“How should I respond to that email? Should I respond?” I ask myself. “Was that decision based on rational thought and logic or on a sideways anxiety-ridden emotional basis that may or may not be real?” My tired, anxious and obsessive brain ponders.
Sometimes I really miss believing that all of my decisions, reactions and behaviours were perfectly rational and absolutely right, until later, when they weren’t. Before being diagnosed (most of my life of 51 yrs) I would make a decision about whatever and never second guess until hind-sight would sneak up and bite me in the rear, and then it was too late to change it anyway without going through all kinds of grief (take my marriage…please). Some of those reactions and decisions however, though NOT made rationally, actually worked out positively (like the beautiful child I got out of that marriage). Another example would be the opportunity I was offered to take a position in the Northwest Territories that was only two months long, leave my place and my job, knowing no one and virtually nothing about the community, in hopes of landing a full-time position, AND do it within two weeks.
Would rational me have done it? I’m not sure. It was a big risk to take. But I did it anyway. I decided within a day and off I went into the unknown within the two week deadline dragging my poor little girl and dog along. We flew from Edmonton to Yellowknife, then on an itty-bitty plane up to a tiny village on the shores of Great Bear Lake with no roads in or out except for six weeks in the winter. It was an experience that I will write about in detail someday. If things had not turned out the way they did, where I happened to land a full time position after the two months were up, and where I did fit in to the community somewhat, it would have been another “fail” – a very bad irrational decision. Because it did happen to work out, my friends, family and I saw it as being a courageous move by an adventurous and dedicated spirit! If I’d come back after the two months to no job and no place to live, well…different story. There were a few major “fails” while I was up there, but it worked out much better than it could have.
There are an awful lot of those “fails” in my past. Usually they were made while I was in a hypo-manic, “I am so smart and talented and in love and everything will work out happily ever after FOR SURE!” phase. Sometimes though, they were a desperate grab for something to “save me from this dark and horrific misery and despair and then everything will be all right for sure!” while in a depressed phase. So now that I am “better,” and a rational, balanced person, all of my decisions and reactions should be well, balanced and rational. For sure.
Except that I am NOT sure. Now instead of just making a decision based on very little or reacting without much thought, I find it very difficult to make decisions at all – I weigh and turn over and revisit and research and pro and con them to death! I second guess the reactions I have had to everything that involves other people, my pets, my finances, my car… Did I say the right thing? Should I have sent that email at all? Should I even ask that question? Should I have said anything? What did she mean by that, really? Maybe I should not have bought that… Should I do this or that? What is my decision based on? Am I reacting rationally or am I paranoid or am I too sensitive or am I over-reacting?
I am so new to this “sane” thing that I cannot quite trust it, and so I play The (Second) Guessing Game constantly. It’s a good thing that some of my medication includes an anti-anxiety and an anti-obsessive components, or I would find myself completely paralyzed and unable to function at all, ever! When I get to that place, and I do sometimes, I have to stay home. I call in sick with a migraine as I usually end up with one. I am looking forward to being able to trust my own thought processes and not agonize over every little thing, something I will have to practice. As it is now, I wonder if this blog is appropriate and should I submit it, does it make sense or does it sound like the inarticulate ramblings of some woman with Bi-polar disorder? …oh wait, that’s me (as I go back and edit it again).
About L. Song
L. Song is a middle aged professional who has been struggling with Bipolar Disorder II since her teens. After finally being properly diagnosed and prescribed the correct medication at forty-four, she has dedicated herself to helping others who suffer from the stigma of mental illness through her work. To try to make a difference, L. Song supports organizations such as Mood Disorders Society of Canada, CAMH, as well as HMC. As an avid “horse person,” she also follows and contributes to a Facebook page, Riders Against Mental Illness Stigma. She plans to someday work with people and horses in a therapeutic capacity and publish a book about her experiences living and recovering from the disorder. You can follow her story on HMC's Supportive Minds blog.