drip drip drip drip
The sound of my single serve coffee maker pours out a fresh cup this Monday morning.
I start to write in my journal— a scale from 1 to 5. My therapist had me do this exercise ranking how I feel on any particular day; 1 being awful, 5 feeling like I could do anything in the world. Today is a 4 kinda day. It’s a really really good day. Almost too good.
I sign up and apply for a ton of writing jobs, go to the driving range to practice some golf, book a cruise to Cabo, buy Disneyland annual passes, book a trip to Hawaii, meal prep for the week and it’s not even 10 am yet. I am restless and anxious and can’t. seem to stop. moving. Plans for the rest of the day are back to back to back zoom meetings and a drive to visit friends or family 2 hours south. I write down next to the number 4: “I am close to a manic state.”
It’s hard to believe just a few days ago I barely had enough energy to get up out of bed in the morning. I needed a couple naps just to get through the day and didn’t feel like reaching out to anyone.
Welcome to my week of living with bipolar.
While each person’s experience with bipolar is unique, there are some similar terms you’ll hear thrown out-
Doctors and medical professionals call these up and down moods: rapid cycling.
According to the Webster dictionary, mania (or to be manic) is an “excitement manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior, and elevation of mood.”
All I know is that when the up mood and down mood come too closely to one another— that is rapid cycling and I am more than likely building up to a crash.
When I crash my thoughts and actions seem to be frozen and I am in a state of confusion and a deep state of depression. I have to cancel any social plans I have, call off work, dirty dishes pile up, and more important than taking a shower becomes prioritizing my will to live. I experience deep shame disclosing to loved ones my state. I’m supposed to be perfectly capable, aren’t I? Wasn’t I doing great just a few days ago? Will I ever be the same again?
In other words: things go downhill real fast.
Welcome to the flip side of a manic state.. the depression—
During depression, sometimes hearing well-meaning but flippant comments come from caring loved ones add insult to injury. Have you tried fill in the blank? Well my life is worse. Other people have it worse. You have some much to be grateful for. You’re expecting too much from others. You’re just being lazy… and so on and so forth.
Inside I just want to scream: I’ve done 2 years of therapy 2x a week for the longest time, worked on a safety plan when feeling suicidal, identified safe people, been switched between multiple medications and doctors, quit jobs I couldn’t handle in my mental state, lost friends who thought mental illness was a “sin”… I’m not lazy. I’ve been working so hard to just keep going. I want to be better, there’s nothing more that I want or I wouldn’t be doing any of this.
But instead I smile and say thank you. Most People don’t understand, but I can’t hold it against them, I think to myself. But it still sucks sometimes.
I lived this way for years, especially the past 2 years after experiencing some particularly grievous circumstances. While therapy and medication and my incredible husband and friends keep me more grounded on most weeks, sometimes these kind of weeks creep up and are the most representative of what living with bipolar 1 looks like for me.
I write this not so others can feel bad for me, but to bring awareness to bipolar as a mental illness. To show that maybe someone you know are dealing with these emotions on a weekly basis— it’s always the ones we think that have it all together and the ones that could be falling apart. I ask for more kindness, understanding that another’s journey may look dark and messy at times.
Hi I’m Debbie, I currently reside in east Los Angeles with my husband, Matthew, and our toy poodle Lacey. I work as a caregiver to the elderly and love to read and write in my spare time. Recently, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 and I’ve been trying to figure my new normal looks with a mental health diagnosis.