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I've been self-analytical for a long time, and I don't need a doctor to tell me what host of mental disorders I have.  We all know that what's swimming around upstairs could get me a prescription and a lifetime supply of therapy, but if you ask me, I think "disorder" is just another way of saying "my personality traits."  I think a lot of mood disorders are just a way of classifying people whose personalities are alike into one giant lump whose personality traits you can alter with medication -- no really, I seen it!  How fascinating is it that a doctor can label and subsequently change someone's entire pattern of behavioral responses just by tipping some pills down their throat?

I've been seeing a male since October.  I was seeing several of them, but now it's fairly exclusive.  He's ultra manic-depressive, which I found out when, for almost an entire month, he fell off the grid and was essentially out of contact with me until I finally put my foot down and asked him what the hell was going on.

A bad place, he said.  His apologies, he said, for being distant -- and would I be affable to having dinner on Friday?  With the flip of a switch, he set the train back onto the track, and it was as though we hadn't missed a beat.  But why was I so accommodating?  No part of me blamed him.  Even with the warning that he was manic-depressive, and that he had a tendency to isolate, you'd think any living, breathing woman would take offense to being ostracized for weeks by the man with whom she'd been romantically involved.  I hardly batted an eyelash.

Now, I told you that story so I could tell you this story:  I just went on a twelve-day cruise to the Caribbean!  We saw Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Tortola.  My significant other did not join us.  I kissed him goodbye the day before we left, and texted him when I had service in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.  When I returned from my lengthy journey, I intended for his apartment to be the first place I'd run.

I was wrong; he had company staying with him for the weekend.  I went to see Taylor instead, and stayed with Taylor for a couple of days during which I knew my significant other would be working.  I knew he was busy, so I tried to brush it off when he didn't respond to my texts.  I try to be the ultimate woman, you know -- I'm really very good at being the catch of a lifetime.

When I came back from Taylor's, I was dealing with some endo pain and my wisdom tooth, so I skipped one of the days I could have gone to see the Boy.  He didn't protest.  He didn't seem enthused about seeing me the next day either, and by the day after, he was actively making excuses not to invite me over.  Being a fairly distant person myself, I kind of shrugged, and figured there must be a good reason, which preferably did not involve my barely-functional girl parts.  I decided to wait it out.

Yesterday, I finally texted him, "Why the silence?"

Obligingly, he responded, "I don't know.  I'm just feeling out of sorts.  Don't worry."

It made me smile.  I told him to let me know if he needed me, and then I let it go.  Again, another girl probably would have pressed the issue, but I found his response relatable and completely without malice.

Later on in the evening, I went picking through journal archives and found an entry that made me smile.  I had quoted Lucky when he said, "I just have to understand that when a woman has PMS, she is now voicing her true feelings through hated."  And when I had quoted him, it was because I was being wildly hormonal, because I wanted everybody to stay away from me, because the thought of enduring the company of other human beings made me want to claw my eyes out.  I was isolating.

I kept digging and I found evidence of this continuous pattern of behavior:  periodically needing to completely withdraw.  There were days when someone being in the same room as me, and subsequently brushing against my arm, made me panic with claustrophobia.  There were times when I'd push away my family, when I'd push away my significant other, and I always felt guilty for it because I didn't know anybody else who openly admitted to being as messed up as me and needing the same things I needed.

But I find acceptance.  As Taylor and I get older, we get closer and we synchronize.  I knew that today marked one full year since he'd abandoned his first adult relationship, and that he intended to acknowledge it.  When I texted him this morning and he didn't respond, I let it go.  I spent what would have been my one-year anniversary with Steven watching Disney movies with my kid because I didn't want to be around anybody else.  And today when I didn't get a response from Taylor, I accepted that it was likely he was choosing to spend the day alone, and probably choosing to shut off his cell to facilitate his isolation.  I do it.  He does it.  We really found each other all those years ago.

And even though Taylor was unapologetically unresponsive, I got an unprompted text from my Boy.

"My new schedule starts Monday," he said.  "Next day off is Wednesday.  Can I see you on Wednesday?"

I said yes.  He said he missed me.  "A kiss awaits thee," he promised.

"I missed you also.  Thirty kisses better await me."  He agreed and we talked about guns and video games.  When my sister called and asked how my relationship was doing, this exchange absolutely baffled her, even after I explained that I'd been warned that he was manic-depressive.

"He wants to be alone, and he just chooses to include you in the people he's ignoring, even though you're his girlfriend?"

But I'm not just a girlfriend. I'm a people.  I'm human.  And some humans are more sensitive to the friction of other humans; some of us grate more easily.  You can label us, like, "wallflowers" or, if you have a degree in psychology, "chemically imbalanced."  Apparently we find each other, traits find like traits, disorders find like disorders.  Even if he withdraws more frequently than I do, for longer -- can I be upset with someone who behaves the same way I behave?  All I have is empathy.   I'm not encouraging bad behavior, I'm just breeding acceptance for months down the road when I pull away and leave him asking, "Why the silence?"

