On Monday I had my last appointment with my current psychiatrist, she is leaving her position and so a new doctor (my fourth so far) will be taking over for her. In my last appointment with her she outlined the future plans to build my mood stabiliser to a therapeutic level and then eventually try and reduce or remove my anti-psychotic medication. As I was getting ready to leave the appointment she said ‘It has been a pleasure working with you, I have no doubt things will get better for you – you always come to appointments, follow advice and you work hard’ I don’t know, maybe she said that to all of her patients in her last appointment with them but it meant so much to me. I do work hard, someone has seen that I work hard, someone believes me. One of the most frustrating and heart breaking things about this heinous illness is the inability to change the perspectives of others about your behaviour, the invisibility of your trauma and your effort. It doesn’t matter what these people say, what help they offer of how many hands they might lend, eventually that hand is going to be pulled away, leaving you to fall. They can’t understand why this thing they can’t see or comprehend hasn’t gone away, they see you doing better, getting out, making calls, having fun and then when the demon that is Bipolar disorder rips all of your effort bare they think you have stopped trying, they don’t see anything positive happening so they believe that you are not putting in any effort, they can’t grasp that you are fighting just to breathe, to keep your face steely and emotionless when all you want to do is curl into a shrivelling ball of snot and tears, they don’t realise that you’re expending every effort you have to resist screaming in frustration and despair because you’re back here again and that dreaded, dark, dank and lonely climb to normal faces you once again. All they see is your greasy hair and un-brushed teeth, your mass of mistakes and the piling chores that you cannot face… You are lazy in their eyes and in reality all they probably see is the work they perceive they will have to do for you now.
I am not lazy, I am a warrior fighting an invisible battle. Maybe this needs to be my new mantra, maybe I should shout this at all of the people that hold doubt about my illness or look at me with disbelief and frustration every time I ask for help or confide in them about my worries.
I am alive and regardless of the phone calls I can’t make or the ironing taking over my living room and the dishes growing penicillin in the kitchen, I am fighting. I am trying. When I am dead, when I act on the impulses plaguing my head that say this management stuff is too hard, this battle is not worth it and I am not worth it, then I will have given up, then I cannot be bothered anymore but until then I am trying – I am doing all that I can, I am fighting to the best of my abilities against an impossible illness.
My mum always used to tell me that a problem shared is a problem halved, how I wish I could share my problem, how I wish I could get some real help but this is all of the help it is within my power to get. I have never been good at asking for help, I never know how much help it is acceptable to ask for and I never seem to get it right – I don’t want to put the weight of my illness on to others, I don’t want to drag people down with me. What could help me anyway?
I feel as though I went to sleep in the warm and comforting embrace of acceptance and woke to the barren lands of disapproval and judgement.
I am pulling myself together, I am getting a grip, I am sorting it out and getting over it… I’m not dead, I am a warrior.