So, after 10 years of diligence and dumb luck it finally happened again. I’m off of work because of my illness. Time estimate- 6 weeks. Beyond bipolar depression I’ve also been having severe anxiety. I saw this coming probably 3 months back but I thought I was just having a temporary case of work-based “fraud syndrome”. But no, it’s the real thing. Maybe triggered by the perfect storm of stressors going on in my life, but it likely would have happened anyway. I guess I was just due a meltdown. Also, I’ve been rolling the dice the last couple of years on a relatively low dose of meds.
But here’s the thing. I have this evil superpower of pretending to be ok when I’m clearly not. I can fake a lighthearted mood and (with enough Xanax in me) sort of fake being calm. This is all fine and good until you’ve realized the fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy has painted you into a corner. There are two reasons this was a bad strategy for me.
- I believed my own bullshit. I waited too long to get the help I needed because I thought I would snap out of it and that if I was fooling people maybe I wasn’t “that sick”.
- Everyone who knows about my disorder and several of the ones who don’t know but who know I’m off of work have said the same thing. “Well, you seem fine to me…”
Guess what people, I’m not fine. I will be but I’m not right now and I (plus all of you) need to accept that. I guess we still have a long way to go, myself included, in finally accepting mental illness as illness and treating it as such. I’m as big an offender as anyone else. I cannot cast stones. Until I overcome my own shame and closeted behavior surrounding my disorders I don’t see how I can really blame others for their lack of understanding of the disease.
So this post is as much for me as it is for everyone else. Seeming fine and being fine are not always the same. Try really hard to notice the difference.