I just went through three days in what I call my quarterly depression. Every four months or so I get an episode of rapid cycling bipolarity. Usually these episodes range for the whole day for about two weeks. Throughout the years the intensity and duration of these episodes have become better. Now in my quarterly depression I usually only get depressed mildly in the evenings for three or four days. The only thing that stays constant through these episodes is an all-day tiredness and horrible lack of sleep. Also, on some occasions, during these times, I get a crippling general anxiety that can last all day and night.
The reason I’m writing this is to show that progress is possible if one works at treatment with all of their might. I have worked my butt off for years trying to reach a point where I’m in control of my life, and not the disease. I think I’m almost there. There are random days where the bipolar disease shows up and I become very unstable. These days I count as disease days because the emotions are incongruent to life, meaning that the emotion have nothing to do with anything that is going on in my life. There are also some days when I don’t sleep, am moody, and anxious, but now I realize that these are just bad days, and everyone has them!
The shift between seeing a day, or myself, as sick and dysfunctional, and just having a bad day is huge! I think when one has been sick for a long time one tends to become hypervigilant. This means that every little bump on the road can be interpreted as a manifestation of disease. I have found, in my life, that this is not the case. I invite any person with a mental illness to reclaim their lives and empower themselves to make these differences in perception. I get sick from time to time, but that doesn’t make me dysfunctional. People get colds from time to time, and that doesn’t make them dysfunctional. Having any illness sucks, but most illnesses if treated can be managed.
I have seen, in my journey, people who refuse to get better, and I have learned that those who think they can’t get better, or refuse to get better, never get better. This seems obvious, but it is really easy to give up when you are in constant pain. I have thought of giving up a lot in my past, but I have always found a purpose that keeps me going. This purpose changes from time to time, but I make sure it is important enough to put a fire under my ass to keep going. I have, in the past, slowed my progress to a halt, and I have definitely gone backwards in my progress. Though, at the end, life is a game of averages. If you look at every failure as a definition of yourself, you will never get anywhere.
I have found that with the right doctors, therapists, and medications you are fighting the war at half capacity. The other half is in your head. If you aren’t willing to get better, honestly and genuinely, completely you will lose the battle. A therapist once told me that if two mules, a black one and a white one, are playing tug of war, which one will win? The one who will win is the one you feed. You have to feed your want, no, your need, to get better. No one can do that for you. You could have the best doctors, therapists, and medications in the world, but without that will to get better, you never will.