Just as the year enters its last few days, so I enter the final downward spiral of the year – a familiar place for me this year. 2014 has not been a vintage year for me or my mental health.
To be fair the year didn’t start off that well as I was in a job that I couldn’t cope with – the sheer volume of marking was a daily tsunami the like of which I’d never encountered. By the time the Easter holidays came I was adrift from reality and falling into a very dark place. The opportunities I needed were always just out of reach and surviving until summer was all I could hope for. Then as the sun rose to its highest I grasped the first piece of driftwood that passed – a sales job.
Those who know me will tell you that this is not a good fit as I am too honest and couldn’t sell snow to the Arabs (or some other mixed metaphor). I enjoyed meeting new people but the company bullshit, unrealistic expectations and lack of local knowledge from the national company made the job a wrong fit for me. It just wasn’t for me. I am very much a soft sell guy – no pressure and full disclosure, as opposed to the hard sell and manipulation of the facts to get the sale. The lack of money and control over my own income was another big hit to my confidence and mood.
The other things that hit you are world issues as well as problems closer to home. One thing it is hard to explain to people about the depressive side of being bipolar is how these things beyond your front door have an effect on you. It seems ludicrous but looking back over the year – ISIS, Ebola, Floods, Hurricanes, and more recently the Sydney Siege, the mother who murdered her children and yesterday’s horrific accident in Glasgow – they soak into your consciousness and you start taking these things personally. Yes it’s nonsensical to do so but the chemicals have their own ideas. All these dark moments add to your own darkness even though you have no real connection to them.
Has it really been that bad a year for me? Yes actually it has. I’ve found new depths in my illness; depths that have left me in bed for most of the day or needed new and stronger medication to get through. Thankfully I made it through those tough moments, but I know that there is always a chance it can happen again. My current dip is just a normal fluctuation in my mood and will pass before long but to happen around Christmas it’s tough to see through the mist and enjoy the festivities.
This is not a blog looking for sympathy but just a reminder that there will be many people who are having to put on a “brave face” just to sit at the dinner table for turkey or who turn up at the drinks party really wanting to get back in the car to go home. There are hundreds of thousands of people who will be lonely this Christmas because they are on their own, but there also those who are isolated by their own chemical imbalance. Have patience with them – just because they don’t interact or jump around the room celebrating the season, doesn’t mean they aren’t grateful for the company in a dark lonely time for them.
Merry Christmas to everyone struggling this year, here’s to a clearer and more positive 2015.