Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
Another oldie, about dealing with the diagnosis that is bipolar. For more information on the symptoms of bipolar visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20027544, http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/understanding-bipolar-disorder-symptoms or, http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20436786,00.html
Last week, I was wishing I could find words to describe what it’s like to deal with the symptoms of bipolar—mania, depression, and, my happy little friend, anxiety. But nothing seemed adequate enough to explain it. Then, I remembered a children’s book I read to my kids when they were younger. My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss uses colors to describe the different types of days that are part of the human experience, including sad, happy, and mixed-up days. It gave me the idea to try and describe the symptoms of bipolar using color. So, here’s my attempt to depict what it’s like to struggle with mania, depression, and anxiety.
Mania- Bright, happy pink carries me weightless above the world. I’m flying and it seems so easy—like it should always be this way. But when the balloon pops, I fall helplessly to the ground with nothing to brace me for the impact.
A few entries ago, I wrote about how, in the past, I loved being manic. It felt so good—like I truly was flying weightless above the ground. Manic episodes were euphoric. They tricked me into thinking that things would always stay that way—that I wouldn’t ever come crashing back down again. Now, I know better. No matter how much I wish it weren't so, manic episodes always end, and I hurtle back down to earth knowing in my heart that, for as long as I live on this planet, mania will always be followed by the bitter pill of depression.
Depression- I wake up pink, but the shroud of gray quickly wraps me up in its suffocating folds. As this boa constricts, struggling to break free seems pointless. I turn back to my bed, my place of safety, burying myself beneath the blankets that offer precarious protection at best.
Depression can be deceitful. Even when I’m dealing with a bout of it, I wake up feeling happy and focused. But, when I’m in this part of the bipolar cycle, the familiar cloud of despair quickly colors my day, and the hope I had when my feet hit the ground is nowhere to be found. Morning always tricks me into thinking that I’m not going to struggle with depression that day. But it’s a lie because, as long as I am bipolar, I will always struggle with depression. It’s just part of the deal.
Anxiety- yellow birds pop in and out of my brain creating chaos. I try to focus but, just as one coherent thought begins to take shape, another distraction flies in, clamoring for my attention. The uproar in my brain is paralyzing, and I find it difficult to make even the simplest of decisions.
In my world, anxiety is always along for the ride. When I’m struggling with it, I literally can’t make a decision, fearing it will be the wrong one. For example, in the past, I could stand for an eternity in the frozen foods aisle trying to choose which brand of bagged vegetables to buy. I know it sounds silly, but making even the simplest of decisions was a real struggle. These days I’m not as afraid to make decisions, even if they might be the wrong ones. But anxiety still has its way with me at times. It’s very strange feeling my stomach churn with anxiety when there’s absolutely no reason for it. It reminds me that being bipolar isn’t my fault; it’s just a disease that affects my neuro-transmitters.
Though I’m no poet, using color to express this disorder was the best way I could think of to describe the battle I fight every day. Over the years, I’ve learned coping skills to deal with mania, depression, and anxiety while also accepting the fact that medication is a strong ally in my fight to be as productive and healthy as I can be. Being bipolar isn’t my fault. Nor is it the fault of anyone who suffers from a mental disorder. If you struggle with any of these symptoms, and they never seem to completely go away, I encourage you to get help. You don’t just have to cope with your condition. You can find relief and help if you just seek it out.