How to lose friends and piss off people.

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 “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories we get to write a brave new ending.” Brené Brown

 
In the most inopportune times my illness takes the wheel and steers me into the ditch.  In the ditch, I’m not reliable, I’m not consistent, and I’m constantly having to reschedule or delay planned activities, because of the grip of anxiety and an overwhelming fear that is unexplainable and inexcusable. I forget birthdays of even my closest friends and family. I’m the definition of a flake, but only because I hide behind a mask everyday. What most people don’t know is that I don’t intentionally flake. If I had a choice, I’d be the outgoing, helpful, and reliable girl they love to be around everyday. The life of the party, dance on the table fun girl, the girl who volunteers as much time as she can to help others. It hits me like a sledgehammer, usually a slight trigger but many times no warning. I know I’m not getting depressed, I am intimate with depression.  I’m suffering the suffocation of anxiety and PTSD. I have a sudden lost of all control of my emotions. On top of everything,  I realize I have won the jackpot of mental illnesses. This one much harder to treat, memories have become the enemy. 

Unlike my superpower bipolar, Post traumatic stress disorder is normally in my community associated with military members who have given their mind to our country and suffer the wounds of war internally. Their wounds aren’t always visible. It’s definitely not a superpower and has no benefits. It’s become a mainstream topic and given credibility because of the media coverage and the fact that more doctors are recognizing it as a serious condition. So being around the military, I rarely talk about my own PTSD as not to take away from the service members. I hate being asked if it was caused by my service. Earning the title Marine was and is still one of my greatest achievements. My PTSD has absolutely nothing to do with my service to my country. Many of my symptoms are the same as my Bipolar disorder, except I’m haunted at times with nightmares and sudden anxiety. Triggered by the memories of near death, trauma, and lost a precious baby boy. I’m not sure I can write anymore about the cause, the trauma is something my mind can’t fully accept. I never talk about the nightmares and sudden overwhelming fears. It hard to balance being bipolar, being stable, and uncontrollable anxiety. I hide it well and it is exhausting, sometimes I am amazed I survive day to day.

So you might ask how do you lose friends and piss people off?  You don’t tell them you can’t leave the house, you just cancel plans without reason. You are embarrassed to let anyone see you cry and trust me, it isn’t something that can be controled. You just don’t show up and withdraw from society. The fear of sitting or being in a group and starting to cry terrifies me, the circling of strangers asking if I’m okay and rubbing my back trying to help me and I know I can’t explain myself or my actions. It’s the fear of unwanted attention. It’s like choking and not being able to talk. You voice is muffled, when you do talk is that of a gasping hiccup. It passes like a storm, but when the dust has settled and the rain has stopped. You find yourself alone, because you decided to protect them from yourself. You cancelled, you didn’t show up, you flaked. You couldn’t bear the embarrassment of being perceived in any other way than person you chose to show the world.  Turn out this pisses people off, who knew? 

In my pursuit of normalcy, I realized I segregated myself from an incredible support system. It was only once I was honest about my mental health did people understand. Many times once I opened up they opened up about their own struggles with mental health. Some of the strongest people I know had their own demons. Like myself, they hid that they relied on similar drugs. The stigma, It’s the whispers, the people who try to help, and the embarrassment of being a very professional outgoing extrovert who crashes into a barely functional introvert.

So my laundry is piled, sink is full of dishes, and I just want to be alone, the battle has begun. I will not be a flake and a prisoner to my mind.  I’ll start today by going to the grocery store and I’ll cry in aisle three. I’ll let a stranger comfort me and accept the embarrassment that is only in my head. We all need to be more open about mental health.  

It’s the clean up in isle three that can be just as scary.

