On my journey back to mental wellness I’ve started to notice a few things. I’m not the only one who channels Snow White’s seven housemates. You know them surely; sleepy, grumpy, sneezy, dopey, et al. I’m also noticing that I’m not the only one who does not appreciate having their every minor decision questioned.
I find that the best response a friend or family member who is channeling one of these dorks is, “Pfffftttt” or “I see” and a good shrug of the shoulders, followed by an immediate evacuation of the scene. Further pursuance of the question at hand will only result in a blowout. So it seems that I have to remember how much I hate getting dragged over the coals of sixty-four thousand questions when asking questions.
Well damn! Living in the real world can be a pain in the kazoo. I think verbal manipulations should be registered as an Olympic sport. Yes indeed folks. I’ve come across people who actually manage to take an innocent question you ask such as, “how are you?” and twist around to imply that you are a selfish mental microbe who doesn’t care about anyone or anything.
The following hypothetical dialogue (based on an actual conversation) illustrates my take on this scenario:
Me: Hey how are you?
Person X: Well I’m fine, but I’m just tired.
Me: (falling into the trap) Oh, why are you tired?
Person X: Well I was up all night worrying about the national debt. Unlike some people I know (read you) I care about what happens to our country. Also I kept smashing my big toe with a hammer.
Me: (taken aback) OOOkkkk, Uh, why were you smashing your toe with a hammer?
Person X: Well someone (not me obviously) has to take steps to protect our economy. If my toe hurts then I won’t go out shopping and buy wasteful things while other people are suffering.
Me: (feeling a vague unnamed guilt) Uh, I don’t understand how not sleeping and injuring yourself is helping anyone.
Person X: Well of course you don’t see it! And therefore YOU are part of the problem.
Me: See ya later pal, I think I left something on the stove.
I always end up with a mild headache and wondering how I managed to blunder into such a conversation. However, with some people this seems to be the norm. I never did quite comprehend how worrying about something to the point of harming myself helps anything or anyone.
Ever have one of those days? Somehow you got up on the wrong side of the bed? My bed is up against the wall so I only have one side to get up on, but I still manage to do it on occasion. What can I say? I’m still pretty limber even at 57 years of age.
I’m usually OK first thing in the morning when it’s quiet and peaceful and I’m on the patio, listening to the birds sing, drinking coffee, and writing. I’ve been doing a lot more writing lately since I gave myself permission to not publish every single word I commit to paper or computer. It took a lot of the pressure off.
I’m floundering along in the 3rd week of getting diagnosed as bipolar and it’s been pretty hard, but in some ways it’s been a huge relief. I’m not crazy, I’m mentally ill. There’s a huge difference…well there is! Don’t argue with me!
Being as Mr. Husband is in fact my spouse and cares a great deal about me; he’s stuck with also floundering along trying to figure out how to adjust to this situation as well. The trouble starts when our coping mechanisms butt heads.
My way of coping with a challenging situation is to withdraw in my shell and spend a great deal of time contemplating my navel and the universe. Hubman’s way of coping is to pin me to a bug board and examine me under a magnifying glass. Then bombard me with eleven thousand questions per hour, analyze, make spread sheets, flow charts and make plan B, C, D and all the way through to double Z.
All this accomplishes is to make me want to scream loud and often, and take up residence in the attic. Thank you God, I have my own room with a lock on the door (my idea) to retreat too when it all gets too much.
It occurred to me this morning that I can just stop answering the questions. It may seem odd for a blogger to claim they are a private person, but I am. I choose what to share and what to keep to myself. If someone tries to squeeze information out of me I clam up. Trying to force information out of me at this point is more useless than trying to get blood out of a turnip.
I’ve decided to implement the “Do you feel lucky? Well do ya?” policy. One question a day about my mental or physical status is all I intend to answer. If there is something that needs discussion I will let you know! Think about it Hubman, is this the one question you want to ask me today? It’s a one shot deal.
Limiting questions to one per day may sound rather draconian to a “normal” couple, but when it comes to an illness, a rather benign question takes on a whole new meaning. A question such as “did you sleep OK last night?” is really multiple questions hiding under the guise of a single question. It can mean; Did you sleep at all? Did you have nightmares? Did you get up in the middle of the night and drive to East Texas for a pack of cigarettes? Did you rearrange the furniture? Did you wake up at 3:00 am and knit a scarf so long it could wrap around the equator twice? Did you decide to format the hard drives and reinstall all the programs on all 3 of your computers at the same time? Did you eat everything in the kitchen that wasn’t tied down or raw? Did the tooth fairy leave a half eaten chunk of havarti cheese under your pillow?
My advice to anyone who is coping with mental illness or any other chronic illness in a loved one or friend is to embrace a few simple concepts. We are sick not stupid. We are ill but not an idiot. We did not sign away our right to be treated as an adult and with respect when we signed forms in the doctor’s office. We need a friend and a shoulder to cry on. Not a mother hen, a jail warden or a head master. We are still capable of making rational decisions and we know what we need more than you do, even if we may not able to express it in a way that you believe or understand.
I’ll climb down off my soap box now. Thank you for listening 🙂