Using the Moon Analogy to Explain My Bipolar Disorder

I go through phases. It’s really more like cycling, to be honest. I just hate the idea of that because it makes me sound “crazier,” and I’m already “crazy” enough. If I say they’re phases, then I sound more like the moon.

In my life, I have four phases. I like to keep things simple, so I named them Good, Not Good, Very Bad and OK. This is the order and at the end, OK will swoop back around to Good so it’s a continuous circle of phases.

The “Good” phase is when I feel “normal” — like a human being. Like people get me and like me and I can do things and I don’t totally suck as a member of the human race. There is hope and colors and a sense of contentment. I have energy, make plans with people, work hard, have pride. I walk with my head up and feel like I can handle life. I like Good.

“Not Good” is the decline. Not Good is the days I feel “off.“ Something’s not quite right, but I can’t put my finger on it. I try and ignore it. I still have some happy times but there’s a nagging feeling there and a little bit of fear. Not Good is when my temper gets shorter, I’m trying to keep my world in order because that nagging feeling is really just telling me something is wrong. I’m trying to keep control of my little world. I feel pits in my stomach, anxiety bugs crawling under my skin.

“Very Bad” is pretty self-explanatory. Very bad is lots of feelings. It’s like an overload of emotions, yet complete emptiness. It’s something very hard to describe, even though my mind sometimes thinks in pictures. The emptiness almost feels like I’m in a cave underground, by myself, in the dark. It is of absolutely no use to yell for help. No one can hear me. Very bad looks and feels like an entity of its own. It’s like my whole being is incapable of feeling joy, like I don’t have the right to feel anything other than negative emotions and there’s just no use in trying to change it. Very Bad is supremely pissing off the universe and I’m reaping the consequences. Very Bad physically feels like a terrible case of the flu where every single one of my joints and muscles feel like they’re exploding at once. It looks like wanting to sleep but not having the ability. Very Bad could be just staring blindly at walls for hours. It looks like staying in the horizontal position all day, wishing to remain there forever. It is not being able to work or focus on anything. Very Bad affects my brain in the worst ways. It allows bad things back in… suicidal thoughts, feelings of worthlessness, apathy, self-harm. My brain is cheering them on. Very Bad makes me cry. It’s worse, however, when the crying stops and the hollowness begins because then I’m just an empty vessel in a dark cave. I don’t even want to try and yell. It’s not worth the effort.

I’ve always come around back to OK. Eventually. I’m digging down deep right now to remember how OK feels. OK actually feels similar to Very Bad, but to a lesser degree. OK feels different than Not Good in that the glimmer of hope is back. The saddest part of Not Good is the glimmer fading out while you’re there pleading for it to stay. OK is not full-blown hope, because there’s still the bad feelings, the negative thoughts, the lack of energy. OK is better though because of that twinkling gold shimmering light that pops up at random times. Plus, there is a feeling of achievement that you made it out of Very Bad still alive. Feeling OK is truly an achievement.

Sometimes these phases go fast. Sometimes they stick around.

But I’m like the moon in that I will always become full again.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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