I do a lot of thinking, some say over-thinking. I mull over everything and I used to take so much of it to heart. It has taken years of therapy to get to the point where I can put distance between myself and situations/comments that would have previously been triggers for me.
I think about my life in time periods, clearly delineated by events. Childhood. High school. Moving in 1993. Finishing high school. Moving back to Wollongong in 1996 and starting uni. Meeting my future husband. Finishing uni. Starting work and moving to Sydney. Getting married. Getting my first dog. Buying a house. Bipolar. 2007.
2007. It’s the pivotal point in this timeline. It will always be this large line in the sand that looms over everything else. Its shadow is receding as time marches on and I’ve put my life back together, but I can’t ever pretend it’s not there. It was the darkest point on my timeline. If I am honest, it was grey and stormy for a few years leading up to it and it was grey and murky for another 18 months after it. The sunshine that I live in now is so far from there but there is a twist in my stomach when I think about it.
Do I wish it had never happened? My god, yes. Have I learnt and grown from it? My god, yes. I’ve had to accept that I tried to kill myself multiple times and it is a part of my timeline. My divorce is a part of my timeline. The aftermath of my marriage is a part of my timeline. The highs and what I did when I was high are part of my timeline. The good, the bad, the fucked up and the very, very ugly.
The person I am as I write this is only because of all of that history. All of those decisions and situations. The years of pain, of secrets and lies. The fight to get well. The fight between the angel and devil on my shoulders, every.damn.day. The grace of doctors and medical professionals who saved my life.
Did I ever think I would be where I am today? In the darkest days, no. I couldn’t see a future. That hollow feeling that there is nothing left for you and the world would be better off without you? The thoughts, beliefs and the meaning behind those words are gone but the pain echoes. It drives me forward to enjoy my life, to keep fighting, to appreciate what I have now – love, family, friends, pets, a job, a home. I appreciate life more deeply because that feeling of nothingness echoes in my mind. I have been to the lowest place a person can go and I know how hard I fought to climb out of there. Everything tastes sweeter this side of 2007.
When I let myself drift in my thoughts, it is never far from the surface. I can’t hide the scar on my arm all of the time and it is there, white and puckered. The 2012 Kylie asks ‘What was I thinking?’ but she also knows that at that moment, that moment of swallowing or picking up the florists wire, there was no thinking anymore. I had given up and my thinking had narrowed to one question: how do I end this? Writing this now makes me feel sick. How could I have done that to myself? How could I have hidden how sick I was from everyone for so long?
Bipolar has been glamourised in the media in the last few years. Artists and musicians have revealed that it helps fuel their creativity, that they control the symptoms and channel it into their craft. Everyone’s experience is different and I’m sure people are able to control it while not stifling their creativity but it doesn’t give the general public a true picture of what it truly is like. I had someone say to me that the highs must be great. I was taken aback and it made me think that there is a lot of misinformation out there. It isn’t palatable, it isn’t pretty and it’s not your general dinner conversation. I think there needs to be more honest discussions, so that when someone does say ‘I need help’ or ‘I am in a really bad place’, they feel safe and they won’t be misunderstood.
I think I manage my bipolar incredibly well now. Many of the people I interact with on a daily basis would not know I have bipolar and would probably be shocked to know. I am only well because I know I am not cured and keep doing the things that I need to do: take my medication every morning and every night. See my psychologist, my psychiatrist, my GP. Talk about everything and don’t let things fester under the surface. Keep to a routine. Eat well. Practice self care and being in the moment.
I know I’ve come a long way on this side of 2007. I know I’ve had a lot of help along the way. Bipolar is isolating but healing only comes from a network of people helping you. Taking those first steps to building a support network can be the scariest that you can ever take but with time it definitely becomes easier.
I think 2012 is a pretty damn good point to be on my timeline.