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Category Archives: Mental Health

I’ve come to a disturbing realization recently that Facebook has made somewhat of a monster out of me. It happened slowly over the past 9 years I’ve been on Facebook, and I didn’t notice it as it was happening. But I definitely see that it has taken a toll on my disposition.

Basically Facebook is a big old stage upon which all of my worst character flaws can perform one twisted little musical number after another. In no particular order, Facebook encourages me to be jealous, creepy, passive aggressive, elitist, judgmental, cynical, and angry. That’s not to say that all of my posts are dripping with negativity and awfulness; I just FEEL all this negative shit when I peruse Facebook lately. But it wasn’t always that way…

… When I first joined The Facebook in 2004 it was a different website. The fact that it was only used by people with university email addresses meant that the majority of its users were (presumably) young and smart-ish. The features were few, but we still seemed to agree upon some general, unspoken posting etiquette. I used Facebook casually to share life with friends both local and abroad, and it was mostly a good time. As more and more people were allowed to sign up, more and more features were added to appease them (and to make money). And as all walks of life started to become Facebookers, our little system of mores was basically obliterated. What we have now is a massive, bloated beast with too many features and too many users for my taste. At one point I had 430 friends. That’s fucking stupid.

After much soul searching I’ve determined that it’s the awful shit some people post that’s bringing my worst qualities to the forefront. I can no longer bury my head in the sand about the garbage that seemingly decent people apparently believe. I’m only Facebook friends with people whom I’ve met in person. Every single one of them is a regular person and mostly pleasant to be around, but the shit that some of them post on Facebook makes me secretly hate them. Were it not for Facebook, I probably would have been blissfully unaware of the racism, sexism, homophobia, and ignorance these people are harboring. Being inundated by the bigoted views of people I previously thought were decent chips away at my worldview in a serious way. This is further compounded by the stupidity, egotism, terrible judgment, and naivete I see exhibited by people I’d previously thought had their shit together. Daily reminders of how horrible humanity can be are why I quit reading the news–because it made me perpetually angry and depressed.

De-friending nearly 130 people today was a step in the right direction, but I feel as though I’m required to maintain certain Facebook relationships. Facebook being accessible to everyone means I have to be “friends” with an odd assortment of people I may or may not like in real life. We all have family friends, in-laws, co-workers, etc. who we deal with on occasion because we have to, and it sucks to feel like I don’t have a space where I’m “safe” from them. Some of these people are people I can’t realistically de-friend or block or even restrict because they expect interaction with me and if they don’t get it, I have to put up with their passive-aggressive bullshit whenever I see them in person.

Right now I’m in the throes of the cognitive dissonance that comes from believing that I’m a decent, intelligent person who doesn’t hate everything while simultaneously believing that I’m an awful, deeply flawed individual who would like nothing better than to become a recluse.

I understand and accept that all of this is self-inflicted. Nobody is forcing me to be on Facebook, and I’m going to do something to change the way it makes me feel and behave. Today’s mass de-friending was a step in the right direction. I’m going to continue to de-friend people who set me off and fiddle with my privacy settings until I get to a place where I’m seeing more enjoyable content than junk. I’m definitely going to log fewer hours, too.

It has come to my attention that I’ve been living in the glorious delusion that everyone understands mental illness—its causes, symptoms, repercussions, etc. I guess I’ve assumed that its prevalence in society meant that everyone knows someone with a mental illness and they’ve taken the time to talk to said afflicted people and maybe even done some research to further their understanding.

I don’t say this often: I was wrong.

People are shockingly ignorant when it comes to mental illness. I’ve talked to many people who fancy themselves experts on the “bullshit excuses” used by folks suffering from various afflictions. These people obviously don’t know that I suffer from a few myself and I generally avoid throwing myself on that sword. I just quietly let them continue their diatribe until they find something less offensive to talk about.

It’s not only that people are misinformed (and oblivious to their misinformation); it’s that they legitimately can’t wrap their brains around it. I can’t blame them for that aspect of it. It’s exceedingly difficult to explain to someone what it feels like to have depression or bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia or attention deficit disorder. They’re difficult concepts to grasp when you’ve never experienced them yourself or seen them wreak havoc on a friend or relative.

I accept that some people will never know what it feels like and I would never wish that on anyone. If you are blessed enough to have a properly functioning brain I’m quite happy for you. You’re lucky and you deserve to enjoy being normal. However, you need to be conscious of your words when talking about mental illness—especially when discussing it with someone who’s affected.

I’ve experienced all of the below ridiculousness and would like to help you avoid offending/hurting those close to you who are affected:

1) First and foremost it’s not bullshit. It’s a physical, chemical thing that is awry in my brain. It’s not a cry for attention or a reason to act like an asshole without consequences. Believe me when I tell you my actions have consequences, even when they’re actions I want no part of. The hell of being a rational person who is mostly functional is realizing the damage I do when I have an episode. My mental issues are certainly not an excuse to behave badly, but they are an explanation that I would hope could lead to some basic human compassion/understanding when I do act out.

2) Don’t ask if I’ve been diagnosed by a professional. I have. Treating me like I’m a hypochondriac who self-diagnosed on WebMD makes me feel like shit.

2a) Don’t second-guess my doctor’s diagnosis—I don’t. If you disagree (and don’t have a medical degree), you should just keep it to yourself. I have spent countless hours with a variety of doctors hammering out my diagnosis in order to tailor a treatment plan specific to my needs. I’ve been to multiple doctors and tried on different diagnoses until my (current) doctor and I found the right one.

