Living with bipolar is difficult, to say the least. There are doctor’s appointments, medications to remember, therapy appointments and keeping track of symptoms. That’s on top of dealing with the symptoms themselves. Mood episodes are unpredictable. They come and go without patterns. These moods don’t exist in a vacuum. You can’t compartmentalize them and deal with life on one hand and depression on the other. I’m currently in the midst of a depressive episode and it’s affecting all areas of my life.
It’s normal to shower and get yourself ready for the day, even if there aren’t any big plans. When I’m depressed, I find this basic part of everyday life challenging. There are plenty of days I don’t shower. I don’t brush my teeth twice a day. Sometimes I can’t even be bothered to put on deodorant. My hair needs shampooing and I’m one more day of not showering from a gross mess.
I work part-time and from home, so I have an advantage over many others that don’t have this luxury. When I was working full-time, I found it incredibly difficult to manage my various disorders and my quality of life suffered enormously. Thankfully, I’m privileged enough that I can make the choice to work the way that I do. That said, my work still suffers. I just can’t even get my mind around what I should be doing, much less do it effectively. Then when it is finished, I hate it and think it’s rubbish and no one should ever read it.
When I’m depressed, you can tell by the state of my home. There is a layer of dust on all the furniture. Dishes are piled in the sink and laundry builds up. I can’t even find it in me to run the robot vacuum. Granted, I have high standards for myself as far as keeping house. I would love it if everything were perfect all the time and when I’m not depressed, my house is fairly presentable. When I am depressed, I’m embarrassed by all the tasks that are left undone.
Loss of interest is one of the main symptoms of depression. When I’m well, I play roller derby. It’s difficult to play roller derby when you’re depressed. The sport is all about being tough and plowing through. When I feel weak and sad, I’m afraid that I might fall and not have the strength to pick myself up and keep going, so I avoid it all together. I also skip out on social events and most activities that would mean I have to interact with other human beings. I just don’t have the energy and often think people wouldn’t want to deal with me anyway.
My relationships definitely suffer during depression. Again, I’m lucky. I have an incredibly supportive spouse that educates himself on bipolar disorder and is understanding regarding everything I can and can’t do when I’m depressed. There are so many people with bipolar disorder that do not have this. Still, our relationship suffers. I depend on him more and give less. With my husband I get clingy. With everyone else, I push them away. I don’t talk to people. I don’t engage on social media. I basically avoid the world around me.
A lot of how I’m affected by depression is related to two main symptoms of depression- fatigue and lack of motivation. When I get depressed, I have little to no energy and can barely muster up the motivation to accomplish the smallest tasks. It’s not simply being tired. Getting out of bed and showering can take a tremendous amount of energy and then I find it difficult to do anything else the rest of the day. Most days I convince myself I can do one big task.
What may seem simple during periods of wellness may seem gargantuan during depression. That is why it affects every, single part of my life.
Image credit: derek maguire