Just seeing the word “passenger” makes me think of Dexter, and his dark passenger. I’m no murder, but I do understand how he felt like something/someone foreign lived inside of his isolated mind. Those hidden social rules are tricky, and we do need to have our own moral code, because our passenger won’t always understand.
This is how most days work: I wake up just before the alarm, either on my own, or with my trusty companion bringing me shoes/leash telling me that I have to get up on my own, or that he’ll make me get up by threatening to shit on my bedroom floor–either way, sleeping wont be an option. I toss off the blankets, stumble to the bathroom and experience the wonderful side effects of medication before allowing the dog to walk me down the stairs where I swallow 11 pills before taking the dog out on a potty walk. I reminisce on the days that I can do this with ease, and joy of being outside. We come back inside and if I’m not doing well, I put on a podcast, here are a few of my favorites; My Favorite Murder, The Black Tapes, Generation why and the Mental Illness Happy Hour.
No matter where I am or what I’m doing, my mental illness is always with me. On a good day, I can choke down a handful of pills all in one swallow, attach my service dog to the hands free leash, and set off to be productive. On those days, it feels like I’m the driver, and my illness is just extra baggage that I tossed in the trunk.
Most days, my diagnosis is right next to me, leaning against my shoulder, but forced to walk with its own feet, because my dog refuses to leave my side and force me to battle it alone. We’re connected, and it’s always an open tab in the back of my mind, but it’s stuck in the back seat where it can’t reach the steering wheel.
Thank God that I am able to hold a job– without somewhere I have to be, I can’t function. I work in the school district and have to take a summer job so that I don’t sink into a pit of depression and endless sleeping, or possibly worse, manic, irrational, risky behaviors that leave me sick and exhausted by the time I manage to re-emerge.
The bad days, my passenger is in the front seat, battling me for control of the wheel. It manifests itself in intrusive thoughts, nauseating anxiety, and bloody fingertips as I mindlessly pick off my own cuticles. It lingers in the withdrawal symptoms on days that I forgot to take my medication, and holds dizzying side conversations when I try to focus.
My passenger will always make sure that I’m never alone; I can always call upon my crazy–it can sit in the quiet calm of my mind, but it can’t hide from me.