Resentment, and Mental Illness

Being mentally ill is often means being the butt of a joke, of a stereotype.

The broke creepy loser who lives with a parent who can’t handle the real world.

Granted, the typical image this invokes is a fat guy who never showers and yells up the basement stairs for his mother to feed him and never goes anywhere.

I don’t meet those particular criteria. I also don’t call customer service helplines to breathe heavy on the phone while listening to the unfortunate woman on the other end.

However, I tell myself how pathetic I am roughly thirty times a day, I often have difficulty reading social cues, and I twitch at sudden noises. When I am out in public, this has garnered me odd looks. I assume this is because, until I do something like jump at the sound of a slamming door like someone was just shot, I appear ‘normal’.

My therapist tells me I am too harsh on myself, and people with my illness may spend their entire lives dealing with it, and that the longer and more intense the trauma, the longer the recovery, if it can be called that.

To hold myself to standards that might apply to the average (neurotypical) person is absurd, and pointless.

I understand what she means. That does not mean I do not resent being who I am.

That, as stressful as it might be, I want to pay bills, buy my own groceries, go to and from work so I can support myself while working on my own projects, that I want to go out without any fear. And I can do those things. But not without help, and not yet, not entirely.

I resent my pills, the fact that my brain does not function properly and requires outside chemical intervention to mimic ‘normal’ behavior.

I resent my coping skills: my index cards, my deep breathing, my grounding exercises, my coloring books.

I resent wondering is something as simple as cold medicine will set off an anxiety attack.

I resent my need for my sun lamp, my meditative meandering hours.

I resent my comfort objects, my desire for a new spinner ring.

I resent my nightmares, my restless nights, my days on edge.

I resent being the butt of a joke that isn’t even funny.

Carrying this much resentment is not healthy. Of which I am aware.  Which can lead to resenting my resentment.

And so on it goes.

I realize a lot of people resent, fear, or dislike people who are neuroatypical.

I have little tolerance for it.

 

 

The Taming of Anxiety

I start from a higher set point than the average person. When I wake up in the morning, before the feet hit the floor, my anxiety has already started. Perhaps I wake up out of a nightmare and my first feeling, my first thought is ‘Am I safe? Where am I?’ Perhaps not, and I’m afraid of nothing-my heart is racing, I am awake and alert, too alert, but not afraid.

If I can, I get up, I take my pills, I have a light breakfast. I breathe, take the time to adjust myself to the new day, let go of fear and awareness. It is what I have to do, in order to function. If my anxiety is left unattended it will eventually catch up with me. It will drag me down to the ground, its full weight on back. So I am constantly pushing it away.

This makes dealing anxieties that come from outside a lot more difficult.

A majority of the time, I have to ignore any sort of input that would cause me anxiety.

(I don’t watch the news. It’s usually shallow information, and it invokes fear, frustration, rage. There is no point to it, really. If I need information I can look it up, in chunks, in a format that is meant to inform, not scandalize. There are only so many stories of small children being abandoned to die and pitiful accidents that one can handle.)

To show you what I mean, a theoretical:

Horror Girl (who, despite it being late fall, is running around the entire movie  in white jean booty shorts and strappy wedge sandals), has just spent the last five minutes being chased by Freddy/Jason/Leatherface/the guy from Scream/Bad Guy X, and has come to a stop. There is a sound behind her, she screams, and throws a rock/uses her weapon/runs again. The camera turns to show what has made the sound-and it’s a cat/some trash/Generic Love Interest.

None of these things are dangerous, but Horror Girl is already in such a state of terror that something completely innocuous or merely annoying becomes something life threatening.

Translate this to a past episode from everyday life: I’m running late, so my anxiety is already high. And I realize, too late to go home and get it, that I have no wallet. So I have no way to buy lunch, no emergency money, no cards, nothing. Now, normally this would be frustrating, irritating, really just a pain.

I had a full blown panic attack; I couldn’t breathe deeply, I was nauseous, and any contingency plan I might have formed dissolved in a puddle of anxiety acid.

It worked out fine. My boyfriend lent me some money. It was fine. But it took outside intervention to calm me, I could not pull myself out of that pit.

The problem, as you may have realized, is that so much of my life has to be controlled. I do best when things are scheduled, and as a result I am quite possibly the least spontaneous person on the planet. If someone called and said ‘I have tickets for Hamilton tomorrow, let’s go’ I would panic because it’s so last minute.

(If anyone wants to invite me to Hamilton I will overcome my issues and go!)

But needing to have such control of my life (or days that allow for hours to calm myself), often leads to resentment. Of myself.

Why can’t you just push through it?

Just pick yourself up and go!

Adapt! No one cares or has to cater to you!

How will you take care of yourself?

And so on.

My anxiety, on good days, is tamed. A tiger on a long lead, one that must be watched. That must fed and watered and monitored.

It is never domesticated.

So I often don’t sleep. And then it gains ground. Which makes it harder to sleep.