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What It Really Means to Be Managing My Recovery From Bipolar Disorder

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“How are you?” you ask.

I provide the customary, “I’m all right.”

But I’m not all right.

I want to tell you I’m tired. I’m exhausted.

There is no cure. There is no respite.

There is management. There is recovery.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Bipolar Disorder requires a lifetime of recovery and management, and I am a recovery newborn. I have yet to learn how to crawl – much less roll from my back onto my stomach for recovery “tummy time.”

Even with management, the “highs” and “lows” still exist. I still fall into the depths of depression. I still take the hypomanic rocket sled that shoots me into the sky and above the clouds. Then, just as quickly, the sled falls and plunges into the ground.

Management may not prevent the highs and lows and transitional swings, but it can minimize the aches, pains and bruises of the “bipolar wild ride.” And still, there are moments of calm equilibrium.

Management is the mechanism used to achieve the goal of continued recovery. Sustained management is difficult. It’s tiring. It’s tiring to keep the quiet storm inside from manifesting and smothering progress. That’s why it’s called management. I’m managing my recovery.

Recovery is exhausting. It’s a struggle to stay focused throughout the day, to stay on track everyday. Especially when the beasts of bipolar ascend from their deep caves in an attempt to snatch the helm and run recovery’s ship ashore. It requires a white-knuckle grip to hold on as the beasts jump upon my back and latch onto my limbs, attempting to push me into hibernation.

There is a longing to pull the sheets over my head, to sleep, to drown out the world, to shield myself from the dark storms raging in my mind, to hide from the howling creatures lusting to draw and quarter me from within.

I am exhausted.

I am bruised.

I want nothing more than to succumb to hibernation’s inviting call.

Yet, I manage to find the strength to push myself out of bed. I try to be present throughout the day. I put on my smile when I really don’t want to. I socialize because I have to. I pull the management tools from my recovery backpack but my hands are clumsy and I question whether I have the energy required to effectively use them.

I want to tell you I am struggling.

I am fighting.

And I keep moving forward.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: August 12, 2016
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