Bipolar Type II: Navigating the “Dark” Season
First off I’d like to apologize for the lengthy lack of writing on my part. Luckily (kind of), the reasons for my absence have provided more than enough material for several new blogs. The short story is that I experienced more symptoms during the low light (or “dark”) part of the year (roughly Oct-March inclusive where I am) and this blog was the unfortunate victim of my addled productivity. The longer story is as follows.
Apparently there’s a strong seasonal component to the expression of my bipolar type II. This isn’t very surprising, as I’ve suspected that the influence of the seasons had been strong for many years (plus, seasonal symptoms are relatively common in several mood disorders), but last year I paid more attention to the way that my symptoms changed.
Beginning in October I started to become regularly hypomanic. I had taken a writing job of questionable social worth (writing academic papers for profiting websites) and I felt pressed to work as much as possible to make the most of the situation. Hindsight being 20/20, I can say that the better choice would have been to regulate the hypomania instead of feeding it (I even wrote a blog on the topic, d’oh). I suspect that my work obsession was a direct contributor to the psychological crash that followed.
As the shortest days of the year approached (ones with the least sunlight, near the end of December) I began to experience periods of depression and low energy, increasing in severity as the sunlight became scarcer. I was completely sapped by the New Year and experienced long periods of depressive symptoms.
January and February proved to be the worst months, with indications of both hypomania and depression becoming less frequent through March. Today I feel “normal” and I expect that the months ahead will be less of a challenge (knock on wood).
Approaching this matter as a learning experience helped me to navigate these changes in a relatively controlled manner, and I feel that I will be better prepared to deal with future “dark” seasons. I’ve also unveiled some other factors that contributed to my situation and learned that my search for a career cannot conflict with my morals.
In other words, I need to “believe in” the services that I provide for any potential employer and their clients. The particular writing gig that I had was not something that I felt was beneficial to anyone but those who made money from it (students were almost certainly paying for these papers to claim as their own). I would eventually cease writing for this purpose after realizing the toll it was taking on me.
This environmental/ideological factor combined with the season to make for a doozy of a downer, but I’m happy to say that this past “dark” season was undeniably better on a psychological level than it had been in any year of recent memory. If this trend continues then I’m in for a fantastic “bright” season. I hope it’s the same for you.
Dark forest photo available from Shutterstock.
Pace, S. (2012). Bipolar Type II: Navigating the “Dark” Season. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 28, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/edge/2012/03/bipolar-type-ii-navigating-the-dark-season/