How do you deal when you go from being so completely stable and feeling better than you have in years, to hitting rock bottom with your whole world crumbling around you, walking in the door to work and handing them the note from your doctor instructing them to put you on leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) effective immediately? You haven’t been like this since you were first diagnosed five years ago and back then, you even had a few hospital stays before you saw any hope and any glimmer of improvement. Going back to the hospital seems a little overboard, but functioning like you had been just a few short months ago is near impossible. How can this have happened? You thought you did everything right!!!! You took your medications, you followed your doctors orders, you went to work everyday and did your job, you kept the house running, and you did everything you were supposed to do. Where did it fall apart?
Sometimes, we can do everything we are told to do and we can still fall down. Why? Well, sometimes biology and chemistry can override our actions. Our actions can help so the result of the biology and chemistry is not as significant and doesn’t affect us as dramatically, but it does not mean that it will prevent the fall into depression or the rise into mania. When we do rise or fall, it usually takes us by such surprise, we don’t notice it at first. Before long, we have gotten so overwhelmed in our mania or depression that there just isn’t a way out. We try, but its like we are drowning and just can’t get any air. We are treading water, only we aren’t treading in a calm river, we are treading in a stormy sea. The storm gets greater and greater and pretty soon our arms get tired of treading and we begin to sink. We sink so fast that nothing can stop us or save us. So, we hit the bottom and that’s when we finally realize that we can’t help ourselves anymore and are now so low we need help. We don’t want to ask for help though, because we are embarrassed and ashamed since we were previously admired for our stability and were seen as an inspiration. What kind of inspiration are we, or can we be, when we are on the bottom of the sea gasping for air.
The answer? We can still be an inspiration and we can still get our life back, its just going to take time. We just have to use all the skills we have learned, all the skills we have used before, and all the skills we tell others about, and put those to use in our own life again. We can’t give up, as much as we want to, and as easy as it would be. If we lift our head up slowly and use our arms to tread just a little bit, we can begin to rise above and start the path back up to stability. No one ever said having bipolar disorder was easy, and no one ever said that life in general was easy. Living life with bipolar disorder can give us some incredible experiences both good and bad, but each of those makes us stronger so when the next one comes around, we are ready and can fight like hell to pull out of it.
So today, I will fight like hell and pull myself out of the water, up from the bottom of the sea and rise above to be the inspiration many think me to be.