Somewhere between then and now, I stopped taking care of myself. It started out slowly, because life got busy, and I do this thing where I avoid myself and care for others in the same way I wish I cared for myself. Get me alone, and mostly, I’d rather talk about you. Talking about me means feeling things, and digging deep, and admitting that most of the time, I’m just a goddamn mess.
I’d rather not discuss any of that over wine. I don’t want to be the one to drag the conversation down in the depths of Dark & Twisty. Yes, yes, let’s talk about you, because I’m just fine.
There was always an excuse for why I wasn’t taking care of myself. I needed to be strong for my daughter. I needed to keep it together for the family. I needed to bite my tongue so I didn’t disturb the dysfunctional but kind of working relationship with my parents. I needed to grit and bear the busy season for my husband’s work. Then I needed to get through the holidays. I needed to get through the anniversary of the adoption closing, The list, it doesn’t stop there. I’ve tumbled from one obstacle to the next, always in survivor mode. Always numbing myself, and powering through, ignoring the thoughts that rage like fire through my brain during a bout of insomnia.
There is no time, I tell myself. Sure, the hours in a day are never enough, but do I really truly believe that I cannot possibly make time for myself, especially when things are stressful? Especially, when someone like me, someone with an illness requires self-regulation and care, needs to make that time.
I haven’t taken my medication for over six months. For someone with Bipolar Disorder, that’s a terrible, no good, horrible idea.
I haven’t seen a therapist in at least three years, probably more.
I haven’t been executing the so-called tools that I’ve collected over the years, because, I just don’t care to.
I haven’t cried since Christmas (maybe I’ve cried over television or a book). When my toe was ripped to hell in the garden, internally, I kept telling myself, “Don’t you dare even cry. Don’t you dare.” On The Kiddo’s birthday, I didn’t feel a thing and I tried. I wanted to, but I’m so far into removing myself from myself, that I just can’t even feel when it’s appropriate to feel. This is my thing, my go to, the outlet I used as a child when my abusive home just became too much. Back then, I’d prompt myself to stop feeling, to repress the memories, meditating them deep into my soul.
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know. Sound familiar? Except I don’t have magical ice powers or Idina Menzel’s amazing voice. I want to say that it’s easier to be this sort of emotional zombie. I’ve put myself in a sensory deprivation chamber and I have no idea how to get out of it….Do I want to get out of it?
Sometimes, before I got to bed, and because I hate the telephone, I promise myself that I will, absolutely, without a doubt make a phone call for a doctor or a therapist. Sometimes, I’ve even done the research and have the numbers ready. I promise myself over and over again until sleep finds me. I’ve broken this promise so many times that I don’t think, even when I repeat myself, and have the best intentions, that I really mean it anymore.
Or maybe, it’s just that I don’t care.
Who cares if I can barely get out of bed because the crushing weight of depression arrests me in the fetal position? Who cares if I don’t take care of me? Who cares that I regard myself with such little respect and love? Because, lately, it feels like not very many people do care. And, I know, it’s not because they don’t. It’s simply, I’ve drawn myself into the comfortable isolation that is repressing all of my feelings, which means I don’t even feel or see reality. It means when my husband tells me he loves me, I roll my eyes. It means when he tries to hug me, I pull away. That all feels foreign, and wrong.
Maybe tonight, I’ll make another promise, and in the morning, we’ll see if I can coerce my fingers to dial a number. Maybe I’ll speak the brave words of asking to make an appointment. Maybe I’ll write it down and actually go to it. Maybe I’ll feel relieved, and riddled with anxiety all at once.