I’ve been dealing with bipolar disorder for almost 10 years. In that time I have learned to carefully watch my moods and change my behaviors appropriately in order to handle them. I’m incredibly self-aware and function fairly normally. Most of the time. I can usually handle the downs of depressive episodes and the ups of manic episodes because I know what they are and that they will eventually resolve. However, there are just times when I don’t want to handle it, when I can’t handle it. Right now is one of the times where my bipolar depression is getting the best of me.
Having a depressed mood is one of the primary symptoms of bipolar depression. Depressed mood is not simply sadness. It is a persistent state in which a person is unable to feel pleasure or happiness. In many cases it can be hard to imagine ever feeling these emotions again. I feel empty.
In addition to having a depressed mood I feel exhausted. I feel like I haven’t slept in days when in reality I just slept for 10 hours. Fatigue is another major symptom of depression, one that I feel most often. There are both physical and psychological symptoms of fatigue. Physically I feel heavy and lethargic. I get headaches and body aches. Mentally I have problems concentrating. I’m indecisive and moody.
It’s these times when I find it hard to even get out of bed in the morning. My bed is my sanctuary. When I’m there I can ignore the world around me. I can ignore everything I’m not doing because I’m too depressed. I can drift off to sleep to pass the time. I can watch television or listen to an audiobook without having to venture out of my cocoon.
After sleeping for 10 or more hours, I can usually stay up through the day, even if that day is spent mostly on the couch. I will get up, eat, possibly shower if I’m feeling extra perky and maybe even go outside. Sometimes I can work. Other times I’m psychologically frozen and have to put my work off for another time.
Then there are times when I find myself going back to bed, not necessarily because I’m tired, but because my mind can’t handle any sort of stimulation. During these phases I will nap hours at a time before deciding I need to go to bed early. Maybe this time sleep will help me feel better.
When I can function, the secret to getting out of bed when I’m depressed is to take it simply. I don’t need to face the whole day, I just need to get on my feet. Then I just need to take my medicine, then sit for a while. I can be depressed sitting up, then I can be depressed while I walk the dog. I can be depressed while I read or while I work. I can be depressed and live my life.
It seems too simple, but there are days when simplicity is all that I can handle.
Image credit: Lianne Viau