UNMASKED is not just about someone dealing with Bipolar Disorder, it’s also a story of hope. Of how a person can spiral so low but still manage to fight against the turmoil and find one’s self. It is everyone’s story of trial and tribulation, how going through the hottest of fire can make us stronger and wiser if we hold on long enough and refuse to give up.
maybe this time
cling to –
heave a sigh,
I will be
What happens when your world is shattered from within? When you can’t run nor hide from yourself?
UNMASKED is a poetry novel that deals not just with Bipolar but generally, with the darkness in all of us. When it overwhelms us, threatens to consume us, and how we fight to regain ourselves. It is a story of loss, hope, and survival.
How do you go back to a world you feel strongly disconnected from? Where you’ve been heartlessly yanked out and where everyone is engrossed in their own business that you feel like an intruder? You stand in the middle of a crowd who seems to be in a timeless fast-forward mode that you can’t reach out to even one. You watch them having fun; you hear their voices which are a mixture of mirth, sorrow, fun, confusion, hope, anger and regret that you feel so alien. You don’t belong here, that you’re sure of but there’s that vague sense of familiarity; being one of them. No, you are one of them – weren’t you?
There was a time when you were one of them. Now you’re not. You’re just a vessel; no soul, no spirit. You feel so tiny in a vast world. You long to be part of it. Somehow you remember a shared laugh, a happiness, a oneness. It’s all gone though. You want it back but you’re outside, looking in. You want with a wanting that can’t be quenched and though its grip is surprisingly light escape is still bleak. Slowly you realize that despite of your longing, going back to how it was and moving forward to how it will-should be will be very hard. Not because people are harsh. Not because most of your family and friends have abandoned you; and certainly not because you are truly lost. It’s simply because it has always been tough fighting one’s self.
Here I am, tired of hiding behind the shadows and thinking of excuses whenever I’m asked why I missed a class. It’s like living a double life, only I don’t get to wear fancy clothes and drive smoking, “fast and the furious” famous sports cars and carry to die for gadgets. I have manic depression and because no one knows about it I have to always put up a front and be cheerful and happy because when I’m not, friends wonder what has gotten into me and worse, get mad and we’d end up not being friends anymore. I’m not writing this to get sympathy. I’m writing this because as I said I’m tired of lying. I’m tired of pretending to be alright when I feel so broken.
Do I resent it? I sometimes do. When I’m in my MD state there is a big possibility that I will (accidentally) lash out at a friend and they’ll: (a) get confused, (b) get hurt, or (c) get mad and retaliate. I can’t choose what’s worse because if they get confused then I get hurt and wonder why it seems that I have no right to be snooty, snobbish or ill-tempered?!?! If they get hurt, I’d end up feeling guilty even if I know I cannot control myself. And if they get mad and retaliate I end up losing friends. It’s a no-win situation for me and it only aggravates what I’m feeling. When I calm down, I realize that I can’t resent them. They don’t really know what I have or if they do, they don’t truly understand what it is. I’ve tried explaining it to a few friends, telling them the truth instead of lying and the reactions I get are either of the three: (a) they don’t text back, (b) they change the topic (c) they ignore me until I talk to them again or (d) reply “ok” and ignore me.
What is MD? I don’t want to go all medical so the simplest way I can put it is when I’m in the height of my mania I go through an unusually happy state and confidence worthy of Simba after Rafiki talks to him and after fluffy cloud Mustafa gently reprimands him. It’s akin to a sugar-rush only it doesn’t last for a few minutes or hours for me. Mine could last for a month or two and then comes nothing. The abruptness of it takes me by surprise and I get confused, disoriented, restless, and easily irritated and annoyed. I cry for no reason at all, I cannot sleep because my body won’t let me and I lose interest in everything (yes, even eating). All that’s left is a hollowness and helplessness within me. The worst of all is I cannot control my emotions and my mind is useless. I can’t focus. It’s very scattered and my memory could rival a person with dementia (no offense to those with relatives afflicted with it).
I always say I am not nice because the truth is, how can I believe in my supposed goodness when every once in a great while my MD strikes and I turn into a bitch? It’s me but it’s not quite me. And living a life that is teetering on a delicate combination of simplicity and unfathomable complexity is not exactly what I have pictured for myself. People wonder how I always go out of my way to help them when they’re down because the answer is far from what they could imagine. I help them because I need them more than they need me. I am passionate about animals because I need them. It’s not only because I like animals or that I’m nice. In my state, being needed and knowing I can be of help despite my “disability” is very important. It gives me a sense of purpose and peace; a balance in my mostly unbalanced life.
If my illness has taught me anything it is to be sensitive of other people’s feelings. To be more understanding and kind because I know how it is to be ignored and misjudged. To realize that out there, there will always be someone with a bigger problem, bigger sorrow. To know that life is hard but that is life.
It always boils downs to perspective. If you let something be a curse then it will. It will drag you down and you will always feel sorry for yourself, an eternal victim. But if you let it work towards your advantage by trying-struggling-to see the good in it then eventually you will be able to rise above it and be stronger and wiser. Fact is we can never control what will happen to us. Our decisions are ours and through perceptiveness we can at least get an idea of the consequences of our actions but there will always be events that we can never predict. Life’s surprises which could either be good or bad. All of us will experience both of it; it can neither be all good nor all bad. And when we’re hit with a bad surprise; cry, yell, swear; feel sorry for yourself and even withdraw from life but never wallow in it. Rest, but don’t rest forever. Rest until you’re strong enough to fight again.
I have MD. This is me. I let it run my life sometimes but I don’t let it define who I really am. It’s just a part of me that I have to accept and work on. And maybe people will see that if someone who can’t control her emotions and can’t rely on her mind for the better half of the year still has the strength to fight-to have hope that everything will be better soon-then they will realize that there is nothing they can’t overcome. This is my cross and I choose to fight. What about your cross, what do you choose?