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What Google Said When I Asked Why Bipolar Makes Me Feel Helpless

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My latest depressive episode knocked me off my feet and once again I felt defenseless, hopeless and helpless. Before I knew it, I had spiraled down the black hole I’m all too familiar with. It seemed to last an eternity, like it always does, and day by day I became less optimistic about the cloud lifting.

One afternoon, I went to Google for some answers. I’m not sure why I felt the need to indulge in more research – I mean, after all, I’ve been battling bipolar disorder for 35 years and have numerous books, articles and resources about coping with mental health issues. But as I do for almost anything else I question, I sought answers from the Google gods. I typed into that elusive Google search engine “What do I do if I feel helpless?”

Many articles, suicide hot-line numbers and sources popped up, but I stumbled upon one article that shed some light and provided comfort to my chaotic thoughts which at that point had engulfed me. I found an article that pointed out the truth about the negative narrative looping over and over in my brain.

The gist of this piece stated one truth I could cling to while I weathered another day in my depression:  Feelings are not facts. That’s it. Nothing more. Just the realization that all the feelings I had about myself as a failure, my situation as unending, my outlook seeming so bleak – were simply not true. Each one of those feelings was not only false but couldn’t be taken to heart, because the way I felt didn’t reflect reality!

Now, the depression didn’t lift right away, but somehow I had an epiphany that day and truly understood how my thinking during dark times clouds my perception of everything. I also discovered an author describe this state as a simple brain glitch, one unavoidable at times but also produces thoughts which are the furthest thing from the truth. This author’s book, “You Can Do All Things,” was soon on its way to me. It was so impactful, I’ve been recommending it to everyone in my path.

Kate Allan’s book with wonderful affirmations and lovely illustrations pointed out we aren’t the sum of our thoughts, and it is normal to feel alone or helpless when caught in a predicament of severe depression. I sent the book to my son who also battles anxiety and depression, and he was over the moon after reading it.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Bipolar 1 Support group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Join the Bipolar 1 Support group to connect with others who understand what it's really like to live with hypomania, rapid-cycling, depression and more. Click to join.

I didn’t come out of the depression that day or the day after, but this research gave me a toe hold and reminded me there was an end to the suffering on the horizon. And no matter how horrible I might feel, there is always hope.

Google searches provide answers to my everyday questions, but on that day, they offered me a lifeline. I suppose we never know where or how we will receive inspiration to help us keep going, even if it’s just from the bed to the couch downstairs. I realize the depressive episodes will always come back, and the fight will always be incredibly challenging, but sometimes a little phrase can get me from one moment to the next. And on most days, that’s all I need.

Getty image by simonapilolla

Originally published: August 27, 2020
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