The Manual Michelle (excerpt)


My friend was talking about writing a guidebook about herself so people would get her. She called it “The Manual Michelle.” So I wrote one for one of my therapists. This is an excerpt from it. There is a lot more that’s not blog-friendly. I wrote about what she would need to know to really understand me. Where I come from, why I do what I do and think how I think. I wrote about my mental health history and what’s most important to me now. My family, who I actually share with, my symptoms, and finally some random interesting facts. I’ll post the facts separately. Doing the project was very helpful. I wrote most of it at Bing’s my first night there. Good times.

Important things to know

  • I’m addicted to helping people.
  • I hate most people, people in general, and/or at least one person or class in particular at any given time. (I’m hateful a bit less lately, not much.)
  • I need things to be right and to make sense. Even if I hate the situation, if there is a plausible, honest reason it’s better.
  • If I don’t sit down in your office, I don’t plan to stay.
  • I send food back when I don’t like it and I usually speak up when things are unacceptable.
  • I don’t ask for help. If I do ask for help, I’m not bluffing and I expect a response.
  • If you can’t help me or don’t want to, just say it. Don’t bullshit me. That makes it worse.
  • If you don’t ask, I won’t tell you how I’m doing.
  • Even if you do ask, I might not tell you.
  • Responses like surviving, hanging in there, here, glad to be here, crazy, alive, etc. mean I am NOT at all okay but not going to tell you why or tell you in that setting.
  • I don’t do things I don’t want to & I’m not afraid of going to the top or offending most people.
  • If I tell you I’m struggling, things are bad.
  • I expect people to do their jobs and do them well, to know their field and to be helpful. If you can’t help me or don’t know, help me find someone who can.
  • If I ask a question, I want an answer. A direct one.

Regarding Behavior/Appearance

  • If I’m not talking in group, something is wrong.
  • When I get very angry or upset I become very still. I don’t talk. I stare at the floor. I may or may not be slowly playing with a pen. I breathe very slowly and talk precisely or not at all.
  • When I am anxious I play with a pen or my fingers, crack my knuckles, massage my hands, drink lots of water, knead Play-Doh, tap my foot or bounce my leg.
  • Moving around a lot means I’m either anxious or my body hurts. Sometimes both.
  • I wear fancy clothes for protection or to feel good, usually the first. When I need the strength of looking strong, I wear black slacks and heels. People are much less likely to ask how I am or think of me as weak. I attract less attention.
  • Just because I look or sound good doesn’t mean I am. I get mistaken for staff even in the ICU. Very few people read me well. Not even my best friends.
  • I am good at reading others.
  • The further down I get, the less able I am to tolerate other people, any people, especially stupid ones or ones who don’t do their jobs or meet my needs. If I’m pissy, it’s not PMS. Something is wrong.
  • Sometimes I am just too tired, physically or mentally, or too weary to care. I’m simply moving. No hope for the future or the now, no energy to try. I’m just here, showing up, getting through the day.

See Random Interesting Facts.

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