Psychosis has often made it really hard for me to keep things straight, and even in my younger years I put a lot of effort into trying to separate depressive or manic periods and thinking from those where I am more stable. Before I was really able to pinpoint when I was experiencing mania or depression, one of the ways I did this was to consider these situations almost another version of reality.
Trust me, the idea of reality gets rather skewed while experiencing psychosis and though I’ve been on the hunt for ways to gauge whether the reality I’m experiencing makes sense with the reality of the people around me it can be frustrating (and impossible at times) to try to truly gauge the two.
So, as I mentioned, one of my first lines of defense has often been to think of my psychosis ridden bipolar disorder as something of a dual citizenship. That means I am a resident of two worlds; one world everyone else knows and sees on a regular basis, and another where (much like Alice’s wonderland) things can get a little weird.
It might sound a little funny, and while this other reality I live in from time to time doesn’t have talking playing cards or freaky cats (that would be something) I do often find myself dealing with life seeming to have a much different pace, the truths of the reality are often a far cry from what I’m used to, and even my motivations and dreams seem very different than in my regular day to day life.
Yesterday, for example, I spent about half the day living regularly. I washed some dishes, watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and talked to my Grandma on the phone.
The other half of my day was spent in depression land, a different sort of reality where (pace) no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to catch up with what needed to get done. The (truths) I faced in this place seemed to be that my relationship was totally unstable and deteriorating before my very eyes, leading my (motivations) to demand I make sudden and dramatic efforts to curb the situation.
After several hours I found myself back in regular life, the reality of depression land having vanished and been replaced with (pace) feeling on top of things. (Truths) My boyfriend cares about me, he even brought me home some chocolates. (Motivations) For the love of pete, don’t make any sudden moves!
It seems like the last few depressive episodes I’ve had I find myself plopped down right in the middle of where I left off, which is rather maddening and definitely confusing as heck. A bit like waking up from a bad dream only to fall asleep and find myself right in the middle of it again!
Mania land is a little different for me, less like I feel overburdened by the information around me and more like everything starts to fade away like one of those Bugs Bunny cartoons where he keeps screwing with Daffy by drawing him into some kind of weird half plant half platypus and the setting becomes little more than a blank sheet of paper.
The (pace) often feels like I am so ahead of the game that spending six more hours writing isn’t a big deal. The (truths) usually suggest I’ve been worrying far too much lately, leading my (motivations) to urge me to brush off all forms of responsibility or concern. Hijinks ensue.
Mixed land, well, it’s a place I try to avoid at most costs but unfortunately I’m quite familiar with it. Everything about the (pace) there usually feels much too slow, like I am ready to run a marathon but I’m trapped in a vat of peanut butter; too much energy and no way to expel it. The (truths) that seep in tend to be based on suspicion, that people are hiding things from me or are up to no good (heh), leading my (motivation) to either have a meltdown at them or try to sleuth my way to the truth in some kind of jacked-up Film Noir version of reality.
Sometimes describing my mental and emotional states as places helps people understand how jarring it is to be sitting around one minute, minding my own business, and then suddenly be thrust into another odder, often less productive version of my life. I can be sitting pretty one second and in depression land, or mania land, or mixed land without warning; sometimes it takes me some time to even recognize something has changed. After all, the people around me go on with their lives and their own reality as if nothing has changed, and if I’m having a good day they may not notice that anything has changed on my end, even though I’m somewhere else.
Ultimately, time has shown me that I am probably not actually trapped in some outrageous form of reality manipulation by warping me to suspiciously similar copies of my life and that this dual citizenship is actually coming from within me, not externally. Still… I can’t say for certain that there isn’t some kind of brain gnome in my noggin who happens to keep forgetting to turn the basement light off or something, leading me to hear a high pitched whine where there wasn’t one before.
In all seriousness though, mental health is a tricky thing to understand, even for those of us who experience mental illness every day. Having said that, thank nuggets it is therapy day today.