One of the hardest things about having bipolar, for me, is dealing with the depressive episodes. My mania is usually mild in nature and affects my sleep and irritability levels more then anything else. But the depressive episodes are very disruptive. Medication changes can help but they are hard to manage. The trial and error of waiting for new meds to help is frustrating. I don’t usually recognize the warning signs of a depressive episode until I’m deep into one. And let’s face it, it’s hard to talk about this type of swing. Most people don’t understand how devastating this side can be and feel. I’m embarrassed and ashamed during these episodes. I’m withdrawn, worried, sad, tearful, forgetful and exhausted. During a depressive episode I’m so exhausted and depressed that my body actually hurts. I feel like I have the flu. I have zero energy for even the simple things. I forget to shower or eat. Find it extremely difficult to talk. I forget to go, or can’t find the energy to go to my appointments. I know that being withdrawn into my head is the worst place I can be, but there’s no stopping it. I hear all the negative things my brain says to me. “you’re so weak”, “stop crying this is stupid”, “what a loser. You can’t even take a shower?!”, “everyone is going to start hating you if keep avoiding them”, “it’s a beautiful day. Why can’t you enjoy it?”, “you are such a bummer to be around. Don’t hang out with anyone else and ruin their day” and on and on and on. The fear, embarrassment and guilt I feel during these low times is paralyzing. I feel so alone. Even with another person in the room, or many other people around. I feel painfully, painfully, alone. My chest hurts. Like there’s a heavy weight on it, making breathing hard. My heart actually hurts. I spend a lot of time crying. At what I have no idea. All of a sudden, I’m just crying. I’ve sat through a movie and didn’t remember actually watching any of it. I just disappear into my head and notice nothing else around me. Time crawls slowly by. My brain smothered by a thick fog. All of a sudden, a week, two weeks have passed, and I have no idea what happened during those days. My last few weeks have been a slow slide into one of these episodes. I’ve struggled to sleep. I’ve forgotten to eat all day. I’ve struggled to shower or get dressed. I’ve had a constant headache and my body is exhausted and aches. I’ve avoided being with other people. I’ve missed or rescheduled appointments. Texts and phone calls have been ignored. Household chores forgotten and avoided. I haven’t baked anything in weeks. I’ve barely talked. I’m short tempered and impatient. And most of the day is spent crying, for no apparent reason. I want to be left alone, yet not left alone at all. Of course, all of this means it’s time for a med check. I HATE dealing with my medications. I hate, hate, hate having to take my meds. Sometimes I feel like my entire day is built around when I have to take them. Throughout the years I’ve tried countless medications. Some worked, some worked briefly, most not at all. Some had side effects more upsetting and devastating then the bipolar symptoms themselves. A few of the medications caused other health issues that I now also have to deal with. I have a liver that metabolizes things a bit differently. Finding a medication that works for any amount of time has been a challenge. After my last hospitalization I found one medication that has been fairly stabilizing. I’ve been on it for 10 years now. When a manic or depressive swing happens, the doctor makes other adjustments with additional medications. I hate having to try new meds. It is expensive, and the side effects are always hard to deal with. Weight gain, higher cholesterol, hungry all the time, heart races, blood pressure changes. I could go on. I have two choices right now. I can go into the doctor and be ready for another possible medication adjustment or addition and deal with side effects. Or I can ride this episode out. Except I know where this ride stops if I don’t go in and check with my doctor, and I don’t like that place. It’s been weeks of me trying to deal with these symptoms and ride it out. I can’t do it alone anymore. It just gets darker from here. Harder to recover from. So, in I go tomorrow for another med check. Another possible addition to the daily routine of pills. More side effects, more money, more frustration. Hopefully I can get some relief and rejoin the world, stable. It’s lonely where I am right now. I don’t want to miss anymore days, or weeks. Life is way too short. Wish me luck.
Here’s a great article explaining a major depressive episode.