For about 30 years I’ve perfected the art of hiding behind a mask of wellness. There was no way I could hold down a job with the public and show my true face. Then I had a family, and I held it together until finally my brain blew up, I became catatonic, and I could hide no more.
Many years later, I was able to pull the mask back on, and most of the time people have no idea what is really going on. Someone recently told me that he didn’t understand why I blog about the things I do when my life is so good. It’s so frustrating when people don’t understand mental illness. Many others have said to me “Just think happy thoughts.” My mother-in-law just said that to me a few days ago.
Yes, my life is wonderful right now, and my basic stressors are pretty much controllable (thank you Klonopin!), but my brain still does not work like a “normal” brain. For seemingly no reason whatsoever I could become depressed, or I could have a manic episode. My ex used to say “What’s your problem, did you forget your crazy drugs?” I am very compliant with my meds, but bipolar disorder is not predictable. I do not take a mood stabilizer, I only take an anti-depressant because depression is what I have the most problem with. My manic episodes are controllable. But when that depression hits, there’s not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it. I can’t just think happy thoughts and it will instantly go away. I wish people could understand that.
I will keep writing about what I feel, hoping that somehow I can reach others. I write what I do so others have something to which to relate, to give others hope (I suppose this isn’t a particularly hopeful post), and to try to give a little understanding of mental illness to people whose lives are not directly affected by some type of mental disorder.
Hiding behind my mask is very comfortable, but maybe I need to step out of my comfort zone once in a while and stop trying to keep others from knowing what mental illness is really like. I don’t mean that I need to walk around being depressed all the time, but I do need to speak out. The only way to stop the stigma is to start a conversation.