Trigger warning: discussion of past suicidal ideations
Note: I am not currently suicidal. In fact, I’m in the best headspace that I have been in for weeks. So good, in fact, that I’m able to write this post.
Back in August, I lost a handful of Facebook followers due to several posts that I made over the course of a few weeks. It wasn’t until today that I realized just what happened and why I got the response that I did, and now that I know, you are all owed an apology.
I’m not posting this on Facebook because it doesn’t have a reliable system of ensuring that triggering language is hidden behind a wall you need to click through. (That’s one of the things I need to apologize for, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
On August 23rd of this year, many months of degradation in my mental state culminated in a near suicide attempt. I was completely paranoid and irrational, and my mood was overwhelmingly out of control. I was cycling from elation to rage to despondency several times a day, my mind would not shut down to allow me to sleep, and as a result I was fatigued to the point of physical exhaustion.
Exacerbating this situation was a period of weeks where I would point all of my processing toward one person. If that person weren’t available, onto Facebook it went, in all of its delusional, triggery glory.
After I posted about the suicide preparations I had made, this one person cut ties with me. Several others followed suit. In my paranoia, I was convinced that all manner of atrocities were being said about me in my absence, and that just fueled the fire even more. Without my rock to lean on, everything hit Facebook, and it became apparent after several weeks that I could no longer wait to find a decent therapist or get my medication adjusted; I needed an inpatient solution and a total mental reboot.
My time in the hospital was exceptionally productive. I learned about boundaries, or more to the point, learned that what I thought was a boundary was more than likely an intrusion. I learned the science of why irrational thoughts happen and how to reframe them into more constructive language. I’ve been inpatient five times prior to this visit, but none of them left me with the feeling that I had received the tools that I needed to get in order to begin – important word there, begin – to turn things around.
I scheduled an intensive outpatient program for when I left the hospital to continue my therapy beyond what I had already learned.
And then things happened. I got a migraine. We ran out of money for gas for the car. Excuse after excuse kept getting in the way of me going to that program, and as of this writing I still have not begun it. (It’s three hours of group therapy a day, four days a week for five weeks.)
On the plus side, we were being aggressive in managing my medications to find the right mix of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers to even out the wildly out-of-control swings I was experiencing. I had found a new therapist and was excited for the type of therapy that I would be receiving there.
But I was still angry about the loss of friendships that my symptoms had cost me, and rather than assuming the blame, I channeled that back to the people that I felt had abandoned me. My headspace was better, but I was still prone to paranoid and irrational thoughts and beliefs.
Over the last week, I learned that a couple of people cut ties not because I had pissed them off, but because they couldn’t process what I was experiencing. In being open and honest about my struggles, I had failed to put anything resembling a trigger warning on any post I made; I just let Facebook and my followers hold it between their collective eyes. And today in therapy, it dawned on me that this was likely the situation that most of those who distanced themselves from my online presence were in. Some people were hurting because I was hurting, and their own pain was more than they could bear. Others were triggered by my words and in trying to process my own anguish I had inadvertently opened old wounds for them.
(In coming to this conclusion, I realize that it’s speculative, and that there’s very likely the possibility that I have indeed well and truly pissed people off, to the point of irrevocably burning bridges during my stunningly public meltdown. And I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s okay for those people to be pissed at me. They have every right to feel what they feel and to have reacted how they did. I bear those individuals no ill will and wish them the best in life.)
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 15. I have been dealing actively with mental illness for thirty years.
I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.
This is a bit of a paradox, in that the people I most need to apologize to aren’t following me on Facebook anymore to see WordPress plug this post there. Further, I don’t know exactly who established the boundary that I couldn’t by unfriending or blocking me, and so I can’t send this to everyone. But I can apologize publicly, and hope that fate brings them to read these words.
For the anguish, the frustration, the hurt and pain I’ve caused, for my inability to seek help before it came to a head in crisis, for my mismanagement of my symptoms and my support network, for the poor decisions that I made on social media, I am profoundly sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone, nor alienate anyone, nor make anyone feel uncomfortable or threatened or any negative thing. I cannot ask your forgiveness. That has to come in its own time, on your terms, if it ever comes at all.
I am much better, on a considerably more even keel emotionally, but I am not yet where I feel I need to be.
Tomorrow I will be calling the intensive outpatient program and making arrangements to get myself checked in there. My therapist and I will continue to make strides in helping me to help myself, and my medication manager will continue to monitor my prescriptions closely.
In the future, on any social media or other form of communication, if I need to vent about anything, if there is any negativity whatsoever in what I have to say, I will preface it with a trigger warning, and I will more carefully choose my words so they don’t adversely affect others.
In conclusion, I don’t expect this apology to change much outside of my own head. But knowing that I can’t apologize to an unknown quantity, I’ve put my heart and soul into these words here.
The one person that is a known quantity will be receiving a separate apology, as I have so much more to apologize for to them than can be contained in a blog post, even one that’s over a thousand words long. I am ready to make that apology, but the words are still failing me. Hopefully I can find the words soon.
And then hopefully, this unfortunate turn of events can find its closure, and my own healing can begin.