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From Depression to Mania: How the Roller Coaster of Bipolar Disorder Feels to Me

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I open my eyes, and I feel it. I’m depressed. It’s back again. Oh, how I had wished for it to stay away. We had such a long time apart this time, much longer than any of the others, I thought you might not return and I would rejoice. But no, here I am, at the start of a new day — a new day I had plans for, that I wanted to accomplish something in — and you have returned.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

The numbness has returned. The sinking, aching, empty feeling in my chest. The exhaustion. The demon in my ear, whispering thoughts into my head: “You are worthless.” “Nobody cares about you.” “They wouldn’t even miss you if you were gone.” “They laugh at you, you know?” “Oh no, he sees it. He sees you’re depressed again, he’s probably sick of you.” “Why wouldn’t he be sick of you? You’re so miserable.” “Why would anyone want to be with someone who is so sad over nothing all the time?”

They circle and circle in my head, over and over again. I can’t drown them out, but they can drown me.

I sluggishly go through my routine. Work. School. Family. Home. I go through the motions, all the while feeling like I’m underwater. I’m physically present, but not mentally or emotionally. I go through these social obligations I have and collapse at the end of the day. I am exhausted. I have spent so many hours and so much of the little energy I have trying to hide it, trying to pretend I am OK. It seems like it will be endless every time. But thankfully it does come to an end, and I return to my bed, the only solace I have during these soul-crushing times. Every limb of my body aches with tiredness. My eyelids are too heavy to hold up all day. It’s 6 p.m. I am going to sleep. No you’re not, you can’t sleep. You can’t eat. You can’t dream. You can’t think. I lie awake in bed for hours, and struggle through another night of restless sleep. I’m trapped, caged inside my own body, tortured by my own mind.

How long will this go on for? Days? Weeks? Months? It is impossible to tell. All I can do is wait out the storm, or let it consume me. It is impossible to describe losing every part of your soul to a dark fog like depression. You can’t explain it, you can only feel it. Just as you can feel yourself pulling away from the ones you love the most. Just like you can feel the slight hunger pains, yet you are unable to sleep. You try and try and fight with all your will and might. And just when you think you’re about to give up…


Oh, it’s you again. You’re back! Mania! Oh, how I’ve missed you. You’re offering me your hand? You say you can save me? I grab hold. You pull me up. I am alive again!

I open my eyes. It’s a beautiful day! I’m going to clean the entire house, wash the walls, vacuum the ceiling fans, I’m doing it all! I’m going to cook this amazing recipe I found. I’m going to finish all my homework for the next three weeks! And I do it. Because I am manic. I am indestructible.

Weeks go by. You always stay around for so long. Please never leave me again. We can do anything together. Oh, it’s 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, I have an exam at 8 a.m. tomorrow that I haven’t studied for, and you want to go out to eat? Sure! Oh, I just worked eight hours and I have an appointment in the morning, want to go out for drinks? Sure! Let’s close the bar down! Oh, it’s 3 a.m. and I have to be up at 7. Watch the next episode? Sure! I don’t need to sleep! I have so much energy, I could conquer the world!

I am wearing myself thin. I don’t feel it. All I feel is the highest of highs. Every good thing that happens feels like the best thing that’s ever happened. Every joke is the funniest joke I’ve ever heard. Every emotion that hits me hits me 100,000,000 times harder than anyone else is feeling it. I am spending so much money. I don’t care. I have started eight different projects and leave them half finished all over the house. I don’t care. I am the most amazing human being to ever walk the earth, you can’t stop me. No one can. God himself could not stop me for I am powerful.

This is the cycle of my life. Experiencing highs higher than every star in the Milky Way. Experiencing lows that go deeper and darker into the abyss. Constant up and downs. The roller coaster of bipolar disorder. It’s not that fun of a ride. It’s not safe. It appears to be falling apart, the bolts can’t hold it together much longer. How long before the ups and downs cause me to crash and burn?

I am here. I am surrounded by friends. I am enjoying myself. I am laughing. And in the middle of a smile, I feel it. I’m depressed. It’s back; you have returned…

Getty Images photo via evgenyatamanenko

Originally published: March 28, 2018
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