The Cool Thing That Happens on My Worst Days With Bipolar
“Da ba dee, da ba die.”
There are times when every part of my existence feels like a melting, gushing, uncontrollable mess of downward spiraling feelings. I can’t keep it in or force myself to stop it from happening to get basic tasks done. I become this never-ending puddle of goopy saturated emotion and it overflows me like I’m just too small of a vessel for its volume.
There’s something really cool about it, though. And I know it might be weird to say. But, let me explain.
When I am having one of those days (or weeks, or months), what people will label a “mental health day” or “self-love day” in little buzzword posts or Instagram text-image motivators, I’m not spending the day eating comfort foods, relaxing and letting myself destress. Neither am I self-parenting my way through some overdue bills or laundry and working out, or making a healthy grocery list and crushing out some adult self-care chores to set myself on a good track for the month.
During my mental health day, or week or month: I’m dying.
I mean it, I’m dying. I’m either so depressed that my body physically aches and I am in such mental despair I can’t stop weeping like a child to put food into my mouth, let alone get dressed and go grocery shopping. Or, I’m in such an extreme mixed state (being manic and depressed at the same time) all I can do is try and hold myself down and get even a single sock on my foot before diving headlong (half barefoot) into an entirely different task (which I also won’t complete). I’ll do that for maybe five minutes to then be suddenly so overcome with a random coupling of opposite emotions (go ahead and spin the wheel, brain, not like I can stop you) that I have to collapse onto the floor and roll around squeezing myself, crying or yelling and hoping it will either stop or someone will find me there and put me out of my misery.
Yes. On my “self-love day,” I die. I essentially regress into a weird ghoul-like creature who cannot do human-qualified tasks or properly make it down an entire staircase without having to stop, drop and wail.
OK, so you’re still wondering why or how I could possibly state there is anything “cool” about this. I get it, I just outlined some things that are unarguably un-cool to experience, or probably even read about.
But I’m getting to it.
The cool thing about these times, when we’re a puddle of gushing emotional misery and defeat, is that in this state, we are valid.
I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and going, “Ugh God, you’re gonna push that speech now?”
Like how many times have we heard this, “Your feelings are valid” thing and thought to ourselves, “Yeah, but that doesn’t help me get my clothes on.”
OK, well maybe that’s not you and that’s just me. I think things like that ’cause sometimes, I’m a cynical bitch. But even if you don’t get all your hackles up when someone starts pushing a validity speech, I’m going to tell you why being affected by mental illness in this way is actually validating and why it makes days like this kinda cool.
No one. I mean no one would choose a day, any day, and think, “Today is an excellent day to be a useless, enfeebled puddle of snot and tears! I will do this instead of exercise or eating!”
In this, lies your validation.
The fact your body and brain can override the controls and render you (and me) into this state is validation because as far as I know, no one would choose this.
What we have to deal with, and overcome (and by overcome I mean survive another day) is immense. It is real. It is physiological. It is chemical. It is overpowering and incredibly difficult. It is unfair. It is challenging beyond anything anyone would ever dream who hadn’t experienced it themselves. It is real. It is real. It is real.
It is real.
And that’s why it’s cool. Because it’s so hard, it sucks so much and it debilitates us to such a degree.
That is how we know that what we are doing that day is not a choice. We don’t deserve to guilt ourselves or be ashamed for behaving like single-socked-stairwell ghouls because no one would choose to be that. We simply are, and even if we die that day, if we survive, we go on.
And that makes us heroes, and survivors. And it puts us among the incredible humans who have and are achieving amazing things.
It can be hard to remember we aren’t alone during those times. It can be hard to ask a friend if they will come over and just help. Help you put socks on because it seems like an impossible effort. Help you fold some laundry. Help you go outside.
It can feel embarrassing and like you’re helpless and you want to hide away until the melting stops, but it’s during those moments you have to give yourself validation. Know what you’re dealing with would be insurmountable for anyone, not just you. And there are others out here who understand and we all need help to get through it.
Original artwork by author