I had high hopes of using this blog as a light & healthy way to write about what is going on in my life. in the happiest and gentlest season I’ve experienced as an adult- there are plenty of joyful topics. but any one who knows me well will not be surprised to find that each post has gotten progressively “more real”. from botanical dyeing to parenting struggles to the place I’m at today.
sitting at my desk staring at a post-it with two names of psychiatrists in my network. both chosen solely because, out of the four pages of options, their names felt softer. I have every intention of calling. of making an appointment. of saying out loud, to someone who doesn’t already love me, that I’m struggling. that maybe being happy can’t take away darkness all on its own. and someone who believes me that darkness doesn’t always take away happiness either. the post-it has been there for 4 days, untouched. truthfully, I’m not sure therapy is my best route but having that resource within fingertip reach helps me not be so scared.
for me, being bipolar is like running in to a burning building to save someone. and then realizing you are the someone who needs saved. then also learning that you are the match, the gasoline, the building, and the fire. no matter how hard I push at the walls from the inside there is still a heat inside that is suffocating. I am running and running but my body does not move. the smoke dizzies my brain and blurs my vision. not every fire gets put out. sometimes I’m swallowed whole. sometimes I am a my own hero, successfully extinguishing every trace of mess. sitting in the depression can open up a place of reflection. the mania allows a means of functioning to catch up or just exist. I am not unable sustain joy or love or happiness. not every day is a fire. that’s one thing I wish people understood about mental health. it is not always the forefront of my thought even when it’s displayed prominently to everyone else. it’s tricky like that. the delay or static or the brain’s game of chemical telephone. but it is smoldering under the surface every day.
when mania & depression coincide for a noticeable period of time they are referred to as mixed states. what I always experienced as rapid-cycling has become more like a steady black cloud passing between the sunshine. it shows up as irritability, disconnection both emotionally and physically, making a million plans, talking in circles, forgetfulness, and either being exhausted or restless all the time. while these things never seem to get as elevated as a pure manic or depressive state, they are exhausting and they have become who I am. or how I am seen. and I believe that’s why they’ve been mostly unrecognizable as bipolar symptoms and more so seen as bad behavior. the fluctuations that I spent years trying to determine the warning signs of are nearly impossible to anticipate. the morning me is sometimes not the afternoon me and by evening I am back. there are weeks I function, and have to function because of my schedule and making time for everyone, on just a few hours of sleep but wake up like I’d had a full eight. hormones, aka my period, seem to throw a wrench in all logic. and once I’m spinning there’s no turning back, and the details of what happened can get lost in the recovery. there’s only a small hope that those around me will understand and forgive.
and at some point, I simply decided that I did not have time to continue being bipolar. as strange as that sounds. I was/am happy. end of story. I didn’t want anyone, especially the people I love, to think that all the work I’d done was for nothing. and that their support wasn’t recognized.
because here’s the thing. I got better. in the past few years, one weight after another has lifted from my shoulders because I did do the work. focusing on my family and taking better care of myself and making time for my passions and adventures. I learned to be social without being drunk, how to love my body (most days) without depriving it, and how to write without needing to being broken. I learned to communicate in as many different ways as I could so that even if it weren’t perfect it was still progress. from surviving to thriving. juggling it all is a victory because not too long ago I couldn’t get out of bed for days. being in love is a victory because not too long ago I couldn’t even love myself.
so, it is devastating to be happy and to feel the darkness creep back in, just as heavy as ever. letting carefully disguised boundaries become a means to shutting everyone out. realizing that the most important people in my life feel the consequences just as I do.
by nature (and mood disorder) I am a person who can’t quite get out a linear thought so maybe this is all a bit hard to follow but it is my way of acknowledging. hoping someone understands. because it’s all surviving and thriving until you lose your best friend. until every consistent thing about your day is gone. until the fire takes everything. and then all you have to rely on are the thoughts, the words, the healing. that’s where I’m at. not calling the therapist. writing it all down. and praying a lot.
feature image by Morgan Harper Nichols (@morganharpernichols )