Today has just been a shitty emotional day. Plain and simple. I woke up, and I could feel the darkness trying to pull me down into the fucking abyss, and it is taking everything I have to keep it at bay. I can feel myself watching from outside my body the way everything is around me, and it’s fucking rough. I honestly don’t know how much longer I can go without falling off of the edge of the cliff and just be consumed by the dark and cold abyss below. Some days, it’s almost a welcome reprieve to the days and weeks I have been surviving-because let’s face it, that’s all I’ve done. Those other days, it gives me the much-needed boost to keep fighting and to stay strong through all this bullshit. Without the medication and the therapy, I’m hanging by a fucking thread, and I am scared to fucking death about the fall that is looming beneath me. Fucking Bipolar. Let me explain.
Think of Bipolar as a roller coaster-the mountains are the mania, and the valleys are the depression. In between those are the stable times, and those are the times I really, really want to live in.
I’m not going to get into the technical and professional jargon-mostly because I can’t fucking concentrate long enough to get it from point a to point b. Pretty much it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain and has to do with serotonin and other stuff. I’ve been on at least a dozen different meds until I FINALLY found a great cocktail that worked for me. It only took six years to get to a stable place. I know some people never get there, so I count myself as a very lucky person. Anyway, Bipolar, like any other mental illness, PTSD anxiety and so on, there are triggers-things that can set us off into a mania or depression. Depressive states are pretty much all-consuming when they hit. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, no warmth to the constant bone chilling cold, no amount of happy that we can see. We are utterly consumed-devoured, really, by the depression. Everything is impossible to do-eating takes too much energy, showers are just down right out of the question, but we can crawl to the bathroom to relieve ourselves out of pure necessity-but that is almost like an autopilot function, so I don’t really include that for myself. It’s so easy to stay in bed, wrapped in blankets and blocking out everything-and I mean EVERYTHING-outside of the four walls around us. The fog that takes over the brain is worse than pea soup, you can’t even really call it a fog. It’s like a life blocking blanket that descends and makes your head full of fluff. You don’t hear, you don’t see, you don’t feel-you just are, taking up space and air, essentially. For some with Bipolar, this can last months, even years. No amount of medicine or therapy or hospitalization will crack the surface of the fog blanket. I’ve had this happen when I had the Postpartum Depression, and when I FINALLY broke through, it was fucking scary to think I “functioned” like that. Some with Bipolar will eventually fight their way through and re-emerge on the other side, some will get part of the way there-the depression never really goes, but they can function through life with lots of support, and there are others where it’s just too impossible, and they are so lost they feel the only way to be free is to end things. It’s not an easy choice when someone-hell ANYONE chooses suicide. Just know that their suffering was so great-catastrophic even, that they just wanted peace. Now, I don’t want to hear about anyone with views on how suicide is wrong and what-not. I’m just saying as someone with a mental illness, dying seems more peaceful than living. I’ve been there-and recently. I took my bottle of Xanax and went to my grandparents graves and sat on the headstone, cried until I was so cold I couldn’t take it, and held 17 pills in my hand. I just wanted the pain to stop-that’s it. I physically HURT from the pain DB had caused from all the abuse over ten years, that he would just throw it away like some much used piece of trash. It’s how I was-in that moment.
Mania-boy that’s a damn doozy, for sure. When mania kicks in, watch out. There are shopping sprees, copious amounts of sex and drugs, DAYS of not sleeping, and conversations that bounce from topic to topic without a breath in-between. We can’t help it. During a mania, people will spend thousands-THOUSANDS-of dollars in a few days, or a few hours. Credit cards aren’t safe, cash isn’t safe, anything that can involve purchasing a new car, boat or even a home aren’t safe. It’s a HUGE impulse control problem. There is no logic or safety switch in place to keep this from happening once mania is full-blown. I bought a car once, and I didn’t even have a valid driver’s license. I made 2 payments in 8 months, but I made sure to pay my insurance monthly. There’s no rational explanation there. I’ve stayed awake for 36-48 hours before, talking on the phone to friends, cleaning until my apartment sparkled, and doing god knows what else. I’ve never taken any drugs, but the hyper-sexuality was a huge issue. I never even bothered with names from a couple of guys. I know that makes me sound like a HUGE hussy, but it’s the truth. There are ideas of grandeur that seem attainable in that moment. Nothing is out of reach when mania hits.
Throw in rapid cycling-going from high to low within a few days or even hours, or mixed episodes, and it can be catastrophic for everyone. I had a mixed episode a year and a half ago, and I ended up off work for two months-right before the holidays. I was irritable, and snapped at everyone. I wanted to cry and throw things in the same moment, and I could not stand noise. This was even worse at work since I worked in a long-term care facility and the call lights had this god awful beeping when they went off. I cringed constantly and I wanted to shove cotton balls in my ears. I spent my two months off sitting on my couch and reading in the quiet, and my dog became my couch buddy. She curled up beside me, and I would pat her or stroke her side, and she helped me in so many ways. I miss her so much. I read about 4,000 pages while I was off work. My lovely aunt steered me towards Diana Gabaldon and I read the first four books of “Outlander” in those two months, about a book every two weeks, and each book was about 1,000 pages. It’s just want I did. I don’t think I’ve ever rapid cycled, but I think I am starting to now, considering all the hell I’ve been through.
Medication can help mitigate the depression and mania. I know for myself I can tell when I’m going up or coming down, but the meds took the top off, so I wasn’t a fucking mess when I peaked or plummeted. I’m good at noticing the side effects from my meds, and I can tell what happens when I take them at different times of the day or night. Maybe I’m just sensitive to the side effects, or maybe I’m just in-tune with my body and Bipolar enough to know when things are good or when they’re going into the shitter. Therapy helps as well-be in group or individual, but you have to be honest with your therapist AND yourself. I know people just say what the therapist wants to hear and they lie to everyone about what is or isn’t going on. I don’t recommend or condone that. If you want to get to a stable place, be fucking honest. I know it also take trial and error finding an awesome mental health team-I’m lucky/blessed/whatever you want to say to have found my therapist when I did. The same with my APRN-she’s fucking brilliant. I’m lucky to actually get a full hour with Jane, and forty minutes with Kathy. These two women have saved me from certain death-and I can say that without exaggeration. Jane talked me off the cliff with the Postpartum Depression when I wanted to swallow all the pills in my medicine cabinet, and Kathy was the one that took me off work for two months for my sanity and my kids as well.
I know I will always be on this roller coaster for the rest of my life, and I’ve begun to notice the older I get, the more sensitive to change I become. The little things are becoming massive triggers for me. Loud noises set me teeth on edge I would feel better sitting in the quiet solitude of the country than the hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs. I’m developing more anxiety towards large crowds and family gatherings, and the four walls of my room make me feel safe right now. Is any of this rational? Nope, not in the least bit. Can it be changed or stopped? Most probably or even definitely. Do I have any control over my emotional flux right now? Hell fucking no. Do I want it to stop? Hell fucking yes. It’s just the ride I have to keep riding on, a continuous trip over and over and over, and it’s tiring and fucking exhausting-especially to someone like myself that wants to be stable and deal with the shit she’s been dealt.