mckarlie

I have happiness in my heart and a thorn in my soul

Doing things that scare you

I’ve spent a lot of my life making grand plans, wanting to do things but never quite doing them, or doing half of something. I place a lot of the blame on my mental illness, for years I was told I suffered from  “chronic depression and anxiety” but a year and something ago I was diagnosed as bipolar. So I do have a tendency to start something while manic and then trail off when a depressive episode hits, this has happened to me more times than I can count because when a depressive episode hits I can barely get out of bed or go to the shops to buy milk, but when I’m manic I feel like I can take on anything and often do.

So I’m 32 years old, I have half of two bachelor degrees, a few certificates not worth much and am currently working on another degree. I’ve been writing on and off since I was a child, starting mainly with short stories and poetry, then songs and poetry and essays. I recently completed a manuscript and showed it to a friend who now wants to pass it to their literary agent, something that scared the shit out of me. I’ve also been pitching ideas for cracked.com – not a site i read all that often but a friend showed me a link to writing for them and i thought it would be an interesting challenge. Since then I’ve been researching freelance writing jobs online, I’ve submitted a piece to a celebrity gossip site and had an offer to write for them. I did it more to see if i could, it only pays $25 an article and I’m not that invested in celebrity gossip lol but i wanted to know if i could.

I think when you have a mental illness so much of your energy goes into just coping, just existing, that the thought of putting ourselves out there, opening ourselves to possible rejection on a mass scale becomes a ridiculous fantasy. But I’ve decided I need to push myself, I need to do things that make me uncomfortable, otherwise another decade will pass and I will have little to show for it. I enjoy writing immensely, it brings me such joy and peace and gives me an outlet for the abundance of thoughts and emotions that are racing through my mind at any given moment, so why not push myself and maybe make some money at this? I know I’m not crap, but I also know I have a long way ahead of me, that I’m not yet the best writer I can be, but the only way I’ll get there is by doing it more and more, by experiencing trial and rejection and different types of writing and formats.

If you have a passion, I implore you to go for it. Don’t believe that success is for other people but not for you, I believed that for so long but now I realize, it CAN be for me, I just have to TRY. I have to be willing to accept the good and the bad and genuinely put myself out there. Follow your passion, restore hope to your life and really try. So what if you don’t become the best of the best, at least you’ll have given it a shot. When you’re old and grey do you think you’ll have more regret over the things you tried and didn’t succeed at than the things you never bothered to try at all? I have a feeling it will be the latter. I also know that a part of having a mental illness is accepting a fate of misery, but it doesn’t have to be that way, if you do something you love you’d be surprised at the effect it can have on your well-being in general.

So I’ve decided to let my friend show my manuscript to his literary agent, if nothing else I’ll get some helpful feedback. It’s scary but exciting, and I’m proud of myself for finally trying. That itself improves my mood greatly, and hey, if I get negative feedback it will make me feel shitty, but that will pass, I’ll pick myself up and try again.

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Writing is an exercise in human insanity

Some people write because they want to be a writer, they think Hemingway is cool as fuck and want to be revered. So me people write because they absolutely have to. When they take pen to paper or fingers to keys things just pour out of them, their soul gets cleansed (not that I believe in a soul as such but it works in a hyperbole sense) and they feel a little better. I write because there’s so much going on in my brain that if I don’t let some of it out, i fear my head may explode. I write to connect with other people and gain experience through these connections. I write because if I didn’t, I’d probably go loopdiloo cray cray and get locked up.

This is not to say that what I write is of any great importance or that I have any great success but recently, on advice from a ‘writer’ i gave a manuscript to a friend who now wants to show it to their literary agent. This makes me batshit crazy nervous.

Also, I received a link from another friend to a link for a website looking for freelance writers, so i decided to submit a couple of pitches. The first didn’t take off as it was opinion based and I’m no one in particular so no one is going to pay me for my opinion. The second is factual and I sourced references and all that shit i remember from studying psychology, so i’m waiting to hear on it at the moment.

My point is, the waiting, the possible success/failure, it’s a mix of exhilaration and nerve wracking insanity. Maybe it’s because I’m bipolar that I’m particularly sensitive to this, but i’m pretty sure this is a crazy process for most who go through it. I’m also sure there are people out there who are super fucking zen about all of this nonsense, who send off their manuscript and clip their frickin bonsai tree and don’t give it a second thought until they receive word, well kudos to you, really, i wish i could, but i err more on the side of batshit anxious crazy.
 

Does it ever get better? I’ve been writing forever but it’s only recently I’ve started showing or trying at all in a professional sense. I’ve had good feedback in the past, but more than anything i do it for me, so i’m quite new to other people’s opinions mattering.

