Today was a better day. I managed to get dressed. This is for the first time in about four weeks. I also managed to have a shower, this also is for the first time in about four weeks. I can almost feel the cringe people must feel from me going onto a public blog and admitting to the whole world that I, a fully grown mother with responsibilities has not showered, or changed my clothes in a month. Or brushed my hair. Or eaten more than a bowl of Weetabix in one day. I have not left my house in a month. I have actively avoided talking to friends or family. I have countless messages, emails and texts that I have not replied to. I have seen they are there, but had nothing to say. Well nothing to say that would not have dragged my loved ones down with me.
Welcome to the depression side of Bipolar. I’ll give you the guided tour. It’s not a glamourous affliction that people claim to have, to join in a trend they see among certain people to emulate celebrities. It is not a flippant remark when you’ve had a bad day, because your car won’t start and your boss is a bit of a dick. It’s not when a bad day turns good and then bad again, and you see people laugh ‘Oh I am so Bipolar’. It’s not when your jeans won’t do up after Christmas and you moan to your friends, ‘oh I’m so depressed my jeans won’t fit, I’d rather kill myself than go up a size’. It’s all engulfing misery, and numbness, and darkness. You have no energy, you are so tired all the time, that even changing your clothes feels like a marathon. You don’t care what you look like, or smell like, or that the world keeps spinning and bills need paying, and life goes on. Because for you it doesn’t. It stops. The biggest wish you have is that it would stop for good. That there is an end to this feeling of hopelessness. Forever. Depression is the mortal reality of hell on earth. The closest thing an Atheist gets to experiencing purgatory. It’s also the most self indulgent thing on earth. Because you can’t see past your own misery. You can’t consider the needs and feelings of other people, because you can barely give proper care to yourself.
J.K Rowling in her description of the Dementors in Harry Potter representing her depression was close to how I find it. Depression does suck out your soul, and your hope, and you feel like you’ll never feel happy again. Life is in black and white, muted with no sound and you can’t see the colour or hear the music anymore. TV programmes that make you laugh don’t, you can’t find joy in your children laughing or getting 10 out of 10 on their spellings, however much you might want to, because to you there is no joy in the world. Then you feel like the worlds shittiest mother on top. I have lost count of the amount of times over the holidays when I have looked at my children, and thought you deserve better than me. You didn’t ask for me as a mother. My biggest wish for them is that they get to 18 without me fucking them up too much, but hey I suppose that a wish most parents share. Or at least the honest ones anyway.
This is what I have been going though. Over Christmas of all times. A time when the kids laughing and getting excited is what I live for. Yet I could barely stay awake. I dreaded it, because the safe haven of my house, was not safe. Because I knew I would have visitors, and I knew that I would have to put on half a pretence that I’m ok. Fake a smile, try desperately to find the energy to talk and find conversation. Hope they understand what I’m saying because the joys of an increase in medication is the slurring, and loss of concentration. This is most fun when you are half way through a sentence and you forget what you are saying, so you just stand there and stare, and hope the person you have been talking to has followed enough of what you said to finish your own sentence off for you.
Today has been a better day. I am awake, I am showered, dressed, and almost human looking. Well as close as I get to looking like a paid up member of the human race, my hair covers my red horns, my scales are back under my skin and my usual resting bitch face is back. Which I have regardless of mood. I am just one of these people who even in a daydream has a face like Katie Hopkins at a weight watchers meeting. My youngest daughter said something earlier and I laughed. I cant remember the last time I properly laughed. I text some of my friends back and tried to brush over the fact I have been M.I.A for weeks now. At times I can be the shittiest friend going. I duck out at times when they need me. Instead of being honest and admitting how bad things have been, I try and brush over it and tell them I’ve been busy. Because the only thing worse than people knowing I have Bipolar, is me admitting I very rarely have my shit together. Like admitting I have bad days makes me dangerous to be around. My biggest fear is people thinking that because I’ve been unwell I’m not safe around their kids. I’ve experienced that before, being told I wasn’t invited to a wedding because I was recovering from an depressive episode and the unenlightened bride thought I could be a risk to kids ‘until her medication has settled’.
