Why I (and anyone else struggling) Deserve to Study Part Time

You know what’s a pain? Having to feel like you need to justify yourself for only having half the study load that your peers have.

I’m made to feel ashamed. That I’m lazy, taking the easy road out. Perhaps they are nicer and only pity me. Poor Joy, she’s not doing well. After all, they put in the effort to study full time and without extensions, so why can’t I?

Simple answer: I am not them. 

I used to be smart, determined, motivated. I was the perfect student with straight As. Life was set up for me. (Then everything changed when the fire nation attacked I got diagnosed.) I had to take a semester off university, and I only returned 6 weeks ago. Less than a month in I suffered my second psychotic break.

And so I’ve had to drop down to half the study load with no extra work, I have a disability plan that allows me special consideration, and I require someone to sit with me when I write assignments.

It’s so difficult trying to cope with how Bipolar has changed my life, particularly in areas that were a part of my identity. And telling people I don’t study the same as they do literally brings pain to my heart. Especially when they tell me things that confirm what I feel about myself.

But I have something to say to me and everyone else: I am proud.

I am not you. I have a major illness that is exacerbated my stress and I’m not sure if you know, but university is kinda stressful.

Yet I’m going to fight. And fight and fight and keep on fighting for my place here. You can think I am not doing well by only doing two units, or perhaps that I am lazy, but I am working harder and achieving more for myself than anyone studying full time is.

I have those assignment extensions because I fight demons every time I bring out a pen and paper. I need more time to relax because that is the cure to my hallucinations, paranoia and self-aggression.

And I deserve it. I deserve to be here, studying less, as much as anyone else who on the surface seems to work harder.

I deserve the money from the government so that I can afford my needed therapy.

I deserve to be a member of the community just like anyone else and I promise you I will study my ass off and get the grades to prove it.

And you know what? I’ll fail sometimes. I’ll fail doing something you so easily do. But if you won’t be proud that I’m still doing two units when I could easily give up, live on disability and do none, then I’ll be proud for myself. 

My reaction to anyone who disagrees with me

Just another reminder that I’m looking to have another blogger come and join me on And Just a Touch of Crazy. If you have Bipolar and feel you have something worth sharing, please contact me using the form at the bottom of this page with a few words on why you’d be good here and a link to any content you’ve already done.

7 Everyday Things that Mania makes Interesting 

1. Haircuts 

Don’t underestimate how hard it is to be still in a chair. Or to fight the paranoia that someone will steal your stuff that’s sitting only a foot away. Or your ability to vocalise what you want. Or the fact your mind has no distractions.

2. Walking

When the meds kick in and you’re so drowsy you’re surprised no policemen have given you a sobriety test.

3. First dates 

Do I tell them? Don’t I? When should I? (I told my boyfriend within 24 hours of meeting… I don’t beat around the bush)

4. Budgeting 

This one may seem obvious but I’m usually so good with money I genuinely thought I’d be able to spend money wisely if I took certain precautions.

5. Memory 

The amount of appointments I’ve missed…

6. Self doubt 

You’d assume that with all the confidence mania brings that self doubt wouldn’t be a problem, but because I’m aware that I’m going to make bad choices and say the wrong thing I find myself doubting my actions more when I’m manic than when I’m stable. I then proceed to not care, but the doubt if whether it’s a genuinely good idea or a manic good idea still lingers.

7. Writing a blog

I find myself so distracted that I’ve seriously slipped on my writing.

So. 

If someone is interested I would like to add another Bipolar writer to my blog. If you could contact me using the form on my About page telling me why you think you’d be good on my blog and provide a link to your current one, or if you want to ask me questions, please do. 🙂

The Rule

There is a rule.

It is why white people who say the N word and call themselves black are disliked by most of society. It is why if my female friend tells me to get back in the kitchen I will laugh, yet if a man said that to me I’d raise my eyebrow. It’s why I would never make a joke about Muslims being terrorists, despite my alliance with the Muslim community, as I have not personally faced the bullying and stigma that becomes the right to turn something so serious into something to laugh at.

And don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with sexist or racist or so on jokes. But there is a rule that only those who indesputedly know the hardships of a group of people, only someone who belongs to that group of people, can successfully poke fun of their hardships.

