Mental illness impacts everyone on this earth. From the small degrees to the severe disorders. We go through day-to-day seeing people, most we don’t generally know, and have no clue about who and what they are going through. For a long time, four years actually, I’ve been going through my own battle with mental illness. The very word tends to make me cringe because what some believe as an illness, I sometimes believe it’s a mechanism for surviving. To put it bluntly, everyone has some kind of mental illness, you’re just not classified, but I’m not judging. Many people see me and think that I’m the most jovial individual they’ve laid their eyes on. I’m never without a smile or a laugh and I tend to be the most optimistic person. But most don’t know the problems I face, or used to readily face back when I started college. Most people who knew me thought I was making it up for attention (trust me…I get enough attention).
When I started college, actually a little bit before my the end of my senior year of high school, I began noticing periods of time loss. I had found that I was forgetting majority of days and moments in my life that should have been memorable. I thought maybe I was just stressed, because at the time my household was not a place of serenity but it was always a battlefield between my grandmother and I. Me being the person I’ve known myself to be have always said what I want and she doesn’t like that. I.e. I have a smart mouth. But the more I had to be quiet the more I noticed that I would say things that I shouldn’t have. The arguments would escalate and when she told me to be quiet I knew I had to, but this voice took over, making me say things, almost as if I need to override my own submissiveness and say how I actually felt. But some of the things I said I didn’t actually feel at all. My father was trying to come back into my life, my mother and grandmother were arguing again as I had seen hundreds of times before, and to top that off, I had memories from my childhood, ones of me being molested, coming to me in form of a recurring dream. And once I understood what the recurring dream was telling me, it went away and tears poured from me as if I had unlocked the gates to the inevitable flood. I kept it to myself for a long time, sometimes even doubting myself if what I had uncovered was the real truth.
As I graduated high school that summer came. I began to lose traces of time, sometimes in the middle of the day, I went to sleep and woke up at different times of the day, sometimes it was the next day or even a week. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Maybe I was stressed because I knew I was going on this path of higher education. Things began to get more intense when voices were in my head. I had already been hearing voices before, I thought it could be schizophrenia, that did run in the family…I knew what was happening wasn’t real. One thing I pride myself on is being able to distinguish fantasy from reality. So I went to a psychologist, maybe he would have some answers…and to my dismay, he was rather…interesting. He thought I had schizoid personality. Due to my environment, lineage and current state of mind. I read up on it and definitely felt that this could be me. But he sent me to a specialist, one with a degree that could give me drugs…drugs that would help me but also get me high as a kite and I was here for it! I was slightly excited about that.
He asked me more thorough questions that the previous doctor and increasingly insisted asking me if I was many people, insinuating I had multiple personalities. I grew defensive, as if I was being infiltrated and vehemently denied it. But he concluded that I wasn’t a schizoid. After we talked he had brought my grandmother into the room, she started crying, thinking I needed to be medicated and she didn’t want me on drugs. The doctor say the controlling nature she had and understood what I was going through. I knew I wasn’t crazy.
But that quickly changed when I became a passenger in my own body and watched my day-to-day functions with me having no control over the wheel. I would use various names, one name my grandmother knew from a man in our past, a man I couldn’t possibly remember at my age. His name was Smiley. Smiley was an aspect of me that was aggressive, a rough individual who was self-destructive in the case that they would physically want to hurt people regardless of the internal consequences. Then there was Kim, this highly sexual preteen who wanted sex from men with no regard to the reputation they would carry. There were many more, shards as I call them, to my personality that would take over and live life. And in social environments, depending on the people, I would lose time and take on this personality that would best fit that community. Sometimes I was a passenger, other times I was active but influenced by some other internal force. One thing I will say that I’m happy about with my condition is that the voices give me good insight on people without me even knowing them…even give me great comebacks to insults hurled my way. And not only that, they used to have their own opinions on situations and I had to listen to their banter…sometimes it affected me because I would subconsciously act out the emotion they were feeling at the time. Such as when a dear close friend told me that she was “quitting her whorish ways” and I gave her the look of confidence…but it came out like something else.
However I said all that to come to this. I’m in a much better place than I was two years ago. I’m very self-aware, I haven’t had a blackout…except for one instance but that was because of alcohol…in a long time. I don’t like to think of my “problem” as an illness because it certainly can be seen as a defense mechanism, coping, or survivalist mentality. I don’t know what entirely I had, whether it be borderline personality, multiple personality, schizoid or even a dissociative disorder. But I do know that I’ve survived that experience in my life, as I will many more times. I’ve come to the conclusion that accepting all these instrumental parts of me is a lot better than trying to dismiss them as an alternate fantasy. I’ve had close friends help me in my fugue states, some understand and others don’t. And I thank those that have stuck around and dealt with the oddness that I give out. Sometimes we need a little guidance to let us know what’s happening in order for us to better steer our lives in the direction we’re trying to go. I oddly can say that I miss the people in my head…not too much…but I miss having something understand my feelings, even more understand situations I couldn’t understand. More importantly make me comprehend that I’m not mentally ill…I’m just surviving the best way I can.
So to let everyone know, I haven’t forcibly blacked out in a long time, I’m currently feeling generally good about my life and feel like I can handle everything on my own, because I can.