from Curvy Girl Guide
On the back of an appointment card he scrawled a name and number in black ink. “Call and make an appointment,” he said. “I could write you a fourth prescription, but I think you need to see a specialist. Do it soon. Don’t wait.” He placed the card in my hand and left the room.
I thought about dropping the card into the waste bin on my way out, but instead shoved it into the cup holder of my car where it was partially submerged in tea from a forgotten fast food cup gone soggy and I liked that. I watched the moisture creep up the length of paper, causing the ink to bleed and blur. How dare he imply that I was beyond his help. I would show him.
I left it there for a week, but I didn’t once forget it. There were days in that week where I couldn’t get out of bed, where the window shades stayed drawn, where my children pounded at my bedroom door.
“Why does mommy nap so much, daddy?”
“Mommy is tired. Let her rest. She’ll come out later,” he told them. More often than not I made a liar of him, but he said it all the same. That week was not unlike the dozens that preceded it — the hopelessness, the pain, the despair — all without reason. It was this absence of a cause exactly that had immobilized me for what I am now willing to admit was years.
Say I was to dial the number on that card, that I made an appointment, that I showed up. Say I told this person, this psychiatrist, that I was in agony, that the first unbearable thing in a string of unbearable things each day was the fact that I woke that morning. Say I shared with this stranger the anguish that was simply existing for me. What if, after listening to every word it pained me to give voice to, they asked the question I had been asking myself for months and months now?
Why? Why do you feel this way? It was a question they would have every right to ask because surely someone in such devastating emotional pain must have suffered a loss, a life-altering event, some personal tragedy. I feared that question. I had no answer, no reason to give. How could I complain of this crushing sadness and then simply shrug my shoulders when asked about the cause?
Still, that card sat in my cup holder, an avenue unexplored. I couldn’t very well give up and make the honest claim that I had left no stone unturned before doing so while that card existed and I desperately wanted to give up. In the end, I called the number. I made the appointment and I said the words to her. It was all much easier than I imagined. They practically burst from me.
When I finally fell silent, I braced myself, but that question never came. She asked many, of course, but not once did she demand a justification. Then she did something that has made every day since that one bearable. She gave this thing — this mountain of melancholy — a name.
Suddenly, I knew what I was fighting against. It was a real thing. It was a condition that others suffered from even and, most importantly, it was treatable.
Alone in my car later, I googled the word she spoke to me in her office, and I cried as I read what could have been the character description in a book about my life. I swallowed the first pill of my new prescription that night feeling hopeful — an emotion I thought I was incapable of.
I am bipolar. I am not crazy. I am not broken. I’m also not ashamed of it. I will probably have to take medication for the rest of my life, but doing so has made it a life worth living.