Taking Control

Taking Control

06.05.2019

It’s likely to be a hospital trip after all. Maya has persuaded me with her persuasive power to take care of a stationary admission. Sure, I’m feeling relatively well right now, but she pointed out that this is not a decisive criterion, as this mood can also quickly turn upside down again. When she reminded me that she had been with me for almost ten years now and had seen what this disease was doing to my life, I simply couldn’t disagree. All my knowledge, all the advice I give other people, I almost never use for myself. She said that my arrogance would eventually kill me because I am so presumptuous to believe that I can cope with this disease alone and overcome it on my own. I think it is time to admit to myself that I am unable to do so. I have tried it over the last few years, but if the last few months have shown me one thing, it is that this attempt has ultimately failed. I advise anyone suffering from a mental illness to seek professional help, but over the last few years I have done everything but listen to this advice. Maybe, no, no more maybe. Something definitely has to change. I have to change. Change my behaviour. One more time. If I want to survive the next few years, then I have to acknowledge that I need help from a doctor. That I can no longer do it alone, but better sooner than later do everything necessary to get along with myself and my life. I don’t know at this point how it looks with medication, because as far as I know there is no effective medication for the treatment of borderline and the last time I tried it (and when the diagnosis was not yet made) the consequences were rather unpleasant. Therapy will be absolutely necessary, so that I will learn strategies to deal better with the effects of the disease. I had always assumed that I only needed to read enough research to know what to do, and maybe that’s true. I probably have enough theoretical knowledge to actually know how to behave during these periods. However, it seems that all this knowledge is not enough to enable me to actually implement it. Or I overlook something essential. In any case, it is necessary for me, through professional care, to achieve the stability needed to restructure my life and live an organised life. Completely exaggerated, fucked-up characters are usually only exciting in movies, because we know that they fulfill their role within the structure of the movie and therefore work. But nobody sees how these people live their everyday lives. What daily challenges they have to struggle with and how difficult it is for them to get anything done in a reasonable way. I have felt this more than clearly in recent years. I have made so many mistakes, claim an unbelievably crappy impulse control to be my own and regularly lived a life to the limit and beyond. Of course such extremes are very attractive for an audience that sits comfortably in the cinema armchairs and is amused or repelled by the peculiarities of these people. But actually experiencing these excesses yourself is not necessarily the most enjoyable experience. I am not a movie or book character, rather I have a very real life. But living this life like a movie inevitably causes problems. If I ever write a book about how such a life actually feels, other people might understand that this is not a desirable state. Or maybe I’m also writing that book right now? Presumably, at least some of these thoughts will flow into the plot, for that they are too genuine and simply reflect too well through which extremes one walks almost daily. So there is probably something good about the fact that I take the trouble to write down this chaos. At some point I might actually be able to capitalize on it. A big toast to my materialistic worldview. It would be too bad, if I would use all these hours of writing only for myself, but nobody else. If I succeed in benefiting from it in a sustainable way, it would have its upside.

Light and Darkness

Light and Darkness

05.05.2019

The advantage of extreme mood swings is obvious: As fast as bad episodes occur, they can disappear. Today, especially in comparison to yesterday, was actually quite good. Although I didn’t get anything productive up and running, I wanted to take some rest after the stress of the previous day. This may sound a little like a vindication, but at least I keep the routine of daily writing, even if it’s just these thoughts here and I write them again at night and nothing in the morning. Nevertheless, the deed itself counts, the when is secondary. Because I have decided to write regularly in the evenings, I somehow feel forced to go to bed earlier, because the silence for writing with pleasant music takes place in the dark on my laptop. There are no streams or games to distract me, but I have complete focus on what I’m doing right now. If I can somehow manage to get my crazy sleep rhythm back on track, then that’s fine with me. It’s the small steps that establish our habits and ultimately shape what we perceive as life. Here they are again. The Instagram slogans. Very good. Another sign that things are looking better again. Fortunately, Word has a practical search function that allows me to find these placative statements later and perhaps at some point actually give them their rightful place. If I then become a mega hip influencer, because all sorts of people like my super profound thoughts, that wouldn’t be without a certain irony. Then, out of the suffering, which is often part of these words, came something good in the end. I don’t want to die. In spite of an experience like yesterday this decision is certain for me. I didn’t finish it then and I won’t do it now. I believe that my struggle, my experience is too significant to give up. Not only for myself, but also in its symbolic effect for others. If, at some point, I finally decide to publish these lines, other people may be able to draw new courage from them. You will see the unfiltered abysses through which I sometimes walk, but also the way out. Or at least some valleys and oases that promise improvement. Perhaps this linguistic picture actually frames life with mental illnesses very well. While some people walk the sunlit cliff street of life, some of their fellow human beings fight their way through the abyss right next to it. But while the sun is making its way, for a few moments it illuminates even the darkest abysses and sometimes this brief moment is enough to awaken new courage, new hope, another attempt to escape from this abyss. Perhaps someone throws them a rope which they can only see with the light of the sun and can now finally grasp, or a few protruding stones bring a strenuous but promising ascent into the realm of possibility. Whatever it may be, these short moments of light can mean the decisive difference between life and death. I know I am just writing these words because today I was lucky enough to wake up with this light, but even during my darkest hours in the past months, I never wanted to put an end to my life. I knew that my head was telling me lies, that I was not this completely incompetent loser as it would like to portray me. That there are many people who care about me and value my work. I know that it is possible for me to help many people with my words. To give up now would be to destroy the work of years and possibly cause a reaction in others like “Well, even this guy gave up at some point because he had no strength left”. I don’t believe that living with mental illness means eternal agony and damnation – or even a death sentence. I believe that it is possible to immerse the abyss in glowing light and see hope where before there was only darkness, pain and despair. A better life is possible.

