I have spent a lot of time and energy on concealing my pain this year. I have worn a smile and continued to sing even though I have felt defeated. I have deflected concern with sarcasm, and I have successfully camoflagued pain with laughter. My anxiety attacks have hidden themselves behind rage and discontent rather than lead me to hospital waiting rooms. My social media has remained unmarred with abstract, pretentious statuses that might hint at my condition.
In all of this, we’ve done well.
But, between just you and I, there has not been one single day where I have not genuinely contemplated suicide. There has not been one moment when I have genuinely felt happiness. There has not been even a glimpse of contentment. We both know that nothing has been resolved this year, just as nothing has ever been resolved due to a new year coming.
I have often written about mental illness as though I am simply an advocate for those struggling. I am very cautious of how I phrase my blogs or my social media status, lest someone suspect that perhaps I am the one struggling. But you know, 2015. You know that I’m fighting a losing battle this year. I’m fighting a battle, and I’m too proud to admit that I need help. I’m losing.
It doesn’t matter that I have seen great triumphs this year, in things like seeing Newsies on broadway or visiting the magical world of Harry Potter. It doesn’t matter because, while I sincerely enjoyed these things and felt so happy about the opportunity to experience them, circumstance cannot beat mental illness. Bipolar and depression mar every victory, every triumph, and every single second of every single day of my life.
If I were to make a post about New Year’s Resolutions, which I won’t, it should be that I won’t continue to lie about my condition to my loved ones. Unfortunately, I can’t make that resolution; not to you and not to myself. I am too proud to admit that I’m sick. I am too afraid of how this will be received. Even though the year is now officially 2016, mental illness still carries a stigma.
If my sister knows that I’m suffering from bipolar disorder, will she still feel comfortable allowing me to be alone with her children? Will my parents, who have voiced that they don’t believe in mental illness, even acknowledge that I have a real illness? Or, more likely, will they think that I’m just making excuses? Worse, will it make my family cry? Will they be upset with themselves for not figuring it out on their own? Will they blame themselves?
It will inarguably alter the entire fabric of my relationships. This isn’t cancer. This isn’t a disease that is widely known and acknowledged. No one ever tells a cancer patient to just be more positive or try to smile more. Mental illness is still a shameful diagnosis that many will protest is even actually an illness at all.
Will I enter this new year with the resolution that I won’t project my fears onto others? Or, more likely, will I continue to assume that people don’t want me as a friend because they don’t reach out to me by inviting me places or calling me or texting me? Will I continue to keep my struggle to myself out of fear that no one actually even cares, or that no one deserves to be burdened with it? Will I continue to merely think about texting a friend because I talk myself out of doing so by telling myself that until I get my life together, I have nothing to offer them? Will I continue to hide myself away because I feel worthless?
The truth, if I’m attempting to be honest, is that nothing is going to change. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to mental illness. Us who are deeply struggling–no one ever really knows until they’re murmuring about it around our casket. That’s a morbid thing to say in what should be a positive New Year’s blog, but that’s bipolar depression. And, unfortunately, that’s me.
I’m sorry about it. There isn’t a day that has passed that I am not truly apologetic for ever being born. Maybe some of you have great aspirations for 2016, but for me–getting out of bed feels like a pretty big victory. Putting on a smile at work feels like a pretty big victory. Taking a shower, getting through a work day, telling a joke, laughing… these are my goals. These are the things that I have to push myself to do.
So, while I certainly wish everyone the best New Year and hope to see you all achieve your goals of world domination before midnight tolls next year, please understand.
Tonight I sat in my car and sobbed for an hour because I don’t think that I can’t take even one more DAY like any of the days that passed in 2015. This is the most honest I will ever be with you. I’m struggling. Every. Day. And I can’t do 2016 alone.
I feel alone right now.