So I live with two people. One is mentally ill, undiagnosed as of yet but probably BPD based on a counselor’s professional opinion, and the other is possibly the most level human being I’ve ever met. I was once in love with both of them, and now not so much. I’m confused about my first roommate because so much has happened that all I have left for her is resentment and a general lack of sympathy as a result and I had to put aside my feelings for my other roommate because he perceived them to be more my fear of abandonment than anything else and I couldn’t wholeheartedly disagree with him. But whatever, that’s another story for another time.
My issue is that today I blew up. Not normal blowing up where I’m mad for a few minutes and then it blows over but level 1000 anger. My current living situation is that for the most part both me and my other roommate live our lives accommodating for the mental illness of my first roommate. This is to the point, mind you, where if either of us has a problem with her we stay quiet for the most part as most things hurt her feelings or send her into a depression. It’s not a healthy friendship, and for the most part I perceive it as a largely manipulative and toxic one. She refuses to get help, she refuses to talk about or respect any sort of boundaries and she lives in the constant delusion that she and my other roommate are in a relationship (they were together at one point, it’s a complicated situation). I’m repulsed by it because it’s really desperate and sad to watch but it’s honestly none of my business. They are grown ass adults, they can deal with it.
My issue is that I am largely unheard in this household. Any time I get mad I have to hold it in or risk upsetting her and being the subjective bad guy. She listens to my other roommate sometimes because she’s still in love with him and wants to do anything and everything so that the illusion is upheld. But me? I’ve always been a replacement for him. She came to me when they first broke up, looking for comfort. She then managed to persuade me to ask him to give her some closure with the both of us, and then all of this happened. It hasn’t been a happy chapter, and its more complicated than I’d care to deal with.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if she had never come back into my life. What would have happened if I had just minded my own business and didn’t get overly involved with her. I don’t regret reconnecting with my second roommate but if I never reconnected with her then he wouldn’t be in my life either.
It’s just so fucking confusing. I’m about a month off of Zoloft (I couldn’t afford it) and I can’t tell if all this doubt and anger is a result of withdrawal or if it’s just that I’m finally at my capacity. It just… It feels like I’m going crazy and I don’t know what to do or say or how to act. I don’t know what to do and I’m tired of being the calm one of the two of us. But at the same time she’s such a handful that I can’t bring myself to express this to my second roommate most of the time. So I just smile and pretend like I’m okay when really I’m spiraling and don’t have much to cling to. I don’t really have that much of a support system really. I only have 1-2 people that I interact with regularly and have trouble making any sort of long lasting connection that isn’t entirely draining. What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to fucking do other than explode? Why do I always have to be the calm one?
I just want to feel accepted and loved and cared for and like I’m worth a damn to anyone. Is that too much to ask for?
Sometimes I’m just so frustrated. I want to be okay, like nobody has any idea how badly I want to just be normal. I’ve been in counseling for the last three years. I have cried and yelled and gone on medication and I’m still not okay. I hate that I feel this way and I’m so fucking tired I swear. I just want to be okay. Is that too much to ask for.
Being on the outside is not a new feeling for me. Rather, every new instance of feeling like an outsider is just a continuation and familiar experience overall. I’ve been an outsider since I was a child. I was a girl from a poor neighborhood who had parents that were very different from the majority of the people that lived around us. As such, I was different.
I knew more English than Spanish. I knew more about the Goo Goo Dolls and Red Hot Chili Peppers than I did about Mana or Enrique Iglesias. I had parents who cared about me doing well in school and motivated me to always do my very best. I was top of my class, a loud mouth and worst of all, a tattletale. I had been raised with a lot of discipline and I wasn’t obnoxious about it but if I saw something wrong happening, I told. All of this separated me not only culturally from my peers but also socially. Nobody wanted to hang around the tattle tale and the few friends I managed to make weren’t particularly close.
I’m not very good at making lasting connections and I wish I could change that. Fast forward 18 years into the future, to now, and I’m still that same socially awkward and inept girl that I was when I was 3 and first starting out. Right now, as I type, I am living through one of those experiences. I am currently avoiding my apartment because my roommates decided to have a party for their friend’s birthday. This was in the works for a few weeks, however the venue got decided at around 6 p.m.
Now their friends are lovely people, but they are their friends. Not mine. I don’t belong to that group and it’s painfully obvious that when I’m around it’s simply because I’m their roommate. And because of my anxiety I can’t really interact with that many people all at once so the situation is made that much harder to navigate. I can’t become their friends because there is already too much shared history and I’ll never be at the same status as the others. I am the odd woman out and I’m sick of it.
