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 insane pollen count that’s making it hard to breathe and like there’s sand in my eyes. The issue may be the lack of time with friends or the excessive hours I’ve been working.
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 it wants to wake and how much chaos it wants to create.
This is not an entirely positive post. I apologize for that, especially since my primary mission with Speaking Bipolar is to promote mental illness awareness and understanding.
However, one of my goals for 2021 is to be more open about how bipolar and chronic illness affect my life. That honesty involves showing you the bad days.
Today is one such day.
And it sucks.
Bipolar Disorder Symptom Checklist
Hard days come
Tough days come for all of us. Even if you have relatively good mental health, there are days when the world is just too much for you. As bad as those days might be, 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 in the moment, and the same emotions rampage through me even though decades have passed.
Every awful choice, every unkind word, every relationship damaged.
All the terrible memories further shatter my already broken pieces.
I don’t want to function. I don’t want to get out of bed, and it would probably be better if I didn’t, because my ability to be a productive member of society is highly diminished.
My brain processes outside stimuli like a slow trudge through deep mud. Simple acts, such as tying my shoes or putting water in the iron, take minutes of contemplation.
My hands and legs and brain struggle to communicate, and I trip, walk into walls, and drop things. Each mishap a sledgehammer driving me deeper into the darkness.
These 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, because the bipolar monster takes away most skills.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Most days, I can keep the beast hidden. I have a complex job and am the type of person who is usually smiling and laughing.
It’s a wonderful facade, but it takes tremendous energy to keep it up. When the bipolar animal steals all my energy, I struggle to brush my teeth or get dressed.
Still, no matter how bad the bad days get, there are a few things I can 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 try to put one to three 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 visible reasons I have to be thankful, remind me that no matter how bad today is, my life is still worth living.
When I really need to be uplifted, I take a few of the slips of paper out of the gratitude jar and read them. Seeing things written in my handwriting listing reasons I have to be grateful helps me to stay centered.
I may not feel grateful for those things at the moment. But I’m reminded 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 the house, I still try to get out of bed at the same time every day. I make sure 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.
Those routine tasks are the little boost I need to remind me that the dark days won’t last.
Today is a bad day. Yesterday wasn’t great, and I’m not optimistic tomorrow will be better.
However, I believe in a few days things will take a turn. I’ll return to myself. The bipolar beast will quiet down. I’ll feel better about how things are going.
These terrible days won’t last. So, for today, all I need to do is hold on and keep fighting.
You should do the same.
Until next time… Keep fighting.