EXPLAINING MANIC DEPRESSION TO MY LOVED ONES:
Manic Depression is very difficult to live with –both to suffer from it, or to be affected by it. It also comes with a stigma, which those with Manic Depression feel forced to wear like a shame they have to conceal. Had we been afflicted by a socially acceptable illness such as diabetes, we would simply say: I have diabetes. And everyone would become sympathetic, and ask what type we have and how we are coping and if there is anything they could do to help us? But we don’t have a PHYSICAL illness. We have a MENTAL illness, so we cannot just say: I have Manic Depression. Because then people are scared of us, not sympathetic towards us.
So, what does Manic Depression feel like?
Some of the time, it feels like nothing. My emotions are relatively neutral, and I can adjust to and function in the same environment as any ‘normal’ human being could.
But then at other times, it isn’t so neutral. It is a little happier. I want to say a bit more when in conversation, stay out a while longer when socialising and interact more openly when in crowds.
Until suddenly I am a LOT happier. I don’t want to keep quiet; I garrulously speak a mile a minute and want to mingle with every single person whose path I cross, engage everyone in frivolous small talk or deeply intimate heart-to-hearts…
I want to go EVERYWHERE
And do ALL OF THE THINGS
all of the time!
Everything I do is spontaneous, and very impetuous. I make impulsive decisions, I act without inhibition…
And make extravagant plans for events in the future.
I look great. I feel great. I do great. I probably am great!!
I am a well of strength to all of those around me, and spread a seemingly infinite source of love and encouragement to everyone that I encounter.
I have the most fantastic ideas, and enough stamina to start any project that I put my mind to…
Which works out fantastically, because I cannot sleep at night so I have PLENTY of time to finish any and everything, right…?
Until I slowly stop wanting to do anything. At all. Anywhere. For any reason.
I communicate much less, and replace long nights out with endless days in, confined alone in my bed.
My well of love and support has run dry…
And it feels like I have fallen into the bottom of it.
Everything is dark and cramped and constricting,
And I am mostly alone with my own thoughts
But I WANT to be this way.
Both mind and body are destroyed from my mental fall, and don’t want to get up, nor change out of these pajamas. They’ve accepted me as their own. And all I need right now is to be accepted.
Maybe I eat a whole cake at once
Maybe I eat nothing at all
Maybe I shower
I probably won’t
All I know is, I may have had the stamina to run a marathon last week,
And I may have made well-meaning plans –
BUT I CAN’T FOLLOW THROUGH WITH ANY OF THAT TODAY.
And I might not be able to tomorrow, either.
In fact, I might not be able to for quite a while…
But eventually, I will be neutral again.
And then manic, too.
And depressed once more.
All that I ask… And all that we need…
Is that you try to understand. And if you cannot understand,
At the very least
LOVE US THROUGH IT ALL, ANYWAY ❤
On The Days That I Cannot Get Out Of Bed:
I’m cold inside, but my bed offers the illusion of warmth. It will not infuse my bones and my blood will remain reptilian: Jack Frost has not simply nipped at my nose. His touch has violated me, it has burrowed through my flesh and pulsed through my veins until I myself have become Ice.
On the days that I cannot get out of bed, food feels like a nemesis that my teeth are in no position to battle, my tongue too weary from words unsaid to even pretend. And so, in liquid states I ingest only -and barely -what I need to keep me alive… But I always wonder: what I am trying to stay alive for, anyway?
On the days that I cannot get out of bed, my closet remains untouched as each clean garment lays folded precisely in place -and I? I bask in the putrid glory of pyjamas that cling to my skin in a disgusting display of three-day-old sweat, their sleeves crusted with snot and my chest stained with the remnants of a meal that did not quite make it to my mouth.
On the days that I cannot get out of bed, my mouth seals itself in a strike of silence and I wonder if anyone knows how grateful they ought to be? For I haven’t cleansed myself in as long as I haven’t felt like myself. My unwashed hair glistens as though it could provide a fast food restaurant with enough grease to operate the entire franchise, and my eyes are gummed with what the Sandman is working overtime to deliver -gifts that bring only nightmares, never dreams.
On the days that I cannot get out of bed, I wonder what it would feel like not to ever have to get up again? The blankets swathe me in their surety of safety from any external hardships, yet nothing can undo the pounding pessimism that wraps itself around my own internal being -strangling all that makes me who I am. I wonder if the inside of my coffin will be the comfortable haven my bed is not? I wonder how soon I will get there…
Lately my body has begun to fail me. It has derailed with my mind in a pitiful downward spiral that is the ever – present battle of Manic Depression -and today, I am more Depressed than Manic.
And so on this day, I cannot get out of bed.
