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When Bipolar Makes You Fear ‘Good' Days

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Today, I didn’t have to depend on my alarm to wake me up. In fact, I woke up 10 minutes before it even went off. And when I woke up, I was full of energy and ready to face the day. So much so that you would have thought I had gotten a wonderful night’s sleep. But in reality, I had barely gotten any sleep at all, and what I did get was restless. As my day got going, I was much more “on the ball,” and that same energy didn’t seem short-lived. By the time I was 30 minutes into my daily routine, I found myself getting more done in a shorter amount of time and able to find more efficient ways to do my normal activities. Everything seemed exciting for some reason, as though they were activities I had never experienced and not just mundane tasks I usually forced myself to complete each day. This was exciting, and that excitement got me motivated to do and get more done. It was turning into a self-propelled situation. I could definitely use more days like this in my life. I also found myself being more talkative. I had a ton to say to anyone I came in contact with.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Questions that would have normally been a “yes” or “no” answer became a 10 minute, one-sided conversation. That 10 minutes was filled with about twice the amount of information and sentences than I would normally speak — I seemed to be speaking at a rapid fire rate. And the creative side of my brain was also in high gear. My poetic ability when speaking and writing were more on point, and I found new designs for glass and artwork coming to me so quickly that I was unable to get it down on paper before the next idea came along. As I heard music, I felt, in a way, on a level I can’t explain. It was cellular. I could feel each beat and emotion surging through each and every part of my mind, body and soul. It was completely visceral. This felt great!

Around early afternoon, when I would normally be getting ready to eat lunch, I noticed I wasn’t hungry. I started to think about it and realized I didn’t stop to eat breakfast either. I was too busy trying to get all my ideas down, or for once, be motivated enough to get things done. I also realized I hadn’t really even taken the time to drink anything throughout the day. Because I’m bipolar, I started to reexamine my day and look at things in a much bigger picture. Any one of the things I’ve mentioned by themselves, and maybe even just a few of them in combination, wouldn’t be too much to worry about; but for someone who struggles with bipolar, that isn’t the case. And this is where the fear part of a good day comes in for me.

A manic episode can be productive, fun and creative, but it can also be out of control and dangerous. It’s not uncommon to make rash decisions and purchases, or make commitments I can’t keep. I also know that if I go through a manic episode, it will almost undoubtedly be followed by a depressive episode.

The more intense and long-lasting the manic episode, the more intense and long-lasting the depressive episode. By the time I hit the depressive episode, my body is usually worn out from not properly eating, hydrating, sleeping and being worn out from going at a speed that seems unnatural to anyone’s body; so I find myself sleeping for days. As soon as that exhaustion sets in and I’m unable to get out of bed and do basic things like get showered or make meals, I become self-critical. This feeds into a disastrous, self-fueled cycle of depression. All of these things can add up to suicidal thoughts and/or self-isolation. Each symptom compounding the one before.

I’ve spent years in treatment for being bipolar, trying to find the right balance of medicines and behavior therapy. Part of that has been learning what actions and events can be an indication that either a manic or depressive episode are occurring; and if they are, addressing it as soon as possible. But who would want to stop something that feels as wonderful as a manic episode typically does? Wouldn’t you want to just enjoy and maximize it?

For someone who tries to be self-aware, these signs of a manic episode can strike fear in my heart. I think this is something many people who struggle with bipolar experience. There is a fear that can come with any good day or mood I have. It’s a battle that most people don’t even know exists. You don’t hear many people saying, “I’m having a good day and it scares me to death.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Unsplash photo via Jason Edwards 

Originally published: September 30, 2017
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