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About Musings of a mad woman

“Mental labels don’t define who I am, time and aging only gets me closer to those I love, will love, and have loved” ~ S.L. Cato I’ve battle Bipolar disorder for at least 15+ years, toss in a couple more labels I’ve collected such as generalized anxiety disorder PTSD. This battle is pretty amazing and out of this world and at times a dark rollercoaster ride. The medication, the manic episodes, and mania can be pretty humorous. The hypersexuality, drugs, anxiety, depression, ghosts, and parenting. I’ve certainly felt the sting of the “crazy” stigma, but I’m here today. Bipolar is my superpower. I hope by sharing my musings it helps others understand the labels situation whispered behind closed doors. Please feel free to share my stories, rantings and musings. Read more about me in my post "Who is the Mad Woman"

40 responses »

  1. Oh I love you! And I just wrote about a “clean up” for an upcoming post. Great minds think alike. Thank you so much for your writing and being you. ❤ ❤ <3!! You are a soul sister! And you do have beautiful eyes – window to your amazing soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stigma is scary, but the people who speak out and share their struggles openly are the ones forging the path to acceptance. Keep it up, and keep crying openly- we have nothing to hide!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You have gone through so much. I’m sorry, and hope you will find peace of mind and peace of days ahead. I’m glad you found friends who understood when you explained.

    I’m a mental mess myself; I rarely leave the house. I don’t even go to family Christmases because of all the people there. “Unwanted attention,” I get that. I have learned to think more positive and praise God when I am sad, and it helps, but I’m way too far gone for that to cure me. It does brighten my days at home though. I love my days alone with God. I don’t have friends any more; and I feel like I’m an embarrassment to my family, but 66 yrs. old, I don’t care very much any more! I know I’m doing the best I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I share your situation and empathize your painful awareness that people generally misunderstand PTSD and equate it with anxiety. If it was anxiety, that would be our diagnosis. My father-abuser-maniac just died, I found out 3rd hand as I had no contact with him after confronting him with his early childhood sexual abuse of me from the non-verbal toddler years to the 12 yo time frame. Guess what, PTSD work requirednow, more tears and pain to trudge through yet again; at 61 I justwrote the 11 yo child to tell her (me) what my life became after escaping this murder-threatening and physical abuser in my early teen years. Working hard to integrate my child life from broken pieces into a whole adult person, it’s not like I haven’t been working it since my 20’s but help didn’t produce a complete person. I want to be happy and whole in my 60s, 70s and 80s!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so sorry to hear of all the abuse and trauma you have suffered through! I can only imagine and I know that my imagination falls far short of the reality of your experience.

      I’m sure you’ve been offered tons of advice for healing, and are probably beyond tired of it all, but I wonder if you are familiar with EMDR?

      I began trauma therapy, EMDR, last October. My grief counselor recently told me she’d seen more progress in the last two months than she’d seen in the last two years. (Two years ago my family was involved in a car collision that resulted in the deaths of my oldest and youngest children. My surviving daughter has a rare and progressive form of muscular dystrophy, ARSACS. Hence, the PTSD. If you are not familiar with EMDR you might check it out. It’s not talk therapy.

      I’m glad to hear a therapy dog is helping you! We need to look into getting a service dog for my daughter. She wants a small lap dog, but I’m not sure a small dog will be able to meet all her physical needs. Looking into a service dog is a project for another day!

