Today I came across a post on xoJane.
This excerpt really spoke to me:
Living with a mental illness is a study in survival. Every day, every emotion is questioned. What is this? Am I happy or am I starting to head towards mania? Is this an honest sadness or is my brain breaking again? Why is it breaking now? What is so different now than yesterday? Why me? Why this?
To say it’s frustrating is to minimize how paralyzing it can be. And then there’s the shame. Having to decide who to reveal to and when. If I meet someone I’m interested in, do I tell them that sometimes I shrink away or do I wait until it happens? Revealing too much too soon can end it before it begins. Waiting too long results in confusing behaviour that ends things as well. No matter how you play, someone isn’t going to understand.
– Bassey, Does That Make Me Crazy? Living With Bipolar II
How do you know that what you’re feeling is normal? Do other people feel the same way? We are only able to access the information inside our own heads, not others. It’s like trying to work out if other people see colours exactly the way you do. The way someone else
sees perceives sea green (for example) maybe the way someone else sees perceives purple, but that’s the way they and you have always seen it, that’s what we were taught as children. It’s impossible to work out if you and I see things in exactly the same way, just like trying to work out if people’s emotions and internal, mental reactions to every day events are the same.
I’m not sure if what I’ve said above even makes sense to someone else… I know exactly what I mean, but of course you can’t see or hear my thoughts inside my head, or feel the way that I’m feeling.
Sure we all know that the majority of us will get a similar feeling of sadness from something, a feeling of happiness from something, feeling of anger from yet something else, but how do you know if the feeling that is triggered inside you is the same level that someone else will be feeling. What is the ‘normal’ way to be feeling about things? Do we really all get days were we feel extra sad, or days were we feel extra happy for no known reason? Or there might be a reason, but then you start asking yourself if the way you’re reacting and feeling is more extreme than someone else would be in the same or similar situation (or at least I personally do).
Then you get a whole other problem where you start to second guess whether what you’re feeling is a ‘true’ emotion, or are you just faking it so well that even you can’t be sure yourself whether it’s real or not.
And there’s issue where you start asking yourself why you find particular things triggering for mania or depression. Situations like getting low blood sugar, not getting enough sleep, even just stubbing your toe. Do other bipolar sufferers find these or similar events can lead them into an episode?
Over the top of all of this, there’s this thought gnawing away at you in the back of your mind, “Is this diagnosis really what’s wrong with me? What if I just display all the symptoms because that’s what I started believing I had? What if I’m actually a hypochondriac, and the reasons the medication works is because I believe it will work and therefore it has a placebo effect?” (Though in saying that, not all medication has worked for me, some making things worse, others not having any effect.)
I know there’s some of you out there that will read this and start to worry. You don’t need to, I’m ok 🙂 Really this is just me thinking aloud, wondering if there are others who feel the same way as I do, and looking for some enlightenment.