The standard greeting that we present to each other usually consists of a passive and insincere variation of “Hey. How are you?” Our reflexive answer is always always one form or another of “fine.” They don’t really want to know and we know that. Chances are we don’t want to get into it, anyway.
Some people are easier to read than others. Regardless of how well we wear it, we each put on our mask and slip into the skin of whomever it is we present to the world. For some that skin is pretty thin and fits rather nicely. These are the types that are as close to being their authentic self for the world to see. For others, that skin is really thick, doesn’t always fit well in places and you can’t even begin to imagine what the person underneath looks like. Some are in between, which is where I’d like to think I fall.
Some days I’m the real me; no mask or skin needed. These moments are rare in the presence of another human being, most often my wife. Other days I have to put on the emotional equivalent of body armor just to get out the front door. I’m not even completely honest on this blog, though it is my personal diary shared anonymously so I’m at least sharing with someone; someone whom I’ll likely never meet, nor know much about. This blog is to be the opposite of the mask and persona that we slip into each day. I want this part to be out there, but not have to worry about any number of ways that could alter my social or professional life.
This week I have to be in character for 5 days straight, less at night for the few hours I get to sleep. I’m wilting inside, rapidly at that. The last three days I’ve spent a tremendous amount of energy in just keeping my composure. I’ve been on the edge of tears off and on, have been irritable and short-tempered. So, I smile, make nice, play the role of a happy well-adjusted person and give my “I’m fine, thank you. Yourself?” responses, taking slight comfort in the fact that the other person may be doing the same. Somewhere behind the space shared between our masks there could very well be two people who’s souls are bleeding out and neither of us can see it. That’s how I feel right now, anyway. I feel like me, the real me is bleeding out, soon to only leave this hollow shell of a persona walking around not realizing that the show ended a long time ago. Sometimes our biology doesn’t match up with what is really going on inside. I suppose that those dying of terminal illness that have every desire to live for years if not decades to come feel the opposite. The really f’d up part with me specifically? When I found out that I had liver disease and it initially looked like my lifespan would be significantly shorter, I was relieved. I’d later find out that it will likely only shave a few years off, though. The look of confusion that the doctor gave me must have been a reaction to my rather raw and sincere disappointment.
How am I? A type of terrible that I can’t find words for. I’m conflicted as well. I want to end this madness. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I care enough about myself that I don’t want to go on needlessly suffering like this. I’ve done as much for pets. There are parts of my life that I really like; love even. My wife and I love each other dearly and enjoy the time we have together. We laugh a lot. In late 2012 I begged her to let me go. Letters were written and were in the glovebox of the car. They were each to those closest to me trying to express that there’s nothing they could have done. They were both thank you and goodbye letters. I’m nowhere near where I was at that time, but my wife made it clear that she didn’t want to lose me. I wasn’t playing some manipulation game or anything. She’d have a right to know. She’d need to hear that it wasn’t her or anything about our current situation at the time. We were having some serious problems then. Go figure.
I’ve lost someone I loved dearly to suicide. That’s a hellish thing to experience, and no matter what the person says, or doesn’t say, there’s always that lingering question of if you could have prevented it somehow. I’ll not put anyone through that. Do I want to right now? Yes – with every fiber of my being, yes. Will I? Absolutely not. When I was at the very edge – right down to the split second before crossing the threshold of no return, I checked into a hospital. Will tomorrow be any better? I don’t know. My depressive cycles go like this. They start hard and fast and leave just about the same. Such is the experience of one with bipolar. How am I, you ask? I’m screaming inside and you’ll never know.