A tale of multiple mental disorders

Once upon a time, I got diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder. At the time I was diagnosed, I was working 40 hours a week while taking 15 credits of classes, I was commuting by bus, I was exhausted, I was stressed out, and I could tell I had become “unbalanced”. I was struggling with depression mixed with undependable bursts of energy and insomnia, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I had been to a psychiatrist who had started the process of diagnosis, but I hadn’t been able to continue because she was not covered by my insurance. Therefore, I went to a regular in-network doctor with my concern.  At the end of my half hour visit, the doctor said I needed to be on medication for BP I before I “did something that would harm other people.” (I had not described a single even potentially harmful scenario to him.)

I was given a prescription for lamotrigine with instructions on how to gradually up my daily dose until I hit 100mg (4 times the normal starting dosage at that point in time), and told to come back in two months. After about six weeks I developed a skin rash, which can be a sign of a lethal side effect of the drug. When I called in to make an appointment, my doctor got on the phone, ordered me to stop taking it, and then called a prescription for lithium and fluoxetine (Prozac) into the nearest pharmacy. I never even got to see his face, nor was I given a chance to ask about alternatives (For the record, there are many) since I think both lithium and Prozac are every kind of awful.

I never filled the prescriptions, and I never went back.

“Oh. My. God. You did WHAT?  I can hear the collective gasps all the way over here in my living room. Everyone knows that if you go off your meds terrible things will happen. If you stop seeking assistance, terrible things will happen. You must stay on your medication at all costs. (And, I am going to take this moment to say that 99 times out of 100, this is absolutely valid advice. Talk to your doctor if you have questions, but STAY ON YOUR MEDS until you are told when and how to stop.)

In my case, I was the exception, not the rule: Nothing terrible happened.  Nothing at all happened, actually. The medication had not yet kicked in to relieve my “mania”, so continuing to struggle with it didn’t bother me a bit. In fact I only had two true consequences (so to speak) of stopping: the rash went away, and my creative drive came back. Gradually I worked my way out of depression. Soon enough it felt like a bad dream, and I decided I’d figure it all out later.

So what does all that have to do with the price of tea in China?

Well…let’s fast forward three years. A few days after I started my new job, I was sitting at my computer when I felt a very familiar wave of “nothing and nowhere” wash over me. I felt distant, indistinct, disconnected from the world. It felt like there were eight million violins shrieking their highest notes in my mind, and I was cold and couldn’t get warm.  When I interacted with the world around me, it seemed like someone had pulled a gray veil over my face, or enclosed me in a bubble. I felt like I could take on a lion bare-handed and come out on the upper hand….and yet I also felt like a single would topple me into oblivion.

I recognized the sensation; it was what my doctor had told me was mania, and I hadn’t experienced it (at quite this level, anyway) in over two years. I couldn’t afford to have it happen now of all times!  I was pregnant and exhausted. I had a new job I needed to do well at. I needed to clean the house. I needed to call my old job and settle some final details. I needed to pay the bills, and we were short on cash. My husband wasn’t feeling well, and neither was my mom. I had so much stuff going on…I couldn’t afford to have it all come crashing down because of one ill-timed session of crazy face.

I freaked out. I posted on Facebook about what was happening, begging for someone to help, to keep me from doing stupid things. Thankfully I have an out of state friend who became a therapist, and he saw my post. He contacted me privately, and told me that it was likely I was having a panic attack. He coached me through how to cope with it. I’m sure he violated some kind of code of ethics by helping me like that, but the important part is that he did help me. Not only did he help me get over the panic attack, he helped me see something I had taken for granted in an entirely different light.

What I took away from that day was that what my doctor had classified as mania was not. If what I was feeling was not mania, then I cannot be diagnosed as Bipolar ISo why do I struggle so much where others do not? In the months since then, I think I’ve finally pieced together the puzzle, and in the process have come to terms with myself in a way I never have before.

The first part of the puzzle is straight up depression. It has consumed me since my early adolescence. I had grown so used to it hovering over my mind-scape that I assumed it would never go away. It finally cleared up around the time I met my husband. For the most part I have been healthy in body and mind since then, and apparently the difference in my behavior and outlook on life is a welcome change. I still get random comments from people telling me that they “really like the new M.” (For the record, I also like love the new M!)

