Diary Page Eighty (wow)
February 10, 2009 - Time for some new eyes through which to see the world...

False beliefs I have to get over:

"I'm so far behind everyone else"

First, I have got to stop comparing myself so much to others. Since for so long I haven't allowed myself to really know anyone else, I don't even know how anyone else is living in order to make an accurate comparison. The comparisons are always shallow and just assuage my fragile ego. Also, I'm not really that far behind anyway. I'm stronger, more mature, and more capable than I ever thought. I am 27 years old, and I feel it, and I think it.

"Failure must be avoided at all costs"

I have spent so much time building a safe, predictable, tightly-controlled world for myself in which I never fail. Oh, my entire LIFE looked like a failure, but I could just do my darndest to avoid thinking about life. I could always blame the world or my family or the people who let me down or being poor or whatever for all the things that went wrong. Of course, I could also hold on to the belief that I was simply incapable, damaged, broken. You don't blame a broken thing when it doesn't work, when it fails. You pity it, you leave it alone.

I am not a broken thing. I have to fail because I have to live. You know, there is a part of me that is looking forward to failure because I think it will open up different opportunities. Risk and the possibility of failure are kind of exciting. At the very least, SOMETHING will happen after all these years of nothing.

"You have to hit rock bottom before you can ever really get better, and you haven't hit rock bottom yet, so you can't really get better"

This irrational fear has been plaguing me and it is time to let it go. It seems so silly when I say it out loud, yet it sits in the back of my mind every day. I'm not perfect. I'm not close to it. I'm not even somewhat good. I watch movies I shouldn't watch, dwell on things I shouldn't dwell on, and as recently as a week ago was still engaged in a sin I have practiced for far too long. And here I am, feeling and doing much better, but I can't trust it because I haven't had the epiphany. Well maybe life is not about epiphanies. Maybe it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I don't have to wait for the other shoe to drop, I can try living, can't I?

"I'm a night owl"

The thing about bipolar disorder is normal sleep is the first thing to go. I haven't been a "daytime person" since before adolescence. All told, I spent maybe 18 months total in high school and I missed a lot of school days even then. A lot of this is because I wasn't sleeping at night, so I was dead dead tired and needed to sleep during the day. I used to cut school all the time, sneak back home, go in the dark basement..AND GO TO SLEEP. I never went anywhere or did anything when I was cutting school except sleep. When I finally dropped out for good I tried working here and there but I remember my boss asking me if I wanted to change my hours to start later because I was late every single day (he was nice, and eventually I was fired, but they did try). Ever since I went on disability I've had absolutely no reason to be up during the day, and for the most part I haven't been (with a few notable exceptions, such as when I lived on my own).

When you're either sleeping or seriously fatigued all day you miss out on a lot. Besides work and school, you can't go to the doctor, can't get basic errands done, and end up paying bills late all the time because you're never awake when you need to be. You can't make any kind of appointments and if you do, if you're like me you will miss or cancel most of them. It is impossible to make and stick to a schedule. I have lived an unscheduled life for such a long time and that has kept me out of sync with the world around me. Of course, that only reinforced my sense of isolation and made it less and less likely that I would ever see the need to change.

The thing is, while eschewing the daytime life you've got to find a life somewhere or you kill yourself (and of course I tried that, and wanted that, so many times). And I found a semblance of a life in the nighttime. When I was a teenager, I stayed up all night debating on the internet, or writing articles for websites, or reading (AH reading 12 hours a night, night after night after night). As I got older I kept reading, or writing songs and poems, or chatting on social forums about this or that subject (football, American Idol, personality types, etc.), or watching movies or playing games or whatever. I could dance and sing in the middle of the night. I had so much energy (of course, a lot of the times it was hypomanic energy) and tension too but at night I felt so ALIVE. True, there would be times when I'd be on a new medication, or maybe it was Spring, and I'd remember how nice sunlight could be and how beautiful morning could feel but those times were few and far between.

But see, the thing is, I am not "a child of the night". I need the sunlight just like anyone else. It wasn't like my life was all that productive at night. I still couldn't work, not even a night job. I noticed that even when I entered this degree program in which I could do assignments any time of day I wanted, I still didn't do them in the middle of the night. I still found pockets of time earlier in the day when I was awake and still had a brain and I did my homework or took my tests then. Now that I've started taking citalopram (where has this med been all my life??), I honestly could not go back to the night life even if I wanted to, AND BELIEVE ME I HAVE TRIED. I take naps but they still don't keep me up at night. I overslept last Sunday and I still went right back to a normal sleep schedule. I can even fall asleep when I'm not dead tired!!! And I'm not waking up due to insomnia. I have energy during the day, and not manic energy, just feeling "awake". At one point I felt so weird, like I should be sleeping during the day and I felt like I had insomnia just because I was up "at the wrong time" (that time being 5pm).

