The worst part of being bipolar is not the lack of sleep during a manic episode. It is not the impulsiveness or even the racing thoughts. The worst part is the depression.
I can handle all the negative aspects of mania all day long. The rush of energy. The surge of inspiration, those are things I can live with despite the lack of sleep. Depression is much harder to live with. In fact it’s such a major symptom most people who have bipolar get diagnosed with depression first before ever learning they have the disease.
That is the key too, remembering it is a disease. It’s a mental illness we’re afflicted with which is why treating our symptoms properly is so important. When I get manic I feel like I can take on the world. I am often my most creative. When depression sinks in, however, I don’t even want to get out of bed. I feel like sleeping for days on end. Sometimes I do too.
Depression is our body’s natural response to the mania. We swing so hard when the highs hit we burn ourselves out. When the depression hits we’re exhausted. The mania has wiped us out. It’s during the depression we catch up on all that sleep we missed during the mania. It’s also during the depression we cry the most. Our bodies need the tears to help it heal. The wounds of our trauma run deep. Depression is an inevitable downside to having a disease that swings our moods to such extremes so hard, so fast it literally sucks the life out of us.
Every time depression hits I want to cancel my shows. I want to delete this blog. I want to quit whatever job I found myself in which often happens. This illness is a killer. Believe me it’s hard on us in ways you can’t imagine. Even just putting a name to it and understanding how it works is a tremendous improvement to facing it alone.
When I first learned I had bipolar it was during the worst bout of depression I had faced in ages. I was desperate for medication any thing to provide me relief from the symptoms. Today I am getting help and yet the symptoms persist. Sometimes the disease is so over powering that even our medications can’t defeat it. Right now I am sinking into depression. I am coming off the high of a recent manic episode. Sometimes we chase the mania to avoid the depression. I wish I hadn’t done that because once we swing back down we always crash super hard.