Friday, 27 September 2013

Everyone: STOP IT!

I have had it with people's ignorance when it comes to mental illness. I've just HAD IT. It blatantly stems from a lack of knowledge, which is what separates it from sheer stupidity, but it's still incredibly irritating and endlessly frustrating to have to put up with it.

First of all, I do not need your stigma. Your stigma is about as useful to me as an ashtray on a motorbike (thank you, Gill Murray, for that phrase). The judgment you apply to my condition is about ten thousand times louder coming from inside my own head, so you are wasting your time and energy on it. I'm already judging myself, and I already feel lousy as hell, so really, there is no need. REALLY.

Secondly, why is it that people have such an issue with mental illness? Why is it that people think it's not real? We accept that every other organ in the body can get sick, so why is it that the brain, which is the most complex of all our organs, seems to be the one exception? The brain is the centre for everything we say, do, feel and perceive. It controls our movement, contains our memories, and determines how we feel on a day-to-day basis. It is in charge of absolutely all aspects of our lives. We cannot even begin to comprehend the amount of wired connections we have up there, so why is it so hard to imagine that something can go wrong? Why is it so hard to believe that your brain can stop functioning the way it's supposed to with EVERYTHING that is going on up there? We accept that other organs can malfunction, so what is it? Is it the fact that you think you're in control of your brain? That somehow being mentally ill is just a state of mind that you can will yourself out of?

Let me put it this way: You do not have any more control over your brain than you have over your heart or your liver. You are not in control of what happens up there. At all. What makes you think that you are? Do you have superhuman powers or something? Do you have the ability to regulate your own hormones and neurotransmitters? If you think you do, how do you explain why some people get diabetes? Is it because the body's ability to regulate insulin is out of our control, whereas the regulation of serotonin and noradrenaline isn't? I'm hoping, for your sake, that you can understand just how nonsensical that train of thought is.

So why don't we just accept the following: As human beings, we can try our best to be healthy, but ultimately we have very limited control over what happens in our bodies. Furthermore, the BRAIN is actually responsible for all of it, because without a functioning brain we would, as you all know, be dead.

Also, we don't deny dementia. We don't deny Alzheimer's. We don't go around criticising people who have Down's Syndrome, unless we are assholes. So if we can recognise that there are many things that can be wrong with the brain, why are we still resisting mental illness? What's stopping you from reaching the conclusion that if people actually suffer from it, that must mean it exists? And if you STILL refuse to accept it, then please, do tell me: Why would I get diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and spend my life trying to cope with the miserable ups and downs of it, if it wasn't real? If I could "snap out" of it, don't you think I would?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Taking one step back in order to move forward.

There is a voice inside my head that says I can never be good enough. A very loud voice. It is a constant in my life, there at all times. It is there when I'm watching a movie. It's there when I go running in the park. It's there when I'm reading a book, brushing my teeth, doing my food shopping. And it is most certainly there when I try to be a student.

I struggle greatly with my university work. I have always had concentration issues, ever since I was little, but it is safe to say that those issues have been getting worse. This is no surprise, considering the fact that, when left untreated, bipolar disorder and all the lovely things that come with it will only keep getting worse. My cognitive abilities are quite poor at this point. In addition to my problems with concentration, I also have issues with memory and motivation. My brain sometimes just shuts down. Everything goes pitch black in there. It's not a great place to be.

I even find writing this blog entry difficult; keeping my focus on something for longer than ten minutes is actually quite a demanding task. It's already taken me over an hour to write the two paragraphs above. That's clearly not a brain that is fit to write 3000 word essays or extensive musical analyses. It's barely a brain that's fit to write a sentence without needing a break.

As a result of my malfunctioning brain, I have made the decision to spend another year in order to finish my BA degree. It's not ideal, but then having bipolar isn't really ideal, is it? I think by applying for mitigating circumstances, I am giving myself the opportunity to actually get a decent degree, and that feels quite important to me, especially considering how much money I've spent on tuition fees. To me it wouldn't make any sense to botch up my assignments and ultimately screw up my degree, because once you've done that there's no way back, and I need a decent BA to get into an MA course.

A part of me feels that I am holding myself back, somehow, because I won't be able to start my MA degree this autumn after all. However, the only way forward is accepting that I am limited. I need more time, and I am giving myself that time.

My therapist asked me an interesting question during this week's session. I was talking about how worried I am about calling my mum to tell her that I'm deferring my degree and that instead of finishing now I'm finishing next year. I said, "It's not going to make her happy." My therapist responded to this by asking, "Are you responsible for your mother's happiness?" I reluctantly said yes, because I knew she wanted me to say the opposite. I feel like it is my job as her daughter to not constantly disappoint and upset her, which is what I always do. It flat out sucks to be that person in someone's life. I just wish I could accomplish something, for once.

I suppose all I can do at this point in time is suck it up, and start looking ahead. At least as far ahead as my bipolar disorder-affected brain will let me.

A Norwegian Girl in London