Sometimes I get so good at not being bipolar, that I forget that I am.
What may seem like an absurd notion to someone who has never experienced mental illness, is actually quite common. For some the litany of psychiatrists appointments and medication management will eventually put you on a plane of existence that actually mirrors normalcy. No panic and anxiety attacks. No depression. No manic episodes. Linear thoughts. Contained emotions. Shit, I feel – dare I say it – like you. Regular. Not like the person who was once spiraling so far out of control that the only way to stop the epic descent to oblivion was to seek medical intervention.
Nope, I’m not crazy today. I’m just ordinarily ordinary just like you. And you. And even you.
But sometimes things aren’t as easy as they may seem. Call it a glitch in the system.
As with anything, mental health management is not an exact science and even the most diligent pill popping, therapist talking, psychiatrist visiting patient will fall of the wagon. Often times individuals who follow their mental health plan to a T will have various levels of setbacks no matter how assiduous and attentive they are in their own progress.
Unfortunately, this person is not me.
Sometimes I just mess up. Forget to take a pill here. Go on vacation and leave my meds there. Cancel a few psychiatrist appointments here. Next thing you know a month has gone by and the ugly bull begins to rear its massive head.
This, coupled with the weight of the world can sometimes be too much for manic depressives like myself. Death, mayhem, love, tragedy, injustice; these realities of society that we are lambasted with in a way that was never before seen before the emergence of social media, has a way of triggering our manic episodes. We become overwhelmed and overcome and begin to mentally, emotionally and physically shut down. The symptoms of our bipolar disorder that was neatly packaged and tucked away out of sight become the glaring elephant in the room. The guy with the lime green suit at the all white party. It becomes so obvious and evident that soon even those around us can begin to read the shift in our energy. The lack of jokes. The chronic fatigue. The manic highs. The depressive lows. Because of this we then begin to worry now about how we are portraying ourselves to the outside world; afraid that we are either worrying the ones we care about or beginning to look “off”. As a result, instead of taking the time to work on what’s happening on the inside and building ourselves back up, we end up trying to maintain this shell of a person that we project to the our friends, our family, our coworkers and to the world.
But today, I am taking a mental health break.
The new rule is that anything that is not helping me is hurting me and it’s time I began to rabidly protect myself.
Sometimes the negativity of the world and the certainties that accompany it seem to build up in your heart, mind and soul like a toxic plaque. As time goes by it begins to break us down and we become slaves to its symptoms. Though the realities and distress of life can not be erased, we can attempt as much as possible to control what we allow into our lives and into our consciousness.
But you are allowed to be active and concerned about the injustices happening all around us while simultaneously not partaking in the dialogue about it daily. It doesn’t make you less vigilant or aware as those who do, it just means like me sometimes you need to pause and flush your system of the toxicity that has built up over time. And guess what? There is nothing wrong with that. To adequately and eloquently speak up for and provide for ourselves, our families and our communities we must first take care of self – by any means necessary.
So, today I am taking a much needed mental health break and so should you.
Still think about Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and the others whose names have become hashtags while remembering always that Black lives matter. Continue to pray that all violence against Black bodies can come to an end and that there will one day be a realistic way to end abuse of women and children. Maintain your efforts to fight the good fight whether you are on the front lines leading demonstrations or at your computer sharing information to the masses. Persistently advocate for those who can not speak for themselves and remain aware and informed on various topics from the effects of systematic racism to the intricacies of the postmodern day feminist movement.
Remember that you can care about these issues and indulge in the influences of the world while also caring for yourself and maintaining a you that is cared for, tended to and guarded. You are worth it.
Kasey Woods is an entrepreneur, freelance writer and mental health advocate who's work has been featured on a plethora of online periodicals. For more information visit www.thecuratedcircle.com.