I try not to talk about my illness. It frightens me. It makes me feel ashamed. I am scared of what others will think of me. But this is me. Who I am. The illness is a part of me and not one that will go away. It invades my days. Some times it is kind to me and some times it destroys me. I am not normal. I have no idea what normal is. I know normal exists.
If I were to tell you I had Bipolar, you would form some conclusion in your head of what I have and who I am. The problem is that idea will not be true. Unless you have Bipolar, or knows of someone close to you who does, I don’t think you can ever understand. Those with this illness also do not understand it, I know I don’t.
I have something called,Cyclothymia. Let me explain.
Cyclothymia — or Cyclothymic Disorder — is a relatively mild mood disorder. In cyclothymic disorder, moods swing between short periods of mild depression and hypomania, an elevated mood. The low and high mood swings never reach the severity of major depression or mania. Cyclothymia is a “bipolar-like” illness. People with cyclothymic disorder have milder symptoms than in full-blown bipolar disorder
Relatively mild mood disorder? Trust me this is not the case.
The lows are what I can only describe as depression on your worst day that continues to get worse. There is no escaping this dark hole, it swallows you up. This is when you want to die. Suicide is a constant thought.
The highs? Well these I am sorry to say are great. I love my illness at times. It allows me to feel free. My fear and pain vanish and I can only at these times reach my dreams. This is me on a magic happy drug. It allows the real me to shine through in bucket fulls. I can relate more to the highs. The highs remind me of the time before the illness. When I was not afraid to face the big world outside my front door.
This illness has stolen my identity. Has made me a prisoner in my own home. Some days I can not leave the house. The outside world frightens me. I am a formal shadow of who I used to be.
Beneath my illness lies the person who is me. The one who fights this illness daily to stand tall, hold her head high and shout – I am still here. That little star has lost its shine, but its still here.
I never loose the real me. That women who has fought her whole life to help and be there for others, even when her own world was falling apart. That women who spent 11 years of her life being controlled and living in fear of domestic violence, still was the loyal friend to many. When she needed someone, she was alone. She faced a life of terror, yet always wore a smile.
The mask I wear is the only familiar thing I have. When my days are low I paint a smile. Dedicating my time to helping others gives me my purpose in life. I can not face people often in the real world, so my online support group keeps me alive. Its all I know. If something good can come from something so bad, then my past has a meaning.
It is very common for “someone like me” to use illegal drugs, drink excessively or self harm as a survival strategy. I reveal for the first time ever what I really do behind closed doors.
I do self harm. I do this by starving my body of food. I also use boiling hot water to punish myself. When I am at my lowest, lying in a bath tub of scalding hot water is a release to me. I do not feel pain at this time. I am numb.
I do other things that I am not yet ready to admit to the world. But this is my start to being able to accept what I do is not bad, it is a way to survive.
Alone is all I know. I do not accept help easily. I guess that would mean admitting I am not able to cope. I have failed.
I am a mother to 6 young children. They are the reason I wake every morning, the reason I am still alive. Without them I would have ended this heartache a long long time ago.
I hope this part has explained a little more about me. I am still me beneath my illness.