This Is Where It Starts

The first time I tried to explain my depression to family, I was sitting on my bed, hot tears streaming down my face. I wasn’t sad – I was angry.

“I’ve been depressed before…”

But this was different than your depression. Where you overcame your constant sorrow, mine was debilitating and daily functions became a problem. It was like trying to outrun a boulder as it tumbled down a hill. You decided that depression was something everyone dealt with in life, so when I told you about mine, you gave a small shrug and said, “You’ll get over it”.

Some days my blood felt electrified and sleep was no longer necessary. I self medicated with drugs and alcohol because the people I met in life had convinced me that therapy and medication were just some money-hungry concept that left you feeling more empty than when you first started.

Thus, the idea of having a mental illness started poking into my thoughts and reminding me that – if it were true – I must be crazy. I was afraid to admit anything was wrong from that day on. Depression was just a part of life, so who was I to complain?

So I stumbled around in my teenage years and young adulthood, trying to figure out if the whiskey bottle or the drugs would win. Because there is no cure if you stop searching for a solution. I found myself struggling with habits that quickly formed overnight and I never did trust myself with other forms of coping mechanisms. Until I found art.

Now all these irrational thoughts pour out onto the paper and somehow make sense. If I were stripped of my ability to write feelings on paper, I’m positive life would be dull; almost meaningless. It’s a new way of coping I’ve been mastering over the years; a passion that cannot rival any other I have. If you told me I could no longer write, I’d rather be dead.

The Truth About Getting Better

No one ever tells you what really happens after your diagnosis is corrected, and your meds are finally straight. Because you have a smile on your face and you feel invincible; as if nothing wrong ever happened in your life. It was all in your head….

So why do you need these mood stabilizers to keep you leveled? There’s a voice whispering in your ears, claiming that you are no longer dependent on a chemical. Friends and harmless ads are there to remind you, every time they say, “Hopefully you can get off your meds soon.” As a result….

I’ve been off my meds for almost a week. I was fine. At least, that’s what I thought. See, the thing I hate about being Bipolar…is being Bipolar. You try and rationalize all your emotions – I must be angry because of this, I must be sad because I thought about this – but when you ask me what’s wrong, I draw a blank. Because I feel nothing and everything at the same time. In the heat of the moment, it all seems logical. I can take all the candles off the shelf at work and smash them on the floor – and it is okay, because afterwards, I know I’ll feel better. But who does that? The more I think about it, the more anxious I become, and the more anxious I become, the worse my mood swings get and the more frequently they change.

In a matter of 8 hours, I went through five noticeable mood swings. That doesn’t seem like much, but it is destructive in my world. I woke up at 9AM just like anyone else who couldn’t lay down to rest until 3:30AM; I was tired, but forced myself up. I went about my usual routine of getting ready for work with energy I didn’t know I had. The breeze on my skin as I walked to the store was refreshing, and I thought about laying down in the grass until the afternoon sun started burning my skin. By the time I arrived at work, I was irritable. There were too many people around me; too many conversations. Nobody seemed to move quick enough. I wanted to tell everyone to shut up and get the fuck out of the store. But instead, I smiled and told everyone who asked, that I was okay. My anger only intensified as the day went on. By eight o’clock I felt Depression creeping on after a bout of freedom from my emotional Hell. I had no reason to be depressed, I just was. Invasive thoughts of bad memories worked their way around my brain. I felt myself slipping further and further into this black abyss. But I didn’t want to go there, so I reached out to friends, and I stopped falling.

I was back to feeling content. Level. And I realized that I should stay on my meds, even after I feel okay. The thing about having your mental illness under control, is that you begin to think clearly; suddenly you want something that you cannot have. Many people experience depression or mild mood swings, and they can handle life after therapy or simply on their own. Then, there are people like me: Bipolar. People hope that one day you won’t need medication to feel better, that – if you really try and fix your problem – it will eventually go away. Honestly, I’m not going to lie, that’s part of the reason I quit taking my medication. Who wants to have their loved ones – who are supportive – tell you about how they expect you to be off your meds for good one day. This isn’t a cold. You don’t take antibiotics until you feel better. You take this medicine because instead of your brain having 100% Serotonin, your brain is only functioning at 65% on a good day.

The truth about getting better… is that it takes a lot of work and – sometimes – medication.

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