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What to Remember When You Have a ‘Bad Day’ With Depression and Anxiety

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You know what? Sometimes, you have to allow yourself to declare a day as bad, and then move on. Yesterday was a bad day. I was emotionally exhausted. I felt overly tired, and despite it being Sunday and having lots of extra rest, nothing made me feel less tired. In fact, the more rest I got, the more tired I felt. And the more grumpy, bad tempered, low, agitated and negative I got too. Thing is, life doesn’t just stop when you feel bad. No matter how much you may sometimes wish the world would stop turning for a day and let you off for a while, it simply doesn’t. Life goes on.

Important caveat: this is absolutely not a pity parade. I am not looking for sympathy, or trying to elevate my personal suffering above that of any one else. I am all too aware of my good fortune and grateful for my blessings in life. Despite my shortcomings, when it comes to mental health I am better off than many people I have met or know of through others, and I would never claim to be hard done by.

Yesterday was a blue Sunday for me. It began in the usual way, progressed in a predictable manner and should have been enjoyable, restful and relaxing. Instead, it was increasingly uncomfortable as a growing unease built in my mind. As the hours went by, the pent-up frustration of knowing I needed rest but the act of resting bringing me no relent gradually increased my general irritability. This, in turn, cultivated the twin troubles of guilt at being bad tempered with my family and a sense of helplessness at feeling unable to do anything to change the situation.

Imagine a dream where you have all good things laid out before you, good people around you and nothing to fear or feel bad about, yet every time you reach out to grasp something good it dissolves, or disappears, or moves just out of your reach, and whenever you open your mouth to speak to people the wrong thing comes out and you offend, hurt or insult them and they turn away from you. That is exactly what these days feel like, only I cannot wake up and feel the relief it was just a dream.

The fear in all this comes from knowing that despite the breadth and depth of my knowledge of bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, the vast array of tools and techniques I have learned to cope with these afflictions, the certain knowledge I am doing all I can to keep on top of it all, the positive nature of my prognosis, the fact I can learn new ways to deal with everything any time I want to and the continuing surety of support from those around me… there will still be times when I just feel like nothing is good, and negativity will dominate. Such is the nature of the underlying condition, and it absolutely sucks.

Yesterday was just not fair. It was not fair that I woke up knowing right away that a whole day would be spent feeling basically inhuman, and that the feeling would be impossible to get away from despite all the hope and positivity in the world. It was not fair that my family had to put up with my moods, my negativity, my short-tempered verbal tirades and my irritability. It wasn’t fair that what should have been a lovely restful family day was more an exercise in endurance. It wasn’t fair that a potentially lovely Sunday was ruined by the old chestnut of my mental illness. It wasn’t fair that I ended the day doing all I could to drown out the voice inside my head telling me how much of an arsehole I am, and how I don’t deserve to have this life. It wasn’t fair at all.

Today, however, is a whole new day..

I have awoken and risen feeling like myself again — positive, content, self-assured and ready for the new week. There is a lingering feeling of sadness, a sense of loss that yesterday was not what it should have been, and an orange flag sticking up in my mind that indicates I should spend some time analyzing how I dealt with it all to try to draw lessons from it. Ever eager to learn anything I can from days like yesterday, I shall extract anything that may help me do my next blue day better. It might not be much, but it is something. After all, turning negatives into positives is how I cope best with my bipolar life.

When all is said and done, the unfairness of my situation is par for the course. Life is unfair! It is my duty and responsibility to continue to learn and deal with bipolar disorder, and depression and anxiety, so that I can do the good work of growing and changing with life, and be a better husband, father, friend and human being. The world doesn’t need any more excuses; it needs shining lights. If I can be a light that shines into the darkness of mental ill-health, if I can show those who are lost a way out of the quagmire, if I can be of any help to those who feel like giving up on life, then somehow it makes my blue days acceptable. Most of all, if by shining my light out into the world I increase the positivity that comes back into my life, which I already know it will, then perhaps those blue days will be less blue, and less frequent.

I live in hope because any other way just doesn’t work.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Steven Spassov on Unsplash

Originally published: January 9, 2019
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