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.