Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to have a break from the world. To step back and breathe. I sat in the sunshine on the beach this past week and just took in what was around me. The hot sand and the water crashing, the little birds hopping around me. It was the first time in a long time my mind felt silent and at peace. I hadn’t had a real vacation in 3 years. I had been burning the candle at both ends and not taking care of myself. Sometimes you need to step back and be a little selfish and make sure that you are taken care of that your mind has a chance to be quiet and rest. Right now I’m sitting on my couch listening to the rain pour down and the wind whip the trees outside my windows. I’m taking a break from my day of work and customers and being sick and I’m just breathing. Quieting my thoughts. It will be there tomorrow so don’t worry about it right now. Work is still there, the dishes are still there but that’s ok. You need to take a few minutes to not dwell on all that and take a break and IT IS OK. REST!
“You don’t act sick.” “Are you sure something is wrong?” “But there is so much to be happy about!” These words are the constant reminder that I have something to prove. That the struggle I’m going through isn’t enough. That I’m not enough. If I were to have the flu or God forbid something worse, no one would ever 2nd guess it or tell me to just pull up my big girl panties and go on. “You need rest!” “What can I do to help?” “I’m here for you” These are the words when you have a mental illness, no matter what it might be, you need to hear. You wouldn’t tell a drowning man “but look at all this air you could be breathing!” So why would you say to someone drowning in depression “but look at all this you have to be happy about around you!” Sometimes the best thing you can do is say “I’m here, whatever you need.” And honestly mean it. And if you can’t say that and mean it then you can say “do what you need to take care of yourself. There’s only one you.” Sometimes having permission to be “selfish” and take care of ourselves is exactly what we need. It’s ok to be selfish sometimes. Sometimes it’s vital to keep going. If you don’t take care of you and communicate what you need it’s hard for others to know how to help take care of you and give you what you need. Remember at the end of the day your health is number 1, if you aren’t taking care of you it makes for a rough road and an uphill battle.
Picture this, There is a big beautiful complex tree in the middle of an empty field. The tree base is “Bipolar” and each branch is a different type of Bipolar and each of those branches have different symptom branches attached to that and those have other ones attached to that. It makes this big, very full, very complex tree but it is still all the same tree. You may have rage but I may not I may have weepiness but you may not. I may stay on the depressed side and you might be a fast cycle and be more on the manic side. There are so many branches that you could be on and just because one person says “I have Bipolar” doesn’t mean they will have the same symptoms as someone else you know with Bipolar. Odds are they aren’t going to and comparing the two can be hurtful and can do a lot of damage. One thing I hate more than anything is when someone says “well I know so and so that has bipolar and they are just crazy” That is so hurtful and make me feel like I’m about 2 ins tall and I bet the person they are talking about isn’t crazy either. We’re part of the same tree just a different branch. We have a different view to the same diagnosis. No journey is ever the same. If it was we would have a cure instead of a treatment.
The bravest thing I ever did was keep living when I wanted to give up and die. Kept breathing though the pain felt as if it were crushing me. Kept moving forward even when I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I think about dying almost everyday. I think about giving up and what that really would mean. But I know that I have far more to live for than to die for. So every morning, I wake myself up, get out of bed, put on my makeup and push myself. I make a deal with myself, “You have to care today, tomorrow you can stop caring if you get out of bed but today you get that ass up!” And when I wake up tomorrow I do it all again. “You get up! You can stop caring tomorrow! But you have things to take care of today!” And so the battle goes. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t always like this. Sometimes I can’t wait for my day to get started. But right now it’s a struggle. Right now there’s a lot of pain and tears. Right now I feel very alone. Right now I’m in the depressed side of Bipolar. And oh how it rears it’s ugly head.
I find myself asking this question a lot. Even though I have been diagnosed for almost 2 years I still don’t know much about my illness. I know what it’s like to live with it but not necessarily what it really is. So I looked it up. “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
That sounds so easy. So cut and dry. But it isn’t black and white. On one side of the coin, I can’t sleep because I am so excited and motivated and I want to work on every project under the sun! I might not sleep for 2 or 3 days and besides being tired I’m ok with that because so much gets done and I feel so good.
Now flip that coin… I can’t get out of bed. I’ve slept 14 hours and I’m still exhausted. Everything hurts, even my hair and my eyes and I don’t want to speak or be spoken to. All I can do is manage to cry and if anyone asks if I’m ok I burst into tears. I just need to sleep. When it’s like this I don’t care if I ever wake up.
Now what about the in between? When the coin lands on the edge. These are the days I try to balance. I try not to rock to far one way or the other. Most of these days my brain feels like it’s in a fog and my anxiety tries to break through. These are the days my past comes knocking.
Today I’m kind of numb. I’m in a fog. I can’t really focus and trying to even find my words is a stretch. I feel like everything is a distraction and my brain just can’t keep up. This is going to be one of those days that people notice I’m off my game and I’ll have to make up reasons why I’m not 100%. You can’t just say “yeah, I’m having a bit of a rough day” because they usually want to help fix it. There really isn’t anyway to fix it. I just have to ride it out like a storm and wait for the next wave.