A lot has happened this past week and I probably don’t know how to begin explaining the things that transpired without being emotionally exhausted for reliving experiences and feelings. I don’t even know if this is where I should put the things that has happened in detail. I mean, if I do, would anyone even hear me and even do something about it? I doubt.
But just because I did not post about it, does not mean it did not happen. And by the time you probably hear about what happened, it already has been done.
“This is what it feels like when you’re manic.”
Remember the dancing video of me I posted on my IG stories last week? I saw a documentary of a woman having manic depression dancing the same way I do when I have “really good days”. I dance for hours without feeling exhausted. Doing so much, without feeling the need to rest. When you’re at the very height of mania before it goes to psychosis, you feel like God.
My good days aren’t normal. Imagine being happy but multiplying it 10s-100s times. After which, you suddenly dip down in an uncontrollable spiral of low where you find it difficult to put up your energy again. This is manic depression.
Sometimes I feel guilty because I feel like the parts of my life that I enjoyed are illness.
I was absolutely exhausted and mentally drained after my two hour session with my psychologist. The thing with therapy a while ago was that I had to recall events, people, places, feelings from the past (no matter how painful and unfortunate these things are) and feel all those as it intertwines with feelings at present. All these happening as I work on myself, identify and recognize what I really feel, look for appropriate responses to these feelings and find a solution to my thoughts without self destructing. No matter how much I failed myself this week, I want to let myself know that I’ve never been so proud of myself for hanging (or at least for life hanging on to me).
It’s 11:55pm. I have been in bed since 7pm. I need to be moving to work at 6am and I am having a manic phase. Ideas flying like pages of words in an encyclopaedia. Endless pieces of topics. Conversations with myself. Scribbles of notes being written while helplessly catching up with my thoughts. Shut the monitor. Stare at the black mirror. Listen endlessly and count the drops of rainfall. I do all the exercises I know to fight my anxieties. The 15 tap exercise turns into a thousand taps. The more I shut my eyes, the more I am suffocated into the darkness and vastness of my thoughts. So much. Too much. I cannot be tired tomorrow. I am finding it a struggle to find peace. I want to rest. I want to turn my mind off. I am fighting all the urge to get the easy way out and get the foil from the bedside.
In my life, I’ve struggled with happiness and equated it to a life lived fully. Being in my early years, I found myself questioning so much about myself–where I belonged, what my purpose is and to what does this life serve. I remember being a child and constantly fearing about death as I sleep. Even as a child, I wanted to live life fully. It was an existential crisis that I know one way or another we all as humans, in our lives, experience in periods. Coming into terms with myself, I associated happiness with feelings of elation and sought for it. I felt disappointed when life was filled with misery, when challenges weren’t overcome, or simply when there was a plateau in life. I didn’t want life to be stable. I wanted to feel more than a spike on a heart monitor. And although I knew rising and falling were inevitable, I wanted life to constantly go up because I saw happiness as the only indication of a life well-lived. I’ve come across and studied about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for years and felt the obsession of looking for that peak–a constant search for self-fullfillment and self-actualization without never fully understanding what fulfillment and actuality meant. I blamed myself when the things I associated happiness with failed or was unattainable. I was difficult with myself because I constantly worked to be happy. And though I didn’t intend to be, with these actions, I constantly placed myself in darkness and pressed on an invisible weight on my entire being.
These realizations didn’t come easy as I constantly work and still work with myself. Each day, I still find myself struggling to alter how I thought of about life. I applaud people who see life beyond the veil of happiness. I work with doctors and specialists that help me process and exercise my mind to think differently, but that doesn’t make it anymore different. Some people need help and some people don’t and that doesn’t make the realizations in life lesser or greater–it only makes us all human. It is in those human realizations that we direct our lives to paths, to feelings and decisions that bring us off to our journeys (although uncertain) I have my fears, but I think uncertainties are what makes life worth living–life is a blank canvas. It is up to us to paint the image we want to see as we reach our destination. It’s up to us on how we tell the stories of our lives. Our stories and realizations shape us. I can simply all tell you everything that is wrong with me, and the events that have transpired in my life that some may see as a tragedy, and I can leave a period to that, but I won’t. I am finding purpose and meaning in my realizations and in how I tell my story. I am finding belongingness in the people who struggle. I am finding that there is something more to happiness in me by reaching out to people who may need me. There is so much more to happiness in this life when we realize our purpose and meaning. And our purposes and meanings don’t even need to be the same although-out. We can change it–add more to it or lessen the list as life goes on. THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN HAPPINESS.
Happiness comes and goes. But when life is really good and when things are really bad, having meaning gives you something to hold on to.
