Black or white

I had a Zoom session with my therapist this morning.

There are few things I’m a little arrogant about. I like to think I’m fairly self-aware, but sometimes my therapist makes an observation that completely floors me.

Today, she mentioned that when I’m in a low state, everything in my life becomes black or white. There is no middle grey area. And she’s absolutely right.

It’s all or nothing. They love me or they hate me. No support is better than half-assed support, because at least I won’t feel disappointed. Even if my friends and family desire to help me, what good does that do me in the moment?

Either/or thinking is incredibly destructive. And debilitating. It gets me nowhere.

But what is the solution? Obviously I’m not of the right mind during my episodes. I quickly spiral out of control, even when I try my best to self-soothe.

The logical side of me knows that the negative feelings will pass with time. And I can even recall that thought popping into my head when I’m upset. But the brain has a way of confounding itself, and logic falls by the wayside.

This especially happens when I’m home alone. Out in the real world, or at work, it’s easier for me to focus on something outside of myself. At home, I may overlook possible distractions or write them off as trivial or pointless.

I have made some progress though. I no longer drink heavily or self-harm to alleviate my inner pain. The strong negativity is still there, and it is still paralyzing, but it no longer drives me to extremely harmful acts.

This happened on Sunday. Sometimes, when my expectations aren’t met, it sinks me into a bad mood, which then snowballs into a depressive and anxious state.

I thought I’d be spending time with someone (the aforementioned chef) that day, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. I’d really been looking forward to it too, because I hadn’t seen this person for a while.

I will pat myself on the back for attempting to reach out to people though. I recognized the indicators of an episode, and sought to head it off by calling some friends. As usually happens, no one picked up at first. Calling for help is already something that I find really difficult to do, and when any attempt is unsuccessful it only heightens my desolation.

Two friends eventually called me back. However, I could hear one’s family clamoring for his attention, and my other friend had a study group at his house, so he couldn’t talk for long.

It was incredibly frustrating. I just needed someone to listen to me, but no one I called could give me the attention and care I needed. And I didn’t have the wherewithal to keep going down my contact list.

It made things worse and I gave up. I left a message for my therapist, then leaned into my misery and cried until I grew tired and hoarse.

By then I was controlled enough to calmly examine my plants and pet my cat. I crawled into my bed and closed my eyes. I didn’t open them again until my therapist returned my call. I was already spent by then, so I just told her what happened and that I’d talk to her again during our regular weekly session.

I will also pat myself on the back for attempting to advocate for my needs. I texted the chef that I needed some clarity from him, and he apologized and we were able to come to a mutual agreement on our status. It certainly put my mind at ease.

As I write this, it all sounds so frivolous. Like I’m whining and not appreciative of what I actually possess: relative health and a strong support system.

It’s just that, at the height of my madness, I am quite simply OUT. OF. MY. MIND. I’m not me anymore. I’m a shadow of a person, a living embodiment of anguish, and nothing makes any sense.

In my more lucid moments, I try to count my blessings. In my mind, I run through the list of people in my life who have proven their care. And the list is long. Possibly longer than I deserve.

I am working on myself. It’s an endless slog. I haven’t really felt like it’s worth it yet, but my therapist and chosen family assures me it is.

I guess I have to work on having a little more faith.

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