…Call it what you like, / that nightly jaunt I took, analyze it / as you will, there must have been /
some benefit I gained from it — otherwise /
I’d have come down long ago.
“Only Child”, ‘Edwin Brock’
Manic Depression didn’t kill your dog. Manic depression didn’t rape you. Manic Depression never picked up a gun. People are not their cancer and you are not “A Manic Depressive”, you “Have manic depression”.
You are not your disease. It’s a trap that we all fall into eventually. After I was diagnosed I was “A Manic Depressive” for the better part of eighteen years. Being “A Manic Depressive” gave me excuses that could easily explain why I was who I was. I would tell people “I am A Manic Depressive” and they’d be uncomfortable for a little while and that was it. The reaction was there was no reaction because people have no idea what A Manic Depressive does, or have any idea what Manic Depression does to us.
But it was an excuse I could offer — from one ignorant to another, and it worked because calling yourself “A Manic Depressive” or “A BiPolar” sounds like it should mean something Important. Unlike most diseases manic depression has been romanticized, captured in paint and in song, so people — including us — do not fear manic depression. So the people around us do not fear for us. So the people who care about us, the people who care for us, just shrug their shoulders and give no reaction because those people have no idea what manic depression even means… because I had no idea what manic depression meant for the first eighteen years.
For too long we’ve deluded ourselves into believing manic depression was either something to be perversely proud of or something to be desperately ashamed of… but the mystique is a lie, it’s just a fucking disease. Why do we have such a hard time convincing ourselves and others about the horrible effects this disease has on us when there are a million fucking web sites and blogs about Manic Depression and every Pharmaceutical company sells an anti-depressant or a mood stabilizer, and there’s certainly no shortage of websites dedicated to selling the pills or telling us why those pills are evil… so, with all of this information so available, why is this disease so misunderstood?
Manic depression did not divorce your parents. Manic depression does not care one little fucking bit about you and your life. There’s nothing personal about Manic Depression… untreated, however, manic depression will prevent you from dealing with all of those issues.
The damage to who you are from those rapes, those divorces, those episodes, those instances, those happenings will fester and grow for as long as you refuse to get treated for the disease. What is personal is the crap you haven’t had the ability to deal with since the disease took over. Manic depression didn’t force your girlfriend to miscarry, but unmedicated the disease will prevent you from dealing with The Things That Happen in your life. You have to stop believing Manic Depression is a definition so you can get the Disease out of the way so you can start dealing with the depressing shit that has happened in your life.
Take the fucking pills… consult with your doctor, ask her questions, check websites for information about those pills… educate yourself so you can answer the questions that will come when you tell someone about the Disease. Bring your family into an appointment — NOT so you can discuss the personal shit that has been festering for one, two, eight, eighteen years, but so they can be told about the severity of this disease and about what they can do to make your recovery easier. But, most importantly, Take The Fucking Pills…
It is not easy. The only family member I have who understands this disease is my cousin, and he worked as a nurse in a Mental Health Facility and we’ve only spoken about it once. Since the diagnosis in 1989 I’ve brought my mother into four appointments. Each time she ended up in tears because I “blame her for everything”. Which I don’t. At least not since I was sixteen. But no one has read a book, no one has read a pamphlet, my younger brother has read some of this blog but that’s it… I spent most of eighteen years living as close to the street as you can get without getting rained on, and no one could read a book to help. Fuck, I even bought “An Unquiet Mind” and handed it to my mom and step-dad.
Look… recovery is easier when your family, related or not, gets involved. I’ve lived with enough alcoholics, drug addicts and mentally ill people to recognize that getting family involved is key to a faster recovery. The more you do this on your own, the longer it’ll take and the more of your life you’ll waste not dealing with The Shit. But, and this is so perverse, after you’ve taken the initiative to find help it’s you that has to take the initiative to get your family involved. Your family has watched the horrors of manic depression every time you cut yourself or were violent or they stood beside you while two nurses pumped your stomach… they have the experience through watching and trying to survive your insanity, but they don’t know how to react to your recovery other than to say “well, he ain’t crazy anymore.”
Last thing… none of this matters without you taking the pills. Finding treatment that fits and sticking with it is the key, but take the fucking pills.