It always amazes me how fast I can go from 60mph to 0mph. The signs are always there, telling me that a storm is coming… And I see them and I dance with them hoping for some sun instead but no the rain will always come.
As much as I’ve spoken about what it’s like to live with Bipolar, mania and depression and how I manage it, I don’t think I’ve ever written about the cycle of events that almost always occur before the storm.
The stages of falling into a depressive storm:
It will almost always feel like the worst I’ve ever had. I’m talking puking, sensitivity to bright light, sleeping for what feels like days when it’s only been minutes before the dwarves start digging for diamonds again and it’s too difficult to sleep so I just lie there and stare into the void. It’s a loop. And it’s painful.
Usually when I’ve had one of these almighty brain malfunctions I’ll let a few people like my therapist or mother, occasionally a friend know so they too can help before the storm sets in.
Plans will get cancelled or I won’t plan anything. Or alternatively I’ll attend stuff I’ve planned and put the mask on even though inside I couldn’t give a shit what’s being said to me or what I’m even talking about. I put on my cape and I walk around like a superhero zombie so everyone thinks I’m smashing, I’m gloriously happy and all is well with the world. But internally I retreat and I don’t feel a thing.
It’s like I’m a stepford wife. Blinking and smiling and nodding and charming but it’s empty and I’m not even aware it’s happening until hours or even days later.
How would you notice? You probably wouldn’t because I’m working double time so that you don’t. So you can’t help me, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
3. Order take out. (Also known as wasting money)
Yup even though I have no money for it I will spend half of my weeks spending budget on Dominos, because I no longer want to leave the house or interact with anyone. I barely politely greet the delivery guy and I will feel guilty about that for days. He’s a dude I recognise and he recognises me and he’s always friendly and wants to have a quick chat rather than me close the door in his face right away.
But I do anyway.
I also shop online because buying stuff for a lot of Bipolar warriors feels good. It’s also dangerous because it then puts me in debt and it doesn’t matter how much I justify it to myself even after I’ve clicked purchase; I feel nothing or guilt, neither is of which is pleasant.
4. Barely smoke. (also known as not enjoying anything)
Now I know for regular folk this would be a good thing but I am a sucker for routine. After 6pm I will have between 1-4 rollies depending on where I am and who I’m with. I enjoy this habitual thing, as much as I know eventually it will blacken my lungs and kill me, I enjoy it. It usually relaxes me but when the storm is on the horizon, I don’t enjoy it, the smell makes me feel sick and I feel guilty for doing it.
5. Physical symptoms.
Often with Bipolar, symptoms will present themselves physically and granted it’s psychosomatic but it feels real.
For me my whole body aches like I’ve ran 100 miles and completed 20 tough mudders and nothing soothes it, my hands cramp and I get the shakes. Think of the last time you had the flu and how debilitating it felt and how weak your muscles felt and how everything was a huge effort – yeah that.
No amount of sleep is enough. I get crazy nightmares and night terrors so I wake up a lot in the night worrying about something or another, whatever anxiety decides to rear its ugly head. This means I’m exhausted when I should be waking up so I then spend all day exhausted, if I’m able to get out of bed at all that is.
It’s crippling. I always have it, its a daily occurance but when I’m in the eye of the storm it cranks up a gear so I can barely find the strength to get up and go to work, to talk with any confidence… To dress how I dress or colour my hair. It all falls by the anxiety way side.
It takes away the essence of me and replaces it with an annoying, sensitive, insecure girl who wouldn’t know her ass from her elbow.
A little different to anxiety in that it’s less about worrying about what might happen but actually feeling physical terror and sometimes even seeing things that aren’t there.
This is not to be confused with psychosis.
For me I might see a man or black shadow out of the corner of my eye, this stems back from the assault; and therefore for a moment I get the fear that something terrible is about to happen. But thankfully it’s a moment that passes quickly. But can occur more than once.
This could easily fall under anxiety but it’s such a powerful feeling that it deserves a number of its own. As the storm gets closer the guilt for feeling any of the above or guilt over the fact that this storm might last to long and that I can’t deal with it.
Thus pissing everyone off and making you a failure. This I struggle with the most because I’ve been episode free for 9 months and I was hoping for a year… I was working really hard to hit that milestone.
10. The storm.
Depression sets in as the rain pours and the above 9 items play on repeat whilst I stand there with a broken umbrella trying to stay dry.
I’ve already detailed what depression feels like to me so I won’t go into it. Suffice to say the shorter the storm the less damage it causes.
I’m trying to ensure I do the things that keep me well; singing, seeing friends, drawing, walking, therapy and going to work. But when you’re competing with 9 overwhelming elements it can feel like that moment in Jurassic Park when the kids are trying to hide in the kitchen from the velociraptors…