An Unstable Mind
I hate this damn disease, bipolar! I hate living with the uncertainty of where your mind is going to be. Your mood. Your life. It’s hard to explain to people how you can just be stuck for days or weeks even. All because your mind has ran off without telling you dragging you, like a lifeless body behind it. Through mud, gravel, and grass, crashing your head on rocks, and tearing your skin on shards of glass. Up the sides of mountains and down through the bottoms of canyons you are pulled leaving you spent, torn and bloodied.
After such a time, I had a conversation with God.
“Of course, everyone can see that I am going through this horrific ordeal, right God? Surely the scars, bruises, and broken bones from this kidnapper’s abuse are visible for the world to see?
“No.” He said.
“No, what do you mean no? Surely people can tell that I have been through a great amount of trauma.”
“They can, can’t they?” I said, my eyes welled with tears
“No, they can’t.”
“Well, then they can tell, right? Something this debilitating should be very easy to identify.”
“They won’t know and they can’t tell.” he replied.
“But whyyyyyy!” I cry with tears cascading down my face and snot plummeting from my nose. My words fall on deaf ears because I never receive an answer.
I have a lot of ailments that I could write about, many that I could choose from but the one I am choosing is the one that no one wants to touch. The one that makes people run away even when they want to help because they don’t know what to do. The one that gets the least sympathy especially in the Black community. That hardest thing in my life to control and explain. This is my life with Mental Illness.
When I was little maybe about six or seven years old I would sit in my bedroom and my mind would race. My head would be filled with all of these thoughts that six-year-olds shouldn’t be thinking of; “Why were we created?” “If the creation story is true then what’s up with the dinosaurs?” “If God created us, are we his pets?” “Why people do the things they do and God for that matter?” So many thoughts would fill my head until my head felt like it was going to burst open. I would just start screaming, it would hurt so bad. I continued to have this happen to me all while growing up. I wouldn’t know for a long time that those marathon headache sessions were a symptom of Bipolar.
Mental illness in the black community is like having Casper the ghost as your best friend, no one believes you, they are going to make fun of you for believing it, and then when something bad happens everyone is going to pretend that they didn’t see you talking to him. If you are in the black church … Forget about it. To most of them, God doesn’t allow for mental illness. Black women are really hard on other black women because we have a superwoman complex. If we need help for anything there is something wrong. Lord forbid, that in the midst of raising children, keeping the house clean, working, going to school, and being an upstanding citizen, we get depressed. Then nothing from that point forward counts towards our superwoman status. I have heard people respond in all kinds of ways to mental illness.
“You just need to pray!”
“There are people who are dealing with real issues.”
“Just don’t think that way.” and
“Fight those feelings.”
This is what I have to say to those responses. First of all, you don’t know anything about my prayer life. There is a good chance that I talk to my higher power more than you even think about yours. Next, just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s not a real issue. It means you have a problem with empathy. Who would want to be chased by a monster no one else can see but them. Tormented day in and day out with no control over your mood or emotions? So if it was as easy for us to just not think that way then we would all just do that. Lastly, look at someone with untreated or undertreated Bipolar, we are tired, why? Because all we do is fight, all day, every day. We are fighting the chemical imbalance in our head just to live each day. Then even after exuding all of that energy we still can’t sleep because the beat machine of our mind never shuts off. Ideas, thoughts, dreams, and nightmares chase us on an invisible track. Just because we have a mental illness, we get the short end of the stick. If someone was diagnosed with Cancer I hope that you wouldn’t be so uncaring and unsympathetic.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar when I was 15 years old, but I have been living with this my whole life. I have tried killing myself many times even though, at the time, I didn’t even see it for what it was. I was taking half a bottle of Tylenol because I wanted to sleep for days knowing that there was a big chance I wasn’t going to wake up the next day. [Since we are here let’s clear this up. Most people who kill themselves don’t do it because they are selfish. They feel like they are marble around the necks of their loved ones. That every minute of every day they are weighing them down making them sink further into the pool of despair. So to make the people they love lives better they sacrifice themselves.]
I have been so low that I didn’t know how I was ever going to come out. I have been so manic that I did crazy dangerous things. I am still dealing with this every day. Right now my meds aren’t working and I feel like I am free falling from a 50-floor building with no end in sight. It is hard to focus on writing my name let alone a blog entry but I took a vow to tell my and other’s stories. So… #whatstrengthlookslike to me is “A Black Woman Living In Pain”, and www.cjlane.me . I write my strength and I teach others to do the same.
My Strength looks like you, the person reading this, seeing people suffering from bipolar, car accidents, strokes, cancer, brain tumors, lupus, and fibromyalgia differently because of this blog. Bridging the gap of understanding. Shining the light of truth so that we can see each other more clearly.
My strength is my words and my life which I share with you.
A Black Woman Living In Pain,
C. J. Lane