      Praying you find the healing you seek and deserve. And please forgive me if my mention of EMDR was more frustrating than helpful.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Just stopped by to thank you for reading my blog post. I can’t take credit for today’s post but love to share what others have to say about topics that interest me. I notice that you have found people respond well when you admit you are bipolar. I wonder if you have had the same experience when you tell others you have PTSD. I admitted to a friend today that I have PTSD. She reminded me that God is in control (which I fully believe) and that I need to think positively in order to have hope for each new day. It made me wish I’d just said, “I’m fine.” My Pastor’s wife told me to be honest with people, but frankly, honesty leads to frustration when people assume a quick fix to a complicated problem, as if I’m choosing to live with anxiety, depression, hyper-awareness, kindling, etc., etc., etc. “I’m fine” may leave me alone and isolated, but at least it doesn’t leave me feeling defensive. I appreciated reading your perspective and am glad you have someone to hold and a good support system. Thanks for sharing and stopping by Boxx Banter!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, falling out of favour with friends and colleagues is one of my favourite pastimes. I always say “Bipolar means always having to say you’re sorry”. I seem to disappoint or anger people left, right and centre. I’ve adopted a ‘no talking’ policy at work. If my mouth is shut, I don’t say the wrong thing. The worst part is the self-imposed isolation, loneliness and lack of friends. And as lonely as I am, I continue the isolation because I know making a friend will be short lived. I love your writing by the way. Its a joy to read your posts 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Relating to your post during difficult circumstances while trying to understand and facing evasive solutions. Traveling this road the past eight years has strained relationships. I hear you loud and clear. Look forward to reading more and enjoying your deeply heartfelt thoughts. Peace. (I will report things are becoming a little clearer in my world so I am able to enjoy writing blogs and reading others posts. 🙂 Thanks for the space to comment.)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I am not a bipolar, but trust me, I can equally piss of people. See, its about the people. People who genuinely love you will accept you with all your faults and won’t be pissed. People who don’t , will find reason to get pissed… So you are not to be blamed… 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Wonderfully written!

    Every word is EXACTLY on mark and the message is powerful and inspiring. I’ve decided I’m not going to “fake it til I make it” anymore. I think what has hurt me the most about this disease is the lack of support… (in every way imaginable), whether I hid it or not. Good, I’m happy to know it pisses people off.

    Let them call me a hermit or a recluse, but not even bother to ask me about it. Or remark that I don’t answer my phone, but they can’t find a minute to stop by and visit. My husband thinks I’m crazy when I talk to myself.

    “She listens,” I say, “And she understands how I feel.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad I’m not alone. It’s actually somewhat shocking how my crazy musings are actually normal to so many of us. Deb, you’re right sometimes “she listens,” sadly we talk to a community that understands or at least our audience who reads our blogs. It’s only those who have the guts to share our rantings to the “normal” people. They will still not understand…..I believe we are given the gift of feeling deeper, loving more, and hurting more than they every can. It’s a superpower and they can never come close to some of the emotions we feel, we are blessed with our experiences and it makes us stronger. When I wake in terror or sudden onslaught of anxiety, I tell myself…….your felling something only few people experience. Sometime I think I’m dying and I remind myself, if I’m dying I’m conscious and scared but not in pain. Then I think, really start to think, which is so hard. The anxiety is horrid. But I am experiencing something deeper than anyone. You know what I’m talking about, it’s the adrenaline and terror. But we feel deeper, imagine it as a superpower. It’s my coping mechanism. I find power in my weakness. We love more, feel more, give more, care more, and only want it in return. I recluse to be with someone who love me and remind myself, it’s me 🙂 I think you listen to the right person ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “Memories have become the enemy.” Even with a situation that builds over time into non-violent emotional trauma, (when a person cannot escape from a chronically toxic relationship, for example – as with a person very close to my wife and me) vivid memories can surprise and hurt very suddenly and without warning, like a “drive-by-shooting.” You are very brave and have much to offer. Keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think you are a hero. Not because of your service (although thank you), but because you do more than survive each day. Against all odds, not only do you survive, but you share, connect and give in the ways that you can and that you know how. This is my favorite blog – I’m new to the blog scene – but i suspect it will remain as such. Because I think you are inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “You find yourself alone, because you decided to protect them from yourself.”

