When Life With Mental Illness Makes Me Feel Like a Mess


I’m feeling upset with myself for missing my train today. Unpacking, why this is making me feel so icky? I think it displays the messy and disorganized version of myself I’m embarrassed of at times. Granted, I had some things happen that were out of my control today. I shouldn’t beat myself up over it. It’s not a big deal, really. But I could have made some different choices and been happily on my way to San Francisco tonight, instead of sitting in my chilly apartment feeling like a gross failure. Blugh.

I consider myself a “disorganized organized” person. To most people, my life probably looks pretty chaotic and messy, but I manage it OK (I love lists!) However, when I’m not feeling well mentally – like right now – I’m much more disorganized than organized. I run late (hence missing the train), forget important things (like important calls or emails) and sometimes look a little disheveled. I am the person wearing an inside-out sweatshirt with backward sweatpants on and smudged eye makeup.

I’m terribly ashamed of this version of myself. I feel judged and looked down upon. To be fair, I have no idea if anyone notices or cares. Most people are mostly paying attention to themselves, I’ve learned. But I care. It hits me in my gut and makes me contort my face a bit. I’m jealous of people who appear to have their shit together. Get places on time, remember to do the thing, have pretty hair and clean clothes on. I envy “normal” peeps and often wonder what it’s like to wake up and not be at war with your own brain every day and night. I know we all have some stuff to deal with and there might even be some qualities people see in me that they aspire to. It’s nearly impossible for me to grasp that second concept.

I wonder why we focus on the negative bits of ourselves more than the positive – at least from my observation. I could be sitting here thinking about the class I’m doing well in, the fact I kept a decent budget all last month and that I have a shiny new haircut. Instead, I’m thinking about the people who must think I’m weird, bedraggled, sloppy and nasty (and I’m going to be forever alone). Hrmm.

I get triggered when someone points out a “messy” characteristic of mine. Like a decision I’m making, a style choice, the way my room or car looks. It makes me feel like a gross little kid who other kids wouldn’t play with. Because why would they? I’m disgusting. But, no, I’m not. Those kids are mean and I’m OK. But I don’t feel OK. I feel somber and like I need to take another bath and go to bed now and hope I don’t feel this way when I wake up. I’m still learning my “triggers” and what they do and holy fuck is it a wild ride. It’s powerful to know that “X does Y” but also, heartbreaking. Distressing. Terrifying. But I have to remember this empowers me to change the narrative and my train of thought. I have to remember I’m OK and I have power over my life. People love me no matter if I’m messy Meredith or not.

Man, this healing process is a bitch. I need a hug.

Follow this journey on Typing Vigorously

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

patient in a session with a therapist

When the Hardest Part of Mental Illness Is Getting Help

“Hello, how may I help you?” “I’m feeling really depressed and need to see my doctor. I know my appointment isn’t for another month, but can someone see me?” “Oh, well, she is booked up for the next six months, sorry.” “Is there anything I can do? Someone else I can see?” “No, sorry, they [...]

Kanye West's Recent Hospitalization Is Not a Punch Line

Twitter responses to Kanye West’s reported mental health hospitalization. Read the full version of Kanye West’s Recent Hospitalization Is Not a Punch Line.
Person walking on stepping stones on the grass

The 5 Stages of Accepting My Mental Illness Diagnosis

1. Relief  Once I got my diagnosis for my personality disorder, everything became clear. I understood why I seemed so different, so marginalized. My diagnosis meant a group of people had the same symptoms in the past, and more people with those symptoms will be diagnosed in the future. I was no longer alone. It [...]
Illustration of woman with eyes closed

When I Say ‘I’m Just Tired,’ This Is What It Means

“I’m tired.” “I’m all right, just tired.” “Tired, how are you?” These are the typical responses I give when someone asks me how I’m doing. No one thinks twice about the response because it’s seen as “normal.” An early day at work? Of course she could be tired. I smile and say, “I’m just tired,” [...]