It’s particularly frustrating because the situation among my roommates isn’t ideal either. Each of them are living in their own world and interacting with each other in accordance with what they’ve chosen to believe is the reality of the current situation and it’s gross to me. I can’t explain why, and I don’t feel comfortable airing that dirty laundry here since it not only involves me but other people. But just trust me when I say that both are equally as deluded as the other and their interactions are infuriating. Though I suppose it’s only infuriating because their interactions once again make me the odd woman out in a group I thought I fit into.
I’m consistently disappointed and dissatisfied with the quality of life I have. If I have my personal and inner life handled, the external interferes and vice versa. I just want to be normal and I want life to be good; is that too much to ask?
The last two years of my life have been an endless parade of medication and I think that’s what has made my anxiety a lot worse than it has ever been before. There is a fundamental lack of control when you decide to have faith in doctor’s to treat you. There’s even less control when it is uncertain if and how the medication will affect you.
I’ve lived with chronic migraines since I was a child and I was frequently sick so medicine isn’t a foreign concept to me in all honesty. Medicine that alters my brain chemistry is though. The first of these medications was an anti-convulsive that I took for said chronic migraines and honestly if I remembered the name of it I’d plaster it on here to warn others of its potential harm. There were so many lack-of-control panic attacks where I was panicking exclusively because I hated that I could not control how the medication was affecting me. And it was affecting me– I had rapid mood swings and was very prone to anger, my blood pressure went up with the slightest hint of conflict, I was more depressed than I had been in a long while and I could no longer sleep for long periods of time. Moreover, it did little for my migraines. I was still very sensitive to light and if I got a migraine all that the medication did was make me even more frustrated in that it wasn’t even working correctly.
The next medication wasn’t as bad when it came to side effects, however it was more or less useless. It was a blood pressure medication that did absolutely nothing for my migraines and if anything continued to mess with my blood pressure.
And then I got sick and landed in the hospital for nearly an entire week because what was a small cold became a mouth and throat infection, boils on my hands and a fever that put fevers to shame. The medication they gave me for that was incredibly painful to take as my throat was raw and burned whenever I drank or ate anything. The blood tests they ran were even more unbearable as they took 6-10 vials every morning and then another 3 later in the evening. I also learned that catheters are painful and a thing. 5 days later and about $25,000 later (which I thankfully didn’t have to pay), I was better. There was no diagnosis save for a warning about taking care to avoid getting sick because I had a weak immune system.
Which brings us to now. Zoloft. I alternately have hated this medication or loved it over the course of the last 4 days. Currently, I am dizzy as all hell and just finished having a minor panic attack but other than the unrelenting lightheadedness I’ve had and the difficulty focusing and the occasional bouts of sad I’ve had, this isn’t the worst thing I’ve been through. I could do without the unrelenting tiredness I’ve had though.
It is hard living with mental illness. It’s even harder when the people around you aren’t understanding of the unique challenges you face. The fact is that living with any type of illness means that you might try your best and still not “succeed”. I have issues with the notion of success because it implies that there is some objective way of measuring success versus failure and that the line between these two things is very clearly marked. The reality is that it’s not—and this is regardless if the person you’re evaluating is sick or not. It might be overly optimistic of me but I believe that there is no such thing as abject failure. We may not achieve our desired goal but to call our efforts, even if it’s the lack thereof, a waste or failure is to completely rob that experience of any positive takeaway. I don’t think you can really count anything a failure so long as you learned something—even if it is just the minute “well I probably shouldn’t ever do that again”.
I feel that in reality the amount of emphasis we put on success and being successful is partly to blame with the rise of things like anxiety and depression on a global scale. I’m not a doctor or a statistician but it is undeniable that the prevalence of both these conditions has been steadily on the rise since the time the world became industrialized. At the risk of sounding older than I actually am, my generation, and a couple before me for that matter, doesn’t know how to slow down and take things as they come. I’m as guilty of this as everyone else is but recognizing that we put a lot of undeserved pressure on ourselves as individuals is the first step to fixing that pressure. Which brings me back to the idea of success versus failure. Is failure actually something to be afraid of and something to badger ourselves about and endlessly regret?
I don’t think so. I feel that berating ourselves for the things that we haven’t accomplished is just as detrimental as not attempting anything at all. It discourages us from continuing and even if you are one of the people who continues in spite of themselves, you can’t deny that dwelling on failure is much less conducive to later endeavors than if you were to take a moment and evaluate the situation for what it is.
For example, this week has been hard on me. I had a panic attack over the weekend that continued on into Monday and then a bout of depression that has pretty much been consistent throughout the entire week. I didn’t go to the majority of my classes and I have homework and a project that remains mostly undone. It would be fairly easy for me to write this week off as a complete loss and berate myself about all the things I could have done. What would it accomplish though? Will I get that time back? Will I magically turn back time and be able to go to those classes and get that work done? Will I be able to take back that panic attack and somehow find the cure to depression? No. I wouldn’t be able to. The only result of the several hours of very negative self-talk that would ensue, would be that I’d have another panic attack. As a result the cycle of panic and depression would continue and I wouldn’t be able to get anything done for the rest of the weekend and probably part of next week.
