Unabridged Me


Life with a Mood Disorder

September 22, 2017

Vivian:  I don’t like this day.
Me:  Ditto.

While Vivian’s comment came from anger for not doing something the way she wanted, my feeling is a bit more pervasive.

I make no secret I have a mood disorder.  Check out my bio page, I’m pretty open about the chemical imbalances and subsequent diagnosis I have been assigned.  But despite being open about my brain, I still think people don’t get it.

Our society has plenty of information about it, right?  Brain chemistry, awareness, medications…  but that is not the experience of what it is to live with a mood disorder.

There aren’t words for me to describe the experience for those who don’t live it.  So instead here’s some points on how to help and not hurt someone going through this.

Don’t tell me it/I will be okay.

That is the equivalent of a patronizing pat on the head and a shoo away.  The lack of emotional investment in what I might be attempting to share merely reinforces the isolation.  If you aren’t going to try and sit with me, don’t bother stopping.  It will make things worse.

I get to say I will be okay.  Why me and not you?  Because I live this.  I have survived and will continue to survive.  In fact, I manage to thrive most times in spite of this.  I have a healthy and mostly balanced life because I embrace, understand, and work through this.

I know it will be okay.

Don’t force me to hang out in public or be social.

Right now my brain is interfering with my ability to attach and engage with physical reality.  Forcing me out will only make it worse.  We’ve all learned from society and our parents that when unhappy, distract.  When Vivian is having a tantrum, I distract her.

This is not a tantrum.  This is not a break up, or a sad movie, or wanting attention.  I am locked in my brain and cannot see things the way you want me to see them, or even as they are.

If you force me out, I will make both of us miserable.  I will be incapable of engaging, and it will have the opposite effect you intended. My sense of isolation will be worse, and it may even prompt leaking of the eyes because I will be aware of my lacking in social regards.

Don’t ask if there are meds I can take

There are.  We all know there are a plethora of chemical changing, mind altering drugs.  Both prescription and alternative.

I choose to not take meds.  And for those who are taking meds, they are already on them.  Asking me if there is something I can take for this reinforces I am not normal in your mind.

I get enough reinforcement from society I am different.  I already combat marketing and mainstream expectations.  I consistently feel isolated and alone, more so when I am struggling.  Don’t remind me my choices regarding my body are not the easy answer.

I know this already.

Do listen and process with me

If you are a lucky one in a billion people I open up to when I’m here, please help me process.

Wait, this is chemical right?  What’s to process?

While the mood disorder is chemical, most of us have life experiences that have laid triggers and trauma on top of the chemical imbalance.  Either due to choices I’ve made, or traumas I’ve experienced, the imbalance creates a cyclone of thoughts in my head picking up speed every time they pass by.

It’s never one single thought, either.  Usually two or three minimum.  It could be a memory of bloody fights, or feelings of inadequacies, or even a generalized fear of being vulnerable and letting people close.

By listening and responding, helping me to see a different reality of the thoughts pile driving my brain, the ruminations can stop.  It helps, believe me.

If you are not going to listen, or if you are going to trivialize my experience, my feelings, or my thoughts, don’t bother.  You will no longer be one in a billion.

Give me a hug

First, disclaimer.  I do not like most people touching me.  Wait for me to initiate.  Unless you are one in a billion, you are not to touch me unsolicited.

If you are one in a billion, and you can see where I am mentally, please reach out and give a hug.  That small reminder there is a physical reality, containing someone who cares, can give me a moment to sit rather than fight.

And sometimes sitting in the quagmire of my mind and not fighting to be normal is all I need to start pulling myself out.  Embracing myself stops the anguish.  You embracing me reminds me I am worth embracing.

Be patient

At the end of the day, this is a reoccurring cycle regardless what is happening in my life.  I have chosen to not medicate, opting for more cognitive options, but that does not lessen my need for patience.

This will pass.  I will relish in awe of the small details of life, raising my face to the sun as breezes kiss my cheeks at some point.  In fact, I will be more appreciative of the beauty around me, for once again I have run my hero’s course through Hades and have emerged.

Here’s the kicker 

Most people won’t know I’m struggling.  It’s likely you will look at me and think I’m maybe a bit more tired than usual, or haven’t had my coffee yet.

So my last suggestion, in general:  don’t judge what someone else might be going through at any given minute.  Unless you are one in a billion, you don’t know me.