It’s been a while since I’ve written something and I can’t tell if that’s a good or a bad thing. I tend to write more when things are difficult, and recently things have been going pretty smoothly. My meds seem to be in order and my mood has been pretty stable. It’s amazing how something that seems so small, like adding an anxiety med, can make such a huge difference.
I often wish I didn’t need medication and I could use natural remedies to treat my bipolar disorder, but I just don’t think that’s in the cards for me. I completely agree that Americans are overmedicated, but for some of us we need it to survive. When I feel down, I feel completely alone. By down I mean depressed, anxious, and just generally shitty. It’s a horribly isolating feeling. It feels paralyzing because the world keeps moving around me, yet I feel like I’m stuck in one spot. One sad, lonely spot. And it feels like no one understands. But what I’ve learned from reaching out to the mental health community is that people do understand. Everyone experiences depression or anxiety differently, but we often face similar battles. Like depression feels like a weight you can’t push off you, or a cloud that follows your relentlessly. Anxiety feels like being trapped in box with water rising around you. It can also feel like a heart attack.
Even though my anxiety has been under control thanks to medication, I still feel it creep in from time to time. This usually happens when I’m extra tired or haven’t been doing a good job at taking care of myself (eating well, sleeping enough, drinking plenty of water, exercising, etc.). I notice it when my mind starts to race and I feel my heart start beating faster. If I’m without my medication, I put my hand on my chest and try to slow down my breathing. I do breathing exercises like counting my breaths (inhale for 3, hold for 3, exhale for 3). But it frustrates me that even though I take medication, I still experience anxiety. I guess nothing is perfect.
My mood, in general, has been unusually stable, which for me (someone with a mood disorder) is extraordinary. As someone with a rapid cycling mood disorder, I’m used to not being able to trust my feelings because I know my mood will just change again. It’s a weird and awful feeling to feel like you can’t trust yourself because your brain is turning against you. It’s scary and it makes making decisions feel almost impossible, even small meaningless ones. But I haven’t felt that way in a while, and for that I feel incredibly grateful. And it’s not just medication that does the trick, it takes a lot of work on my end as well. There is no magic pill that makes you feel better all the time. And even with the work I put in, like exercising and sleeping enough, I still have my lows. They’re just less frequent and less severe.
So generally speaking, things are pretty good. Will they stay that way forever? No. I’ve been dealing with this long enough to know that the good times don’t last forever, which is why it’s so important to enjoy them. These are the times when I’ll try to exercise more and be more social, because I know that when I’m not feeling great those are two things I avoid. As my dad always says, some days are rock and others are diamonds. Enjoy the diamonds while you have them and persevere through the rocks since neither lasts forever.