The nature of being bipolar is that of feeling alone. Very few people understand the illness or how it affects me. Even those who also suffer with this disease have little idea of how it makes me feel or how I try to cope. Yet the more alone I feel, the more I need to have others around me.
Depression is a miserable and lonely place to be. I feel lost and alone in the overwhelming sadness and despair. I care about no one or nothing, and feel like no one else cares about me. I just want to crawl into a deep hole and hide from it all. I feel isolated from the rest of the world. Yet the more I crave being alone the more I should be surrounded by others. People do care, and are frustrated in their inability to lift me back into the world of the living. But it’s something I just cannot see.
Mania can also produce a feeling of being alone. No one likes to be around someone who is so irritable and annoying. I push people away with my intolerance of those who disagree with me, or who can’t understand why I’m so frustrated. As I reach the extremes of mania I can be scary and irrational, and I am avoided and shunned. People think I’m crazy; and they are right.
Everyday life is influenced to extremes because of my illness. I know I’m different from most others, and as such feel separated and alone. I feel defective because of my disease, eroding my self confidence and leaving me feeling like I’m inadequate and broken. What should be just normal interactions with people are complicated and difficult. Everyday tasks become daunting and seemingly impossible, adding to my insecurities and setting me apart from others. I crave contact, yet am paralyzed by the fear that I am going to be rejected as a freak.
Even when I’ve been in love, which should be the complete opposite of loneliness has only resulted in solitude. For an all too brief time I’ve enjoyed the warm comfort and feeling cared for and cherished for who I am. But because a person with bipolar is so difficult to be with, up until now they’ve all ended in failure, leaving me even more lonely than ever. Whoever said “It’s better to have loved and lost is than never to have loved at all” was certainly not bipolar. When you spend your life isolated and alone, being given a glimpse into what could be just emphasizes the desolation and seclusion when it inevitably ends.
But the truth is, you really can’t live it alone. I need the support of those I care about, providing hope and understanding in the depths of my depressions. Maybe they don’t understand how I feel but they can accept that I feel the way I do. I need the help of Doctors and therapists to overcome the chemical curse that has put me in such a dark place. I need others to bolster my confidence and remind me that I’m not as defective as I think I am. I need people I can trust to help keep me grounded and recognize the signs and push me towards getting help. I even need people to step in and intervene, alerting health care or even law enforcement when I get too out of control.
Even with the severity of my illness I’m very fortunate to have a good support system that helps with these feelings of being alone. My Doctor does an awesome job, always being available to help adjust my medications with or without an appointment. My therapist has continued to meet with me and help me through some of the worst of times; even agreeing to continue when I had no insurance or means to meet even a small co-pay. My family has stood by me and provided emotional and financial support through all the ups and downs. And maybe, just maybe I’ve found someone who really does understand and can put up with all the baggage and trials that go along with this illness. I am taking a risk, but I’ve formed a strong relationship with someone else who suffers from being bipolar. Sure, there are challenges that will come from the ever changing moods that may or may not coincide. But at least I feel like there is someone who ‘gets’ me. I don’t have to explain why I’m so down when there isn’t a reason why. I am tolerated as I blast through the exuberances and energy of my highs. And the fact that they understand the extremes, I trust that I will be taken for help when it’s justified. And since I have the same understanding and empathy, I will provide the same. Will it last? Only time will tell.
Now more than ever, as lonely as it seems, I can believe that I’m never truly alone. And when it’s all said and done, none of us ever really are.