Bipolar disorder depression is anything but beautifully bipolar. It is a dark, dark place where you do not want anyone to come and visit you. It is a black abyss you trip and fall into with no way to get out. You wish it to be void of communication of any kind. It is shades drawn or curtains pulled tightly together. It is a place in which you just lack the ability to care about anything important – or unimportant, for that matter. You want to turn yourself into a ball and roll into a cave where everyone will leave you alone. You just want to be left alone! But your people will come looking for you. They will reach out into the rippling lake you are sinking in and try to pull you out of it. Why? These people care about you. Really. When you feel like the world is against you there is always someone who will listen. If not someone you know face to face, there are hotlines and facebook groups (I belong to 2 bipolar groups on Facebook).
People care about you, even at your worst. I talk about that in my book, “There Comes a Light: A Memoir of Mental Illness.” I always thought I had to be perfect so by the time I had my breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I felt myself fall from grace into this place that was so low I did not think I would ever rise again. But my family continued to love me, to try to get me off the love sleep (where I sat and slept on for a good long while), get me out of bed. My mom invited me to coffee, to a movie, for a walk. It seemed as though nothing was enough to wake me from this miserable stupor.
Slowly but surely I began to feel better. You know how? I started to care about myself again. I cared about stinking so showers became a thing I did at least a few times a week, even it not every day. It was a start. I cared about brushing my teeth and the toothbrush became lighter in my hand. Weeks before it took all the strength I had to lift the toothbrush to my mouth. Now, it was almost automatic. I even began to exercise which helped my mood somehow. Do not get me wrong, I was still very unwell, but I started to see the light again. It was like the thunder was getting farther and farther away and the rain was beginning to lighten. I was coming out of a major storm.
It is easy to become depressed this time of year. For a lot of us, there is a lack of our usual sunlight which we need to stay buoyant. The holidays , in particular, make it rough for many reasons. Perhaps this is your first holiday without someone important in your life, or simply another one, without him or her. Maybe you do not have a lot of money to buy gifts for others. That is okay! My family knows I am poor so there is no expectation of anything fancy in the boxes from me beneath the tree. You may not be able to spend the holidays with people you love and that simply sucks. Or, on the other hand, you may be forced to be around people you are uncomfortable around, like your dad’s new girlfriend. Feast or famine, dear reader. We may also pack on some pounds surrounded by delicious treats. They are everywhere! The office, from your neighbors, from family, traditions you have done all your life. It is hard to fit in your favorite jeans after the holidays if you over indulge.
I have been in that dark, dark depression, dear reader. I know how it feels. I know how it can feel like it is endless, but I promise, it is a temporary state and you will get better. There will come a light again. Hang in there. I will try to type up some of my tips for holiday survival soon.