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Bitter devotion

I need you now like man needs air

You can’t be found but anywhere

I wait on your words and watch the clock tick

This piercing silence is making me sick

You know how much I want this and yet you stay so hush

And each day now that passes is one day one too much

 

You wield your power willingly, as you sit above

You place your mouth in places and make promises of love

Yet when I truly need you, you vanish into air

You know just what you do to me, this ache is mine to bear

Do you feel so tiny do you truly feel so small

That you lord my love above me, knowing you’re my all?

This feeling you call love, it brings me twisted agony

The waves are crashing violently, taking parts and chunks of me

I’m sure if I had sense left in me

An exit would be my strategy

But I follow your crumbs as you make your trail

This epic love is sure to fail

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Do you feel like life owes you?

My upbringing was a bit of a clusterfuck. Not the worst of stories but not the best. Half of the time I was with my Mother, she had me when she was 20, my father ran off, apparently he was a drug addled sociopath. The other half of the time I was with my Grandparents, religious, consistent, steady folk who would do almost anything for me and loved me immensely. My Mother treated me more as a best friend, a handy accessory to keep her from being lonely. I was a glorified puppy, taught to do tricks in front of her friends, spell big words and cook my own breakfast at 7. Her first husband molested me when I was very young, her second husband beat on me and called me every name under the sun, she then abandoned me effectively, so I have my lion’s share of issues.

I know that the reason I have a mental illness is partly because I inherited it from my Mother and partly because when a child grows up without feeling safe, their brain doesn’t form as it should. When a child has to watch every word and every action with dire consequence, synapses don’t form as they should.

In my twenties I formed the opinion that I deserved what happened to me when I was younger, I made excuses for my abusers such as ‘i was a difficult teenager’ and ‘i was out of control’. In my late twenties I saw a therapist who really got me, and we made some great progress before I stopped seeing him randomly (as I tend to do with a lot of things). He got me to see that no matter how badly behaved a child may be, they NEVER deserve abuse, and the abuse was probably the reason I acted out in the first place. This lead me to a place of anger, I had had this anger throughout all of my twenties, but it had been directed at the general populous, but now, now it was directed specifically at my Mother. Why not her husband? Well, he’s an alcoholic, he has a rampant disease, and while his actions shouldn’t be excused, the duty of care was squarely on my Mother’s plate.

So throughout my twenties I was angry, and this made me act irrationally, with little thought of consequence. I felt like I’d been dealt a shit hand and everyone could go and fuck off. I was only concerned with kindness when it concerned my inner circle, which was ever changing (as so happens with us bipolar folk) but I was fiercely caring of those I chose to be my inner circle and felt great loss when either they moved on or I ran away, I often ran away from people in anticipation of my perceived rejection forthcoming.

Since my revelation that it wasn’t my fault I’ve started caring much more about people in general, but I still feel like I got a raw deal. I see families, hanging out together and looking after each other and my soul feels empty, I feel so cheated. I see people with loads of money and fancy things who seem together and beautiful and I feel envious, sure I have my own little family and boy are my kids amazing, my man is a good man and i’m not hideous looking or anything like that, but i see these beautiful fancy people and feel entitled to their life. On the odd occasion I buy a powerball ticket, part of me secretly believes I deserve to win more than some people because of the shitty life I had as a child, ha! I’m serious, this is what goes on inside my head.

I think some of us with PTSD, bipolar, trauma, whatever it may be, I think we can often get concerned with what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we DO. I have enough money to pay my bills and feed my family and even go on the occasional holiday, which is more than a lot of people can say. I have a steady relatively drama free relationship with a man i love, i have two amazing children who love me dearly and are amazing people, yet i still often get caught up in what i don’t have, what i deserve etc

Even if you don’t have the things I have, you have the things YOU have. Each person is different, but just the fact that we made it through these things is a beautiful thing, there are so many people out there who don’t make it through. There are kids who don’t get food every day, there are kids out there being beaten bloody right now and no one cares about them, there are so many shitty things happening in the world at any given moment that we have to take pause and put things into perspective, yes what i went through was bad but by no means do i have the monopoly on pain, by no means is my pain more important than anyone else’s and when I start feeling sorry for myself and feeling entitled, I need to remember those things.

