So I’ve been medicated for bipolar type 2 for months now, and it’s been great for the most part. I’ve dealt with situations that would have broken me for weeks, my road rage is under control, I can focus … the list continues. I kind of feel like I may be existing in a more human form than I have for my entire life, which is a bit bracing. Who knows what could have happened had I been diagnosed earlier? But I can’t think about that. Except that I do, because I am me.

My bipolar disorder still manages to send me into spirals, despite my medication. They’re significantly less death-related than they used to be, thankfully, but it doesn’t make them any less disruptive. Take my most recent discovery about myself.

A couple of months ago, I did an Instagram challenge, where I took a picture of myself for each day of March (you can see some of my favorites here), and I discovered something over the course of those 31 days: I really dislike the right side of my face. The majority of my pictures all have me facing the same way, and it made me realize that I am severely embarrassed and hypercritical of my appearance, which I suppose isn’t exactly surprising, as we are bombarded by pictures of fake perfection constantly. But it bothered me that I wasn’t as confident as I thought I was. Or maybe just hoped that I was.

I suffer from TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, where my stupid jaw is malformed and causes all sorts of fun problems other than making my face extremely (to me) uneven. I have migraines and just general face discomfort, and I can’t open my mouth very wide, which makes eating sandwiches An Event. I also have to wear a mouth guard because my teeth don’t line up correctly, which makes me grind them at night, and honestly, the fact that I’m not in more pain than I already am is a blessing. I have basically had a headache since I was in 8th grade. It’s just plain super.

And of course, my brain couldn’t stop just at the physical. I then realized that I just don’t believe in myself at all. Sure, I’ll have short spurts of self-assuredness, but they wind down quickly when I run into a little snag or find what I’ve done (say, a painting or a pilot script) isn’t perfect or what I wanted it to be or if I’m not sure what to do next or whatever thing I decide is the impetus. I know I’ve talked about my perfectionism, but I think it goes even deeper than that. The root of it is that I don’t feel good enough … for anything. Failure is this terrifying, unacceptable thing, and I’ve been struggling with this for as long as I can remember.

Once I started down this path, I started looking at my failures, most of which were because I didn’t have the resources or the know-how. I tried pitching to Oni Press several years ago when they had an open season but didn’t continue to try to break in, I self-published two novellas and stopped midway through the third, I started the process to become a certified personal trainer/group fitness instructor but just didn’t follow through on it, I buy art supplies that I have plans to use but hold off on them because what if I ruin them with failed attempts at art … that’s only a few that I was obsessing over a few days ago. But they all had something in common: I could have reached out for help, but instead, I stayed on my sad little island.

My sad little island – or in Ladies & Tangents parlance, “Sad Bitch Island” – is partially why I feel so disconnected with everything. I was raised to be pretty self-sufficient, and although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’m so used to doing things on my own that it’s hard to seek help … or even know how. Like how I didn’t know I wasn’t breathing correctly for nearly forty years of life? Well, I wouldn’t have known about how to correct it had I not talked to my provider about it (it was slightly embarrassing). A lot of what I want to do requires collaboration, and I’m just … not great at that? Partially because I don’t trust myself to pick the right people.

Ultimately, I need to get back into therapy. I was starting to make some progress when it came to delving into the deep parts of myself, but it’s dark in here and I whirling dervish myself into this pit and freeze emotionally. I know that I need to be open to receiving others – and not just using my “open book” personality as a defense mechanism but actually letting people in – but I’m at a standstill with myself because, like apparently breathing, I just don’t know how. And I can only do so much without professional help. So I made an appointment with my therapist a couple of weeks out, and I already have a list of topics I want to discuss in our time together. Thankfully, it’s a Zoom meeting, so I won’t even have to get out of my pajamas, but I think I’m going to treat it with a bit more respect this time. Hell, I may even put on makeup. If I don’t take my mental health seriously, I don’t know who else will.

Well, that was a bit rambly, but it’s where I am at the moment. And here’s to hoping I don’t think myself into a depression like I have in the past. Send good vibes!

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