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The Urge That Lets Me Know a Bipolar Depressive Episode Is Staring

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I can always tell when a bipolar disorder depressive episode is starting. I begin to feel uneasy. Slowly, a dark fog overtakes me and I begin to slip away more and more. I stop caring about everything. I throw my art away, I don’t show up for meetings and I begin to ignore life. The project I had been concentrating on is over. I don’t even have the strength to put the supplies away. I just walk away.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I then begin to feel myself melting. Like a candle in a sunny window, my shape begins to slip away into a puddle. My body feels heavy and I move slowly. Gravity pulls on my body and I grow exhausted within minutes. The weight of my body is miserable and the urge to lie down begins.

As I feel myself melting, I begin to develop a strong and undying urge to lie down. There have been times when I am in a store, at the library or driving when a depression hits and the urge to lie down is so intense, I contemplate doing so in public, on the grocery store floor.

It takes all of my strength to leave the shops, get in my car and stay upright as I drive home in a race against the clock. I know in only about an hour, I will transform into a sobbing melted puddle of pain. So I drive home promptly and then get through the front door where I start to strip off my sunglasses and shoes down the hall as I crawl into bed and reach my final form of melting into the mattress.

At this point my body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds and I have no physical energy, so I spend the next hours upon hours staring at the book shelf and crying off and on. While I am holding perfectly still lying in bed for hours, my mind is racing with depressing thoughts and negative self-talk.

The urge to lie down is so strong and it is sometimes the only thing in the world that feels good. Melting into the mattress and wrapped in blankets soothes my soul and rocks me to painless sleep where I can pretend to not exist for a few hours. My heavy body is at rest and the only thing I can do is breathe.

For hours, days or sometimes weeks, I remain in bed until I have to go to the bathroom. Then, I sometimes crawl because I don’t have the emotional strength to walk upright. The urge to remain horizontal is powerful and the bed calls to me. The noise of my brain rattles while I lie horizontally and breathe my way through the day. I grow guilty for not cleaning the house or running errands. My children can be heard playing down the hall and all I can do is lie perfectly still in bed for hours upon hours.

Then, one day, all of a sudden, I get up. I shower, get dressed, eat, clean the house and restart again. I pick up where I left off and I continue on as if nothing had happened. But my bed shows otherwise as the indentation in the mattress tells how long I spend lying in bed.

Once the feeling of needing to lie horizontally passes, I go back to not wanting to lie in bed and I return to being productive. I go back to my normal life. The urge to lie down always comes back though, as is the nature of bipolar disorder, but in the meantime, I enjoy my life vertically while I can.

Getty image via jacoblund

Originally published: October 25, 2019
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