The puzzle pieces of our lives can fit in many different ways, and the way in which we fit them together is what forms the picture of us. Sometimes, it takes picking up a piece and turning it over to change the picture we present to the world.
When I was young, I knew I was different. I was thinking about things like the cleanest way to kill myself while my friends were dreaming about which boys would ask them to the school dance. When I realized this difference, it made me feel a little special. Unique. But ultimately, it made me feel alone. Like my puzzle had jagged edges sticking out instead of the nice, clean edges everybody else seemed to have, and so I couldn’t sit nicely beside anybody without poking into them somehow.
After my first suicide attempt, I was put on an antidepressant. I was scattered as to when I took it, frequently forgetting, but when I did take it consistently, oh how did I feel like I could do ANYTHING! I was smiling, making friends, cracking jokes. And thus, they declared my depression CURED!
Did that mean my edges were any cleaner? I still felt pretty jagged.
A few years later, I started hallucinating. I remember the moment I saw my first hallucination. I was sitting in a library/sitting room in a church at a weekend youth group, listening to a story about Hiroshima or something similar, and all of a sudden, the room was filled with a god damn mushroom cloud!!! I was strangely not scared. Just absolutely fascinated that nobody else seemed to be scared, and confused by the lack of sound. It dissipated, disappeared, and it was gone, gone, gone. But over the next 5 years, I would see mushroom clouds everywhere, along with a handful of other images that persisted. That was one piece of my puzzle that I kept a hand over most of the time, only letting my very trusted friends see it.
With my free hand, I was juggling keeping my puzzle pieces in place while knowing that I was still different. I wasn’t CURED! I was more different than ever before. So I turned to sex and alcohol when I could get either or both to mask what I was feeling. Stuff it down. Throw a paper bag over the puzzle for a while, and it won’t matter that it’s scattered to the four winds, and there are no edge pieces, and everything is just plain WRONG.
Inevitably, adulting had to occur. There became children and a husband involved. I tried different medications, and they would work for a while, and then we wouldn’t be able to afford them, so I would have to go off of them. And the longer this went on, the more jagged and misshapen my puzzle became, with pieces sticking off the edges willy-nilly. I was trying so hard to fit in to the life I’d built for myself that I was searching desperately for edge pieces to complete me, and only finding more inside pieces that didn’t fit quite right.
My marriage ended, because of me but not by my hand, and I was devastated. My puzzle fell apart completely, and it was up to me to pick up the pieces and reorganize them to make sense of the mess that was supposed to make up ME, however that needed to occur.
June 2018 was 10 years since the collapse of my marriage, since I began picking up the pieces. I don’t know how it happened – some of these pieces must have broken in the fall – but I have edge pieces now. They don’t form a flat edge like “normal” people do; they go off in their own direction and look more like a spiky flower than a rectangle or square. But I feel more complete than I ever have before. I feel like the pieces of me that I was chasing for so long are finally in place, and I can see the full picture finally. It just took flipping over some pieces and dropping a lot of others to get them into their current shape. I long ago realized that I am one of those people who needs to be on medication for life, and I happily take my pills every day in order to maintain this feeling of completion.
There will always be loose pieces, and the medication will not work forever. I will need to go through med changes. This is something that I’ve opened my mind to and am willing to endure for the end result.
My puzzle has changed form and picture many times throughout my life, and I’m sure it’s not done changing yet. Nobody glue down my puzzle till I’m done changing it!