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Happy Potent Chemical Day!

  • Thursday, February 14 2013 @ 01:53 MST
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Chantelle Rants That's all love is, after all, a mix of chemicals coursing through our bodies and causing reactions that we big-brained humans have decided to call love.

Where to go from the topic of love? To mental illness, of course! One of the markers of several mental illnesses, is that of trouble within romantic relationships. (Check out http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/ to see the various mental illnesses and their traits.)

As I've spent the last couple of years understanding my own mental health and all the how and whys surrounding my illness, I've come to FULLY realise that there are no easy answers and no cut and dried diagnoses. While depressive episodes come and go, they will build upon one another. Imagine if you cut yourself and it slowly bled and then healed, bled and then healed, each time becoming worse and more likely to fester with infection. That is the case with mental illness. When it doesn't get treated, it just get worse as the years pass by. While depression is what finally took me out, it was likely childhood ADD that led to the depression and anxiety I've experienced most of my life. ADD would not have even been on the table when I was a child, it wasn't even something that had a name. I was simply “over-sensitive” and “high-strung”. To give you an idea of what I experienced as a child, I was already having problems with insomnia as early as six. Many children have night terrors when they are three or four but mine have continued into adulthood. I simply have never been able to turn my brain off at night. As a child, I would lie awake worrying that the house would burn down, worrying that a nuclear war would occur, worrying that my cat would escape while camping and not come home. At school, I was terrified of ever publicly making any sort of mistake whether it be in class or in the gym. My sense of shame has always been crushing. Puberty hormones were the catalyst that took ADD into depression for me. Already filled with shame and dread, the influx of all those teenage emotions plunged me into a spiral of self-hatred and body-image issues that further separated me from “normal” kids. Worse yet, those powerful chemical reactions that relate to romantic feelings were over-the-top for me.

As it turns out, one of the chemical imbalances I have is too much serotonin. I've discussed this before in relation to my weight but there are other mental health issues that serotonin contributes to. As anyone who has ever had to share living space with me will tell you, I am hopelessly OCD. I'm a lot better now because of medication but I can remember times in university that I was unable to sleep because I hadn't lined my shoes up at the door in my room exactly perfectly. This also affects the emotions in such a way that it's all or nothing. For many years, I had two moods... somewhat happy and suicidal.

This has caused endless problems for me when it comes to romantic relationships. I've stayed in relationships I should have gotten out of because I didn't have the self-confidence to leave. The very few people I can actually say that I've loved, I've alienated by being too intense and then by being angry when what I really was, was hurt. I've always said and done everything wrong. I've even had one person point out to me that I would never be good for the relationship because I would just get bored and move on. It's frustrating to look back on my life and realise that some things can never be fixed. No amount of medication or therapy can ever change the things in the past that I wish I can change.

I still struggle with emotions. I'm better at sitting down and just quietly getting through them without saying or doing the wrong the thing theses days. I'm better at realising that what's going on in my head is mostly due to chemistry. I still struggle with the fact that, intellectually, I understand how my brain works (or doesn't, some days) but there is an emotional side that I can't control. It bothers me, that although I should be smart enough to override my emotions, I'm not always able to do it.

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