Some people might consider a mental illness a gift and go on and on about how it’s part of a journey in life and how it makes you strong. But me, I hate my mental illness with so much passion, it’s lucky it’s not human. I’d have punched its face into pulp. I’d have pushed its face into a bowl of hot beans. I’d have beaten it so much; it wouldn’t have breath left. I’d have…okay. Enough. Before you think I’m a monster.
I’ve read a lot about people who have bipolar disorder being multi-talented and super-duper gifted; they make it seem like it’s one huge glamorous show and you should be proud of being among. I consider it far from being a gift. I think it’s a curse, and hold on, before you crucify me, bipolar disorder has increased my empathy towards others. I feel a lot these days. In fact, I feel too much. I’m becoming overly sensitive. I can feel when you’re mad at me even when you try to hide it. I know when you’re sad, I know when you’re worried. These might seem quite far-fetched but I just pick up vibes very easily. It’s far removed from the tough girl image I always try to present.
So here’s my biggest lie: I’m normal, capable of handling everything, and not ‘exactly’ suffering from a mental illness.
Who do I lie to? Myself.
Ask me what’s wrong? Nothing.
Am I okay? Definitely. Never better.
It’s easy to ignore having bipolar because I live with people who don’t know much about mental illnesses and don’t exactly care to know either. Why am I telling you this? I might never see you, and if I do, well….
I lied to myself about needing anti-depressants.
Anti-depressant ko, anti-depressant ni. *raises fist in the air* We strong man, we strong!
Before you shake your head in disgust, I tried. I took my drugs diligently for 2 months or so. Then I felt numb. Emotionless. I didn’t feel hyper or sad. I didn’t even feel normal. I felt removed. I still do. I feel like an old faded cardboard. Nobody tells you about the hot sweats, the nausea, the dizziness, the dissociation, and all the horrible side effects that comes with the drugs….and one weird thing about me – reading about my disorder is a huge trigger. It sends me into a spiral of hot sweats and dark clouds for days. This kind wahala ehn!
I’m the greatest liar I know, argue with yourself. I don’t tell the complete truth, so I can protect myself and others too. My health is supposed to be my first priority but I’m living with my untruths, and they catching up with me. Fast.
My therapist is an old man. He doesn’t exactly understand a lot of youthful intricacies, so I can’t reveal much to him. I’d rather tell him I felt fine all week. God helps me and I tell him therapy doesn’t work, I’d be subjected to an hour of psychology 101 class.
I hold a lot of things back from the people who should even understand me better. I lie to everyone. I convince myself I’m protecting them. I can’t become the harbinger of bad mood. So, I keep hiding things for the sake of my loved ones. For their sake, I’ll force out the words they want to hear. You know how people say ‘the right person would love you and accept your mental illness?’ Yeah right! That’s one steep bridge right there. You see, it’s very easy for people to dole out advices when they’ve never been there. Everybody wants to help. Everybody wants to sound smart. How does the right person love you and your mental illness when it has totally stripped you of your being? Who is the right person? It’s never that simple…and my fear is that I’ll overwhelm people so much, I’ll end up being a burden, or worse, alone.
I lied to my boss about the extent of my mental illness. Oh, now you must think I’m a terrible person. But I have my reasons. I can always come up with reasons and excuses; I should add it to my CV.
I started losing interest in work and other things. At the end of each working day, I would realize that I had done nothing. I had deadlines I failed to meet, work I couldn’t concentrate on. I would stare blankly at my laptop for hours. So, each time I woke up without energy or with tears on my face, I would text my Oga to tell him I was going for therapy; and it made me even sadder that I could use my mental illness to get off work, so I just sent in my resignation letter instead. But abeg, is it my fault?
On my happy days, nothing could go wrong. I would smile and play with everyone. I would spend money on useless things. I would buy things for people, and give out money I didn’t have. Catch me on one of those days, and I could take you shopping.
On those days, I would dole out advice, and give ground-breaking strategies. I would come up with business ideas that I know I won’t follow up on. I would write endlessly.
But those days come with their own fears. Fears that the episode might end too soon and I would be plunged into another dark hole. Fear that the episode would last for too long and would ruin my bank account. So I lie again. I tell myself that I can do it. I’m a freaking super human. Who am I kidding?!
To me, bipolar is negative. There are no normal days. You only have days where you look forward to or hide from the next free fall; and God helps anyone who tells me to positive about it. I put on a mask. That should be enough.
What people should understand is that it’s okay to be negative about your mental illness. You don’t have to put up a positive front all the time. You’re gloriously and flawlessly human. You’re allowed to break down and cry, and have messy hair, and look ugly when you cry. It’s self-expression. If you’re feeling negative about it. It’s alright. This thing sucks, and you can only understand if you’ve been there.
I hate the positive ‘golden-rainbowed’ motivational instructions. I hate the hyper side of bipolar. I hate the sad moods. I hate the rage and unnecessary anger that comes with it. I hate the feeling of numbness. I hate everything, and sadly, I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a way through. I wish I could tell you I would stop lying to myself and everyone. I wish I could show you ways to be fine. I wish I could stop living in my head. I wish I could tell you it’ll all be fine. I wish I had a ghen ghen inspirational quote for you.
I wish I could get some answers too.