Yesterday (or last night) got pretty bad pretty fast. I don’t even know why. The internet triggered it, as can sometimes happen. Ignorant people making rude remarks; intelligent people making pretentious remarks — it started out as a normal day on the interwebz.
But then I started hearing how people were saying things; noticing the tone in their text. I tried to remind myself a few times that you can’t hear someone’s tone through written or typed work — you can, sometimes, sense their tone if they’re being super forthcoming or set up their words perfectly, but that’s not what was happening — and that was exactly the source of so many arguments and misconceptions throughout the World Wide Web on an hourly basis.
I wasn’t hearing voices, per-say. It was just my normal in-my-brain reading voice. But it was putting tones on things that otherwise had none. And convincing me they were really there.
Of course, some of them were correct. Some people are downright nasty, and assuming they’re typing with an air (or fucking tornado) of smugness and hostility is perfectly acceptable and often the truth. But too many weren’t correct; they were simply wrong and my brain wouldn’t let me see that, or stop.
So after reading too many articles and blog posts and engaging in not-exactly-healthy conversations, full of imagined and real unfriendly tones, I started to feel rage. Maybe not what you were expecting, but I became so full of rage I could barely function. I tweeted about how much I hated everyone — “all of you”. I refused to read anything else online.
Eventually I found myself doing the dishes. I don’t really know how it happened, but there I was, scrubbing away with a thousand thoughts swirling through my mind.
I can never relate to anyone. I’ll never find someone who understands me. People are so fucking horrible. I hate humanity. Fuck this. WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE? Why the fuck can’t I relate to anyone? Where is MY meaningful connection? People are nuts, yo. WHERE DO ALL THESE DISHES COME FROM? Why am I doing the dishes? When did this happen? I should stop going online. It does nothing but piss me off and now I want to go on some kind of rampage, blowing up people’s keyboards so they can’t spew their filth all over my safe place, and like, sensory deprivation-ize people until they scream for knowledge. Is that possible? I should invent it. Fuck people. I am going on strike from ever washing these tongs ever again. Are they called tongs? What the fuck are these? I should squish people’s heads with these until all of their horribleness seeps out.
That’s how it went for a while. And then I started thinking about how much I can’t relate to people and why (totally their fault, not mine), and came up with a million perfect sentences or phrases or thoughts or whatever for a blog post explaining my inability to relate. But once I sat down and wrote it, none of it made sense. I went off on a tangent about one specific conversation I had with two friends. I dissected every single thing we said.
Once the post became over 1,000 words and I hadn’t even gotten to my point yet, I decided to hell with this, and deleted everything about the conversation except for a lengthy introduction to it. I then took five screenshots of the conversation, cropped each of them so one would pick up exactly where the other left off, then realized I didn’t need our Facebook photos because I would be boxing them out anyway, so I cropped them again. Then I opened each individual shot and used black boxes to cover one person’s name, and red boxes to cover the other. I reread the whole thing to make sure I didn’t say their names in my comments.
The whole time the rage was building inside me. It never went away. I added the screenshots to a gallery, added the gallery to the post, and started writing about relating (or not) again. But nothing was coming out the way I wanted it to.
I skimmed over the rough draft of the post and even less made sense than before.
Thankfully, I had completely wiped myself out. The rage had subsided and made way for sorrow. I felt horrible about the world and about people and about my life. I fell asleep. The post still sits in my draft folder. I’m afraid to read it but also afraid to delete it. Its title just stares at me. My eyes see the normal black color all the other post titles are. My mind sees green. I associate green with envy. My mind thinks it’s taunting me. I don’t know how the two relate.
I was staring back at it this morning when the phone rang.
It was my psych office. When I started therapy they had scheduled me for a psychiatric evaluation but didn’t have any openings until November. But now they told me that someone had called in a last-minute cancellation and they could see me today, if I was available. I nearly screamed Yes! into the phone. I got excited, for a few minutes. But then my dad or my son or Jack did something that irritated me and I shut down. I hadn’t gotten much sleep last night, so I was even more irritable than usual. I curled up on the couch, hid under my blanket, and fell back to sleep.
My dad yelled at me to wake up. I did, but I didn’t stay awake.
Jack yelled at me to wake up. I did, but I didn’t stay awake.
My son yelled at me to wake up. I did, but I didn’t stay awake.
I knew I couldn’t sleep through my appointment. This was important. So I didn’t deep-sleep, or at least I thought I didn’t. I awoke every so often to check the clock. When it was time to rise, I did.
