Self-Respect

Continuing Treatment: A Matter of Life or Death

There are days when I can’t understand how anyone couldn’t love me.  I think I’m beautiful, funny, creative, and intelligent.  Some days this is part of a healthy balance of recognizing my value and appreciating my positive qualities.  Other days, this is a symptom of my mood disorder.  They can probably come off interchangeably, but I can tell the subtle difference.  On my manic days, I feel undeniably sexy, confident, and virtually unstoppable.  I quite frankly believe that everyone wants me.

Then there are the days when I my heart sinks at the thought that I’m completely unloveable.  I think everyone has days when they feel unloveable, whether it be because they are having a rough hair day, or they realize they’ve said something they didn’t mean to a friend.  For me, days like today are more heart breaking… far more gut-wrenching.  It can be painful to hear a love song, and feel personally affected by the adamant belief that no one could ever feel that way about me.  It can often be agitated by blemishes or physical imperfections, but the reality of what I face day-to-day with mental illness make love seem so distant, partly because I have a lot of work to do before I can get there, and partly because of the ways I can lose control of my mood when I am out of whack.

Neither the enticing confidence of mania, nor the crippling distance of love during depression are often issues for me.  I admit that so much time had gone by since I had felt this way, that I had come to question my diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  The past few weeks have been quite an obstacle in these aspects, though.

It isn’t completely uncommon for the things you do during mania to come back to weigh on your insecurity during depression.  All of these symptoms have been absent for so long, that they almost feel new this time around, and yet, at the same time, they feel naggingly mundane.  It all starts to feel as if any effort previously put forth was just a method of buying time, or delaying the inevitable.  When I was well, the fear that these symptoms would resurface would haunt me.  Now that they are back, it feels as though they never really went away.

I cannot pretend that life seems like the most viable of options in times such as these.  All of my senses mislead me.  Every single thing that happens is riddled with a slight paranoid urge to question.  “Did that thing just happen, or was it orchestrated by someone with ulterior motives?”  Everyone’s words are the opposite of what they really mean, and their actions are digs at my sanity.  I cannot honestly approach the question of whether treatment is a viable option, because in my head, there are cheaper, easier, and more immediate solutions.

And then, all of my effort toward recovery is always riddled with side notes of the times I tried before, and relapsed.  And relapse in my head is really just failure.  And failure is really just a waste.

Considering recovery isn’t easy.  Recovery takes time, money, and effort, and beyond that, it takes an initial desire to be better, to move forward… which in this state, really just feels exhausting.  The times I’ve written here, I’ve been feeling hopeful, but I figured that my transparency might help people understand my journey better.

I cannot say that considering suicide is easier, though.  Suicide, when done in a conscious state, requires effort.  It requires motivation, and calculation.  You have to consider what methods will work most effectively, and weigh the risk of survival after an attempt.  You have to consider your loved ones, and funeral arrangements.  I can’t speak for others, but I cannot fathom that most who take their own lives, don’t (no matter how irrationally) weigh the affect that it will have on loved ones, and decide it is still the better option.  It is difficult in the thick of despair to look at your situation and know if it would be more practical and efficient to die, or if it would make more of a mess than already exists… more of a mess than one can even fathom.  And the irony is, that those who haven’t faced that situation, can’t even fathom honestly believing that there is some clean efficiency to suicide.  In my head, it sounds logical, but when I see it typed out, it reads as completely absurd and thoroughly insane.

In either situation, you have to think about the things you’ll miss.  For instance, if I go into treatment now, I’ll miss my birthday and my trip to visit my sister and my nephew.  But if I die, I’ll miss the rest of my birthdays and my nephew growing up.  I’ve spent birthdays in treatment before.  Once, I missed a concert of my favorite musician for treatment.  Also, if I go into treatment now, I’ll miss graduate application deadlines for the upcoming school year.  If I die, I’ll never know if that could’ve gone anywhere anyway.  The fear the perpetuates thoughts of suicide is that you will go forth and continue to face the same failures of the past… that you will live and it still won’t be worth it in the end anyway.

I suppose the logic driving madness is to consider the affect that my life has had on the lives of others, and what does any of our lives come down to, if not that?  I cannot say, in my current state, that my life has contributed anything of value to this world.  From where I stand, all my effort has been in vain; and all my lack of effort has be cruel and spiteful.  If you asked my loved ones, it is probable that they would argue that my life was of great value; but possible that none of them could back that up with evidence or specific instances in which I contributed something valuable.

