The Other Side of Depression
Is that you "Mania"?
I found this piece in one of my journals from a couple of years ago and reworked it. Just because someone is diagnosed as bipolar does not mean that there aren't varying levels of the disorder. Some people can go for years without an episode of either depression or mania - but that doesn't mean they don't experience the normal ups and downs the same as everyone else. The main fear is that these would develop into an "episode". The movement to "Destigmatize Mental Illness" is just that - uninformed or mis-educated people are sometimes too easily freaked out and think that everyone with a certain mental illness reacts the same way or can be lumped into the same room because they all basically present with the same symptoms. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Just overhearing that someone has a mental illness, causes people to take three steps back and make sure they never take the same elevator. Or they want to say hi and have a light conversation just to see if they can "tell" and report their findings. I've overheard these conversations, and being one of "them" I never really thought it was anyone's business if my employer knew about it and I'm not a threat to anyone.
Everyone has feelings. The worst part about being bipolar is having to ask yourself when you are upset is "am I too upset?" or if you are down "am I depressed or down" and is there another reason?" And when I'm happy, can I just be happy and excited like I've always been or does everyone have to think I'm manic? I'm tired of being analyzed if I'm anything other than pleasant. I have always been passionate in my feelings...if I am just pleasant, then something is wrong. Once your friends and family have seen you through something major, how do you get them to look at you normally again? When do you get to feel normal again? You know it isn't their fault, but does that mean it has to be yours? When does the playground go back to being fun again?
Am I happy or Is that the Mad Hatter???
This piece was written back when I was still working. It's about being really happy but fearing that it might be mania. When you are someone who gradually goes into mania, and you don't have destructive habits like drugs or alcohol (others are just as destructive), and you are able to keep your job...you are in a full blown episode before you or anyone notices. It's scary.
Mania, is that you on the horizon or just happiness?
It’s so hard to tell and I don’t trust my own judgment anymore,
Not after the diagnosis.
What I wouldn’t give to be normal sometimes – yet what would I give?
I don’t know where I end and the disorder begins.
Life is good right now and I am feeling good
My choices have been good and I feel strong
I’ve taken on more and it was gradual, I say “was” because it is past tense
It doesn’t feel so gradual anymore now that most of what I’ve taken on has arrived.
Changes have taken place and I’m in a new space
I like the world around me, yet pieces of it still seem out of place
Not the new pieces, the old pieces
Not all of them, just some of them
But I’m beginning to get that feeling again of falling behind.
I want to succeed, to keep up the pace
I want to stay on top of my game
The old voice comes back, yet from where it emanates, I still haven’t a clue.
The one that says, “They know.”
“They know what?” You ask?
That I am unsure of myself, afraid of failing, lack confidence in my own abilities and am so afraid that you will notice that I’m not as good as you think I am.
I’m just masquerading in your world as another ordinary person.
It’s a fluke that I even got this far, someone let me in when the guards weren’t looking.
I try like hell to keep up with the crowd, I’m so afraid of being found out.
I try twice as hard as everyone else to blend in, to keep up the charade.
I don’t want to go back to feeling like nothing, to being discarded, but I also don’t want to keep working this hard.
I really want to escape when I’m on top of the game.
I want to take these wonderful feelings and accomplishments and fly away with them to a world full of gardens and eternal sunshine where the darkness can never touch me again.
I want to soar into the air on the wings of love and life and happiness and never feel worthless or like a burden again.
I want to find that magic key to the kingdom where I can live as the fairy I was – more spirit than body, not tied down by neuroses and synapses.
If only they didn’t clip my wings...