To the People I've Accused of Conspiring Against Me
Back before I had LASIK surgery and just a few months after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD), I used to go to the Walmart Vision Center for my vision needs. I would go once a year to get an eye exam and pop in every few months to get some fresh boxes of contacts.
One day, I went in to pick up some contacts, and the lady helping me was a middle-aged mild-mannered woman. She was friendly. But then she told me the words that would make me flip. She said to me, “Our files show that you haven’t had an eye exam here in years.”
*Insert barely audible groans of abhorrence*
Who did this lady think she was? I had just gotten an eye exam within the last three months! Was she even looking at her computer or just pretending to? I thought I could go behind her desk and do her work for her and find the information that she needed. She just wasn’t doing it right!
I stayed calm for about a minute. I told her I had just had an eye exam within so many previous months and that my prescription was current. Still, she was saying she couldn’t find any files indicating that I had been there lately, and she couldn’t give me any new contacts.
The next 10 minutes or so are jumbled in my memory. I think this was the point I started crying, saying over and over, “I was just here, just check your files.” Then the next horrible thing happened when she stopped looking in her computer files and began her search for my actual file folder whose whereabouts, she then told me, were unknown. So, first she told me she couldn’t find any of my information in her computer system, and then she told me that she couldn’t find my actual file either.
Who at the Walmart Vision Center hated me so much and wanted to put me through this? Did I spurn someone’s romantic advances, and they were getting me back by “losing” my files? Was I totally unknowingly rude to someone who once worked here, and then they destroyed my files? I was convinced that someone at that Vision Center had it out for me and wanted me to suffer. I think this was the point I started crying and pacing. All inside the Vision Center were customers and workers who all had their eyes on me — the girl who was crying and pacing angrily by the front desk.
That’s when I turned on the lady who was helping me. I asked her what she had done with my files. I asked her why my files would
inexplicably be gone when she went to look for them. At this point, I was crying and near-screaming, keeping it just low-key enough so that security wouldn’t get involved. I asked her repeatedly, furiously what she did with my files — still crying, still pacing and now pointing at this poor woman who was just as confused as I was. Another employee came into the situation to try to find my files, and still, they couldn’t be found. I accused them both of “trying something against me,” bawling, and I walked back out to my car before I actually started yelling.
I left with no contacts and no resolution as to where my files were. On the drive home, which took about half an hour, something in me clicked. My mood shifted. I no longer felt the way I had felt inside the store. Shame overcame me, the shame that people so often feel after they know they just wrongly and ferociously accused someone of something, which sometimes happens with people who are bipolar. By the time I got home, the guilt had fully set in, and I told my parents what had happened. As usual, they didn’t take any sides. They weren’t freaking out like I was. I knew I had crossed a line.
Moments later, I was calling the Vision Center. I told them I was the person there earlier who was making the scene and asked to speak to the woman who was helping me so I could apologize to her. The person on the phone told me that she was no longer there that day, but they would give her my message. They also said there was just some sort of error, and they had retrieved my files somehow. I could go in and buy some contacts. And instead of thinking, Well, who hid them then?! I thought, I don’t know how their business works. Stuff like this probably happens to people all the time, acknowledging that all people make mistakes, including me, and that’s why I still hope to this day eight years later that woman got my apology.
It was wrong of me to start accusing everyone there of conspiring against me. I know it is part of my mental illness, but it gives me mixed feelings of anger and guilt. An incident similar to this one happened about a year later, but I never called back and apologized for my behavior and accusations, and that’s something I still regret.
I try to listen more to my logical side when I feel that people are plotting against me and remind myself that just because this is an illness, I can’t go off on people whenever my emotions tell me to — having this illness actually means I need to reign in my emotions and delusions with even more strength than it takes to wrongfully accuse someone of conspiring against me.
I know I will struggle with this for my entire lifetime, just like I’ve struggled with it as a child, but eight years into relapses and recoveries, I am finding that carrying this weight gets lighter with age.
Getty Images photo via Grandfailure