I realize that relationships are fluid.  People come and go.  The time we have to connect with one another ebbs and flows.  Our moods shift.  Our locations change.  We take up new hobbies, and grow tired of old ones.  We become different people.

Over the past few weeks, I heard a song on XM radio that made me laugh.  It is called “High School Never Ends” (by Bowling for Soup).  It is an amusing song about the ways that the so-called “real world” functions very similarly to the way high school did.  There’s a line in the song that stings a little for me, though.  The chorus says: The whole damn world is just as obsessed with who’s the best dressed and who’s having sex, who’s got the money, who gets the honey’s, who’s kinda cute, and who’s just a mess.  But the end of the song adds: And I’m pretty much the same as I was back then… HIGH SCHOOL NEVER ENDS.  And I get this, its not uncommon for people to feel as awkward as they did in high school and maintain similar behaviors.  But that last line gets me.  When I look around at the people I knew back in the day, the truth is that, for better or worse, most have changed.  They’ve gotten married, had kids, are managing careers or going to school.  What I see all around me are people working toward their potential.  And yet, I feel completely stagnant.  I have a BA that I somehow achieved since high school, and little else to show for the nearly 11 years that have passed since then. I’m single, unemployed, depending on my parents, and struggling on a daily basis with emotional stability.  I do have to say that I’ve made achievements in conquering disordered eating.  I no longer use self-injury as a method of coping.  I’ve overcome addictions, and learned a lot.  I’ve met tons of people with a wealth of stories and backgrounds.  When I face myself at the end of each day, though, I feel empty-handed.  I feel as though I have little to show for the time that has passed.  Everything I do feels like existing in a constant state of planning for the things that I could one day accomplish, but never actually accomplishing them.  There are days when I consider having a kid just to muster some sense of accomplishment, but I know that in the end, my failure at that endeavor would just pour salt on the wound of my lack of accomplishment.  I’m not suggesting that reproducing automatically equals accomplishment.  I wouldn’t even say that of a career.  These things do, however, suggest some sort of movement forward.  I don’t feel like my life has lacked in experience, I simply feel as though I’ve done nothing with all the experience and wisdom that I have acquired.

I have to stop, I know this all sounds like a pity party.  I can hear the hard-asses out there groaning and mumbling some bullshit line referring to my boot straps… yadda yadda.

I want to add that the burden of disappointment in myself doesn’t extend solely to what I have or haven’t accomplished as a result of challenges I have or haven’t had to face.  Being faced with moments when suicide seems viable isn’t my biggest obstacle.  What is worse, and what feeds those very flames, is the way I am to those I love when times are hard.  I can’t even explain it.  I become absolutely beside myself with not only rage, but disdain for the people who care for me the most.  Maybe it is bitterness.  I suppose it is possible that I am resentful for their efforts, whether I feel unworthy of them, or because I just want permission to leave this God-forsaken life behind and move on.  There are times when I suspect that the only way to move forward is to succumb to this illness.  There are points when I want to surrender myself to God, and moments still, when I fear the only way to surrender is to quit trying altogether.

In a day, I can change from being genuinely convinced that, despite all my failings, I have a good heart; into a monster, who can’t control her actions, or the fiery words spewing forth from her tongue.  No matter what I do or say, the resentments that I feel for others, consistently translate into self-loathing after the storm clouds have broken.

I guess I just needed to get that off my chest.  It certainly does help to have a chance to articulate what I am struggling with, but also to offer that insight for those who don’t understand or who suspect that they are alone in such struggles.

All that aside, I want to end with the fact that I am currently making an effort to seek residential treatment.  I have been hospitalized a total of 6 times, 3 of which were involuntary after suicide attempts.  These hospitalizations have lasted the length of 2 days to 2 months.  The kind of treatment that I am seeking now is not emergency care for my safety, but an effort for a consistent, lengthy, ongoing treatment.  Residential treatment can last between 20 days to 9 months, and is sometimes followed by intensive out-patient treatment.

The ultimate goal of such treatment is to get an oft derailed train back on the tracks, and to maintain it there for the purpose of transitioning into independent daily living.  It is often necessary for people whose trauma, illnesses, or addictions are such that daily living is interrupted on a continuing basis, and weekly therapy can do little to offer the stability needed to move forward.

