I was having what you might call a “bad day.” Thoughts of suicide were clinging to me, and I was neither asleep or awake. Nobody noticed the lead up when I was asking to get together for a coffee, but suddenly I was a chosen charity case. My family thought I should come with them. I did. I slept about 16 hours straight and was awakened by whispers. They were whispers about me. It was if though they were stripping away my skin and exposing my wearied soul to everyone who wanted juicy gossip. The quiet woke me, and I was frenzied to get away as fast as I could. I collected my things and left without eye contact or words because they were too painful. I was ashamed beyond the hell that burnt my dwindling sense of humanity.
I do not know how to recover from the betrayal and stigma that was their entertainment. “Oh, but they were just worried about you.” Lovely. Maybe when I am less vulnerable but still unwell they could notice. It was as though they were watching a tightrope act and only saw the risk after the ambulance took the performer away from a 10 story fall.
Even worse, I described my hypomania and depression to my family, and they continued to share their narrowed world view that, “She’s great when she’s great, but she’s not when she’s not.” It is such an oversimplified, inaccurate, insulting and dangerous way to conceptualize my illness. In fact, when I’m “great” are the most troubling times because irritability, energy, and depression are often a cocktail of dangerous feelings waiting to explode into a grand finale.