3) Do not, under any circumstances, tell me to “shake it off,” “snap out of it,” or “get over it.” That. Does. Not. Help. As previously addressed, mental illness is a chemical thing. Parts of it are rooted in childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect. It’s very real and it’s something that requires intervention beyond “snapping out” of it.

3a) Don’t belittle me by offering advice like “take St. John’s Wort” or “get more exercise.” While those things are peachy for very mild depression, they aren’t going to mitigate larger issues. I’m not going to get into my specific afflictions, but I will tell you they cannot be cured by an herb and a jog.

3b) Don’t ask me if I’ve taken my meds (or tell me I need to up my dosage) when you don’t like something I have to say. I may have mental illnesses but I’m still allowed to have dissenting viewpoints and opinions. Don’t call me crazy in an attempt to silence me.

I get that people see me as a relatively functional person—and I am. Most of the time. I try very hard to behave like a normal person but it’s not something I can do 100 percent of the time. I have episodes and I have bad days and sometimes I have full-blown meltdowns. I appreciate that you want me to be normal and that to you, I seem mostly normal. And I thank you for that gracious view of me. But I have some things below the surface that I would like for you to not deny/ignore because they make you uncomfortable. I’m sorry that I have to be your crazy friend—but I am your crazy friend.

I struggle every day. I struggle to pull out the best version of myself that I can. I struggle to accept the way things are—to accept that I can’t spend my life wishing I were normal or being pissed off that other people get to be normal. I don’t always come out on top of those struggles. Sometimes what I put other people through breaks my fucking heart. I’ve ruined more friendships than I can count. I flounder in everyday social situations. I’m prone to bouts of paranoia. These are the crosses I bear.

At the end of the day I try to make the best of the less-than-ideal hand I’ve been dealt. I like to think that I win more hands than I lose, but my opinion is pretty subjective.

For as long as I’ve been drinking I’ve been drinking until I cry. I can’t really explain how or why it happens, but once every six months or so I drink to the point of complete emotional instability. I’m sure it says all kinds of things about my psychological well-being (or lack thereof) and my various mental afflictions. Whatever, that’s not why we’re here. If I had the vacation/sick time to go to therapy once a week—I would. That’s not an option for me if I want to remain employed full time so I get to just deal with my “quirks” (read: symptoms) on my own. Unfortunately for me that means it’s a total crap-shoot when I drink.

Most of the time I can handle myself and act like a normal person. I may get a little boisterous and a little inappropriate (I’m always loud so that doesn’t really need to be listed here) but I’m mostly under wraps.

If I continue to drink I get obnoxious. I’m handsy and super inappropriate. If I’m in this phase it’s only a matter of time before I progress to one of two stages (or both, if we’re all really lucky)…

Stage one: Balls-to-the-wall anger. Typically I’ll start picking up on what I think are subtle digs at me (hello, paranoia; welcome to the party) and stew for a little bit until someone says or does something that sets me off. And boom goes the dynamite. Then I storm off and pout until someone tracks me down and I either yell it out with whoever will listen or I progress to…

Stage two: Uncontrollable sobbing. We’re talking serious, level-five meltdown crying. It’s never about just one thing, either. Whoever the unfortunate soul is who tries to console me will suffer the onslaught of whatever verbal diarrhea spews forth from my mouth until they can’t deal with me anymore or I run out of things to say.

For your consideration: My bachelorette party was in Vegas (because my maid of honor was awesome) and I had an episode that weekend. I drank more than I ever have in my life because people want to buy drinks for the bride-to-be. So I put away more booze than ever and blacked out for a portion of the evening. During said blackout I am told I knocked a mirror off the wall and began to rifle through everyone’s suitcases before stumbling into the bathroom. This is where I start to remember what was going on… and it’s a mess.

Once in the bathroom I couldn’t find the light switch. I was *frantically* fondling the wall—just sliding my hand up and down the wall next to the doorframe with no success. I had to pee so badly that at one point I legitimately thought I had started to pee on the floor. Scared that I was having an accident and oddly obsessed with someone walking in on me, I held the door closed with one hand and hopped up on the sink… in the dark. Not long after I’d relieved myself there was a soft knock at the door. I opened it and one of the girls who was staying in my room was there, looking confused. Realizing I had just drunkenly peed in the sink I began to weep.

I sat on the edge of the bathtub, crying in embarrassment. The girl tried her best to console me and I actually requested to call my husband* before thinking better of it.

And that’s my most awesome example of drunk crying.

By now I realize I sound like a complete alcoholic to you but I swear—this is not my regular life. I’ve noticed it only happens when I’m in a large group of people. I can’t quite figure out what that says about me (it can’t be an attention thing because I always leave everyone so I can fume/cry by myself). Maybe I just get overwhelmed by all the people. I generally don’t do well in crowds sober so it would make sense that all those people would exacerbate whatever my issue is.

All of this has led me to an odd realization: When girls get really drunk they’re prone to crying and melodrama; when boys get really drunk they’re prone to violence and stupidity. Is one better than the other? I mean, would you rather endure emotional stress or physical damage? I guess it’s personal and it varies from person to person. But it’s something to consider when hosting a party.

* I have to say I’m blessed to have a husband who accepts my crazy and loves me anyway. He is more than willing to hug me until I stop crying and let me pour my drunk little heart out to him for as long as I need to. He’s a keeper.