The second part of the puzzle is anxiety. I don’t mean the “oh I hope this goes well” kind of unease…I mean soul-consuming, fact-destroying, emotion-crushing anxiety. The constant inner diatribe telling me exactly how many ways I’ve screwed up everything I’ve ever done or tried to do. The dialogue of “what ifs” and “maybes” (usually) keep me from going on “adventures” or making decisions that could have long term impact, and generally make life miserable. Anxiety rules my world, controls my existence, causes my panic attacks, and keeps the clouds of depression constantly brewing on the horizon.

The third part of the puzzle is ADHD. My family has a long and complex history with ADHD, which I had dismissed out of hand as having no relevance to me. Why? I think simply because I wanted to be “normal”. Unfortunately, the “normal” train took me straight through Crazy-Town and into all-out bat country, so I’d say that idea backfired on me. However, I read a book about ADHD recently that changed everything. It described aspects of ADHD that I did not know existed. Despite my family history, I truly thought that “being ADD” just meant being scatterbrained and hyperactive, and I joked about it just as freely as they did. I didn’t know that people with ADHD could be extremely impulsive, or that they had social problems, or that they could not only fail to focus, but they could also hyper focus. I have struggled with every facet of ADHD for years, and I had no clue!

I have not been to a therapist to confirm my theories about how these three issues conspired to screw my life over, but I simply cannot get past how well it all links together to create the perfect illusion of manic-depressive cycles. The physical symptoms of a panic attack mixed with the hyperactivity and lowered inhibitions of ADHD perfectly mimic the clinical definition of mania, and then depression and general anxiety were there to complete the manic-depressive picture.  The one thing that would have blown the entire thing out of water is this: the fact that although I FELT like I could take on the world when I was “manic”….I never acted on it. I actually had MORE impulse control when I was “manic” (due, I suspect, to high levels of anxiety) than when I wasn’t. I also did no great harm to others, took no major risks, and even when I was going off the deep end I was utterly dependable at work.  In short: I do not meet the qualifications for a manic episode. I never have.

I am intensely angry at that doctor for treating me the way he did. I feel that by not taking the time to ensure I was given the correct care, he actually made my situation worse. His misdiagnosis certainly threw my life off track for a long time! Some of it was my own fault; in my desperation for a cure, I was willing to agree to pretty much anything, and I’m sure that didn’t help. However, I cannot get past the thought that if he hadn’t been so intent on prescribing medication, he would have identified the discrepancies between what I was experiencing and what he was diagnosing. If I can do it…why couldn’t he?

I plan on going back to a therapist at some point to get his diagnosis overturned (I acknowledge that it is entirely possible that the therapist will uphold his opinion, but it seems extremely improbable). I also plan on seeking counseling (but not medication) for my anxiety, because it makes my life hell and really is the one aspect of myself that I would change if I could. I think doing that will help keep the depression at bay. As for the ADHD thing….that’s what makes me who I am. I am an artist. I do weird things, many of them without realizing it. Plus, if my thought processes changed…so would my creative process. I like those aspects of myself, and I would not change them for all the consistent, focused productivity in the world. I have coping strategies that I utilize when I’m at work or doing something Really Important, and they have been fairly effective.  I see no need for any greater intervention.

So….there you have it. Another of my little epiphanies. It’s probably not that big of a deal to the world at large, but for me it is. For me, it means that in the innermost inner shell of my soul I no longer consider myself incurably unbalanced, and that I have even more hope than I thought I did.

As an afternote: In the course of writing this, I had to look up lamotrigine/Lamictal to remind myself of the specifics of my prescription. When I was taking it, I was told that a) it was the only drug other than lithium proven to be effective against BPD and B) that it had no side effects except potentially the rash I mentioned.  I see that both of those statements have been proven false since then….and I can’t say I am surprised. I was on that drug for almost two months and the only effect it had on my brain was to kill my creativity when I needed it most. Yuck.

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The Abyss of Loneliness

I have a hard time making friends…and that is a massive understatement.

I don’t know how other people do it so easily. My sister (and my husband) can walk up to a complete stranger, chat them up, and walk away knowing how many kids they have, what they’re having for dinner, and what their bad habits are. Me…I have a hard time even conversing with the person ringing up my groceries. My shopping expeditions usually go something like this:

Me: “Good morning!”

Cashier: “Good morning, how are you?”

Me: “I’m okay.  How are you?”

Cashier: “I’m doing okay.”

Silence. Thundering, embarrassing, overwhelming silence.

Cashier: “Thank you, have a nice day.”

Me: “You, too….”

What I cannot convey to these passing strangers is the aching loneliness that fills me when I walk away from such an exchange. How much it hurts to realize that even if that person recognizes me later, they usually won’t go out of their way to greet me because I didn’t give them enough of myself to find a connection with me.

