How are you?

I'm fine, thanks for asking.

You said that before.

Sure, but I mean it this time.

I think you're lying.

You can believe what you want, but I'm actually fine.

"Fine." What does that mean?

I'm not entirely sure. Objectively, I've been sleeping decently, going to bed at a reasonable hour, and waking up to arrive on time for work. I haven't been plagued with the desire to drink, overly vicious intrusive thoughts, or depressive panic episodes for the past week. I've gotten my work done, and am able to perform minor chores around the house, like cooking, doing dishes, showering, brushing my teeth-

Brushing your teeth. Big step.

Fuck you.

Sorry. So other than baseline functions that any jackwagon can do, what else constitutes this "fine"?

I'm not sure I like your tone.

You're the one writing my lines, idiot. So what else?

I'm getting along better with others, and not allowing small moments of social anxiety to escalate into panic attacks. I'm beginning to develop some small amount of self-esteem when I compare how I am now to how I was a few short months ago. I'm more alert, I'm more aware, I'm more me. I feel more in control. I'm not paralyzed by despair - or at least not more than five seconds every other day or so. I'm beginning to think that I could actually make steps to improve my life, rather than simply mitigating the damage.

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You've said over and over again that "better is worse" for bipolar sufferers. Isn't this just hypomania ascendant?

Maybe it is. I'm entirely unsure of myself at the moment. I know that my mind seems clear, but other times when it seemed clear I was just hypomanic. I know that the decreased sleep may indicate a hypomanic relapse rather than true remission. I definitely have more energy, and external negative stimuli haven't really had any impact on my mood.

So it sounds like hypomania again. Why are you unsure?

Because it tastes like Diet Coke.

What?

Because it tastes like Diet Coke.

What do you mean, you cryptic asshole?

I mean that it's different. It feels differently the same way that Coke and Diet Coke taste differently. One is a pure sugar rush, the other is something artificial you drink because you know that the real thing is worse for you. My recent stability is tinged with both a calmness and a distance that betrays its chemical, as opposed to natural, origins.

You mean the Geodon?

Fuck that stuff. It made me narcoleptic and I stopped taking it immediately. I'm talking about that old standard, Prozac. I've finally been on it for long enough that I believe I can talk about its effects.

Well?

It's far from a miracle, and it's not the most pleasant thing in the world. I still hate myself, and I still have a lot of anger inside. I'm not cured, and I wouldn't even describe it as remission. All it feels like is a respite, and a temporary one, from all the crazy shit that runs rampant in my skull. As opposed to being dominated by it, now I feel like I've got volume control on my internal screaming. I can't turn it off, but I can turn it down enough that I can function without resorting to maladaptive coping mechanisms (drinking, lying, week-long gaming binges). But it's still there, and if I want to I can turn the volume up and listen to it. I can't say which is the prozac, which is the lamictal, and which is good-old-fashioned self-improvement, but it's been welcome regardless.

That's a load of sunshine and kittenshit. Tell me how you really feel.

I'm angry and confused.

Better. Angry and confused about what?

I'm confused because I have no idea whether this is actual improvement. I'm angry because the one thing I know for a certainty is that I'm going to feel worse, and the hypomania and depression will doubtless show up again and I'll have to fight those battles over and over again for the rest of my life. I'm angry because it took so long, and I spent so much time in the dark. I'm angry that no one helped. I'm angry because of the damage.

No one could have helped. They tried, and you couldn't see it.

This isn't about the possible. You asked me how I feel. I can't help but think, right now, how much better and how much less pain I could have caused and suffered had I simply received the correct treatment earlier. Way earlier. It's not like my symptoms were new. It seems harsh that I had to do it myself.

You know that no one else could have.

You're right. And even though I'm sometimes angry, things are better and seem to be getting better consistently. You're right.

I always am.