Bipolar? You suck. You didn’t try to kill me with a devastating suicidal depression. You didn’t turn me into the invincible, wreckless hypomanic being you sometimes do. You just were. You played with me and seriously tainted yet another precious time in my life.
Warning. Pissed off woman on the loose. Pissed off, confused and guilty.
A deep depression is bloody horrible. Ok so we know this.
A hypomanic episode is either terrifying, or absolutely awesome. Awesome at the time, but no amount of temporary excitement is worth the hell which will always follow.
We know all this too.
As for being neither up nor down? Well that’s utter bliss! It’s utopia!
To reach the middle of the morning and be able to slowly, if a little gingerly, accept that today just may be a ‘well’ day, is utter joy. The relief is beyond compare.
There’s another mood though.
It sucks just as much as the two extremes on either end of my mood spectrum.
It’s the teetering on the edge of extremity. The hovering.
There are times when you know it’s there.
At other times you can be taken by surprise.
It can be like an Golden Eagle eyeing up it’s poor unsuspecting prey. Some poor little rabbit is hopping around quite happily, minding his own business, and probably having a very nice day thank you very much. Then boom. The talons are in and the rabbit doesn’t stand a chance.
A depressive episode can sink it’s talons in just as quickly, quietly and effortlessly as that.
What I’ve experienced over the past few days though is the former.
There’s been a heavy dark cloud looming over me. I was aware of it at the time. It teased. It taunted me. It laughed at me, daring me to take it on.
Fight or flight? That choice was there. Of course it was. Forewarned is forearmed, surely?
Yes I guess so. But there’s always the fear that my fight won’t be enough. That I’ll simply not have enough fight. I always try, but sometimes I just don’t have the strength.
To set the scene, Handsome Doc, MK and I have spent the last few days on a little island off the west coast of Scotland with my family.
For me family time is so precious. This past few days was no different.
Watching MK’s relationship with his cousins grow was heartwarming.
Seeing the utter joy on my parents’ faces as they waved wildly at us when we disembarked the car ferry to meet them was priceless. And picturing that has actually just made my eyes fill up!
Spending time with my sister and brother in law is amazing. My sis is my sis. We’re tight. I’m tight with both my sisters but sadly only one was with us on this occasion. (We missed you lots little sis). As for my brother in law, well at times he’s been the big brother I didn’t have.
I’m lucky. I know I am. Many people don’t have what I have in this regard, and I try hard never to take any of it for granted.
So what on earth gave this threat of depression the right to join the party?
That’s the very nature of bipolar or depression.
Whilst there can sometimes be a trigger, many times there isn’t.
It just lands on you like the uninvited guest at a private party. Rude. So bloody rude.
So how does it manifest? How do I feel this impending depression before it’s actually landed?
Exhaustion. For me, exhaustion is a huge warning bell that all is not well.
One of the side effects of the anti-depressant I take, Citalopram, is tiredness, so perhaps I can pin the blame on that. I’m happy to play the blame game, or to revel in a blame culture where bipolar is concerned. It deserves all the bullying it gets.
As soon as we drove off the car ferry on the little island we changed into our walking boots and set off on a walk through the hills.
It was bliss. The nine of us were all in great fettle. We chatted. We laughed. We made plans for the days to come and we appreciated our surroundings. The scenery was breathtaking.
I’m aware this all sounds a bit irritatingly perfect, but it really was!
It wasn’t a long walk. Couple of hours maybe?
MK did the equivalent of a four hour walk though, as he ran the entire way. He’d run ahead then run back to us with a feather for Granny, then set off again to find his next piece of treasure and run back with it.
His 5 year old little leggies had to be lifted onto Handsome Doc’s shoulders for the last stretch.
And to put this walk into context, I’m fairly fit. It was by no means a struggle.
The exhaustion was not caused by this short stretch of the legs. Plus, I had been feeling it before then.
We pottered around over the course of our few days doing ‘crazy golf’ with the kids and so on. So nothing that should merit tiredness.
