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.