I am a cheerful person — even when Bipolar had me so twisted around I was snapping at everything, I still considered myself a cheerful person. I don’t feel that it’s disingenuous in the slightest — I’m not forcing myself to feel any way different than how I feel. I do understand that lots of people see the functionality and the pleasant demeanor and assume nothing is wrong; I’ve lost count of how many times people have been genuinely surprised for me to state that I was depressed. But as many of us with Bipolar know, it’s perfectly possible to be utterly depressed and still have a positive outlook (because yanno, depression doesn’t mean sad by default!). Maybe it makes it harder for people to accept the validity of our situation, but pfft. It’s not like we owe anyone wailing and lamentations and the gnashing of our teeth to fit their stereotypes!
Perhaps I use cheer to hide the severity of my situation from myself. For example, last night? I hit a curb while driving the two miles across town because Paramore was on the USB stick in the CD player, and it spiked my anxiety severely (I like Paramore, but my brain didn’t at that particular moment). The hitting of the curb happened because the folder had a million tracks on it and I couldn’t get past it fast enough. I probably should have just turned the volume down and waited until a light, but anxiety doesn’t exactly make for logic. The car was fine when I parked up, so the noise was worse than my poor already freaked out brain was insisting upon. And yeah, the dizzy marches on, so that’s not exactly fun.
Still, what are my other options, really? I could continue to hide out at home and let my brain ‘win’. Even if I was doing well trying to relax and recoup and take care of my mental state, I am made to work. My BFFFF heatherbat has specifically commented on this to me on several occasions — it doesn’t matter what the job is, per se, I’m just happiest when I’ve got a work thing going. My longest non-working period since I started working at 16 was the six months that I couldn’t legally work here when I immigrated, and even then, I was doing what I could to get spun up on the family business so I could dive in when I legally could. Not working for too long would pretty much guarantee hitting dangerous levels of depression. So no, I do not worry about working for the sake of bills, or for fear of losing a job — working brings me pleasure and fulfillment. As long as the bills are paid, I don’t really care what I earn. 🙂 I am not my job. My job isn’t me.
It goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyways) that that’s just what works for me. I don’t think anyone opting to stay home or unable to work are wrong or not taking care of themselves — doing what takes care of yourself, whatever it might be, is the best thing for *you*. And that’s what’s the most important thing. *nodnods*
Vaguely related mandatory share time! This post here by Mrs. Bipolarity is good reading:
Contentment has been my aim since I was a teenager, long before the Bipolar diagnosis. It just always seemed to me that contentment was stability, was balance. I like those things. It means all the world to me, so much better than the giddy highs that ‘must’ be balanced against devastating lows.
Anyhoos, hope everyone is having a good one!