Living with Mental Illness.

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m not the most consistent person. Growing up, I was never the kid who go straight A’s. I never had perfect attendance. I wasn’t the life of the party. I wasn’t the kid cooped up indoors studying all day. I wasn’t the all-star athlete.

I was, for lack of a better word, average.

I had several interests and talents, chief of which was my ability to learn quickly, but I was never able to reach a mastery in any particular field. I would burn out too quickly. I tried to be the best soccer player in the world. I tried to be the best pianist in the world. I tried to be the best StarCraft player in the world. The best I achieved was mediocrity.

Whatever slipped through the cracks at those earlier ages, up until I was about 20, didn’t matter too much. They were passions that wore off quickly. There are definitely moments in my youth when I felt alone—so completely alone, that nothing could ever reach me, but I assumed I was simply like any other teenager prone to emotional outbursts and the feeling that no one could understand.

It wasn’t until I was in my sophomore year in college that I began to realize the full extent of my problems. At the time, I was a music major intent on becoming a composer. I spent almost all of my time at the music school going to classes, studying theory, and practicing into the late hours of the night. It’s where I spent a large chunk of my life, and perhaps the closest thing I’ve had to “home” growing up; it was the only place I felt like I belonged.

One day, for no particular reason, I was unable to get up for my 8am class. Nothing special about that, right? I mean, how many thousands of college kids have trouble waking up for their morning classes? But for some reason, this persisted.

I began to feel dread. Going to school felt like a chore, and every day my body grew heavier. I began to sleep during the day. There were several times where I skipped classes even when I knew my attendance grade was at stake. At some point, I just stopped caring. For me—the kid who woke up at 5:30am every morning of high school and drove an hour to school—this was uncharacteristic. Like I said, I’ve never been a perfect student, but I had never reached a place where I felt complete apathy. This would be the start of my first major depression.

I tried changing majors to alleviate the problem. It was better for a while, and then I dipped back down. Every six months or so, I’d find a new life goal fueled by resolve and then just slowly sink back into the same sort of slump. For almost five years, the source of the problem eluded me.

My father is an alcoholic with severe Bipolar Disorder. My relationship with him throughout my childhood was…rough. He would go on spending sprees and drain all of the family’s savings, then go on to avoid working for almost a month before coming up with some huge money-making scheme (which sometimes worked).

As I grow up, I see more of myself in him. I recognize that I am not him, but I know he has passed some of his traits onto me.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was similarly afflicted. A meticulous businessman, he had great aspirations to become a millionaire in the sixties and accomplished the feat in under 15 years. Despite all that success, he ostracized everyone in his life and drank himself into oblivion before a successful attempt at suicide—his second attempt, as far as the world knows.

I have not been to see a mental health professional. I simply can’t afford it, and I believe that my symptoms are much more mild. However, I am pretty certain I have a very mild version of Bipolar Disorder II; I have been long fascinated by this disease, and have studied it and case studies rather extensively.

While I tend to describe my condition by depressive episodes, I have had some uncharacteristic swings in the other direction. There have been days when I am sure of literally everything I do. My thinking is quick, precise, and I can’t make any mistakes. It’s like suddenly pulling an image into focus—I can see my entire future laid out for me.

I begin to plan, plan, plan. Fastidiously. My brain races two or three or twenty steps ahead. I don’t just feel bold, I feel correct. The thoughts in my head race at the speed of light, like a chess player running through every possible move. I often reach conclusions before even consciously calculating the results—something I think of as intuition, but on a much more absurd scale.

These periods usually last up to two to three weeks as I plan out a future and feel very optimistic. If you’ve followed my work, you’ll notice that I do a lot of work in bulk; some months will be incredibly dry and others will be brimming with new content almost every day. It’s during these times that I feel I can see clearly for the first time again.

What follows is a horrible, horrible crash. Anyone who has dealt with depression knows how it feels. My mind starts to slow down, and the thoughts run together. My appetite for success diminishes greatly. Projects start to stack up like dirty dishes in the sink. I get a constant headache, and the thought of even writing a single sentence is near impossible. I have tried “pushing through” these episodes, but there is nothing that can really pierce that smoky veil; you just have to wait it out and do what you can.

For someone like me who constantly aspires to greatness, this is like a reset. Every time. It’s as if all of the progress I had made before is gone. Along with weight problems, which have also been the bane of my existence, these feelings turn into a complete shame spiral that barely leaves me standing.

I fold into myself, cutting off all contacts from the outside world. I wonder how many people I’ve just stopped talking to who assumed I was just “doing other things”. I wonder how many people don’t realize that I felt abandoned by them when they never randomly called to check up on me. Depression wraps around you like some ghostly clothing and makes you do strange things.

I’ve learned to deal with these things. I’m not afraid of mental illness or depression, and I sympathize with people like my father whose lives have been ruined by it. I have strategies, and I feel confident I can make it through whatever hits me. I am sure that I want to be involved in esports as a writer, editor, and reporter; this is a conviction I have lived with unquestionably for the past year and a half.

The one thing I very seriously worry about, though, is my inconsistency. Feeling like I’ve been reset every few months is rough stuff, and I don’t know how I’ll ever become successful with constant interruptions to my ability to work. I’ve already been fired for it once, and I’m not sure if I can take dealing with that again. It will probably be a lifelong struggle to prevent these periods from disrupting my daily life.

I know that it’s risky publishing this where future employers can see it. It’s dangerous, in fact, to admit openly that you have any sort of problems in this day and age. However, I want to be open and honest. I have some problems that I face daily, and I’m working on them.

Hopefully my bravery isn’t stupidity. Hopefully others feel like they can talk about their problems too without becoming a burden to others. There are many more people out there dealing with depression and other mental illnesses than you think. They may not always be able to support you in the way that you need, but they can certainly empathize and share their own experiences with you.

Anyways, I don’t really know why I wrote this.

Have a great day :).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s