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When Mental Illness Makes You Spend the Day on Autopilot


I vaguely hear a commercial on the television. Ay son is playing in his room, where I hear the occasional roar of a pretend dinosaur, and there is a quiet jingle of a collar as my dogs run around.

Inside my mind, there is a constant stream of disconcerting thoughts I have no control over. I feel gut-wrenching guilt, bottomless hopelessness and an abyss of emotions I have no actual words for.

It is like I am underwater; my senses are dulled and I am not entirely sure how it is 8 p.m. when it was only 3:30 p.m. a few minutes ago. Didn’t I just pick my son up? No, I made him dinner. Did he have a vegetable? Yes, I cut carrots. I need to put him in pajamas. He’s already in pajamas. The day has whizzed by and I realize I am on autopilot, again.

Deep within the confines of our illnesses, we can occasionally feel like we are imprisoned in our own mind. Despite the chaotic storm inside ourselves, the world continues to rotate and life goes on. My bipolar disorder and anxiety carry me adrift and I feel lost. However, there is an anchor in the back of myself. It is the part that grounds me in reality and allows me to carry on throughout my day because my life must, indeed, go on.

Sometimes, my days are blurry and vague. The sunshine seems a little harsh. That’s OK. Eventually, I come back to myself and I am in charge again.

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Unsplash image via Jamie Street