Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Sometimes I feel like two different people. You would think it might be because of both poles of my bipolar disorder but it is actually the me that is stable and the me that deals with anxiety and depression.
There can be a catch to knowing and understanding our diagnosis. Familiarity with our symptoms can often lead us to notice them to an extreme. I sometimes feel like I’m crazy because I can recognize so accurately when I’m being crazy. Does that make sense? I can recognize when my symptoms are acting up, however I still struggle to manage them.
It feels like two versions of me are arguing and I can never tell which has a more valid case. It is a game of logic vs. distress, rational mind vs. emotional mind and the emotions can come on so unbridled that they feel rational, they feel like the truth.
I feel crazy going back and forth with myself telling myself that they are simply symptoms and I should be able to overcome them. My logical mind tells me I will survive this pain and they are only emotions but it also validates the symptoms and tells me these feelings are real to me, and the pain is real as well.
I went to the auto shop once. I needed and oil change. I waited for the car to be ready and the mechanic came out and asked me to join him in the garage. I knew that was bad news. He proceeded to explain to me that a headlight needed to be changed, my wipers were done, the breaks needed to be redone with new parts and one of my tires had some damage to it and he preferred, for safety, that I change them at least in pairs.
I started panicking. My anxiety started acting up, images of my pitiful bank balance danced through my head. I called my fiancé. I was freaking out. He said he would drive down and he would talk to the mechanic and decide what needed to be done and what could be left for now.
As he offered to come down, I could see myself from the outside. Calm down. It’s not a big deal. It’s a lot of money, if you can’t pay tell the mechanic that and go home. If you can pay for some, do that. Calm down. Speak to him like you’re an adult. Stop mumbling how confused and frustrated you are, stop feeling this crippling anxiety.
As if it were that simple. I recognized the distress and the ineffective reaction I was having to it but in that moment it was intense enough that I did not know how to regulate myself.
My fiancé arrived and I burst into tears. He said he would take care of it. On the way out, after we figured out what to do, I asked the mechanic if I could speak to him. Through loud, heaving sobs, in burst of words he probably barely understood, I told him I had horrible anxiety and didn’t have my medication with me and I was sorry. He said several times he understood and not to apologize but I’m sure he was hoping I’d never bring my car there again.
It requires a find balance to not fall into a spiral of thoughts and analysis; allowing myself to feel my feelings and acknowledge the pain while understanding the chemical imbalance and environmental factors causing it.
I can tell myself what a “sane” person would do. I can identify the behaviours I would want to display instead. But I’m in a pattern. I do my best to break it, I do my best not to let it control me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it works less well. It is up to me to do the work and to aim for mastery of the tools that allow me to manage my symptoms.
Am I crazy? Maybe. We all are in our own way. Am I crazy for acknowledging I’m crazy thereby proving that I’m not? Not sure if that makes sense.
I have spent time learning about my illnesses and educating myself. It both helps me and hinders me.
Am I crazy? The consensus changes all the time but I know that I am more than my symptoms and I know I work hard at managing them. I’ll keep doing that work no matter how crazy I feel.