When things are good…

For someone with bi-polar disorder, when things are good, there’s a constant underlying fear. It’s not a matter of if things will stop being good…it’s when. And sure, it’s really easy to say…just stop worrying about it. But for someone who’s been experiencing severe mood changes for more than half their life, that’s just not possible.

I’ve even read such advice as: if you’d just stop worrying about the drops, you’d stop having them…it’s the constant focus on mood that causes the drops in the first place.

Every day, I track my mood. I try to figure out triggers and avoid them. I try to determine the impacts of weather, the moon, seasons, activities, work, people, diet, etc. And then I try to build my life around things that bolster my mood as much as possible, without sending me off the deep end in the process. Because, of course, there are also the “ups” to consider.

This month, on every day of my calendar, there’s a little smiley face in the corner. It’s been a good month. I’ve been busy, but I haven’t freaked out or gone manic. I’ve done some nice things with Mr. D, and, even though he’s been having a bit of trouble with arousal, we’ve managed to have sex five times (one of which, I initiated). And I’ve blogged 23 days out of 27 so far. My sex drive has been “normal” – I haven’t been “manic” horny, and my sex drive hasn’t been dead.

Basically…things have just been good.

And now I’m waiting for the crash.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m doing everything I can to avoid it. I’m trying to eat well, sleep well, stay on my feet, write, read, not overdo anything, do yoga, etc. I’m taking my meds, I’m hydrating, I’m breathing.

And yet, it’s like being a little kid in bed, worrying about the monster under it. It might not be there, but that’s not what matters…what matters is that I believe it is, even when I try to convince myself that it isn’t, and I say that it isn’t, and I tell others that I believe that it isn’t. Deep down…I do.

Deep down, I know…it’s only a matter of time.

I keep these subtle fears to myself usually. No need to spread it around. Because Mr. D suffers from depression, as well. And we are heavily influenced by each other’s emotional states.

As long as one of us stays up, it isn’t too bad. But when we both fall, it’s hell. Because then, who do we ask for help? Who do we rely on? It doesn’t happen that often that we both fall at the same time…blessedly. Right now, we’re both on pretty even keel. And I pray every day that it will last as long as possible.

(I just noticed this new meme put on by May More and SassyCat…I think it’s an amazing project, and I support it wholeheartedly! This week the prompt is:

When you’re struggling how do you get support from others, loved ones or partners? When your loved one is struggling how do you support them?

My answer is:

I’m terrible at asking for support. In fact, I have a tendency to try and hide when I’m feeling the anxiety build or the crash come. It’s stupid, I know, but when it’s happening, my thoughts aren’t rational. And when I’m heading manic, I usually don’t even realize it.

When Mr. D struggles, I just try to be supportive. I try to keep our kid busy and do his chores, and I try to ask as little as possible of him. I hug him more. I sit close. But, I don’t push him too hard to talk. It tends to piss him off.

We both have a bad habit of internalizing and closing ourselves off when we are hurting. But, like ticking time bombs, we are actually just lying in wait. A little alcohol, the right (or wrong) comment and the fight is on. Depression has always sort of been one of our underlying relationship issues. While it isn’t directly the problem, it exacerbates the problems we do have. It impacts our sex life. It impacts our ability and motivation to communicate and keep trying. It colors our vision of each other and our marriage. It makes things seem worse than they are.

It’s why I say…when things are good…there is always fear.

That damned monster is always under the bed.

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  • J. Lynn

    Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself. It’s never easy being vulnerable, especially to a big group of strangers. I can relate to a few aspects as I’m a GAD, there is always that underlying fear. My monster is always there waiting for that moment of weakness. People who don’t have a mental disorder don’t understand that you can’t “just stop” any of it. It’s a part of you. So thank you again!

  • kisungura

    Brigit, this moved me greatly, and I wanted to thank you for sharing. Whilst not experiencing bipolar I do struggle with mood shifts and have also tracked my moods. There’s a great app called Moodpath that I’ve used if you’re interested.

    I also can relate to not trusting the goods, and waiting for them to drop, as that is my experience too. Mine happens with hormonal shifts or emotional triggers and it’s hard isn’t it to not just be able to enjoy the good without watching for that monster in wait.

    I can further relate to it being ok when both are up or if one is up, as I know that when both Cuiplash and I are struggling, or if I am causing him to, it’s hard to get back on an even keel.

    Much love and support for now xx

    • Brigit Delaney

      I notice also, that we follow each other’s moods. If he is down for long, I am bound to follow…I can only stay up for so long without being influenced by his energy. Also, those triggers…I track those and just can’t seem to find a pattern. It seems pretty much everything and nothing at all triggers my mood shifts. So frustrating, especially when your therapist is asking you to track it so you can pinpoint and deal with them.

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