesses, it means I’m admitting to myself that they’re real. I would rather pretend that everything is okay for as long as possible instead of admit that my issues are real, even though this usually makes my problems worse. Asking others for help requires a lot of trust. I never trusted anyone else to do a better job than I could do; if I couldn’t fix the issue or come up with a solution, then I doubted that someone else could.
I also felt that by not asking others for help, I was being kind to them; who really wanted to spend their time helping me? However, since I didn’t ask others for help, I never allowed people the ability to feel useful. I know that when I am able to help others, it makes me feel good about myself. I finally feel as if I’m important and worth something, which does not come easy for me. Who am I to say others would not feel the same way when helping me? I don’t have to push or force others into helping me, but it is important to give them the opportunity to be there for me and help me through situations.
We become vulnerable by asking others for assistance. I’m usually worried what people will think of me if I tell them what’s really going on. I think that if people knew what was happening in my mind, they would have me locked up. Suicidal ideations, thoughts of cutting, hallucinations, and paranoia; that’s who I really am. Instead, I fake things pretty well; I’m actually fairly talented at pretending everything is okay. However, when I do that, nothing gets better. There’s a saying, ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’. If I want something to change, then I need to do something about it. Asking for help is doing something; it is taking that step toward change. If I allow myself to be vulnerable and ask someone for help, it could be the beginning of change and a deeper relationship.