“Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much – so very much to learn.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath
You know, having bipolar disorder is bad enough, but there are times in which I feel that people near to me (co-workers, family members, friends) get sick and tired of dealing with me/my disorder. There seem to be certain instances where this occurs with more frequency, such as if I have been stuck on a thought, a person or an action and can’t seem to disconnect from it. This, I feel, is more of an Obsessive-Compulsive issue but does fall in line with my behavior while in a hypomanic or mixed state. I understand that as difficult as it is for me, it must be incredibly painful (read – boring, inconvenient or uninteresting) for these people to continue to be my presence, much less to be my friend. I can be incredibly moody, with or without medication and I think that sort of wears on people, too. I do my best to watch for visual cues to tell me when the active listener becomes the bored non-listener. There are a couple of people that I can actually see the moment when they disconnect, close their ears and just keep up the head-nodding. There may as well be a sign hanging from their head saying “Vacancy” – they have left the proverbial building. But as soon as I ask about how their day is going, the lights come back on, the eyes brighten and the stream of chatter begins. I do my best to not tune them out, try to actually listen to what they are saying and more importantly, what they are not saying. That’s where I find the most interesting things, in what is not said. A friend can go on and on about how she loves her husband/boyfriend/lover, how he does all these great things for her, but she never mentions him giving her basic respect or going outside of his comfort level to do something important for her. So, I guess I could tune her out, knowing that everything she says is carefully scripted to make him look like such a great guy. But I don’t. Therein lies the rub; I believe that being a true friend means something and the most valuable gift we can give anyone is our time and attention.
So, to those friends, family members and those who have to tolerate me and my ever-changing moods and never-ending talk, thank you. Thank you to everyone (or two) that still continues to read this blog, even though I’ve horribly neglected it recently. Thank you for allowing me to be me, warts and all. Thank you for answering the phone even though you really didn’t want to. Thank you for letting me have my little obsessive-compulsive moment/day/week/year. Thank you for being a good enough friend to realize that all I needed was someone to listen to me, give me their time and accept me for who I am, for encouraging me to become the person I have the potential to be and for not shutting me out. I know sometimes it would be easier to wrestle with a hungry lion while wearing a meat suit.
I can truly understand why some people suffering from mental illness (treated or otherwise) sometimes feel as though there is no hope and check out early. There are only so many times people will respond to someone in crisis; it’s almost like there’s a limited amount of action they are willing to put forth. The thought seems to be “if you don’t get cured after the first hospitalization, or can’t find the right medication combination and still keep having these Mood Things, well, obviously you’re hopeless”. So incredibly and totally WRONG. There is Hope and it sits alongside Patience, Understanding and Empathy. For those of you out there who are getting tired of fighting the good fight, remember that if one person closes the door in your face, that doesn’t mean the whole world is filled with such assholes. Keep knocking on doors until you find one that will be opened by someone with eyes that truly see the miracle that you are. Yes, YOU. You “crazy” bipolar. You “crazy” depressive. You “crazy” person with an unspecified disorder. You “crazy” no-mental-health-issues but bat-shit-crazy-nonetheless person. We all have our crosses to bear, our burdens to carry with us through life and just because we have a mental illness doesn’t make us any less awesome. Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear but that didn’t stop his paintings from being incredibly beautiful. Sylvia Plath was one of the most tortured souls that has ever put pen to paper, but it doesn’t take away from the beauty of her words or minimize what she was able to accomplish in her short life. I could go on and on, but I know you understand where I’m going with this.
We all stumble and we all must lend a hand to those who have fallen, lest they may not ever rise again.
Happy Freakin’ Friday!!!