Robin Williams’s death made me think that maybe I should talk about something I don’t usually talk about. To confess this makes me feel stained or needy. Broken. But this is for him and the others who have felt what he felt. What I have felt.
This is for all of us.
I am bipolar.
Specifically, I have type two bipolar disorder. Meaning that along with swings of depression, I have been manic, as in crazy.
I knew there was something wrong with me in high school. I was an overachiever in a lot of ways; got good grades, teachers liked me, I was in sports, and won awards, but I was overly anxious and critical of myself. I thought that was normal for a good student.
Then my girlfriend broke up with me, and my entire world crumbled.
I asked my parents to send me to therapy, and they argued, saying I didn’t need it. I sank further and further down. I went on a sixth month party binge – previously I had been against parties and alcohol. My grades dropped.
Finally my parents let me see someone. “I’ll fix her up in a few sessions,” the therapist assured my mom.
I was told I was depressed, I was put on drugs, and I did EMDR therapy.
So began my war with antidepressants.
For the next decade, I was given one pill after another by one professional after another. I almost killed myself more times than I want to count. I barely got a degree. I started working at a grocery store because I knew I couldn’t handle the occupation I had originally wanted – medical doctor.
And then I got my first full blown manic episode.
A lot of bipolar people will tell you that mania is better than being depressed, and in a way it is. But it’s also as dangerous as depression, sometimes more so. You are literally insane (unless it’s a hypomanic episode). Like a teenager, you get into risky behavior and destroy your life bit by bit, unable to stop yourself.
Mania ruined my relationship at the time, and I had to move back in with my parents, but eventually it led me to a better diagnosis. And better pills.
The road to recovery… I’m still fucking on it. That’s why I hate talking about this. It will never be over for me. This is my fucking life.
I still work at the grocery store. I still live with my parents.
But now I am doing something I really enjoy, writing, and I have an understanding partner.
If I had killed myself those times I wanted to…I wouldn’t have found any of that.
I don’t fault Robin Williams for doing what he did. How could I? I know what that’s like, when the pain gets so bad that you can’t take it anymore. But I am sorry.
I’m sorry, Robin. No one should hurt that bad. I hope it doesn’t hurt now. I hope you can rest.