Most people have an expectation of what their ideal partner would be like. Usually these notions are ideals imprinted through Disney childhoods or classic novelists, through parental impressions or media propaganda. Seldom does our idea of the ideal companion come from who we are and what we want, it is usually a combination of factors with our Ultimate Truth barely making the equation.
In my case, the few essential qualities selected have started to appear less like ideal characteristics and more like intentional confinement. The average person will have an idea of what it is they are seeking, a basic list of traits from which they will not be swayed, but the more intricate items will be overlooked when love comes their way. A few crooked teeth and a different career path are gladly forgotten when the Italian artist smiles as he sweeps the Russian-loving businesswomen off her feet, and yet I seem to have such an unrealistic outlook that I have started to recognise it for what it is on a subconscious level –an excuse masquerading as a standard.
So impossible is my list that it is dubious whether such a person could exist anywhere other than in ink and imagination. It starts with a desire for a specific eye color, which I am convinced my heart can only beat for. So staunch am I in my convictions that I have yet to envision anything other than that colour, and tell myself it is because the iris is the only physical asset that remains the same when all else changes. But then it is also his profession, refusing to believe I could be compatible with those in certain industries, and placing a biased belief on all men in certain sectors -thus completely ruling them out. But I take it a step further still by believing they must be native English speakers, for so strong is my need to explore and express with another that the thought of having a barrier between complete connection is instantly unsettling. Further still, and the man I am with needs to be in touch with his emotional side as stone cold logic would not bode with my fluctuating emotional current. In fact, not just an emotional side -there needs to be damage, and more moderate than mild. Plain down fucked up could be just the ticket. In addition to this he needs just the right mix of characteristics -lacking in one of the traits I deem most imperative is an immediate dismissal, as if I myself am not made of good intentions that never manifest. Most importantly we need to connect, a bond so strong it would feel as if it the comet that struck the earth and took out an entire damned species couldn’t compete. And on top of that, he’s got to…
He’s got to not exist, because if he exists I may let him in, and if I let him in he may stay, and if he stays I may get used to him being there, and if I get used to him being there he may go, and if he goes it may hurt… And if it hurts I’ll have to heal. Again.
Dear Kat: What Life Is Like Now That You Are Gone
It’s absurd how often I think about you now that you are gone; every casual conversation we ever had an exchange of words I did not realise would cement themselves in the place you no longer are.
Your passing apprised me with the fragility of human existence, and the profound impact interactions could have well after their moment had ceased to be anything more than recollections.
A million words are incoherently strewn in my brain, wishing to string themselves together and sound out like notes to your ears, to fill you with the Love that is owed to all who live -not only to those who have left us behind. I view the warmth of affection as a blanket of selfishness I swaddled myself in, and feel myself imploding with the knowledge that I can no longer infuse you with emotions.
If our true human connections were to be viewed as a single piece of jewelry, then your place around my wrist would have been a sparkling gem I did not pay attention to until your casing was without stone. Now all I see is the empty space in which nothing will ever fit as appropriately, a vacant gap as dull as the darkness that blinded you and a thousand words remain unspoken…
-except the air hears them all: the unoccupied car seat as I barrel along the highway with a melody that chokes of your memory, the way I envision you in my room when all I can think about is how there is no elegant way to describe death, nor the loss of the companions you learn to love along the way and my God I hope you know I loved you…
And thank you. The little pieces of yourself that you have left behind are enough to help feel closer to you whenever there is a lacking; the way you laid yourself out was a patchwork manner in which we could piece you together when we no longer knew where to look for you. With the haze of hurt slowly subsiding, and the reality of a life without you settling in your words become clearer, your truth becomes louder…
Yet still it is as if every memory I access ties itself to you, and of a multitude of neural fragments yours stab the sharpest until you are a migraine I do not want to be rid of. It would be me who fell to my knees now, if only I could see you! Neither of us recognised the importance of your existence when your lungs still took air, in death you embody all that it means to have taken things for granted. You were an inspiration in the most subtle way, that our very conversations encouraged entire poetic pieces without me ever attributing the significance to who you were to me. In hindsight, my writings have rarely ever taken shape without tragedy. How ironic then, that we find ourselves here. Do I find you here?
Too many of the things I love have chords of you hidden in the tune, speaking through the lyrics and so I no longer know how to listen without hearing you. Yet lately Kat, it seems evermore to me that this life is beautiful: it feels as though I have gone through chrysalis to emerge with wings that you will never see in flight, and I only wonder how bright your wings would have been had you envisioned the darkness as encasing a beginning rather than the cocoon of a curse. Oh, my Skittles! Sometimes I taste the rainbow, and only hope that you have found the pot of gold at The End… ♥