Monthly Archives: June 2019

If Only I Could Remember

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There is this notion that says one mood state can’t recognize, or at least has difficulty recognizing, another. That is to say that when a person is very sad or depressed, it’s hard for him to recall ever feeling happy; or when a person is fearful, she can’t remember feeling safe.  I have experienced this on a few different levels.

During times of intense depression, I tap into thoughts and feelings that are deep and profound and frightening. My mind races with words and sentences and sometimes even whole pieces.  I can’t keep up with them.  All the while that they swim in my head, I know I need to write them down because they so clearly and descriptively portray what I feel.  It would be powerful – if I wrote it.

The truth is that most of the time I don’t get the chance to sort through everything in my head and get something written.  The shame of it is that when my mood state shifts I lose all the stuff that had been swirling in my mind.  I can’t remember what I thought.  I can’t remember how I felt, at least not to any real depth.  All I’m left with is the knowledge that I missed an opportunity to get something on paper that could capture a snapshot of what it’s like to experience extreme depression.  And I very rarely get it back.

Bipolar Disorder is wild and erratic.  It’s devastating and frightening.  But it’s a big part of who I am.  I know, I know, we aren’t our disorders.  What I mean, though, is that many of the people who live with this disorder are highly creative and emotive.  They are deep thinkers and feelers.  They are talented and expressive.  They are bold and passionate.  They accomplish their dreams.  All of these things describe me.  I have so much inside of me that is screaming to be heard.  My desire to sing and write is so strong that I can’t describe it with words.  My desire to use every last tear that I’ve cried to make a difference is so big that, frankly, it scares me.  There is something that gnaws at my insides, not allowing me to settle for ordinary.  God has something big for me to do, and Bipolar Disorder is going to help me do it.

When medications dull everything to the point that I can’t feel anything deeper than the shallow end of the kiddie pool, I can’t accomplish anything outside of ordinary.  I can’t write.  I have no desire.  I have nothing to say.  I can sing, but it lacks passion.  I can sing, but I don’t want to.  I can listen to others and do my best to offer help, but do I really care?  Not usually.  Ahhhhhh!  This is not me.  This is not the life I want to lead.  This is not the life I deserve, my family deserves, my clients deserve.

But, the most recent medication change has rocked my boat a bit.  I’m somewhat depressed.  I don’t particularly like it, but this time it’s manageable.  I’m sad, and tired, and my mood jumps from sad to irritated to fine to sad every few minutes, it seems.  But I can feel things.  I can write.  I can tap into feelings that allow me to connect with others.  This feels like me.  It hurts, but feels like home.  I shouldn’t want to feel this way.  I mean, I don’t want to.  But I do.  But…

Numb.  Manageable.  The thing is, when I’m numb, I can’t remember how bad the alternative can be.  I forget the days, weeks, and months I have spent wishing it all away.  Wishing I could disappear, and wondering how I could make that happen.  Yet, when the pain gets that bad, and all I want is to make it stop, I can’t remember how dead I feel when I’m numb.  My brain won’t allow me to remember, so I stay stuck in limbo, constantly questioning which is better.

What I do know is that I cannot be ordinary.  What I do know is that I cannot waste everything I’ve learned and experienced.  If only today’s mood state could remember yesterday’s.

Happy Unhappy

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“How’s life treating you?”

“Oh, it’s been fine. I mean it’s, you know, it’s – it’s not terrible.”

We’ve all been there.  People ask us how we are, we say we’re fine even though we are anything but fine.  And when we ask them in return, they tell us the same.  We accept it as truth, right?  That’s just how it goes.

I was having a conversation with a close friend yesterday, and I was telling her about how I’ve been feeling lately.  The words, “it isn’t terrible,” came out of my mouth, and it struck me how sad that is.  “I’m not miserable,”  Not terrible.  Not miserable.  Is that what I want?  Is that how I want to feel as I go through life?  Trudging from day to day hovering somewhere just above terrible and miserable?

Well, no.

For at least two years, I was in a very dark and twisty place.  It was scary and confusing and painful.  It was something I worked tirelessly to escape.  To conquer.  In the last couple of months, we have finally found a good balance of treatments that have brought me out of the pit, and into the light again.  Victory!

And at first, I thought it was.  And to everyone else, it is.  But to me, now, I’m not sure anymore.

I don’t feel like myself.  I feel like a stranger walking around in my body.  I am disconnected from everything – my husband, kids, friends, mom, clients, co-workers, Jesus, worship, singing, music.  I feel very little.  In some ways, that’s ok – even good.  But in other ways, I am empty.  My passion for worship is gone.  My creativity and desire for writing is gone.  My drive to do big things is gone.  My excitement for this new career is gone.

This is not authentic.

This is not me.  I am a passionate person.  I get excited about things – at least I always have in the past.  I dream big.  I work hard and accomplish big things.  Only, now I don’t have passion.  I don’t get excited, I don’t dream big, and I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything.

So what’s better?  Living life feeling half numb as I walk along being not-miserable?  Or living life severely depressed, and sometimes manic, feeling everything on so deep a level that it physically hurts at times, but also allowing me to tap into the things that drive me, the things that connect me to the world?  The latter is authentically me, but it is worth it?

I think I can safely say that to everyone else it is most definitely NOT worth it.  They see me as less sad, better able to make it through each day, more productive, happy even.  It’s easier on them for me to be in this state.

I would say that most people don’t feel things the way I do, so they don’t really understand what I’m talking about here.  They would say, “you went from miserable to not miserable, what’s the problem?  Sounds like a win to me.”  And maybe they’re right.

Suppose you are an athlete.  You run track.  You’ve always loved running, and you’ve worked since you were a child to improve your skills.  Along the way, you picked up basketball, and in the last couple of years you have grown to be really good at basketball, as well.  But, you begin to notice that something isn’t quite right with your left leg.  You begin going to doctors, searching for answers.  Ultimately, you learn that you have a condition that will eventually require amputation.  You play as long as you can, and you endure the pain until you just can’t take it anymore.  The loss of your leg is devastating.  Though you know your leg was sick, and it was causing you pain, you mourn its loss and wish you had it back because it allowed you to do what you love.  It allowed you to fulfill your passions.  If science somehow allowed you to get your leg back, with the sickness remaining, would you?  Would you endure the pain in order to run again?  Or would you accept that what you had is in the past, and try to find a new way to fulfill your passion, knowing it would never quite be the same?

I can decide at any moment to get my leg back.  The cost is great, and not just to me, but not-miserable is a big price to pay.