But oh my days. When I say I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I’m not exaggerating. I fell sound asleep at every opportunity. In fact, even when there wasn’t really an opportunity, I was asleep.
There were lots of short car journeys and I fell asleep on every single one. Even the five minute journeys. I must have been great company! Not!
I was in a daze. I was physically there, but mentally drained.
I felt as though everything was happening around me, but that I wasn’t taking part, even although I was as much a part of what was going on as everyone else.
I struggled to keep up with conversation. I was a couple of beats behind reality.
Handsome Doc and I were staying in a little hotel two minutes from the house where everyone else was staying, which wasn’t big enough to take us all.
I lasted until around 9pm each night.
As soon as we opened the door of our room in the hotel I almost cried with relief.
It took all my energy to clean my teeth and get undressed before flopping into bed.
On our ferry journey back to the mainland I slept bolt upright from port to port.
Let’s not forget that this was by no means a proper depressive episode. It was merely the threat of one.
We spent the final night of our little holiday at my parents’ house where I grew up, so had arranged to catch up with my friends from home in the evening. Thank you Mammy and Doddy for the babysitting service!
Now these friends are some of my besties. My oldest and dearest friends in the world.
I had been looking forward to this (and the holiday), for weeks. I didn’t want to cancel. So I didn’t.
Instead, I ‘moderated’ our night.
The plan was to meet at my friend’s flat for a few drinks then go to a club, but instead we stayed at the flat so that I could get home earlier. How pathetic is that? I’m not a pensioner!
Plus, it meant that I had impacted on everyone else’s night. The girls understood and we still had a lovely time, but still. Bloody bipolar.
When we got back to my parent’s house at the end of the night Handsome Doc and I talked. We talked for ages. I tried to explain how I was feeling.
By then I was super anxious and teetering ever closer to a fully blown depression.
I felt heavy. Sad. Hugely guilty at having been such a burden to everyone over the past few days. Massively guilty that poor Handsome Doc had ended up with someone who wasn’t what she said on the tin.
I was very honest about my mental health right from the start of our relationship, but was so high on love that the dark times were nowhere to be seen. It’s only as time has gone on that he’s lived the reality with me.
He assures me that I wasn’t as bad as I feel I was, and perhaps that’s right. I‘m still racked with guilt though.
I slept for the entire flight home today. Obvs.
But then, lo and behold, and completely unannounced, the excitement and relief of nearing the sanctity that is our home gave me an almighty surge of energy.
It was incredible! I was like a different person.
We got home around 4 o’clock this afternoon and I could easily have left the boys to it and headed straight to bed.
But nope. This shot of energy saw me unpack and get involved in some serious washing machine action. I cooked MK’s supper. I bathed him and read to him. I’ve just planned out the week ahead in meticulous detail. And I’m now blogging.
It’s all so weird. I don’t get it.
I’ve lived with bipolar for some 43 years and I still don’t fully understand it.
This threat of extreme mood hasn’t turned into hypomania. I’m nowhere close to that.
But nor has it become the depression it threatened to be.
Is it yet to show it’s face? Has it just jogged on? Has it decided to go and torture some other poor battling soul for now?
I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that bipolar massively tainted what should have been a truly special few days. It zapped me of me. And it’s now left me feeling horribly guilty.
My family knew I was struggling and this would have worried them. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be a burden.
It pisses me off! Right now I feel angry and resentful towards bi-bloody-polar. Why can’t it just do one? Why am I the one left feeling so horribly guilty when the gremlin will no doubt have a clear conscience?
I don’t get it. And frankly I don’t want to give it any more of my energy by thinking about it.
Bipolar? You suck. You didn’t try to kill me with a devastating suicidal depression. You didn’t turn me into the invincible, wreckless hypomanic being you sometimes do. At least not yet. But you played with me and seriously tainted yet another precious time in my life.
You know what though? You’ll never win. You’ve given me a strength and resilience that has triumphed on every single encounter with you, and I intend to keep up my 100% success rate.
Keep well. x