If you ask me what’s wrong, I will probably tell you that I’m fine. The truth is, I’m lost and most times dying inside.
Waking to a new day brings a dread so hard to explain. I know the routine and I know others are poised with a mindset alien to my own. I expect certain things from others, like concerns for my well-being and questions – it’s the questions that I hate the most. One, in particular, is a question that I struggle to have an answer for.
I hear the words before I ever turn to see who’s talking to me. It’s my son, and I guess he’s wondering why I’m standing the kitchen, at the counter, staring into the empty sink. I don’t know what’s wrong. I really wish he would stop asking me. I wish they all would stop asking me because they don’t want to know what’s in my head.
“Nothing’s wrong, sweetheart. I was just wondering what to cook for breakfast, that’s all.”
And then I smile. My other child enters the room and scratches his head.
I want to cry. I literally want to slump to the floor, cover my head with my arms and scream “Leave me alone!” But I don’t. I simply tell him the same thing I told my other son, or I tell him some other silly surface thought. I just say something to get him off my back. It’s not so hard, I just lift my voice, my head and I push the smile out once more and I quiet their concerns.
Everyone in the family knows about my mental illness, but for some reason, they cannot accept the symptoms. I’ve learned this is common.
It’s exhausting to lie about what’s wrong with me.
I’m tired. I bet you’ve heard that before, and maybe it was from someone who had done no strenuous exercises or activities to your knowledge. Maybe you couldn’t understand why they were tired. Maybe they were mentally tired – I’m tired of dealing with what you don’t understand and I can’t explain.
Deep down where the question What’s wrong? is convoluted, torn apart and examined. That’s where you will get stuck in the quicksand of my instability – my stew of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies, OCD, PTSD, and Anxiety. Or maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s messy there and thoughts get tumbled together with emotions and words until you can’t tell them apart.
News Flash! I’m sick. I’m so sick that I have become a fully functional lunatic.
Let’s just be honest here. There’s no reason to lie about who and what we are. There’s no reason to hide how we truly feel. You know, I get that, but the problem is society gives us plenty of reasons to hide. It’s called stigma. We hide because of stigma.
Then there’s this state of being where you don’t know how you feel – you have no clue what’s happening and you are wide awake! There’s just too much rolling around in your brain, too much disorganization and too many choices to make. It doesn’t make sense and it’s so unfair.
And now I state my case. I lay it all out on the table for examination, except I never did that. I smiled.
None of this makes sense, dear. This is exactly why when you ask me what’s wrong, and I turn and smile, you’re going to get a fabrication. You might get a cheerful answer or an excuse. You cannot handle the complexity, size, and condition of what’s wrong with me.
There is so much wrong with me that I have forgotten how to medicate it – trying Lithium, then on to Risperdol for hallucinations paired with Bupropion for depression.
Let’s talk about my physical ailments which came from my horrific mood instability. I am lactose and gluten intolerant and can only eat half the veggies and fruit that you can, limiting my choices and making me feel even more depressed considering most of the stuff I can’t eat, I love. I have heart palpitations and chronic fatigue syndrome. Should I name more?
I’m getting lost and losing my words again, and I need you to help me. But you can’t help me because when you asked me what’s wrong, I said.
I have forgotten how to talk to myself and I have forgotten how to try and get better.
I am overwhelmed by the sheer terror of this thing that lives inside me. The thing that lives with the other thing and the other condition and the other issue. Each diagnosis has a mood and it’s own personal space, which is invaded by the other condition that it neighbors with. When symptoms collide, my world falls apart… right there, right in front of you.
How in hell can I tell you what’s wrong? I still don’t know!
The easiest way out of this confrontation with chaos is to utilize my gift to fake it. I have to lie to you, not because I don’t love you, but because I do love you.
The hell I live with is nothing I would wish on my worst enemy. I know you’ve heard that before, many times, but it’s really why I fight so hard. I don’t wish for the disease to spread, and at the same time, I don’t wish to be cracked open and made to feel the raw pain that simmers underneath.
For a moment, I can be normal and you can be saved from the beast within me.
Trust me, you don’t want to open that box. Stop asking me what’s wrong, every day, every few hours. Because if you keep asking me that same question day in and day out, one day, I will get just as tired of your questions as I do of trying to keep the secret.
One day when you ask me What’s wrong?
I will tell you the truth.
Are you prepared?