I want my life to be easier and people keep giving me advice on how to do so: Calm down. Loosen up. Don’t be so intense. Don’t talk about your feelings. Don’t take things personally. Don’t act depressed. Don’t look sad. Smile more. Put on a brave face.
I’m finding it hard to follow all this advice. I want people to like me, but I don’t know how to change who I am. It is physically impossible for me to will myself out of a depression. When you’re clinically depressed, you literally cannot snap yourself out of it. You can learn skills to cope but not to cure depression. Each of these things may seem small, but together they amount to everything I’ve known. Everything I’ve been for as long as I can remember. I’ve worked hard to hide the depressive part of myself because I’ve learned people don’t want to see it.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve also learned no one wants to see my manic side either. I’m arrogant, rude, reckless, irritable, distracted. I’m always somewhere on the spectrum of manic and depressive. People don’t like to see either extreme. So I have to hide the extremes and attempt to live somewhere in the middle. In sociology, we call this passing, the ability to fit into an identity group other than my own. In this case, as someone without bipolar disorder. But of course, this has it’s drawbacks as well. When I look too healthy, when I hide the manic and depressive episodes, no one thinks I need help.