real talk on mental illness following the biking accident, from the bathPosted: June 20, 2013
I can’t believe I made two of my previous posts private the other day. Part of me was ashamed– the mental health issues, mostly — and I felt like they were unfinished bits, which was why I took them down. But that was me doubting myself. Diary-like entrees don’t have to be perfect personal essays. I can always use the material again for a healthcare or mental health post, and the republishing of some bits shouldn’t be a problem if I do sell a piece anywhere. Now I am ashamed I hid them, to think that I faltered like that. I am ashamed I was ashamed.
I am still focused on fixing myself, which is still taking precedence over writing for money, so that has remained consistent at least since March. A therapist is still in order now that my crotch pain has subsided and I feel like I can walk like a normal person. Some people would put mental over physical health, but I am lucky to have a patient mate.
When I’ve talked about my mental illness before to friends and family, I always talk about me “waking up” because I describe it as if I am no longer sleeping, I know who I am again. But then, something happens to shake up my worldview and I realize I had fallen back asleep and didn’t even realize. Going to NYC (and seeing friends and family) always wakes me up, and this time I hope, pray and wish I stay awake longer than I have previously. (I was in NYC recently to write about GF2045 for VICE’s Motherboard.) Another way to describe it is I have lost myself, or personality, somehow so to fill the personality void I absorb the ones of those around me. Or I could get really emo and link to Tor Amos’ “Silent All These Years” but my situation isn’t really like that. I’ll go with the obscure Von Iva’s “Same Sad Song,” which doesn’t really fit either, but… maybe if they were combined.
I am telling you all this, dear Internet, because while looking at the VICE suicide fashion photoshoot I was overcome with thoughts of Emma Bernstein, and in examining my behavior while remembering her it became apparent I have now completely processed her death. Her influence was what made me want to be a writer, and in thinking of her, I looked at my writing career with a new perspective.
There were many times when I was flakey, promised things I couldn’t deliver, and let people treat me like a doormat. I had issues meeting deadlines and failed to negotiate properly for what I wanted or needed and misunderstand what people were trying to teach me. My ability to produce good work is what saved me during my post-accident mania, I think. (My accident roughly 5 years ago also relit my writing desire, so I guess that is the one positive outcome out of all of that, even though right before the accident I was serious about modeling and improv. Why I am still doing journalism despite preferring creative writing and performance art — and even going to school for it– is something I will need to transition to, and soon. )
Another pattern emerged during last night’s porch-in-the-moonlight reflection: I’ve had relatively manageable depression since high school and was also “moody as fuck” (my troubled parents failed to notice this but my therapist freshman year of college was not the neglecting sort), but following my accident — specifically the concussion– I became what one therapist described as manic and maybe ADHD. My moods would fluctuate from uncaring, cold and full of hatred to overly enthusiastic exuberance of emotion and energy. I engaged in reckless, selfish and intentionally hurtful or self-sabotaging behavior. I have many apologies to give now… and many mistakes to correct. Here’s hoping that come tomorrow I still give these same fucks.