The Curse – The tale of Dr Jekyll & Mistress Hyde
By Clara Autumn

It’s not very often I have the opportunity to provide my readers with something that feels as real as this.  Retrospective accounts with a clever writing style are one thing.  But the curse of your mind trying to annihilate your body and spirit is quite another my friends.

Life changing trauma

I have a big trigger when it comes to mental health relapse.  That trigger is relationship stress.  I know where it comes from.  Spending so long in a catastrophic situation, where I used to shake with anticipation of the next life changing trauma really, really fucks with your psyche.  And ultimately, as a result I’m fucked, I’m damaged and the curse got passed on.

Ahh I see.  I guess you thought I was going to be referring to the old Bipolar thing as my real curse.  Well reader, you would be mistaken.  I could never truly hate something that has been part of my much loved family for three generations.  And in reality I know that bipolar is merely chemicals not being received correctly in my brain.  I am literally not wired properly.  And with Lithium I can stop the manic highs and crippling lows from changing the direction of my life.  Well that and the gift of insight.

Have you ever been in love?

However if there is anything that will defy the rational, it is love.

Have you ever been in love, reader?  Everything holds more of a meaning, anything and everything feels possible, it feels like it has altered your chemistry doesn’t it?  These symptoms displayed to a psychiatrist in relation to my diagnosis would have me labelled very swiftly as a mental health relapse characterised by mania.  How cruel must it be to not know if your version of love is everyone else’s reality, or if it is the product of a mind that was made flawed?

Now I have set the scene, you understand my mindset and I hope without taking you to the dark place I am now at I can let you see through the porthole that is the curse.

There is a trigger, an argument.  Putting it into perspective, something that a lot of people wouldn’t have ruminated on quite as much as I will.  However, I am exhausted, I haven’t slept in 48 hours after doing a night shift, and I am now sat in the blazing heat of the sun with the expectation that today will end as the idyllic day it has been.  I am wrong, and it comes as a surprise, I react badly, things escalate, and then I feel it.

It’s like something coursing through my veins causes a baseline fear response, I malfunction, my brain overloads, my words become broken, my thoughts stop mid flow, I lose my rational mind I have fought so hard to maintain.

A series of painful thoughts

Second stage, time.  Rumination is a horrid thing.  Being unable to focus on anything but what’s in the forefront of your mind.  Which in theory, when you are in love, is a welcome and all-engrossing distraction from the mundane functions of everyday life.  However it is a series of painful thoughts that leach onto the receptors of your brain, inhibiting any rational or helpful thought from hitting home and breaking the cycle of self-torture.

Like a parasite that eats away at healthy flesh, ruminating on thoughts that are poisoning your mind, it takes you to a stage where it feels as if there will be no return.  Eating away at the bits of you that anyone would recognise until all you see is illness, the catalyst that feeds my overactive emotional cortex had now given birth to the side of me that nearly no one sees.  This monster that lives inside is one that I never asked to be, say hello to Miss Hyde.

Everything shuts down

I am paralysed in a haze of pain, like a police officer’s sprayed pepper spray in the eyes of an unmanageable perpetrator.  My mind has unleashed its self-destruct package, and it’s effective as hell.  My face is blank, and all I can hear is tinnitus in my ears.  Even my eyes won’t respond as they should for a normal functioning person.  I cannot stop staring at a fixed point in the room, trapped in a somewhat catatonic state of torture.  My mind is now fully overwhelmed by emotional pain, and everything shuts down, slows down, prolongs the agony that is like living in power saving mode, when all I want to do is restart or shut down.

Now here’s the part that is really fucked, you will literally do almost anything to get relief from the hurricane of emotion that has you pinned at the bottom of the ocean floor gasping for air like a fish out of water.  My mind will always go to one familiar and comforting place that I know does the job.  But fortunately for my skin, and my reputation, I never now act on my urges to break open that wafer thin lady shave blade.  If I could hide it better however, I fear I would.  Will there one day not be so much I’m at risk of losing?  If you look at the statistic rates for bipolar suicide, they are indeed very understandable from where I am.

The curse isn’t done with you yet

The only thing that has ever been able to bring me out of this shit storm of pain is someone reaching out.  The sensation of someone else when I can feel nothing else but pain is like a strong acid being washed away from my skin.  When I feel at my most monstrous and flawed, knowing that another person in the world doesn’t fear what is in front of them is the only thing that starts healing.

But no, the curse isn’t done with you yet.  The sonic wave of sensation has paralysed your sense of self and scorched your insides, your nervous system.  Feeling sick with nerves, ears ringing with tension, mind racing.

Please, just let me go now.

And so the tears come.  The hurricane that has pinned me to the bottom of the ocean of my emotions drains away across my eye cheek bones, across my lips and drips one by one onto my lap.  When I cry like this it never looks like a release, it looks violent.  Like my body is fighting to stop.  And I guess in a way it is.  I hyperventilate badly when I cry heavily, so I hold my breath not to make the noise I produce obvious.  A trick I learnt of old.  This makes my chest stop rising and falling but my lungs gasp for air.  I feel like my mind is going to pop at any second.  At this moment in time the emotional peak is at its highest, and it’s terrifying.  I literally feel like death is coming for me.

The deficit of feeling

And then the deficit of feeling.  That void space where you feel shellshocked and a little hollow.  I try to avoid life in general at this point.  Currently I am sitting on the sofa, writing to you with my phone on silent.  My little boy’s sleeping under a blanket by my side.  My eyes are red.  I grabbed the first thing on the bedroom floor to throw on and scragged my hair back.  I am not at all what you would see on a more ‘vibrant’ day.  And I am embarrassed to say that it has won.  And the same phrase always leaves my lips when I feel so utterly broken by my own thoughts.

“I would give anything, not to feel everything”.

You see this is the curse: my Jekyll and Hyde of my psyche.  One side of my life is utterly blessed.  But there will always be the potential for my mind to enter utter self-destruct.  And when this happens it feels like teetering on a knife edge.  But if it just means that for today I do a little less around the house, and don’t do my make-up, then I hope the crisis is averted.

I hope that like my scars healing my broken skin, every time my mind fractures it grows back stronger.  I hope that the people that are around to see me broken don’t have the lingering image of the broken me in their mind and still remember that it’s just me.

Bipolar is me

Bipolar is me.  It sometimes feels like it wants to destroy me, but it’s still me nonetheless.  And the curse, the parallel of life being so bountiful is that my bipolar mind will always find a way of grounding me, literally into the dirt in this case.

So I’m sorry dear reader, but tonight I have no sarcastic wit to lighten your load.  No insights that will illuminate your way of thinking.  However what I do have to offer is that you can now close the curtains on that peephole I have let you see into tonight.  And give you the assurance that no matter how much you feel, it will get better.  As long as you are here to feel a little less of it tomorrow.

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