Being batshit crazy is not that fun. Especially when you're approaching a new decade of your life and age technically doesn't matter at all - I'm still thrilled to have been called eighteen last week, which I am definitely not - so, the thing is, maybe the fountain of youth comes with pain. And a brain MRI, which is what I got when I couldn't deal with the pain anymore and wanted an answer to whether or not I had a tumour. The answer was no, I did not - do not - have a tumour. Hence, ADL: Autopilot Dominoes Loop. ADL is my theory or a term I use to describe the lived experience of Bipolar Disorder, also known as, being batshit crazy.
Let me stop you right there. I know describing a mental health disorder as being batshit crazy is really wrong, insensitive, and offensive; however, I am talking about myself, and I am definitely Bipolar and I am definitely on medication, and I am definitely aware of what it feels like to be batshit crazy, so, fuck you. I can say what I want. This is art. The purpose of a public journal is to write over and over again, and allow you to laugh at me in the process until I remove all self-consciousness from the fact that this is real, this is my life, it fucking sucks, and I have to deal with how badly it sucks, and I don't want to do it the way society would have me do it: quietly and in shame. I did do that for a very, very long time and no it wasn't a choice - like this isn't a choice either - not really - so here it is. Batshit crazy. Bipolar. What am I trying to say? Dominoes. Not the game but the thing they do when they line them up and then hit one so they all fall down in a line, not necessarily straight. It's a visual metaphor for what we can call a trigger and then the aftermath. When everything falls apart. They all fall down. Ring A-Ring O'Roses.
I loved to read. I could no longer read. I loved school. I no longer cared. I wanted to earn money. I didn't try to do anything about that. Well, that's not true. It's not that I didn't try. I couldn't. And so you wonder why I write about this. Mental illness steals so much from you. Can you give it back to me? Time, stability, every good feeling - how do I explain how any of it works? I'll keep trying so let's go back to ADL. I don't surf but you know how surfers catch a wave? And then they surf that wave. ADL is similar, but with emotions. You can catch an emotion like a wave and you ride it on autopilot and there is a domino effect and then it goes on loop. It's like a wave being surfed inside a hamster wheel but forever. Or like shattered glass in the corner of a wooden room that has been burnt to ash by flames and then the hamster wheel with the surf wave on loop comes in and just stays there repairing nothing because the fire already burnt everything so the water isn't going to do anything and you're just there, over and over again, trying to figure out what your purpose is when it seems like there is nothing left to do, but continue surfing this wave inside a hamster wheel that just won't stop. Maybe if I could just stop being lazy? But I'm not lazy at all. Maybe I am sometimes, but that's not the real problem. The real problem is that my mind needs to be on my side and I am currently on Prozac and Lamictal so I can't think straight and in any case I do need to bounce off the walls sometimes to feel normal. Being batshit crazy - though it sucks - does make me feel normal. It's part of the incredibly long process called recovery.
Why does it take so long? To feel normal, to recover? The cold gets into your bone marrow and everything is raw. There is no assertion, no power, no agency. Nothing is where it is meant to be and no one is who they are and it doesn't matter anyway because you're not even there. I have repeated this so many times but that's the problem with this illness it just repeats itself over and over again like life, day after day, and you sit there immobile hoping it will just vanish and you'll go back to that self that wasn't so dragged - and drugged - by waves of emotions that are more destructive than ecstatic - and it hurts so much. It keeps hurting. And it's not surprising that maybe you'd roll your eyes and say - oh, my, god - just stop. Get up. Move on. Because I get it. This is exhausting. But if reading this is exhausting imagine living it. Imagine why I can't just get up and move on.
That's why you have to think of the brain as a bone. You can't run if your legs are broken. You can't get up and move and work and function when the organ that controls everything - much like a bone that controls your arm or leg - just doesn't work - it's broken. Your brain is broken. Well, my brain is broken. I wish I could say it's less painful than an actual bone breaking but none of the bones in my body have broken so it's really tough to know what's more painful. I do think the brain being broken is more painful because nothing else really works that well when the main engine in your system doesn't work. My entire life is built on the idea that if you work hard you will have a good life and you have to work hard to prove you are smart and worthy and if you can do that then maybe you deserve your dreams. You can't work hard when your brain is broken so doesn't it make sense that you then would naturally assume that you can't have a good life and you don't deserve your dreams?
It's terrifying to be this vulnerable. That's why I got a brain MRI. I was certain they would find something and it would all make sense. No such luck. See, the thing is, if you're too emotional or too sensitive you are going to suffer in this world. There is nothing worse than being in the waiting room of a hospital - more than once - where all you can do is hope someone will save you from yourself. ADL - the dominoes keep falling and you're losing so much. Friends, time, ambition, motivation, love, money, hope, desire, confidence - the list goes on. I used to walk around aimlessly listening to music - something I still do - because trying to ensure my survival and my future didn't seem worthwhile enough. I was just floating and maybe I thought I could float forever. I didn't care anymore what it said about me. I wanted to just free fall, and maybe just keep going like this, and no one will know why I'm so sad, and no one will know I can't fucking concentrate, and no one will know that I am just moving around like I know what I'm doing but I have no idea. People you become close to suddenly are obliterated into oblivion because a wave comes along and you embrace ADL and as the dominoes fall, they do, too. Every relationship that could have helped - destroyed. Scream, scream, scream, scream, scream and no one hears you. They just go. People go. They move on. I don't want to forgive them so why should they forgive me? Life is cold. Bipolar Disorder and ADL was why I didn't end up getting my driver's license. You can't drive on meds. I took all the lessons, the only thing left was the final exam, and then they said well if you're on this medication and your doctor's assessment is so and so then you really can't be behind the wheel of a car.
Not much changed for a long time after that. The concept that it is my job to look after myself, that I have to live for me, if not for anyone else - that made no sense. I couldn't live up to the person who I was supposed to be because every time I tried ADL just crept up over and over again, like the time I was going to watch all of Bergman but I just felt so depressed that I fell asleep in the cold of Edinburgh and I remember all the days I did that. Heating, cold walks to the library, back to my friend or partner who decided to look after me, walking around and trying so hard to make sense of everything, and going through tremendous agony, as they witnessed first-hand the horrors of my untreated illness. It's madness with more madness with more madness mixed with but I'm ok.
Breaking ADL is not easy. Accepting ADL, like accepting Bipolar Disorder, is even harder. But once you can come to terms with it, which unfortunately - again - takes a very, very long time - you can finally deal with it. It still sucks.
Why would being batshit crazy be anything other than a suck-fest?
It's just that with all the blessed second chances, the skepticism, the lack of empathy received and thus given to oneself, the most responsible outcome for me is to be able to say that despite it all I'm going to stay here. I'm going to start from scratch. ADL has left me broken and broke, but there is still hope. I have to become superhuman once more.
And I suppose because you have to be so strong you don't think there is any alternative other than continuing to be strong and stronger.
Autopilot Dominoes Loop - Bipolar Disorder - and me. I guess we're all just going to have to become friends.