When I am depressed I sleep a lot. So the latest thing is that I am lazy. I take regular digs from people about always being asleep, ‘shes so lazy, all she does it sleep, its so selfish, don’t bother texting her shes still in bed’. I laugh it off, but its about time I give my head a wobble. Because the truth of it is, this is cowardice on my part. Preferring people to think you are lazy, than admit you are mentally unwell, and that, combined with the side effects of your medication is why you sleep. I hate the stigma surrounding mental health, but I enforce it.
Which brings me rather neatly to the title of my blog, ‘life lessons from a lunatic’. Given the amount of new year resolutions I have watched people make that have already gone to the barren wasteland of broken promises, I haven’t made any. Well I made one, which was to never make any. You don’t need a date to tell you to change what you don’t like in your life. If you know what it is that makes you unhappy then change it, it doesn’t need to be January for that to happen. My Bipolar makes me unhappy and there is no cure for it, so its here to stay. But I can change how I feel about my condition, even if I live with its symptoms. I have Bipolar, I’m not Bipolar. I’m not a victim but a patient. Its nothing to be ashamed of, so I’ll stop acting like I am ashamed. But instead of saying it, I’m going to do it.
This blog is the start. I’ll be honest about how much of an impact it has on me. Rather than lie when I say, ‘I have Bipolar, but I haven’t had an episode in years’, or ‘Don’t worry if its bad, I just sleep’, or joke about having more medication than Boots, or that I would probably get away with murder because I’m Bipolar and watch as people laugh at a joke I made about something that isn’t funny. Because that minimising, minimises me every time I do it. I have lived with this condition for decades. I was only diagnosed in 2010, but I can remember feeling suicidal at 12. I tell others all the time ‘its ok to not be ok’ but I’m going to take my own advice and stop lying. Stop lying about why I haven’t responded to people, why I am not dressed, why I don’t want to go out, why I’m avoiding things/people, that I’m ok, have my shit together at all times, I’m super mum, super wife, super student. Its taken years for me to realise having Bipolar is just another layer. It doesn’t stop me being intelligent, or capable, or likeable, or a good person. I need to finally accept it.
This isn’t just unique to me or having Bipolar. Accepting your faults I think is the key to changing them. So you’re partial to a biscuit or ten, and like me, you are building an arse the size of a small tank. So what. The number on the scales isn’t going to tell you how much your family loves you, or how good you are at your job, how despite what you think about your weight, you actually have good cheekbones, or nice hair, or nice skin. It’s a part of you. You can change your weight, but change how you feel about yourself at the same time. Don’t punish yourself for your faults, reward your efforts to change them. So you ate 7 Jaffa cakes when you originally went in the fridge for a salad. (Shock horror, I don’t care what anyone says, I would rather eat gravel than salad some days, not just any gravel, gravel the neighbours cat had pissed on gravel). You stopped eating before you got to 10 Jaffa cakes. Tomorrow you might only eat 5. Small manageable changes, just stay committed. If you have off days, you have off days. Make your most important change to be kinder to yourself, the rest will follow. I will also be trying this so I’m not being all cheesy meme, we can all hate doing it together.
You hate your job (who doesn’t, working is rarely fun, unless you have a job on Top Gear, or are James Corden who spends his life singing, driving badly and nearly knocking celebs out with his arm gestures). It’s not like you can just stop doing it. But why do you hate it – your boss is a dick, it’s boring, you don’t like your loud smelly colleagues, the pay is shit, the customers are horrible (the saying the customer is always right, missed off ‘and usually a complete tosser’ at the end). Some folk have the joy of all that being true. Change it. Think about changing your job, retrain, spray your colleagues discreetly with Lynx, smile sweetly at said customers whilst imaging drop kicking them in the head, its not illegal if it stays in your imagination. Reward yourself with something small for every day you manage without committing mass murder. Then plan small ways to change it. But be kind to yourself. Accept that unless you like cardboard boxes and your local park, rent/mortgages have to be paid. It’s ok to hate your job, its not ok to do nothing about it.
So I’ve rambled on for nearly 2000 words. If only essays were as easy as random blog posts. I’ll keep you updated with how I get on, I promise with shorter updates. And more showers, less self pity and a bit more humour.
Laura 🙂 x