I took a hike through the Iowa grassland one brisk evening this September, just thinking. Mostly about the people in my life that I'm no longer close to, those relationships that feel so eternal when they're there and then they vanish like dust in the wind. I'm worse off for it, I usually want intimate and close friendships while most people want casual ones. Breadth versus depth, that sort of thing. Eventually I stopped trying, stopped caring.

Bipolar disorder seems to run in my mother's side of the family, I believe a great aunt and my grandfather, as well as myself. Neurotic behavior too. My grandmother seems happy enough, but you can tell there's something more there, below the surface, maybe it's trauma. Depression? Same with my mother. I'm not sure if my parents even believe my diagnosis, or if it's 'demonization', which could very well be true if people do get demonized. For a while I thought I was the root of the problem, somehow it was my fault, or negligence. If I went to bed on time, ate better, exercised, didn't listen to bad music, etcetera. I convinced myself that I was overplaying pain for attention, while simultaneously hiding it so well from everyone that nobody could tell. Sitting alone, staring at my wall, thinking about death. It was only when I actually decided to put some effort into fixing myself that I realized something was wrong with me, when I started eating right, going to bed on time, stopped listening to death music, exercising, and I still felt horrible. So I saw a psychiatrist, got on medication, started seeing a counselor. I thought it'd fix it, that it'd go away, but it doesn't. It never goes away, I just learned to deal with it better. Medications to lessen it, mental tricks to help me function.

Having a mood disorder is very, very deeply-rooted, it digs its roots and deep inside you and it's a lot more pervasive than I ever imagined it would be. It dictates the emotions I feel, which affects how I interact with the world around me, which affects how I experience the world, which essentially shapes my personality. It's a domino effect that affects every area of my life. It is genetic, pre-neolithic, ancient and primitive, strictly the result of my biology. It's not the immortal "soul" using the body as an extension of itself, which I wish were true. It's genetic, but I still find myself thinking that it's my fault, somehow, like it's somehow my fault. If I just tried harder, did better, I'd be better. For so many years I thought it was just me, "overplaying" pain that I kept to myself, suicidal for "attention" but keeping it to myself. I tried opening up about it a bit to a friend and she cut me off, because being friends with someone is supposed to just be "fun" and not problematic. 

If you feel that way, if you feel horrible all the time without reason and you're doing everything right, it's not your fault. It's not your fault. Consider seeing a counselor, maybe s/he can point you in the direction of a good psychiatrist. I never got completely better and probably never will, but it helps, medication and therapy beats being dead by 20. I fucking hate optimism and positive thinking, but you don't need to lie to yourself to decrease your misery. Less misery is preferable to more misery or even death. I believed for a long time and still sometimes catch myself believing that I deserve misery, I'm worthless and I deserve every single ounce of suffering. I eventually realized that, if everyone got what they deserved, everyone on Earth would be miserable or dead. Treat yourself like you're someone else that you have to look out for; imagine a friend of yours or a family member, and imagine if they were saying those things about themselves. What would you say to them to look out for them, to care for them?

Care for yourself. Even if you deserve to be miserable, care for yourself. It's the only way to survive in this damn world.

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