Empathy

Empathy

29.04.2019

I signed up for one of those countless dating apps. It happened pretty fast until the first match occurred. I’ve already been texted. Irony of the story: Personally, I think dating is super exhausting. That’s not only because my mental condition makes many emotional interactions unnecessarily complicated, but also because I’m polyamorous. In fact, it’s even an extreme type, since I generally refuse to have any kind of clearly structured relationship. I don’t want to tell anyone how to live their lives – but the same holds true vice versa. When other people decide to spend some of their time with me, I’m naturally delighted. But I have no entitlement to it, just as they have no authority over my time. But explain that to someone on the first date. Oh, by the way, I’m a borderliner who also regularly fights depression and actually don’t feel like having relationships in the classic way. Yeah. I’m sure it’ll work out great. The only problem is that if I don’t talk about it, sooner or later there will be a point at which the whole thing has to be addressed – something like that can never be avoided. But if I don’t say anything until then and that’s why it fails, then I’ve wasted the time of all involved unnecessarily, because something like that could have been clarified much earlier. It is a tragedy. But I guess I’ll text her back anyway. You miss every shot you don’t take and all that. Yesterday I shared some of these thoughts on my Facebook wall and received unexpected encouragement from one of my former teachers and someone who was in my class. It’s kind of crazy that I haven’t exchanged a real word with them for years and yet they support me. That is somehow…nice. It’s nice to see that this internet can also be used for positive things. Just don’t be an asshole, don’t act like the ultimate jerk and tell other people how crappy you think they are and that they may please die of a deadly disease. People are so incredibly ambivalent beings. Loving and cruel at the same time. Classical in-group-out-group behavior. It would certainly be many times more peaceful on the Internet, but also in the rest of the world, if we would succeed in extending our empathy to a larger group of people. Our evolutionary legacy, however, does not necessarily make this task the easiest. The simple tribal relationships of the past do not necessarily provide the ideal basis for the development of global empathy. But one will still be allowed to dream. My sister sent me an e-mail earlier with comments on one of the drafts of one of the book chapters. It’s so crazy that I’m quite uncomfortable with the thought of reading her corrections, although I know it’s both necessary and only done with the best of intentions. When it comes to criticizing my own work, I instinctively react very thin-skinned, although I am fully aware that this criticism is immensely important. Heavens, I have even dedicated an entire chapter to this subject alone and that we should be grateful if someone takes the trouble to give us well-founded criticism. So am I. Fighting the first unpleasant feeling is therefore always a task that I have to accomplish. I know that my head tells me lies, that there is no reason to feel bad about it, that it’ s not right to tell me that my work is completely useless and that I will fail terribly. I know that is a lie. I am getting better and better at not believing this lie. A few years ago I probably would have been completely overwhelmed by my internal emotional chaos, but now it’s more of an unpleasant sting, although it’s fairly controllable now. It is there, yes, I feel it with every breath, but it does not control me. The ability to control that I have learned over the years is what distinguishes my present self from my past. I have come a very long way, but it was necessary to reach this point. I am a more complete person than I was then. Not perfect, of course not, but much stronger and more conscious of my own character.