I have been binge watching different TV shows lately. One of the shows that I liked the most was Elementary. Elementary is a modern take on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character Sherlock Holmes. I loved the show because it brought me back to my childhood. I loved to read Sherlock Holmes books and I had a nice collection that my parents helped me get.
I loved the character. I loved Holmes and Dr. Watson. I liked them because they were above average smart and they could see things others could not. When I was younger I always valued intelligence and academics. I was a very smart child, a focused student and I loved to learn things. I was always above average; I was found to have an IQ of 126 which is 10 points shy of being Mensa level.
My brain was the only thing I thought I had. I suffered from low self esteem and I noticed that I was praised by teachers and my peers for going over and beyond. I was the over achiever. Ok, I still over achieve…all the time. Just ask my daughter and her teacher. I made a stage of the wolf and the three little pigs for a book report.
I felt like I had a place in this word and I was going to be that no matter if it killed me.
I remember my school put me in regular classes on accident and within one week they moved me up. Not because my mother protested or something. It was because when class work was over you would find me sitting in the back reading Little Women.
In 6th grade I read all the time. I read 200 books in one year and was given an award by the Librarian in front of the entire school. My dad used to call me when he needed help with cross word puzzles. When someone needed to know something they called me for the answers. When I didn’t know the answer they would be shocked.
“You don’t know it? Aren’t you the smart one?”
That only led me to study and study some more making sure I would never not know something. The pressure was on and I hated not knowing something. I would get frustrated when I wouldn’t get perfect answers on random tests. I was starting to let it consume me.
I brought home a C once and cried. My parents didn’t know what to do. I was obsessed with being the best at everything. I needed to be the best. I watched documentaries, the history channel, the discovery channel and anything else that would help me to learn things I didn’t learn in the classroom. My parents called me “The Walking Encyclopedia”. I was always the smart one and I let that narrative guide me and define me.
As I grew I became more erratic with my emotions. I had bouts of depression and agoraphobia. I didn’t want to go very many places. I was so much of a hermit I became deficient in Vitamin D. I felt like I was losing my mind and that fear gripped me and brought about anxiety and panic attacks. I didn’t sleep and my creativity suffered.
About two years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. It was hard hearing that I had a mental illness. Me? The intelligent and smart one? The one thing I thought I had going for me was tainted by an illness.
I lived with a narrative that I was exceptional academically and that was it. That was me. Nothing more. I had nothing else to offer anyone and so it was devastating when I felt I was losing that. The medication that I had to take caused me to lose my memory on several occasions.
At 28 I found I had to change the narrative of my life. Therapy helped me to cope with my disorder and I started back studying and watching documentaries. I don’t do it now because of my obsession. My medication helps me with that. I do it now because I really like studying and learning new things every day.
I came to terms with my Bipolar disorder and the medication. I now use my studying as a way to manage my anxiety and help with some of my erratic behavior. It doesn’t cure me or anything like that. I still have setbacks when I am obsessive and compulsive and low energy. It’s ok. If I wasn’t so erratic and eccentric I would be very boring and that’s just Elementary my fellow readers.