Shut the Front Door

I am pulling it together; I am feeling less like there are rocks in my brain and more like I have the ability to make decisions–smart decisions. I am slowing down and less aware of sensory elements. I am remembering most of what I am doing, too.

With mental illness, society likes to pass judgement. I am bipolar and I feel stigmatized, even by myself. When I have an episode, I think that I have not tried hard enough and I have the judgement that I failed somehow.

I watch police shows and they always present the mentally ill as unreliable witnesses. They have trouble staying on their meds and they fall prey to a justice system that blames them for their illness. I recognize the shows are fiction, but it is an estimation of how some people view mental illness.

When I was in college, my doctor insisted that I was bipolar. Every appointment, he would ask me if I did anything risky. He asked if I had sex with strangers, went on spending sprees, texted while driving; he insisted that I was engaging in behaviors that were beyond my realm of experience. At the time, I had never done any of those things. I was a sarcastic person and I made it impossible to work with me while he insisted on something I understood as crazy. Unipolar depression was how I was diagnosed and he was cruel to push these activities. If he had asked about energy and getting things accomplished and a sense of purpose… Perhaps, I would have listened, but he made the bipolar diagnosis sound morally corrupt.

By the time I was diagnosed, I had done so many things that damaged my life. I am still recovering. However, I have not given up on this idea that it is my fault. My doctor in college made me feel that I was a waste of time; in fact, he told me that I was a drain on the university healthcare system. I was devastated and even now, with the slightest hint that I am not doing my best, I feel as though I have disappointed everyone and that I am a waste of time; I feel like my doctors hate me and that I have destroyed everything that I worked hard to put together. I know these are fallacies, but they were pushed so many times by people in my life: friends, doctors, roommates, etc. As a result, I think that I will never be good enough.

These thoughts affect my life in substantial ways. I get overwhelmed by the slightest things and worry that no matter what I do, it will never be good enough.

How does one overcome these fears?

I suppose the only thing I can do is face them; I need to face my family, my doctors, my writing, my friends, my thoughts, and my feelings. I must tell myself to shut the front door and stop listening to my fears. Only by not giving in to fear and self-criminations will I find wholeness and the life that I want.

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