I am a mom of three kids – four if you count my bipolar disorder, which can act just as (if not more) juvenile than my kids sometimes. I also take care of my two aging in-laws; they are both 73 years old. Then, of course, I am a wife.
I take two medications for my illness; they both make me tired. This couldn’t be more frustrating. I don’t just mean “Oh, I’ll have a cup of coffee and I’ll feel better” tired. Nope. No such luck. What I mean is flippin’…tired. I’m tired just typing that. Firstly, as you may already know, just having bipolar disorder can knock you on your bum. So let’s just say that my life is utterly exhausting already. It’s full and busy and good (most days), but it’s an exhausting life. I mean, I am stable (mostly). I have a business of my own. I have three healthy, beautiful children, a husband that loves me, and a beautiful home; I am super beyond grateful. As with everything, however, the outside doesn’t always match the inside. Even with all of those blessings, it takes so much energy, perseverance, motivation, and positivity to keep it all going. Many days are rough. As a matter of fact, I have more rough days than easy ones. Not that life is supposed to be easy, but when you are struggling with a mental illness, things are hard enough. Add on responsibility after responsibility and you are bound to run into some problems. It took me 3 months to write this blog, which should have been submitted 2 months ago. Allow me to elaborate.
When I am hypomanic, I am on fire. Not literally of course, but I feel like I can do it all. Not “no problem do it all,” but I kick some serious tail being me on those days. My mental sharpness impresses me, my willingness and motivation to do just about anything match my goals to be successful with my business, to be a good mom, wife, and daughter in law. There are splendid moments of feeling like I am on top of the mountain and the whole world is sparkling. Like I’ve reached nirvana. I’m on my ‘A’ game. I can compare it to the soccer announcers yelling Gooooooooooooaaaaaaallllll!!!!!! I am up! Up!! UP!!!
But as the old saying goes, what goes up, must come down. The irritability begins to creep in and before I know it, I’m crashing. The entire game has changed. The plans I had made while in that state generally do not come to fruition. The severe fatigue embraces me like a long lost lover, enticing me to get warm and cozy on the couch. That’s kind of what I am dealing with now. In the darkness. The veil over my face. My “little black dog,” as Winston Churchill so affectionately called his depression.
I cancel appointments, and the forgetfulness is so overpowering that there are moments where it bumps my anxiety up and I feel like I am going to fall down a mental black hole and never return. These are the days on which I end up disappointing just about everyone in my house at least once. I also begin my slow decline into house hermit extraordinaire, able to step over laundry and leave the dishes in the sink for days in a row in a single bound! It looks a lot like laziness, doesn’t it? It certainly does to a lot of people. I can understand that; I can understand the frustration. But you know what? It isn’t. In my mind, in this crippled broken place, I can scale walls and still run with the best of them. Sadly, it’s just not reality. Now wait…. want to know what adds some complication to this? I am a rapid cycler and have mixed moods. Which means, that intricate ballet I described above? That can happen multiple times a year, a month, a week, a day, or a minute. I never know how long each cycle will last. Ever. I can switch from irritable one minute to depressed the next. When I am cycling I can go from happy and euphoric to suicidal because life is just too good at that moment. There is a war going on in my head. But you know what?
It’s all good. Even though I don’t want to get out of bed? I do. I get out of the bed and I go. I work even if the motivation wanes because I still feel productive. I will mother my kids, even when I am failing at it, as I know they will love me anyway. I will help if and when my energy allows; at other times I just have to bow out. I can’t apologize for surviving. No one should have to. Have I? Yes. I have. I have felt bad that I am not just a girl without a mental illness, because that is what the depression tells me to feel. But the real me knows that it’s this illness that has created the fire inside of me to live! To feel more intensely, to love harder, to paint, to draw, to write with emotions and feelings way beyond my years. It gave me a level of compassion only seen in books and movies. It gave me insight. And despite the fact that I haven’t showered in a few days, and I’m still wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday, and my house is a mess and there are dishes in my sink, it is all good – because for me, I am the hero in my story. I will return. My kids are running around playing and unaware, my husband still wants me, my in-laws are healthy (so to speak), and my house, though a complete mess, is still standing. The earth will keep spinning, the sun will rise again tomorrow! And I? I will be there to see it!
Read more from Virginia at her personal bipolar blog, as well as her motherhood blog. Read her other IBPF posts here.