The Late-Night Hours of Darkness With Bipolar Disorder

The day is winding down. I’m thankful to have made it through my required work hours and successfully come through the dinner hour. But as the evening drags on, the bipolar disorder I live with starts to let a mountain of worries take hold in my mind.

One of the first things I stress about is finding the energy to continue building a relationship with my spouse. I do my best to have meaningful conversations with my husband at the end of the day, but often I’m so worn out that the words don’t come.  I want so badly to connect with him, to show interest in his day and to share with him the triumphs and struggles of my own. But many times I just sit in front of the television, unable to focus on his needs or let him into my world. I often wonder what he’s thinking and if he’s angry that my mind and body are absent from the life we are living in that moment. But so often the anxiety about tomorrow begins to creep in, and it starts to consume my every thought and ounce of energy. Over and over I ask myself how I’m going to get through the next day.

Am I prepared for work? Will my clients be kind and ready to work hard, or am I going to have to find the strength to handle that difficult woman yet again? Is my day going to be so busy that I’m going to be overwhelmed and feel out of control, or is it going to be so slow that I’m upsettingly bored? Are my body’s aches and pains going to allow me to teach all of the exercise classes I’ve committed to?

These are the questions that plague my mind. As the sun begins to set and the sky darkens, my anxiety shifts from the worries of what tomorrow might bring to a fear of what the night will hold. It is impossible for me to escape the memory of the evening I unknowingly triggered my first manic episode. I was having so much fun eating cookie dough and talking about boys that I never stopped to consider I was actually inviting the bipolar to make an ugly appearance. Sleep has proven to be absolutely crucial for the management of my illness, and every night I worry if I will be able to get off the wheel that goes around and around and allow my body to rest.  The anxieties that pile up over the evening hours strike me with fear and have made it so I cannot fall asleep without a sleep aid. I have tried so many different medications; it seems that each works for a while, but eventually the effects wear off. A recent medication brought nightmares filled with horror and I woke up in terror time and time again.

Many nights I lay in bed and my brain fills with thoughts I cannot escape. I lie awake for hours, knowing my worries of falling asleep are keeping me awake, but I’m powerless to stop them from invading. How do I end this never ending cycle?  I’ve come so far on this journey, and I’m grateful for the progress I have made. But I can’t seem to shake the anxiety of the night. This burden weighs heavy on my heart during the hours of darkness, and I wonder if the sense of foreboding will ever subside. Sometimes it seems that I’m so frozen with fear that I can’t find the energy to seek comfort in my husband and to ask the Lord for peace. I pray that someday soon I have the strength to stop giving anxiety such a foothold, and find the peace I so desperately need.

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