    Heartbreaking …. because despite the images and masks we project, the roles and games we play, our biggest fears – of rejection and not being loved – for all of who we are, which unfortunately does include our scars and wounds – is crippling. It’s a vicious cycle that does nothing but alienate us further. And slowly, somehow we have to find the strength and courage to say, “this is who I really am – more than a medical diagnosis – more than a job description – more than – most surely more than my scars” – and for those who choose to not understand, even if it takes time for them to get over the shock, fear, uncertainty, “inconsistencies and instabilities” of us – well, then, they don’t have our best interests in heart. And I know it hurts like hell – it’s an awfully scary place to be – but maybe, just knowing you’re not alone in feeling this, in responding and acting this, way can maybe help the rest of us, who are like you, feel a little stronger and more courageous. And perhaps, so you understand further – I have no military background, I’m not bipolar, and yes, I suffer from PTSD, extreme anxiety, severe depression and once, was a highly functional, outgoing, generous and very involved person. Our stories may be different, the spice blends to flavor it through our own experiences, but we, ourselves, have to start to learn to appreciate and love ourselves, just as we are. And yup, clean up on aisle 3 can be scary as hell – but we aren’t to blame. It’s life – it’s messy, honest, raw and real – and in all of the well-rotted compost, the most beautiful of seeds can be sown, germinate, sprout and grow. It just takes time, patience and a whole lotta love – and as hard as it is – it starts with us. One small breath and step at a time.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I understand so well what you wrote. I had lived an awful stressing situation about 2years ago, and i just feel like my horizon is getting clearer now, but sometimes there are big storms coming and going from nowhere. I think the hardest part to recognize is that you had no fucking control about almost anything emotional, ans this is as much harder as recognizing that you are a kind disabled person because of you mental health.
    I think it took me a decade to accept that i have a disability in the place of mental and emotional health. For not controlling anything after the traumatic event, took me maybe a year of hard struggle, almost huge crisis of anger every day because i wasn’t in control and it felt like hell, before i totally crumble and accept that i had no control upon this situation, but in my case i had switched form an extreme to another.
    You can’t control some things, but you can still make choices that will lead you to a quieter path, a healing process, i think that facing the truth about yourself, about our “weakness” or temporary disabilities, is one that can help a lot. So you can start being a bit nicer to yourself and forgive you for not being all the time great and fantastic like you wish you were.
    Having friends and family that understand contribute a lot on your progress, i have the luck to being surrounded by great tolerant friends that even if they didn’t particularly understood my avoidance behavior, each time they saw me back they were telling me how happy they were to see me again and that i’ll be always welcome.
    Even if at that time i wasn’t fully embracing their words, after a few months it gives me the ease to try going out more often, to become tolerant and patient about myself, to keep fighting for going out for everyday task, going to super market or going out for fun.
    And being patient with yourself is what you need to encourage yourself to keep on fighting and making progress, but acknowledge that there will be always time of “storms”, but you don’t have to focus on that, you can focus on your progress instead and it helped me a lot doing that.
    I think all the last year, i have waited for better days to show up and all i was doing was to focus on what i was still not doing great, and finally i was not making progress at all, but the day i choose to remember what i was able to do now that i wasn’t two or one year ago or 6 month ago, now i can more peacefully see myself healing.
    I know it’s an hard process and this month was particularly up and down and for almost no reasons, but focus on your progress, and try to erase the shame, i think most of my avoidance, or feeling bad was link to shame, the shame of not being able to do something i used to do.
    It doesn’t matter because with time and caring for yourself you will be able to. I wish you to get better. You are strong, we are individually strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dear lady, you touch my heart strings and your writing is so soft and kind about what PTSD does with our heart and soul. Long before the PTSD terminology the symptoms were there in others where fear or social paralysis set in and living a normal everyday was impossible for days or even years. Only a few friends or family who cared saw their loved one or friend incapacitated while struggling to get through their changed life when the terrible PTSD symptoms took over. There was too little understanding back then as there still is today. Aging adults couldn’t drive to work any longer, spouses or co-workers took them back and forth, others couldn’t leave their home for fear of the public or strangers or they feared their emotions could overwhelm them in public and embarrass them. And there were and still are self-medicating methods to numb the senses. Thank God wine is no longer my self-medication but I struggle to cope with cigarettes still and hope one day to break free of that. My best tools today are my EMDR PTSD therapy, meditation as best I can, and self-acknowledgement that I can re-train my brain to mitigate PTSD with focusing on mindfulness, that is focusing on the present, the here and now. Wish you could just snap out of PTSD but you can not.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My deepest sympathies.

