Why My Laundry Is a Perfect Metaphor for My Bipolar II Disorder


My diagnosis of bipolar II disorder is fairly new, though I am not surprised. I’ve always had weeks of super productivity and extroversion followed by a depressive and down mood. Until now, I didn’t know exactly how to explain hypomania to people because it can come off as being well-adjusted and on top of responsibilities. But today I realized my laundry was the perfect metaphor for my bipolar II disorder.

A couple weeks ago, I started doing laundry. I separated by an assortment of categories. Old clothes. New clothes. Bottoms. Tops. Delicates. Towels. Whites. Colors. Dark colors. The piles of clothes became so detailed I had surrendered my floor to 12 small heaps of clothing.

I was going to wash every single piece of clothing I had neglected for two months during my depression because I was better. I was going to clean my room. Vacuum the floor. Dust. Wipe the surfaces. Clean my bedding. I was going to redecorate and organize all of my belongings. Color-coordinate my books. Donate and sell old clothing. Water my plants and repot my aloe.

Then I was going to spend the rest of the day and possibly the night catching up on school work I hadn’t touched since the beginning of the semester. I was going to apply for jobs. Write a portion of a memoir. Read about how to become a better writer.

I had decided all of this before 8 a.m. And I got through about half of the piles of clothing before I hit a wall and crashed. My motivation, productivity and mood had been up for about two weeks. I thought I was completely better and told everyone so. But I started to feel that familiar heaviness in my chest that I can only compare to the weight of grief, and there was a heaviness in my eyes to match. I typically can’t tell the exact moment I start to feel down again. But this time, it punched me in the stomach.

I abandoned my laundry mission and left the remaining heaps to remind me of the productivity I no longer had. I left wet clothes in the washer and crawled into bed. Today, two weeks later, I finally moved those clothes out. They were mildewy and stunk up the whole bathroom. Chances of saving some of my favorite pieces of clothing were abysmal.

I did not leave the heaps of clothing on my floor or ruin a load of laundry because I was too lazy to finish a task I had started. I wanted more than anything to finish what I had set out to accomplish that day. I wanted to stay up. Depression can hit at any moment, and I can only hope my changed diagnosis from depression to bipolar II disorder can help me figure out how to be more successful down the road.

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