So why, then, do I see a stream of humourous pictures saying things about how the voices in someone’s head give them good advice or how insanity gets to know each family member individually, shared by people who have NEVER had an idea of what insanity is actually like.

I’m sure you’ve seen them – I’ve probably posted them here. Pictures and comments and jokes that glamourise the experience; make it fun and quirky.

Do they know the person scrolling past these stupid pictures is only on Facebook because her new anti psychotics make it painful and difficult to move?

Do they know that she is on anti psychotics again because during that oh-so-funny time of being “off her meds” she began to hallucinate all because she was at university again?

Do they know the true fear of hallucinations? Do those moments mark the most terrifying times of their life?

Have they ever been in bed, and felt snakes biting them? Have the snakes transformed into men? They lurk in the shadows but you know they’re there. You feel them, sense them, see them. You feel their eyes on you, burning where they watch. You’re so vulnerable in bed, exposed. Two men in your room are clear but you feel more lurking. And you feel fingers. Fingers that creep up the inside of your thighs…

You don’t want to feel the rest, but you do.

Tell me, can you have been raped if their is no perpetrator?

If I haven’t got you laughing yet, thinking “oh, that’s so true and relatable”, can you relate to this?

I’m cracking up

How many times have you felt your own fingernails scratching up your legs, your arms, your face, so hard it stings? Have you ever collapsed onto your bed and started beating yourself up, no control over your arms, only thanking yourself for being such a weak person? Have you been in an abusive relationship with yourself?

So funny I could scream. Which I do. For no reason. Simply get filled with terror so full and complete it fills me, consumes me, rising up and pushing out in a desperate scream for help.

This terror that filled me each day, leaving me catatonic for hours. Unresponsive to the world around me, because my mind was becoming a world of its own with all the thoughts and feelings racing through. People around me have the ability to study and complete their degree, yet I’ve lost that. I lost my best friend and I nearly lost the love of my life.

Are you laughing yet? I’m not.

Let’s get physical 

As I sit in the comfort of my boyfriends apartment I think, what a great day. I’m feeling good. I’m looking through my assignments for university, deconstructing task sheets and creating detailed study plans for the semester. You know, the stuff I love to do. 

And I’m feeling great. So when I begin to lose concentration, feel the familiar nausea creeping up my constricting throat, become unnaturally hot and sweaty and have an uncontrollable tremor in my hands I think “Oh shit. I have a stomach bug again.” 

And when I realise that’s not true, I believe it is an undiagnosed illness that has come and gone since I was 13. 

And when I realise that’s not true, I wonder if the tiny amount of dairy in my hot chocolate is enough to send my lactose-intolerant stomach into this state. 

What would it take, I wonder, to make me recognise these symptoms as part of an illness all too familiar to me? General Anxiety Disorder. 

Google. Google is what it took. 

It may seem silly to not recognise a panic attack when it occurs, yet after years of therapy I’ve found that the emotional side of it all has become quite insignificant at times. And that leads me to wonder, are mood disorders really as emotion focused as they are made out to be? 

Of course what separates mood disorders from physical illnesses is the distinct shift in mood and behaviour, yet the predominant attitude I have faced is that they are a purely mental condition. But that’s just not the case. 

Shall I explain?

Yesterday (when I started this post) I experienced intense nausea, hot flushes, and abdominal discomfort. I later noticed a serious tremor in my hands, which spread to my whole body making it difficult to walk. My throat had swollen and made people believe I was suffering an asthma attack from my difficulty breathing. The emotional symptoms? Dread, and some fear. Today I have found myself with the same symptoms, add a sever weakening of muscles, an intense dizziness and the fun abdominal cramping I’m facing right now. And the same couple of emotional symptoms. 

But yeah, sure, it’s all in my head. 

And this is important to distinguish because it is not Anxiety whispering sweet nothings into my ear that makes me disfunctional in my daily activities, but whatever Anxiety slipped me to make my mind go numb and my body weak. 

I can tell myself that I WILL pass university, and that I WILL be successful in life. But how does that help the overwhelming sickness? The headache? The trembling hands that can’t right notes?

By treating mood disorders as if they are only mood, we limit ourselves in our treatment. We dismiss some of the most damaging symptoms. And we perpetuate this attitude that it’s all about thinking differently. I don’t know about you, but if I can have panic attacks without particular feeling panicky because I’m so good at the counter talk, we’re clearly missing something.