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I ‘Should’ Be Happy, but Bipolar Disorder Has Other Ideas

We moved into our rebuilt house this week. I’m home at last, after almost a year and a half of waiting and a total of about five intermediate moves to various types of housing while our house was being built. All my friends think I must be joyously happy.

But I’m not. I’m depressed and anxious, not happy or even hypomanic.

Oh, I’m glad to be stationary at last. I hate moving and have done far too much of it. I’m glad to have our old, much-beloved bed fully assembled. I like all the light from all the windows. But I’m not enjoying everything the way I “should.” In fact, I’m practically immobilized.

That’s the thing with bipolar disorder. You never know when it’s going to hit and where it’s going to take you. In my case, it most often takes me down.

This move has come with a lot of triggers for me, in addition to my hatred of moving. My study is not yet usable and my computer died. That’s a big thing for me, not having my own space to retreat to and be comfortable in.

In fact, it’s hard to be comfortable in any room of the house. Almost every room is full of boxes, from our old belongings to new furniture we had to order (and often assemble). My satisfying vision of how the house would look is nowhere in sight. It’s making me irritable, too, another of the lesser-mentioned symptoms of bipolar depression. I want to snap at my husband and I feel disgruntled with the progress (or lack thereof) on getting the house in order. Right now, the only room without empty (or full) boxes in it is my husband’s study.

Then there are all the details that overwhelm. I have mobility issues and can’t do much about moving heavy boxes and assembling furniture. Most of my labor in this project has been mental. Appointments, bills, insurance, contractors, mortgage company, misrouted mail, incorrect shipments, credit cards, finding places to live — hours on the phone and the computer. (At one point my “study” was two boards across four boxes in a tiny apartment laundry area.) Watching our insurance money dwindle. My brain, which is glitchy at the best of times, feels positively used up. But the details keep coming.

This sort of thing has happened to me before — on a trip to Ireland, for example, when one moment I was feeling absolute happiness and in a second plunged into paranoia and depression over nothing at all really. I know that’s the nature of the beast. The moods come when they will and stay as long as they want to. I have little to no control over when that happens.

It seems ungrateful to me to bitch about our present circumstances. We are, after all, settled once again, and I can watch the chaos around me slowly turn into a place I can live forever (or at least until the next tornado). But my bipolar depression has kicked in pretty thoroughly, with nary a speck of hypomania — or even balance — in sight.

I am hoping that soon my study will be usable and I will have that space to work, hide or veg out. I want my comfy chair and my stuffed animals and my prints and posters around me again. There’s no guarantee, though, that it will lift my mood. I don’t think there’s anything in our immediate future that can. As always, I just have to take my meds, practice self-care, and wait for the pendulum to swing once more. And not let the phone calls and emails and bills slide while I’m waiting for the upturn.

Edit: New computer purchased and set up. Study now marginally usable.

Getty Images photo via stevanovicigor