About a week ago a change against my favor in a classic millennial intentionally undefined relationship triggered a mood swing. Though I was able to move past the initial situation quite quickly, my mood did not regulate itself inline with my actual emotions. I had emotionally moved on, but my body was still lingering in depression. Not only did the weight of depression hang over me, I was in physical pain. My body felt so heavy that it was as though I was dragging the entire weight of the world behind me. Everything seemed to blow by past me as I existed only in slow motion. I was sleeping on average 14-16 hours per day. I was frustrated with myself that I was unable to “snap out of it” once I realized that the thoughts inside my head didn’t match the blanket of emotions that were engulfing me.
I have spent years learning how to recognize when my mood swings are happening, and how to take action to try and alleviate them. There isn’t anything I can do to totally rid myself of it, despite what people think I can’t simply just “try being happy.” But I can take steps in the right direction. I force myself to still complete my work; even when it takes me longer. Staying on top of deadlines helps me feel productive. I encourage myself to work out more often to get those endorphins flowing. I practice mindfulness and self care on a constant basis.
One of the most under discussed issues surrounding Bipolar Disorder is the amount of time those whole live with it have to allocate to taking care of ourselves. Even when I’m long over the issue that triggered the mood swing, I have to prioritize self care. And while I love a good self care sesh- it is frustrating to be in a position where you have to practice it for a week straight. It is exhausting to dedicate so much time and energy to reassuring myself, to recognising my mood swings, and to pull myself out of them. I hate that I sometimes have to cancel plans with friends because I either need time to recharge, or because I know that we’ll end up at a bar, and that I shouldn’t be around alcohol when mood swinging. The frustrations can be so difficult to communicate to friends and partners. There are times when I feel so stuck, despite knowing that I am doing everything in my power to move forward.
Yet at the same time, the depression periods can be a blessing in disguise. The mood swings put me in a position where I have the opportunity to analyze the role that triggers play in my life. I get to take time to understand the influence that various people/things have on me, and whether or not I want to keep them in my life. Whether it be a toxic friend, family member, lover, or an unfit job. Sometimes it can be new responsibilities I have taken on that have fostered an environment filled with too much stress. It can be daunting to break free of the triggers, and often I struggle with identifying whether or not I want to. Sometimes breaking free is something I need to sit on as I wait for my mood to calm down. It can be too hard to deal with cutting something or someone out of my life while simultaneously existing in a depressed state.
I no longer have doubts about whether or not I will come out of a depressed state; but instead I question “the when”. Typically, after the pinnacle of the cycle each day feels a little better. Sometimes, I can get triggered again and have a mini cycle within a cycle. Coming back into a neutral state is a triumphant feeling- especially when I used the tools gained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to get there. At the end of the day, mood swinging sucks. Its unpleasant and its a burden that I would rather not deal with. However, it will never be something that is not a part of me, so I have chosen to embrace it, document it, and become an advocate for successfully coping with it. I’m curious to see if any other people with BPAD view it like this- reach out to me and let me know.
Pictured: my commute to work