The Mighty Logo

Why My Laundry Is a Perfect Metaphor for My Bipolar II Disorder

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

My diagnosis of bipolar II disorder is fairly new, though I am not surprised. I’ve always had weeks of super productivity and extroversion followed by a depressive and down mood. Until now, I didn’t know exactly how to explain hypomania to people because it can come off as being well-adjusted and on top of responsibilities. But today I realized my laundry was the perfect metaphor for my bipolar II disorder.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

A couple weeks ago, I started doing laundry. I separated by an assortment of categories. Old clothes. New clothes. Bottoms. Tops. Delicates. Towels. Whites. Colors. Dark colors. The piles of clothes became so detailed I had surrendered my floor to 12 small heaps of clothing.

I was going to wash every single piece of clothing I had neglected for two months during my depression because I was better. I was going to clean my room. Vacuum the floor. Dust. Wipe the surfaces. Clean my bedding. I was going to redecorate and organize all of my belongings. Color-coordinate my books. Donate and sell old clothing. Water my plants and repot my aloe.

Then I was going to spend the rest of the day and possibly the night catching up on school work I hadn’t touched since the beginning of the semester. I was going to apply for jobs. Write a portion of a memoir. Read about how to become a better writer.

I had decided all of this before 8 a.m. And I got through about half of the piles of clothing before I hit a wall and crashed. My motivation, productivity and mood had been up for about two weeks. I thought I was completely better and told everyone so. But I started to feel that familiar heaviness in my chest that I can only compare to the weight of grief, and there was a heaviness in my eyes to match. I typically can’t tell the exact moment I start to feel down again. But this time, it punched me in the stomach.

I abandoned my laundry mission and left the remaining heaps to remind me of the productivity I no longer had. I left wet clothes in the washer and crawled into bed. Today, two weeks later, I finally moved those clothes out. They were mildewy and stunk up the whole bathroom. Chances of saving some of my favorite pieces of clothing were abysmal.

I did not leave the heaps of clothing on my floor or ruin a load of laundry because I was too lazy to finish a task I had started. I wanted more than anything to finish what I had set out to accomplish that day. I wanted to stay up. Depression can hit at any moment, and I can only hope my changed diagnosis from depression to bipolar II disorder can help me figure out how to be more successful down the road.

Thinkstock photo via Jupiterimages

Originally published: May 13, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home