Thursday, April 23, 2015

WTH Is Wrong With You?

#HAWMC day 23: Write about whatever you like! Got a great story,opinion, or tip to share? Tell us here.

I'm writing this on a rainy day, in the middle of depressive cycle, the day after some weird type of cycle switch in which I know some bad stuff happened but I have a little bit fuzzy recollection of some of the details because, well, that's what happens when I have a really bad episode... it's a bit like I'm possessed and when it's done I'm like "what the f- happened to me just now?"

And so I'm not feeling like sharing a funny story or whatever. I'm feeling like commenting, answering, the question that I know all too many people have about me: WTH Is Wrong With You? I've decided to break this up into the most common complaints/issues - spoken or "don't need to be spoken it's obvious in your actions and/or body language or the fact that you've slowly stopped inviting me to do things" - that I receive. Let me point out, these are things I hear over, and over, and over from numerous people who don't understand my condition, even if they try, because they've never experienced it. I'm not just trying to be a sarcastic ass here, though I'm sure I come across as such, but I really am trying to help people understand. 

Why are you always tired? Because I have a rapid cycling condition that literally drains physical, mental, and emotional energy. It's like a giant tug of war with my body and my brain, all day, every day. And also, I'm on meds that could tranquilize a moose. I'm starting a second today that I'm told "is slightly stronger than a zyrtec". So if you see me face down on my computer keyboard, just prop me up Weekend-At-Bernies-style. Because of my cycling, I often get insomnia - middle of the nigh hypomanic cycles don't make for a good night's rest. If I sleep, I often toss and turn so it's not proper sleep. I'm supposed to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night to help with cycling, doctor ordered. What grown person with a job gets that? Nobody, so I'm always sleep deprived. Oh, and my meds drain my sodium, so I'm often borderline hyponatreumic. You know one symptom of hyponatremia? You guessed it - fatigue. (Here's a full list from the Mayo clinic). Trust me, I hate my exhaustion more than anyone else. It's prevented me from doing many fun things because I physically can't manage to. 

There's always something wrong with you. Are you ever going to be better? Err... umm... awkward pause, because you have a point. There IS always something wrong with me. I have a chronic, lifelong medical condition without a cure.Also see below, this helpful advice from "if people treated all illness like they treat mental illness". 

You use your condition as a crutch. Once again, the graphic above. If I had one leg, and wasn't able to do something that required two legs, would it be a crutch?(no pun intended on the leg/crutch thing, it was just an easy example). I think there's a difference between one's condition being a reason, and it being a crutch. I can understand to the outsider it may look this way because you can't see what's going on inside my brain, obviously. But I ask you to take my word for it on this one. Fun fact: the definition of crutch part b says: another word for crotch. Completely unrelated, I just had to share. 

You never want to do anything. You're no fun. Absolutely untrue. There are plenty of things I'd like to do. A nice cozy dinner with one or two people I'm close to. Meeting a friend for coffee or breakfast at my favorite cafe. Going for a hike or a bike ride or kayaking  (weather permitted). Playing cards or board games (that don't involve solo cups or shot glasses). In fact the things I don't want to do are very limited: I don't want to go to an large event or gathering where most of the people are acquaintances at best, where everyone's going to be up late drinking when I can't, and I have to interact and be social with drunk people who are actually enjoying themselves while I'm trying not to have a panic attack. There's this great article on being friends with introverts. I think it can also imply to being friends with someone with social anxiety. I happen to hit both of these groups. What is fun to you causes the walls to close in on me, to the point where my heart races, I have trouble breathing, and I get dizzy. This is not by choice. Who would choose that? It's like if my idea of fun was skydiving and bungee jumping, and you were desperately afraid of heights, and I considered you no fun because you wouldn't come along or got anxious when you did. 

Why are you crying? I'm depressed. About what? You're life isn't bad. It's not about anything. I have depression. It makes me cry, randomly, about god knows what. In fact, probably not even god, because I'm a Buddhist.  How can you fix it? By not having depression. Can't you get over it? Technically, I'll "get over it" when I cycle back into hypomania. But no, you don't really "get over" a mood cycling disorder. 

It's all in your head. Is your brain located somewhere else on your body? Because mine is right inside my skull, like a "normal" person's. So yes, it is in my head. It's in my brain in my head where my sodium receptors randomly release too much or too little sodium whenever it feels like, resulting in cycling of my moods.

You're not trying hard enough. 
Let me tell you about my day so far. I woke up literally unable to feel anything. Physically, I could feel my legs and arms move, but it was more like I registered them move, than felt them. I felt like my emotional center, my heart, had been ripped out of my body, and had radiated down to the rest of me. I literally couldn't feel. Do you know how scary this is? Freakin' scary. I got in the shower, got dressed, got ready for work because I knew I had to. Like a robot. I made some coffee. Thank god for coffee. I took my meds after breakfast. I had a meds reaction, not by any means uncommon, which made me dizzy, nauseous, and disoriented. Luckily I didn't get the numbness in my tongue and lips this time, so there's a plus, and it went away after a couple of hours. I tried to feel happy. I tried to feel frustrated. I tried to feel... anything. I couldn't. I could, barely, somewhere, in the background, feel sad. Oh, I forgot to mention that I spent the drive into work crying. I'll probably spend the drive home crying. It's not about work at all, I love my job. It's not about anything except depression.  I'll probably have at least one more crying bout today. I don't know if it's worse to feel everything, like I often do, or worse to feel nothing. I think on some level, I'm feeling them both - every emotion is magnified in my subconscious, but I can't actually feel any of them. It's confusing. Did I mention scary? Hence, the tears.

Sometimes, it hits me that this might be as good as it gets. That this is the rest of my life. This back and forth between feeling every emotion like a raw nerve on your skin, to numbness, robot-ness. That thought makes me more numb. I cry more, but at least I finally have a reason. And so I advocate. I write blogs like this in hopes that people will understand. I try to be ok with my world being different than everyone elses', with me being different than everyone else, in case they don't understand. And sometimes, I want to ask myself "wth is wrong with you", too. But I don't, because it's not "wrong", it's just me. It's how I'm made, for better or worse. Nobody has to like it. I just ask that they respect it.  

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