The Dialogue

“You wonder if she has a conscience at all?” This ghost of a girl took her normal post next to him on the bench, smoothing out her skirt.

“It’s one of the biggest questions on my mind and it’s been driving me crazy. This is far from the first time something like this has happened to me but this one just feels so much worse than the others.” His gaze dropped to his shoes and he took a deep breath that gave him away as someone who bore the weight of his sorrows on his shoulders.

“Have you talked to her since…?” She trailed off as if mentioning the event itself might drop him like a right hook to his glass jaw.

“No! No… absolutely not. Such is my dilemma, I guess. She told me she wanted to be friends-”

She cut him off, “She actually told you that?”

“Yes. The real issue for me is that I feel like I was the one who got shafted in this whole ordeal. So, if I’m the first to make contact and tell her I wouldn’t mind being friends I feel like I’d be legitimizing what she did and give the false impression that I don’t care at all that she broke my trust. I don’t trust many people anymore, I just don’t. And when that trust is broken coming back from that should not be my responsibility, should it? I mean, if she actually has a conscience then shouldn’t it strike her in such a way that, while she may be content with where she’s at, she should be sorry for stepping over me to get there? I can’t even begin to comprehend the whole thing but if I’m as important to her as she claimed, enough to stay in contact after she kicked my heart in the ass, then shouldn’t she be the one coming to me in some form of contrition? Aren’t I owed at least that much?” He stood up, took a few steps and stopped to let the question float out on the summer air.

He glanced back. She was sitting forward with her hands on the edge of the bench, clasping it while staring at her crossed legs punctuated with sandals on her feet. She looked like she was absorbing the words he had just sprayed into the air. She was not used to him aerosolizing such invective but was willing to absorb it because that’s most of the reason she was there as far as time as time had allowed her to reveal. To him she was still a specter, an unknown. He didn’t know her and she had not introduced herself. That was important.

“This is the awkward part of these situations. You have to remember the one who is allowed to control the conversation is the one with all the power. So, yes, you would be yielding a lot of healing power and catharsis if you were to engage her in conversation to let her know that she’s important to you as far as friendships are concerned. I think you’d also be opening yourself to a lot of ache as you watch her run around with your, uh… replacement.” She looked at him to check for any emotional response. He was solid, statuesque, and staring off into the landscape of the park into the city street in the distance.

“Yeah. I can’t deal with that right now,” he said. His voice was flat.

“So, maybe you forget about her as best you can and work on you. Don’t hope for any great miracle, just know that if she meant what she said that she’ll make contact. If she doesn’t then it’s her loss. It was her loss in the first place, in my opinion.” She shrugged her shoulders.

He couldn’t see it because he wasn’t looking at her. His head dropped and he put his hands in his pockets. He took another deep breath and exhaled as much negativity as he could. He still had enough stored to last him for quite a while.

“Yeah. Yeah, maybe you’re right.” No affect. As flat as the pavement he stood on.

He started walking back to his apartment, not looking at her as he walked past where she sat. She watched him from the veil of shadows she sat within and didn’t say anything. Sometimes, there are just no more words.

Trust Issues

I think I have some severe trust issues.

Really, I just have a huge problem with asking for help. I’m also really bad at letting people into my world so they know how I’m feeling. I don’t know if maybe it should be obvious to them or what but I have often been told and even just recently that I’m really bad at letting people know how I’m feeling, especially when darkness takes over. But social withdrawal is a symptom of depression so I guess it’s really not my fault now, is it?

Lies.

I could tell you, I could give you pages upon pages of description and dialogue I have with myself when things go dark. I could paint you pictures, put on movies or records that exemplify just how it is I’m feeling. But the one thing i’ve never mastered is the ability to straight out tell someone how I’m feeling that day or that my depression is getting to me or that my anxiety is has me so high strung You could play my tendons like stringed instruments.

Most people don’t know the days where I’m barely holding it together.

Lately that hasn’t been an issue, thankfully. But there have been days.

I ponder the reasons why I don’t share this information with people close to me and mostly it comes down to not wanting to burden people. I know that’s a ridiculous response but when I think of people I want to call or talk to I think of what they’re doing and they’re lives and since I feel like I can’t make heads or tails of what’s going on in my head, how can I take them away from their friends or family. Granted, if they’re good enough friends they shouldn’t care. But it’s something I struggle with.