It extends beyond such exchanges, of course. The world of social media has actually made it worse. It is terribly depressing to log into Facebook and see 250 acquaintances, and realize that there is only one person on that list (outside my family) who could show up at my door with no warning without sending me into an immediate and world-shattering panic! Everyone else…I know of them. They know of me. I know some of them follow what I do and truly care, but I am terrified to break the ice and speak to them beyond the random exchanges that happen about cat memes and political videos.

E thinks the solution to my loneliness is to “go out and meet people” and he gets very frustrated (even angry) when I try to explain that that isn’t going to solve the problem. It never has, it never will. I think seeing me struggle to interact with the other parents in our birthing class has shown him that it really isn’t that simple for me, but still we get into angry spats about it.  Trust me, my love: I WANT to go out and meet people. However, I am scared…so scared that sometimes I literally curl up in a corner and cry just thinking about it. When faced with a social situation I usually feel like a four or five year old again, sitting in the corner with my thumb in my mouth, ashamed of the marker all over my face. It’s hard to approach adults on equal footing when you feel like a child. There have been so many times when a person I would like as a friend has asked if we could hang out, and even though I have desperately wanted to say “yes”, I have made up an excuse –no matter how flimsy- and stayed home.  Why? Because I’m afraid….of rejection, of inevitable gossip, of making a fool of myself … the list goes on.

It took me a very long time to acknowledge that what I am experiencing is not a temporary issue. I always thought I was just shy, or that I was trying to be friends with the wrong people. “When I’m older and can go out by myself, it will get better,” was one of my favorite mantras when I was a teenager. I blamed it on the fact that I was homeschooled for a while- but my brother and both of my younger sisters were also homeschooled, and they have no issues with social settings (quite the opposite, actually). Then I tried to find contentment in the idea of being an introvert. “I like my alone time,” I told my mother one time, and she nodded understanding. The truth I have never admitted before is:  I don’t. I actually really enjoy having company, but I’m scared of seeking it out. Most of my hobbies and skills are solitary, it’s true…but I like to have company while I do them. When I am alone the silence roars around me like a howling wind, and I know if it sucks me into the void no one will even notice I am gone.

I’m going to be 28 in a little less than 3 months. I am having some life problems that I can’t write about here that would be so much easier to field if I had some girlfriends…but I am terrified of talking to anyone but my mother about it. I am also expecting a baby in six weeks- that baby is going to grow into a child, and that child will want friends that I don’t know how to find for him.  I want to home school him, but is it fair to do something that will inevitably stymie his social growth, given my won personal issues?

The anxiety I feel is debilitating. The loneliness is crippling. The empty hours of silence when other people would have someone to laugh with are horrifying. I am humiliated by my inability to fill a pause in a conversation without seeming too loud, or awkward, or downright rude.  Why do some people seem to always know exactly what to say? Why can’t I be one of them? What is wrong with me?

My loneliness has gotten so bad that I have decided to seek professional assistance in overcoming it…but I can’t afford that right now so I have to weather a little longer without it. If I’ve made it this long, surely I can wait a few months, right? I just have to cling tight and find joy in the small things as I always have.

Having difficulty finding cheer today, but it has to be there somewhere…

M

The Story of “M”

I am annoyed, and the annoyance starts with this image:

I ganked this image from this blog entry, where a total stranger made some fairly offensive generalizations about a very broad spectrum of people, and upset me so badly that it’s taken me four days to finally figure out how to say what I want to say about it.

WBY (and everyone else), I would like you to meet M.

M was born in 1986, and thus falls smack dab in the middle of the “Generation Y” WBY is talking about. M was lucky enough to be home schooled by a  ridiculously intelligent (actually, Absolutely Freaking Fantastic In Pretty Much Every Way) mother. She also grew up in what was basically the lap of luxury due to the one thing WBY’s post got right- her Baby Boomer father did indeed have a great career, and he was remarkably open to his family living however the hell they wanted to while he worked his butt off far away. She owes him a lot for that experience, because without it, she would not be who she is today. Not only did he provide for her and allow her to grow up in a great environment, he set an insurmountable example of what it means to be a hardworking parent.

M is one phenomenally talented individual. Oh God, you’re thinking at this point. Another egotistical artist. You might even be tempted to close the window.  But wait- there’s more to this story. M is phenomenally talented…but for many, many years she had zero understanding of how important her talent is. That giant ego demonstrated in the first sentence of this paragraph did not exist.  You see, even though M grew up in an incredibly nurturing environment where she essentially got anything she wanted, could ask any question and get an answer, got to teach herself at her own pace and ignored the subjects she disliked in favor of constructing tiny replicas of Stonehenge out of found objects, M’s potential was stymied by social expectation. It started very, very early.