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Just stop for a moment

Sometimes I feel like i’m standing in the middle of the world’s busiest motorway, cars whizzing and whirling past me, wind blowing me backwards and forwards in a violent sway. Cars honking at each other to hurry up or slow down or move over or move round, DOOF DOOF DOOF from the subwoofers that people install in their vehicles because standard bass just isn’t enough. Constant chatter from everywhere around me, negative thoughts and mantras stuck in my head like glue, my brain a gelatinous magnate that attracts such thoughts like flies to a corpse. Sometimes I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs ‘why can’t we all just get along’ – a thought to which people roll their eyes or turn up their turny uppy noses. We live in a world where if there isn’t a fight people will find one, even if you agree on a point a person can find a way in which you agree differently and thus have a problem with each other. When the fuck did everyone become so hard and unwilling to bend? When did we all become so concerned with our causes and making sure everyone knows our thoughts on our causes and bending others to our own will?

Some might say that life is hard and to suck it up and get on with it, but i choose not to live life that way. Life is hard, but life is also beautiful and amazing at times and if we could focus a little less on shouting our opinions and forcing our points and maybe listen to what’s going on around us, listen to what other people have to say, life would be less like grating a piece of steel wool and more like it’s meant to be. Maybe we could have more positive encounters than negative.

I don’t go out looking for a fight but if one is thrown at me I will defend myself accordingly. But the fact that I have to do this is taxing, social media has given people just the right amount of anonymity to purge their opinions and thoughts and feelings on perfect strangers and act as if it’s their given right. If the devil is real he created facebook, never has such passive aggression and general whining come together in one place in such a way that it makes me want to not have any “friends” at all. I’d rather watch my cat lick itself than spent an afternoon on facebook, it seems far more productive and much healthier for my social well being.

Some people are just intent on being negative, in finding the bad in any given situation. If that’s you, then FINE, be as you are, just don’t shit on my doorstep and call me a hippie because I give a fuck about other people. Roll your eyes and call me your names because it makes you feel better, it makes you feel like you have some semblance of control in what is in fact a big old cluster fuck of randomness and the only control we have is over ourselves, how we act and how we treat other people. What we contribute to society and what we take away is completely up to us, if people treat you miserably it’s probably because you are miserable. Given, I sometimes feel like I’m not treated fairly but then I realize I’m feeling sorry for myself and when I actually think about what is the root of someone’s motivation if anything it’s apathy as opposed to callousness. But we take exception and get offended over so many little things that we just don’t need to stress ourselves over.

The human brain exists in such a way that we used to have to fight for survival. Shelter, food, these things were never guaranteed, so as we evolved we had to be mindful of how to survive. Now, in today’s current society, most of us do have a roof over our head and enough food to get by so that part of the brain goes searching for something, and a lot of the time what it finds is a fight where there isn’t one. The urge to defend ourselves from something that isn’t an attack, the urge to be heard when all we need to do is speak, not scream and flail about like our lives depend on everyone hearing our thoughts.

I try to have positive experiences with people but sometimes it’s like pissing up a flagpost. Nothing good can come of it and you end up covered in your own pee. I do truly wish everyone could just get along but I have my brain stem connected and realize this is never going to happen, but I do genuinely think it could happen on smaller scales if people just chilled out, put themselves in the other person’s shoes and showed some grace and thoughtfulness when interacting with other people.

 

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It’s easier to feel alone

It’s easier to feel alone, it’s easier to believe no one cares and that we are destined to be held within our own shell, battling ourselves and never finding true happiness. For so long I was told I had depression and anxiety, i got my diagnosis just over a year ago, I’m bipolar. Being bipolar for me means I’m sensitive to how people treat me, how they respond to me, if they reply to a text or email or tweet or what have you. It means that sometimes I’m full of hope and productive, I believe that life is hard but ultimately worth the effort of trying and that trying is the only way to be happy. Then BAM, I’m on the floor in tears, empty, i feel like nothing tethers me to this life other than my children and if not for them I’d already be gone. I feel so empty yet so full of pain that the contradiction itself is a source of great discomfort.

I spent my twenties curled up in my own ball of sadness and madness and all that goes along with it. Not understanding my illness properly didn’t help, I hit rock bottom a few times and nearly took my own life, more than once. When I heard people say things like ‘it gets better’ or ‘talk to someone it will help’ i would instantly get my back up and roll my eyes, ‘stupid hippie’ ‘what do they know?’ – i didn’t believe anyone knew my pain, couldn’t understand my pain and had no interest in me.

I craved love, but when anyone got close to me I’d find a way to push them away, preempting the inevitable rejection from them. Not trusting that anyone would love me once they got to the real me, I suffered rejection as a child and couldn’t possibly handle anymore as an adult.

