Updated: Nov 2, 2021
When I was first diagnosed with BPII, it was a relief. It felt like "finally there is a name for this." To those who aren't familiar with Bipolar Disorder, it's a fancy name for manic depression - I have high highs, and really low lows, and I oscillate between the two poles. The highs can be euphoric, almost like you've had a hit of adrenaline and are ready for anything - this phase is called mania. During the mania phase I feel motivated and naturally energized, even with little to no sleep. My mood feels lighter, I feel more confident, but that's about where the positive side effects stop and the dark side enters. The motivation and confidence that comes with mania feels real, and with that comes an array of destructive behaviour. Including, but not limited to: vastly overspending, self medicating (in excess), over exercising to the point of sickness, over eating, saying yes to everything, only to burn out from overextending myself, obsessive thoughts, the list goes on. It's fun, until it's not, because on the other side of mania, is the worst depression you'll ever feel and you never see it coming, no matter how many times you repeat the cycle. You go from feeling like you finally beat it, the depression thing, you're fixed, to "I'm back here again, and I thought it was over." The shift can be gradual or immediate but doesn't get any easier.
For me, one of the hardest parts of having depression to this degree is maintaining relationships of any kind. Sometimes it feels near impossible actually. Who wants to be with someone who is constantly on a rollercoaster of emotions? Someone who loves you but can't always show it, someone who just wants to feel "normal" but just doesn't, someone who so often feels paralyzed by their own feelings that they retreat, in silence. It's no fun for partners of people with depression, and I am so very aware of that at all times that I then add guilt to the pile too. What seems to exacerbate the guilt is when you are with someone who doesn't understand. Through no fault of their own, they simply cannot relate and it only makes you feel worse, just by default. There is nothing fun about knowing that simply being how you are is hurting someone. It is the worst. As I have been told, there is literally no amount of explanation that will force someone to empathize, they either do or they do not. This can feel so incredibly lonely and being lonely when you aren't actually alone, is a horrible feeling. It's nobodies fault and yet it always feels like mine. Why? I literally can't help it and yet the guilt can be overwhelming. I think this is why those suffering with depression can often default to isolation - it feels easier to only deal with yourself than it does to potentially hurt someone else but isolation fixes nothing and isn't sustainable. The amount of people I have lost as a result of my behaviour, is astonishing. Those I have lost didn't get it, but who will? Who will hear me out, let me cry, let me go silent and stick around? Everyone has a limit, right? And the irony of the behaviour associated with depression, is that it can often "seem" like you don't care, when I literally could not care MORE. I got dumped by one of my best friends a few years ago and he had this to say: "I love you but this is simply too much for me." I was so angry, so sad, so hurt. I don't open up often about my "stuff" so those who know it are very special to me and when I lose one of the special ones, it feels like a punishment for something I can't help.
I have a big heart and I love hard, but I mask it with sarcasm and humour. In many ways my sense of humour has saved me from myself, and that is a silver lining I don't take for granted. But do I lean on it too much? Absolutely, I just don't know how not to - it's this strange paradox of wanting people to "see" me but being incapable of showing them at the same time for fear that they leave, because sometimes they actually do.