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Tarquin

Darkness

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No one really understands the darkness of bipolar depression. At least that’s what depression tells you. When you’re in a severely depressed state all you can hear, think, or feel is the darkness. I don’t know what’s worse, the pain or the numbness. You get to a point where you shut down emotionally. The numbness is my only defense and the last line of retreat.


I’m tired. So very tired. Tired of people telling me to hang in there. Tired of having to go through day after day of pretending that everything is okay. I’m angry at the people who say they’re so depressed that they can’t get out of bed. For me that would be a luxury. Unfortunately, it’s one I can’t afford. I have a family to support. I have to pretend to be okay for my wife. She gets frustrated with me when I withdraw. She says she’s lonely because I don’t open up to her, but when the darkness envelopes me my silence is the best thing for her. She doesn’t want to be exposed to the poison I would spew out if I didn’t keep my mouth shut. It’s all anger, negativity, hate and resentment. It feeds on itself. In frustration with her inability to help, she has called me selfish and has said that I like being this way, that I don’t want to get better. I see a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and I take my medication as prescribed. I am trying to get better.


Eventually the languid pool of anger and despair gives way to light. It’s never long lasting. I can’t enjoy it because I know eventually night will fall on me. Either through the guise of depression or mania. A lot of people with my condition like mania. For me it’s anger and irritation that make me want to explode. Sometimes it comes in different forms. I’m excited, impulsive, creative, euphoric, desiring lots of sex etc. I hide that just like I hide the depression. Although the non-irritable form of mania is easy to hide. When you’re acting happy and energetic it’s seen as normal. 

 
I have no answers. I don’t want to cause my family grief. The darkness tells me if I left that they will be sad for a little while and move on. Especially my wife. I can only imagine the relief it would bring her for me to be gone. She could find someone without my problems to make her truly happy. That thought hurts. I know it’s a lie the darkness tells me. She has always stood by me. 


What do I do? Make the darkness my friend? Embrace it? Self-medicate myself with drugs, alcohol, all the sex with strangers I can handle? It’s tempting. I could distract myself with all of the tawdry pleasures this world has to offer. They’re fleeting, but so is the light outside of the darkness. At least I would occasionally have a good time. I’m taught that those pleasures don’t bring happiness. I believe it. However, nothing brings lasting happiness in my life. It feels like I can’t get anything right. When I express my emotions, I’m told that I’m feeling sorry for myself, being unreasonable, selfish, and hurtful. I’m told to replace bad thoughts with good ones. I need to believe. I need to hang in there. It’s true, but it doesn’t always chase the darkness away.


This is darkness. This is where I live. This is what I seek relief from. This is why I look sad when you see me. Even when I’m pretending to be happy. I don’t want to pretend any more. I don’t want to fight. I want something lasting. I want to start enjoying life and quit enduring it. I want to believe that lasting peace is even possible.

  

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I am sorry to read of this constant burden you are carrying.  I don't know that I have any specific words of wisdom or encouragement to offer but I did have a few thoughts and questions to engage you in if you will allow it. 

You mention that no one really understands the darkness and I think that is an accurate statement since the physical and emotional effects of BP depression are unique experiences to each person.  That which is intolerable for you may be no source of irritation for me and vice versa.  So while there may be some shared understanding it is likely never complete understanding.  Maybe accepting the reality that others will never fully understand, might help?  Thoughts?

You also mention that you are seeking lasting happiness.  To me that implies that there is such a thing to be had and that other people have it.  I think that is a fallacy that our culture perpetuates.  We live in a broken world with which lasting happiness cannot coexist. How could any of us be happy on a lasting basis when pain, illness, grief, suffering, injustice are a part of everyday life?  I rather think, the emotions we should pursue are those of contentment and peace.  Thoughts?

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