I understand why someone would put up walls, a lot of us do. I’m not completely without them myself, but I have knocked many of them down, I’ve started to let people in and started to share the real me, and it’s more healing and cathartic than I could ever say. I know it’s hard, but if you can just take baby steps and try a little at a time, share some of yourself and when you find others like you it makes you feel so much better. The fact is, no one is alone in their pain, there are so many of us going through similar things at any given time, and it’s when we connect and use each other to lean on that we start to win the fight. Big love to you all xo

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How can we reach gender equality when we are not equal?

I saw a thing on tv this morning where they showcased a bunch of ads that have men, generally with their shirts off, being objectified in some manner. It makes me wonder about equality, i hear so many women wanting to be considered equal but then saying something like “i hate all men” or lusting over some muscle clad guy on tv. If men were to act this way, a lot of women would be outraged, when they ogle busty women we roll our eyes and consider them cavemen, if they were to blurt out ‘i hate all women’ we would consider them hostile towards our gender and damaged in some way, but it’s ok for us to do?

Generally, men are physically stronger than women, generally, women express emotion more freely than men, this doesn’t mean that it’s true of EVERY man and EVERY woman, but it’s a generalization with some truth behind it. It doesn’t mean that we are lesser beings because we struggle to get the lid off the jar sometimes, and it doesn’t mean men are lesser beings because they don’t express emotion as freely, it just means we are different, and if instead of competing and wanting to be ‘equal’ we accepted that we are different, both genders inherently have innate strengths and weaknesses, then maybe we could gain a little peace on this matter.

It’s true that in a professional capacity women are often paid less for the same job and are often overlooked for promotions for fear of them becoming baby making machines, but again this isn’t always the case, and it only affects a small percentage of the population, a small percentage of industries and job positions. It’s true, it sucks, but every decade that passes this is becoming less and less of an issue, there are some strong kick ass women out there in high power positions doing great work and paving the way, so i have faith that over time there will be equality in this field.

But do we really need to be equal outside of the work place? Equal worth as human beings, yes, of course!!! That should go without saying, the worth of every human should be the same regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion and so on, but why are we so focused on being considered the same in many ways that we simply aren’t the same?

When i see a woman say “I hate all men” or ogle a shirtless man and make comments that objectify him, i liken this behavior to that of what women expect an adolescent males to be. It’s true, sometimes a man will act like a jerk and hurt a woman emotionally, but at the very same time out there somewhere, a woman is hurting a man emotionally just as much. Does it give him license to declare that all women are assholes? Because I’ve heard many many women declare that all men are assholes and they see nothing wrong with doing so. Fact is, they’re not, all men are definitely not assholes, some are, some aren’t and some are sporadic assholes, but that’s true of every person. I can certainly be a raging bitch sometimes, but i’m also a kind and loving person, so if i heard a man declare ‘all women are bitches’ i would take exception to that, but you tend not to hear many men making such statements and the ones that do are in my experience, pretty pig headed and far gone yet i often hear perfectly intelligent rational women declare that all men are pigs or assholes or whatever, you get the gist.

I’ve been married for some time, and we are opposites. I’m good at some things and he’s good at others and instead of trying to compete with him I’ve come to love the things about him that he’s good at and he respects and loves the things about me that I’m good at. We realize we both have strengths and weaknesses and treat each other accordingly. He’s not great at talking about feelings or identifying emotional issues, so I pick up the slack in that area, I’m bipolar and have mood swings and can be oversensitive, so he shows patience and love when I’m acting unfairly.

When I was younger I expected much more of a man than I do now, I expected my every emotional whim to be met with understanding and respect but over time I have come to accept that it’s just not possible, we are different creatures and it’s ok, it’s not their fault if they don’t pick up on subtle or passive aggressive lady cues, ’cause what’s obvious to us is not necessarily obvious to them, So maybe if we just cut each other a break and respect that we have differences, and work with those differences, we can all get along a little better and understand each other with greater ease.

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From high above

I’m not your clown to tease

You’re not my lord to please

Although I wear a smile

Don’t find me juvenile

I don’t sit high above

Watching as I judge

I wear my heart upon my sleeve

In love and kindness I believe

But you see me here as lame and weak

Superiority, do you seek

Can’t you see, that I’m just me

And we can all act differently

One not wrong and one not right

This doesn’t need to be a fight

We could possibly just get along

Find a place where we belong

But some are filled with hate and spite

And if you’re different, you’re not right

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How often do we impact others negatively?

