Adventures in Creative Thinking
My name is Heather. I am twenty-five years old and have lived almost my whole life in Connecticut. I graduated from high school in the top ten percent of my class, started at the University of Connecticut in one of the top three academically challenging programs and graduated five and a half years later, with a major and a minor. During middle, high school and college I was strongly involved in volunteering, community service and student organizations, often considered the quiet leader (or very outspoken leader toward the end of college). I have worked off and on since starting college and am known for being one of the best workers in the office, when I do work. One job I have always held is an Official Undercover Nutcase.
My current diagnoses are borderline personality disorder, schizoaffective, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I started therapy at age fifteen, but have lived with mental illness much longer. One running theme my life follows is that no one seems to notice that I am mentally ill. I move through the world with everyone thinking I am "normal." When I am hospitalized other patients don't believe that I have the diagnoses that I do. I recently told one of my aunts about my schizoaffective and she remarked that I seem so normal and well-adjusted, she had no idea. My whole family and most friends have no idea. This has led me to feel like a secret agent in my own life.
Every morning I put on my "normie" uniform and see family, friends, co-workers, the public and none of them are the wiser. Sometimes the uniform is comfortable, but other times the paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations (auditory, visual and command), depression, flashback and triggers make the uniform feel like itchy wool in the summer.
Aside from the uniform, there is always the idea that my cover may be blown. At my last paying job, I was sure I would be found out by my supervisor. More than once my supervisor made demeaning comments about the people seeing the talk therapist that shared the building with our office. I was placed there by two organizations working with disabled people and have no visible disabilities. Even after I was sexually assaulted by a co-worker I was able to keep my cool outwardly, although inwardly I was screaming.
My demeanor has changed since then, probably because of the mood aspect of the schizoaffective. At my current volunteer job I am the go-to person for the impossible projects, though I have been there less than a month. More than once I have been told they weren't even sure if the project could be done, but I did it. I am still mostly quiet, but I have mentioned an idea I had in a hypomanic state. Luckily it just looked ambitious instead of insane. I am less worried about being found out here, but am worried about the day that I will be too depressed, too schizo, or have someone set off a trigger to make it that I can no longer be there. If and when that happens, I will go back to headquarters, have a brief sabbatical and then be sent on another mission to infiltrate another organization for The Institute.
Undercover Nutcase Heather, signing off.