So, I’m going to be honest with my sweetie peeps: I’m horrible at making choices and decisions. HORRIBLE. Even on little things I waver and ruminate and am wishy-washy over what I want to do (note to self: start some laundry 🙄).
I see a shirt at Kohl’s and I have my 30% coupon and $10 Kohl’s Cash and I grab the shirt I see and promise myself that’s all I’m going to get. Along with the coupon, my ‘cash’ pays for it, and I don’t need anything else. I’ve picked out what I want. So, I totter over to the cashier (one of them tries to save my soul whenever I’m in and even though I tell her my soul is nice and saved, she doesn’t believe me. Go figure 😳) with shirt in hand. BUT, as I am crossing the store another display intrigues me…and then another…and then another. And before you know it, the shirt I loved is buried in my arms under a dozen more. Now, I could just get that initial shirt…easy…right? OR…I could whip out my Kohl’s card, spend $60 above the ‘cash’ and not have to make a choice. AND, since I get MORE Kohl’s cash, I’m actually ahead!
I think my reasoning is like common core math. If I scootch around the numbers enough in various columns, I’m actually spending less than I intended. Yeah. (Ma doesn’t understand why I wasn’t a math major even though I have to call her to figure out what 20% off of $25 is 🤪). Hubby 3 never understood the concept of the more you spend, the more you save. It makes total sense to me. Sheesh.
See…I’m horrible at choices. And we face choices everyday, don’t we? You see people at McDonald’s (I’m an epicurian) stare at the menu for 10 minutes even though they were in there literally a day ago. “Gee…should I get the quarter pounder or the Big Mac?” It’s not like the choice you make is going to be life-changing, but still we hesitate. By the way, if you choose a Big Mac everyday, that may not be a ‘good’ choice for your health. Just sayin’.
Anyhoot, big choices and decisions are hard for me. Very hard. If you think I have trouble with shirts, you should see me with relationships (🙄). I’ll be honest, I’ve made some bad choices in this area…and I’ve made choices I’m not proud of. Haven’t we all? But why? Why can’t I ‘rationally’ look at the choices…list the pros and cons…and come to a decision in a logical way? Well probably because I’m fucking bipolar (sorry ma). That’s why.
I was reading an article the other day and the author said that to make good choices, you have to get out your feelings and put them aside, and then allow your brain to be the one that talks to you. Okey dokey.
How the hell do you “get your feelings out?” I hate it when people say that! It sounds like feelings are simply things you can put in a pitcher and pour down the toilet. Like there’s a compartment in your heart away from the ‘feelings’ and you can lock them up there and hide them from your mind. People will say things like “Go run off your anger.” Well…I’ll do a 5 mile run but I still have the feeling. I might feel less stressed, but the feeling of anger didn’t evaporate with my sweat.
I think some people can do this. I know my son’s dad could. He is a HUGE thinker and feelings rarely got in the way of his decisions. In fact, I would get upset because I didn’t think he had enough feeling when making choices and decisions. Me? I cannot put my feelings aside. And then there’s some extras that being bipolar brings: impulsivity, racing thoughts, distractibility, decreased ability to think clearly, and here’s one from the Mayo Clinic: poor decision making skills. B-I-N-G-O! There it is. (Ma loves to play bingo but bless her heart, she never wins. I don’t love to play but I often win. It pisses her off royally 😆)
Sometimes I’ll be making a choice about an issue in terms of a relationship and even though my ‘gut’ (which is getting bigger since I’m sitting on my ass all day getting ready for fall semester) and brain are trying to tell me something, it’s only a whisper. However, my heart is screaming so that’s the voice I hear.
Guess what? That voice often leads me down the wrong path. OFTEN. Remember, feelings aren’t rational. And as much as I want too, I can’t silence it. I have bipolar. My feelings, moods, level of sensitivity are all heightened and that voice puts me in a trance. Even on little things I’ll hear that voice saying (and say this to yourself in a eerily ghostly way): “Go ahead and buy it Kristi…” and so I do. And then, a week later, I regret it. 👻
Actually I do more than regret it. I ruminate over it. REALLY ruminate. Once the choice or decision has been made is when my brain finally speaks up. But of course it’s too late. I’ve made the choice and now have to live with the consequences. And that’s hard to do.
It’s hard to have a brain that puts so many blockades up but then punishes you when you can’t get around them. It’s hard to have a heart that’s so open you simply can’t close it, but then get in trouble for not knowing how to latch that door. It’s hard to know that sometimes you repeat bad choices. You make another bad decision when a previous one should have taught you the lesson. Thanks bipolar.
I think it’s hard for people to understand any mental illness if they haven’t suffered one themselves. How do you explain that your brain and heart aren’t like everyone elses? How can you get people to understand that previous bad choices don’t matter…you’ll probably make them again. How can you ever describe the obsessive ruminating you do when decisions and choices are bad? How can people ever grasp the pain your heart feels when you know you’ve made a bad choice that has hurt someone? How can you ever get them to comprehend how terribly sorry you are to the point you are sick about it?
So often when people talk about mental illness, they’ll use large generalizations. For example, people who have major depression are sad and have trouble functioning in their daily lives. People who have an anxiety disorder are extremely nervous and fearful and worry. People with bipolar are just cray-cray (yep…that’s the idea. Kanye West is bipolar and EVERYTHING he does is put down to the disorder. All that does is stigmatize it more for all of us and make things harder for him. 😥)
You don’t hear so much about the more specific symptoms or characteristics. Anxiety disorders may make the person too fearful to even leave their home. They can’t go to work, the store, a friends house. All this does is increase their anxiety because others are telling them to just get out. How horrible that would be. Those with depression often have somatic issues like back and shoulder pain, have memory issues, and have suicidal thoughts racing through their heads.
When you are mentally ill, everything is affected. Everything. Not just moods and temper, but everything the person faces in day to day life. Making decisions and choices. How we eat. How we sleep. What we unwittingly think about. How our body feels. How we feel about sex (don’t have to worry about that one 😐). How we feel about ourselves. Whether or not we can make it to work that day. Or go get groceries. Or even get out of bed.
I’m 53 years old and I’m still making stupid decisions like I did when I was younger. Bipolar doesn’t go away. Fade away. Unfortunately, like we see with a lot of mental illnesses, it worsens as we age. I know how lucky I am for all the blessings that I have…and I mean that. I have so much to be thankful for. Selfishly though, I would like to know how it feels to make a choice, know it’s the right one, and if it’s not, then learn from it and move on. Just once. That’d be great.