Image by Capture The Dog Photography
I used this image because I felt it truly represented how I feel when the crushing depression takes over.
From as far back as as my childhood, this is what I yearned for – to be that scene. To be those trees – standing proud having someone come along, sit on that seat and enjoy my company without wanting anything from me. Sometimes people would talk to me, even hug me. Other times we could be non verbal and just know that we are connecting on a deep level.
But then some would come and piss on me or chop me down. That’s what it’s like for me sometimes. I feel connected and then I feel disconnected from everyone and everything.
My bipolar buddy doesn’t want things to stay the same. She wants constant attention. She sometimes leads me to awesome experiences and at other times sits me on my arse unable to function properly.
This is when I push people away, become non-responsive and find things to blame for how I am feeling. What is interesting though it’s at these times I am also able to see people as they really are. I have time to reflect on past experiences and can and do dissect them.
I see when people have used me. I see where people have dismissed my mental illness. I see where I have been dismissive and I see where I am ‘unreachable’. The thing is, the people I know who are now aware of my mental health, do not at all understand what it is like – except the ones with a mental illness themselves.
I have kept many things to myself over the years – things I have found out about where so called friends have bitched about me and my mental state – calling me a nut-job, attention seeker and simply too much. There’s only one message to those people. Fuck you very much.
I have two friends who are in daily contact with me via text messages. One who lives a few streets away. His name is Om (true) and he also loves me unconditionally. He is also most likely schizophrenic as he thinks my mania means I am the most awesome creator. He is very ‘spiritual in the woo woo way’ and I love him with all my heart. He will turn 80 this year so is decades older than me but we know each other inside out – all the secrets, the light and the dark. He respects my boundaries of not cold calling me at home – meaning not show up at my front door without permission. That gives me a panic attack. He sometimes says inappropriate things and we either debate about it or if I am offended I let it go and forgive him because I know he never means to intentionally hurt me.
My other friend who contacts me almost daily is Donna. We have known each other since our daughters were two years old. They are now in their twenties.
Donna has dealt with her own demons since childhood and while she hasn’t experienced the kind of mania and psychosis I have – she totally understands the ramifications. She too has experienced the bone numbing depression, the hyper mania, the anxiety and the low self esteem. Interestingly, she is also on the positive side of the statistics that show these kind of mental illness’s improve as we get older. I am happy for her because who wants to see a friend suffer? As the luck of the draw would have it, I have gotten much worse. I still have hope though.
Donna sends me little gifts even though I don’t expect them and she also texts me and knows me well enough to be able to ascertain if I am up, down or in the danger zone. My mum and I are going to Victoria in eleven days and will be catching up with her. That is something I am looking forward to – I still don’t have to pretend with her – even on holidays.
I also have one son who checks in weekly to see how I am doing. He just let’s me know he loves me and misses me. In fact we’re going to visit him tomorrow. I will be drugged (legally) and ready to face the day – because that’s what I have to do to face some days outside.
Of course, I also have a wonderful husband who does everything he can to support me. My daughter also sits with me through thick and thin, as I do with her when she is suffering (social phobia/anxiety). My mum whom I care for full time also understands and we just figure out things that best serve both of us as we go along. We have honest talks about each others needs and wants.
So back to the picture above – I am that tree. We can share moments, I can stand tall for you. I can offer you my leaves when I have nothing left. All you can do is choose to sit there with me or piss on me. It’s your choice.