When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

Navel-Gazing

Hello. It’s been a while.

I’m low-key today. Am I a human interest story, of the kind I love so well? An animal in a zoo, to be observed for my habits and behaviour? Is that why my dear readers come here?

Living with manic depression. As Jen over on Suicidal No More is ‘Living with Schizoaffective Disorder’?

I wonder if I’d get more readers, from Google searches etc if I were more specific about the illness in the title. No. Hey I’m talking absolute rubbish. There are LOADS of manic depressive bloggers!! We’re two a penny… our currency is inflated.

My readers come here for their own reasons. Some have experience of bipolar friends or family in their own lives, and may read to understand them better. Some are fellow mental health sufferers. Many, I have no idea why they come. It’s their business.

Besides, I am much more than a walking set of symptoms. I have what I laughingly call a personality! A life. Relationships. Struggles. Interests. Occasional epiphanies. A wide range of emotions. I am, in other words, much more like other people than I am different. People can relate.

I know I’m not always likeable. I can read that in other people’s reactions sometimes. They can see that I’m ill at ease with myself and therefore them as well. When I’m feeling comfortable with me (how rare that is nowadays), their reactions are different. I’m ambivalent on the subject of me. I push on through my resistances and fears as much as I can in the course of a day. This takes courage, and builds my self-esteem. If I get too full of myself, though, this is not a good sign when you have bipolar disorder. I’d rather be a bit down on myself, which is what I am, these days.

I’m pretty much permanently depressed, but I am able to function within limits, and I’m happy with that, most of the time.

This self-analysis – navel-gazing if you like – I seemed to have passed to my son whether through nature, nurture or both. He turns an unforgiving gaze upon himself. Sometimes he is grandiose. There is little evidence of compassion or empathy for himself or anyone else. Compassion and grandiosity don’t live together: they’re mututally exclusive. He picks himself apart forensically like a pathologist.

Self-incarceration in a room doesn’t (probably) lend itself to developing social virtues. Locking yourself away from the world is not a compassionate act.

My Mum has had a tendency to think my mental illness is ‘a fake’. She thinks I use it as an excuse. Many people (more than we think, I suspect) feel the same, especially when it comes to depression sufferers. I’ve been sectioned under the Mental Health Act (forced incarceration in a mental hospital) for approaching thirty times since I was diagnosed at 29. What went on? Was all of that a fake? A moral failing? An act, to get attention? If only the psychiatrists, police etc, had felt the same and just let me be! I could have happily done without the psychiatric abuse I endured regularly for so many years.

Please don’t think I am criticising my Mum. She meant no harm, and in recent years I think she has come to accept that there is something awry with the old brain chemistry. My Mum is loving, loyal to a fault, and never gives up. She is, in many ways, a fantastic role model, albeit one who I can never quite live up to. I would say ‘she’s better than me’, but comparisons, we are reliably informed, are odious.

I have no idea why I’m in forensic examination mode, except that I spend so much time obsessing about my son’s issues, I am showing similar traits by the power of suggestion. I’m also way more addicted to the internet and inclined to a fairly reclusive lifestyle, than before.

Well, on a lighter note, I’m off to the Mary Ward Centre today for a course I’ve signed up for in Social Psychology. I am absolutely dreading going out. If only I never had to go out ever again. I absolutely hate it. At times I can really understand my son.

Lots of love folks. Zoe xxx

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Comments on: "Navel-Gazing" (8)

  1. The Ranting Git said:

    I sometimes get similar thoughts expressed by my Mum… certainly my brother. They look at me sometimes as if I wake up in the morning and declare to myself “Right… I’m gonna be depressed today for the sake of it” – I had to explain to my brother on Boxing Day I don’t have much of a choice. Bipolarity is a condition, a way of life one has to accept and get used to since anything can trigger off another gloomy spell… and sometimes we’re clueless as to what exactly triggers another episode. I think we’d all love to be able to put on a suit, dress or costume that instantly transforms us into a “normal” and “happy” person… some people I’ve met over the years even expressed that belief to me, suggesting I wore different clothes or had my hair cut “because you’ll feel different” – sure, one feels different on the outside, but it changes nothing internally!

    • What is it about brothers, Baz! There will always be those who don’t ‘get it’ and probably never will. They are the lucky ones who haven’t been there themselves I guess. Some do have the humility and compassion to realise that they ARE lucky, and that ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I’.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Baz. Will be in touch soon. Z x

  2. My mother was always compassionate towards me. The rest of my family are not! They all think that there is a magic tablet which would ‘cure’ me altogether and that I am refusing to take it so…some people are very ignorant, selfish, unkind and/or downright cruel aren’t they?

    This attitude/opinion is shared by my brother, who teaches counselling skills, and is a qualified counsellor, too. I would have thought that his education would have made him more aware of the complexities. There would not be any need for psychiatrists, nurses and hospitals would there if that were the case? In that imaginary landscape people would simply just take the magic tablet and be fine!

    Yes, I can see why you might feel like a zoo animal, Zoe. I feel like that at times and I don’t write a blog! I think labelling people marks them/us out as different (obviously). I draw attention to myself so much so when manic that I am now almost a recluse. I admire you, Zoe, for being able to be so open about having ‘a condition’ and not withdrawing because of stigma like I have.

    I hope the course was interesting.

    Katy 🙂

    • It’s ironic about your brother Katy, him being a counsellor and all? My brother lacks sympathy or empathy as well – we aren’t close, and he’s absolutely nothing like me! I know how hurtful this lack of understanding by close family can be. Many ‘strangers’ have a more enlightened attitude and are less stigmatising. It’s good that at least your Mum was compassionate – she sounds like a lovely lady.

      The course was great, and sufficiently socially challenging to take me out of my comfort zone – all good! The journsey was the hardest part, but I’m very glad I enrolled and chose the Mary Ward. It’s a great place to study.

      Z x

  3. p.s. Who knows what a change of name would bring about, Zoe…?
    This title is ‘linked to ‘ Morrissey yet I found it via Gianna Kali’s ‘Beyond Meds’.

    • The title was indeed inspired by the Smiths song ‘Still Ill’, Katy. I didn’t know there was a link from Beyond Meds, and what a roundabout way for you to find my blog, through an American website! It’s a small world, especially on the Internet it seems. Zx

  4. Hi Zoe, what you describe is all too familiar to me-I almost believed at times that I was the fraud that the shrinks thought I was. As for parents, my dad would never accept that I was truly mentally ill until he finally got to read my book; and that didn’t happen until 21 years after I got ill. He gets it now though. Take care and speak soon.

    Mark x

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