Anyone with a chronic illness will tell you that they have good days, bad days, and awful days. Add mental illness to a physical chronic illness, and you have the potential for disaster.
On good days, things go well. You feel decent. You may not be in much pain. You feel organized and ready to get things done. On bad days, things don’t go as planned. You feel crappy. You may be in enough pain to want to throw the towel, but you function. On awful days, nothing goes as planned. You feel incredibly crappy. You are in enough pain to not even throw the towel, because that hurts. And you can’t function.
Recently, I had a nightmare of which the contents I do not remember. All I know is that I woke up screaming, gasping for air, cold sweats, panic, anxiety, chest heaviness, shakiness, and well, the whole enchilada. Now, with PTSD, which I have, nightmares are not out of the norm, but even then, nightmares can get the best of you.
I had not had such a terrifying nightmare in a very long time… months. I thought the nightmares were a thing of the past, but they are not, and they came back to remind me. This nightmare, even though I do not remember the contents, threw me a curve. I was not prepared for it. I was not prepared for it to send my psychosis into overdrive. I was not prepared to have a few awful days in a row, and I was certainly not prepared to deal with the consequences. I let my guard down (which in PTSD recovery is a good thing, but that’s stuff for another post).
I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread. It occupied everything I did. I took my medication as prescribed, to no avail. I could barely put coherent sentences together. And I started dissociating (also another thing I thought I had under control). I lost track of time, chores, and life in general. It’s like my life unplugged from the world, but the world didn’t stop running.
I put myself somewhat together within a few days, and now I am able to function somewhat normally (my normal, anyway). But now I am back at being hypervigilant, and terrified of the games my mind plays with me. Today, I was having a good day, until suddenly, as if struck by lightning, I started having a bad day. My body ached more than normal, and I am feeling like mentally something is wrong, very wrong. And I am afraid of going to sleep, because well, I am afraid of nightmares again. I don’t want to be shaken to the core. I don’t want to have my psychosis go awry. And I don’t want that feeling of wasting my life managing symptoms.
However, in order to have good days, I must be very vigilant of my health, my feelings, my thoughts, and any games my mind decides to play with me, and this takes time and energy. And it leaves me with very little to play with. In order to feel well, I have to spend a lot of time managing symptoms with effective, healthy interventions, under close supervision of my doctors and therapists.
On good days, I don’t have to manage many symptoms. On bad days, a good considerable chunk of my day is employed in managing symptoms. On awful days, however, it seems like no matter what I do, all I do is manage symptoms.