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How a Phrase My Mother Told Me Applies to My Life With Bipolar Disorder

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

“Things are temporary.”

This phrase is something my mother has always told me. I’m ending the first few weeks at a new job and there have been many mornings I’ve woken up (after snoozing my alarm four times) and wished I was back at one of my old jobs — jobs that I hated in the moment and jobs that made me look for new jobs. But like my mom said, that feeling of hate toward my former jobs was temporary. She was right because, right now, I wouldn’t hate to be working there versus here.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I’m sitting at my new job, my new desk, in a new neighborhood and I hate it for numerous reasons. But, it’s temporary and I’m working my butt off to make it as temporary as possible by finding a new job more fitting with my lifestyle. Things are temporary, but in the moment things that are uncomfortable and things I dislike feel like forever.

Although I never think about how things are temporary until they are in the past, it is important for me to remember that things are temporary because I tend to go all or nothing. This probably has something to do with the fact I have bipolar 1 disorder, and black and white thinking tends to come naturally. I get so engrossed in some thought or some behavior that the next thing I know, I don’t know when it’s going to stop. And in the worst case, I don’t know how to make it stop. I have completely lost control. But that feeling of losing control is only temporary; I just don’t know it yet because, in the moment, it feels like I have lost control of my life forever.

I fractured my foot about six weeks ago. I fractured it from running too much; it’s probably something I’ve mentioned before because it has been so detrimental to my everyday life. Running “saved” me in a sense from unhealthy behaviors, and especially an eating disorder I developed. Running gave me structure and grounded me. It gave me purpose and it gave me confidence. Once my foot was fractured from overexertion, I was torn. I went on a week-long bender that seemed to turn into a month and I just didn’t know when it was going to end. I hated that I couldn’t run; I couldn’t go to work because I would be on my feet all day; I couldn’t work out; I couldn’t go to the grocery store and carry my bags back to my apartment, and I resorted to doing the activities that hurt me in the long run. I didn’t know when my destructive behaviors were going to stop. I didn’t know when my emotions were going to level out. Mostly, I didn’t know when my foot was going to heal enough for me to at least go to Soulcycle, let alone run again. I felt helpless, hopeless, scared and very alone.

It’s still been six weeks and I’m unable to return back to my old exercise routine. I desperately miss being able to work out twice in a day. I know some people would love an injury to just chill out on the couch all day, but it pains me. But, it’s temporary. I try and tell myself I have the rest of my life to get back in shape, into running, into racing and into my athletic routine. I have so many years ahead to train for half-marathons and marathons and embrace myself as an athlete and a runner.

But, also, I lied. Things are temporary but there are exceptions to every rule. For example, taking my medications isn’t temporary. Being in treatment, seeing my therapist and seeing my psychiatrist are not temporary. The every day unknown mentality of whether today I’m going to wake up and thrive through the day or wake up and just feel completely off — that’s not temporary. But the bad feelings pass. The bad days end.

The shame I feel when I have to take medication at night if I’m staying over at a friend’s place; that’s temporary. The shame I feel when I lie about a “podiatrist” appointment when it’s really a session with my therapist or psychiatrist; that’s temporary. The shame I feel when I make up stories about my resumé to hide the gaps from hospitalizations; that’s temporary.

The guilt I have when I go out with my friends, drink more than I should, stay up late, overspend on food, drinks and whatnot; that’s temporary. The guilt I have when I snooze my alarm instead of waking up, to not stress and rush to get ready for work; that’s temporary. The guilt I have when I give myself a break at work instead of going non-stop all day; that’s temporary. The guilt I have when I feel I’ve overeaten and I’m unable to burn it off as easily as I used to be able to; that’s temporary.

At the end of the day, most of the feelings and emotions I have are temporary. Sometimes, it feels like things will last forever and when they feel like they will last forever, I’m trying to be better about how to cope with these emotions. It’s not conducive for me to hit the neighborhood bar with my best friend to smash my anxiety, but it is conducive to get out of my head by heading to my neighborhood SoulCycle, maybe do a face mask, watch reality TV in bed and call my mom. It’s hard because when my emotions pull me in a direction, I have trouble tuning into my wise mind and reminding myself that being impulsive will just prolong the feeling of “temporary.” My impulsive feelings that turn into impulsive behaviors make my “temporary” feel more like “forever.” But, at the end of the day, temporary will always be temporary.

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Originally published: August 22, 2018
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