Depression sucks, clinical exceptionally. When it hits, everything is awful. You are awful. You’ve always been awful and look at all the people in your life going ahead and pretending you’re not awful so they don’t feel your wrath.
This is the life of the downs of bipolar. If there weren’t downs, for sure, I would not be medicated. The ups are so good. The ups are wild– mountain high mania. I love Wild Smash. I love staying up for days, producing magic. Pages and pages of glory, of life understanding!! Sure, some of it is crazy and not ‘post’ worthy but up Michie doesn’t give a shit about what you think. She’s writing for her. She’s writing because she can’t sleep. She can’t keep it in.
Low Michie keeps it in. Low Michie is in her head all the time with the voices, the ones reminding her of the truth, her truth at least. Her truth is not my baseline* lady truth, not my up truth either.
No no, low Michie is trash, and not the endearing way I like to refer to myself as ‘trash’ burping and dancing the way I feel like (maybe ‘dancing like a stripper’ like one of my favorite songs) A student used to revel in this “trash” phrase jokingly, talking about silly things her friends do and oddly, I, an adult, found I vibed with sentiment… “What can [we] say, [we’re] trash.” I love teaching high school, did I mention that?
Side note one of my besties Gage just bought me my favorite teal “trash” t-shirts. That kind of trash is fun. Sometimes I turn off my teacher and say “Oh goodness” a little less- the main phrase my students tease me for.
This low lady is a different kind of trash though, trash in the literal sense. I feel like actual garbage, the kind of dead things that don’t move. Dead and moved into a garbage bag. Out with the trash I would be if I could even remove myself from this bed. As Drake said, “I only love my bed and my momma. I’m sorry.”
That is a joke, but always true. Depression me still loves her bed and her momma and thank God for that.
PEOPLE ARE SCARY
Otherwise people are scary- even you. Low Michie thinks most people are scary. It settles on that. It chooses for me. In rugby matches, during anxiety attacks, more frequent in my youth, she chose for me. During that time, I thought ‘These big D1 Beantowners are going to kill me.’ People are scary and they were extra scary.
By the way, I mean that, I thought I was gonna die sometimes– that is how dramatic the low low of depression and anxiety can take you. When I was low, I felt inadequate on the pitch and I had to fight the thoughts in my head to play. Rugby is a dangerous sport; I can’t deny that nor can my knees. Rugby is my love and I have joked my everything, but still it was met with immense trepidation.
I had true fear on the pitch even though underneath I knew I could play. I had fear on the pitch even though that was usually my haven. Underneath I knew I valued fair play for one like the rule following nerd I am. No, I never wanted to hurt anyone, but that also comes with the game I suppose. Undernearth I was a decent rugby player. Fear wasn’t the real me out there.
Dear Michie, Are You There? It’s me….
For some background, since I yo yo diet and maybe you don’t realize how big I’ve been… Bigger than I realized sometimes, I’ve compared myself to Lenny, the Mice and Men simpleton who didn’t know his strength. A lesser defaming doppelganger being Tommy Boy’s anecdotal story about his pet. I take my pet and I go shzzzzz.” Not really the size you want in a bipolar person but yall I’m a big lady, what can I say. Tommy Girl.
Hurting people/ causing an injury is the absolute worst feeling in the world. Low Michie cycled on those moments for a long time. It was never in malice and I always played my hardest/ tried to be safe. Oh Low Michie got stuck on that part knowing what it is like to be injured. I knew injury for one could send anyone into depression. No, I never meant to, but the me now understands that and forgiveness is meant for the self, too.
LIFELINES AND RUGBY COMMUNITY
The people my brain chose helped me during the half of those anxious rugby matches. Helped me when I ran off the field even during play to recollect myself. Helped me when I couldn’t speak and wanted everyone away. Helped me when I felt trapped and ripped my jersey off.. They knew, well mostly one friend knew, but she knew. She made the bad stop and sometimes I made it back into the game. sometimes even to score a try.
