Grief and Bipolar Disorder: Remembering I Can Feel
My emotions have been snowballing.
First, my sister starts to become unpredictable. Her relationship with my mother disintegrates.
I worry about my new nephew. I notice my mother and father pulling away from each other.
In my experience, it’s hard to handle emotional pain and have bipolar disorder.
It’s magnified; too raw to explain in words.
I’ve been working on my ability to handle acute stress. My therapist and I have talked about it many times. I’m learning in therapy to let go of my worries and to put myself first.
I’m making incredible strides.
So when things started to go south in the family, I tried to help when I could, but mainly, I separated myself from the situation.
I can’t handle the drama, the anxiety constantly swirling around my mother and grandmother.
The disdain I feel in the house I used to live in. The lack of love from my parents and sister.
Two weeks ago, when my father was helping us move into our new home, he stopped me alone at the top of the stairs.
“I just want you to know that your mother and I may be separating. I don’t want you to get caught off guard.”
I tried to be brave. I started to cry a little, but quickly made myself stop.
“As long as we are still going to be the same.”
My dad hugged me. Of course it would still be the same.
We talked for a long time about how the relationships in the house I used to live in were crumbling.
My moods changed with the stages of grief. And shortly after this I noticed my moods changing.
I was doing so well ignoring everything for so long.
But I couldn’t do it any longer.
I was hurting.
I could no longer hide from myself that even though I had made great strides in my bipolar recovery over the years, I was still able to experience great pain.
It doesn’t go away just because you’re doing better. When things hurt, they hurt regardless.
I have been rather erratic with my medication lately. I’ve irritable and I am not handling stress well.
However, these behaviors are nothing new. Sometimes I slip off the middle path due to grief.
Just when I started to think I could handle things, they got worse.
When I met my dad for breakfast on Father’s Day, he told me his father died that morning.
All I could do is hug him and tell him I was so sorry. I couldn’t imagine how that must have felt on Father’s Day. My grandfather lived a long life, and was a happy man, but losing someone so integral and to your life is always devastating.
I cried again. This time the pain hurt more. I tried to keep things light at breakfast and he did too. But I knew he was destroyed. I hadn’t seen him like that since his cousin was murdered years ago.
He was trying to be strong, but honestly, I didn’t expect that.
I tried to give him as much love as I could. He’d be leaving that afternoon to tend to his mother and family. The funeral would be during the week, and I’d be 1000 miles away from him, unable to comfort him.
Just like when I found out about my parents, I was numb. I could only keep joking and smiling because I didn’t know what else to do.
But when the sun set that night, when I realized how much pain my family was in, how the men around me had turned to boys, how a part of my heart was gone, I felt a deep, natural depression that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I haven’t seen my therapist in three weeks. Just after I saw her, all of this started happening. Tomorrow I go again. I will need this. I don’t necessarily feel that grief can be processed alone.
I remember now how deeply I can feel.
Having bipolar allows you to love and experience emotions in ways that other people cannot. It is a gift, but it can be intense.
Right now, I don’t know how to continue. I don’t know how I can help my family, how I can take the pain away from my heart, how I can just let it go.
I know that I have to let this grief envelop me until it decides to go away. I’m growing older and realizing that this is the course of life.
Dawkins, K. (2013). Grief and Bipolar Disorder: Remembering I Can Feel. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 1, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar-life/2013/06/grief-bipolar-feeling/