I think I have a habit of escaping. As much as I hate it when people try to escape a conversation, a topic or an argument, I do it myself. I have been trying to escape from my reality. I mean, everyone does that once in a while through different things, but I guess I’ve been simply dodging mine that it has been biting my ass in ways I did not imagine. The difference is, I’ve been escaping without knowing and the pain just seeps in ways you could not understand–why and how.
Recently, I have been working my new psychologist in unraveling different things that might have caused and is continuing to be the cause of my depression and panic attacks (I really don’t know what tense to use anymore as sometimes I feel well enough that I sometimes think depression is in the past tense, but it suddenly reminds me the day after that it is there, looming. Just waiting for the perfect time to hit me in the face when I least expect it). I have opened up so much of my life in the past that I realized that I might have been very sad growing up and that I blamed myself so much in people’s failures as much as I do in me. I haven’t been kind to myself and until now, I am finding it difficult to give myself goodness–that I deserve good things. If I have been difficult to other people, I have been much difficult to myself to the point that I am so used to thinking that way that the only way I am only able to point it out now is because my doctors have helped me come into terms with introspection. If I didn’t get the help I needed, I have a huge feeling that I wouldn’t be typing in front of my laptop now and typing “these words”. I’d probably be locked up in a mental facility or worse, just somewhere where thoughts would be a flatline. Going back to my new psychologist, she has been of help so much in the past month that we’ve been having our sessions. One of the most pressing issues that we’ve spoken about was what I experienced in my relationship in 2016. I haven’t spoken about it then to anyone other than my ex boyfriend K.
In 2016, I experienced something traumatic that I couldn’t remember what happened and the person I was with. Looking at it now, I can’t describe the person I was with and the relationship I had. I can say so much about the details of what happened on the day or the moment that I experienced trauma. All I can remember was what I felt after. The pain. The feeling when you feel like the bath wasn’t enough despite you being in there for more than an hour. The self-disgust. The endless spiral of blame. I don’t know why, but I felt IT. A couple of weeks after that relationship ended, I decided to go to a doctor secretly to have myself checked because of the pain that I have been feeling for weeks. I remember being asked so many questions and asked to have several procedures that I somehow found invasive–like there was something beyond the surface of what happened to me and she was merely scratching it. I did not return to that doctor after that and just got the results of my tests. Despite the physical trauma, I was glad that I was okay, and that the trauma was already healing. After that, I tried so hard to forget whatever happened. I tried being okay. I worked, but the panic attacks persisted. The suicidal ideation went on a toll and I attempted suicide.
People blamed him. I didn’t understand why. They didn’t understand why things happened to me and what happened to me. People asked me. It is difficult to say something when you cannot remember it yourself. I defended him. I said, it was nothing–because there was nothing that I can remember. The what and the where were a blur. That the break-up was probably because I was beginning to be too sad (I was really). I didn’t blame him but myself in the whole situation despite me not understanding why I felt the things I felt after. In the whole process, my mind learned to cope by forgetting. That in forgetting, I found some comfort and escape to the painful reality that has occurred and is continuing to affect me at present.
If asked now, I don’t think I can say still much. I blame myself for not remembering. I do have panic attacks just thinking and trying to remember and having to remember nothing. I feel so useless.
There’s always something about Maurice Sendak’s books that I find fascinating. While most people would say that his books were of darker themes and somewhat challenging to be even considered as children’s literature, his works are the kind that makes you rediscover something new each time you decide opening his books. One of my undeniable favorites is ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.
I remember the last time I opened this book, I took it to read to my students in school. I wanted to share the books I loved with them and “Where the Wild Things Are” seemed perfect. It encapsulated everything I loved about children’s literature, the wonderful art, the story that leaves you with a deeper sense of meaning and many more. However, reading it that morning left me with an ache and a realization.
Dear mama, I left home that day without saying goodbye to you. We were having arguments for days. It wasn’t new, I couldn’t even remember where it started and what is it all about. We often have those once in a while. I, like “Max” am a wild thing—difficult to tame, shoved with temper beyond one’s understanding, always looking for a world beyond to escape. But wherever I went, whoever I met, I often found that true happiness and love is beyond recognition in the faces of temporary fathomless people. Life has left me with a void. And like Max, it left me feeling lonely and “wanting to be where someone loved him (me) best of all”. Mama, I often think of how much you didn’t love me and hated me for being the contrary of what a mother’s child should be—I always thought that. But thoughts are thoughts and I am often full of myself with it without reason. Like Max’s mom, you wait for me to be “back” in my own room and in myself—always with a hot bowl of supper ready, welcoming back the prodigal daughter. I have looked at love in so many places, but love is truly where you are—in the spaces where I least expect you to be, you knock on my door and you remind me. There is no place like home.
I know you may find everything I wrote down difficult to understand, but I guess, to make it short, what I really want to tell you is thank you for loving me despite everything. I love you mama.
Your Wild Thing—Louise