Author: Sarah B
Shiny, Happy Person
My psychiatrist diagnosed me with me with major depressive disorder because she said that I’d never displayed any bipolar symptoms.
My psychiatrist was wrong.
I mentioned in my last post that I went through a serious depressive period where I was crying all the time, texting a suicide hotline multiple times a day, and just generally wishing for my life to be over. Well, that period lasted for eighteen months maybe, it’s hard to be sure, it came on so gradually.
Then all of a sudden I woke up one morning to find that all that misery and soul-ache had completely disappeared. All of it, just gone. And in it’s place was this tremendous sense of elation and well-being.
It’s very hard to describe.
It was like having every good thing that could possibly happen in your own life, and in those of everyone around you, all coming together at once. Possibly coupled with every single kind of narcotic high that it’s possible to experience. It was just that good.
I think it’s possibly what religious ecstasy feels like. In fact it very nearly made me religious. I felt so wonderful, and care-free, and happy that I was fit to burst. Every single day. For weeks. And there was just no rational reason for it, so I was half tempted to believe that it was a miracle.
But of course there was no rational reason for it, because there was no rational feeling there. None of it was real. This manic high was just as a much a sign that there was something badly misfiring in my brain as the suicidal depression had been.
My life wasn’t going perfectly, there were in fact plenty of things that I actually needed to care about and deal with. Like losing my job, a death in the family, and a messy break up. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t make myself feel sad now. About anything.
On top of which I was behaving recklessly, spending recklessly – it took me just a couple of months to burn through all of my savings, having sex with people I would never have given the time of day to if I’d been in my right mind. I partied like a rock star. And I topped it all off by decided it would be a fantastic idea to run off to Africa on the spur of the moment. I mean literally, I had the idea, and then three days later I’d jacked in my job and stepped off the plane in Johannesburg – a place, incidentally, that I’d said I’d never go to.
I came back when I’d exhausted my overdraft limits and credit cards, and needed to work again.
I came back to a completely new city, because, well, why not, aye? I was on top of the world, what could possibly go wrong?
And the ‘happiness’ lasted just long enough to help me to meet new people and have like me. About six months maybe.
And then the depression came back. Only it wasn’t gradual this time. I came crashing back down to earth then carried right on through it down to the depths of despair. Which had been bound to happen eventually because I wasn’t very well. Only I’d shut my eyes, stuck my fingers in my ears, and shouted ‘lalala’, refusing to see it.
And still it took me five long years to pluck up the common sense to go and see someone about it.
I suppose the psychiatrist decided that doesn’t count because it was a one off; once I came back down the mania never returned.
Well. The ‘happiness’ never came back. I’ve started running around town, and the world, behaving like a crazy person again at least a couple of times.
And, boy, do I miss the ‘happiness’. Even though I know it wasn’t real. That it was a sickness, and that I’m an idiot wishing on myself yet another type of illness.
Russell Brand summed it up perfectly in an interview I saw where he talked about his past addictions. He said that the hardest part of being clean was knowing how amazing heroin had made him feel, and then now knowing that he was only ever going to feel the way his sober self felt on any given day, ever again.
I think the regret is heightened by the fact that more often than not what I feel is another false illusion, the darker one caused by my depression.
You stupid, broken brain, if you’re going to make me carry on living a lie, couldn’t you at least make it the one where I’m shiny, happy, and indestructible?
It’s a manic world.