Holden’s toys were everywhere. Shit was ripped up. Popcorn was mashed into the carpet. He had gotten a Tastykake apple pie, forced a spoon into it and was so proud of himself for eating it like that. He had gotten a YoCrunch Reese’s Pieces yogurt. He opened the Reese’s and poured some on the table, some on me. He tried to open the yogurt by jamming his finger through the aluminum-foil-esque covering. He achieved putting a jagged hole in it and smearing yogurt on himself.
I took a look at him, his yogurt-covered smiling face saying Look Momma! I eatin’ pie!. I told him Good job baby, then kicked a few pieces of popcorn under the entertainment center and cleared only the toys blocking my dad’s door. Bye Momma, see you soon! trailed behind me as I stormed out the door. I hadn’t even told him I was leaving.
Jack and Poppa were gone. How could they leave the child and me alone, completely unattended, no one to come to the rescue, in the state I’m in?! Of course, they didn’t know. They thought I was being lazy.
I panicked. I had $1.37 in change on me and needed $21.13 more for the appointment. I’m habitually 15-30 minutes late for all of my therapy appointments, but this I couldn’t miss. If I was late, they would cancel it and call someone else. I would be kicked off the list and have to reschedule for fucking March, probably.
I tried calling my dad but dialed the wrong number. Twice. Once I had finally pounded the correct numbers and it started to ring, I heard the truck coming around the corner. I waited until I saw it pulling in to hang up the phone.
It wasn’t until Jack mentioned that he would go inside to watch Holden that I even realized my panic should not have been over money — it should have been over leaving my son alone.
I wanted to stop at Starbucks first. I always stop at Starbucks first, which is why I’m always late. I got into the car and started — HOW IN THE FUCK DID 30 MINUTES GO BY SINCE I DECIDED TO LEAVE?! I specifically remember every action and event from the time I got off the couch only taking a matter of minutes. Now I couldn’t even relate to time.
I skipped Starbucks, got stuck in traffic (fyi: going 69mph in an area posted 65mph is not fast enough to warrant use of the ‘fast lane’), and got there 15 minutes early. I smoked a cigarette, signed in, and was seen immediately.
The psychiatrist was a tall yet adorable older bald man. He played with the dimples and skin tags on his hairless head. I found it endearing.
He went over my history and asked me to count backwards by 3s from 100 and to spell ‘world’ backwards. Why all this backwards stuff? He asked me to remember the words ‘tree,’ ‘pickle,’ and ‘elephant,’ then asked me more questions, then asked me to repeat the words. I told him those words weren’t really fair — there was a tree in his office directly in front of me, pickles are one of my favorite foods, and elephants are just awesome (and have been on my mind since the whole Kendall Jones controversy). It was too easy. It shouldn’t count.
He told me I was smart.
At the end of the session, he graced me with not only one but two diagnoses.
Drumroll, please . . .
I, Tempest Rose, am honored to present you with my mental health evaluation results: I have Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (at least — Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder are still possibilities, but we’ll examine them in due time). The first psychiatrist I ever saw, the one I thought was horrible, all those years ago was right. As were most of my friends. As was I, for that matter. The diagnoses were not surprising. They were, however, relieving.
Now that I know specifically what’s going on, I can work on what steps I need to take to better manage my life. So, I’m happy.
But other things doctor man said really freak me out. Things like I can’t relate to people because no one knows who I really am, because I don’t even know who I really am, because what I put out there isn’t really me. It’s what I’m projecting to make people believe it’s me. It’s what I want people to see. And I’ve gotten so good at, and used to it, I can’t even differentiate between reality and my façade anymore.
Read that again. Let it sink in. Is it hitting you like a fucking frying pan to the face? Because that’s how it hit me.
Supposedly I am not the cocky, arrogant motherfucker you’ve all come to know and love (or hate). Supposedly, I have severely low self-esteem. Supposedly my brutal honesty doesn’t mean shit because it might, in fact, not be brutal honesty at all. Who knew?
I can’t even relate to myself.
So that’s what I’m dealing with now. I have no idea who I am. I don’t know what’s real and what’s not. I don’t know which aspects of my personality are true and which are made-up. I was so overwhelmed and drained after that session, I started to have a panic attack in the waiting room. I had to leave. Once I got home all I could do was curl up in a ball and yell at my kid.
I snapped at him because he accidentally dropped something by no fault whatsoever of his own. He doesn’t deserve that.
Thank god I have therapy tomorrow. Right now I’m going to take the new medications doctor man gave me, and wait for tomorrow. Always waiting.
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Have you ever experienced something like this? Rage for an unknown reason? Delusions that minuscule issues are much larger? A profound reevaluation of everything you thought was true? How did it affect you? How did you handle it? Let me know! (If you’d just like to leave any words whatsoever validating my existence, because I’m feeling particularly vulnerable right now, without the guarantee of a response from me, that’d be cool, too.)