As I have said, illness struck me quite young and when I lived at home with my parents it was hard to hide things. I was just ignored or dismissed. They did not want to deal with me. So, as my experience was that no one wanted to know, I kept things hidden from my friends and family. I kept secrets-big ones. My father did pay for psychiatry for me, but with a lot of bluster and quite reluctantly. My mother didn’t want to be involved in any way. My father did meet once with each of my psychiatrists when I lived in NYC, but he refused to keep the lines of communication open with them and really didn’t want to know what was going on with me. It made things very difficult for me as my parents were a big part of what ailed me, but I went through it alone basically. Very sad really.
When you are crazy and you know you have to hide it from others, your are very isolated, so I lived most of my adult life alone and in secret. Keeping this kind of secret can be exhausting and it was a full-time job. Trying to act “normal” around other people is also a lot of hard work-you are working to keep your secret and behave as you see others behave. I felt like the pie-plate spinner in the circus, running back and forth, trying to keep my plates from crashing to the floor. But there were no applause for me and my Herculean effort. I was spinning my plates in secret, silently and unseen. Running back and forth panting with exhaustion.
My friends who were close to me always knew that from time to time I would disappear for a week or two and they were respectful. I would hold up in my apartment and wait out the onslaught of my demons. In those days the only medication I was on was a sedative, so I would take it and try to sleep off the crazies the way a drunk tries to sleep off intoxication. But in both cases you wake with a terrible hang-over, foggy and with a headache. And often with little memory of the “night before” so to speak. And as my “night before” could last for several days, my hang-over was intense. But, as I would realize in later life, I am one tough cookie and a true survivor.
Secrets will kill you eventually. I was one of the lucky ones. My secrets eventually became known and I got the help I needed. But by then I was almost ready to be dead-psychologically and physically- and didn’t know it. I was blessed to have siblings and friends who cared, and I had a will to live, and to live well. Secrets live in the dark. I chose the light, and the dark disappeared. I am still here.