She was sick. Most of her time was spent on seeming normal. She played tennis and attended cocktail parties. Her friends came over to hang out. They enjoyed the way she cooked pastas and cheesecakes. She saw her in-laws on weekends and attended bible study classes every Wednesday night. She socialized outside the household and was attentive and polite within the family. The house was clean, the children did good at school, her husband was recently promoted. He attributed his success of getting the operations director position to her. “I would never have done it without you. You are everything to me, you are my angel. ” He worshipped her, she was his inspiration, his pixy.
But she was sick. No one had any idea what it took her every morning to get out of bed and function as if she were ok. Her inner world was the ongoing manic-depressive roller-coaster, and she never knew if her mind would take her on the ride of elevated mood and high self-esteem; or she would end up hand-wringing, unable to control purposelessly repetitive body movements.
Sometimes she spent nights pacing in the bathroom hyper and panicky, unable to sleep. Sometimes fatigue hit her so hard that she struggled lifting her head off the pillow. Her self-worth could elevate and drop within days or even hours resulting in tremendous energy loss and the feelings of emptiness and despair.
Hiding her sickness and faking happiness 24/7 was the worst. No one in her family was aware of what was going on, she was too scared, too proud, and too ashamed to be verbal about her condition. Her days were infused with the fear to be revealed and labelled cuckoo. She masked her panic behind the façade of smiling politeness and pleasant demeanor. Her husband finally started making six figures a year, she got accepted by his parents and became president of a local book club. She was scared to mess everything up and kept pretending and going through the emotional nightmare day and night.
It happened on Tuesday. Her husband took her out to dinner. She put on a blue cocktail dress and a perfect smile prior leaving the bathroom, the only safe place where she could be herself restlessly pulling the hair and biting the nails.
The restaurant was almost empty. Her husband had to answer the work phone and hurried outside when a middle-aged waitress approached the table.
– Are you ready to order?
– Of course, – her smile faded when she raised the head from the menu. The waitress was looking straight into her as if digging deep into her soul.
– You are strong, everything will fall into place.
– I am ready to order, – She had the feeling that the lady got her, the lady saw her true messed-up self. And she felt relieved when her husband finally came back.
One her way home she kept thinking about the words of the waitress. The waitress was weird, disrespectful, and crazy, but what she said made sense. Faking health and happiness, when dealing with mania, depression, and panic attacks clearly required lots of inner power.
The next morning started with the loss of energy; her previously elevated self-esteem broke against another depressive episode. She forced herself to open the eyes and look at the clock. It was the time to get her kids and her husband ready for the new day. They wanted potatoes and eggs, he wanted cappuccino and a cream-cheese sandwich.
“I am strong, I will get through this, I can’t feel low all the time, the mood will end up go up anyways” started her recovery. She knew she needed to learn about her mind to be able to foresee upcoming mania and subsequent falling into hopelessness. She started looking for help. She started asking for help. Gradually, she started living.