“I’m good. You?”

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.

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11 thoughts on ““I’m good. You?””

  1. If only we didn’t need the masks and body armor to feel safe…but far easier said than done. The true friends are the ones who genuinely care how you’re doing when they ask and then follow up about your answer.

    1. If only.. I have one friend that I can be pretty forward with.. Actually, that’s not true. I have a few. Doesn’t it kind of lay some sort of unspoken responsibility on the friend who you let in, though? Especially if you really are reaching the outer bounds of your limits? Maybe that speaks volumes to where I’m really at with this. If I’m not willing to lay that assumed responsibility on someone close to me, then maybe I’m not as committed to fighting through this cycle as I’d like to think..

  2. Hey 30,
    I read this post on my deck this morning, incense burning, tunes on with coffee in hand and to be honest – I had to hold back crying.
    I am pleased you can reach out a bit in this blog. I used to have my coat of armour on for many many years, but through finally finding the right partner, finding the right friends and finding a family in hers, I feel like I can lose my armour. I left the wrong career and now do what I love.
    Through surrounding myself with real people, I find peace. I admit, my depressive cycles are horrid, but I know my people get it when I say, I just need to be at home in bed.
    It is easier for me than you though 30, because I am a chick and we express a lot more freely. There are stereotypes in place for women where we do reach out to our friends, can openly cry etc, whilst there’s a perceived stereotype for males that they have to be freakin super strong and cop it sweet in society. I hate that! There is nothing more beautiful than seeing men being able to just be themselves and cry of they are sad and have a mate give them a hug.nsomething I see at hippy festivals. Maybe, you need to become a hippy lol 🙂
    Anyway, I listen carefully to what you write and you know what, if you didn’t write I would feel a bit of my life missing. I have come to rely on your writings. Thank you!

    1. I have to admit, when you see a tall 220lb man cry, there’s nothing more uncomfortable for those around them, especially if that crying man is overall stoic in even the most terrible of situations.

      I used to be so insecure.. I hid who I was and would lie about anything and everything. For those I wanted to keep close, I’d have to keep up the lies building the web deeper and deeper. I’m pretty sure in hindsight that those closest to me saw through the bullshit, but they wanted to be friends, so many stuck around. When I went into the hospital for the first, and hopefully last time I was rather surprised by the ones I thought I could count on for emotional support once I left. They basically broke contact. Others whom had been acquaintances ended up being the ones that stepped into roles of friends who would look after my well-being. These are the ones I alluded to in the comment thread here. These are the same ones I’ve been avoiding. I’m doing that whole thing they talk about in pamphlets about recognizing signs of depression – withdrawing from family and friends.

      I have been isolating.. Part of it is because I legitimately want to. I’m too drained to be around people. Since my job is about 60% interaction with people, that’s a tough one. Meetings and such are so terribly draining. This week we have an open house where I get to present some of our high-volume equipment, demonstrate some of our software solutions, talk about my background and role and talk about what I and my team can do for other companies in the market. It’s a lot of schmoozing, which I kind of loathe. It’s part of what I signed up for, though. I avoid seeing customers or branch office staff after hours. The closest thing I have to a friend in a city that I frequent is the lady who runs the evening food and drink part of the hotel. She’s not insincere, which I truly appreciate. She cares and makes me feel welcome every time I visit and we often chat about any number of topics. She asked why I left the last time without saying goodbye. I apologized, but didn’t give any explanation. It was because I was a nervous wreck the last time and wanted to get to the car so I could let my guard down.

      I acknowledge my hypocrisy.. I talk here about suffering alone, yet have those I could reach out to. One is only a phone call away on my long commute to another city tomorrow night. She picks up on my subtle tells that I’m not doing well. She has bipolar as well, so at least I don’t have to hold back. Work is my biggest challenge of having to hide. In private life I’m not nearly so guarded, family aside. Talking to them is very counter-productive. I want someone to talk to – to get this out and for someone to actually hear the shakiness in my voice, to offer words of comfort – to tell me that it’s going to be alright, even though intellectually I know it will be at some point… Yet I refuse to reach out. The only clean way of leaving this world without significant guilt would be a terminal illness. Somehow it’s acceptable for someone to say when they’ve suffered enough and let nature take its course. This condition, as serious as it is, doesn’t get that luxury. It’s the taboo subject for most. It is an uncomfortable conversation for all that are involved. It’s not so much feeling depressed as it is the complete loss of vitality. I heard that description once and it’s fitting. I don’t think the world is crap, or that there’s some outside force causing what’s going on with me. I have bad biology in my brain. It’s nobody’s fault. Sure, a “cure” could come in my lifetime, but most likely past what should be the best days of my life. I feel mostly at peace when my wife and I have sex or we’re curled up together sleeping in. That’s my comfort in this world, unless I take heavy opiates. At least with that, I don’t feel or care about much of anything. I have two pills left from when I had surgery a couple of months ago. That’s a short 1-2 hour escape from this. I can see why someone would get addicted to such a thing. I’m not running from some dark secret or some skewed perspective of my live, self esteem or anything like that. It’s just an overall crushing feeling of utter sadness and hopelessness. I have a good life right now. I just lack the capacity to enjoy it.

      Sorry for the long rambling. I shouldn’t take sleeping pills and type responses.

      1. Reading this C, I get from my perspective, how hard it is to talk to others. You know there are some people who sincerely care, but it’s almost too hard to even talk to the ‘real’ people. It is draining!!
        At least on here, I find we can be under the influence of sleeping pills, having suicidal ideation and yet, there is no judgement. This blog that 30 has started is a godsend for me too and it looks that way for you and others.

      2. I wrote about how my depression works here and the cycles – http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-848934. This holds true to this day. I had a good two year stretch of it not being that bad at all. I need to remind myself of that – it did lift for a long time. It’s possible that it might again. Anyway.. It’s there to read if you care to. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  3. Someone up above me in the comments made a really insightful observation that I think could apply to so many others with mood issues- at least it rang very true for me- that it is key to be as much as possible around people who are genuine. That is so true for me at least when I am anxious/depressed- I cannot stand being around happy/shiny/perfect people at those times (even if they are silently screaming inside). It is too false, too much work, and makes me feel even more isolated…like they are part of a world I know nothing about and can never be a part of. I’d much rather draw myself away from the world, be at home on my sofa at night watching Dexter with my honey, who I can be true around and I know is true with me. That at least feels somewhat peaceful and healing.

    I truly appreciate your authenticity. It is too rare a thing in the world.

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