Bit of music, part of the soundtrack of my life…
A kindred spirit with a tragic destiny and a seemingly similar diagnosis. No wonder Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’, resonates with me. Since I was fourteen I’ve had my own private terminology to describe my abnormal experiences and my internal life. I’ve always called it ‘the dollhouse’. Then I recently stumbled on Sylvia Plath’s novel ‘The Bell Jar‘, which I strangely had never read. Really strange. Because she chronicles her experiences, in her ‘bell jar’, which is very much like my ‘dollhouse’. Except that my ability to read and write have never disappeared. What surprised me though, was how easy to read the novel was. Actually quite the page turner. Always suspected that it was drab and boring. But that certainly wasn’t the case. It was lively and entertaining and a light read. With some profound words.
“I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.” – Sylvia Plath
This sentence quite accurately describes the feeling when it is worst with me. This feeling of numbness, and emptiness. Her language has an elegance that carries you along, and I wish that she had had the time to write more novels in her all too short life. But I must start on the poetry- that is pretty spectacular too.
Right, if you haven’t already – go read!
So I’ve mentioned my autopilot quite a few times. And with good reason. It’s the thing that lets me have a relatively normal life. But it’s also the thing that makes it difficult for me to get help when I need it. Most people have them, we would go nuts without them as our brains can’t handle the vast amounts of information we’re experiencing every minute. But it’s a fine balance. Here are a few pros and cons of having an autopilot in my life.
- Makes it difficult for people around me to see that I have schizotypal personality disorder, not too fond of preconceptions within the area.
- Lets me do lots of things without thinking about them, and in a seemingly normal way. Not cognitively difficult tasks, but simple things.
- Makes it difficult for people around me to see that I have schizotypal personality disorder, meaning that my close family have a hard time seeing the danger signals and knowing when things are bad and I need some help getting help. Because for me it’s seldomly bad enough and it’s down prioritized in a busy life with job, kid, social life etc. Which is not good. I’m not great at putting my own priorities first.
- When all everyday things just work out, I take on too many projects. That stresses me. And like sleep deprivation, stress triggers schizotypal symptoms to escalate.
So like many things, it’s complex. You need it, and then you don’t want it to take over too much. And like many things, awareness changes a lot. Being aware of my autopilot makes me more aware of my symptoms, and just that reflection in itself helps me to me more aware of my situation in general and take better care of myself.
Waking up – Mother’s Day
Having kids and schizotypy can sometimes be a challenge. Today it was mother’s day. A day filled with Hallmark cards and filled chocolates. But not for me. For me it was waking up to the smell of fresh coffee in my own bed after having slept a full night with no kids. Followed by Eggs Benedict (our style with salmon, roe and salad) with homemade Hollandaise outside in the sunshine. And some great gifts; my daughter had chosen a pretty dress for me and a large canvas. Seeing as it was unusually warm today, the kids jumped out of their clothes and donning nothing and a diaper set to work painting. The result was a beautiful canvas titled “The Robot Roberto”.
Kids, parenting and mental health issues
There is a lot of tabu about having kids and having a mental health issue. And I must say, that the media often portrays borderliners, schizophrenics and the rest of us in rather odd ways. Some things are recognizable, some are caricatures or simple just misconceptions. And when it comes to parents with mental health issues, we are often thought of as irresponsible and extremely unstable. Another reason why I’m anonymous. Society is just not good at handling well functioning and ‘un stereotypical’ parents with mental health issues. Having schizotypy does not make me a worse parent, it makes me a very reflective parent who sometimes has ups and downs in terms of what my emotional life can and does and is.
Cold and indifference and love
The complexity of emotional coldness is heart wrenching. When I was pregnant with my daughter, before my diagnosis and medication, I was sure that having here would pop the bubble of indifference. This fog that engulfs me when I’m not feeling well. When I was 14, I called it ‘the dollhouse’. A pseudo reality.
But her birth didn’t pop the bubble, and the shame of not feeling the overwhelming first love with your newborn grew. Thought I had postpartum depression at one point. But after I got some help, had a brief stint in hospital and got my diagnosis or box, acceptance kind of gave me peace. At least it gave me something to work from and and that allowed love to grow. Perhaps I was young and thought love had to be a certain way. Perhaps I was naive. Perhaps a lot of things. But now the love for my children is immense, and grows day by day. My understanding of what parenting is has also changed, become more nuanced, more complex and deep. And that also helps grow our relationship and love.
My children don’t notice that I’m different, my autopilot is too good for that. So most people don’t know the difference if I’m in a bad period because I compensate and rationally analyze how every situation should be according to the norms. The norms are my guide, and I NEVER cross that line even though it is tempting. Because I am not so sure that I could get back in the other side again. So for the sake of my family and myself, autopilot me is what keeps me out of the sad statistics and in a normal and fulfilling life. And in between the more and more rare periods of bubbles, I am truly happy. Something that I wish for everyone, but especially mothers today.
So all mothers in my segment, chin up – it’s ok. We’re all different. And we all experience shame and confusion and sadness as well as the good – that makes us human and ok. And trying and loving is all that matters. Cheesy but true. And Happy Mother’s day – we all deserve Eggs Benedict in the sunshine!
Still no sleep?
With schizotypy you need to sleep. And copious amounts. So while the family headed to the countryside yesterday, I stayed in the city to fix some things in the apartment. And to sleep. I’ve had both kids alone during the night the previous two nights and I was really looking forward to sleeping. And to sleeping in – perhaps even to ten! But of course my body is wired to Little Children Time. The parallel universe where this time zone prevails has no mercy. And I woke up twice during the night and at six this morning. Wide awake. With no chance of sleep. There is probably some natural law that dictates that when you want to sleep badly enough, it’s not possible.
Supplements and Teeth
I’ve tried taking magnesium supplements before sleeping, sometimes that helps my sleep quality. But mostly it’s little F’s teeth that are killing us. He’s (ONLY) halfway through. Just great. But I suppose once he’s got 20, he’ll settle down and sleep. As will the rest of the family. And we all know that sleep does things to the schizotypy box.