You've always suspected that your moods are a bit more erratic than most people’s. You've often joked about being bipolar, since there’s a history of it in the family, but lately you're actually afraid that it could be true. As opposed to having a few bad days a month or being elated over something that is at least partially deserving of excitement, your mood swings have started to occur throughout the day...every day. It’s like sitting on a roller coaster, blindfolded, never knowing if you’re about to be thrown for a loop or go plummeting down a steep hill. It’s terrifying and yet there’s still an edge of excitement, a twisted expectation of the thrill you know you’re going to get sooner or later.
At a low point during the day you often catch yourself thinking, “In a few minutes, in an hour, after lunch...something is going to change.” And it isn’t a pep talk, it’s simply a fact. It could be something as simple as a coworker walking by and saying “I like your hair today” that pulls you out of the nosedive toward the ground and rockets you back up. The worst thing isn’t traveling the track from high to low and back again, it’s waiting on the highs like a junkie for a fix.
You're terrible at taking medication; you've admitted it before. Taking a pill every day is just something you've never been able to do. There are anti-depressants, birth control, and antibiotics lined up in your cabinet...none of them empty. Part of the reason they’re still there is that you're an extremely forgetful person, and the other part, for some of them anyway, is defiance and fear. “I don’t need you", you think. "I’m afraid you’ll change the things about me that I like. I’m afraid you’ll take away my highs.”
So what do you do when you’re afraid and defiant, confused and wondering why the hell you can’t get off this goddamned emotional roller coaster?
You look up a phone number, take a deep breath and force your hand to stop shaking so you can dial. When a woman answers and asks you to hold, leaving you listening to crap elevator music, you force yourself not to hang up.
“I need to make an appointment”, you say when she comes back on the line. You give her your name and your phone number.
“What’s the reason for the appointment”, she asks mechanically.
You were hoping they wouldn’t ask that question. She wants a one or two word answer; she’s a receptionist not a therapist.
“I...how am I supposed to answer that”, you say, clearing your throat because it feels like you’ve swallowed something thick and distasteful. You give a half laugh, as if to apologize for being vague.
“I’m sorry”, she says without feeling. “Depression, family issues, work problems, marital problems. I need to write something down for the therapist to go on, to be sure that this is where you need to be and choose who you’d fit with best.”
You’re amused by her answer. A receptionist gets to choose where you belong and who you belong with, based on a few random words. You briefly consider telling her marital issues. “My husband has sex with farm animals”, you could say. But you refrain.
“Oh. I guess you can put down depression or family issues.”
It’s true, and it’s not. But there wasn’t an option for “possibly bipolar paired with a salad of irrational fear that happy pills with take away your awesomeness, a side of your dad is a douche bag, and just a dab of you fall for men that can’t love you”. You definitely would have chosen that one.
“Alright, I’m going to match you with...” She names a therapist and gives you a few details about her, tells you where to find the online forms to bring to the appointment, and schedules you for this coming Monday at 1pm.
“Have a blessed day”, she says.
You hate it when people say that.
After you hang up the phone, you feel good. It’s done; you’ve finally made the appointment you’ve been saying you were going to make for the better part of a year.
You go to the website she named. There’s a picture of your therapist – she’s wearing pearls and a matronly looking dress. Her hair is cut into a fluffy bob, but her face reminds you of Diane Lane. You wonder what you’re going to wear – something that says “I may be crazy, but I’m extremely chic”.
You don’t know what’s coming up in the next hour, you can’t tell if it’s a sharp curve, a double loop, or a straight away. But there’s just the tiniest bit of light showing around the edge of your blindfold. And it isn’t a slippery high or low, it’s tangible. It’s progress, something you can focus on.
And maybe, just maybe, this matronly Diane Lane will help you get off of this goddamn roller coaster completely. Because you’re pretty sure that when your blindfold shifted, you caught a glimpse of a corndog stand.
2 weeks ago