Where am I? Where have I gone? This disconnect has lasted too long. There have been brief glimpses of connection that I have shared with friends where I have laughed until I cried but then in the blink of an eye they are gone. I hate this feeling. Without relationships and connection, I am nothing. Yet at the same time, I convince myself that being emotionally alone is the only way to keep myself safe.
I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder for the last decade. My husband has been present since day one. Yet he just doesn’t get it. When I am feeling this way, I go about my day getting things done, interacting in the same way that I always do with my daughter (I cannot let her see the truth). I am not rude, I am not angry, I am just quiet. I respond to those around me but cannot handle being the outgoing social butterfly that I am when hypomania rears its head. I am not depressed. I don’t feel enough to be depressed.
As I buzzed around the kitchen making my daughter some lunch, clearing up, doing the laundry etc, my husband leaned against the kitchen counter, arms folded and viewed me like a piece of abstract art within the Tate Modern. Out the corner of my eye, I even see him tilt his head. He does not get me. To him, I am a mystery to be solved.
He is annoyed at me and tells me so. “Just tell me what’s wrong!” he urges, irritation seeping into his voice. He doesn’t get it. He never will get it. What’s wrong is that I have a mood disorder. He cannot handle that sometimes it’s as simple as that. He doesn’t understand that there doesn’t have to be a tangible reason when you have this illness. It just is. He cannot handle that there is no solution. I cannot be fixed. I can merely paper over the cracks until I fall apart all over again.
It seems that everyone is willing to accept that you have a mental illness until it actually rears its head and makes you behave in a way that they don’t understand. You don’t have to be rude, angry or anything offensive but if you merely ‘can’t handle something,’ make your apologies and remove yourself from the situation – you’d be amazed how many people take offence to that. They take it personally as if you have slighted them. They cannot see past themselves to understand that “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Seriously, get over yourself.
I feel it again. That disconnection I feel every so often where it feels like no-one really knows who I am. Those around me are merely beings going through the motions of humanity with no connection present. I don’t remember the last time I felt connected – those close to me have begun to feel like strangers. I have no idea what is going on in their heads. Do I even want to?
Yesterday, I attended a fitness event in London. It had been booked for months and cost me plenty in admission, hotel and parking so there was no way that I wasn’t going to go. Events like these usually have me high as a kite and buzzing to network, dance and generally be in the ‘thick of it.’
All I wanted was to stay home and hide away with my book.
The drive down went without a hitch. It was pretty good for the soul driving through central London on an early Saturday morning, with barely anyone on the roads as I drove past architecture and famous landmarks steeped in history. My driving never causes me issues in terms of navigation but the moment my car is parked and I’m on foot, I’m fucked.
After a lot of wrong turns, muttered swear words and going back the way I’d just come, I finally found the venue I was looking for. My time of solitude was over. I looked in mild panic at the enormous queue of neon-clad instructors that snaked a full 360 around the venue prior to the doors opening. In situations like this I don’t know what is worse; being alone or having to be in a group and ‘fake it ’til you make it.’ All around me were egos the size of skyscrapers and duck-face selfies occurring in every direction.
Having attended many events before, I know lots of other instructors so there were plenty of people that I could sit with and chat to during the keynotes presentations etc. However, at the best of times I suck at small talk. It literally makes me want to rip my arm off and chew on it for something better to be doing with my mouth. I did the cursory hugs and air kisses to the countless others that I encountered who wanted to ask about my ‘new’ pink hair and enquire “How the hell have you lost so much weight?!?”
Within 20 minutes I was surrounded by 699 other Zumba Instructors. Sometimes more is more. In a crowd that big, you can become faceless and anonymous if you so wish. The fact that there was a camera crew and a live Facebook feed going out around the world (and yeah you can see me, I’ve checked, ha!) meant I wasn’t quite as anonymous as I’d have liked.
I am hoping that this disconnection phase will pass. I am tired of feeling that I’m on the outside looking in. I don’t even remember the last time I had a real conversation. I am sick of going through the motions…