I am just coming out of a depression. I don’t remember going into it, instead easing into it as if it were just a change of season.
I reminded myself that I was not feeling depressed. There was no self-flagellation, no remorse, no desolation. That was the big lie — that my reclusive behavior, my flat affect, and my resignation to being (in my eyes) a failure wasn’t depression.
Telling my colleagues that I was fine if they asked me if anything was wrong (and they asked me at least three times) was another lie. I am known in my workplace as being bipolar, and thus I feel I have to be on my best behavior lest they think I was going to the hospital again. I told my colleagues again and again that I was doing great, and maybe I even believed it because the temporary bubble of positive attention (that I felt I didn’t deserve) buoyed me. But then I fell back into the grey of my life this last winter.
It’s only now that my mood has risen with the Spring that I discovered how low I had fallen. I have depressive tendencies in Winter, but I didn’t expect to have fallen to the place I was this winter. The scale said I’d gained weight; I didn’t pay attention to my looks. I did very little. Too many times, I accepted negative self-talk as the truth about myself.
What could I have done differently? First, I could have caught the mood change sooner. I need to find some signs of the doldrums before they become depression. Second, I could have been more honest with myself and others, and maybe I would have accepted a medication change. Third, I could have been better to myself, but only after the first two were in place.
Bipolar Disorder is a weird disease, seeking balance in a body that wants to go to extremes. In fact, I am watching now to make sure I don’t tip in the other direction toward hypomania with its endless elation and debilitating restlessness. This is my life, and it’s not that bad. Maybe the biggest lie is the stigma I surround myself with that isolates me.