Because You Asked Me What It’s Like
Late nights in bed staring at the swirls in the ceiling, wondering if you’ll get at least 3 hours of sleep tonight, if this is a side effect of the medication, if there will ever be enough chemically unaltered “me” left to feel like myself again, or if “myself” is a painful, cruel myth I’m never allowed to keep again.
Late nights in the ER waiting room staring at lawn-seeding infomercials, knowing that most hospitals are ill-equipped to handle a mental crisis, but can’t escape the lingering feeling that everyone thinks you’re faking and wants you to “walk it off”. Why am I waiting in a plastic chair just to be chastised as a drug seeker or a drama queen?
Late nights in the shower watching your palms turn from purple to yellow and back again, feeling your pulse triple in your throat, your breathing becomes labored, and you swear you’re feeling your blood flow through you for the last time, and you embrace saying goodbye.
There are mornings of shame, waking after a long night of some stupid illogical battle until 5 am, knowing words spilled from your mouth you can never take back. Wondering if you’ll ever be able to sustain a genuine human connection longer than three months, or worse, feeling like the other person is merely staying out of guilt/pity/laziness/convenience/ulterior motives… all of which poison your soul with bitterness, pushing them away or clinging on for dear life.
Mornings when you can’t get out of bed because the thought of the “get ready get going get moving get productive get home get responsible get relaxed, lather, rinse, repeat” gimmick was too much yesterday, last week, last month, last year… and it’s not getting any less exhausting.
Mornings that aren’t mornings but rather days stuck together by jitters, anxiety, caffeine, a stick of gum and a prayer, punctuated by awkward laughter and a bunch of under-eye concealer.
That “fourth date” conversation when you feel obligated to share your diagnosis, and then the death-grip you have on your phone, ready for it to buzz with “this is moving too quickly” or any other throw-away line we’ve all heard when you sprinted away as fast as your feet and thumbs could carry you.
Medication adjustments. Medication mishaps, ill-fated skipped doses and every heartbreaking backfire.
Self medicating with your own cocktail of (speed me up/slow me down/laser focus my brain/jumpstart my feeble creativity/help me numb my days with a fuzzy camera lens) and crashing into a brick wall of silence and ringing ears with a face full of gooey tears, pleading for a way to cease my cyclone mind.
We’re stretching ourselves past yesterday’s limit every time we brush our teeth, do our laundry, sing in the car, and shake hands with an unfamiliar face. Our triumphs consist of a month of keeping a religious medication schedule, greeting a dog you’re sickly afraid of and maybe even going to see your grandmother more than once a year.
If you can smile through it, you’re fighting the battle of the day-to-day with a sharpened sword and a notebook in your back pocket to keep you honest.
And sometimes, it feels like you’re soaring over a glass-calm lake with your arms back and your toes dragging, plunged through the surface. And sometimes, this is scarier than any crippling lethargy you’ll ever experience.
So you slept with a few (dozen) too many people. So you took a few (dozen) too many drugs in your time. So you quit a few (dozen) too many jobs and people and whimsical interests. So you bought a few (dozen) too many pairs of shoes. So you punched a few (dozen) too many sheets of drywall. So you took a few (dozen) too many compromising photos… It’s all a ditch we’ve dug ourselves, we all have to face the music eventually. Shake off your dingy dust and shine up your elbows. Open your chest to empathy and keep those self-sabotage habits at bay… at least for today.
It’s a burden for sure, we’re all human after all… we’re just amplified.
Jennifer, 28, is a makeup artist and an aspiring writer. She was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 at 15 years old. Jen is currently gathering a collection of all the wild stories she’s participated in. It’s totally NSFW.
Jennifer can be found on Twitter.