Fighting to manage bipolar and life

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, November 1 2016

It’s the end of October and I am heading in to see my doctor for a check-up. I’ve not been feeling like myself lately - too many days that feel hard and pressing with a few light moments peppered in between, but not enough.

I’ve been lagging, at least in my own mind, bridled with my affliction of bipolar, that sees me not getting a steady stream of good days, or enough of them to feel like I’m on top of things.

I am doing so much better than I used to, but even as I write this I feel my chest tighten and the tears about to come. I hope I can let them out within the safety of my doctor’s office. 

It’s a feeling of overwhelmingness. Of trying to be too many things to too many people. A mother and wife, keeping the house in shape, exercising, working and writing, and these things are like levers that pull on my heartstrings and on my mind. 

Too many levers down at once and I feel drained. Tired beyond exhausted every night and out of step with who I want to be. Anger and resentment are frequent companions and take more courage to manage than I have to spare.

Sadness creeps in over things lost, chapters past, things I can do nothing about; relationships that failed, and knowing that I can only control my own reactions. I have no ability to affect how others act toward me. I work on acceptance because I think it will help. I work on just trying my best because it will help, and then a trigger is pulled and I’m at the bottom of the well staring up, straining for the light.

So after a week or two of feeling like this, I need help, so I ask for it. I don’t know if it’s the rain; so much rain in October. I don’t know if it’s the time change coming and the dark days - which I usually like because I don’t feel so exposed.

This bipolar is a puzzle I am constantly trying to solve. To mend myself. So I ask for help, talk about how I’m feeling and keep talking on a regular basis, if need be, to lift the sorrow.

And you may ask, what does she have to be sorrowful about? She has a loving husband and two beautiful children, a lovely home on a beautiful island. I struggle to explain the weight of how I feel despite these things I have worked so hard to give my life to. 

Things that I see as a legacy for a happy, healthy childhood for my children. This time will only come around once for them. I feel responsible for making their childhood the foundation of a happy life ahead. It’s all I can offer as a mother. It’s what I must offer to not live with regret. Perhaps I am guarding against passing my illness to them with every tool available to me. It may be wishful thinking, but I can try.

I can only say that when I start to question, Why me? Why did I pull this broken straw, this bipolar? that I know I’m struggling to manage. I know that I’m teetering on the brink, my toes over the chasm of emptiness that is bipolar that can eat you for breakfast twice and still go hungry. It’s the insidious depression I fear. Falling so far that it will take years to reset my mind. My last fight against postpartum depression took me away for more years than I’d like to count.

I’m making up for it now. Pushing on, getting out my tool box and using the tools I’ve learned these past 20 years since my diagnosis to readjust and realign with the lighter forces. The tools: be around kind people, watch how I spend my time, ask for help, take my medication, give to myself any way I can, live an authentic life, look forward to things, journal, have a kind, compassionate doctor who cares about me and my family. I also make  “thought records” when my mood is low, to get perspective.  

So I pull myself out of the well, climbing out until I’m back on solid ground, up in the sunshine, at the plateau between the last big climb and the next one. This is how I live with bipolar.