Again? I have to feel this way again? I have to drop the ball again, go through the worry and guilt about it again, try hard not to make things worse again, and slowly pick up the pieces again?
Well, yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I have to do. But I don’t want to. I’m sick of only being able to do this life thing well for a few days at a time. I’m sick of always trying to make up for the things I let slide during my last dip. Fuck this bipolar disorder and the chimeric horse it rode in on.
I feel completely overwhelmed. This is what I facetiously call a “double dip” because part of it is definitely a brain chemistry fluctuation, but there are issues in the outer world making it more intense. I have decisions to make about my daughter’s special needs and her schooling: tough ones, and ones I don’t feel very supported in. I won’t talk details, because some of it is not my story to tell, but I am feeling worried. I need to seek advice and practical help about this issue, and in order to do that I have to do two things: first, get through this attack and second, remember how much I want help after the intensity of the symptoms fades.
You might wonder why I don’t just ask for help about it now. Mainly, it’s because I would not be able to communicate well or process information I receive. When it comes to parenting matters, I have to be clear-headed enough to talk with “normal” people, weigh options and not have my credibility shattered by tears, hypomania or shutdowns. As a parent with a dual diagnosis, I’m already pretty much wearing a red-lettered sign that says “It’s All My Fault.” It helps if I don’t act too messed up.
When I am feeling more in control, I have to avoid putting this off any more. Even if, for a few days, it seems less overwhelming. Asking for help isn’t easy for me–it gets really tied up with my insecurity and guilt. Why should someone take time and effort to help me do something I “should” be able to handle myself? Why do I deserve it? What am I giving society in return to be worth it? Hard work is needed to silence those tapes and keep my focus on my child’s needs.
Even in my own family, it’s hard for me to ask. Knowing how much my mental illness and addiction forced others to do more than their fair share in the past, I feel as if I could try hard for the rest of my life and never pay it all back. So it’s always hard for me to ask them for extra help, even when “extra” is something they used to have to do all the time. A great deal of emotional and spiritual work has gone into the project of learning to love myself more and shame myself less, but the structure I have built is still fragile. Those dark, denouncing thoughts are never far away, and when it comes to an area like parenting–an area fraught with very real regrets and anxieties–they try to convince me that the future is bleak indeed.
The angry, exasperated words I wrote at the top of this post may not be my most mature, but they serve me nonetheless. Anger–as a means to access Fire–can be a weapon against shame and despair. If nothing else, I can feel and hold onto my passionate and stubborn desire not to give in. So, I have to go through the cycle again. So I’m powerless over that. But I do have power: to name, to talk back, to create new thoughts. To tell the truth, at least.