It’s hard to know where to begin when I think about filling in the events of the last ten months or so. I suppose the place to start is my mental health, as all things spring from there. Although, as a culture, the British (if not the entire English-speaking world) tend to trivialise emotions, I make no bones about the fact that I suffer from depression. Day to day, it gets hard to respond to a casual “how are you?” from a work colleague or acquaintance, because my natural honesty and desire to connect with other people comes into conflict with the fact that I know telling them the truth will make them uncomfortable. Sometimes I tell people what’s really going on just as an experiment, but sometimes I do it in the knowledge that my naturally affable exterior will make it sound like I’m joking. I get to share my pain while trivialising it in a thoroughly British manner – win-win, surely?
The weird bit is that I can feel happy at times when mood-rating scales on mental health web-tools are telling me that I’m actually in a pretty bad way. A friend of mine recently flagged up a new (and controversial) theory doing the rounds in the States that suggests that bipolar disorder shouldn’t necessarily be diagnosed on the basis of outright mania. If the diagnostic tool that this theory suggests holds water, then I may be mildly bipolar and this oddity in my moods becomes less surprising.
What this has all meant for the last ten months is that I have been through periods of serious social anxiety (in the sense that I manage to convince myself that nobody really likes me), I have been unable to concentrate (e.g. reading a paragraph several times without taking it in), and I have swung between bouts of insomnia and oversleeping. For added fun, a two-day migraine, a panic attack, increased hair loss, and constant cold symptoms have all been thrown into the mix as well. I’m a mess.
Writing all this down, I can’t help but feel a sense of fear about putting this out in a public forum. I fear the accusation that I’m making it up, or that I won’t be taken seriously. The fact that I have never felt suicidal, even at my most desperate, sort of makes me think I should be dealing with my problems more easily somehow. I think it’s because I have a lingering sense of “but you don’t look ill” about it all. So all those times I want to just curl up under a table and rock back and forth are just me being childish, all those times I feel sluggish are just me being idle, and all those times I wish I felt better are just me being too much of a pussy to deal with the world.
I sometimes wonder how the police haven’t been called to my house because my neighbours have heard the screams.