There was a time in my life where a glass of wine and a chat with a friend could cure most of what ailed my younger self. It’s funny what a diagnosis can do. Not only are those days gone but they have been replaced, instead, by a bottle of wine, an argument with a friend who is only trying to help, and a handful of lorazepam. And even that is not enough. I cannot cure the pain I feel when I walk into my empty apartment. Empty because I have overstayed my welcome with my friends nerves, empty because I have overburdened my friends with my relentless despair, empty because I’ve made them scared of me.
I suppose I have become somewhat frightening. Tall, thin because I can’t eat, tattooed in ink and blood, and desperately unhappy. I’ve grown into a shade of my former self. I try to disguise the cuts and people usually have the decency not to ask. Sometimes I want them to ask. Of course I have my stories made up: I fell, I tripped over a cord, I scratched myself moving. The ones under my clothes are harder to explain. How does one explain five short, fat slices along one’s hip; obviously the work of a razor. I learned long ago to try to hide my cuts so they wouldn’t be visible even in a bikini. Naked, of course, there is only the dark to hide under. And that has not always been enough. I’ve had lovers notice, and ask “what happened here?” I usually do not respond.
But lately, in my loneliness, despair, and hopelessness I’ve grown careless. I want people to ask. And sometimes I want to tell the truth, just to see the change in their expression, trying to hide their disgust, shock, and maybe even fear.
In the midst of my unhappiness, courtesy of a particularly tough bout of bipolar depression, I’ve begun shedding friends like leaves. I lost five over the weekend and just yesterday two more fell from the tree. I imagine that even the friends I have are exasperated with me. I imagine that they can scarcely stand my company, that escape fills their minds, that they’d rather be in the light. Of course not all of this is true. It’s my illness, once again in my ear. The truth is that the friends I have left, the ones that have stood by me and watched my transformation, are good people. Better than me, but my illness poisons their good graces, convincing me that I’m a burden they are simply waiting to release.
I’ve had to accept the departure of friends who I thought would never leave my side. I’ve accepted it but I refuse to understand. To understand would be to give up on my cause, to fundamentally admit that I am not worth saving. And as long as I can hold on to that hope– that I truly am worth saving– then I believe I have a chance.