Monday, December 24, 2012

About patience...

I'm struggling lately.
Having been given nearly every diagnosis in the book at one point or another, it's difficult to pinpoint what is actually the cause of all my crazy.  There are normally two or three big visits from a major depression each year, and I spend about a week being unbearable before I'm able to get back on my feet again, and function like a "normal" human being.
Well, "normal" for us, anyhow.

These episodes are familiar, and we know how to navigate them without a whole lot of headache, most of the time.

This is different.  Lots.
And if I'm being honest, I'm a little scared.

I'm lucky.  I'm surrounded by compassionate and understanding friends, and an *extremely* caring and supportive husband.  Extremely.

This poor man has held down the fort on more than one occasion, sometimes while working two jobs.  He wrangles the kids.  He cooks meals.  He is patient and compassionate, against my irrational outburst-ing and hysteria.  He's taken care of all the holiday preparations, wrapping gifts and maintaining calm when something ridiculous sets off my weird behavior.

He's patient.  It's the greatest thing a person could possibly do for me.  It's the greatest thing anyone can do for a mentally ill person, and probably the hardest.  There have been people in my life who struggle in similar ways, and I've had to walk away from them, sometimes temporarily, and sometimes permanently, because I physically do not have the patience for their nonsense.  For their mood swings.  For their ridiculous and unpredictable behavior.  For their hurtful outbursts.   Even when I know it is the fault of a weirdly-wired brain, and not because they're just huge dickheads, I've still needed to walk away.  Because it's fucking hard dealing with people like that.

But he stays.  With endless comfort and a never-ending supply of patience.  Patience when I certainly do not deserve it.  When I'm screaming and bawling and throwing things around our bedroom like a lunatic.  He stays.

I've been on both sides of the fence.  I've lived in situations where my issues were ridiculed, where I was punished and belittled for things I could not control, and where I was basically treated very, very poorly by people who were supposed to love and support me.  I was given lots and lots of drugs, in an effort to coat the problem, and shut me the fuck up.  When they didn't work, I was trucked off to the doctor again for new drugs, in an ongoing effort to disguise me as a "regular" person.
I want to be "regular."  I am not.  And it isn't fun sometimes.  But it's ok.  And I'm ok like this.

Having someone supportive to help shoulder the burden is tremendous.  Having someone promise and deliver endless love, endless support, and endless physical help is an enormous weight off of me, as it is for anyone who deals with these sorts of issues.  Doing it alone is hard.  Doing it alone is very, very hard.  Doing it alone is sometimes impossible.  I honestly don't know where I might be, or if I might be, if it weren't for the incredible support of the man I married.

It's important for me to share these things, because I know what it's like from both sides.  I know how it feels to look at a crazy person and think, "why doesn't that asshole just stop acting like an asshole?"  I know what it's like to look at someone's absurd behavior and think "the rest of the world manages to handle their shit...why don't you?"  I know what it's like to pass judgment and be infuriated with someone who won't simply pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and do something about their sad state of affairs.  

I know what it's like to be the crazy person, surrounded in finger pointers and head shakers.  I know what it's like to be in the middle of a frightening episode, with absolutely no control over your behavior, while people look on and shame you.  Ridicule you.  Blame you.  

And I know what it's like to receive endless support, attempts at understanding, and unconditional love.
This is, by far, the very best way to be helpful to a person in that situation.
To remember that she's not screaming because she's an asshole.
To remember that she would stop crying if she could.
To remember that she avoided your phone call because of a phobia, and not because she's a thoughtless prick.
To remember that she can't come to your party, because she knows she'll freak the fuck out as soon as she gets there, making everyone uncomfortable.

And to love them anyway.

I'm not embarrassed, not really.  Not most of the time.
However, when things are bad, I am.  I know it's not my fault, and I know I'm not alone.  But I'm embarrassed.  I'm frightened and embarrassed, and nothing takes the sting out of those things like genuine concern and support from the people to whom I'm closest.
It won't cure me.  But it certainly takes away the added burden of feeling like an outcast.
And, likewise, nothing compounds such a burden like being made to feel inferior, unloved, and blamed for one's mental illness.  I can't stress this enough.

We all know someone who struggles, whether we know it or not.  Someone in your life, right now, is dealing with these very issues.  And that someone desperately needs your support.  Your love.  Your patience.  My god, above anything else, they need your patience.  And when you've run out of patience to give, they need more still.

It is ok to ask them "what do you need?  What can I do?"
And it is ok to say "I know this isn't your fault, but this is too much for me right now."

Above all else, kindness.  And when that kindness has run out, more kindness.  And more and more.  And love.

And patience.  Because sometimes, I will act like an asshole.  Sometimes I will act irrationally.  Sometimes, I will be wrong.  I will be mean.  I will be impossible.

And it's in those moments that I, and every person like me, need your love more than ever.

Love each other.  

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