There are no returns in rugby so once you’re out, you’re out. I earned that time and I wanted it. Some games, low Michie begged to stay in but alas, you put the best players out there and you can usually see the glare of my eyes to know I am gone. In my head, I can’t hear you. Well SHE doesn’t want to. You ever see a blacked out person at a bar? You just know the glaze. They’re physically there, but not there. This is similar.
The voices talk over you, sane one, for she’s the only one that makes sense to her.
According to her, you lie to her. You don’t like her and she knows. She won’t talk to you; you’re scary.
ALL MY ‘EX’ LOVES
Men are scary. Women are scary. No dating life during the lows. I go to exes in the lows, the ones who get me. No one disconnects from love when they see you the way my mates have seen me. They still loved me even when Low didn’t believe. They love me– different now– but still they know I need to hear it. I just need to hear ‘People love you, Mish”
‘Thanks, guys. I can’t believe you right now. But thank you.’
I CAN’T I CAN’T
Mostly, I can’t get on the phone. [ I really do hate talking on the phone anyway.] The texts are better. I can reread it. I DON’T WANT TO TALK. I can’t. If you call again, any of you, the phone is going in the Hudson, I swear.
People love you, Mish.
Thanks to y’all [and your new wives] for understanding that sexual feelings fade, but true love never dies. Connection is rare and these are my people.
They’re my people but they’re also in for low Michie. Low Michie keeps them too, not all of them, but the true meant-to-bes. Low trusts them still… they remain in the brain as safe. The soul connections, those are the ones I keep and they keep me. Safe.
Y’all, to be loved by me is different. I don’t know how to turn it off. For. Ev. Ver.
That Sandlot joke never gets old.
Well Sad Michie doesn’t joke. Her smile is ugly and fake, but I swear she tries.
CALL FOR SUPPORT
She calls the doctor eventually or a pre-existing appointment arrives. They said she’s going to be fine or something like that. She doesn’t listen. She goes to see them when she’s ready. She pouts and blames the world. My therapist won’t agree– she works on coping skills. My psych adjusts my meds- calls when I need more and missed an appointment. They don’t let me fall off the grid. They’re like my tracking teachers, which I am for my students in special education. The circling learnings continue.
Low Michie thinks and cycles on the same same same thoughts. Man, she thinks a lot. She works on self talk. She works on making it more like “You’re beautiful Michie” and less “You piece of shit, we’re going back to the gym today.”
MEAN STREAK AND THE TEARS
Low Michie is mean. She’s mean to me too, guys. I have lost a lot of friends. She is called selfish, but she’s just in hiding. She’s not looking at the calendar. She focused on making it through work for her kids. They get the fake smile. She doesn’t have enough for the day. Sleep through the weekend, let some tears out– they feel good. The tears come from the actions that I couldn’t control in the moment, the mean streak that comes out.
Poison in my brain. Poison in the air. It leaks out like Corona Virus, but no mask or set of ear plugs can protect you.
Tears are the release. My eyes get super puffy when I cry. Maybe that’s the curse of my lack of melanin. The sun has burned me to a lobster, what my dad lovingly called me in the summer. A young whiner, I did not love it. No, my pale skin never let me hide the tears. The red showed.
As a kid, my hysterics were no different. Moody and wildly emotional, I went to school many times with those eyes. I called them allergies. I also have terrible allergies that affect my eyes. It is easy to hide in plain site. Easy to use the real.
PLEASE LET ME HIDE
When I was young, I tried so hard to take off school, but my dad wouldn’t hear taking off school for crying. No, I went to school. He didn’t let me hide. I was good at school. He pushed school but I guess he didn’t have to that hard. I did like going, but I knew the teasing would come on those days. I remember the words still like daggers. Kids don’t even mean to be mean I think. Who knew I’d remember those words forever, right?
Note to self: Think of your words. Think of your words. Think of your words more.
