If I’m being completely honest with myself, I almost wanted to skip today. It’d just be another thing I’ve given up on. If you can’t tell, I’m on a downward swing as of late. The meds are helping to keep it from getting too bad, but I’m still cycling from up to down. Right now I’m down and questioning every single thing I’ve ever done/am doing. It sucks. Bad. It’ll pass soon though. Maybe. I’m not entirely sure.
Have you ever been so exhausted you couldn’t think straight? That’s me right now. I’m even finding it hard to write this right now. That’s just something I have to deal with. Why, you ask? Well, it’s a side effect of my medication. In order to keep my mental health in order, I have to make some sacrifices. Having a surplus of energy is one of them.
There’s something most people don’t understand about “manipulative behavior” and borderline personality disorder. A lot of people associate it with very gross, abusive stuff. That’s true for some people because everyone is different and some people are abusive ass-monkeys, BPD or no BPD. For many of us though, that’s not the case.
I’ve been thinking long and hard for a long while now about my place in protests and social justice as a whole. Once upon a time I was way more active on that front than I am now. I was extremely vocal on social media (I’ve been called an “evil SJW” more times than I care to remember) and I participated in anti-war protests and marches back during my freshman year in college.
Now, I’m not saying I was perfect at all. Even I had an “asshole internet atheist” phase that was not pretty at all. What I’m saying is I was “out there”. I was out front, fighting the good fight, doing battle with assholes as much as humanly possible. What I didn’t pinpoint at the time was the extreme toll it was taking on me physically and mentally. It’s very draining.
What some scant few people out there may not know is I have a laundry list of things that are wrong with me. Back in the day, I didn’t know this. I’ve lived with these things, undiagnosed and unrecognized, for years. I bought into the guilt trip that if you weren’t on the “front lines” you weren’t doing your part. So I pushed myself to do things that I wasn’t totally comfortable with, that drained me, that triggered my anxiety, and that worsened my depression.
My heart is heavy today and has been ever since I learned of Deborah Danner’s death. She was an elderly schizophrenic Black woman in crisis and in need of mental health professionals. Instead, police officers who were not trained to deal with the mentally ill showed up and one shot and killed her. Due to this, Deborah Danner’s name has been added to the long list of those killed by police and the mentally ill who were killed by police. Her name is also on the less well known list of Black women killed by police officers.
This tragedy in particular hits home because, in a way, she is me. I am also a Black woman in America living with mental illness. I have a personality disorder, a mood disorder, and anxiety. Untreated, I’m an erratic mess. Even with treatment I still have moments where things go awry. I live in constant fear of that one time where things go so left that I’ll need some type of emergency intervention. I know that, in that moment, my loved ones will call 911 hoping to help me. The only problem is, if police show up first, I may get a bullet instead of the help I need.
This is a fear that, I believe, most people with mental illnesses have. Especially in recent times where the number of mentally ill victims of police violence is gaining notice. I’m not sure if the number is getting larger or it’s just more people are paying attention, but it’s a concerning trend. Then there’s the worry that if we get shot, tased, beaten, choked, or whatever, will it be blamed on us and our mental illness. Will anyone even care?
That’s a lot to deal with on a daily basis. That’s a heavy burden to bear. It’ll wear anyone down eventually. Something’s gotta be done. We can’t have millions of people living in fear of those supposedly sworn to “serve and protect” us. We can’t have family members at a loss on how they’re supposed to help their mentally ill family member when they’re in need. We need something to alleviate the fear, dread, anxiety, and guilt.
Do I have all the answers? No, I do not. I do know that I am a mentally ill Black woman trying to survive in a country that would see me and those like me dead. I do know that I do not want to become a statistic. I do know that something, anything, needs to change before another one of us dies. If you want to know what Deborah Danner herself thought about living with her mental illness, she wrote an amazing essay about it. I strongly suggest you read her words. She speaks about it better than I ever could.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from Ms Danner’s essay that really resonates with me.
I smile rarely, but I am surviving.
… and I probably never will be.
And that’s okay.
One of the things that I’m still coming to terms with is my mental illness being chronic. I’ve talked about how medication helps it go from a boulder to a pebble, but it’s hard coming to grips with the fact that I can’t throw that pebble away. How do I know this? I’ve tried to throw it away before.
No, seriously. Yesterday I was flipping the fuck out over my son going to kindergarten. I flashed back to all of the shit times I had when I was in school and projected that onto his experience. I took the slightest comments about how he acted and blew it majorly out of proportion. I had myself convinced that the poor child was gonna get kicked out of school on his first day. I was beating myself up for being a horrible mother who didn’t properly prepare her child for school.
Today, with the help of some anxiety medication I should’ve been taking but wasn’t, the vast majority of that feeling is gone. Yes, I’m still worried about my baby, but it’s down to a level where I can actually function. My mind is no longer a twisted landscape of regret, guilt, and anxiety. I can take a step back and remind myself that this is only his second day in school. Ever. It’s gonna take some time for him to adjust, but he will. I will be just fine and so will my son. I just have to make sure to take my damn medicine.