Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Never far away.

“My recovery from manic depression has been an evolution, not a sudden miracle.” – Patty Duke

I should have known it wouldn’t have lasted. And now I have to keep in mind that this won’t last.

It is the particular cruelty of bipolar disorder that one is perpetually on a roller-coaster ride. And on a roller coaster, what goes up must come down.

I have what’s called “atypical bipolar.” What this means is that I never enter a true “manic” phase. I go through periods of time when I feel good, even quite well. But I don’t hit the accelerator that causes many people with typical bipolar to feel “high” and reckless. I don’t gamble our life savings away, I don’t get promiscuous, I don’t call the President and invite him over to dinner.

Instead, if I’m not feeling normal, I’m either in a depressed state or a “mixed state” – characterized by extreme anxiety and agitation. People who are extremely depressed are often so immobilized they can’t summon the energy to harm themselves. But the mixed state is potentially deadly because it combines depression with a raw and awful energy. It’s not hyperbole to say that I live in terror of entering a mixed state again.

I’ve just experienced about six weeks of feeling well – or, at least, as well as I’ve felt since my suicide attempt. I had found closure in some areas of my life and some old wounds were being healed. I was beginning to become more conscious of the things I have to be thankful for. My inner narrative of fear was beginning to go silent, and in its place a new narrative of hope was beginning.

Then I woke up this morning.

I had one frustration, then another, then another. They were all trivial, but like falling dominoes, each one landed on top of the next one until I was yelling, crying, and throwing things around the room. I got to work and there were more frustrations and more anxiety-provoking triggers. Suddenly it was like the last six weeks never happened at all. I felt angry, hopeless, helpless, anxious, and unsure where this mood would take me. Am I going into another depression? Am I going mixed?

The strange thing is that I don’t know which came first – the mood or the triggers. If I had experienced these triggers two weeks ago, would I have reacted this way? Or did all the triggers cause a relapse?

It is a scary feeling, not knowing where one’s moods will go. Right now I am hoping against hope that I will get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling better tomorrow. Now that I’ve had a taste of the good life, there is nothing I want more than to have it again.


  1. I think this is the same or similar to type II bipolar, which is what I have. The scary thing is that type II people are statistically more prone to attempting suicide. I know what you mean too about when you are feeling low that the littlest things suddenly are intolerable. Wish I could do more than tell you I know how you feel. You are not alone. Try to hold on.

  2. I was not aware of A-typical BP so thank you for explaining it and making me aware of it. The roller coaster experience is so exhausting and alarming, as you say - you just had 6 good weeks and in a split second, it all goes downhill and makes you feel as if the good never happened, yet you also want that good back. It certainly isn't fair, but is something you have to learn to live with and figure out a way to shorten up the bad and extend the good.

    I do not have a mental illness, but myself will sometimes notice how one thing can happen, or several that can alter my day/mood and impact me. I pay close attention to what those "things" or "triggers" are so that I can make a conscious choice to recognize them and take action to counter them so my mood/outlook doesn't spirral. Most of the time I can change my thoughts by just saying out loud or in my head "No! This is NOT taking me out today" and that usually works, but if not, I use various alternatives to distract and shift, sometimes listening to a guided meditation/relaxation CD that I've grown to love and know will work 99% of the time, other times it's reading a positive, uplifting/shifting post/story/article, or I'll put on some really great music that I know will cheer me up, a call to a good friend that I know will shift me, or even just a walk or gardening. I've learned to take action when the downward shift starts occurring or I know it will continue to decline.

    Do you have anything that you do to counter the bad days/mixed state?

    Your opening statement "I should have known it wouldn’t have lasted. And now I have to keep in mind that this won’t last." is so important. I wish you many more good days and pray that one day, there is a treatment/cure. Blogs like yours talking about it most definitely help educate and raise awareness. Thanks for sharing and giving me new insight.

  3. I have treatment-resistant depression and for the last couple of years, it was just the descent into darkness and suicidalilty. In recent weeks, there are behaviours that have emerged that are not characteristic of me - extreme irritability followed by pure explosive anger and rage, agitation, more energy yet horribly depressed with no descent outlook on life. Dr. mentioned mixed-state depression but is yet to be confirmed by a psych. I also become quite reckless when I'm in a "state" and can identify with the part about agitation + suicidal depressed and how dangerous it in your last post and the combination of "depression with a raw and awful energy". It's definitely not a good place to be and I'm rather terrified myself, not knowing why or what set of this change, or how to deal with it. I do hope a good night sleep will do the trick for you. Take care.

  4. I sure wish you would post again. I do hope you did find a good nights sleep and did regain your balance back...it's hard when triggers interfere with the process of rebuilding our lives again...for me it's the triggers that starts the downward spiral. I'll check back with you soon. :)

  5. Thank you, Rica! I've been doing fairly OK ... just been really busy and kind of burnt out on subject matter for the blog. But I'll be back. Thank you for your sweet comment!!


  6. I understand. take care. Rica

  7. WOW! Besides our level of education, girl, were you a fly on the wall in my life? Seems like you stole my story! I so relate to you and I battle severe depression and bipolar as well as an addiction. So difficult to keep it all balanced and stay positive. I am so much .... My Worst Enemy and Critic. Thank you for sharing!