“IT’S all in your head. Just focus on the positives.” “Smile and try to be happy.” If you live with any mental illness, then you have likely heard these comments before. Although the person saying them is just trying to be positive and kind, you know as well as I do this advice does not always work.
I feel guilty every day I struggle with bipolar disorder. There are some days when I am on top of the world. I feel like I can do any and everything. On those days, I like to get out. But I know those days are limited for me.
My ‘highs’ come in spurts, while my ‘lows’ tend to linger longer than I would like. I push through them long enough to be at work and talk to the people I have to talk to. However, once 5pm hits I have finished work and collected my daughter from school, I go home and I shut off to the world.
Most days, I sit at my kitchen table thinking of all the plans I’ve cancelled because I couldn’t bring myself to do them, all of the things I’ve done or said that have hurt the people I’m closest to.
Then, I think of all of the times I didn’t see my friends because avoiding them is easier than answering a million questions. “Why are your eyes so dark?” “Have you been sleeping?” “Have you been feeling well?” “What is new?”
Even though the questions are genuine concern and interest, no answer I give will ever be the right one. Then comes the guilt. I can lie and tell them I have been fine, I have a headache or I just tossed and turned all night.
When in fact, I haven’t slept properly in days. I have been crying for hours over absolutely nothing. I feel like my world is falling apart around me. But which is worse? Protecting them from the truth or making them worry about me to the point they lose sleep and my mental health consumes their every thought? Either way is a losing battle.
I did not choose this life. This life chose me. It crept in and overtook my every thought. It has left me feeling lonely and in the dark. How there is no light at the end of this dark tunnel. Even at my loneliest, I know there is an army of people standing beside and behind me ready to catch me when I fall or hold my hand through this. No matter how comforting that is, I still feel so guilty. I feel guilty that people I love and who love me, have to see me at my lowest.
I feel guilty for the sleepless nights and constant fear I may one day completely lose myself. I feel guilty for the burden I feel I am. I feel guilty that the ones I love have never considered me that burden. I feel guilty I have this wonderful life, so full of love, and I am still so sad sometimes, most of the time. I feel guilty I have to force a smile that should come so naturally.
When I am at my ‘high,’ I feel great. This makes me feel guilty because I have made so many worry about me when I was enduring my ‘low.’ My mind is at a constant battle with itself. So even when I’m happy, as high as the clouds, that guilty voice is always close. Sometimes, looking in the mirror, I can even see her, looking back at me with those dark eyes.
Love Ms Bipolar X