What Not to Say to Someone with Bipolar

Are you still taking your meds?

The weather is so bipolar rn.

OMG my friend is SO bipolar, we’re always arguing.

Wow, you’re so moody.

Well you were fine yesterday.

Cheer up.

We all get down.

Have a nice bath.

Try not to worry so much.

You just need to get out more.

Snap out of it.

Oh I’m a bit bipolar too!

It’s just all in your head.

You’re just doing it for attention.

Wow, you’re dark.

You don’t need medication, you need nature / yoga / aromatherapy – delete applicable.

It hasn’t done Stephen Fry any harm.

You never know, it might never happen.

Oh like Stacey from Eastenders?

Are you sure you’ve taken your meds?

Think positively.

Chin up.

Smile!

Stop being so negative.

Happy mums have happy kids!

Get a grip.

Well you sound OK.

Man up.

Stop being so selfish.

What have you got to be so unhappy about?

Oh I read an interesting article in the Daily Mail about bipolar, it said –

Go take some happy pills.

 

What to say to someone with bipolar:

It’s OK.

Same here.

I’m here if you want to talk.

I understand.

Write it down.

Do you need anything?

I know.

Do you need some help?

I’m not going anywhere.

I’m listening.

Intruders

*unexpected, sudden noise*

What the shitting hell was that? I think to myself while I shove my face through the curtains in a fashion I think is completely stealthy and surreptitious. Once I’m satisfied that there’s no one lurking behind the rubbish bags on the street, I go through the house and do the same at the back door, taking particular interest in the pop-up tent and trampoline. There could be a cackling maniac on the loose, hell-bent on invading people’s gardens at night to frolic on their play equipment while the owners sleep, totally unaware.

But nope.

Nothing.

Oh God, what if they’re in the house?

I close the curtains again, lock the doors and creep upstairs, my back flat against the wall, because ya know, that’s what they do in films, right? The cat joins me, squirming around my ankles, she knows some shit’s going down too and spurs me on.

I bypass my own bedroom, the constant low (yet somehow deafening) snore emanating from within would surely put them off hiding in there and head straight to Bean’s room to prize the door open.

I’m met with nothing more than snuffly grunts while Noah writhes around his bed, sweaty and fast asleep.

Checking under the bed only to find the usual devastation of an entire castle scene, Playmobil men decapitated and bodies strewn everywhere, like Game of Thrones for fucking five year olds, I admit defeat and head back downstairs, making sure everything’s locked and arm myself with a toy light saber for protection. I sit on the sofa and somewhat shaken, resume what I was doing when I was startled by the unexpected noise.

I press play on the TV.

And THWACK – it hits me, straight between the eyes. (I mean this figuratively, obvs, the flashback of the sound, not the axe belonging to my imagined intruder.)

I was laughing.

Out loud.

A sound I didn’t recognise. A sound I’ve not heard properly for over a year. A sound I’ve tried to fake and force unsuccessfully a gazillion times, when really, it’s the easiest sound to make naturally.

Something completely innocuous on TV actually managed to wheedle through the barriers and caused a good reaction in me, rather than making me feel worse or causing me to think about how things should be, how I should be.

The pills, it’s the pills. Is this me or is it the pills making a beta 2.0 version of me? The guilt of all those times when I should have been able to react normally, and smile and nod and laugh at the funny bits when Noah’s talking to me about school and ninjas and poo.

For a brief moment, I consider grabbing the small white box stuffed with blister packs of the little intruders and flushing them down the toilet. Hating them a little bit for giving me something in just three weeks that I haven’t managed alone in over a year.

I pause the TV again, another sound, my mouth gaping open to listen better for a moment, and I realise it’s Bean, giggling in his sleep, muffled into his pillow, dreaming.

And that’s the moment I know I couldn’t. That I couldn’t deprive my home of another second of laughter and silliness, of my son never being able to remember his mum laughing, only the same stretched smile with dead eyes.

That’s when I let the intruders stay and put down the fucking light saber that was still gripped in my hand.

Alone

The alarm goes off in the morning, or in my case, my son jumps on my face, it’s time to get up. New day and all that. Let’s get going! But alas, no, it’s not that simple. The thought of being awake, the thought of being up and aware of the black thoughts in my head and the utter numbness of my body, the sheer lack of any trace of energy, makes my stomach drop and the day in my eyes is already ruined before my feet have even touched the carpet beside my bed.

It’s time to eat, to clothe and to clean. To engage, and teach and play. What shall it be today? Letters or numbers? Shall we go to the park? Can we bake a cake? Alas no, I won’t do any of these things, I’ll stay in my pyjamas, I won’t get dressed, I won’t get Noah dressed. We’re not going anywhere. We won’t see anyone, because I don’t want to see anyone. When the postman rings the doorbell, or the window cleaner knocks, I’ll tell him to be quiet, like a game.

Noah will ask for jam on his toast, and when I give him the plate of little triangles, he’ll say he now wants peanut butter. I won’t say anything, I’ll return to the kitchen and cry quietly while I stick the fresh slices of bread in the toaster, and the worst part is I don’t know why. I don’t why everything is so difficult. No one else finds it this hard, do they?

A little later, Noah will ask for me to play with him, or say he wants to paint. But there’s always an excuse up my sleeve, there’s something else more important I must do right now. A phone call, an email, putting out the rubbish. Anything. And I’ll feel horrendous that I can’t just sit and be with my son, that I’m denying him well, me. I’m used to blocking everyone else out, but my son?

I’ll promise myself that I’ll save the day by making a family dinner, so we can all sit down together, Noah likes it when we do that. But I won’t. The good intentions will fly out of the window, and he’ll eat what he always does, at the table with his toys.

I’ll give him his bath, and put him to bed, and he falls asleep while I read to him quietly, I’ll watch him sleeping. My beautiful boy, my beautiful beautiful boy. My boy that deserves so much more than I can give him. My boy that I love more than I can ever put into words, hasn’t got a proper mum. A mum to play with and teach him, to run around with and give him everything he wants. I’ll sit and watch him sleep, and the tears will prick my eyes and I’ll promise myself – promise him that tomorrow will be better.

But will it? Will it? I’m not in control here, something much more powerful is. Something I have no control over. My family, my friends will say what a good mum I am, but I’ll know different deep down, swimming amongst the darkness and all consuming nothingness, that I’m not. I’m really not. I’m everything I told myself I wouldn’t be. My baby is sleeping upstairs, alone, and when he wakes up, I’ll be with him and watch him and make sure he’s safe and fed. But I won’t be here, not really, I’ll be lost in my own selfish thoughts, pointlessly fighting against the blackness that engulfs me, and my baby will still be alone.