October 23, 2018

Wow I finally made it

Checkmate life!  I have conquered!  I'm an undeniable success!

Sarcasm is the protest of the weak.  There was an obvious thing a counselor said that stuck with me one of the times I had a compulsory stay at a psychiatric inpatient program.  That sounds so much better than... kept against my will in an institution.  Or locked up in the loony bin.

Anyway, the counselor said one of the telltale signs of mental illness was how our lives would have the average ups and downs, good days, bad days, positive and negative events.  And you could visualize that as a line on a graph moving along with peaks and valleys... squiggling along.  What happens with mental illness is your "mood line" doesn't always sync up with your "life event line".  So everything is moving along with your "life event line" with some minor ups and downs and your mood is trending along with that, mirroring the ups and downs.  If the average person has a shitty day, then their mood usually reflects that and is also pretty shitty.  But mental illness screws up your mood line.  There are the average ups and downs, but your mood is flatlined at the bottom of the graph.  Maybe you're surrounded by loved ones, your job is going fine, you don't have money troubles, you have friends...life is pretty smooth.  Yet for some reason you can't get out of bed (depression).  Or for some reason you're straightening the shingles on the roof and sleeping two hours a day (mania).  Or you have some combination of mental illness symptoms that are overall making your life unbearable.

It's an obvious thing... thinking about your "life event line" and your "mood line".  It's helped me though.  At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging... I've had a stable job for 14 years.  I have a six figure income.  I live in what by worldly standards is a mansion...a house over 3,000 square feet in a gated community with a golf course.  My amazing wife loves me immeasurably in ways I don't deserve.  She understands, notices, and tolerates my mood disorder.  My older son is a brilliant, sweet boy.  My younger son has autism, but that's just who he is.  That presents a whole slew of challenges.  And there is this (arguably unfair) period of "grieving" that can last years where you mourn the image you had of your child... perhaps an independent, verbal boy.  But that can't explain bouts of crippling depression and dangerous hypomania.  That just is.  F***.  It is.  And that's just something to tolerate.  Somehow I've gotta be grateful for all the things I've got going for me... all the sources of stress I'm not currently experiencing other than making them a stress for myself.  Maybe I'll get fired, but there's no point worrying about that shit right now.

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