Note: this is not about the English rock band
So most of you who’ve been around for any length of time know that I have bipolar disorder. I’m not quite true Bipolar I, but it’s more intense than Bipolar II. I’m Bipolar 1.5 (lol).
For the last 10 years I have gotten meds stable, gone to therapy every week, revamped my entire life, and generally spent a lot of time and energy ensuring that I could still do what needed to be done. I live alone; I work a regular 9-5 job; I have pets; I have a 401K. I’m largely a successful adult – and I do a lot of work to maintain that.
Sometimes, though, I get reminded that no matter how much I do all the things, my brain is still going to kick me sometimes, and the brain chiggers (thanks Ursula) are just a thing that happens. These aren’t “weasels” – brain weasels are usually something I identify as part of my brain that is trying to help but that, because it is a weasel, doesn’t have the frontal cortex to do a good job. Depression is not like that.
So this is me saying it out loud – I had four incredibly intense months of over-functioning, finished off by an exceptionally intense weekend, and when that was over I crashed off the side of the cliff.
My (very wonderful) boyfriend tanked a total meltdown last Monday night, and things have kind of lingered around there since then. Stuff I’ve been looking forward to for months just seems like work, or worse. In fact, that’s a good descriptor of how things feel right now.
Everything just feels like work.
Got a birthday package in the mail? Finding the scissors is work. Opening the present is work. Yeah there’s a little dopamine hit when I get to the new thing (in this case, a Patreon present from an artist I support), but now I have to dispose of the box, and that’s just work.
Work is, of course, still work. But even the joyful things are work right now, and my brain is actively sabotaging my attempts to help make things better.
But I know that. Oddly, knowing that this is a bipolar mood episode makes dealing with it easier. It makes my perspective shift from “why is everything in my life suddenly awful?” to “oh, here we go again.” Mindfulness is a hell of a thing, and just being aware of the thoughts and what they are takes away a lot of their power, especially the dangerous, intrusive thoughts. It changes the story from “wow, why does everything suddenly suck?” to “nothing is different, your brain just needs defragmenting.”
My life isn’t miserable, my relationship didn’t suddenly tank, I’m not suddenly surrounded by people who hate me. My brain just took a trip to chigger-town, and it’ll take about a month to get back.
And that, I think, is a pretty amazing thing. Thank you Donna, Christina, Connie, and Russ (my four therapists). It took me a week to put it together, but once I did, I’m living a better life despite being pretty critically depressed. I might not get out of my pyjamas today, but I ate lunch, I made tea, and I’m going to play video games with my boyfriend tonight.
I can do this. It’s only a month. I will be okay.