    I too have PTSD, and it wasn’t the knife fights, the bullets, or even the service I can’t talk about.

    It was the small things that hurt the most. I still have difficulty talking about it, but I have found that talking about it to even just one confidant really helps. My significant other changed my whole life just by listening and holding me tight.

    It is my wish for you that you find safety and understanding in the arms of a loved one. Hang in there, and know you are very strong to have made it this far. Thank you for sharing!
    Havoc

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You may be too young, or whatever, to understand this reference, but I couldn’t help thinking of The Log Lady, from Twin Peaks, as I read this. In any case, as you may know, she was a lady who carried a log, in her arms, about the size of a baby, and she whispered to it, and it, seemingly, whispered back. The point is, she was a cornerstone, so to speak, of her community, pivotal to it’s overall well-being, and, even though she carried this log with her, continually and unapologetically, she was widely accepted by everybody. It was a kind of symbiosis. She was odd, and all, like that, you might say, but when she spoke, everybody listened, attentively, because she always came out with the most wise and intuitive insights and suggestions, because of her unique point of view – because she was The Log Lady.
    (Incidentally, she was Director David Lynch’s Associate Producer, on the series, and in many other projects, and Mr. Lynch acknowledged her significant contributions to his ability to be successful in his endeavors, upon the occasion of her passing, last year.)
    It also brings to mind a short story, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (I think). We all carry something, and some of us, many things one might describe as ‘crippling’. The thing is, our ‘gifts’, which we also carry, often come as a direct result of our journey, and travail.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. “I’m the definition of a flake, but only because I hide behind a mask everyday. What most people don’t know is that I don’t intentionally flake.”

    This is exactly what I wanted to explain to friends, families and acquaintances. It’s not that I don’t like them; I just feel like staying away from the world. I don’t answer their calls, e-mails, invitations, etc. Sad thing is, once I realized that I flaked, I painfully shame myself for choosing to be withdrawn. It’s still not clear if it was a choice to indulge myself of withdrawing from them, or if it’s the sickness. It’s not also clear to me if I have a choice to be mentally sick, or if it’s uncontrollable and all I can do is accept it.

    Awesome post. First time I’ve read from your blog. Looking forward reading more.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. This is poetry! It flows perfectly! It catches the attention! Be brave! I know how you feel. It can hard. The hardest part isn’t having others accept it, it is accepting it yourself. Once that happens, it’s a lot easier. Though it may not feel like it.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. I’m not a veteran, but I was diagnosed with PTSD (complex type). Finding out the why behind my sudden onset anxiety helped me manage it better. Understanding that I’m just wired for survival helped me be patient with myself. And kind.

    I often think that if the world ever comes to an end, I will be in my element. Survival is wired into my neurology. It’s when I no longer have to focus on surviving that things get complicated;)
    Emotional flashbacks can be helpful. They can steer you towards the source of your pain, when, and if, you are ready to face it.
    Hang in there, Girl.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. I have a hard time talking about the PTSD I’ve been diagnosed with, even with my doctors, for similar reasons. At first people see that diagnoses and the fact that I am a veteran and connect dots that aren’t there and ask about wartime and friends that maybe I lost all with an innocent curiosity but it doesn’t dull the sting of having to correct them and say that no, that’s what happened. It’s difficult to find the voice that can speak up and educate people about things like this; the air is too thick with ignorance and we’re just too fucking exhausted trying to live to bother sometimes.

    There’s no shame in crying in isle three, or at the check out counter, because at least you fucking made it that far.

    Liked by 6 people

  21. I’ve been open and honest about having bipolar from the day I was diagnosed. It helped people I know to understand what I was going though…and still am. It helped me by not having to live with shame. Sadly, I know of people in my support groups that things turned out badly. Friends vanished and families became harsh and even abusive. I’d love for everyone with mental illness to come out and be honest, but some aren’t in a position to do so safely.

    Great post

    Liked by 5 people

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