The social pressure went something like this:

Who do you think you are? You are not a unique and special snowflake in ANY way. If you acknowledge you have special aspects to yourself, you are an arrogant jerk and no one will ever like you. You are a failure if you do not focus on and succeed at practical skills. You deserve to be unhappy because you are a silly girl, and there are at least eight million people who are better at what you do than you are. Your place in life is to work, and to keep your mouth shut.  You are a terrible person for wanting to do something different.

It felt like the entire world (except for her family) had something bad to say about her creativity and passion.  The pressure came from her friends; from books and magazines; from the radio; from the internet, and from TV and movies. Artists were not successful people. Artists got mocked and lived in attics and never had enough to eat.

When M was 14, her mother started pushing for her to go to Art School.  Their conversation went something like this:

You see, M had a dream in her head. It was pretty simple, and it looked something like this:

That dream trumped everything else. Being a smart cookie, she knew that the unstable lifestyle and income of an artist would not allow that kind of dream to come true. She didn’t dare acknowledge that for some exceptionally talented people it can come true. The social voices in her head wouldn’t allow that kind of arrogance, after all.

In order to achieve her dream, she reasoned, she would have to find the same kind of job security that her dad had.  With this goal in mind, she studied hard until she turned 18, and then she got her GED. She passed the tests in the 99th national percentile (in case you aren’t aware, that’s Really Effing Good), and proceeded to field a lot of Random Junk Mail from prospective college while trying to figure out how to move forward in life.

M spent the next nine years of her life trying to figure that out. She worked a lot of different jobs, most of them at or just over minimum wage because that was all anyone was willing to pay. She always did fabulously; in fact, in all of her adult life, M has only “lost” one job. Oddly enough, the job that seemed the most secure and promising lead to complete disaster, while the job that seemed the most like a slacker Dead End Job ended up being her closest ticket to what the world would recognize as “Success”. Here’s how it went:

M decided to change her major from Business to Web Development, and went to school for several years. She did that because she felt that would be a more practical and focused career in today’s internet-based world. When offered a job as a junior developer for a small local business, she took it with glee. Here was her key to success! Finally, she could be a Real Life Web Developer!

9 months later, the economy crashed. As the least-tenured employee, M found herself laid off. To add insult to injury, because she was attending college, she did not qualify for unemployment. She did not find another job….for a very….long…..time.

In that time, she broke up with her boyfriend and had to move back home. She was extremely grateful to her parents for allowing her to do so- after all, she truly had no other option. She stayed at home for five years. For a year of that time, her entire life was crammed into a space smaller than a twin bed. At some point during that year, she also had to grin and bear it when people she had thought were her friends chose to publicly humiliate her…multiple times. She didn’t think it was very funny, but they sure did.

A few months after she moved back home, her brother told her “The pizza place you worked at a few years ago is hiring again.” She had liked that job a lot, but had left it when she became a Real Life Web Developer. M had nothing to lose, so she went in for an interview. Of course she got hired, and six months afterwards, she finally achieved her very first TRUE reward for hard work: She got promoted to supervisor.

M worked there for the five years she lived at home, and in that time she learned a lot. She learned about cost analysis, labor control, and other important aspects of running a restaurant. She learned some Spanish –a great skill to have in the restaurant industry- and how to keg carbonated beverages. She also learned how to lead by example, keep her mouth shut, and maintain focus on a goal. Unfortunately, despite all she learned, there was some truth to the idea that she had a Dead End Job, even as a supervisor. Her employer could not afford to pay her very much, and because it was a family-owned business there was no room to move up. She could not afford to live on her own while working there, no matter how hard she tried.  She was trapped- and despite applying for hundreds of jobs, she never got a call back.

Also during that time, M suffered from a series of severe stress-related breakdowns that resulted in abject academic failure. In three years of school she had maintained a 4.0 GPA no matter what else was happening….and that term she just couldn’t keep up. She got Fs in 4 out of 5 classes, and a D in the 5th. She was put on academic probation, which she successfully fought, but then decided not to go back after all. Instead she went on medication for her “depression” and decided to transfer to a different college –and a different Major- to see if that would help. Despite all her efforts, she couldn’t make it, and she failed again.  For the first time in her life, M “gave up”: she never went back to school.

