When depression manages to get a good hold on me, I often have to wrestle with the p-word. The p-word is ‘pariah’, and it ofttimes feels as if the story of my life is summed up in that one word. We moved all the time when I was a kid, meaning I was constantly the new girl. I’ve never subscribed to a need to conform to what the ‘cool kids’ were doing, because they were going to pick on me no matter what I did (or threaten to beat me up and steal my things in junior high for being white, ’cause yanno… gangster gangster). I am the black sheep of black sheep amongst my family by dint of being only halfway related to them. You get used to being the odd one out over the years.
Having said that, I feel that people tend to avoid me for fear of upsetting me. Bipolar tends to make for a mercurial temperament, and on some level I do understand that it’s a freaking pain in the ass to be near. Or that some people who love me give me so much space that I never get to talk to them for fear of them setting me off, leaving me isolated and with no real way of getting out of the hole depression drops me in, or indeed, no real reason to. If nobody is going to talk to you, why bother?
Still, it hurts. A lot. One of the things that I was reminded of recently in regards to Bipolar II is that the constant cycles of depression mean that one is pretty much shot in the foot on developing and maintaining friendships. From Wikipedia:
The deficits in functioning associated with Bipolar II Disorder stem mostly from the recurrent depression that Bipolar II Patients suffer from. Depressive symptoms are much more disabling than hypomanic symptoms and are potentially as or more disabling than mania symptoms. Functional impairment has been shown to be directly linked with increasing percentages of depressive symptoms, and because sub-syndromal symptoms are more common—and frequent—in Bipolar II disorder, they have been implicated heavily as a major cause of psychosocial disability. There is evidence that shows the mild depressive symptoms, or even sub-syndromal symptoms, are responsible for the non-recovery of social functioning, which furthers the idea that residual depressive symptoms are detrimental for functional recovery in patients being treated for Bipolar II. It has been suggested that symptom interference in relation to social and interpersonal relationships in Bipolar II Disorder is worse than symptom interference in other chronic medical illnesses such as cancer. This social impairment can last for years, even after treatment that has resulted in a resolution of mood symptoms.
The bolded emphasis in the second half of the paragraph is mine. It’s definitely an answer to a question that I’ve never wanted to ask, but I always knew to be the case. I’ve hidden it well for a long time, but that was also under thick layers of alcohol and illicit drugs, which made it easier to ignore the state of my health (neither of which are a part of my life anymore, though I’m still tempted by the minor relief that smoking brought to my soul). I try my best to express that I still have social needs and desires, but people don’t seem to be comfortable with the open invite. I guess I would be wary of it too if it came with a chance of getting my nose bit off. Having said that, some of my favorite people to converse with are just those sorts, and I love and accept them as they are. But all in all, I don’t know what I can do more. I don’t have the spoons to chase up relationships; most of the people I talk to are people who I know so well that they cost me no spoons to converse with over the course of the day. I have faith that any friend could, in time, become a zero spoon person, but that requires the effort wanting to be made on both sides. I admit that I am not the best at expressing the depths of my regard for other people because I have seen time and time again how it scares people off.
I’m not sure what I can add to that which wouldn’t push this ramble into full-blown whiny, so I’ll leave it there. Maybe it’ll give some folks food for thoughts on how lonely mental illness is, maybe not. I know that for myself, I keep up the facade of getting by because it’s as much to keep making myself plod along as anything else. I have a feeling that is a familiar story for most people with abnormal mental states.