It gets better?

I’m struggling today. Some days it gets hard to see past the end of the couch. I’ve never really been in a place where I had no idea where I was going. Every time I’ve been acutely ill I at least had something I was going back to, now I’m not sure.

I have a few short-term contracts, and I will probably finish my degree in 2013, but it seems really surreal right now. Might have something to do with waking up at 3am this morning, but it could also just be that I really am a little, or a lot, more adrift this time.

To be fair, the last year has been remarkably hellish. In 12 months I spent almost 4 months in hospital, changed all my meds, watched a friend get horribly abused at work, BSed my way through 6 months of pretending to be well and for a final kick watched the company I work for implode.

My boss revealed himself to be a real jerk. He ignored sexual harassment, and somehow manipulated me into being quiet about it, even though she was my friend and a great support to me. He preyed on my weaknesses to shut me up, and I am still not totally recovered from the guilt.

My new boss and the owner came to tell me I had no job while I was in the psych ward. Funny story, I don’t think my new boss had ever been in a psych hospital before. He looked a little nervous, like someone with wild hair and their tongue hanging out was going to bust into the room at any moment. To his credit, he did pretty well.

So now I find myself mostly unemployed, not eligible for disability support, and dependent on my family again. The effect on my self-esteem and optimism is sort of crushing.

I wake up every morning before it is light. The anxiety keeps me from going back to sleep, and the meds only do so much. I spend a lot of time scrolling through Twitter, because at 4 in the morning your attention span is only about 140 characters long. If I’m lucky my brain kicks in before noon and I can get some work done for my contracts.

Eating is a chore. My stomach is a mess, mostly from the anxiety. I don’t do well with solid food most days. People tend not to realize that mental illness effects almost all of your bodily systems. I’ve lost over 20 pounds in the last few months (not such a bad thing given how much weight the meds put on), but it makes me tired and prone to colds. My doctors keep telling me to get back to the gym, which would be nice, but when getting out of the house to buy toilet paper is a massive undertaking, getting downtown to the gym seems like an Everest expedition.

I feel pretty whiny today, it would seem. In all honesty it is getting better. I don’t have the crushing depression, the suicidality or the panic. I can get out, most days. I see my friends. I have sort of a life. I just feel cut off from the real world, where people go to work and have paychecks and participate. I miss when weekends were a holiday and not just another set of days to be endured. I would love to have to set an alarm clock on Monday. I know that sounds absurd, but 1) I know I’ll be up earlier than the sun and 2) I have no where to go. I miss the mundane bits that everyone else groans about.

Living with chronic mental illness is doable. I know that, I’ve been doing it for 20 years. It just seems this time that I am further away from my real life than I have ever been. I’m sort of coming to the realization that I was sicker this time than I have ever been, and dredged up more crap than I have before. Perhaps I should give myself a break on this one. It is just hard to. I grew up in the same society that stigmatizes the mentally ill as lazy, and fundamentally character flawed. Some part of me still thinks I am malingering. Ok, enough. I need to go and get my head together. It gets better. I’m fairly sure of that, I think.

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