A close friend sent me several links to different residential facilities, and of the choices, I picked one.  I have already emailed them, and will speak with them further today to make plans for admission and discuss cost options.  The facility that I am looking into is an all women’s center in Illinois.  The length of treatment in this facility varies from client to client, based on individual need.  It is possible that I will be gone for several months.  It is also very possible that the cost of treatment will be overwhelming, with or without insurance assistance, though I am hoping my insurance will assist in a substantial way.  I do feel very blessed to have this as an option, and it irritates me that such treatment is so expensive, and as such, is out of the realm of possibility for many who face mental illness.

I suppose that this has become the critical moment at which I must decide between facing the uncertainty of both the future and the end, and deciding which is a safer bet.  Neither decision is ever easy, straight forward, or without its costs; but I suppose we act despite that, no matter which road we choose to take.

I do not feel it just to ask anything of anyone, especially with the responsibility that I feel placed upon my own shoulders in the effort of recovery, but I am graciously accepting prayers by any who read this and feel inspired to lift me up in that way.  I also want to ask for any encouragement that anyone out there has to offer.  Obviously, you can comment here.  If you wish to send me a private message, you can reach me at incurablehope@gmail.com –Beyond that, I don’t know what else will help at this time.  I myself am praying that one of these days, I will know success, and feel myself consistently moving forward.  In this moment, I want to shake the feeling of stagnancy that plagues me, and to reach a point where I know that I am loved and supported, even in the depth and silence of the night.

I suppose that it eventually comes down to seeing my purpose playing out, rather than simply suspecting that it exists.

My VERDICT is IN on Lady Gaga

Look, as an artist, I respect Lady Gaga (her voice, the music, the lyrics), and I get what she trying to do… but the whole concept of being “born this way” is kind of ironic to me coming from her, because I want to be like “No… honey, no you weren’t. You were not born from an egg that was being carried by an entourage, from which you emerged with a flashy-ever changing wardrobe and a totally smokin’ bod.”

Over the top? Maybe. I think I was born resistant and rebellious. I mean, I refused to come out for quite some time before they cut my mom open and drug me out.

I think it is great to encourage people to be themselves, but these artists need to be a little more honest with the mirror when they claim they’re being themselves. Jessie J’s song “Who You Are” is AMAZING, it says “its ok not to be ok.” Which is a line I really appreciate, and it really helps me when I’m dealing with raw emotions. But there is one line where she says, “Brushing my hair, do i look perfect? I forgot what to do to fit the mold,” which kind of irks me. For those of you who have seen Jessie J, her hair IS perfect. She may be a little unique, but she fits the mold quite well: tall, skinny, pretty. That is why I appreciate the YouTube cover of the song by Meghan Tonjes. She’s a big girl, with an amazing voice, and she’s gorgeous… but everything about her is just more REAL. (And her voice is better than Jessie J’s anyway) And when SHE sings “its ok not to be ok” I believe it so much more

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Why can’t we have artists like that? Artists who are real, and natural, and embracing it??? When I look at Lady Gaga, I always think that. It is easy to say that you’re different, and you want people to be themselves, but they can’t really look to you to as a role model of how to do that… when you are very typically beautiful, but you throw on a mask, some wigs, and a WILDLY OUTRAGEOUS garb to simultaneously negotiate and highlight the ways you fit into heteronormative beauty standards. You want to REALLY challenge us? Go get fat, or something.

This also applies to Beyoncé, who has put out songs like “If I Were a Boy,” and “Run the World.” I feel like those songs are so manipulative, because they reinforce pretty horrible things while trying to play it off as though they are are challenging them. Also, Beyoncé… I saw you recently. You were blond. Please, stop sending the message that young black girls would be prettier if their hair was blonder and straighter. If you want to blow our minds for a minute… go all Erykah Badu with that shiz. I’m not saying all black women should go  “au naturel,” but there are far more famous black women out there who look whiter and whiter every time I see them, and that’s not fair.

Here is a great analysis of the Beyoncé phenomenon:

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Gaga, your voice is pretty incredible… but I often feel like your music and your entire performance really play down your talent, when you should be embracing it. That’s why I always appreciate your performances on SNL more. You tend to start songs with a piano and just you, in a flashy costume, REALLY SINGING. Once you move on to the PERFORMANCE of it, though… YOU get lost, and all I hear is “blah blah blah.”

