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Catch It, Check It, Change It

I sit every day on the third floor of the student center eating my lunch. Today I was ruminating about how up until now I was usually eating lunch with friends, laughing and having fun, but these days, it is not at all like that. I do not have friends at school, or at least any friends that invite me over to their house or where we go out to a bar and eat. I am often by myself most of the day, going home and sitting on my couch and watching British TV shows with my dog. It is a cycle. I have tried relationships, and after my diagnosis, I don’t seem to get the energy to be in one with my school and some other problems in my life. 

My diagnosis sometimes is a shadow that just looms over me, following me, opening up my bedroom door as I walk to the bathroom. It hands me a towel as I get out of my shower, and holds my hand as I walk my dog. It is a pain in the butt but today, as I sat alone, I remembered one thing that my therapist always tells me:  It is a temporary feeling and status. 

I have seen many people, in groups, and friends and family go in a cycle over and over again, and I have looked at them, judging them from a distance. I would think their problems or actions had a simple explanation that could easily be fixed by their attitude. As I see myself go back to life, get a place to rent in a huge city like San Francisco, I see why we have these cycles and why we may not be able to stop what we think is a downhill spiral. I bet for many readers, therapists or family members or friends have told them that you just have to catch a thought and change it, but is it easy? Oh no it is not

I do most things by myself because not many ask me to hangout, I don’t know many people in the city, and I really am too busy with school to spend a long period of time drinking or going to movies. I am not the only one busy, so many people are busy at my age, even my sister. 

For some reason, I think when you know you have a mental illness, those times when you are unsure of where you stand with your peers and society, it is easy to start beating yourself up and feeling different. Many quotes suggest being different is good, and we need to hold onto that notion. It takes a lot of energy to change your thinking into something that supports self-confidence. 

As I, and many like me go back into society after being fairly new to the world of living with a mental illness, we struggle with defining what makes us who we are, and who society wants us to become. Today when I sat alone eating lunch, like I do every day, I saw that maybe my sadness and the feeling of exclusion was because being alone typically is not viewed as ‘the cool thing to do’. I looked at my situation. I am going to a school where I do not know anyone, and I am busy studying and dealing with other things that exacerbate things like stress. Look at your situation and see how it most likely is contributing to certain thoughts. A book takes sometimes years to write, and a life takes even longer to write. Today, I sat alone eating lunch, but maybe tomorrow I will meet my future husband. Life has so much possibility, and I think sometimes we ignore that. 

Read the rest of Susan’s posts for IBPF here

Comments

Rumination is overwhelming every single time. It's like a foggy day followed by a thunderstorm, yet you were planning to go sunbathe. I always believe our minds are this way so we can learn more about ourselves.

I am almost always alone ; I found life easier to manage without the ups & downs ...stress..of people. I have to fake , or create a personality to fit the situation ...out there...
Never mind , I choose to be alone.

Susan, your piece was very moving to read and I felt sad to hear your going through such a tough time at the moment. You sound like a clever bright girl in limbo trying to working who you are and what bi polar means to you, a process I think all newly diagnosed patients go thorough. The why questions? who am i? who was i? It touched me as it reminded me of my feelings when diagnosed in 2009. Although its hard to believe your therapist she is right you can't feel like this forever. At my worst i thought i was better not meeting any of my friends. I thought why would they want to hang out with me? I felt I was no fun and was crippled by social anxiety after becoming unwell. But going through the bad times makes you stronger for the future and for me taught me coping strategies once facing triggers for my illness like STRESS! It hasn't been easy thats for sure but my isolation I know made it worse. I took a big step after a couple of years and joined a bi polar support group. I was so afraid prior to going because I didn't know what to expect but was afraid about meeting crazy people!!!;) Until then I had never met anyone else with bipolar. At the time it was the best thing I could of done, It opened my eyes and squashed my preconceptions. I met lovely people who knew what I was going through. Everyone is different and goes through different stages but trying a support group might be an idea when you feel ready. Take care. Anna :)

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