Author: Elpida Verita Psychologist
Translation: Chrysoula Stampolaki, Philologist-Theatre Practitioner
Editor: Dimitra Stasinou
We often catch ourselves watching an action movie on television— and what comes in our mind is that, no matter how complicated the story in every movie might be, the protagonist will always pull through in the end. However, the part I played in the movies of my everyday life never seemed to follow this pattern, despite me being the protagonist. Or maybe it did so; much more than I could admit to myself.
I remember I was still young when the great problems sprang up. I could say my life went on pretty smoothly till then — making friends, going out, doing sports — not particularly eventful. And that, until enthusiasm kicked in… This enthusiasm that I could never manage to balance. It was this joy for a new acquaintance, which somehow evolved into an emotional dependence. I liked being the centre of attention, something not very hard to achieve for a person of my abilities. However, this desire of mine started to intensify. Without giving much thought to it, I soon enough brought myself to such difficult situations in my attempt to attract more and more attention. Tears, lies… all seemed legitimate practices. One phone call to my family was enough to awake feelings of disappointment and betrayal . But was it betrayal? Most likely worry and concern.
The truth is that you can’t so easy feel the love of others when you don’t love yourself. And that was a piece missing from me.
The days went by and my enthusiasm made its appearance occasionally; always whenever I was surrounded by those who I tended to call ‘the important others’. Those were my teachers, people I looked up to and admired or even sexual partners. Although the latter never lasted forever — especially at those ages. “Every end is a new beginning’, the saying goes. But the end of those relationships led me to a beginning I sometimes wished would never come.
I’ve always been a solitary person. But there came those nights, when the idea of being all alone with myself, scared me. And, when I was losing the attention I had gained, those nights grew bigger and heavier. I looked myself in the mirror and I felt miserable. I felt ugly, mean, loser. Each day I felt more and more disappointed, till I was full of it.
Until, one day, I swallowed a bunch of pills I found in a cupboard and let myself drift deep into the void. I remember my parents driving me to the hospital in a state of complete agony and restlessness. I stayed there for a couple of days, a time spent in a turbulence of mixed feelings.
My parents and I were never significantly close. I believed it would be extremely difficult for them to understand what I was going through, so I kept my distance. I will never forget, though, the pain I saw in my father’s eyes —so swollen from crying — my sister’s gaze and my mother’s desperate efforts to find out what brought me to this state.
I knew very well that as soon as I was to be discharged from the hospital my life would never be the same. Very soon, I was sent to a therapist. Of course, I didn’t wanna go, but little did I know back then that she, with her valuable help, would be the reason I can write this text this day. I lied to her for a long time. I wouldn’t cooperate so as to overcome the hurdles together. Both my enthusiasm and the dependence that followed never stopped sprouting. What changed, though, was that this over-dependence soon welcomed self-destructive tendencies. My joy was evident whenever my enthusiasm rose and then, my need for attention emerged.
Whenever I try to explain this need I think of this toy we used to have when we were young… the one that produced bubbles when we blew it. The larger the bubble, the greater my joy was. But, as it happens, with some toys you need to be a bit more careful. If life was just like this game, where you can break each bubble, be it small or big… and then, blow once more and make new ones, then everything might be easier. But it isn’t. When this need runs full circle, at the end I seem unable to change the hard moments it brought and replace them with new ones.
Although the important people in my life were there for me — despite the inconvenience I caused —things went worse. Blame it on my long-standing bad mood, or the self-mutilation that followed…they all seemed good enough reasons for sending me to a psychiatrist. She prescribed medications and when I asked my mother what was wrong with me she replied I was depressed. I continued the treatment for quite a long time and then I stopped on doctor’s orders.
Time passed, years passed and I was finally enjoying student life. But things grew more and more difficult in September. One night, I started hurting myself again. Not that deep so I would kill myself, but deep enough to sedate the pain I felt inside. My therapist recommended a good psychiatrist who prescribed new medication. On the prescription paper, the diagnosis was inscribed as such: “bipolar disorder”, or to use an outmoded term, “manic depression”.
I never expected that the name of a disorder would fill me up with so many negative feelings. I sat on a bench and wondered if there would ever be anyone that could love a girl that bears more chances of being pessimistic and self-destructive. The therapy aided my sleep and calmed me considerably. Still, the diagnosis could not explain this need that drove me each time to more extreme situations.
I visited a new psychiatrist, hoping she would help me understand what was going on with me. I remember, in our first meeting, my mood was stable and I could describe with ease what I’d experienced till then. A couple of days later, I plunged on the floor. I dived again into this enthusiasm without even thinking that, if I immersed so deep into it, I would never be able to resurface. Our next appointment was totally different. The medications changed and increased. The diagnosis altered along with them. I was told I suffered from “bipolar disorder and personality disorder”. I had dragged myself into such a state that I had lost any hope of managing to stand up and fight.
But once again the days went by. Just like it did since I was yet a child. What was different this time, though, was that ‘I knew what was wrong with me’.
Maybe it was time to stop being angry with myself… it was time to stop desiring my own harm and start taking better care of myself . Maybe it was about time I forgave myself. Some things just can never be the way I want them to be. And maybe this is not such a bad thing after all. I started showing my love through wishing cards, a tight hug, a simple “I’m sorry” for all the harm I had caused each time I was unwell. Instead of plunging into attention seeking, instead of wondering why everybody stops loving me and leaves, I started thinking that in order to feel their love perhaps I need to love myself first.
Everyone has a singular moment in their lives when they feel they’ve lost everything. Well, I felt like this in most moments of my life. Now that I am writing this, there are still plenty of times when I suffer and become self-destructive. My doctor and my therapist are by my side whenever I feel powerless to get through on my own. And they remind me, that I can finally endure to the end. And sure enough, I can endure!!
Even at those times, when my mood rises high and soon afterwards drops down — we all have our falls every now and then, anyway! Yet, we fall for some reason and the reason for it is to rise up once more, this time stronger.