I’ve previously shared on this site a few quotes from a woman named Glennon Doyle Melton, founder of “Momastery” and author of “Carry On, Warrior”. I found one more I’d like to pass along:
“People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help”
I think we all have pre-formed images in our minds of what a “helpless” person looks like. I honestly believe that many people might view me as someone who is fairly put together – in fact, when I’ve confessed my bipolar to people, I often hear, “Really? I never would have guessed! You seem so “with it”!” But, in fact, I’m far from “with it”. I’m an internal wreck. I put on a happy face and push myself through my days, hoping to make it to the end of the night without losing myself in my illness, my misery, my dread and fear of what my future holds. I do it for my kids, because it kills me for them to see me not operating at full capacity. They need stability and reliability in a mother, and I wear a mask all day that tells the world how together I am, that assures my kids that I can be a good mother. They know I’m sick, but they also believe I can do everything, and they know that I will will do anything for them. In truth, I can barely help myself, which leads me to wonder how I’m every going to effectively help them?
When I crawl into bed at night, after my kids are safely tucked in, I lay awake lonely and scared, wondering how I’m every going to get through the next day. I psyche myself up, hoping to convince myself that if I can get through today, I can get through tomorrow. It works – sometimes.
But ask for help? Forget it. Never. I publish this post anonymously because I don’t want people I know to find out I’m barely getting by. I don’t want anyone to learn that I am scraping by mentally. Would I love for someone to reach out and offer help? You betcha. But how will they ever know unless I ask for it? Because I don’t look like the kind of person who matches the image of someone society pictures as needing help. So nobody offers.
It’s my own fault. Don’t ask, don’t tell. I’m not ashamed of the stigma attached to bipolar. I’ve rambled on and on to people about bipolar and how important it is to have awareness of mental illnesses. But not unless I’m asked. Which brings me back to my original point: nobody is going to ask because I don’t look like I need help. Lots of people in my town know I am bipolar. They just don’t know I suffer from it. See the difference?
If you have a friend or acquaintance living with mental illness, please reach out. Ask if you can help. Chances are, she’s dying to talk to someone. She’s desperate to be offered assistance, or even just a shoulder to cry on. But she’s not going to ask. Not ever. Believe me, I know.