It sucks when you are under major stress and the powers that be have a video conference and decide to mess with your head. One of them turns to the other and giggles, “Let’s niggle her a bit by adding a sideways, nerve wracking stressor on top of the pile.” And another power nods emphatically in agreement, “She can take it! Let’s sit back and watch! Where’s the popcorn!”
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay
Odysseus had to navigate between the two destructive forces — a ferocious six-headed sea monster and a downward spiraling maelstrom. If you read the Odyssey and work through the analogy there are similarities to navigating between mania and depression. [This is a reissued version of my first post. A reader referred me to a George Harrison song, which I felt was a useful addition and so added it to the end.]
Bipolar disorder strongly affects the brain’s neurochemistry and, our best guess at this point, can create brain damage, probably dependent on how many or the extremity of the episodes that we’ve have. My brain has been burned by too much hypomania. I used to be impressively smart. Now I’m down to about 80% of what I started out with, probably just “smart.” And it can’t be undone, or at least entirely undone. I was hypomanic for years at a time. It felt marvelous at the time. But, hypomanic as I was, even so I would have listened to the following information, especially the graphic pictures.
I made this for a different post and didn’t use it, but I like it so I’m gonna hang it up here anyway.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
I bought a hummingbird feeder recently. It warms my heart to give these little guys with the manic wings some sugar water and the chance to take a load off. I have fluttered my wings a million miles a minute, but to ill effect. So I chose a feeder where they can sit quietly, dipping their beaks into the syrup and resting for a while where they feel unthreatened. This reminds of the blurred speed in my manic episodes and the fact that the fastest way to induce a manic episode (in someone wired that way) is to seriously threaten them.
With bipolar disorder, whenever you feel strongly compelled to do something, truly inspired to pursue a relationship, salivate over a potential purchase — just don’t. That way lies danger. And the reverse – when you feel like you can’t live one moment longer, if you don’t have the energy to get out of bed, and when you genuinely do not care about brushing your teeth or even world peace, it is time to get up and out of the chair and out the front door.
“How are you doing?” does not mean what it says. When we ask this question we rarely want to know how the other person is really doing, particularly in depth. When we are dealing with someone that is depressed we need to admit that and respect it. And when are depressed and try to answer this question we should not respond honestly — if that causes harm. Instead we can learn to simply “ping” each other in the situation, to find out if they are there, if they will respond, and to gauge the distance between us.
“Come then, goddess, answer me truthfully this:
is there some way for me to escape away from deadly Charybdis,
but yet fight the other one off, when she attacks my companions?”