We all deal with our ups and downs. Every type of life has them. It doesn’t matter how much money you make; it doesn’t matter what car you drive; it doesn’t matter where you life (or what you live in for that matter). There are good days and bad days for all of us.
That being said, I’ve found a life that has more ups and downs, as well as more extreme ones. Our family deals with quite a few diagnoses of mental illness. This brings a much larger reaction to the normal day to day struggles of life. Things just get a lot bigger a lot faster for families like ours.
Look, I get that it doesn’t bring more or less strife to our life. Let me give you an example of a typical struggle: You put on the breaks and slowly slide into the car in front of you, no injuries just a few dented bumpers and your car has a leaking radiator.
So, for those of you without mental illness first- You get angry at the car, you might even swear at the car and kick the tire. After 5 minutes or so, you calm down enough to talk to the other driver, exchange numbers, call your boss to let them know that the car stopped working, call your spouse to talk about next steps, call the insurance to see if anything that happened is covered, and call a tow truck. You are able to sit quietly and wait for the police and tow truck to arrive. You might even joke with the other driver and talk about how you’re happy no one is hurt. When they get there, you give them your information that you know where it’s at and are able to ride with in the small cab of the tow truck to the service station. All of this is probably over in 2 hours and You’re able to get a loaner and make it to work before noon.
This is what would happen in my house- Yes, anger at the car… it’s not a quiet swearing and kicking the tires. It’s a rage. It’s pounding fists on the car, it’s slamming doors. The brain of the driver is totally unable to control this activity. Headspin begins. The anger turns into anxiety. “What if this person sues me? What if I have an injury I don’t feel right now because of adrenaline?” The other person gets out of the car and is coming toward you “What if they want to hurt me? I better be ready to defend myself.” Now you’re in a defensive stance when a potentially adrenaline filled person is coming toward you. They may take this as a threat and you get in a brawl. Let’s assume they don’t. You’re still hopped up on adrenaline. now they’re asking for your information. You go to your car and because of your inability to remember things (a symptom of bipolar disorder) you can’t remember where the registration or insurance card is. After looking for 5 more minutes, you find them, but the insurance card is the old one because you forgot to put the new one in the car. You are at least able to give the numbers for the person. They have already called the cops about the accident. Your car is not running. You are overwhelmed by what has to happen next- do you call your spouse first, the insurance, the tow truck, the service station… do you try to move your car out of the way? It’s a lot of choices for someone who has a hard time making decisions. We are 20 minutes in and you start with the insurance guy. Then your spouse calls and asks why the cops are calling them. So, you explain and they’re irate that you didn’t let them know right away. Now your brain is telling you that this person you love more than anything wants to leave you because you screwed up again. You talk to the officer when they arrive, call the tow truck after that and sit and wait. About 2 hours after the accident, your boss calls you… Ooops… you forgot that you were on your way to work. You lose your job because of this, your spouse is irritated with you, and you start telling yourself that you screw everything up… and now you can’t remember the name of the service station you talked to, but you don’t want to try to call them again because there are so many numbers on your phone that aren’t your usual numbers.
You see, when your brain doesn’t process information correctly or in a scattered sequence, even a small change in plans can reduce your functioning. We deal with that in my family. Everyone does; there is mental illness in all of us at one level or another. Through this blog, we hope that you’ll get to see many different facets of recovery, treatment, and healing. We will take you with on our journey for physical, mental, and emotional health. We hope you’re ready for the ride.