If a cynic speaks in the woods…

In my real life, I’ve mentioned before that I tend not to speak of my mood disorder even when well-intentioned people ask how I’ve been. It’s the feeling of not wanting to “bring anyone down” mixed with more than a little “they don’t really care about me” that keeps me silent. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post to this small blog that no one I personally know is aware of. It’s been many weeks. Why is that? This was supposed to be my safe space.

I see now that my reticence comes from a deeper place. If I don’t even want to burden the faceless computer screen and the few anonymous readers, what does that say about me? I *think* it speaks to a bit of hopelessness (if one can be a bit hopeless). I *think* it says, my sense of self is lacking. I must admit, the inevitability of this disorder has worn me down over the last fourteen years. I have become a
bipolar cynic!

I follow several groups on Facebook that feature bipolar news items and bloggers. I hate to say it but I really feel pretty annoyed at all the hearts and rainbows type blogs: don’t give up, I found my cure. (I actually wrote an article about the benefits of ECT and later regretted it). I can’t help thinking, let’s see some data. How long have you felt this way? How many months?

My own current treatment plan involves a great deal of walking outdoors, Ativan to sleep, birth control to regulate my hormones and a boatload of specific vitamins. This is the first time since 2000 that I haven’t had a cocktail that includes mood stabilizers and antidepressants. I actually feel good. That’s not to say happy all the time. For me, feeling in control of my mind is good. When I am up, I know the next day I probably shouldn’t plan any play dates. I know when I am down, I probably should go for a walk. I see direct results and don’t feel bogged down by side effects.

I can not advise anyone to hold on, here is the cure. I can not even rest in the security that I have found what works. THERE IS NO REST in policing one’s own mind. This seems to be helping for now. I’m pretty worried about making it through another Northeast winter. I get by on brutal honesty (with myself) about my moods & motivations. And my honesty today is that, I have not been writing because I no longer have a voice. I see it is crucial that I reclaim my voice. I have a right to speak the truth. Everyone does, even when — especially when, the truth is not perfect. Thanks to anyone who reads my words, my voice.

A Selfish Debate

So it begins… A famous person takes his life. Cue the spotlight. Dialogue begins. Has this death added something new to the discussion? Will we take this as an opportunity to review health-care policy for those suffering the very real illness called depression? Or will the conversation drag down, into the great abyss of misunderstanding?

It’s almost too close to home. I’m unable to read all the Facebook posts and memorials. It hurts. Why should it bother me on such a level?

I didn’t know Robin Williams much beyond some of his dramatic roles and his hilarious turn as the animated blue guy. I didn’t know him as a person or father or husband. But now, in his death, we can all see him for what he was: human.

The rich and famous are put on such a pedestal in the US and around the world. Comedians perhaps are given a special place in our hearts because they open up about their home lives and personal experience in their stand up. We feel close to them because they open up and turn the every day into something fun and exciting. For many, this suicide is a harsh reminder that depression is universal. Even funny, successful, and yes — famous people that we admire, can have a secret pain that is too much to bear.

People either understand what that feels like or they don’t. People who have battled depression can hopefully remember that pain and feel compassion for a funny man who was obviously in a desperate state to make such a decision. Those who have not experienced depression might mention the S word. Selfish. Those of us still down in the trenches are left to read the postmortem character assassination and feel even weaker knowing that is what people will think of us if we talk openly about being suicidal. I DO understand why people say suicide is selfish but I can NOT agree.  The mind is powerful and capable of inflicting agony. The S word adds nothing positive to this discussion except an even stronger stigma that will silence people who need help. 

So what can I, as someone who grapples with the will to live quite often, add in the wake of Robin Williams’ momentous decision? Empathy.

Goodbye, Mr. Williams. I’m sorry you were in so much pain. You were not alone.