I’m better today. I don’t feel great, and I’m still pretty fragile, but the suicidal ideation is gone and I just feel tired, like I’ve been through a battle of some kind…..as indeed I have.
I got a really good night’s rest last night, and even fell asleep at a decent hour thanks to the full Zyprexa dose. It was nice not to lie awake into the wee hours, ruminating and feeling more and more frantic as the minutes ticked by. It was also good to do as Dr. A had suggested and call a moratorium on worrying about money and job-hunting; yes, the problems are still very much there, but I am giving myself the weekend off.
However, I’m still playing armchair quarterback, and second-guessing myself as to why I’m always so quick to deny the possibility that maybe—just maybe—it’s not mere life events that are causing me to ricochet between hope and despair. Maybe it really is the fact that I have an illness which causes extreme mood swings, and not just a character weakness or an inability to cope with life.
That’s a hard concept to grasp when you were taught from earliest childhood to “suck it up, Buttercup” and that “good” people accept full responsibility for everything that goes wrong in their lives. There was no room for the idea that SOME things are nobody’s fault—they just happen. Losing that State job wasn’t my fault; it just happened. Having difficulty finding out where I belong in the world now isn’t my fault either (even though I still have to do something about it). But I can say that to myself a hundred times—I can even type it onto a computer screen—and still not believe it entirely.
This is where a more objective observer—or two, or three—can be most helpful. In addition to Dr. A, I happen to have several friends who have been fighting the same disease for years, and when one, or all, of these people tell me the same thing, I have no choice but to pay attention. Admittedly, my perspective is skewed, and by default I am over-critical and much too hard on myself for things that I readily forgive other people for. These people give me a ray of hope when I need one; they lift me up when I fall; they call me on my BS; they nourish my soul.
They also know how far I can be pushed, but always stop short of pushing me too far. What’s unique about the situation is, with the exception of Dr. A, I have never even met these people in person. We all “know” each other from a nursing website, and now have our own support group for nurses with mood disorders on Facebook. Yet while we’ve never heard each other’s voices or hugged each other, we know each other more intimately than most of the people in our “real” lives.
These are the people I trust to tell me the unvarnished truth when I’m out of control, even if I don’t ask them for it. They are the ones I listen to most because they know this disease as well as I do, if not better because they’ve dealt with it for so much longer than I have. It’s not that people who DON’T suffer from it have nothing valuable to offer; it’s just that these folks have looked into the monster’s eyes, stared it down, and won. And that, more than anything, gives me hope that one day I’ll be able to do the same.