The Hardest Part of Depression is Disappointing the People Around You
It’s a consistent joke between me and friends: I’m about as anti-social as they come and more than content to sit alone in my room for eight hours of a twelve hour day. When I don’t make an appearance to a party or gathering, I still feel the need to fake a ‘real’ illness. There was the time I got food poisoning, the time I had a cold, the time my friend needed my help to move, and many more times with false stories to explain an invisible disease that even I don’t believe in sometimes. Even while it’s happening, I don’t believe it. When, then Monday comes, and I drag myself to work with a smile, I question my experience even more as the fun of being with coworkers who are also friends interrupts the self-imposed isolation momentarily. I soak those moments in; tuck them inside my cheeks like a squirrel so I can remember the love when it feels like I can’t reach it.
I used to wonder why Bipolar is said as though it’s something I am, instead of something I have. Rarely do you hear, “I have Bipolar disorder.” It’s more often than not, “I am Bipolar.” I am. Now, I understand why. I feel like two different people most of the time: Bi. I osculate between those two people wildly. Polar. All the medication in the world doesn’t help me feel normal. At best, it dulls the two extremes so that it’s easier to balance. But along with that maintained balance comes aggressive exhaustion, paired with a duller sense of emotion. Which means my lows are less low but my highs are also less high. Sometimes I think the medicine is helping me to function; sometimes I think the mood swings would be favorable to the white noise of consistency.
Continuing the metaphor of Bipolar disorder personified as two people living within me, medication is like a hollow treaty between them. Most of my life, the two people have been at war. But they were like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr—out to defeat the other but feeling a sense of loss at the lack of rivalry once it’s gone.
Sometimes I want to hit my head against a wall to see if I feel something. To just shock my senses back into my body. Another peculiar side effect of my antidepressant (balanced out with a mood-stabilizer and anti-anxiety, of course) is the spurts of subtle mania that, instead of appearing as a mood swing or emotional upheaval with boundless energy and creativity for a short window of time, seeps out of me in the form of bad spending habits and obsessive tendencies toward random projects or new interests (I was doing my own acrylic nails, ya’ll. ). Then, in my downward swing towards depression, I stop. Hang in mid-air. And look around, frozen. Without meds, I hit the crest of a wave at 60mph and shatter into the ocean. But there’s a release and a weird relief in that explosion. Then, eventually, the shattered bits evaporate, form the clouds of my body, and rain.
As it stands, I am at a standstill. Still being the dominant word. Like an ocean without the moon, my tides aren’t pulling me in and out. Everything is still. The sky is full of stars; I reach out my hand to touch them, and realize I’ll never walk among them. Yet, I’m made of them and so is everything else. And then I think, “that’s nice,” and roll over wishing I could marvel while feeling like marble.