I sometimes forget that there’s a stigma associated with depression and anxiety and bipolar disorder. I’m open about it, and I’m not ashamed. A few weeks ago, I had a pretty bad anxiety attack when I was teaching. During their lunch break, I went to my office, turned out the lights, crawled under my desk, and pulled my chair in so no one could see me if they walked in. I sat like that for 20 or 30 minutes. I admitted it later to my colleague, and was informed that I shouldn’t tell anyone. It could be used against me.
This kind of stuff requires an open forum. I have no doubt that a considerable number of people in my life are on anti-depressants, or drink wine to fall asleep and a sleeping pill to stay there. I have no doubt, but that isn’t something one brings up in casual conversation. It’s impolite. People might look at you like you’re crazy. It’s something you don’t say on a first date, or in a job interview. No one will look at my resume and say, “You’ve done pretty well considering your mental state.”
I wonder what would happen if I put “Bipolar” on the skills part of my resume. Interviews have always been nerve-wracking, yet fun, for me. I wonder how people would look at me, how the interview questions would change. Or, if I brought it up in the strengths and weaknesses portion: “Well, one of my strengths is my anxiety attacks–I normally channel that energy into something hyper-productive, like doing a month’s worth of stats.” “One of my weaknesses is my depression. I tend to come into work dressed in a hoodie and jeans, hiding a teddy bear in my backpack. I’ll still work–I’ll find something to do–but it will be somewhat obvious that I could barely get out of bed and cried on the drive into the office.”
If you can’t tell, today’s been one of those days. I’m grateful that it’s my day off and I was able to spend it curled up in my bed. The past few weeks have been great–stressful, but in a normal, “My-Job-Is-Seriously-Insane” way. Plus, I’m writing a short story that’s taking way more time than I thought it would.
But then there’s today. There will always be days like today, and that’s okay. I am learning how to handle the bad thoughts and the anxiety, even if it means I have to pull off to the side of the road while I’m driving to wait for it to level out. Even if it means going to an old place of comfort, or wearing an old sweater, or enjoying some serious retail therapy (my winter wardrobe is going to be classy and work-appropriate).
I don’t want to hide these flaws from people. This is part of who I am. I understand that some of it is good and some of it is bad. I understand that some of it isn’t “normal,” but “normal” stopped being my goal years ago.
Now, I’m just working on the bold and fearless part. We’ll see what happens.