Thoughts On Mental Illness And Socialization

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to interact with a colorful host of personalities through the way I live my life. The launch of my Bipolar Manifesto served as a great platform to socialize and interact with people of like-mind, going through the same struggles, or looking for the same solutions. I have to say- it has been a difficult adjustment to what I’m used to.

As a High-Functioning Autistic, I am not a social person by nature. Human interactions are governed by so many gray areas. There’s always doubts, considerations, and a myriad of other external factors. My mind does not function in gray areas. There is only black and white. On the positive side, I know that it is easier for me to make difficult decisions. It’s either going to be right or wrong, and I won’t know that until I gather as much information as possible then make that decision.

On the negative side, it’s significantly disrupted my ability to generally socialize and forge even casual friendships. If I ask someone how they are doing, it’s because I genuinely want to know. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t ask. Black and white. Even at past employers I typically got along with my coworkers the same way. I generally clicked with one or two people and then talked to no one else in an even remotely casual sense. To put it in perspective, I worked next to a woman full-time at Wal-Mart for a good two years before she found out I had a son. When asked why I never said anything about him, my only answer was ‘nobody asked’.

As I was contemplating how I wanted to approach what I had to say with my website and work, it quickly became apparent that was a skill-set I was going to have to work on. Who would have guessed that helping people would require interacting with them?! News to me. Someone should have warned me!

Frankly, I feel it is the root cause of one of my primary shortcomings. I have all the patience in the world for someone genuinely struggling, who is trying and experiencing set-backs, or that is trying to understand what is going on in their mind. On the other hand, I have absolutely no patience for people that sort of shuffle around the issue and refuse to acknowledge there might be a problem.

The very first therapist, and the man who diagnosed me, had been working with Bipolars for about 20 years. In one session he mentioned how much he disliked sessions that did not go anywhere. Apparently, one of his other patients had been coming to see him for six months and refused to acknowledge any issue or work he had to do to get his mind under control. It was at that point that I realized I could never be a traditional therapist.

I would have kicked him out after about a month and told him, “You know what- come back when you’re ready to get well. Rock bottom was good enough for me, it’s good enough for you too.”

My diagnosis was the best day of my life. It meant that I wasn’t just a worthless failure of a human being who couldn’t keep anything together for an extended period of time. I had an illness that needed addressed. If I did that, then maybe I could actually enjoy my life for a change. Diagnosis gave me many things; including hope and a purpose.

I’m still not perfectly well. I still make Bipolar decisions sometimes. One thing I strive never to do is waste another person’s time. I will never have the same style of social skills or tolerances that are generally expected. And I’m alright with that. That black and white thought process is what enabled me to literally throw the doors open on every dark thing I’ve done because of my mind.

I’ve been told it’s brave, courageous, and inspirational. I can see why some people would think so. But I don’t view it that way. I view it as a way to make the pain and suffering worthwhile. Because honestly; what’s the worst that can happen? I lose a 25th or so job? I end up abusing myself in bad ways? I might be socially and emotionally isolated? People might think I’m strange or weird?! Oh noes! Whatever shall I do?! That’s only been my life for the last 32 years or so!

Be happy with yourself, dear reader. Even if you can’t find peace or anything positive; there is no better way to gain wisdom and understanding than through suffering. That could very well be quite valuable to you later on.

Or, as an image macro on Facebook so eloquently put it- “Let your past make you better, not bitter.”

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4 Responses to Thoughts On Mental Illness And Socialization

  1. You constantly continue to inspire me. Thank you for being you and tackling the things that so many want to run and hide from. I was once that undiagnosed scared creature that sat and wasted so many different therapists time. I am not that way anymore. I have come to terms with my illnesses and like you said it was a relief to know what they were because that meant that I wasn’t just someone who couldn’t keep it together for no reason. Now that I know what it is that is going on in my mind (for the most part) I am thankful that I can now be of service to those that may be in the same boat as me. As a rapid cycling bipolar, someone with OCD, ADHD, PTSD, and panic disorder I now see that it is up to me to be happy and thankful that I made it this far as to socialize by commenting here and starting my own blog. I can honestly say that I am happy because my “illnesses” have made me a stronger, more compassionate person and because of that I have been able to help others just like you continue to help me. I am a huge fan of what you do and I pray that you continue doing what you do. I subscribed to your blog before but my dang hotmail account is not working so I am re-subscribing using using a Gmail account. I would love it if you ever found the time to stop by my blog and hand out a few pointers, that is if you are interested. Also, since we tend to cover a lot of the same topics I would be honored to swap posts sometime (again only if you are interested, no pressure). Loving everything that makes up you!
    Much love and abundant blessings,
    Kimmy
    http://www.withoutalabel.me

  2. Grimm says:

    Hey Kim. Your Hotmail account not working would explain why I was unable to contact you since your first offer. I would be happy to work out a link exchange and some cross-posting with you. You can email me at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com and we can work out the details. I’d look forward to exchanging with you because I have visited your site and though we talk about similar topics, we have different ways of approaching it. I’m always looking for quality websites of people that have different ideas about wellness.

    I don’t begrudge the people that are still miring their way through their thought processes. I think that the problem is too many people want to avoid making waves or hurting feelings. On the other hand, I think it would be a lot more effective to just be direct instead of dancing around an issue for six months.

    I definitely agree with you in that living with mental illness has made me a lot more compassionate towards the needs of others. There was a very dark period for a long time where I would have preferred to unmake everyone and everything.

    I’m pleased that you enjoy my content and approach. I should be doing it for awhile. I know this is what I’m meant to be doing with my life. A calling, I suppose?

    Be well! Drop me a line at dennis@bipolarmanifesto.com

    Dennis

  3. JT581821 says:

    Really good site, thank you so much for your time in writing this post.

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