Trying to sustain my recent ebbing of bipolar depression during suicide awareness month, is much more difficult than I anticipated. Perhaps part of the problem is that I didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the impact from the onslaught of social media posts on suicide. Please don’t misunderstand that last statement. I understand the importance of this issue, and am supportive of the people who are making a difference in this tragically elevating problem. One might ask, “Sheri, why don’t you just stop using social media?” It’s not that easy for me, since that is where the majority of my support network resides. “Sheri, you need to get out more.” Well, yes, that would be lovely, wouldn’t it? But that’s a whole other issue.
My heart aches for people who are devastated by suicide, whether those who have survived, or those left behind. I’ve done my part during the first week of the month, disseminating important information and memes of encouragement. But it didn’t occur to me to don my protective gear before this became too overwhelming. It’s all too raw, too recent, too close to home. I’m just not that brave or strong, and it’s worming into my brain as a suggestion rather than a deterrent.
Last night I was composing a wonderful post about how, after the longest bout of the worst depression in my memory, I am finally beginning to want to live. Hopefully, I will write that post soon. Hopefully, I will participate by reading and commenting in the blogging world once again. Hopefully, I will recharge my own protective force field and continue clawing my way out of the depths of despair. For now I shall retreat back into my protective cocoon of silly cat videos.
A mental health website asked the question “How do you keep going when despair takes over?” I wanted to participate in the discussion, but I couldn’t think of an answer. I’ve been in self-destruct mode for quite a while, yet every morning I wake up and think “OK, try again, just one more day.”
Then last night, while playing Trivial Pursuit with my husband, I looked up and saw the answer. He was looking at me, and in his eyes I saw a reflection of a tiny spark of light. It finally dawned on me that he sees beyond the miasma of depression, to that small flame that still flickers deep within me. That must be what he holds on to, what helps him to make it one more day with me. And because I can see it in his eyes, even when I think it’s gone out, I can keep going…one more day.
What do you have to be depressed about?
You have a wonderful husband.
My brain doesn’t feel his arms around me.
You live in a nice house.
My brain only see the dust.
You look younger than you really are.
My brain only sees ugliness.
You are so slim.
My brain sees a fat cow.
You have nice clothes.
My brain doesn’t care what I wear.
Why can’t you just smile and think happy thoughts?
Why can’t you hear my brain screaming?
Luxury is unattainable.
I am a child, luxury is a hug from my mother.
I am a young girl, luxury is a Barbie Dreamhouse.
I am a teenager, luxury is acceptance.
I am a college student, luxury is self-respect.
I am a young mother, luxury is a loving partner.
I am a survivor of domestic violence, luxury is freedom from fear.
I am a person with mental illness, luxury is sanity.
I am a woman, luxury is self-love.
via Daily Prompt: Luxury
During the few times I allowed myself to think of a future as a parent, I never imagined that imparting wisdom derived from my experiences would include how to survive abuse. Nor did I picture myself and my future child having discussions about psychiatric medications.
My mother taught me how to sew intricate Vogue patterns, and then accessorize my outfits with the right shoes and jewelry. She instilled in me the importance of a Chanel black dress, and the need for it to be worn on the perfect body. In addition to an appreciation of the fine arts, I learned the appreciation of fine dining. But all her wisdom was not superficial, I went with her to meetings of the League of Women Voters and Another Mother for Peace.
Not once did we discuss how to cope with mental illness, either my own or that of others. She did not tell me that I was entitled to be treated with respect, nor did she instill in my psyche the importance of “No.” We talked about medicines for birth control, acne, and cramps. Frightening side effects of psychotropics were never brought up, I don’t even think there was a need for this sort of discussion at that time.
I had no idea parenting could be both heartbreaking and heart-enriching. Visiting my child in a psychiatric ward or talking about how to deal with a narcissist were not in any book on parenting. Yet here I am, about thirty years into this adventure, finding myself grateful that none of that came up during my upbringing. Would I have been scared off? Might I have chosen not to have children? I’d like to think that I would have been brave and willing to take on the challenge; but even though I wouldn’t give back my daughters, I’m not really sure I would have been strong enough to say “Yes, that’s something I’m sure I could handle.”