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The Invisible Fight Against Mania

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The sun is shining. Outside my window, birds are singing. It’s a beautiful start to a beautifully new day.

I hate it.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

My bed is soft, warm and comforting. Inside my room, my sanctuary, the curtains are drawn and the harshness of the sun’s brightness cannot overwhelm me. However, the day must begin.

I smile as I drop my son off at preschool. His teachers tell me what a joy he is to have. They do not see the exhaustion and dark circles hidden beneath my sunglasses caused by the overwhelming fatigue due to the mood stabilizer I take.

As I stand in line for coffee, I feel dizzy and lightheaded. Strangers mumble behind me. I’m paranoid their conversations regard me and my lack of coordination. I want to turn around and tell them it’s a side effect of my antidepressant. I want to ask if my paranoia is valid. I order my coffee and my voice cannot find the correct pronunciation for frappuccino, so I order tea instead. A memory that rivals a San Francisco fog, it’s yet another side effect of medication.

A fellow driver changes lanes with no signal and I honk my horn, angrily. Inside my neighborhood Target, I loudly correct the woman attempting to get in line in front of me. I’m downright belligerent when I go to return a shirt, expecting a confrontation. I want to say it’s not you, it’s me. I’m manic right now.

The store is hot. There are too many people too close to me. Voices blur like surround sound.  My chest hurts and I feel the familiar wave of an attack. I’m beyond humiliated. I’m in my car somehow. I cannot remember how I got there. Tears stream down my face as I cry into my steering wheel like it can somehow offer me comfort. As if depression were a blanket someone could wrap around me, it feels heavy and burdensome.

Please see me.

Please see me.

My days are a carousel of emotions. I’ve begun grandiose projects, maxed out a credit card and rearranged my living room in one day. The next day is spent huddled in a ball with a guilty sickness over my spending spree. I drive too fast, talk too loudly and smile as though the whole world were created as my personal playground. And I haven’t even hit Wednesday yet.

Everyone experiences bipolar disorder differently. Treatment will vary based on individual needs and medical advice.

Simply because our illness is invisible does not mean we are. 

Originally published: February 10, 2017
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