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Know your Bipolar

So, you want to know your bipolar...

This could be your spouse, your daughter, work colleague, neighbor, or your friend or …anyone. The only way I know how to explain such behavior is to share a bit of my own…and, well only maybe, the thought process (or really, lack thereof) that goes behind it.

It’s interesting how well medications work to manage my shit, when I take them.

Only, I don’t like taking them all of the time. I know, I know, you’re saying, really?? WTF? Why? And quite likely disgusted that I might intentionally prefer to just feel bad. Hopefully, you keep reading. I’m guessing you know someone like this if you even picked up this book to begin with. And I’m sure you are thoroughly frustrated with this person. Believe me, not only have I felt that frustration from the people that love me but also from myself. The frustration from others often leads to feelings of guilt which just compound things. I will admit to romanticizing it a bit. If, for example, someone presented me with a magic pill that would make it all go away and I’d be normal, I’m not sure I’d want it. Now as I think of this, I realize that a lot of the reason for this stems from my anxiety. That feels like a lot of pressure to heal. Also, some of my strongest emotions come out with being bipolar and while most hurt, I do feel very alive when I’m experiencing them. This, although, this could be due to the numbness felt in between. Can you yet, identify the racing thoughts?

How to explain it? Logically? Yeah, there’s absolutely no way to do that. All I can tell you is that some days my laziness, sadness and isolation just feels fucking good. The more days I give into it the harder it is to get back to a healthy routine. Sure, massive guilt comes with it allowing the depression to take over. The cycle of guilt because you didn’t do anything productive or that you were supposed to yesterday makes it hard to do anything to fix it today. Then the next day, and the next, and the next. You start with – just for today I’m going to allow myself this break, that’s not so bad. Next day, oh wow, that felt great, I needed that, but I’m still tired and maybe I should do it again. Just one more day. After about a week’s time of this is when the guilt starts, sets in, settles, buries. “I’m a terrible mother. My business and my bank account are going to go down the tubes if I don’t snap out of it and it’s not like I have any financial help coming in, so if I don’t we will just be homeless I guess.” But somehow all of those thoughts just feed into the depression and everything just gets darker and I have less motivation day by day. I start religiously taking my medications. I’ve been taking them, just maybe not religiously. After all I’ve been sleeping a lot and can’t keep track of what day it is so some days get skipped, others get either the morning or evening dose but not the other.

Antidepressant, mood stabilizer, thyroid enhancer, anti psychotic, Xanax, Adderall and finally a sleeping aid. You can see where I might get tired of taking medication.

I get my sleep schedule on a better track, cut back on the drinking and find some semblance of quasi normality, but I still feel numb. Disconnected to life, my kids, my work, my family and my friends. Sometimes these lapses are initiated over some ‘event’ but not always. Sometimes it just is. Over time, little by little, I come back around – especially after a few therapy sessions, a call to my psychiatrist. I can now see reality, it’s just ahead, just out of my grasp but I am moving toward it. All I need is that morsel of motivation, that lifeline to press on. Often, I have to relearn that my medication only works when I take the combination. It’s almost like a trifecta – if I take one but not the other, two without the other and all goes sideways.

Coming out of a depression is often a slow process but at some point you ‘just have to jump’. It’s almost like skydiving, you’re really hoping that something will catch you on the other side.

A few ‘normal’ aka dull days pass and then another change.

Now I feel high as a kite, I’m on cloud nine, tons of energy, tons of zest for life, getting a lot done and highly emotional on the positive spectrum.

It’s an amazing day! I’ve accomplished more in one day than I have in two weeks! I hope this continues tomorrow!

Sometimes it does, it can last almost a full month at times. Other's it lasts only a day or two. But in those highs I feel on-point. I can handle ALL the things. I can be callous where I used to get bogged down in emotion, I can juggle all the tasks and chores in a timely and somewhat efficient manner. I'm more motivated to spend time with my kids - to check in on them and make meals for them, play outside with them.

Most people in my life like me like me best like this. I’m higher functioning, more fun, energetic and talkative…but many don’t know that danger lurks as well. This is the time when I will make impulsive decisions. Whether in my activities or spending habits or just with an outlandish idea that I become fixated on making into a reality. I’m generally making some sort of bad decision whether with drinking, people or activity or, generally, all of the above. And sometimes....well, sometimes I fall in love...and then you can bet the cycle goes full circle.

Finally, I don't know if it's like this for everyone, but my mood often fluctuates to match the seasons. Summer is a happy time, for the most part. Winter with cold, rain and dark days almost always send me the other direction. I also feel most alive when I'm traveling. I feel I am born to move! My mood definitely improves when trip planning and taking.

Invariably though, what goes up must come back down. Often, it’s only after I come down that I even realize or recognize that I was previously flying I was just feeling ‘normal’ during that time. People are often confused because while sometimes the change is slower, other times it is very sudden.

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