The other reason that readily comes to mind is an issue of trust. I’ve been dealing with depression for 10 years and the diagnosis of Bipolar II for about six. I did a lot of research on the latter diagnosis and found a lot of data on how stigmatized mental illness is out there in the real world. People will pretend to be okay with it but there’s still discrimination. I know, just in my personal experience, I’ve heard people, off the cuff, say, “Oh, he/she must be bipolar or something”. I try not to take offense to this but it’s difficult.

The worst is when people you trusted use it against you. I realize that’s a danger even of this blog because it is open to the public and so anyone can see it. I had (past tense) a friend who found out I called him a drama queen and so I got three voice mails that were nothing but him insulting me and in the end he told me I better not blame it on “Being Bipolar, or whatever”.

So, I have some trust issues.

But there’s a catch to that. I know myself well enough to know when something is really wrong and I need to talk to someone or get help. If you are suffering, as someone with lots of experience in this area, I would urge you to please seek help from someone. I have a lot of baggage that I am working through and am seeking help professionally and from people I trust. I also seek comfort in prayer when I remember to.

Do not go at this alone.

I am Not

August 17, 2012

I’ve been called a lot of things, good and bad, throughout the years. I’ve come to realize that a lot of this doesn’t matter. A recent trip to a new psychiatrist after having been failed too many times by my last one had me thinking.

I am not my diagnosis.

That is, to say, I am not defined by it. I am not bound to the title of Bipolar II as some sort of abstract definition or a list of symptoms. These things do not tell me who I am and they do not dictate my behavior. I am not limited by the confined diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV TR, nor am I confined by the deductions of a medical doctor of any kind, no matter how intelligent and well-versed they are in their practice. These things do not tell me who I am. I don’t think about them when making decisions or writing these blogs or going through any other portion of the creative process.

I am not the medication I take. I am not the Viibryd, the Lithium Carbonate, the Clonazepam, or the metoprolol. I am not under some sort of mind control nor am I a zombie as part of the side effects of these medications. They do not steal away my personality or my mind, they do not sequester it nor do they alter it. They do not tell me what to do. The misconception is that if you’re medicated for a mood disorder you’re giving up part of yourself in the process or, at least, that’s the reaction I’ve gotten from some people, even those who share the same diagnosis as I.

After having removed from my regimen a medication that stabilized my mood I can tell you that is what it did. And when it was gone, I destabilized for a time before coming back to a sense of equilibrium. But I was still me.

I think people limit themselves or hide themselves behind labels as a means to hide what they feel is their true self because they are afraid or unsure of how the world will react to who they are. This isn’t limited to mental illness. And I know what this is like because it’s something I struggle with all the time. It was only until recently that I only showed my full, true, self only to people I trusted because I knew they wouldn’t use it against me. But something broke in the last few weeks and now I find myself caring less and less about people trying to define me by what they see.

Now I try to define me for them. And it’s a lot more fun to do it my way.

I am probably not who you, or a lot of people, think I am. Here I am just words on a screen but I try to represent myself honestly and openly in hopes that you’ll get it.

I am not my diagnosis. I am not my medications.

I am a child of God. I am a fierce one for the underdog. And I will answer almost any question you ask me.

I am an anomaly.

Trip the trigger

August 6, 2012

Professionals will tell you that mood swings in Bipolar II patients are set off by some sort of trigger. One of my professors, a counselor by trade, described it as an overreaction to emotional stimuli. Most of the time, I would have to agree with that description.

But I have yet to find a trigger for my depression.

Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more down and a lot of it has to do with my depression. One particular night I was feeling down and was extremely tired. Someone very dear to me was kind enough to call me rather than our usual texts (though the reason escapes me as I was feeling somewhat level at that point). But as the conversation grew it became more and more apparent that i was breaking down.

I tried to be strong but she’s very perceptive, even over the phone.

She noticed a shift in my breathing and asked me if I was okay. This just sent everything into overdrive. I can distinctly remember a point in the conversation where I was just staring at the ceiling in such emotional agony that I didn’t think the moment would ever end. That’s the great lie of depression, you know? That the misery, the sadness, the pain will never end. It takes time.

And sometimes it just takes talking about it with someone.

But I’m a seasoned veteran with this kind of thing. I’ve talked to a lot of people about my depression and how deep it can get and some have even been there for it. They never looked at me or talked to me the same. So, I’m often wary about letting people know that I’m hurting even if I trust them because I’m afraid it’ll burden them and their lives, they’ll never understand, they’ll never treat me the same again or they’ll just never want to talk to me again.

But God bless her, she’s stuck with me. And I hope she knows how much that means to me because I’m not sure that I can put it into words, at least not adequately enough to put here. Blessed are those who don’t try to fix that which is meant to be broken.