There were times in that five year period when M struggled hard to even make it through the day, and it was impossible to see a future that looked like anything other than this:

In those times, M found herself turning back to her talent for comfort. She produced more art in those years than she had in the entire decade before. She explored new areas, discovered new processes, and covered the walls in her room with a visual map of her state of mind. She donated hours upon hours of graphic design time to a nonprofit organization she was part of, as well. Once again, her mother started asking her “Why don’t you make art for a living?” Once again, she responded with her old practical arguments, and tried to re-focus on her restaurant career.

Of course, at that point something rather unexpected happened:

The Occupy movement happened, and M’s life changed forever.

Seriously.

If you’ll remember, WBY, you said that “GYPSYs” expect not only a green lawn, but also flowers and a unicorn. When M got involved in Occupy, she came to the sudden realization that despite working herself to the point of a mental breakdown, she had yet to see a single green blade of grass in her future. More importantly, she realized that it wasn’t selfish depression making her future so barren.

It wasn’t barren because of unrealistic expectations. It wasn’t barren because of laziness. It wasn’t barren because she was a bad worker. It wasn’t barren because of poor career choices. It was barren because of the subconscious messages she had been receiving from society at large since she was very young. It was barren specifically because she had so single mindedly focused on what society expected of her, rather than what she expected of herself.

M came away from Occupy with a new resolution in her heart: She would prove them all wrong. She would succeed in her own way, and she would be happy! Riding that wave of confidence she updated her resume, applied for more jobs….and shortly had her choice of opportunities. She accepted a position as a Real Life Manager of a regional dining chain. She made a salary. She got married to the man of her dreams.

Although things seemed to be getting better on the outside, nothing changed on the inside. Her futurescape remained barren, and she was no happier than she had been working at the Dead End Job before. In fact, it was worse. She was now in the position she was supposed to be in according to society’s expectations and she had earned it honestly. Despite what the outside world thought of her success, inside she knew that she had simply played right into their game again, and in terms of her own happiness had gotten nowhere. Despite dreading her work days, she did what she had done at every other job before: she dazzled her managers with her competence, dedication, and ability to learn new skills and conform, chameleon-like, to any new environment or process. She had to support her family, after all, and M does not believe in doing less than her best.

Then M discovered she was in danger of getting cervical cancer. She had to have an extremely expensive procedure done to remove the high-risk cells, and the surgery required that she have her birth control removed.  Six weeks later, she saw this:

M and her husband were fabulously excited! They had both wanted a baby, though they both knew that “now” was not exactly the best time. They knew having a child was expensive and difficult even at the best of times, and that they had a lot of hard work ahead of them. They got to work right away.

Unfortunately, M had to learn the hard way that She Is Not Superwoman.

The ten hour days on her feet that she was required to work as a manager were difficult even before her pregnancy… and over the course of the next six months became so terrible that she spent hours of each shift crying in the bathroom.

The six, seven, and eight day weeks they started scheduling her for once they learned about her condition were impossible. They did not honor the work restrictions her doctor placed on them.  For six months, she went to work, came home, ate, slept, and went back to work. Each day was a blur of pain, tears, and stress-spawned fights with her husband who only wanted to help. Her midwife grew more and more concerned about the possibility of serious complications or miscarriage if she did not get a break.

M began to recognize the signs of what had happened the last time she got this over-stressed. She started forgetting conversations, losing track of priorities, and making crazy decisions that she would never have made in her normal state of mind. She cut herself off from her friends rather than allow herself to pick fights with them, and spent hours each day staring mindlessly into space, crying.

It was right around that time that M started to seriously think about what her mother had been asking her all those years. Why didn’t she make art for a living? What was actually holding her back? She had sold art before, after all. Expensive art! Why was it so far beyond the realm of possibility for her to continue to do so and make a living?

Do you know what happened next?

A unicorn walked into M’s life. That’s right. A fucking unicorn. A unicorn walked into her life, waltzed around her house planting flowers she hadn’t even known were missing, and then knocked on her door and said he would do all her chores and give her a foot rub if he could just crash on her couch. Naturally, M wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that.

The “unicorn” was otherwise known as M’s big sister, who had made a successful career out of her ability to sell pretty much anything. She was now the creative director for a very prosperous group, and she wanted M’s help. Specifically, she wanted M to work from home, part time, making more money than M had ever heard of…

…making art for her clients.

It couldn’t be real, could it?

Oh, but it is. It’s very, very real.

I am M (and that’s my husband E on the right).