I don’t even want to buy your CD, even though I think I’d enjoy it. I feel like I’d be buying into this whole market of people who DO know how to “fit into the mold” while claiming they don’t; or telling me to be myself, when I have no way of knowing the difference between who they really are, and what they portray.

I miss more genuine representations of rawness and humility in music… the ones that don’t just claim things without the substance to back it up. That’s what I like about India Arie, Janis Joplin, Lauryn Hill, and Ani DiFranco… (sometimes p!nk, although she gets caught up in the marketing of it all too).

I get that marketing plays that game of “Buy this, because you’re not good enough, and this will make you better,” but can’t we reserve that technique for make up, diet products, and plastic surgery? Can’t we let the voices and the music speak for themselves when selling MUSIC?!?! I don’t care what you look like, the only thing I want from music is inspiration.

Music is SOOOOOOO POWERFUL. I get that it is a commodity, but can’t we just PLEASE get away from that for a while???

I want to look at musicians as ARTISTS, not just PERFORMERS. And I need to see women turn towards this model so much more, because the male artists out there have way more freedom to do it already.

I want to see female artists who ARE themselves. Where is the market for that? I want someone who looks something other than perfect singing me a song that tells me that she loves herself as is, and wants others to do the same. You can say it all you want, but actions speak louder than words. I get that you want people to see YOU, Gaga… I get that you’re into the flashy thing… but a few minutes of crying about being bullied as a kid in a documentary doesn’t convince me. I’m not saying walk around all the time crying about it… I’m just saying that I need more time of real YOU, not masked, costumed you… just you. And yes, I realize that you naturally fit into a lot of preset beauty standards, and maybe the flashy garb is an attempt to negotiate that… I get that, and I can respect it. But, I KNOW you have days where you aren’t made up and costumed. I WOULD LOVE to see you like… in some effing PJ’s or something!!! Just relax!!!

Russel Brand recently tweeted a pic of wife, Katy Perry without make up. She was horrified, and made him take it down, but I don’t know why. She was obviously caught off guard in the pic, but she was natural… and beautiful. I’m telling you, dear celeb women, you’re celebrities for a reason… you have something naturally already. Don’t feel so hard-pressed to dress it up and make it up like you aren’t good enough as is. How horrible do you think it makes us feel to see that even the most beautiful of women feel the need to hide within costume of what others think we should be?

You know how they have those “DON’T GET GAS DAYS” when gas prices spike, as sort of a protest??? I would LOVE to challenge ALL CELEBRITY WOMEN to go out one day, and walk the streets with the paparazzi entourage following… in nothing but pajamas. No make up. LET US SEE YOU!!! OWN IT. Hiding yourselves doesn’t help you, and it doesn’t help other young women out there who look up to you. I know some of you have tried it in a photo shoot here or there, but it is safer to be without clothes and make up when you have lighting and a good photographer. Just saying.

And yes, I realize that looking up to celebrities is stupid as it is.  I GET THAT. Most people DO NOT.

AND CELEBRITIES ARE IN OUR FACES ALL THE TIME… and I guess I’m just as sick of people selling lies as I am by the fact that we actually buy them.

I’m done with my main point. But I’ll add a few perspectives, to open your mind.

Here is a recent vloggity by Philip DeFranco (love of my life). I really appreciate this message, and I totally think more men need to say it just as much as women need to say it (and mean it). I do also realize, though, that it is very valuable coming from women who say it and live it… Mainly because so many of us, too often, look to men to validate our worth.

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Also, I realize that I’m not a musical person, and lyrics always hit me more, but I also appreciate the honesty of slam poetry… it is like music to me. Just a beat, and words. I know honesty isn’t totally marketable, but I wish it could be. I’ve posted my favorite slam poet, Buddy Wakefield here before, so this time, I want to share some slam poetry from an eclectic group of youths who are featured on HBO’s series “BRAVE NEW VOICES” which is presented by Russel Simmons.

“1893” by Jamaica

“That Girl” by Alysia

on the lighter side, but still completely raw:

“Ode to Philip Seymour Hoffman” by Aimée

I’ll end with my recent revamp of the commonly used Marilyn Monroe quotation:

“It is true that you don’t deserve me at my best, if u can’t handle me at my worst, but you should probably know that my worst is intense and my best is brief.”  

~Noelle Aviña 🙂