I’m tired. But I can’t sleep. I don’t sleep really anymore. I lay in bed, when I finally go to bed, so maybe around 4:30, and smoke and look out the window and watch the light come up. I hear my dad cough passing by as he heads down the road walking the dog. I focus on the whirring of the fan.
The days come and go. Lost in a cycle of disorienting unknowns, only the strings of guitars, piano keys, and microphones keep my mind at bay. The morning laughter I am used to now resides in my memory.
The place that I went in 2006 few will ever visit. Few will ever have to look into the face of something so overwhelming that it is impossible to even scream. Few will ever know the depths of it, what it is like to be alive but drowned - not drowning - but drowned.
Over half of those that find themselves beneath the surface pray for an ending. A good portion of them, caught in its clutches, never resurface.
The mind has domination over all things. The physical, the emotional. It is the one thing we know the least about, and so the one thing that causes fear and ignorance to emerge in response to those who dwell within the spectrum of its unknowns. The compounding of such a landscape often leaves those suffering viewing the world, and even those around them, as a series of potentially dangerous disappointments. For as long as stigma outweighs compassion and reason, people met, even people that one comes to love, are all still potential suicide bombers.
I am today the man that I was six years ago. The same man that wears his heart on his sleeve as if an offering to dogs. And no matter how many times it is attacked, or controlled, or rendered, the lesson is never learned. I cannot change that about myself, and so those who know that weakness use it to their advantage while I emphatically agree that it’s justified, and even aid them in doing it.
On the day that I was born I was not taken to a room and asked if I wanted to be bipolar. On the day that I was born it was born in me. So in one’s life, how long must excuses be made for something one was born with? It is a question not asked of those with cancer or diabetes - and yet the physiology is the same. The only difference is that our understanding of the neurochemical remains shadowed. And, as we’re all aware, in the shadows dwell perceptions of fear.
There is a chance that my son or our daughter could be bipolar. And if one of them is, how will those who have in my personal life displayed ignorance towards my condition view them? If one of them is, will they be forced to hide it, or told to fight against an implacable foe that cannot be reasoned with or defeated? Will they become a shame, a nuisance, a tolerance - just as I have become a thing tolerated by some in my past?
It comes down to one simple truth. If one of your children or family members or friends is found to be mentally ill, how will your perspective be altered? And if your perspective is such that is must be altered, contemplate at this moment why it has not already been.
For if such a thing befalls one you love, and that love is unconditional, you may find yourself one day discovering them, as my mother found me in the fall of 2006, alive but drowned.
In this we are, none of us, alone. Hold to that. And each other.