Celebrated every year on March 30th, World Bipolar Day (WBD) is a world-wide awareness initiative. The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate social stigma. – ISBD.org/world-bipolar-day
I live with Bipolar Depression.
Since I was a teenager it has plagued me; disturbing my sleep, distracting me with worry, affecting relationships, and coloring my life dark. Depression makes life feel flat, it drains away hope and crushes joy. Being manic can either feel high and happy or it can feel extremely agitated. Bipolar is a roller coaster of moods.
When I was pregnant with my son it hit. I went through intense, irritable moods. They were unbearable, they began as a mild irritation and exploded into an inner (and outer) rage. That mood would give away and I’d find relief in the opposite, an extremely happy mood, then I’d feel flat, just sad and flat.
I described it as cyclical, a “mood wheel” that ran faster and faster. At times my thoughts came faster than I could think them, and they didn’t string together in any order. I thought nothing of it as if everyone experienced thoughts in that way.
After my son was born, this state of extremes became chronic and I hardly noticed them anymore. I stopped caring for myself and put on a cushion of weight. It was an acceptance of misery, I gave up.
That wasn’t the end of it though.
Depressive states kept me hiding in my bed too sad to even cry. Normal things to most people (like assembling Christmas toys) threw me over the edge. Friends walked on eggshells around me.
When I became pregnant with my second child, my unstable moods became even more serious. I was married then and can’t tell you how many times things blew up. The mood swings I had before gave-way to deep despair. My “up” moods were a combination of agitation and a fierce jittery mind.
It was so awful I sought help, describing my “cyclical” moods. I was not partial to medication plus I was pregnant. The help wasn’t there, even with the clear description of how I felt, it was written off as “hormones” and not taken seriously. I decided to seek therapy. Many days I couldn’t stop crying long enough to interact with people, even my therapist. That was a bust.
Life became a blur. This was more than depression.
I had reached out so many times and described the cyclical nature of my moods, but no one caught it until my daughter was 2. I was willing to stop nursing her after we made it past the 2-year threshold, and I became open to the idea of trying medication. I didn’t take this lightly.
I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
I can’t tell you how excruciating it was to make that decision to try the medication route. I was decidedly against Big Pharma, but life had become so unmanageable that I needed a break. I needed to have a space in which to regroup so I could have more power over the choices I made about my health. It felt like a big defeat at first. I remember sending my kids to their grandparents while I grieved who I thought I was.
Still nursing my daughter, I went through the despair of that relationship ending. I wept as I expressed wasted breast milk into the tub, mingling the tears and the milk before they circled down the drain. This felt never-ending.
Medication can be positive as long as you make the choice out of love for yourself. It doesn’t have to be forever. There are other ways to get through this painful condition. It’s common to be shamed for this decision, and I understand that it’s hard.
Maybe the meds are a break from the emotional storms, and they give you time to collect yourself. Of course, this isn’t medical advice. For that, you must see your healthcare provider.
There are options and different modalities that can also help such as Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and vibrational healing (like Reiki, crystals, sound). I always recommend finding and talking to a therapist you connect with.
Here Are 3 Things that Help Me Live with Bipolar Depression:
Watch Your Self-Talk:
The statements that come after “I am” are powerful, they bring it into being with more intensity. Being bipolar (saying “I am bipolar”) is different than “going through” bipolar depression. This is an important one. You separate your identity from the bipolar experience and discover who you really are, the dark and light parts.
Be careful with the words you use.
Find Beauty in the Darkness:
“So, let go, let go
Oh well, what are you waiting for?
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown” – Frou Frou
Reclaim all of the negative aspects of your personality and identity. The greatest power lies in acceptance. Embracing the aspects of yourself that you’re ashamed of takes away their power to harm you.
I once had someone insult me by calling me an “angry person.” It hurt. I got defensive, resisted, and cried with the same anger. To get some air I decided to go for a walk. I ended up repeating in my mind “anger” over and over again and began to realize that the anger served me. It protected me and cleared space so I could embody another aspect of my identity. Anger was the way I expressed my power. It initiated change. When I hated that part of myself it became toxic and I was unable to control it.
During that walk, I was able to shift it from a part of me that I hated to a quality that served me when I needed it. When the same person called me an angry person again, I was non-re-active. I actually had a burst of gratitude for the anger I experience.
Appreciate ALL emotions, qualities (whether you judge them as good or bad), ways of being, and everything about yourself you wish you could keep secret.
Express Yourself through Art:
One of the best ways to find beauty in anything is by creating art. Open your mind and pour out your heart. Try writing. Journaling can lead you through the dark night, your pen is the lantern that helps you see.
Get some pastels and a sketchpad and just fill pages. Blend the colors with your fingers, make it as sensory as possible. Paint, use charcoal, and pencils. I love blending colors and lines with my fingers. The final product can be satisfying but it’s the process that helps you walk through the darkness.
Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder doesn’t have to be a death sentence; it’s an opportunity to know and appreciate ALL parts of yourself, wake up to the beauty that hides everywhere.
There is so much depth inside of you, and you are loved.