It’s a common saying that you can’t unscramble, although it is technically not so true anymore, The saying still metaphorically has a decent amount of weight. It is also where I find myself all too often, scrambled. I spent the first three decades of my life learning to live with the scrambled way my brain functions. And squeeze out productive moments as they arrive. Overthinking, overanalyzing, and internally critiquing anything and everything until the job was done. In fact, I secretly took great pride in the fact that I was able to get by while indulging in my little quirks. I ignored my mental health, I thought it was something other people had to worry about. You know those people, the crazy people. I couldn’t be one of them. I wasn’t crazy, look at all the things I can do, at once. Mental illness is like that. You don’t know you have an issue, because the thing that does the thinking about if you have an issue, is the issue.
I was able to get to school and get through school through sheer force of will and very little studying, all because I was able to distract the busy mind while the learning mind got the job done. I segmented myself into neat little compartments that were all able to work more or less in line. I was able to write papers at the last minute, provided that I had everything in my life arranged in the proper paper writing order. I had internal feelings, not words, for what these compartments did, and how best to interact with them. If I really named them, I would have had to define them. I would have known something was wrong.
I started losing time, I would notice hours had passed without anything getting done, just ruminating, and then everything would happen in an instant. I would have to be everywhere at once just to pass the finish line on time
Until one day, the plates I spun, crashed. And I haven’t been the same since. I’m not focusing on the chain of events that led to all those plates spinning out of control, or the mistakes that I personally made along the way. I don’t even wish that I was still spinning, and ignorant of what I was doing to myself. I only wish I had looked for help with my mental health sooner.
I look back at the frantic energy of those years all the wasted momentum going back and forth never finishing anything all the way. Only moving it just forward enough to count. I lament all that wasted energy. I don’t dwell on it, there are new challenges to conquer and new things to do. I’m sharing so that we can break the stigma surrounding mental illness and get mental health funded the way it needs to be. I might not be getting vast amounts done right now. But I feel a sense of calm in my life I have never had before, and I owe it all to fantastic therapy, the love of people around me, and proper medication.
My biggest fear about going into therapy, and then later about trying medication was a loss of creativity, I was afraid I would lose myself. It simply isn’t the case. If anything I have completed more art and enjoyed more of my life since embracing the issues I have, naming my inner demons out loud and getting help fighting them.
I’m still fighting, still working through and to undo all the twists and spins to make progress. There is no winning, just progress.
Is it calm all the time? No, why would it be? Life isn’t built that way, it is one scrambled mess all on its own. But life is able to do what it does, and I can do what I do to get by without getting caught up in the helter-skelter. Just letting you know if you feel scrambled, there are people out there who can help all you have to do is ask.