Honesty. A subject I harp on about often. I like to think I am an honest, upfront individual and that this is reciprocated by the people around me. Mutual respect – if I’m honest and open with you, then I should expect the same in return. However, there is something that evades me – self honesty. I am not honest about what is going on within my own mind. I creep around an emotion for fear that if I face it I will become engulfed by it. It’s not a healthy attitude to have when you suffer from Bipolar.
At the end of last year, I was in the middle of a severe bout of depression. It was one of the longest stretches of time I had felt so low. Everyone has had that moment when you NEED to cry. Whether it be through physical pain, grief and loss, a break up or just after a ridiculously shitty day when everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. So you scream, cry, sob, but then afterwards you feel a release. You feel better, somewhat restored and ready to face life’s next challenge. Engaging with that raw emotion and facing up to it is what allows us to carry on during difficult circumstances.
Looking back to late last year and I found it immensely difficult to cry. That sounds strange, coming from a person who has faced up to the fact they are depressed. I have made excuses for myself; that I’m a strong person and I don’t need to cry. Blaming the medication for dampening down emotions. The people around me won’t want to see a blubbering wreck. Even that crying is self indulgent. But these are all lies. I had been lying to myself and denying a healthy response to my ill health.
This is something I have learnt to recognise on my own. Counselling through talking therapies was unfortunately unhelpful, but for one point. Six sessions past and I had not cried, not even once. I had found the whole process frustrating. The exercises, assessments and ‘homework’ straight out of a textbook and not tailored to suit my needs. This frustration boiled over during the seventh session when the counsellor informed me I would not be referred for further support and assessment as he had failed to,
“Gain enough evidence.” I felt that there was this magic combination of words that I had to use to continue to receive help, that I was completely unaware of. His questions began again and I returned with answers as best I could. Then he stopped me and said,
“I’m not getting what you are trying to say.” All I could manage before I started to cry was,
“I don’t know what you want me to say, I’m explaining how I feel.” And that was it. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I couldn’t drive I was crying so much and I had to stop at my Mums’ halfway home. When I managed to compose myself enough to get home, I spent the evening sobbing. The next week I was hollow, numb, burnt out. The next weekend I felt something again. But again I couldn’t cry, something was holding me back that I didn’t want to recognise. I was scared to cry, to have that release. If I cry, I will break that barrier, I will be out of control and unsure of what I would do to myself.
This was where I found myself at the end of last year. I had repeated the pattern, years later. I wanted to be strong, and not give in to the depression. It culminated on Boxing day when I could no longer bottle up how awful I really felt. the tears flowed, and along with them the negative, painful emotions I had suppressed.
I am slowly realising I need to take my own advice. Facing a problem head on; being honest with myself about the emotions I am feeling and facing up to them. It will be painful, but I will heal faster and hopefully gain further self awareness.