The other day, a friend asked me what they could do to help whenever I am depressed. And it’s a funny question because, WHEN I am actually depressed, I don’t think I am worthy of helping. It’s also a timely question because I’m nose diving into a low after weeks of blissful stability.
My lows are not only sleeping for days, though that is definitely involved. They mostly consist of such a dearth of love for myself that if I saw it in my own family I would be terrified. The things I say to myself go behind playground bullying and hinge more on horror movie. They paralyze me.
So, to answer the question, when I am depressed, when I am in a low; I need to know that I am loved. I need to know that I am worth fighting for. I desperately need to know that people care about me. I also admit that this is a tall order and not for everyone. But if you’re able, even if I push you away while I’m down here, reach down to me until I start to reach up.
Usually, I don’t read the articles on Yahoo because, quite frankly, I’m a snob and I find them to be poorly written or alarmist. But this one was excellent, probably because it is less of an article and really just quotes from my brothers and sisters on the mental health battlefield.
27 Ways to Be an Ally for Someone Who Has a Mental Illness
This one in particular was striking. It amazes me how many people do this.
No, the weather is no bipolar. I AM. The weather is weather. It is controlled by gulf streams, and pressure, and magic and pixie dust. I am controlled by the chemicals in my brain that will not allow me to enjoy my daughter’s birthday party and the demons in my head who are constantly -just- on the verge of breaking free. So the weather, or your non bipolar friend who decided to NOT go to the movies with you today because she’s having a bad day, or your cat who was in your lap and then flipped out and bit you? Again. Not bipolar. But me, in bed for the fourth day in a row, wondering how it is that people can even stand the SIGHT of me, even though six weeks ago, I was the life of the party and handing out my phone number like candy? Yeah. Bipolar. My diagnosis is not slang. Don’t use it as such.
What’s interesting about mood disorders, or at least, what’s interesting in my experience, is having the ability to tell when my next high or low is coming. I’ve been feeling this manic episode building for the past couple of days and I know it’s right around the bend. Even as I type this, I’m frequently having to correct mistakes I’ve made because my hands are shaking too much to type with my normal accuracy. I have my next sentence planned before I’ve finished typing this one. Which, reader, has made for some interesting fixes in the proofreading stage. I’m sure I’ll find more edits after I hit publish. I always do.
Anyway. i have no profound update today. No great story to tell. Just my racing heart and thoughts and the knowledge that in the coming days and then for a week or so, it will only get worse. However, until I crash again, I’ll be damned if my kitchen won’t be spotless and maybe I’ll paint another bedroom.
I finally saw Inside Out. And I say finally because I was so excited to see it, but I didn’t end up getting there until after opening day.
It really spoke to me as a bipolar person. It spoke to me as a person in general. I mean, excuse me, “Who’s the friend who loves to play? BING BONG!!!” Excuse me, I have to go sob for a while… BRB.
We teach our kids and subsequently our adults, that it’s only okay to be happy. We’re never allowed to show our fear or our pain and if we do, something’s wrong that must be immediately fixed. I’ve known for a long time that sometimes there is no fixing. There is only grieving and trying to heal, and sometimes, even though we have the best intentions, we fail and our sadness (or fear, disgust, anger, etc) overtake us. I’ve caught myself before telling Sophia to just smile and pretend to be happy because her crappy mood was bringing down everyone else. And man, what a shitty thing to say to a little kid. But we say it all the time. “If you’re going to be like that, you can do it in your room.” ” I just gave you X, why can’t you be grateful.” “Go hug your aunt, she loves you.” We are constantly forcing emotions on our kids that they just aren’t feeling. We’re teaching them SO young that in order to be successful people, they have to pretend to be these tiny little robotic entities that show just how great parents we are. And if they have any “negative” emotions, we are showing our frailty.
The thing that hurts me so much about this, is that the little girl in the movie had her parents to fall back on. Eventually, she fell into their loving arms and released her grief and despair and they accepted it and they were willing to work through her pain as a family. I know so many people who are unable to do that. Either because they feel as though they have no one to unburden themselves to, are because they are simply unable to reveal the fissures in themselves.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Germanwings tragedy from a few weeks back. I can’t seem to let it go. I know my family and friends love me, but in the back of my mind, I linger on the thought: Do they think I am capable of that? I know my husband felt the same way after Sandy Hook. Those people who know he has Aspergers; did they look at him differently now? Even subconsciously? Were they extra careful with their words? More tender when they spoke to him?
Mental health is a serious issue not only here but worldwide. People are sick and because of it, people are DYING. I’m so tired of people being ashamed of their depression, of their loneliness, of their quirks. Talk to someone and get help. Learn to accept that this is a part of who you are. Sometimes there are dark moments, but you don’t have to live there all the time. Tell someone you love what to watch out for so they are aware. I have a team of people who throw lines down to me when I dig myself down too deep.
Stigma will remain until we crush the life out of it. It’s up to us. We can’t change if we don’t talk.