Why not choose to do nothing then? Why should I continue on if it’s all in vain and mostly out of my hands? Because I can and because I’m not done fighting. I had a panic attack earlier because my roommate berated me for not wanting to show up to class at all because I was five minutes late. (Context: I can’t show up to anything even remotely late because I get incredibly anxious that everyone, especially the professor, noticed my lateness and is now thinking about how irresponsible/uncaring/unmotivated I am. I know that’s not the case, but hey intrusive thoughts are called that for a reason.) I was already anxious from having been to the doctor to get approved for my medication I need and him berating me over not going to class made me even more anxious. I cried and didn’t go to class and didn’t really get anything accomplished because the panic attack turned into a migraine. I was going to call into work and call the day quits but something clicked and I decided to go to work anyways. I didn’t necessarily enjoy work because it was really busy (we’re currently underfunded and understaffed as a result) but I helped two students regardless. And that’s something. It may not have been the immediate and more apparent success of facing my anxiety and going to class, but it was an attempt at salvaging what started out as a pretty bad day. The rest of the day was a mixed bag and ended in me having another minor panic attack, but that topic is for another post.
My point is that success is subjective and it’s very hard to think of yourself as successful when you’re sick. On even the best days it’s hard to count myself as a success but I find that when I have those thoughts, the ones saying that I have accomplished nothing/am a failure, what helps is to start listing everything that I have done. I keep a running list of the times I study and am starting to turn it into a general “look-what-you-did” list. I also think about all the things I’ve done in spite of being sick. I don’t live at home. I’ve had steady work for the last (almost) three years. I provide for myself (most of the time). And above all else, even when I don’t feel that I can keep going, I somehow keep chugging on. I think that last one is the most important one for any of us on this whirlwind of a ride that is any sort of chronic illness—mental or not.
Today I realized that despite the fact that I didn’t want to admit it, I am chronically ill. There are physical limitations that I have now that I have to take into consideration. I need to rest when my body tells me to and I need to get an adequate amount of food during the day. I have a responsibility to myself in order to continue on.
I’ve been having revelations about continuing as well. For the first time in a long time even though I get depressed and don’t quite see the point in things in the moment I know that there is a large part of me that wants to continue on. That part of me is just like “You’ve come this far, why turn back?” I think about that a lot. More than most 21 year olds do I think. I think about the things that I may do and the idea that I might actually get to live a life worth living. I think about the day when I’ll have some sort of stable income where. Days where I won’t wake up to a negative balance in my bank account and a crippling amount of debt. I dream of days where the sun will shine down but there will also be a breeze along with it.
I dream of days where I will be surrounded by people who love and support me in the way I need and want and I smile. I feel like someday it will happen, and that’s where being chronically ill comes in. It may not happen the way that I forsee it happen, and it may not happen the way that I would hope it would happen. Life is endlessly complicated and sometimes you just have to bear the brunt of it. Even when you don’t think you can. I think I’m currently at that point.
On the other end of things, I’m nervous about starting medicine. I’m worried that it will disrupt the delicate equilibrium I’ve found in the last few weeks. I also worry that without it I won’t ever be able to have a truly balanced life. I’ve also been reading a lot of reviews on this medicine and I feel like it’s coming at the right time. It’s not a cure-all but with a good amount of reflection and self-realization, both of which I’ve spent the last few years doing endlessly, a lot of people say there’s a good shot. I’m hoping this is my shot.
I thought it’d be a relief to finally have a diagnosis. I’m not relieved at all. Instead what I do have is this aching feeling in my chest like somehow I failed and even though I know that that isn’t the case in the slightest, it is my current Truth. I now officially know that I have Depression with Panic Disorder.
I have to remind myself that this diagnosis doesn’t define me and neither does the medication they’ve prescribed. I have to think that this doesn’t change things because literally this was already my reality since before I sat down in that doctor’s office.
Speaking of which, doctor’s offices are so impersonal. Or at least this one was. It was all white walls and minor looks of shock when I’d answer his questions. When I mentioned the self harm he asked where with a look of distinct worry on his face. Maybe its because of how young I am. A lot of the people in that clinic were much older than I were and the few that looked a little less old were with their parents. I don’t think I’m their usual demographic.
So now I have a prescription in my purse and a slew of doctors visits to be able to register at that clinic, get my prescription filled and hopefully have a better quality of life. I’m terrified of medication. I’ve heard so many horror stories and all I can hope is that mine doesn’t turn out the same.