Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder
  • Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of elevated mood
  • It causes swings in mood, energy, and the ability to function throughout the day
  • It is a treatable mental illness - it is possible to control the symptoms with proper care.

It is just after 0200hours when I feel like I can't sleep anymore. I'm on the seventh floor of this tiny dingy place in Huruma where Jen and I call home.  

 I keep thinking that maybe if I shut my eyes long enough, sleep will surely come to me. After all, good things come to those who deserve them, right? Wrong.

I don't even remember her name. I remember her face, I remember the gap between her teeth, I remember her sharp voice as she yapped on and on and I remember wishing she would stop talking. But I seem t have a face that encourages 'deep' conversations.

It is 0823hours when I pick her up in Kabete with the plan being to drive her to Lang'ata where she is supposed to have some sort of a meeting. And she asks me, "Who are you? Where is my usual guy?"

I don't know who her usual guy is, but Martin has been giving people the boot so I figure her usual guy got one of those. For the record, I think it is pure savagery to fire somebody on July when it is this cold. Totally inhumane.

I don't even know how she brings it up but she just somehow floats it around.

"I'm bipolar. That means when I am high, I am very high and when I am low, I am very low."
The roads look pretty grey. Devoid of life. There is this thing about the cold that seems to suck the energy out of people. All of them but my passenger.

"Have you ever felt so much pain in your chest that you had to cut yourself to take your mind off the inner pain?"

I really want to keep driving in silence but she takes off her jacket and shows me tens of scars on her wrists. Outside, a little drizzle starts and it seems as cold inside the car as it does outside.

Some are bigger than others. Some seem orderly. Others chaotic. Scars. Meted against her by her in pain as a bridge to less pain. She is displaying them to me with a sheepish grin on her round face. She looks proud of them. I am very confused.

"When you hold that razor in your hand, you know that you shouldn't be doing what you are about to do. But considering there are bombs of emotional hurt going off inside your chest, the cold steel of the razor against your warm skin becomes your best friend.

And you let it in. First thing you see if you cut deep enough is the white flesh inside before it is replaced by the redness of your life that oozes out of your veins, down your wrist and onto the floor."

"The physical pain is meant as a distraction but it can only last so long, so you cut again. And again. And the next thing you see is your mother's face crying down at you, asking "Why?

Why?"

She is young. Can't be much older than 22.

I am driving past Sarit Centre in Westlands when she rolls down her window and a gust of cold wind dashes inside with a vengeance.

"It's a little cold, don't you think?" I ask, my finger hovering over the master button that will roll her window back up.

"I just want to feel the gust of fresh air on my face while I still can." So I zip my jacket up and let her have her fun for a while.

"The worst comes before you are able to stand in front of people and say, 'Hello everybody, my name is so and so and I am bipolar'. After that, it is still hard, but it becomes easier. You are no longer alone."

She might be talking to me, but her eyes are stuck outside. On the immobile buildings that stand so majestic one is bound to think they'll last forever, at the diminishing trees, at the vehicles, at what she calls, life.

"When I am severely depressed, even the smile of a child seems to be a part of the darkness inside. All part of the equation that fertilises the relationship between me and razors. So now that I know what happiness means once more, I like to soak in as much of it as I can."

I drop her off at her rendezvous point in Lang'ata and she finds other young people waiting for her. Friendly enough people whose firm hugs last a minute.

As I drive off to pick someone else at Galleria, I keep thinking that sometimes all one needs is a hug, a smile and a "we'll get through this together."