“And if I create that perception, then I take responsibility.”
I yawn very frequently. It’s the medication, not lack of sleep. Back on anti-depressants like nothing ever changed from four years ago but, of course, so much has.
Some days it’s difficult to concentrate, while others my “non-functionality” is cured. I wake up quite well (this is the part we don’t really talk about) and luckily have a bit of energy to open the seven-minute workout app on my phone a few times a week. Lately I’ve been listening to the same music. Someone gives me papers to sign. I type.
I often wonder how easy it is—going from intense and overwrought contemplation to not wondering much at all. It’s medication, surely, but I can’t tell if I’m satisfied with just that.
Midday. We all have some version of who we are at two, three in the afternoon. We drift off into no-man’s land, saturated beneath office lighting, and douse in a coffee or tea break as the day rolls on. Normally. As it should.
Where was I when history was being made, in some other place, some other period of time, and everything changed on an issue that I cared so deeply about? I clock in, clock out. Take the meds at night. It’s not profound.
People seem to be walking out of my story. That was a recent development.
(Life update: A bipolar depression diagnosis isn’t very comforting. I’d also like to avoid repeating history at all costs. Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.)
It’s just to say that—amid everything else—I must keep asking, “What’s making me miserable?” But I also want to say that rage can be a kind of fuel, which works simultaneously as: self-assuredness that I’m always right, that I’m still better than others. What’s making me miserable now? Well, “timing is key to corporate success,” as they say. What a sell-out.
Only professionals can diagnose our mental health problems to tell us “what’s really wrong,” but at least we have the Internet—that endlessness of data and distraction which will give me enough options I can at least resonate with. Whether that’s a thinkpiece on some personal drama, or a long-winded Facebook status from a friend, or the countless clinical psychology portals that will suggest their mildly fascinating terms, these permutations populate the empty space in my mind that says, “Maybe this one,” because the psychiatrist is too expensive, anyway.
I can understand and measure my illness when I resonate with certain words: A few weeks ago, I scrolled through the Wikipedia pages on “dysthymia” and “learned helplessness” and almost immediately appropriated them to my narrative—rightly so. This is the power struggle I have with words describing at me than just describing me. I stopped taking my medication two years back over how it defined me: type up a Google search of “lamosyn” and it’ll just say anti-epileptic. It’s not like anyone considers the sick patient a professional of their own suffering.
“You mentioned this bad behavior was because of your mood disorder and other related mental problems,” wrote the Verbal Reprimand. So I had to retreat to the blog I hadn’t revisited in months now to write down what this diminishing made me feel: the over-simplification, the irrationality that certain words could encapsulate how lopsided I was because I had a normal day, like I chose to be unbearable by necessity. I had a normal day then. But nobody seems to talk about how the routinary, the familiar, even the good days can have the opposite effect on your mind.
That’s why I classify in the mood disorder category rather than the depression category, my shrink says. And now, all I can do is grin and bear it. Suck up my unprofessionalism and thank the people who decided, yes, you can keep your job. Here’s the formal notice so you can never, ever do it again. Even though I meant the things I said to our HR officer—I’m happy this is not being excused, I’m working on myself, I’m saying all this because I’d prepared an itemized list in my head so you can treat my emptiness with respect—I look back on that bleak conversation and wonder if I really cared. Was I being authentic enough? angry enough? I don’t make the rules, I just describe at people so they can stop talking to me about it.
Today: I want to remind people they don’t even know who I am and overly-assert this fact. Pull out something from under the rug and say I was right. That’s how I really feel. Should I be impressed? I don’t wish to quell the obnoxious arrogance which I’ve made a part of who I really am.
Side note: This post is rarely edited and intended to be that way.
There are two lines repeatedly crystallizing in my mind: one comes from the famous Oscar speech delivered by Matthew McConaughey, when he won Best Actor for his role as a homophobic electrician abruptly diagnosed with HIV in the film Dallas Buyers Club in 2013. Among the three things he needs, he says, it’s essential to “have something to chase.” The other line in my head comes from a pivotal song in the musical Hamilton—a line I didn’t think much of till I started to connect the dots between McConaughey’s lauding pronouncement to always chase the person you are ten, twenty, fifty years from present-day: “For the first time, I’m thinking past tomorrow,” says Hamilton.
Being a writer—”by definition”—who knows how a reader will conceive this association? Both of us, we’ve gone so unforgiving. The two lines dabble in the brainspace positioned externally on the back of my head, mechanical wind from a fan is directly grazing, which feels slightly below the area I imagine (if only to quell this contemplation) someone’s hand is now resting. Three options makeshift an interpretation: a) Warmth, but easy for you to say. b) How awkward would this be in real life? c) Do not clutch too hard, my dear. The body and blood—”the guts” by definition— will err out of my eyes and spill.
I look after myself properly. I’m a pilgrim past tomorrow.
Like me, they used to be impressed with me. It’s a strange feeling. As I walked into the room earlier this morning, I thought to myself, This is how an exit strategy is made. It’s not that I think of quitting—I hate inadequacies, even in my own reasoning. Maybe that’s adulthood for you. I was just listening to the podcast where a journalist said, “If you ask people what makes them amazing, they’re willing to talk for a long time.”