Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Today, I found the large paintings I’d made my parents for Christmas in their basement. Naturally, I was upset and wanted to know why 65 hours on each was being kept down there instead of on the walls – maybe that’s just my pride as their maker, but I would hang them. When I said, “Look if you guys aren’t gonna hang them, they’re important to me and I worked really hard, so I’ll take them.” In response, my dad blurted out (way too loud, by the way) while he stood over me, “Get hold of yourself!” I’m sorry, was me talking in a normal voice and being allowed to be upset about my work considered out of control now? I’m just such a wild card right now, is that it? It’s because I’m showing emotion at all it seems sometimes.

When I was younger I was very easily prone to tears when frustrated, and it was common for me to have outbursts… but what kid with ADHD isn’t sensitive and hyper? And why couldn’t they find a better reaction to me than fear? Or was it just frustration straight up? Like, could they possibly just not want anything to do with me feeling “a lot”… It’s been years since then, and I’m still being treated as if I’m unstable, fragile. Like I require being yelled at when I’m calm because they’re scared I’ll lose my shit or something. The worst bit might be that because everyone thinks it’s normal to treat each other that way, I’m worried they’ve gotten in my head and made me think, “Hey you know, maybe you’re just sensationalizing these experiences.” But I think that at the end of the day I think feeling that way is giving them control over my life.

I guess I’m tired of being treated like I’m out of control when I’m not. Thanks for listening.

Dear Diary,

Am I really that much of a spectacle? So tired of crying in public and not having privacy. Ugh. Thanks for listening.

Dear Diary,

Last night I got under a few influences and didn’t have any medication. I was invited to a party with some new coworkers, easy enough right? Harmless Peace Corps kids. They held no threat to me, and I barely even knew them, but something hit me as I was about to leave the house. This huge sense of paranoia… I called my best friend who I haven’t spoken to in many months, sobbing, “Why doesn’t anybody really like me?!” The first thing she asks me the next day was if I had taken my medication… who knows if that thought would or wouldn’t have crossed my mind without it? Would it change anything if I had? My sanity should not be dependent only on that. Where’s the real support?

Thanks for listening.

Dear Diary,

A few years ago, I was unable to control a lot of impulses. Even now it is hard to pinpoint exactly how many things I did that made people concerned all of a sudden. I felt normal. Maybe a little high on life, but I was months away from graduating with my bachelor's and I figured I was just riding a high, nothing more. But then even I started to notice, I didn’t feel like I had a grasp on myself.

When did that control go away, and how? I lost 30 pounds in three months. It just fell off. Well… not exactly. I was so busy (or is that what I told myself?) that I stopped eating, not to mention I was dirt poor and refusing help. Luckily, I could eat shift meals at work. The portions were large, so I took them home for seconds the next day. And that is how I went on.

Drink, smoke, not eat, go to class, work on projects in the studio a minimum of 40 hours without breaks, and go to work until midnight or one and walk home alone in a short skirt in the dark. “Whatever”, I thought.

I do remember that. I think I thought I was working hard on everything in my life, but I failed to see until way later that I had forgotten to take care of myself. After the weight and the cloistered schoolwork came the impulses. Things I had no memory of doing while happening like cognition was turned off and I was on autopilot. Like waking up in someone's house and not even remembering leaving your own. And my deepest shame - which I can talk about now, even though for years I beat myself up enough for the two of us - I couldn’t control it.

I kept violating my roommate’s privacy and being in her space with people when she wasn’t around. All my roommates started to resent me. I didn’t blame them. The scariest part was that when they begged me for a reason, I had none. I couldn’t even make something up. I just did not know. I felt so lost that I ran away a week after graduation. I formed this makeshift life for myself if you could call it that and was diagnosed with Bipolar II. Because I can’t just make inexcusable mistakes, I thought. There’s a reason I’m doing this. I want answers.

Thanks for listening.

Dear Diary,

I’m not ashamed of my past, it just hurts. I will never allow anyone to make me feel ashamed again, I’ve decided. I’ve experienced plenty of pain I’ve had to overcome on my own and honestly, I’m proud of myself for being able to do that and respect myself. Proud of myself for being able to accept responsibility and confront my messes with apologies.

Promises. I’ll talk about them openly with a smile on my face most of the time because I’m stronger thanks to it. A growing person because of it. People like to think that has something to do with my symptoms, that I’m not actually proud and deep down I’m suffering. But do you really think you know everything?

I think other people can be so arrogant sometimes when they think they’re healthier than you, but it comes down to how you deal with it. I accept myself. You must not yet. No, what I’m ashamed of is the cycles and the guilt. I’m feeling like I’m being trained to be ashamed, to feel guilty about healthy things, but not know where that line ends and where the line of things OTHER people want me to be guilty of begins.

Why does everyone think they have authority over my brain?

Thanks for listening.

Dear Diary,

In fifth grade, no one would talk to me. To back up a bit, you and I both know school wasn’t exactly a breeze before the age of 14. But that year I hit puberty early, and girls can’t comprehend that, and everyone knows elementary school boys are gross. I have even taught them. I do know. I wore a thick, purple Mudd turtleneck to school every day to hide my chest, even in the scorching North Carolina summer heat. I wore pants, never shorts, because in gym class they made fun of my skinny legs and knobby knees.

Dad accidentally stepped on my glasses one day, so they were crooked like Harry Potter for a while. It wasn’t his fault. I never forgot the things they said to me. The parties I was invited to only out of that ridiculous obligation parents force on their kids to invite everyone in the class to their birthday. So embarrassing.

Of course, almost 20 years later I still look in the mirror at my knees to make sure they aren’t too knobby, and I do still admittedly love the comfort of a turtleneck. It’s safe in there. Anyone else ever hide behind your layers?

People have told me since I was a kid, I’m just too sensitive. Wouldn’t you be? At home, I was annoying and loud and couldn’t focus on work. At school, I was bullied and ignored and played alone. I feel really openly now, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone being one-in-a-million who can actually cry without shame or talk about how they feel without acting stunted. I’m not sick in the head for feeling less than at the hands of someone else.

Diary, I applaud them, everyone, who thinks they can change me. That takes conviction, however misguided. But I love the people who feed off of that and change for themselves. I love them because I know they’re out there and they probably love me, too.

To anyone alone, unsupported, weak, or sick like me I’ve always thought, “I don’t think we’re sick, we’re different and need help in different methods. I don’t think you’re alone; I like you a lot, and I’m here. I don’t think you’re weak; you’re strong every day you wake up and make it back to bed at night.”

Thanks for listening.

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