Baby Steps To Mental Health

According to the doctors I have Bipolar II disorder, which is the lesser of the Bipolar evils …. sort of. I don’t have the sharp, jagged peaks of extreme mania nor the deep, shear valleys of despair that my Bipolar I brethren suffer through; but those of us with BPII generally struggle with longer periods of depression broken up by manic rewards that are shorter, fewer and farther between.

Not that I’d given it a lot of thought, but until I came to know it for what it really is, I assumed depression and sadness went hand in hand — that depression was a more severe firm of sadness, I suppose. But what I’ve come to learn is that rather than having more intense negative feelings, my depression is actually a lack of feelings. My feelings and emotions are quite literally depressed, repressed, supressed and any other word that means so smashed down and compressed that I can no longer access them the way I used to.

So while I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t walk around under such a cloud of sadness and despair that I want to put myself out of my own misery, my life lacks joy, motivation, drive, determination, hope – all of the things that might make me excited about the future or keep me moving forward also no longer exist within me. I used to feel those things. I also used to feel angry, hurt, jealous, petty, vindictive — not pretty feelings, but certainly very strong ones.

Have you ever fallen asleep with your head resting on your arm in such a way that when you woke up your hand wasn’t just asleep, but in a deep coma? And no matter how hard your brain commanded it to move or make a fist, your hand could do nothing more than flop around like a dead fish attached your wrist? That’s a bit like living with depression.

I can command myself to do something … get out of bed, take a shower, eat food … just the most basic tasks of everyday living. And yet, no matter how hard my brain is working, no matter how many neurons are firing, willing me to just do something, anything, chances are very good that hours later I’ll still be exactly where I was when my head came up with its brilliant plan for getting me off the couch.

I realize that if something as simple as brushing my teeth is a major victory, maintaining a blog might seem a bit ambitious. But I’m not committing myself to long pieces of literary genius. If all I can muster is a one sentence post, I’m going to consider that an accomplishment on par with getting dressed or paying a bill.

I know it’s just baby steps, but I’m hoping if I take enough of them I’ll eventually find my way back to a normal life again.


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