I don’t often talk about the whole spectrum of my illness. More often I talk about severe depression and how it impacts on my life constantly. I don’t talk much about my Bipolar disorder, I guess because I don’t see my manic highs as much of an issue as the other spectrum, the depression, the massive lows. When I am manic I am superwoman! I can and do everything, I feel good, invincible and I can do a million things in record time. It is during these times that I don’t recognise mania for what it is, I am just thankful i am not really depressed, so I don’t write about how good I feel. When my low hits it hits with a vengeance, it takes every ounce of strength I have, a debilitated body, no longer human, my strength, my personality, my endeavours and dreams, my motivation, are all taken from me in the blink of an eye and I struggle to keep going, most of the time I can’t, I stop.
On top of the daily stressors of being a partner, a Mum, an employee and just me (who most of the time I hate) my mental illness throws in the complexities of having severe depression, Bipolar disorder, and general anxiety disorder. A combination of mixed emotions, massive highs and extreme lows. A roller coaster is somewhat of a understatement, it is far more than that, way more, sometimes I even have trouble recognising what IT is.
You would think after years of this I would be better at recognising IT for what it is and being better at managing IT so it doesn’t interfere with my life, but I aren’t. In fact, in terms of managing IT, I have no mechanisms to manage and I get through on shere good luck and because of my good friend ‘mania’. I take my pills every day and every night, I see both my GP and my Psychiatrist, and I just keep battling through.
My weeks generally follow the same patterns. I start out the week on a manic high, I do enough work that should fill my week in a day, I pump out more in an hour than most would in a day. I flourish in these moments and while I know I am pushing myself way too hard I have little mechanisms to slow down or take better control of it. This usually gets me through a couple of days, usually through to Wednesday. By Thursday I know just by opening my eye in the morning that I am on my way back down, rapidly to the depths of depression where most of the time I can’t see through the fog and my buddy the Black Dog is at my side making sure I only feel worse. If I am lucky I will see out Thursday at work, by the time I get home Thursday night my body and my mind are rapidly heading towards meltdown. By dinner time I can hardly stay awake and by 8.00pm the soul mate has put me into bed. I sleep like a log and there are two things that may happen on Friday, either I wake and feel reasonably ok to make it though another day at work or I wake and it feels like I have never slept in my life and my mood has hit the bottom of the first cliff in my mountain range which is depression. At this level exhaustion reeks my body, sadness overwhelms me and I can’t beat the Black Dog down with a stick nor breathe within the fog that is strangling me. Then comes Saturday, my body and mind know it’s the weekend and their means of celebrating is leaving me in a crumbled wreck of depression and exhaustion where the simplest tasks are just too much to think about let alone start and complete. If I am lucky the soul mate can reach me and can, at times pull me out of this dark spot, but it usually doesn’t last, and I am back there a listless waste of space that nobody, including me, enjoys. I feel guilty, I feel frustrated and I feel sad. This is my week, sadly for me this is my life!
To look at me it is often hard to see how it really is for me. Work colleagues most of the week see the manic me, the one who gets everything done, goes beyond what is expected with the highest degree of effort, efficiency and professionalism. They don’t and probably won’t see me for what it truly is, a manic episode, because unless I let down my mask and talk about it, nobody would know. They would have to be blind, some are deliberately blind, not to see when I am starting my downhill plunge, I am quieter than usually, my work output slows and I start to have days off or need to work at home. Even thou some know of my mental illness it is too hard to see it for what it is and recognise what is happening. Most Managers just have their eyes on the prize of getting the job done, meeting the KPI’s and looking good to those above. As long as the workers are working it doesn’t matter how it is done or how some of us are feeling or coping, or not coping as it may be. That is how it is for most of us with a mental illness, that’s the highs and the lows that are our life, the stressors, the fears, the guilt, the deep dark feelings that make up each day, each week and our life. There isn’t a ‘normal’ day, if there was I am pretty sure I would not recognise it for being just that ‘normal’, because not normal is what I have always been, I know no different.
Today is my rock bottom day. Exhaustion, listlessness, no concentration, no motivation and only depressions and visions that this is way too hard this thing they called life, this is too exhausting, I feel so helpless, worthless, so depressed.
It is any wonder that so often I ask myself what is the point living like this, this isn’t life, it is a hell that you can’t get away from, it’s attached to you to the extent that no level of treatment can extract it from your mind and body and destroy it forever, it’s impossible to get rid of IT. This is no life! It’s not fair on me, it’s not fair on my little boy and soul mate, it’s not fair on my work, and it’s just not fair! I hate IT, I detest IT, if I could kill IT off I would, if I could drown IT I would, if I could run away to lose IT I would, but I know after more than 20 years of IT none of these options will work.
i don’t know what life has to offer me. I no longer have dreams, ambitions or goals to achieve. I have given up on these because I don’t want hope, I don’t want to want for something that I know will never happen. I have given up on all these, the things that once drove my type A personality, and I struggle to see any purpose for me. I am still type A, it’s my worst enemy, it’s here within me during my mania and asleep during my depression.
If my Mother was still in my life she would tell me to snap out of it, to get on with things! I wish I could! Even if I could rid myself from this debilitating illness I don’t know that I would have the strength for life anymore. This illness, IT, my Black Dog has literally taken every ounce of strength from me, taken my personality, my hopes and dreams and turned my life into a meaningless hell that is controlled by a mental illness, or a combination of all three, that has ruined my life and ruined who I am as a person.