As I’m sure you know by now if you’ve read even one of my blog posts, I’m having a very hard time lately in terms of my mental health.
A few nights ago I was in my garage – I retreat there to smoke if it’s cold outside, which it still is – and I was very depressed and crying a little. Now, let me say this: in recent years, I’ve become more and more accepting of my bipolar disorder. If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be the person I am. I wouldn’t be a writer. The thought of that is incomprehensible, actually. However, on this night, I just thought to myself, I wish I didn’t have it.
The hard truth is that I, nor anyone else, can ever take a break from their mental illness.
The other night I was at a diner with my friend B and our waitress, a very naive and sweet (yet often times so sweet she leaves a bad taste in my mouth) young woman, told us, “Don’t be depressed.” Ah, if only it were that simple! Whenever people make comments like this, they usually mean nothing by it, but the older I’ve gotten, the more obnoxious I’ve come to find it. This circles back to the ignorance many people have with regard to mental illness. They don’t understand that it’s not a lightswitch – I can’t just turn it off, as much as I wish I could.
I would much rather be able to get up when my alarm goes off than lie in bed in exhausted agony every morning. I’d rather be in a stable state of mind than in a swing of deep depression. Living in a state of panic and fear isn’t pleasant and I’d much prefer to not feel as if a complete psychotic break is right around the corner. I’d like to be able to not feel the overwhelming desire to go back to bed an hour after I start my day. But these things are my reality. Mental illness doesn’t waver.
I know I am taking steps in the right direction, as I always am, because if I don’t, I will crumble. I also know I need to do more, such as get back into exercising regularly and eating a proper diet, since both things contribute to mental health as much as they do physical health. This lack of motivation and resistance to even getting started all goes back to the depression I’ve been experiencing. When I feel bad, everything else goes to shit. I didn’t even notice my eating habits had faltered so terribly until I looked in the mirror and realized I had gained back all the weight I had lost over the summer. It’s hard not to feel like a failure when you see so much progress (physical appearance, nutrition, mental health, etc.) has faded away. It’s like I have to start all over again and I find that incredibly discouraging, and I just beat myself up over it and practice the bad habits in an endless cycle instead of attempting to fix anything.
We all wish mental illness would just leave us alone for a while. It halts so many productive, healthy things we know we should be doing but just can’t bring ourselves to. But it doesn’t take a break. All we can do is try.