I don’t think I’ve posted in awhile and I think it’s because I’m frustrated that I’m not back to full health yet.
I’m on week 7 of this severe depression episode and I’m finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I figured I would give an update.
I have learned so much about myself through this episode.
I always Thought that I was a strong mental health advocate and that I had a fairly good understanding of my own condition.
But through this episode, I have applied stigmas to myself that I didn’t think were present in my mind.
When it was really, really bad in those first four weeks, I would ask Ryan:
“Can’t I just control it?”
“Can’t I just put myself in a good mood or talk myself out of these terrible thoughts?”
“Shouldn’t I just do yoga or meditation or something and this’ll solve itself?”
And now that I’m on the medications that I am, I’m realizing anew that bipolar is Not Controllable by the person experiencing it.
Bipolar is an illness.
It is an illness that needs to be treated with medication, and until it is treated medically first, nothing else a person tries to combat it with will work.
Here’s a description of it from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
“Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar experience high and low moods—known as mania and depression—which differ from the typical ups-and-downs most people experience.”
I like this description because it highlights that bipolar is an illness, and that the mood swings a bipolar person goes through are not like the ones experienced by people lucky enough to Not have bipolar.
Here’s what the National Alliance on Mental Illness has to say about the experience of bipolar depression:
“The lows of bipolar depression are often so debilitating that people may be unable to get out of bed. Typically, people experiencing a depressive episode have difficulty falling and staying asleep, while others sleep far more than usual. When people are depressed, even minor decisions such as what to eat for dinner can be overwhelming. They may become obsessed with feelings of loss, personal failure, guilt or helplessness; this negative thinking can lead to thoughts of suicide.”
I like this description because it uses the word ‘debilitating’. It describes the overwhelming, all-consuming feelings that make even the smallest decisions impossible to make.
When I am in the throes of depression, I am dis-abled.
All the normal things I am able to carry out on a daily basis become insurmountable.
I think it’s hard for someone to picture this until they see me in a depressed state.
My mother in law came to help out when things were really bad and she saw it firsthand. She told me that I had really given her an education on what it looked like. I think she was blown away by how different I was and how incapable I was of managing my emotions or doing the smallest of regular tasks.
Another stigma that I applied to myself was that ‘Depressed Me’ was not worthy.
In thinking of myself as a mental health advocate, I want people reading this blog to know that people with mental illnesses are worthy of love At All Times.
And yet, in the height of my depression, and still largely true to this moment, I believe that Depressed Me is ‘less than’. Depressed Me should hide away and wait until she’s better before I let people see me.
I kept asking Ryan when I was it really bad:
“How can you love me?”
“Why don’t you just leave me?”
“Are you regretting your choice to fall in love with a bipolar woman now?”
And that is something I need to work on.
I need to love and acknowledge all parts of me.
Depressed Me is a part of me.
She hasn’t come out for 11 years, and I hope she never comes out again, but I need to remember that at my worst, I am still worthy of love.
I’ve been on some medication now that seems to be working (Lamictal).
I went up from 50 to 75 mg two days ago and woke up yesterday morning for the first time in weeks without a massive panic attack.
I woke up this morning with no anxiety either. Yay!
I meet with my psychiatrist again on the 30th, and if we still haven’t seen enough progress, we’ll take my dose from 75 to 100 mg.
I feel like the end is in sight and things have improved.
And now I’m in the antsy stage.
I want joy. I want excitement. I want energy. I want to feel all the dimensions of my personality again, and I want to feel them Now.
But, for now- I need to look at the progress and be so, so happy that all these things have already improved.
I used to wait for Sadie to fall asleep when I was putting her to bed and then weep into her pillow as soon as I knew she was sleeping.
I can now put her to bed happily.
I used to stare at Lucy coldly detached and wonder why I had her. (Those thoughts, in turn, would make me feel wildly guilty and like a terrible person for having them in my mind.)
Now I hold her warmly and close to my chest, and I delight in her little faces and noises.
I used to knock myself out with strong sedatives and wake up every morning in a puddle of sweat with my heart racing at 4 am and ask Ryan wild-eyed when this would all be over.
This morning I woke up anxiety-free for the second day in a row, fed Lucy at 4:30 am and went happily back to sleep without a sleeping aid until 7:30 am.
I had lunch for the first time with a friend out in public yesterday.
That may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been clinging to Ryan for weeks and mostly containing any social interactions to house visits.
I’m still not joyous and I’m still not very social and I’m still not excited about things in my future-
I am very grateful that all those things have improved.
Now I just need to continue to wait (impatiently) for time and medication to keep working their magic.
It’s Sadie’s 3rd birthday on April 13th and I’m Really, Really hoping I’ll be back to myself by then.
Here’s to hoping!