Under Pressure

The gray skies weigh heavy on my shoulders. It’s days like this I feel an overwhelming tiredness that consumes my whole being. It saps the strength to hold my head up, leaves my limbs leaden, my very being muddled.

I feel I could just close my eyes and sleep forever, but not a restful sleep, the kind of sleep you just don’t wake from.

There is a cancer ravaging me from the inside out. A cancer of the spirit. A cancer of the mind. Fed by frustration, self-doubt, irritation with bureaucracy, policy, rules meant to benefit the few, but suppress the many.

I’ve been here so many times. A cycle of sorts, predictable in its unpredictability. The highs, the lows, the struggle between the two, always just hoping for some sort of peaceful in-between.

It never comes. Oh, sure, there are lulls, spans of time, short or long, that seem convincing to onlookers, almost convincing to me. But it’s always there, the shadow lurking in my peripheral vision, just far enough out of reach for me to squelch for good. It’s always planning, scheming, waiting for the precise moment to attack.

Chameleon, it blends in with the daily trials of life. A celebration? Strike now, and push her over the top! And people say she’s having a really good time. She’s sad? Strike now, and push her over the edge! And people say she’s overreacting, she’s emotional, she’s irrational.

There are treatments. Chemical treatments that suck the life out of you, leaving you a shell of who you might have been. I tried them. Over and over again. I stopped feeling, I stopped thinking. I stopped being me.

There are other treatments. Drugs, alcohol. Self-medication. Trouble waiting to happen. I tried them. Over and over again. I found trouble, over and over again. I stopped feeling, I stopped thinking. I became a version of me I couldn’t live with.

There are more treatments. Clean eating, fitness. Get your body back to basics with the fuel and exercise it craves. I tried them. Over and over again. They work, sometimes a little too well. I started feeling, in bright swatches of color. I started thinking, grandiose visions that I was determined to achieve. I became a version of me that other people have a hard time living with.

There is no cure for mental illness. There are only band-aids. Temporary fixes.

I have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I may, or may not, have bi-polar disorder. My psychiatrists have said yes, my sister has said no, and most good days I’m on the fence about it.

I have these disorders. But they are not who I am. They do not define me, but perhaps they explain me in some ways.

And I’m out of cigarettes.

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