The first step to recovery is discovering that no one can make you want to get better or get better for you. You have to do it for yourself. You have to choose to get better. You have to want to get help. I will admit, choosing to get better can be terrifying because you are stepping into the unknown. For many people with mental illness “normal” is something we cannot remember ever feeling. We know what it’s like to feel depressed, manic, suicidal, or anxious, but what does “normal” feel like? While we hate with a passion the anxiety, we hate the depression, and most of all we hate feeling alone, we don’t know anything different and we are terrified of what life could hold for us.
As I sit here on my couch writing I wonder what a “normal life”, without depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, mania and all of the other emotions that come with it, would feel like. I am terrified that without the highs of mania life will not be as exciting. I am terrified I will never feel the rush that comes along with the mania, the invincibility, the courage, and the confidence. I am terrified that without depression holding me back I will be thrust into new, different, and terrifying situations and again without the mania to give me confidence, how will I handle these situations? I am terrified that without anxiety and my constant worrying, something bad will happen because I won’t be as vigilant. But most of all I am terrified that I won’t be myself without my mental illness because it has made me who I am today.
However, becoming normal brings with it more pros than cons. Normal means not feeling depressed, not wanting to die. I means feelings of joy and happiness. For me, I hope it means no more of the regrets that mania brings along with it. I hope it means that I will live long enough to see my future godchildren grow up. I hope it means that I will live long enough to have my own children and to find the love of my life. I hope it means I will be able to find joy in the little things and that I will have the opportunity to grow old.
So, do it for you. Get better because it means a brighter future, less regret, and more time with loved ones. Because experiencing one more laugh, one more hug, one more anything is worth it.
Mania is one of those things that is hard to explain to someone who has never felt it, and while it can be one of the most amazing feelings in the world it can also be one of the most terrifying emotions to look back on. Mania can be unique and different for anyone who experiences it, and one of the symptoms of my mania that I’m not sure is shared with everyone who experiences mania is the gap, or rather the gaps. Gaps is the word I use to describe my experience with memory loss during manic episodes. For me, looking back on manic episodes is like looking through fogged up glass. It’s hard to know what I was thinking in the moment, it’s hard to know why I did what I did, but probably most concerning it’s hard to decipher what actually happened. As I look back on my college years I have realized that I honestly can’t remember much. There are bits and pieces, but between the extreme highs and lows that I was experiencing due to my undiagnosed disease, not much of my memory is left. The most terrifying feeling is when someone brings up an event that happened in college, one that was significant, one that I should remember, and I have no recollection of the event.
When you’re manic music is more electric, food tastes better, people are more interesting, and you feel everything more! This is how many people would describe being in love, but in reality this doesn’t happen when you’re in love, but it does when you’re manic. As I lay awake at night unable to sleep and put my brain to rest I notice these things. The music I’m listening to is more infectious and it’s as if I am living and breathing with the beat of the music. The more I think about it, everything is just that much more everything when you’re manic! Every emotion is punctuated! Everything you come in contact with people, music, food, TV shows, everything is better when you’re manic. This is why it feels so good! It’s as if you’re living in an extra saturated world funny becomes hilarious and good becomes great! Depression is the polar opposite of mania. Depression is like living in a world where the volume has been turned down or even muted. It’s like living in a black and white movie. All the joy, all the happiness is sucked out of you and what are you left with except fear, self-doubt, pain and anguish, anger, self loathing, and hopelessness. When you’re depressed you can be in a room filled with the people closest you and feel completely and utterly alone. That’s what depression is. It’s lonely. Depression is one of those emotions or maybe rather states of mind that you can’t share with anyone unlike joy which is infectious. Depression is like you’re own personal hell; each torture device shaped and conjured up to target your specific weaknesses.