I finally dragged myself out of bed. Depression had stolen over two years of my life. Two years I wouldn’t get back. Two years where I lived in my bed, in my room, in my cave. I liked my cave. It was a safe place. It had all the necessities of life—it had a big, soft bed with lots of covers to hide under; it had a large, flat-screen T.V. that I never watched; it had a phone that I never answered; and oodles of books I never read; but it also had music, Sirius music. I could listen to whatever type of music suited my mood. And usually that was sad music. But that’s okay, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I escaped into the music. I spent hours poring over music lists I had made—songs that I had heard, that I wanted my husband to put on my cell phone. The lists were never-ending. The music could be heard deep in my soul.
I no longer waited for food to be brought to me. I could actually make my way to the kitchen—an extension of my cave. I would gather food and take it back down to my room. There I would eat, in darkness. I never turned the lights on. They were too intrusive. I preferred to sit in the dark—darkness cloaked me in every way. I now had my laptop with me. It was my chosen communication with the outside world. It was a safe way to ease back into society. I could talk to people I didn’t really know. People that didn’t know me. It was a way of interacting while safeguarding myself at the same time.
As the weeks passed, I spent more time milling about my home. Escaping from the seclusion of my cave, yet frequently returning there for comfort. Eventually I got dressed. That was quite the feat. After two years in bed with limited mobility and a large cocktail of medication, I had managed to gain 50 pounds. That, in itself, was depressing. Nothing fit. And I was ashamed of my body. I cried for the shape it had become. I was embarrassed. I had to buy new clothes. It was time to leave the house.
Of course there was no leaving my sanctuary by myself. I didn’t have the confidence for that. I summoned my mother’s help. She was always there when I called. She chauffeured me from store to store in search of new clothes—not just any clothes would do, they had to hide my new size as much as possible. Most of the clothes I chose were black. I was mourning myself. Heading out into the world was a challenge. One that I didn’t welcome. I was ashamed of my appearance and frightened that I might run into someone I knew. I couldn’t handle that. I couldn’t handle anyone seeing me the way I was.
I had to defend myself against the possibility of seeing people I knew. I wore my sunglasses. I wore them in the mall and in the stores. I even wore them at night. They protected me from the judgement of passersby. They also protected me from my own reflection in the windows. A sight I didn’t want to see. They blocked out the light when I craved darkness. They hid my pain from anyone that would look. But most importantly, they hid the windows to my soul. With my sunglasses on, no one could see inside. No one could see the real me and the pain that I was suffering. My sunglasses had become my new best friend.
Cynthia was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2005 and has since been through a myriad of experiences, doctors and treatments. Ten years later, she is now relatively stable—as stable as one can be with Bipolar Disorder. She is lucky enough to have a psychiatrist who actually listens to her. She uses writing as therapy and through Facebook, Twitter, and her own on-line blog http://cynthiaforget.weebly.com/, she is a strong advocate for those with Bipolar Disorder.