I often say I am an “open book.” Whether it be me being the loudest in the room or me sharing my struggles in life on social media, I have always been a very real person. But the one thing that I feel I could be a million times more real on is, what mood swings from bipolar disorder really look like.
I have said time and time again that depression is NOT always just “sadness.” In the same sense, mania is NOT always a “good feeling.” There are obvious signs in both of these episodes but there are many signs that people just do not understand at all. Especially in the world where people say the weather is bipolar when it turns to sunshine after rain stops.
Too many people nowadays tend to glorify mental illnesses. People I know personally will joke about themselves being “mentally ill” when they themselves don’t go to therapy, aren’t on medications, and have never even been diagnosed with a mental illness. Believe me, I know that there are people in this world suffering without being able to afford any of that, but the individuals that I know, can well afford it. Many just do not understand the reality of mental illnesses. So let me explain what my reality looks like.
A depression episode to me is seeing the floor from your bed to the door being a 6 mile run. Letting the t.v. just play because you know nothing will bring you joy anyway. It is sleeping in crumbs. It is painfully swollen and dry eye lids from crying for too long. And used kleenex on your bedroom floor. It is only one apple everyday. It is the smell of your body not bathing for five days. A week. It is believing your friends hate you. Your family hates you. You hate you. It is a dull pain all through your body that you only know when you struggle. It is the anger of someone you called “friend” after you just need some validation. The anger of a past lover when he says you are “too much.” And still feeling that you are not enough. It is playing tic tac toe on your wrists. And feeling guilty when it wins. It is the feeling of needing to escape. But not being able to escape from your mind. It is sleeping for 12 hours and still needing more. It is baggy clothes and tangled hair. Crying each time you look in the mirror. It is a deep sense of suicide being the only option. And having that thought constantly in the back of your head. It is only seeing the darkness in your head, no matter how hard you try to remember it will only last a couple of days. As all things do, it then ends.
For a while you start to feel content. You don’t feel super low and you don’t feel over excited. You can breathe. But just as your mind starts to recover, your eyes gloss over with mania.
A manic episode to me is feeling like I might have a heart attack if I don’t stop and breathe for one second. It is impulsivity that you don’t even realize is there. And being so much in the moment that you believe there are no consequences. It is no sleep. And not even feeling tired. It is thoughts going too fast that my mouth can’t keep up with what to say. Or words coming out too fast that my brain can’t keep up with what I am even saying. It is anger. For no reason. Wanting to scream at any minor inconvenience. It is locking yourself in your room because you don’t want to act out. It is the next moment believing you are amazing. And also indestructible. It is crying to your mom because you “don’t feel like yourself.” But also running through the city crying at how beautiful our world is. It is friends telling you ‘that’s not a good idea.” And remembering to listen to them. It is hearing you are “crazy” just as much as you hear the word goodbye. It is not knowing you feel like this until after this episode is over. It is euphoria and dissociation. It is a week going by and you feeling like you weren’t “there” the whole time.
If I told you living with a mental illness is the same as living without one, I would be lying. But should I be treated lesser than or think my life is not as beautiful as someone who doesn’t struggle? No.
Yes, it sucks to take medication everyday, go to therapy twice a week, and deal with these mood swings. But I know who I am and that is Sky. Some days I am the storm and some days I dance in the rain. One thing I am not, is crazy. I am real and not a trend either.