An ideal caregiver, simplified, and then possibly over-complicated, by me.
I had an excellent week.
The first few days, as you know, I felt a little bit out of control. After I had made the commitment to myself to do better, I did! I still spent too much, but I feel like it wasn’t as frivolous as it could have been. Without boring you with too many nerdy details, I would like to highlight a few of the things that I learned about myself while I was away.
1. I can handle the masses. I was 1 of 102,000 people navigating the stampede grounds, and I survived! I paced myself, I took frequent fresh air breaks, and I knew when I had had enough each day. T’s patience with me was indefatigable, and as always I feel indebted to him for his constant kindness. Being my caregiver on these trips can’t be easy, I hope he can feel how genuinely grateful I am.
2. I am sometimes guilty of underestimating my own value at home. Arranging babysitters, writing lists, prepping bags, getting to school on time, all things that I never considered to be a lot of work until I left it in the hands of others. It’s easy to lose perspective on what we do in our own homes, but realizing how many people it took to do the things that I do regularly was a big eye-owner. (Not saying that my family falls apart without me, just recognising that I’m not always as useless as I think I am!)
3. I need open conversation about mental illness. While out for supper with D we had a very candid conversation that I didn’t know I needed. D asked questions that were more personal; about how I feel during situations. I have never been asked what a mixed state is, or how it feels. Having someone ask something other than “are you ok,” was refreshing – and answering was cathartic and liberating. It rarely occurs to caregivers that we are just as confused as they are. I better than anyone know how hard I am to deal with, and trust me when I say that I get tired of my condition infinitely faster than anyone else does.
I left the restaurant that night feeling more in-tune with myself than I have in years. If I could have more of that with more of the people I love I would be very happy.
4. I need away time. I am a flight risk. Having a few days away is a good reminder that I don’t want to run from my girls, I want to run from myself. Until I can run fast enough to split myself in two, I know where I’m needed. The delusional eleutheromania that I am prone to experiencing can drive me to the brink of… Extinction. I can’t run from what’s on the inside, and traveling reminds me of that. It’s always with me, no matter how far I go. That few days was all I needed. I’m happily home with the ladies I can’t live without!
I consider myself very privileged to take part in these unique experiences as often as I do, and I was relieved this year to find out that I am coping. Every trip, every expo, every overnight in YVR is helping me prove to myself that I can be in control of myself.
It gets easier,
It gets better,
and I am proud of the person that I was this past weekend. Cheers to small victories and future successes.
On Thursday, T and I arrived in Calgary for the 10th anniversary of the Fan Expo. Thursday was preview night, and while the crowds were big, there weren’t as bad as I had expected. Friday was much busier, and I forgot to pack my medication in my day bag. I did well, but I was starting to feel the panic and the fear as we were leaving the Q&A panel with Neil Patrick Harris. Riding the train here is easy, easier than YVR!! one less thing to stress about whilst here.
The bipolar beast has been rearing its ugly head at every turn, spending money like Big Daddy is made of it. Thursday I lost control. Friday I complained all day about not being able to lose control. Today? Today I have a plan.
I’m going to medicate before I leave, I’m going to take frequent fresh air breaks, and I’m going to remember that anything I buy needs to be explained. Would Big Daddy say ‘go for it!’ Or would he tell me to take a hard pass? Today I will employ him as my conscience, and I am going to make a conscious effort to keep myself in check.
It’s hard. It’s physically taxing to battle myself, to ignore the pulsing in my head that is constantly telling me what to do. My inner monster is the definition of hedonistic, and in moments of excitement or anxiety, I have trouble saying no.
Today will be a good day. I will have fun, I will enjoy the wonderful company of T, and I will come home with money in the bank.
Progress update on Tuesday!
Does anyone else feel like their lives are constantly on the verge of falling apart?
I have a lot of good things going on right now. Biggest kid is playing lacrosse and loving it, middle kid is coming out of her shell and enjoying her school and mates, smallest kid, is growing like a seed and developing a very sweet personality. This weekend I met William Shatner, something that I never thought would happen, and he was every bit the man I imagined him to be. Later on this month I’ll be travelling to Calgary with my brother for the Fan Expo there, and at the end of the month I have my oral surgery consultation so that I can begin the process of fixing my teeth. In the wise words of every 90’s kid, everything’s coming up Milhouse. So what exactly is my problem?
I am constitutionally defective. No matter how much good can happen on the outside, the inside is still highlighting all of the things it feels are wrong about me. My inner monsters hate my body, but steal my energy, so I can’t find the motivation to exercise. The want is there, but the hate always wins. The inner journal of my mind is constantly stained with pools of sticky, black ink; the kind that never dries, but instead glues pages of good thoughts together so that I can’t read them. I know that they’re there, but I can’t see them without tearing the pages.
The biggest pools of ink currently staining my mind are telling me that my supporters and loved ones are getting tired of me not ‘getting better’. One minute I’m feeling strong and wanting to talk to Big Daddy about what I’m feeling, and the next I’m worried that I’m becoming too much of a burden for him to bear. His life comes with its own stressed and worries, a lot caused by me. How much more can I put on his shoulders before he collapses? I have nightmares of waking up to him gone, the children with him. Finding out that he can no longer act as my caregiver, that I am no longer fit to be a mother. My bipolar monster telling me that they would all be better off without me. Even in dreams I cannot escape the clutches of mental illness. I awake in a cold sweat, heart racing, sometimes crying. I know that everyone is tired of hearing how tired I am, but I wake up exhausted from stress. I haven’t slept peacefully in years. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed not hating myself.
I spend the majority of my days trying to make it seem like I’m not struggling. I can smile, I can laugh, I enjoy my children, but nothing (so far) has been able to quiet the anger and self loathing that I feel inside. Everything I do, my demons find a way to tell me I could’ve done it better, or that what I’ve done is too insignificant to matter – so I should stop trying. Run away, stop being a burden on the people I love. They don’t deserve a crazy mother, wife, daughter, friend. Why do I punish them? I rationalise how much better off we would all be. Perhaps if I left and didn’t feel the constant guilt or not being the person I should be, I would also feel better. When the rational part of me pushes those thoughts away and reminds me that I am a good mother, and that I couldn’t survive without my girls, the monsters call me a coward. It hurts, and I feel alone. No matter how hard my loved ones try, I am always alone. Alone with my manic thoughts of grandeur, my depressed thoughts of wanting to die, my rational thoughts of putting on clean clothes and trying to make it through another day. In the end, these thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are all I’ll ever have, they are what I’m made of, and as hard as I try, I cannot quiet them. More often than not it is too hard to combat these feelings. I lay on the couch, distract myself with tv or my phone. My mother thinks I’m lazy. Maybe I am. I’m losing the will and the energy to fight every single minute of every single day. I make promises I can’t keep in the hopes that something will click inside of me and I will magically become the person that I’m “supposed” to be. Instead I repeatedly let people down. Why am I the only one that doesn’t function like a proper human being?
I know that I’m not, but it’s hard not to feel that way. I am always alone. I am the only one fighting my battle, and even though they try, no one can help me.
So here I sit, the coward on the couch. Over weight, lazy, and unwilling to be a productive member of my family. I’m sure that’s how it looks from the outside, anyway.