I am invincible. I can conquer everything.
I am beaten and broken. I can’t do anything.
Those might be the extremes, but far too often when you have Bipolar Disorder, you feel like those are your only two options. On manic days, everything is possible. Though those days can be extremely dangerous, they are often the most fun and creative.
The flip side and the face that seems to appear more frequently is the dark and foreboding one.
Quote of the Week
“The nearer the dawn the darker the night.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When You’re Up
I don’t do drugs and never have. I’m also not much of a drinker, and that for many reasons but mostly due to medication interactions.
That said, I have to say that mania, at least the extremely manic days, is what I imagine it must be like to be high.
Creativity flows like a roaring river and I often start lots of new projects. Everything seems bright and beautiful. Colors appear more vibrant. Sleep and food become unnecessary.
It would be amazing if you could stay manic, but it’s not healthy. Invariably, mania comes with a price. The higher the high, the lower the low will be. The longer the duration, the more time it will take to recover from the coming depression.
When You’re Down
Bipolar Depression is like being dropped into the middle of an immense ocean of black ink. Everything is dark. The sensation of drowning is overwhelming. Continuing to draw breath feels near impossible.
There’s a reason why so many people do not survive Bipolar. Some statistics put suicide rates as high as 20-percent. It’s a scary thought that frightens me even on my best days.
Our minds weren’t meant to have such intense highs or lows. If you don’t have the emotional strength or a good support system, that plunge into darkness can overwhelm you and take all hope away.
Only Two Faces?
Is it fair to confine the bipolar experience to only two faces? Probably not. The idea struck me while thinking of the 1957 film The Three Faces of Eve. Probably a more accurate assessment would have been to title this post, The 50 Shades of Bipolar.
While it often feels like there are only two stages of mental illness, it’s the extremes that get the most attention. There are lots of days of varying shades of gray. Those are the days you can function, perhaps do your job and care for your family, but that you never feel completely like yourself. Those days can fall anywhere in the spectrum between the two poles.
Truth be told, there may be more than 50 shades. It’s not uncommon to feel like a stranger – even to yourself – from one day to the next.
All Things End
The good news, and it might be wise to write this down, is that all things end. No matter how dark the darkest night may seem, the dawn will eventually come.
I recommend writing it down because you may need a physical reminder. It’s good to hold something tangible in your hands that reminds you, “This too will pass.”
I’m no stranger to the dark days. While it would probably be better to write myself through the hard times, it’s often much easier to wall myself off in my self-made dungeon and block out all light and the rest of the world until the worst passes. I can’t recommend taking this course, but it’s my survival technique for better or worse.
If you’re facing dark days, please know that you’re not alone. There are many others of us out here, all trudging along fighting our various hues of darkness. Things will be brighter again.
Until next time… Keep fighting.