Living with Bipolar Disorder has probably been the biggest challenge of my life. Whilst other things have come along that are not particularly pleasant, they have, given time, disappeared. Bad relationships come to an end, blistered hearts find new templates, money troubles eventually smooth over. Bipolar Disorder, on the other hand, never leaves.
With age, I find it creeps about more, is less direct, less savage as it skirts around the edges of my life. When it first stepped back, I naively thought that a form of acquiescence had taken place, the optimistic belief my will alone had bound the mercurial one to the back seat. I was wrong. It steals about not because some sort of yielding has occurred, a quiet pacification, or it has been persuaded to be mild-mannered and congenial but more, and this is only my belief, it knows my brain. The hidden landscape of my synapses, pathways, neurotransmitters is like a well-worn page to my Bipolar Disorder and now with age and time, it has weaved a new tale.
They say we have to ‘roll with the punches’ – many of us do, but it can be difficult to roll, walk, jump, plan a day, turn in some writing, go out for dinner when you feel constantly under siege. I find the quietly “hide in plain sight” – the “I am pretending not be anything to worry about” masquerade – sometimes harder than the full-on aggressive stance from when I was younger. It’s hard living with an illness where a cat-burglar is always trying to slither through a window and in one bold elegant move, ransack your mind.
Once it has wormed its way in, the thing that has changed is there is less hypomania or mania, less chaos, turmoil, discord. Now instead, depression, psychosis and incredible anxiety. Psychosis is a frightening word. It’s the sort of word that makes one shut the door and draw their curtains. People suffering feel scared and those not suffering feel scared and there is almost an impasse of sorts. It’s honestly far more frightening than non-sufferers believe, just not for them.
If your days are filled with depression, it can feel like there are fat pigeon grey clouds above your head, clouds that seem to bulge and jerk at their seams, corners stitched together, giving the appearance of a weight bearing down, squeezing your world beneath. It can feel like an enormous cobweb spinning and hooking itself around the corners of your mind and each time you pull or tug, you become more ensnared in a labyrinth of gossamer threads.
The only thing I do know is that between the dark moods, beyond depression and psychosis and anxiety, there are streaks of something else, sunshine perhaps, a snap of magic in the air, the confetti of spring, a new born calf, the simple perfection of a flower. Maybe I just have to wait, store my hope in a butterfly wings, watch a windmill spin.
I will meet you beneath a bright blue sky. Bring cake.
© Copyright Henrietta M Ross