The Mask

Author: Melissa Anderson

I started waking up at 2:00 AM. By 4:30, I was completely awake, unable to will my eyes closed anymore. The day before, I began noticing the beginning signs of the excess energy, so it was no surprise to me that I had difficulty sleeping. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I realized the mistake I had made the night before. I had accidentally taken my morning medications rather than my nighttime medications before going to bed.

Well, that certainly didn’t help anything!

I had a twinge of panic for having not taken the appropriate medications because I knew what that could mean. Sometimes I don’t feel the effects at all. Sometimes it feels as though the world is crumbling around me. I never know what to expect. But I set out for my day as planned and hoped for the best.

Within a few hours, I could tell I was a little more emotional than usual. Not surprising. Nothing I couldn’t handle. As the day wore on, the emotions began to get stronger and I began to feel something familiar creep up from within.

It’s something I welcome, if I’m being honest. It’s something I miss from time to time. It’s authentic and it feels like the truest version of me. It was the deep, twisty emotions that always resurface when the medications are gone.

When the mask is lifted.

It’s as if the whole time I’m stable and my emotions are under control, it isn’t really me. Or at least not the fully authentic me. The medications simply put a veil over me and keep me from being my truest self.

Or do they?

The truth is, I need them. Without them, I can’t really function all that well. These emotions that I feel so tied to take over my life and render me somewhat disabled. So, even though I relish a glimpse of what feels authentic, I have to remind myself of what life without the veil is really like.

It isn’t the life that I want. It isn’t the life that I choose. So that means I make the conscious decision every day to be compliant with my medications. I choose to keep up with therapy. I choose stability over what may feel better or more authentic in the moment because I know those are fleeting things.

I didn’t get to this place easily. It took years of therapy and many, many trials of different medications before things sort of fell into place. And there may come a day when stability suffers, and I have to find a new way of doing things. The important thing is that I never gave up. I never quit trying to be the best version of myself that I could be. I’m still working toward that goal. I still work hard every day because, let’s face it, living with bipolar disorder isn’t easy.

So, my parting words to you are to take heart if you’re still searching for stability. Don’t give up! As long as you are still trying, you have not failed. You are a warrior!


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