Waiting for the Bipolar Storm To Hit

Coping with bipolar disorder and grief.
Illustration of a man walking with a dog during a thunderstorm
The storm clouds are gathering. | Image made by author with Canva AI.`

Nothing is easy with bipolar disorder. N. O. T. H. I. N. G.

Every conversation, relationship, and decision has to take bipolar into account. Because bipolar affects everything.

Bipolar disorder seems to be especially affected by grief.

I lost my dad 2 weeks ago. It still doesn’t seem real, and when I’m at work, I’m always thinking about what I have to do for him when I get home. And then I realize he’s no longer there.

Despite the immense loss, I’ve been doing rather well. I’m going about my regular activities, have returned to work, and have even started to spend time with friends again.

But there’s a black cloud on the horizon, and no matter how much I tried to ignore it, I know it’s coming. It’s the bipolar storm, and there’s no escaping it.

A poem about depression.

Bipolar and life events

Major life events often trigger bipolar episodes. Lose a job, end a relationship, or have a loved one pass away, and bipolar is going to make your life more difficult.

I wish I could sugarcoat that truth, but there’s no way around it. And it sucks.

As I wrote in my last post, bipolar disorder affects each of the five stages of grief. But even more, it also increases the frequency and severity of bipolar episodes.

You might experience mania more often, for a longer period of time, or with more energy or anger than before.

Then you might experience depression, the soul-crushing kind that keeps you confined to bed for days. The blackness that makes you feel like there’s no reason to go on.

As if those two reasons weren’t bad enough, the third area that bipolar disorder will hit you with is rumination.

Rumination and the internal chorus

When the insomnia hits—and you can guarantee it will—you’ll spend your nights thinking about all the discussions that you should have had but didn’t. Or you may think about all the conversations you had, and all the things you never should have said.

If you’re like me, you also have an evil chorus singing in your head.

The hateful singers love to chant about your worst mistakes and tell you how horrible you are. Those inside voices are the party poopers, bringing rain to every sunny day. It feels like there’s no way to get away from them.

Even if you know you did all the right things, your evil chorus will tell you that you didn’t. Or they’ll lie and say you should have done more.

Unless you are Superman, there’s only so much you can do.

Illustration of a smiling man walking with a dog in a park on a sunny day
The sun will shine again. | Image made by author with Canva AI.

The storm is coming

I’m not in the throes of a bipolar storm yet, but I know it’s on the horizon. The gray spinning clouds are gathering on the edge of my line of sight.

Right now I’m in more of a bipolar blur stage, where the world is moving on around me, but it’s all just slightly out of focus. I’m disconnected from both my own feelings and from what’s happening around me.

But this too will pass.

The bipolar storm will come, and it will be rough. But I’ve been fighting mental illness long enough to know that every episode ends. No matter how bad the upcoming storm is, I will conquer it.

You need to hold on to hope when you’re fighting a mental illness. You have to remember how many horrible things you’ve overcome in the past and remember that every trial has an expiration date.

Then it’s just a matter of riding out the storm. That’s what I’m going to do, and I’ll keep you updated along the way. Thank you for being here.

Until next time, keep fighting.

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Navigating major life changes may be challenging for anyone, but it's especially crucial for those with bipolar disorder. 

An insightful article by an author with bipolar 1 explores the intricate relationship between life events and bipolar symptoms, offering valuable insights and strategies for managing this complex mental illness. 

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#SpeakingBipolar #mentalhealth #mentalillness #bipolardisorder #mentalillnessawareness
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