I was a sad, depressed, crushed little girl who watched herself getting more sad, depressed, and crushed with each passing year, and could never understand why I couldn’t find happiness.  I was doing everything the world told me I should do (including having an abysmally low level of self-respect that infuriated my family and drove my poor husband bananas) and I still wasn’t getting anywhere.

Five weeks ago, I admitted that I simply did not ‘fit’ in society’s views of what I ‘should’ be doing. Three weeks ago, I got the job offer of all job offers, and I achieved a dream so far beyond my wildest expectations, so much sooner than I had ever hoped, that I am still reeling in shock.

The sad part of my fairy tale is that if I had stood up for myself as a teenager and said “NO, I am doing what I love and the rest of the world can just deal,” I could have skipped thirteen years of misery.  My mother tried to get me to go to art school over a decade ago. I pushed that fantasy in the mud because society –comprised of people like WBY- had been telling me that being an artist was a waste of time. I had been told so many times that it was sheer arrogance to expect to make my living on my talent, that I actually believed it. I truly believed that I needed to focus on having a secure career rather than focusing on what brings me joy. On top of all of that, I believed that it didn’t matter how hard I worked, I didn’t deserve to get anything in return but more work, and that is why I never spoke up for myself.

In retrospect I have wasted an alarming amount of my life pretending that I am just another lemming simply because it might offend someone that I had something they didn’t.  The truth is…I AM special. I do stand out. I have an unusually high level of creative talent, and I can now finally admit that I  am proud of my skill. I will never again sit by and let another human being degrade my ability, or tell me that my life choices are wrong.

I don’t know if what I have to say will get through to WBY, or if that person will even read this post. All I can hope for is that maybe somewhere out there another sad, depressed, and crushed human being who has been stomped on by society at large will read my story and realize that they, too, are special…and they, too, deserve to be happy doing what they love.

We all do.

Cheerfully Yours,

M

Little boxes made of ticky-tacky

I have spent the last ten years asking myself (and others) “What’s wrong with me?” and never getting any closer to the truth. The closest I have ever come to enlightenment has been during my occasional trips to see the immortal girl with kaleidoscope eyes. During those quiet hours watching the known world warp into a fantastic network of lines and color, I have also been able to see what I loved and loathed about myself in terrible detail, and accept the reality of who and what I truly am.

For some reason, I have never acted on those truths when I come back from those journeys. I come back feeling as if I had just been given a glimpse of my heart’s desire, only to have it whisked away where I could never achieve it. I go about the business of ‘real life’ with a sense of nihilistic doom, and although I have asked myself why, I have never seriously pursued the answer.

Something changed recently, and I started really thinking about the difference between the me I see in the mirror, and the me that others see. I have come to the conclusion that at some point in the past I came up with a mental image of how my life should be that has absolutely no relation to what I actually truly want(ed). The vast majority of that concocted mental image is based on how I think the world wants me to be, while the rest is based on an overwhelming need for security.  The end result of this false dream has been the creation of a stolid workhorse for my employers…and utter misery for me. Because of the portion of that vision that is self-serving (my need for security) I have never been able to turn away and pursue a different path. Thus it has gained more control over me…and more, and more….with each passing day. It has gotten to the point now where I can barely see any connection at all between who I am as a person, and what I do in the outside world.

It saddens me that I have become so limited in my thought that I don’t immediately turn to creative self-expression unless my emotions have gotten so strong that I can no longer ignore them. What happened to the other tattoos I wanted to get, and the spontaneity with which I got my first three? What happened to my piercings? What happened to the hours I used to spend decorating my clothing? Why haven’t I covered my car in random bumper stickers? Why haven’t I decorated my apartment? Why haven’t I done more to prepare for the birth of my son? Why don’t I write for fun anymore? Why do I limit my music choices to the pop genre? Why, when I know it’s what I want to do, can’t I produce artwork to sell? Why can’t I focus on planning for this glorious future that I want so badly?

The answer to all of those questions is that I am only human, I can only endure so much, and my self control is wavering. If I do not focus every ounce of my stamina on surviving the incredibly demoralizing situation I’m dealing with at work, I will break down. Rationally, I know the results of such an event would be disastrous. Emotionally, however….I want to break. I want to be done. I want to be able to rest without stressing about having to go back to an environment I dislike, where I am disliked and taken advantage of. Maybe I have actually already broken and I am desperately clinging to the ragged edges in hopes of salvation…I really don’t know.

Regardless of what happens in the future, it feels like I have spent my entire pregnancy crying. I cannot believe that that is good for my son’s development.