Simply Happiness (Pulp-Free)

I am naming this post after my current-favorite beverage: Simply Orange Juice. My mom tried to ruin Simply Orange Juice for me by telling me it had more sugar in it than soda. But maybe that’s fitting—things right now are pretty fucking sweet.

 

I looked back at the list of goals I made for 2016, curious to see if I’d accomplished anything. I’m happy to report that I‘ve made great progress. I highlighted in yellow the goals I’ve reached and oh, all that sunshine was lovely.

 

I’ve been feeling strong for a little while now. But there’s a major difference between feeling strong and feeling happy. When I’m stable, I’m “happy” in the sense that I am not depressed, but I’m not necessarily feeling joy. Scraps of it are floating around me, but they’re hard to catch and hold onto.

 

That has changed. The last couple of weeks I have noticed that most days I am in a good mood. Most days I find myself doing something goofy to try to make my parents laugh. I sing aloud more; I go for vigorous walks in the neighborhood. One day I slid in my socks across our wood floors to get to the kitchen because why walk when you can slide? When I did that, I felt a good-old-fashioned, clichéd warmth radiating through all of my limbs.

 

As the days I am well become weeks, the possibility of lapsing into another serious episode seems less and less likely to happen. The fear behind that hasn’t disappeared entirely (in my experience it never does), but I have grown more comfortable and lost some of my skittishness. Before, I was hyper-vigilant. I was testing myself for weak spots at various points of the day to see if there was anything I needed to keep an eye on. I was weighing situations to determine whether or not they were safe for me. Being so aggressively on the defense is exhausting. But that animal-desperate need for self-protection is lessening.

 

I think that this might last a while. I’m no longer naïve enough to think this will last forever—lesson majorly learned on that one!—but I’ve definitely hit a sweet spot. I think it’s likely I’ll be well for a good stretch. I hope that proves to be true.

 

I am experiencing simply happiness. And in one of those rare moments where I hate my disorder microscopically less, I acknowledge that this happiness is amplified in me, and so precious to me, because it is really fucking hard to get. So I will try to muzzle the gremlin’s voice in my head that tells me to be afraid. I will tune out her chanting this will not last this will not last. I will enjoy this time that I have. I may literally stop and smell some roses. I will not take this for granted. I will be grateful. I will be joyful.

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Bipolar Disorder Dies with Me

I don’t want to have children. I have never wanted to have children. I have never fantasized about having children. I have names “picked out” because they are my favorite names, not because I’d ever use them for offspring (Quinn and Nicholas, if you’re wondering). But besides the fact that I utterly lack a maternal instinct, I have several reasons not to have children, all of which are related to my bipolar disorder.

 

FACT: Mothers with mental illness are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. (As if regular ol’ depression weren’t bad enough).

 

FACT: There are many antidepressants a pregnant woman cannot take, so it is possible I would have to at least lower my dosages, which could result in an episode while I am pregnant. (Just imagine coupling morning sickness and swollen feet with a desire to die, even as you’re growing life inside you. Fun!)

 

FACT: There is a good chance I could pass my disorder on to my children. I read in one book that there’s “only” a 14% chance I could pass it on. That “only” really bothers me. In my opinion, 14% is still too high. Ten percent would be too high! I’ve read elsewhere that a child is more likely to have some form of mental illness if other family members, in addition to the parent, have it themselves. In other words, my children would be fucking doomed. (Already, there is a separate, small pit in my stomach reserved for the fear I have that one of my dear nieces or nephew will become sick.)

 

Here Are (Some) Reasons Why Having Bipolar Disorder Totally Blows:

-I have to take medication for the rest of my life.

-I have to deal with the side effects of that medication for the rest of my life.

-It is likely, at some point, my meds will stop working and I will have to go through the awesome process of trying various pills at various dosages, some of which might actually make me worse, until I find ones that work.

-I will spend a fuck-ton of money on doctor visits for the rest of my life.

-As well as I may be doing, there is always a risk that something could trigger an episode; because of that risk, an undercurrent of fear will run ragged through even my best of days.

-Having it will always make me feel innately apart from most people.

-I COULD GO ON.

 

Now why, WHY would I wish that for another person? I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy, so wishing it on someone I love? No way.

 

There is one more thing I’d like to say on the matter. There are people who are impressed by how far I’ve come, how well I’ve dealt with bipolar disorder, and what wonderful things it has inadvertently brought out in me who say I am more kind, patient, artistic, and strong than I was before I got sick. These people ask me, “Knowing what you know now, and who you’ve become, if you could go back in time and prevent yourself from getting bipolar disorder, would you?”

 

FUCK YES, you idiot.

Here Is a Depressing Poem I Wrote about Depression

This is the best way I can explain it to you:

 

I am standing on top of a mountain.

It is a clear day. The sun is out. It must be almost noon.

My head is clear, too; I’m not thinking much of anything.

There’s a smile on my face.

 

Without warning, someone, or something, unseen, unknown,

shoves me hard in the back and I fall.

I tumble and roll, get caught up in brambles, get lashed and bruised.

See me there, standing shakily at the bottom of the mountain, alone.

 

At first, I’m not concerned. All I need to do is climb back up.

Then it begins to rain. The mountain is steeper than I thought

and becomes more slippery as more rain dumps down.

I am covered in mud. I start to climb. I can’t grab a hold—

 

all the embedded rocks I try to clutch come loose

and hit me on the head and shoulders. All the grass slides silkily

through my fingers. All the exposed twigs snap,

and splinter in my hands. Drops of my blood rust

 

the gathering puddles. I am shrouded

in the stink of mildew. I’m concerned now, but confident

that once things dry, ascending will be easy. But it keeps raining.

Days pass. And months pass. Years. The rain is unceasing,

 

obliterating. I gain ten feet; I lose ten feet. I fight for twenty;

I slip back twenty. Occasionally, I make real progress.

At one point, I am halfway up the side of the mountain,

but always I fall. Always I end up back at the bottom.

 

Most of the time, I don’t know why I keep trying to scale it.

I am numb. I continue on blindly, losing and losing

hope of reaching the top. You’re right—I could just crumple,

lie still under the bulleting rain and crashing stones,

 

but letting go of my life is pointlessly redundant.

So I claw. I forget it’s raining because I forget sunlight.

I lose the ability to track my progress. I resign myself

to never making progress. I think I will scratch

 

at the side of the mountain until my fingers break

and I won’t get anywhere. When my fingers break,

I’ll try to climb with just my knees, and I won’t get anywhere.

And then I look up and discover I’m standing on top of the mountain.

 

None of my words can describe the shock and relief I feel.

I can tell you it isn’t raining; up here there is sun.

I want to stretch my arms up into the sky,

but I’m not strong enough. I cry, but begin to believe

 

I will grow stronger. I begin to feel safe.

I am not even tentative when I take my first step forward.

I take my first step forward. My next.

And then I lose my footing.