Mental Health

When Stressors Begin to Define You

I may have bipolar and epilepsy, yet I work and go to graduate school.

And that’s where things get a little more complicated.

Having been diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2005 and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in 2009, respectively, just being engaged in strenuous activities can provide a terribly daunting experience. My life has had its own shares of ups and downs in terms of my psycho-neurological pandemonia: I would leave jobs at the middle of the school year, leave graduate school in the middle of the academic year as well, neglect myself of my duties, refuse work, wallow in constant self-pity. Little things can be very daunting to partake in, conversations becoming too dull for my  imagination filled with constant thoughts of suicide. Everywhere I go, all I see are the relentless bombarding of my thoughts with various platitudes which may seem consciously consoling but leave behind painful feelings of abandonment, as the assurances–empty as how I perceive them to be–begin to dissipate instead. So much so with reminders that I may or may not find coercive, as I basically have to rely on the goodwill of those who try to be mindful of my flaws (and even the very thought of assuring myself of such goodwill can equally be tedious emotionally and mentally). Thus, in every position I place myself in is a moment whereby stress manifests itself, whether it be through work or people.

I feel stressed, and it’s not pretty.

The Debilitating Stressors Would Not Go Away

Ironically, though, despite all my purging, expelling extreme stress can equal to about a million Atlases holding up the earth with their bare hands. As I remember it, my mental languishing against the backdrop of such goes way back to my childhood where the very sounds of people talking that much or a variety of  cacophonous noises make my emotions go grim and wild that I would suffer myself to scream in silence. Even relating with people could entail a humongous task of self-assurances every now and then while morphing into a distinct form of introversion which affects how I interact. Of course, depression, bipolar, or epilepsy was then not part of my vocabulary; I just saw myself queer and easily subdued by stress. Thus, the generalization that my whole world is one big blob of stress rings true, as I could not bear how things go in a dog-eat-dog world, and I would end up getting overwhelmed at the plethora of ways through which I should be dealing with my environs. The problem is, though, no matter how much I build up my self-confidence through the very same self-assurances I try to wrap myself with, still there seems to be a wall blocking all my endeavours to embrace the reality of stress and stressors. My body then begins to fail, my mind starts to overthink and eventually, a flood of severe, indescribable emotions that keep surging within me and making me suffer. The stress would not go away! Given that I work in a workplace that follows that I oftentimes keep track of people (students) and various tasks (forms, learning logs, etc.), I need to pardon or perhaps shove into the background stress as a whole. But no, it’s there; and if I would associate it with a human form, I may behold its supposed eyes glistening with glee and its mouth grinning as though another epidemic may be at hand. With thus, I just cower in the midst of all the pain and the suffering, not wanting to hold my head up high anymore.

Have I Found a Solution?

Honestly, I would, by all means, shout out loud “None”–an answer which, in itself, might not be acceptable to anyone who knows that stress ought to not define a person. However (and this is not to justify my mental illness as the ultimate cause of everything, although in reality it is), I have a condition; and such of my mental and neurological illnesses prevent me from reasonableness (in a way) when it comes to this aspect. Yes, I know I might merit a tirade on this one but facts are facts. I have difficulty surpassing that very stress which makes me feel overwhelmed and utterly depressed and sick; sad to say, it haunts me whenever I try to engage in situations that require an indefatigable physical and mental frame, especially at work.

Oh yes, people offer me solutions on how to deal with my incapacity for the highest deal of stress: to take my time, to work at my own pace, to stop and smell the flowers at some instances, manage my own periods of work and play, to let things flow as they are. Of course I know, and I am not reluctant at those at all. But then again, my tolerance level can be so low I could barely feel the need to continue in what I do and even the very fact of telling me that I need to take a break can induce ruminations that make me even all the more stressed. So, should I say that it all boils down to my very own attitudes about life in general? Is it all my fault? Perhaps. Well, maybe because I am not that conditioned to “think positively”, a dictum that I sometimes find difficulty relenting myself to due to potential repercussions of sublimating depression and anxiety into parts unknown.

The Cycle Continues But It Shall Not Be Forever

As I said, stress isn’t pretty what with the current affairs of my life have become. True I have been defined by a belaboring phenomenon which, to some may not be as serious as I consider it so. Well, point in check is because I am person with disability; and while it may not be an excuse for me to not “get better”, still the reality remains that because of ubiquitous circumstances of disability, I have my limitations. As of now I am just exceeding those–at times to the detriment of my health and my stability. However, I don’t have any choice for the only reason I do this is for my personal monetary support. Yes, I may remain seated in my house for months or years on end but I may not be medicated or receive therapy. Would that even help me survive? Stress levels, if in case that happens, would peak similarly so and that does not make any difference with that of myself engaging in multifarious battles of my everyday while striving very hard not to give up. In short, I am different and so is my endurance. If I were not, then it would be better I reclassify myself out of the disability program and be “normal.” But no, and I have to accept that it shall always be that way.

Nevertheless, then again, being able to survive is the key, and coping as the foremost door to success. Yes, stop and smell the flowers… I shall do that but not merely within the parameters of compliance. If I want to get better, I should think better despite how hard it may be. This is my note to self, and as I feel that I need to  first and foremost accept myself for who I am with my corresponding limitations then that is when I could say I have loved myself even in the midst of stress so engulfing and consuming. By then, I would have triumphed over it and it shall be so.

Choleric-melancholic, blogger, teacher, mental health advocate, book lover.

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