Please, they do matter. Words matter.
Don’t get me wrong– I was truly sick on a rare occasion– the dirt eating from my baseball fields must have built my immunity. When I was sick, mostly stomach bugs, I stayed home. I watched Price is Right and other odd shows for children. My Diane, what I jokingly called her, “my Diane” instead of my step-mom. Stepmother always felt gross so I just stuck to my Diane. Well my Diane made me soup or whatever you do for the sick. I don’t remember the logistics, but you always remember the love.
Most days though, I was in school. In high school it was harder to explain the red eyes, more the puff in my eyes. No, that’s not what stoned kids looked like. My eyes looked like someone who got a bee sting and was wicked allergic.
NATURE AND NURTURE
I share these additional parts so you can see that I had so much love in my life– and I still have mental health issues. I live with bipolar. That is part of me. When it comes to the debate of nature over nurture, while I believe it is both, I want parents to understand that you didn’t do this. There’s no guilt in producing a FUCKING AWESOME woman who also lives with bipolar. This is to all parents, not just mine.
No, I had 4 parents that loved me as a kid. I had some extras– meaning extra love. Maybe it also meant getting in extra trouble when I did stupid shit, but I never had the chance to fall between the cracks. They showed me they loved me through the bad and that’s that luck of the Irish in me.
WHAT YOU SEE
These anecdotal tellings of the real life of the bipolar are the things people don’t see.
I mostly let people see the good as I’ve lost so many people in the bad.
They saw straight A’s. They saw the smile. They saw the nerd who could not stop talking or answering class questions, unless I was in La La Land in my head. They thought La La Land in my head was fine and full of rainbows. They didn’t see that it wasn’t as La La as they would like to admit.
They saw the good in me. They saw the kind things I did for my classmates. They saw that I stayed during lunch to help the teacher– something I actually asked to do when I wanted to get away from a social situation that was bad. As I said, I was always moody, even before the signs of bipolar hit. They saw only the good and maybe never the whys. I’m extra kind to others when I’m low because I love them more than myself during that time. I can’t love me so that love has got to go somewhere.
IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING
All I can say to people struggling is fight.
Find your people or trust the people you already have are truly there for you.
Fight the voices telling you the other. Fight the dark.
You just have to keep fighting it and getting the support you need. Smash, people.
You wait if you’re not ready. If you need to hide, make sure it’s not forever. Tell someone you’re hiding when you’re ready.
I’m fortunate in having friends who respond to my canceling plans as a sign. They pick up on the slight phrases. “I haven’t washed my hair in days” could be cute, but it could be more.
YOU’RE COOL YOU’RE COOL NOT YOU
Remember though, not everyone is support. Not everyone gets it. Be careful sharing, but also fuck the people who leave you because they don’t get it. Safe people can also feel safe and then not be. It happens and you can’t hate yourself for that mistake forever.
Forget what you told in error. Apologize genuinely for breaking boundaries people set, even if it is weird and hard.
You’re human. Work on moving on when you get back to the good.
Back to the good.
Get back to the good.
I’m not sure I can love the low Michie but I want her to be okay. If she isn’t okay, she’ll never come back to her, the one who lives in the good with the real smile. The smile that eventually hurts my face and is giving me these cute wrinkly, lived-in lines all over. That smile…
This me knows I have to “Always find my way back to her.’**
*Baseline is the clinical term used to describe when you are in the middle of the highs and lows. This is the good place, the “normal” if you will. This isn’t my favorite term, but I think in the middle isn’t right.
**’Always find my way back to her’ is what I am going to add there in those blanks for my mermaid. The mermaid was gotten on my birthday, exactly a year after my 100 Solo Dates began. I left it blank because I wanted to complete a book and put the title in there, but that was just an idea. I left it blank really because I knew the idea behind her– the mermaid in me is me in the good place– I just didn’t know exactly how to say it. This is it though. Always find your way back, Michie Smash.