When I’m in a depressive state of bipolar, it’s hard. That may be the most obvious statement I could make, especially to someone with bipolar disorder, but that’s what it boils down to. It’s hard to get up in the morning because sleep sounds so much better. It’s hard to get through a day of work. When you make it home, it’s hard to take care of the house and give your family the support they need and deserve. You want to sink into the furniture and not move until you can go back to bed.
In bipolar disorder (both I and II), depression is the most common cycle. Deep depression is not the most common. The majority of depressive states are ennui or dysthymia. About 9% of the time is spent in major depression. Still, any depression is hard to go through, and it makes me tired.
I find depressive states exhausting. Actually, most people with depression feel that way. The top symptoms for depression are melancholia and lack of motivation. It’s like in the commercials you see with the stalker blue bathrobe and the sad marshmallow. The world is a little less bright, your chest feels heavy and, as much as you hear your mother’s voice in your head, you cannot sit up straight.
These are the symptoms bipolar depression has in common with unipolar depression. When looked at more closely, however, there is the nuance of lack of energy. Yes, lower energy is also a symptom of unipolar depression, but it seems with bipolar depression, it has more weight. No pun intended. Not only do you not want to get out of bed, it actually takes more energy to do so. When you’re using more energy to perform all of the tasks it takes to get through the day, your energy is going to be absolutely shot.
Then there’s the sleep cycle. I’m not a good sleeper. I do not remember what it feels like to sleep through the night. You would think that when you have no energy it would be easier to sleep. Well, for a lot of people, that conclusion is wrong. Have you ever had that “too tired to sleep” feeling? That’s exactly what it’s like. Then you get to lay there and let your mind go even though you don’t remember where it was thirty seconds ago. Just me? Probably not. I actually like to listen to an audiobook or relaxing music during these times to get myself out of my head. For those with partners or easily-offended pets, headphones are an option.
What does depression have to do with the sleep cycle? Well, if you’re having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, your body gets confused. Don’t get me wrong. I love sleeping, and some people need more sleep than others. However, we all need to pay attention to our circadian rhythms. A healthy circadian rhythm is important to a variety of bodily functions, but what we’re going to focus on is its effect on depression. Bipolar disorder is an extremely complicated illness. We all know that. Sleep is part of that complication.
Change in sleep patterns affect everyone― the general population and those of us with mood disorders. With mood disorders, our brains are more sensitive to these changes. This is why it is important to stay in a regular pattern. Wake up at generally the same time every day. Go to bed at the same time every day. Take your meds at the same time every day. This last one is important. Meds fluctuation is incredibly difficult on me. If, for whatever reason, I’ve forgotten to take my meds, I feel it within a few hours. Take all of these triggers, or even just one, and it’s more likely to cause a manic or depressive cycle.
It makes sense that if you get more sleep, you will have more energy. Your body and your brain get to clean up after all you put them through that day. Then it makes it easier to function the next day. The cycle continues. The good kind.