I’ve been in trouble for a while now, mental health-wise. The amnesia that comes with severe symptoms keeps me from remembering that this is normal. My brain yammers that I’m getting worse, that my social skills are devolving, that all my tools are useless, and that, maybe, by brain is starting to liquify. But, the reality is I’ve been here before.
One of the many vital roles my therapist assumes is that of Archivist. She starts a sentence by saying, “When you’ve been like this before…” and suddenly I can breathe again. I spend so much energy and attention on navigating the whip-quick changes of the rapid cycling aspect of my illness, it’s very hard to pull focus and take in the larger picture. Shifts happen in the slow time of seasons. My Richter Scale rarely registers a catastrophic event, but like earthquakes, the tension builds over time to an inevitable break.
Recovering this broader perspective helps. I’ve survived 8.9 quakes before, so how do I do that again? Before, I would check into Mercy Hospital’s Out-Patient program (day-care for the neuro-diverse), but like so many other mental health care programs and hospitals in Iowa, it no longer exists. The programs that are left focus on folks who need functional help. I don’t need help doing my laundry (usually).
My Integrated Health Caseworker said something like this yesterday, “You’re so high-functioning, you fall through the cracks.”
It’s a Catch-22, being a Bipolar Bad-Ass.
Friday, I went early to my therapy appointment. I brought my wheely cart of art supplies and camped out at their little corner table in the waiting room. They thought that was a brilliant idea, and invited me back whenever I felt the need. So, I went again yesterday and stayed all day.
There’s no therapy, no expectation of interaction beyond a quick hello, but it’s a safe place that’s quiet and welcoming. Sorta like going to a coffee shop, except the baristas love and understand me. I call it “Out-Out-Patient Care.”
My therapist and I are also exploring alternatives. What about a Mindfulness class that would provide structure and an emphasis on Doing The Work? What about some sort of retreat? These things cost money, so we pulled in my caseworker to help hunt for grants.
I am grateful everyday that I function as well as I do. AND it’s hard work to find services that fit me. AND it’s hard to think outside the box when thinking is most difficult. But, I have an actual team helping me now—my own little Mental Health Justice League. I’m not feeling much like Wonder Woman at the moment, but with a little help, I might be able to find that lasso.