It’s often chaos while dropping the kids off at school, made worse at the moment by the fact that most of the car spots are taken up by tradesman working across the road. A car exited a spot and I went to drive into it but the massive car in the spot behind decided to move up, even though she had a spot, and took my car park. I beeped, and she waived her hands in the air at me and said something I couldn’t hear, her response was aggressive. She had a massive car and I have a tiny one, so i couldn’t really compete. My point here is, why did she feel it necessary to do that? We all have a thousand choices every day where we can choose to be an arsehole or choose to be kind, every little interaction we have may impact another person, and this negatively impacted me, it put the start of my day off to a shitty start and now i’m in a crap mood. Maybe on another day I would have been able to just shake my head and get over it instantly, but today, it made me angry/sad.

I come across quite a few people who look down their nose at me, they seem to think because i am bubbly and a little muddle headed that i’m not bright enough to notice that they are looking down their nose at me, but i notice everything. I analyze everything, i’m a constant worrier and contemplate human actions and comments a great deal. I rarely use facebook anymore because for a person as sensitive as i am, it’s just not a good idea. It’s all whining or passive aggression and pictures of what people had for dinner, but more so, passive aggression. I unusually made a comment on a friends status this morning, in good humour, and one of the people that tends to look down their nose at me made a further comment, almost to point out how puerile i am, and while i don’t really care what this person thinks of me, it has me thinking – why do i attract so much mean behaviour?

Do others find this? Do others try to be friendly and find it symbolizes them as weak? I think this is my main problem, I try to be friendly and i joke and am over sensitive, all of these things, and when a person who craves superiority of any kind smells this on another person, they exploit it. Fundamentally, I know that this says a lot more about them than it does me, that they have a need to feel better than others because they are inherently insecure or have some kind of superiority complex, but it doesn’t stop it feeling unpleasant.

I used to be like this, because of insecurity i would act coldly and quite nasty towards others at times. But this was in my twenties while i was working through a lot of pain and trying to find who i was as a person, for some it seems to be a permanent state of being.

If we all took a step back and considered how we affect others, how we would feel if something we are doing to someone else was done to us, the world would get along a lot better than it does. If instead of taking someone’s car park we realize it’s a nasty thing to do and stay where we are or look for another, if instead of making snarky comments we keep it to ourselves, a lot of people would be a lot happier than they are now.

We can’t all be perfect all of the time, and sometimes we are going to act like a dick, but maybe we need to take responsibility when we do and rectify it when we can. At the end of the day, people need to get along. There are so many many reasons out there why we shouldn’t get along but we need to refocus on all the reasons why we should.

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Who cares when you can’t?

I think this is a common thing amongst those of us who suffer from a mental illness. The feeling that we are misunderstood, no one quite gets us, we are alone in our pain. We end up isolating ourselves and shutting in our feelings because we have learned through past experience or have just generally assumed that sharing these feelings will just alienate us from friends and family.

So here we end up, dealing with this mental illness while feeling alone and isolated, the worst possible position to be in while dealing with a mental illness. But then a lot of us have had an experience where we have shared a little or a lot with someone, where someone has said ‘you can tell me anything’ and you tell them anything and inadvertently they shy away or find themselves overwhelmed with what you’ve told them. The fact of it is, you CAN share with people and it’s the healthiest thing for you to do, but you have to choose wisely. I don’t mean to segregate people into us and them, but people who don’t suffer from any form of mental illness can be as understanding as understanding can be, but they can never truly empathize because it’s impossible to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes unless you’ve worn the same pair.

If you have a friend who is bipolar or suffers depression or agoraphobia or schizophrenia or any manner of illness, it may not be the same as yours but there is commonly overlapping symptoms, and you will probably find greater understanding from such a person than those who are not afflicted by any mental disorder. If you don’t have any such friends then find a psychologist, write a blog, find a forum or any number of things, there are people out there just like you and connecting with each other can only help. They say misery loves company, which i find untrue, when i’m miserable i lock myself away from the world, but in misery understands misery, so there may be some truth to it.

When we give up on sharing or letting our feelings out, it breeds more discontent, we are unable to heal and things just stagnate or get worse and worse until things spiral out of control. It’s scary, and i spent years locking my feelings away to myself and isolating myself from others like me, cancelling on friends all the time and having them get so annoyed with me that a lot of them just gave up inviting me places in the first place, i never told anyone why, i just kept it all inside and it nearly ate me alive from the inside out.

So take a leap of faith, if you have a story, share it, if you have questions or just want to vent, do it. Just being heard can bring such a sense of peace, it’s amazing and liberating and I’ve finally started the healing journey, as healing isn’t an overnight thing, it’s a journey and happens in inches and feet and you fall backwards sometimes but if you keep yourself open to others and keep trying to move forward, you will eventually get where you need to be.

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