Very Nearly Trapped

Man behind the glass

In Kryptonite and Inevitable Triggers, Musings of a Madwoman writes

Consistently trying to mimic emotions of others everyday in itself is hard, trying to be happy when you are sad and and stop the acceleration of happiness is exhausting.  I cherish the moments when I can completely be myself, drown in the things I love with joy.

All people daily face the challenge of being authentic.  It is not strictly the mentally ill, but I think it is 10 times harder for people who struggle with a mental illness.  I would also include people who suffer from chronic pain.  We want to blend in.  We don’t wish to cause concern.  We don’t want people to feel that they have to “deal” with us and our illness again.

There are very few people I can “completely be myself”, because completely being myself means that I might be unpleasant or difficult to be around.  I can suppress it for short periods of time, but when I’m ill mainly I just hide away in my cubicle or stay home after work.  Even going to the grocery could be trouble.

Even at home, I try to keep a stiff upper lip.  I don’t want my family to feel that their lives have to center around my moods.  It’s not fair for them.  Right?  You could even say it is selfish for me to be myself.  Why should my need to be myself override my family’s need to live in a serene house?

But it takes a toll, suppressing oneself, “mimic[king] emotions…and stop[ping] the acceleration of happiness.” I don’t fully know what that toll is.  I’m starting with a new therapist soon and I’m sure he’ll have something to say about it.”  I know there’s guilt involved.  I know there may eventually be resentment involved.  And I suspect that there may be an explosion involved.

There is a new development in my family.  My wife is being treated for PTSD which stems from trauma from my major manic episode in 2011 and my childrens’ suicide attempts since.  Now that she’s opening that can of worms, she’s ask me to keep my mental health issues to myself and my therapist.  I don’t fault her for that.  She needs to get the care she needs…and so do I.  It’s a good time to start therapy again anyway.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you would probably agree with me!

At work I have to be professional.  At my church job, I have to be a mature, spiritual leader.  At home, I have to be a solid dad and husband.  I don’t know where there is room for the complete me.  My twin brother is really one out of two people who I can be myself with, but he lives in another state.  He fully accepts my illness, unlike my little brother who sees it as a spirit/mind issue instead of a medical one.  He believes that we’re all capable of being bipolar for a period of our lives.  I steer clear of the subject with him.  My sponsor knows everything there is about me.  He’s the only one who I can 100% be myself with.  He knows all my dirty little secrets.  He knows my struggles.  He even knows a little bit of my soul.

It it weren’t for those two men, my complete self would be trapped in a room surrounded with expectations, ignorance, stigma, and impatience.

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