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The Inexplicable Nature of Bipolar Depression

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When people ask, “Why are you sad?” there is no answer. I shrug my shoulders. The reason is there is no reason.

Bipolar depression is inexplicable — there is most often no trigger or cause. Sometimes an external event, or an internal epiphany, but not usually. Usually it is a sadness with no explanation or cause.

Unless you’re bipolar, or struggle with depression, you forget this. I even forget this. I’ll become inexplicably sad, I mean sobbing wailing sad, inconsolable, and I will search and search for a reason, and there simply isn’t one. None. But that isn’t a good enough answer for my confused and troubled brain, so I’ll keep searching for a reason. What happened? Why am I crying? Why can’t I get out of bed? Why can’t I make the phone calls I need to make? Why can’t I get to my doctor’s appointments? There is literally nothing that happened that is different or unusual. There is no obvious trigger, not even a subtle one.

When I am in one of these extreme depressive episodes, apart from the obvious emotional displays, I don’t always realize it. I’m my mother’s primary caregiver. I might be short with her and not even realize I’m being short. My writing will be incredibly dark, and rereading it after the sadness has lifted can trigger me back into that dark place.

It is ugly and painful to read what goes on inside the mind of an extremely suicidally depressed person. So I get it that some of my friends don’t want to read my work, or even can’t read it, because it can be triggering. And not everyone has an interest in what goes on inside of a mentally ill person’s mind and life. Furthermore, not everyone is in the mood to read about the darker aspects of my existence. Sometimes, it’s a much better choice to watch a romcom on Netflix! I get that.

The important piece, for me, is to get it down in writing and to get it out there. There will be people that suffer like me, that act out in the ways I act out, and they will find my writing. They will learn their feelings and behaviors are not out of the ordinary for someone struggling with bipolar mental illness.

Decent people, and I believe the vast majority of us that struggle with mental illness are decent people — decent people don’t set out to harm themselves or others. It is a symptom of the disease. However, someone struggling with bipolar is responsible for getting the treatment they need to attain and maintain stability.

Bipolar is a chronic illness, just like any other. It can be managed but never cured. It takes diligence and persistence to manage bipolar and achieve some degree of quality of life — and no one does it perfectly 100 percent of the time. However, it is an iterative process. Two steps forward, one step back. Two steps forward three steps back. It’s critical to realize it takes as long as it takes. Your process and your timeline towards wholeness is unique and especially designed by the universe for you and only you.

Get hold of the fact wherever you are is right where you’re supposed to be. Once you get hold of that, self-condemnation falls away. You no longer have a need to measure yourself against others. And eventually, although it’s been a slow process for me, but eventually, you get to a place where what others think of you no longer has significance. I wouldn’t say I’m “there” yet, but I’m certainly closer than I was a year ago. Only what you think of you matters. Get hold of that, because that place is where peace of mind lives.

It is my fervent hope my writing will allow others that struggle to realize you can do things that go completely against your truth and you needn’t condemn yourself.

There is no one in the universe, no one that is standing around waiting for you to make a mistake so they can condemn you or hurt you or destroy you. There is no one that is waiting for you to fail so they can take pleasure in it or punish you for it. And even if there were, the only power others have over you is the power you allow them to have over you. You own that choice.

Lastly, never assume the way you look at yourself is the way others see you. We are always harder on ourselves that we need to be. Give yourself grace. Always. Grace.

Originally published: January 24, 2022
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