There are times when my illness takes over. What is so insidious, is that I can’t tell the difference between those times and the others, when I am in control. There is such fluidity between the two, that I don’t know when I’m moving from me to not me. And then, something happens and I am jolted back to being only me, and I understand I have been in the realm of the other.
I know this is important. I know that I must hang on to this. What is strange is that I am never so much the other that I am unrecognizable. I think that I’m being myself. Then something occurs and shows me I have not. My mad self isn’t such a terrible self. But it’s so unlike me that I shudder at what I do when I’m in that space. Contentious. Needing to be right as opposed to happy. Not looking for the best in people. This is my dance with histrionic personality disorder. It has little to do with OCD.
I have an overarching personality that has allowed me to survive and which has pushed my illness into a back seat. Every so often, it insists on driving. Unfortunately, it’s a really lousy driver. It does not take me where I want to go. OCD and histrionic personality disorder share a symptom of avoidance. So when the HPD is operating, I have a double dose of avoidance. I stop calling people. I stop reaching out. I’m aggressive. Pugilistic. Paranoid. Selfish. Stubborn. Exhibit the decision-making skills of a teenager. Ugh.
I don’t really know when this episode started or what triggered it. Stress brings it into the driving seat. I don’t know if it was starting the job at the gym? The one co-worker who pushed my buttons? Trey* coming? Going? Am I really that fragile? I would have to say, “Yes.” All I know is that when I’m in the thick of it, everything is a struggle. I get angry with people easily, mostly because they aren’t behaving the way I want them to (smile). I can’t tolerate even the slightest ambiguity or uncertainty and certainly not being ignored. I don’t like that the rest of the time either, but I can understand why someone would want to tune me out when I’m in this space.
When I am myself? I am soft. Looking for good. Loving. Funny. Calm. Purposeful. Insightful. Intelligent. Empathic. You know what’s odd? In the past couple of months, I have had trouble READING. That has never before in all my life happened. I couldn’t lose myself in the words. I couldn’t write either. I kept trying to find my center, get into a loving space, and I couldn’t, or if I managed to do so, I couldn’t maintain it.
I used to feel this when I’d get PMSy. Maybe I’m peri-menopausal? Is it my illness or is it my hormones? I don’t know, but some how, some way, I have to find a way to hang on to myself. I hate losing myself. And especially to what I become when I am lost.
I’ve been seeing some clues that I have been lost. Wondering where my empathy went. But I didn’t have enough clues to put it together, because when I am in that space, everyone else is wrong. I am right. Everyone else is behaving badly, never me. When speaking with my mother the other day, she told me that my brother and my sister-in-law are breaking up. I sat down to write after that conversation, and this is what I wrote.
I didn’t ask for particulars. I didn’t say, “What took her so long?” I merely said, “That’s too bad,” and didn’t take the bait, if it was bait, when my mother told me how broken up my brother is about it. Let me be honest, what is an enemy? Merriam-Webster.com defines it as such:1: one that is antagonistic to another; especially: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent2: something harmful or deadly <alcohol was his greatestenemy>3a: a military adversary
I would say that my brother has behaved in such a way that I could call him my enemy. He has sought to injure me and indeed has injured me, he has been antagonistic, hurtful, and more. So what should I feel now that he is hurting? Should I be glad or gleeful? Smug? Should I be filled with self-righteous anger? So far, I’m holding steady at indifferent. I hurt for him in the way I would hurt for any unknown person going through such circumstances. Maybe even a little less. I closed the door on my brother, and I am choosing not to open it again. I believe my mom was finagling for a little show of care. I don’t think that I can, even if I weren’t refusing to allow myself to do so. I still haven’t forgiven him. I don’t feel bad about that. It doesn’t interfere with my life. I don’t hate him. I just refuse to feel or to think more than this tiny bit of introspection.
We all know what it is to lose someone very close to us. It sucks ass. And then there is the opposite side of loss–opportunity. Transitions are opportunities to grow if one chooses. What is amazing is how many people want to live looking backward instead of what is ahead. Opportunity is what one makes after slogging through grief.
“But what is madness, if not being able to control your own mind?” –Victoria Leatham, Bloodletting: A Memoir of Secrets, Self-Harm, and Survival