This post originally went live on mydnyht.wordpress.com on 5 December 2013.
“So what do you do?” he asked.
“What do you do? Do you study?” He was pushing.
She paused. He was a driver. He was foreign. He was just trying to make conversation. But he was pushing.
“I’m on disability.”
Now it was his turn to pause.
“What for?” he asked.
“My bipolar disorder,” she replied.
“I don’t get it,” he said.
Of course he didn’t get it. He was Romanian; she doubted that Romanians took good care of their mentally ill. He didn’t get the suicidal thoughts. He didn’t get the crippling panic attacks. He didn’t get how difficult it was to get up in the morning, or to get up at all. He didn’t get playing with endless combinations of medications. He didn’t get forcing yourself to eat or shower because sometimes you just don’t have it in you to take care of yourself. He didn’t get how sometimes, it’s easy – it’s too easy. Everyone thinks you’re perfect and then you crash and suddenly you’re not perfect anymore and nobody wants to talk about how you always remember to take your meds or brush your teeth or how you managed to keep the house clean because those are only accomplishments for sick people. People with cancer. It’s ok to have cancer. People get cancer, they understand it. People don’t get bipolar disorder.
She floundered. She tried to make him see. How difficult it was to hold down that job. How difficult it was after she had to quit. How many tears she put into the disability application. She was embarrassed. How dare he. He should know better. He was pushing. He was just trying to make conversation.
Her voice trailed off into the distance as she explained it to him.
She looked out the window, wanting to be home.
He pushed. And he didn’t get it.