I can feel it.
The clouds are forming and the shadows are setting in.
It's a dark, cold, lonely place.
And I'm back to visit.
God help me.
When the moods of a bipolar patient shift, the world becomes a different place each time. For the last few months everything has been vibrant. Fun. Bright. At ease. It's been my light after the dark just a few short months ago. It's when the adventurous part of me blossoms and makes memories to remember until the light comes back again. I crave this place. This setting. The place where anxiety doesn't really exist. Where I feel high on life. Where I am not seeing a doctor or therapist every week because I have nothing to talk about. Where I eat anything I want without worry of how I look or how it makes me feel. When I'm in this place, I feel like I could do anything. I can accomplish any goal that I've ever dreamed about. I'm capable. Strong. Taking less medication. The best, and ultimately worst, times of my life are spent here.
Why the worst times?
Because, inevitably during a Bipolar 1 manic phase, you go too far. In one way or another, you lose control of yourself and do things that you wouldn't normally do. You spend too much, you leave and don't tell anyone, you stop your medication all together, you disregard responsibilities because you don't care about anything else but the happiness and elation that you are feeling. You never know how long it's going to last. So you become consumed with trying to make it last as long as you can. Doing things to keep your happiness up even if it means hurting yourself or someone else.
Can you relate? Have you been there? Have you hurt someone that you care about during a manic episode? Have you hurt yourself?
We think mania is our friend. We think that it's the time where we are our best self. The happiest, smartest and most beautiful that we can be. But before we know it, the elation is gone. And we are left with the aftermath of our manic episode. Whatever that might look like.
The guilt sets in. How did I not see it coming? I knew the happiness and the feelings of accomplishing anything were unrealistic for me.
But we don't want to stop it. It feels good. We feel bad too often. We hate ourselves and our minds too often. Without the mania, we feel empty most of the time. Like life is swallowing us and there is nothing we can do to stop it. We don't feel strong. We don't feel capable. We feel tired. We lose the control that we swore we had during mania.
But mania isn't controlled. It controls you. It takes over. It tells you that the only thing that matters is your happiness. It tells you that you deserve anything you want, even if it's not what's best for you. It's a liar. It's selfish.
So as this manic phase comes to an end, and the darkness starts to roll back in, I'm going to practice self care.
I'm going to tell myself that it's going to be okay even as the mania fades. I'm aware of my mood shifts and how they work. I have my resources on speed dial. And I'm not going to let the darkness take over.
I'm going to have to fight like crazy.
But the darkness won't win.