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A Letter to My Post-Mania Depression: You Won't Defeat Me

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Dear bipolar disorder crash,

Sit down. I’ve made tea.

I’m really not sure what’s been going on — if this recent bipolarity is “real,” as in endemic, or simply medication-induced — but whichever the case, I knew you’d show up sooner or later.

I’m glad I’m not crashing as hard as I once did, but it’s still a crash. I guess I understand you better now, so I deal with you better (or at least, not as poorly. Not as downward-spirally). I know better than to demonize you now, but it still doesn’t mean I like what you do to me, and it still doesn’t mean my very first instinct when you show up isn’t to hurt myself.

I’m happy to realize that constant sense of emptiness/meaninglessness/purposelessness I thought was innate to me isn’t, since I’m actually surprised, as a spectator, to see it again. The ridiculous plunges I take to try and avoid pain do seem to be pretty innate, though. Sitting mindfully with the discomfort is a skill to be developed universally, regardless of the stage of pathology one is (or is not) in.

Today, I’m going to the doctor to see if you and I will be able to see less of each other. After all this time, I still can’t help but think your presence is due to a moral failure of mine. Were I good, you wouldn’t be here. But that’s not it, is it? You’re pretty indiscriminate. You don’t even strike me as a particularly malevolent force, but an indifferent one, as forces of nature often are. Ninety percent of the harm we make together, it’s me who makes it. By catastrophizing you, by surrendering to your worst suggestions — and then some.

You’re the trigger; I’m the bullet.

I really have been amazed by the amount of sway my biology has over me — moreso than by the amount of times I give in to that sway uncritically (since that one isn’t amazing at all). So while I’d rather not coexist with you, I realize you’re not the enemy, exactly — I am. I am what I do about you. You don’t even mean me harm. You just bring to the forefront of my mind the ways in which I mean myself harm.

You’re just the (often violent) messenger, but I’m the message.

I guess this will play out rather predictably for a while — the self-loathing, the crying, the lethargy, the excessive amounts of sleep — but I’m less afraid now. You’ll bring me down, but you won’t defeat me. Because today, I want to live. Because today, I feel supported. Because today, I know who you are, and what you are and what you are not. And today, I know there is hope in restraining both this strange message and this strange messenger. There is hope.

And I will still reach those stars above, even if I have to drag you along with me.

Periodically yours,

Also published on the author’s blog.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

Photo by Adam Zvanovec on Unsplash

Originally published: January 5, 2018
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