Loopy, Lonely and Lost

Posted on: July 8, 2012

Life is getting better. Not suddenly or drastically, but I think the general trend over the past year or two has been towards stability. During this time I’ve had some terrible moments, but the frequency and severity of such moments has been decreasing. For several years, I didn’t really have any middle ground. Most of the time I was either miserable or ecstatic, wanting to die or wanting to rule the world, and the brief snatches of something between the two were usually due to being too exhausted to feel anything.

I think I’ve reached some sort of middle ground now. For a while I mistook it for blankness, but I don’t think that’s it. It’s just that I’m so much calmer than I’ve ever been. I’ve become docile. There’s a part of me that misses the person I used to be, because in many ways my life is sort of empty now. There aren’t many things I have particularly strong feelings towards, and that saddens me.

I used to think that all my problems were in my own head. It’s the arrogance that comes with self-loathing: I am so powerful that I cause every difficulty I ever experience. Life is more complicated than that. There were problems in my head, but some – many – of them were caused or exacerbated by problems outside of me. What seems like a lifetime ago, I saw a psychiatrist, who asked what my family life was like, and I answered “Fine”. I knew that my family wasn’t perfect but I saw it as a separate problem. I wanted the psychiatrist to help me get well enough to cope with my family stress, and I refused to understand that that stress itself was contributing to the way I was feeling.

I’m not saying my family made me ill. I’m saying that if you have any tendency towards emotional instability, having to deal with other people’s instability is pretty likely to fuck you up.

My mum is insane, and there’s no other word for it. I don’t think she acts the way she does deliberately: she never apologises, because she doesn’t see that she has any reason to do so. She sees herself as rational and calm and put-upon; a good person bearing unimaginable suffering caused by everybody else’s selfishness and cruelty. It takes a lot of mental strength to disagree with her, to be absolutely certain that she is manipulative and unreasonable. I can’t do it all of the time. I don’t fly into a rage like I used to – especially when I was a child – but I’m learning to look her in the eye and just say, “No”.  I’m trying to be firm and show her that I see through her bullshit, that I’m not the little girl who used to sob for hours, believing her when she told me I was a terrible daughter and she was going to call Social Services to take me away. But I’m also trying to be polite and grown-up about it. I’m not the teenager who used to shout right back at her.

In some ways, it’d be easier if she really meant to cause everybody harm. If she was a proper, theatrical villain. But she’s not evil, just delusional. Everyone is a villain but her. In her mind, she’s being attacked from all sides, surrounded by a family who never do anything for her and who take advantage of her. In reality, I can’t even begin to explain how much my dad does for her, how little anyone ever asks of her, and how cruel and malicious she can be.

But she’s my mother. I can’t spend all of my life fighting her. I’m just trying to be the best person I can be – keeping quiet when I can, and when I can’t keep quiet, being as honest as I can.

It’s going okay, but it’s not ideal. She’s my mother but I experience so much stress because of her, to the point where I have to detach myself from the situation in order to stay calm. She notices it and thinks I’m cold and heartless. Maybe I am, but it’s the best way I know to deal with being around her.

I have such deep spaces of stillness inside me. Great caverns of cold stone and inky darkness where nothing grows and nothing changes and nothing happens. I know that I live too much in these places. I take a deep breath and descend, and I let the nothingness surround me. These are my reserves of calm and quiet and sense. At the first sign of trouble I retreat within myself and wait for the storm to pass. I know that I should stay above ground and weather it: stay truly present and involved and deal with whatever happens, because there is no other way to progress and improve and live. But it’s so comfortable, living within myself. Never having to look anything in the eye. Having no-one to answer to but myself. Not having to truly face anything, just hiding until danger passes. Hiding in vast chasms of pure darkness, darkness that would be oppressive but for the fact that it’s mine: it’s the dark, still, empty place inside me and I own it, and it keeps me safe.

I’m not depressed. Not in any way I recognise. I’m functioning. I get out of bed in the morning. I go to work. I’m not suicidal. I often laugh and joke and imagine a future. It’s just that I’m not fully living. I don’t emotionally engage with anyone or anything. What feelings I have, I can’t express. When did expressing emotion ever do me any good, anyway? People who think they know me well know I’m not as unfeeling as I appear, but they can’t pinpoint it. They tell me I’m not the robot I pretend to be, but they haven’t seen evidence of that yet.

I’m afraid. As the months go by, my foundations strengthen, but I’m still afraid to test them. I stay within my capabilities. I don’t try for anything. I don’t take risks. I’m scared that this relative normality will come tumbling down. And yet, there’s a voice within me that just keeps asking when. When will I be strong enough to do anything other than exist? When will I be able to overcome the fear of trying to be anything other than what I am? When will I feel hope?

Work is going quite well. People tell me it’s going very well, but every mistake, every moment when I did something wrong or needed help or wasn’t perfect – all those things build up, and I carry them around with me, heavier every day. People want me to have ambition, and I don’t know how to respond. I want to be more than I am, but I’m scared of trying. I can’t help but feel that one significant failure would be the end of me, would knock the stuffing right out of me and I’d find it hard to carry on.

I don’t want to die. I don’t have any urge to self-destruct. I just wish I knew the right way to live. I wish I knew how to be something more, something better. I wish I had the strength to bring change into my life, and embrace it.

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Hello

My name is Laura. I was once told that I have cyclothymia. This blog is mostly where I write about living as a person with extremes and instability of mood, and the history of a life that led to the development of those symptoms.

I complain a lot, I'm very repetitive, unreliable, and I tend to contradict myself.

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