We’re coming up to the birthday that I half-heartedly joked I’d never make when I was 19- I am 29 years old this week… the big 30 next year!
Most people struggle through their mid-twenties, trying to find their career, the love of their lives, the right home, and the right friends. I’ve struggled to find the will to carry on fighting an uphill battle, instead.
I ‘should’ be happy, or so I’m told. I have a fantastic family, a good job and I live in the sunshine. I have good days and bad days. But the bad days seem to roll into one at the moment with no end in sight. The lows feel inescapable, though. It’s like walking through thick tar.
You can see the end of the road, but it feels impossible to reach it. Each step takes an inordinate amount of effort and each moment you’re stuck in the thick, sticky, black darkness, you feel yourself sinking lower and lower. There are warning signs. It’ll start with a nagging feeling of frustration, for me. Frustrated with the pace of life, frustrated with my home, frustrated with the food I eat, the body. And then it builds bigger and bigger – a kind of inescapable fog, clouding my thoughts and not letting me sleep.
Before I know it, I’m stuck in the deep black tar of a low and imagining cracks spreading across ceilings. Ideas- ideas and ideas keep popping into my head, they can be grandiose or, like mine, subtle, like watercolour paint mixing on a palette. They’re a lot less frightening when you realise what they are – just an overabundance of particular chemicals in your mind, tricking your head into over analysing every signal you have picked up.
When I am happy, I will happily cook, bake, paint, laugh, joke, create, write and passionately debate almost anything. I will dance around the room and screech along to my favourite songs.
When I’m not happy, I withdraw completely into myself and become a determined introvert. I don’t wish to do anything, and the effort of doing something is crucifying intense. The problem is, it’s not a black and white kind of situation. When I’m sad, it’s not like everything ceases to amuse me. When I’m happy, it’s not like the world doesn’t occasionally bore me.
So. 29. The age I never thought I’d reach. Never really wanted to reach.
There are signs – as I’d known all along but never really wished to entertain – that I’m not going to get better. This is the long haul. Up, down, in never-ending succession, for the rest of my days. It’s exhausting, you know?
And I think the most troubling part is that even now, nearly 20 years after I realised I was different from the rest, and 9 years after I was officially diagnosed, the world is still deeply distrustful of anyone with a mental illness. Is she reliable? Can we count on her? Will she let us down last minute? Wonder what her mood will be like today?
So I think it’s safe to say Bipolar at 19 and Bipolar at 29 have two things in common;
1) Loneliness in my diagnosis
2) That the world is still not quite ready to be accommodating of bipolar (or perhaps, any mental illness).
Love Ms Bipolar x