Now you know, I still don't really believe this and of course I'm waiting for it to fall apart on me somehow. But let's assume it won't fall apart, and I really might be able to hack this daytime thing after all. I don't know how to live life yet. I don't know. You can't learn from watching movies or reading books. But life is here, whether I'm ready for it or not. I think I might just be ready, we'll see.

February 20, 2009 -
I believe that miracles happen to those who refuse to be told they can't happen when we least expect...

If it all falls apart I can survive with Jehovah's help.

So yesterday I realized that I am not ugly. Okay, I think I am pretty. In fact, I have realized a lot of things lately. Over the past year I have been undergoing rather intense therapy sessions with a psychiatric nurse coming to my home. She is the first person that I have been able to fully trust, as much as I am capable of trusting. I discovered that I keep many secrets that I don't even know I am keeping, but suffice to say that if I discover a heretofore unknown secret buried in my heart I feel comfortable telling her. I have never trusted any medical professional before, not even a little bit. I think I have some prejudice against doctors and nurses, but to be honest I haven't had the best history with them. Law of averages or whatever, I just haven't had the best (probably in no small part because I can't pay for my own medical care or insurance). But about a year ago I tried another "last ditch effort" to get some help and I was able to finagle my way into getting a visiting nurse. And I admit, I did not have high hopes but Joanne has been really, really great. She's been patient with me and she has questioned me and she has really, really listened.

There have been a LOT of ups and downs over this past year, but underneath it all I have been developing stability, which is something I have NEVER felt in my life. My childhood was very chaotic from my perspective and I created a fantasy world where I could retreat and read my books or surf the internet or whatever. I did not experience healthy attachment or intimacy with any sense of permanence with anybody. I have been both desperate for attachment and isolated, and I had no voice. I have been an extremely private person, not letting anyone into my world, not emotionally or even physically (seriously, no one really comes into my room, and if I am around people I have a knack for finding a private space). I just couldn't deal, not with people, not with all of the sides of myself, and not with the big world outside. So eventually I just became a flat-out hermit, and not all too pleasant. I even lost my ability to give, I just had nothing left anymore, not for the past 18 months or so.

Through the course of my therapy I've been learning to deal. And it has not been easy at all. Which is good, because when it is easy then it isn't right. I've had a few decades of pain, loneliness, mistakes, irrationality, and angst. So "learning to deal" shouldn't be easy. And it wasn't. The hardest thing was how slow the process of healing could be. Sometimes weeks would go by with me not getting any better, having any insights, anything, but the point was that I wasn't backsliding too far either.

Two steps forward, two steps back, then 1 step forward, no steps back, then two steps forward, 1 step back, then standing in place, then 1 step forward, 1 step back, then 2 steps back but then 3 steps forward and so on and so forth. Through it all, I build a foundation, a center that was always there. I circled around and around the nucleus of my being, ahead of myself, behind my capabilities, supporting myself, thwarting myself, but I never lost the connection. I have dealt with longstanding issues with my family, intimacy, contentiousness and the need to fight, physical illness, asking for help, so many things. I have tried different medications and I finally found one that really worked, but at the same time I had the therapy. I needed both. The stability and coping and insight I learned in therapy, combined with the serious stabilizing influence of my medication, have transformed me. I feel whole for the first time in forever. A whole person. With flaws and with strengths, with major issues and minor triumphs, and minor foibles and major successes. All of the things I have learned about myself over the years of keeping this diary, they're all still here but now they mean something.

I feel normal. I HAVE NEVER FELT NORMAL. I have been happy before, I have been energized before, I have been determined before, but never with normalcy underlying that. Okay, so maybe "normalcy" is not a real thing, but for me it just means I feel like I am a whole person, here, now. And I am not afraid! That is the biggest thing. I've been going out in the field ministry and it has not been nearly as hard as I remember. It's just nice and I'm taking things slow and I feel like a child learning how to walk and crawl and live. I am getting to start over and how many people get that chance?

I have no idea how much I am capable of because I have built a life for myself that was one way, and now I am learning to live a different way. It is exciting and confusing and sometimes it is boring but it is worth it. I am not having epiphanies on a daily basis and I don't know what will become of the rest of my life but I don't have to know. My life could end tomorrow, finally I know I have one.
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