Okay, so the suicidal depression that I found myself in a few months ago was not just a depression. It was a bipolar depression.
What’s the Difference
This is a question I am asked quite often.
While depression, especially serious, can be overwhelming and debilitating, it is still, simply, depression. It is most often situational, and stress induced. It can be dealt with by changing the situation, your attitude, education, exercise, someone to talk to, a good night’s sleep and/or short-term medication. (I am not downplaying depression in any way, it can be a serious and debilitating thing.)
Why, in my experience, is bipolar depression worse? Because it comes with an instigator/antagonist. Bip will take control if I am not paying attention.
When Bip becomes agitated and angry she is aggressive and persistent in maintaining the darkness. Why? Because Bip prefers darkness. The light forces her into hibernation and she never wants to go to sleep.
A Dark Dragon’s Tactics
Bip will do anything to prevent me from climbing out of the dark hole of depression.
Bip will spread her wings to completely block any light. She will then breath a damp, clinging smoke that confuses the mind, and drains the soul.
Then Bip whispers so quietly that you are not sure that you actually hear anything. Her voice starts as vague ideas in the back of your mind. Ideas that make wonder if it is too hard to fight towards the light.
Bip dredges up any and all the sad, embarrassing, and stupid things I have ever done in my life. She will take things out of context to make it seem worse than it actually was.
Then Bip whispers, “You are not worth it.”
With the darkness, confusion and negativity whirling through my brain it is so easy to believe what Bip is whispering.
At this point it would be so easy to give up and let the darkness take me. I’m too tired and apathetic to even care.
Normally I need someone to shake me and wake me up to what is happening. I don’t have anyone to do that anymore. My therapist retired and I am living on my own with my youngest.
So, what happened this time?
God happened. An answer to my prayers of “why?” and “please help me.”
I was stretched out in my recliner and thinking that maybe I wouldn’t get up. Ever. Then a thought went through my mind like a flare shot from a gun.
“This is not you. This is Bip.”
This brought me up short.
Now I was angry and ready to fight.
Just Another Battle
The war with the dragons in my head will never end in this lifetime. It has, and will continue to be, single battles and skirmishes fought on the field of my brain.
This is just another of those frustrating and exhausting battles.
I immediately started to make a battle plan.
- I will get up every morning and get dressed. No more pj’s.
- I will make my bed.
- I will do two productive things everyday (e.g. empty the dishwasher, put in a load of laundry, practice the piano). It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something productive.
- I will eat.
- I will do at least one fun thing every day.
- I will go outside.
The simpler the plan, the easier it is to put it into action.
After each thing in the plan is accomplished, I give myself a treat.
- I allow myself to read a chapter or two in a good book.
- I have some chocolate.
- I make my favorite snack.
- Do something that sparks my interest.
I Didn’t Do It
I usually don’t have a depressive episode like this unless I have let my stress get out of control or I have had a manic high. I have been keeping my stress levels stable and have kept my life relatively balanced.
So, what triggered this depressive episode?
Surprisingly, someone else’s high. I was around someone who was in such a manic phase that it actually triggered a depressive phase in my brain.
This has never happened to me before, so I was somewhat surprised when Bip went on a rampage.
Now I really have to be careful of the people I hang out with. Overly happy people are detrimental to my health apparently.
A Long Term Battle
I have not had such a bad episode since my father passed away three years ago. That episode took about nine months before I was stable again.
After such a serious depression, my brain goes through a pendulum period. This means that as I climb out of the depression the chemicals and hormones in my brain swing through highs and lows.
It is the worst part of climbing out because it takes so much energy. I am always exhausted by the end of the day.
It has been three months and I am still fighting to calm Bip and get myself on stable ground.
The good news is that the pendulum is swinging less and less each day. Less and less energy is required to stay balanced throughout my day.
Not the End of the War
I know that these battles will continue to be necessary. And that is okay because I know that I will always come out in the end. Why? Because God walks by my side and I have Eleviv.