I’m not getting back to sleep, none of the strategies I’ve learned can still my busy brain. There’s too much garbage inside.
You can get a sense of the state of my mental well-being from my garden. When I’m well it’s flourishing; herbs, chili’s, berries, so much green. All it takes is one bad day, one day where moving is an effort and my bones feel heavy. The dry wind of an Australian summer sweeps in and lush green in replaced with brown, shriveled and curled up. This twisted metaphor of my own making reminds me of how prone I am to failure. Does this happen to everything and everyone I touch? It certainly seems like it. I don’t want it to be true.
When I start to pull myself from it seedlings take root. They’re fragile but with enough time green takes over again. It’s a cycle and it may only last a few weeks at time, but for awhile I feel like maybe I can do better this time, maybe it will last.
You can get a sense of my mental well-being from how I dress. Pyjamas are my uniform of self care… though the phrase “self care” is sometimes a bit generous for how I treat myself. Laying on the couch and zoning out in front of countless episodes of bingeable sci-fi, whiskey bottles emptying quicker than they reasonably should. Maybe I’ll get dressed for something other than work, maybe it’s jeans or a skirt, a presentable shirt and hair hastily pulled together on top of my head, it’s not much but I’m trying.
We’re meeting with our wedding venue. I’m feeling excited, confident and I want to look the part. It’s been a crappy week but I’ve pulled through. Today it’s a dress I spent too much on, I had to buy a size larger than normal because my relationship with food is just as unstable as my mood, the meds don’t help either. Still, I hardly think of that as I shimmy into it for the first time, as I weave my hair together and pin it into something presentable or as I spend too long on my eyeliner. The facade doesn’t last long, one phone call, one suggestion that I’m not in the state to be planning a wedding and maybe they’re right. It’s hours later that I look in the mirror, my hair is a mess and that perfect eyeliner is smeared all over my face. Did I mention you can get a sense of my mental state from my appearance? My lame analogy can’t get more overt than that.
I feel like I’m expected to have more control than this. When I’m sad I’m told to think about the positive and try to be happy, when I’m happy I’m told I’m taking on too much. I feel trapped, they’re asking the impossible of a Borderline with bipolar. It’s so easy to get angry but I’m angry at myself. I alone know how difficult this is, that they ask the impossible; I cannot possibly expect anyone to keep up with my fluctuations. They may never understand, but I do. Surely they meant well even if I cannot see how? Why can’t I keep my shit together? Why am I so fucking fragile that this breaks me?
I go back to work tomorrow and I don’t know I’m ready. School holidays are a blessing and a curse for me. Once summer starts my brain can turn off from work; that straw that’s breaking the camel’s back is relieved. I can almost handle everything that’s on my plate… until I have to go back and it’s a panic. Will my back break again? What happens to me if it’s too much this time? I feel like a fraud, I go into that building, smile and say hello to colleagues whose names I can’t remember and put on a show for my students. Maybe that’s the trick, maybe it should always just be a show. Writing this I remember that’s how it used to be. I’d bake and try my best to smile even when I felt lonely, even when I wanted to scream. Those around me were happy and I wasn’t a burden. I want to go back.