How to keep going the days you feel broken.
Today I feel broken. There’s no reason for it, but I feel shattered just the same.
It could be the far too few hours of sleep I’ve had lately. Perhaps it’s the horrible air quality outside that’s making it hard to breathe. I feel like there’s sand in my eyes. The issue may be the lack of time with friends, limited sleep, or working more hours than I should.
It’s also entirely possible that it’s just bipolar disorder.
Bipolar doesn’t need a reason to send you into dizzying highs or devastating lows. Like a monster living inside me, bipolar decides when to wake and how much chaos to create.
This is not an entirely positive post. I apologize for that. My primary goal with Speaking Bipolar is to promote positive mental illness awareness and understanding.
However, one of my other goals is to be open about how bipolar disorder affects my life. That honesty involves showing you the bad days.
Today is one such day.
And it sucks.
Hard days come
Tough days come for all of us. Even if you have relatively good mental health, there are days when life in this world is too much. As hard as those days are, bad bipolar days are even worse.
My memory is never better than when enduring a broken bipolar day. Suddenly, I can remember conversations from childhood, word-for-word. I remember how awful I felt and suffer the same emotions even though decades have passed.
Every awful choice, every unkind word, every relationship damaged. They all live inside and their ghosts come out to play on the bad days. The terrible memories shatter my already broken pieces.
I don’t want to function or get out of bed. It’s usually better to stay in bed because my ability to function is like my phone at 5 percent battery life. My internal apps shut down to preserve the little energy left.
My brain processes information like a slow trudge through deep mud. Simple acts, such as tying my shoes or putting water in the iron, take minutes of contemplation. Where’s the faucet again?
My hands and legs struggle to communicate with my brain. I trip, walk into walls, and drop things. Each mishap a sledgehammer driving me deeper into the darkness.
These dreadful days come without warning. They may last a day or two or spread out over weeks or months.
It’s no wonder why so many with bipolar can’t work. The bipolar monster steals most of your useful skills.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Most days, I can keep the beast hidden. I work as a bookkeeper and tax preparer, so my brain has to work. I’m also the type of person who is usually smiling and laughing.
It’s a wonderful façade, but it takes a lot of energy to keep it up. When the bipolar animal steals my strength, I struggle to brush my teeth and get dressed.
No matter how bad the bad days get, there are a few things I do to make them a little easier. Here are three.
Every night eventually ends. Every storm passes.
I’ve been living with bipolar disorder long enough to know that even the worst episodes will end.
I hold tight to this truth, and it gets me through the rough days. Tomorrow might not be a better day, but a better day will come.
Hope is essential for continuing to cope with the worst of what the bipolar monster throws at you.
Sometime ago, I started a gratitude jar. Every day, I put 1-3 small pieces of paper into the jar. I write down the things I’m grateful for in each moment. It might be my friends, my job, my comfortable home, or a show on Netflix that made me laugh.
On the hard days, I look at that jar and see how full it is. The bits of paper are reasons for me to remain thankful. They remind me that no matter how bad today is, my life is still worth living.
When I really need to be picked up, I take a few of the slips out of the gratitude jar and read them. Seeing things written in my handwriting reminds me of what I have. Staying grateful helps me stay centered.
I may not feel grateful in every moment, but my gratitude jar reminds me there are reasons for gratitude.
The third thing I do to get through the hard days is to stick to a routine.
Even if I can’t leave my house, I still try to get out of bed at the same time every day. I eat my meals and take my meds at the same time.
Doing things that are part of my daily routine makes those horrible days feel a little more normal.
There are days when it’s nearly impossible to get out of bed. Still, as much as I can, I push myself to get out and at least move to the recliner.
Today is a bad day. Yesterday was also rough, and I’m doubtful tomorrow will be better.
However, I know things will make a turn for the better soon. I’ll return to myself. The bipolar beast will quiet down. I’ll feel stronger and able to battle again.
The terrible days always end. So, for today, all I need to do is hold on and keep fighting.
You should do the same.
Until next time, keep fighting.