In a crowded room

I just saw an interview with a famous actor promoting a movie about suicide, in which he said (paraphrase) people with suicidal thoughts don’t have lots of people around them for support. It made me think of how others perceive the severely depressed and wonder if I see it the same way; does the stereotype holds true for me? I have a pretty large network of family, friends, acquaintances, and, of course, an active Facebook account. (Gotta have that, right?)

I’ve had friends who’ve known me for years that I truly love and respect, that I didn’t tell about my struggles. Others I told right away. But after The Big Break of 2013, everyone knows. It’s hard to hide several weeks of full-day outpatient treatment, VERY hard to hide three months of ECT treatments, and completely impossible to hide the resultant memory loss. (Much more on that later.) My point being, everyone now knows I’m bipolar, many people know I suffer from SAD and PMDD, and a select few more than I’m comfortable with know that I have obsessive suicidal ideation (SI).

So what does it mean to be out of the “bipolar closet?” Or another way: what does it mean to be surrounded by people who know about my struggles and care if I am happy or depressed? How does all this liberation affect the day-to-day?

Not much, really.

I believe most people would agree that sad topics are a bummer. Deep thoughts should stay buried, right?

As an aside, one of my favorite movie scenes of all time is when Helen Hunt’s character in As Good As it Gets has this whole cathartic, crying release directed toward her mother and asks “What is it that you want?” And her mother says simply, “I want us to go out!” My mother to a tee. She’s no longer with us, but I think of her when I talk to other people.

People with honestly loving intentions ask me how I’m feeling. Often they follow up quickly with bright eyes and “better now?” or something similar. Yes, much better. I rarely give more than that. Why? Well, my mind is morbid, awkward, a burden, abnormal, dark, etc. I love these people but I can’t talk to them.

There’s one word that comes to mind over and over as I write this: Taint. Everyone has a past with pain and trouble. But how many people live like that every day? I don’t want to taint my loved ones. I don’t want them to have to think about incest, abuse, mental hospitals, pill hoarding, broken families, ECT or any of the other circumstances in my past. I let them believe what they want, that The Big Break was an anomaly, not just a slightly worse version of the norm. I talk to almost no one about who I am inside.

But I am not alone. I host Christmas, play dates, BBQs and smile — all the while knowing I am loved. I won’t tell them it doesn’t matter. Let them be untainted.