An otherwise healthy person can be stuck with stressful situations -mental or physical, that throw them off kilter and into a period of mental illness. Talking therapy, counselling, CBT, medication, homeopathy- there are lots of different approaches (that is definitely not an exhaustive list) and just like fixing a broken arm or burst appendix, a course of treatment or so and you can resume your life as you left it.
Or, you can have chronic issues with mental health for many different reasons.
If you think of a physical representation of autism as being born with your limbs and organs differently configured. Some things you can adapt your body to do, some things you either work around or accept you can’t do. Some things a “normal” person can do, like having a baby, can throw you into a period of health difficulties.
It’s not always a “health” but the symptoms of it can look that way to some people, even on my best days. Sometimes though, it is a health thing, when the chemistry of my head is creating paranoia, dissociation and confusion.
Some days I walk through the world achieving my targets and feeling good about it. Some days, even after medication, I can’t leave my bedroom, can’t open my computer, can’t turn on my phone.
Both are pretty much equally opportunistic, and in the middle are a number of days that fluctuate between the two. Cold fear and panic can strike in the sunniest of circumstances and I can stand strong in a hurricane.
Standing strong, I have learnt, is not the answer. I can’t positive vibe my brain into behaving. I have to accept this is part of me. Bend to it.
I love someone who started with a medical condition, Chrone’s Disease, years before I met them. But the ongoing results from first a surgery, then a septicaemia brought on by the management of the condition mean she has physical difficulties and pain every day. She has a heart condition, a stoma, and a hundred little other ways her body is fucking with her. Like me, she can have some really good days, the type where people hurl abuse at her for parking with a blue badge, and some days when she can’t do anything.
To a point we are co-dependant. She manages my brain and I help with the practical.
Both of us have had to learn to bend and accept the bodies and brain architecture and chemistry we have. Neither of us have met our working life potential, nor do we feel we are good wives and mothers.
We alter our goals and seek help to reach those where we can’t compromise.
It is hard and we are vulnerable. We don’t love ourselves and feel guilty for the extra effort put in by the people who love us.
I don’t look at her and find her less because of her medical condition so I have to trust she doesn’t look at me and find me less.
It is easier than accepting this from my husband, who is kind and loving and relentlessly healthy and body and spirit.
I have tried all sorts of remedies to improve my functionality. Medications, routines, mantras, meditations. I have tried to be “fixed” and at several points had indeed been told I have been. I have self medicated with cutting, alcohol, food (bingeing and denying) and self neglect. Nothing made a difference beyond the moment. Somethings have left me with lasting aversions, like difficulties eating in front of people.
She makes me eat. Pushes me to look smart. Notices if I wince when I walk (I cut my feet,-past tense for now). Drags me out with a phone call “because she needs me” when I am too agoraphobic to leave for myself or the kids. Always asking for things I can do,- from drive me here to help me with this complex paperwork in your speciality, because she knows I have a kink for service.
He manages my failures in parenting without question. Coaxes me to work through whatever is blocking me. Celebrates my victories with me, recognising the mountains I climb that only I can see. He bought me tickets for my first Eroticon and pushes me to go each year. Reads my blog and pretends he doesn’t because he doesn’t want to pressure me. Has fixed my technology issues so I can write.
Pushes me to service, because serving him gives me a purpose and a sense of fulfilment, even if it is just to be a hole he can fill at his whim. Stinging the soles of my feet with sharp cane strokes, careful to leave no lasting damage, whilst still giving me that high. Marking my skin with bruises and drawings, because then I am his, not mine and I must be careful of what is his, where I would be careless with myself.
They bend too. This is no fantasy adventure where they demand and I follow without hesitation and without cost. Some days, being in bed is all I can do. I misjudge and give too much and one or the other suffers for my empty tank.
I don’t need fixing. Can’t be fixed, because being me is not being broken.
Being us is more complex than being others, but we love each other for who we are and love is not dependent on peer approval, on looking like everyone else’s relationships, to flourish.
We bend for each other.
And in bending we are strong.