I guess, if occasionally being frantically anti-social is a curable trait that lets you get diagnosed as manic-depressive, then all the silence is telling you is that I'm speaking your language.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 25th, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
I came here through dear_you and this post hit me really deeply and personally because I am in a very similar situation. But the 'silence' and the being withdrawn has been going on for 2 months and because, unlike you, I don't really get periods of isolation like that, I'm finding it really hard to cope. Do you have any advice?
Mar. 25th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
I think the first step to coping is to understand what the Boy goes through. Even though it sucks being on the outside, feeling inadequate because you aren't worthy of being allowed inside their sanctuary, it sucks tenfold to be the person suddenly overwhelmed with the compulsion to forego human contact.

I'd put it like this: Think of a universal truth that you can't prove, like, 'My mother loves me.' You know it in your heart to be true. But one day you have a nag in your head, a split second of doubt, that works like a Trojan to dispel your rationalities. Now you don't know what to think. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are screaming through your system. At your core, you know you are thinking irrationally; it's just that, for some reason, your brain has short-circuited. But you're intelligent, so you recognize that if you have enough time to really analyze the situation, you will be able to identify the ridiculous subconscious cause for this absurd pattern of thought, and correct it.

But you can't find time anywhere. Even though there is a war in your mind setting arson to your sanity, people expect you to function as you normally do. If you falter, they'll know how unstable you are, so you plow ahead. You leave no indication that there is something deeper disturbing your perceptions, but you no longer feel comfortable around your own tribe because the doubt continues to gnaw. And now you begrudge the people close to you for not recognizing your suffering and stepping in to help, or at least sensing that you are struggling and giving you the space and time to center yourself.

It goes on. You're barely balancing. You aren't comfortable in your own skin now. You can hardly breathe. You're frantic with want of some kind of inner peace, which pulls at you constantly, but now inner peace seems completely unattainable, unless you do something drastic, like sell all your worldly belongings and move to a monastery in Nepal. You can't just move to Nepal. But this is the worst feeling you've ever had: you are unraveling, and you are alone. If you do not find and fix the problem soon, you will be too far gone to ever recover. You're frustrated because you can't go to Nepal. You also can't face the people who know you best because, one look at your frenzied face, and they'll know how close you are to a breakdown. So you avoid them. You feel guilty and irrational, broken, helpless, like a walking billboard for an insane asylum; and you know you're wrong for leaving them wondering, but it's better than telling them the truth and having them witness your downfall.

You turn recluse -- it's the closest thing to moving to Nepal. You'll explain it to your loved ones later. Once they get the idea that you don't want to be contacted, you'll have time to find the problem and formulate a game plan.

And it works. You've ostracized people you really love for the sake of your own well-being, and you've had time to think about everything and slowly pick your way through your own rubble. You find truth again: your mother really does love you. And hopefully she doesn't judge you for your eccentric behavior -- hopefully she understands that you've already kicked your own self in the ass for your incredible lapse in good judgment. Because now that you're okay again, when you look back, you stare in disbelief at someone so far removed from sanity that you almost don't recognize them. But it's you, still you, and it's something you have to come to terms with. All you can do is hope that other people can come to terms with it, too.
Mar. 25th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
... So you can understand, I hope, what an agonizing process it is. I get it in small doses, where I can withdraw for only a few days and then be centered enough to return to the land of the living (and logical). Some people don't deal with it that way. Some people really struggle to find enough peace to feel worthy of being around their peers. All you can do is wait, and understand, and support them when they need it. I wish there were better advice, but I think you really have to train yourself not to take it personally and condition yourself to be as supportive as possible without smothering. If you love someone, then you want them to be happy, even if it means that you have to step back while they, you know, sell all their worldly belongings and move to Nepal. It's your cross to bear, and believe me, it's about thirty times lighter than theirs.
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
I'm trying. There are moments where I see things very clearly and I know it's not personal. Other times, it seems personal because I'm insecure, and one tweet or comment he sends to somebody else will make me think he loves that person more than me.

The thing that affects me the most is the time it is taking though. Verbalising it [TWO MONTHS] just makes it seem so much more overwhelming. It's like time goes at two different speeds for us at the moment. For me, it's dragging and I'm counting, while him, I think he's so focused on just surviving that he's not really paying attention to time passing. I hope you know what I mean.
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
Thank you so very much for your posts, by the way. They helped, in a way. I think I appreciate seeing his point of view coming from someone other than him. It helps me be more detached and rational about it, because there are no personal feelings involved.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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