“I get by with a little help from my friends..”
Some people describe you as nothingness, some as cold wilderness. I think you’re fire. I have always liked heat. Seeing as you haven’t left me my entire life, we’ve learned to get along. You taught me how to enjoy silence and how to enjoy being by myself. You taught me the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. You have put depth in my eyes and color into my heart. Honestly, more than any other monster I address here, you made me who I am. In that way I suppose I should thank you. There have been times in my life, this one included, that we have had more than an existence in each other’s worlds. Lately we have been white hot enemies. I strike at you one day – I go on a hike, I remember my meds, I drink enough water, and I muster enough courage to cook myself a meal or even when I just go out with friends. Those days I win. But then you strike back for three – I can’t leave my house except to go to work, I can’t sleep, cooking is too hard so I don’t eat. Those are the days you do, MDD. For the past 8 months or so.. You’ve had me. I’ve been a prisoner of war begging you and my God, or any other that might listen to please just help me sleep; help me move; help me breath. I tell certain people little items about you. The ones closest know the most, but nobody knows how many blows we’ve come to. No one knows that you have become imbedded in my skin, sinking in down to my bones. Our closest ties have stayed our own dirty little secret. But, Friday I decided to go grocery shopping. I had two panic attacks before I left, and one on my way, but I made it to Walmart at 1030 pm and got every single thing on my list. The next day I got out of bed, I cleaned my sheets and spent the day with my best friend. Yesterday I washed some more laundry and watched some cute little kids at my church. I even went to bed on time. Today.. Today I thought you were going to win. Today my little Q at work was holding me together with a smile and a Jack Johnson song. Then.. today I did the dishes. I. Did. The. Dishes. And I don’t mean a few in the sink, oh no. Because I hadn’t done my dishes in weeks. You’ve made my kitchen unusable and rotted, Depression. But today I did the dishes, I cleaned the counter, I bleached my stove, I swept, and then I cried about my victory while sitting on the floor. I won again today. Man, did I win today. You see there were times, so many that I thought for sure I would never win again. I thought for sure if I quit, if I hit the Ctrol+Alt+Del on my life, other lives would improve. I’ve lived through the tragedy of being left behind when you win, Depression. I know how devastating it can be to those “other lives.” But then I hear you say that I’m too loud or too quiet, too fat, too short, too uncoordinated, frumpy, undesirable, slow, too rash, an over-thinker, never enough, weak, undeserving. I’ve heard you put me down for so long.. But you only stop me if I stop fighting. You can slow me down, but never stop me. Today, I won. I slayed you right there in my kitchen. It smells like lemons and your defeat right now, and I get to sleep on clean sheets. I won tonight, and I’ll win tomorrow. I know that I have to live with you, but I want you to know I won’t ever give up.
You are relatively new. Before last year I could count on one hand the number of times I had encountered one of your attacks. If someone hadn’t ever felt your grip, they could mistake you for a heart attack. You turn my world into a cold, dark hole I’m falling through. You leave me heaving and gasping for air, drenched in sweat, usually on the floor of the nearest bathroom I could find. The weight you can put on a person’s chest never seizes to astound me. I’ve known about you, and how you work my whole life because you find enjoyment in plaguing the ones I love. I’ve seen their breath catch in their throat, unable to be set free. I’ve seen you knock them to their knees, sobbing uncontrollably. I’ve seen you make them sound like fools with their shuddering. I have held terrified, shaking bodies, neither of us quite sure what they are scared of.. I have cried as I watched you steal hope from bright situations. “An animal for every letter,” I always say, “Ant eater, Bison, Cheetah, Dolphin..” I try to make them uncommon. Not like cat and dog, but more complex. You are distracted easily, Panic, at least some of the time.. Other times.. We who suffer, we sit. We reach out if we need to reach out. We call our best friends and just listen to their breath as they tell us we’re strong and can take a breath of our own. We pray it will be over soon, and quietly, tiredly rejoice when we leave. I fear your existence every day. I can cause your panic attacks while worrying about upcoming situations that might cause them. I often forgetting that we have made it through all of our biggest battles. We did that. Either on our own, or with a loved one. I made it through every battle, no matter how strong, no matter how long I had to fight; I have survived every war you have waged against me. You might knock me to my knees again, but I promise I’ll stand back up.
Thank you. I love you. I always will.
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” —Wishful Drinking, her 2008 memoir about her mental illness and prescription drug addiction
PS If you are interested in the artist responsible for the panic drawing, please check him out here –>#InkTober by Shawn Coss