Today I’m down.
Bipolar disorder is like that. I don’t know from one day to the next who will wake up in my bed. Will I jump up ready to go and full of energy? Will I be the me that runs around without a compass or purpose or any plan? Will I be the me that pulls the covers back over my head and goes back to sleep, crying?
This morning, as my consciousness began to surface from sleep, I thought, no. Not now. Maybe this afternoon. If I get up by 4, I could make it to the show on time tonight. What show? Do I really have to go? No. They’ll understand. I’ll get up tomorrow.
Today is gloomy. The world is raining, damp, dark, no birds or deer or dogs making any sounds. Just dark and gloomy inside me. The white noise in my ears is my cocoon. I’m not going to move except maybe to scoot farther under the covers, under the dogs. I know they don’t want to get up.
Yesterday, I was so pumped, so excited to be alive and doing everything in my power to “Get Out the Vote” in my little corner of the country. I relished being with people, laughing, arguing, sharing snacks, pet stories, and family photos. When I got home, I went right to bed and could have stayed through the night and all day today. What changed?
Nothing changed. I take my pills every morning and every night as prescribed by my doctor. Sometimes, it occurs to me that something’s off and I check my pill reminder and discover I’ve missed a dose. I don’t think “I’m going to skip my pills today and see what happens.”
I know better. I know what happens. I get manic and talk too fast and jump from one thing to another, pace from one room to the next thinking so fast I forget what I was going to get or do or say. My temper is right on the surface, and I explode with insignificant provocation. If I manage to get my hands on the car keys and go for a ride, I’ll drive too fast, shop for things I don’t need with money I don’t have, and scare small children in the store. “Who is that crazy lady racing up and down the aisles laughing?”
Or, if it’s the other pills I’ve forgotten, I drift into a forever sleep and have no interest in seeing another day. Nothing interests me. Not eating breakfast or drinking coffee or checking Facebook for funny cat or dog posts. Not even chocolate. Did I really say that? Yes, not even chocolate! No one will notice I’m staying in bed.
There are activities I could engage in that distract me from the looming depression. I could take a walk outside to open my senses to nature—the sound of birdsong or their flight away from my intrusion, the breeze on my cheeks, the crunchy leaves under my feet. Walking and breathing deeply are just what I need to bring myself back.
Maybe not; it’s raining and cold today. I could go out and play in the rain. No, I’d have to come in and take a shower, and I don’t want to take a shower. Can’t stand the smell of soap. Or shampoo. Or body lotion. Nope.
Some foods can make a difference: chocolate, tomato soup, eggs and bacon. Even the act of preparing food could bring me back to who I’d rather be today. No, I’m not even hungry.
My closest friends are clued in; they know just what questions to ask. They know when to stop by and have a bowl of ice cream with me, to listen, to watch funny movies and laugh with me. Who could I call today? It’s a week day. No one’s available, I’m certain.
Today I took my pills on time, every one of them. Yet I have no interest in anything. Even the music on the radio is too much–I turn it off. My Sudoku puzzle is too easy; I finish it up in no time, no challenge. Blech.
No one will notice if I’m not at the show tonight. They won’t miss me. Someone else will be thrilled to take my place, see the show for free! The folks at the party headquarters aren’t expecting me today, thank heavens! I couldn’t stand to dial the phone and try to be pleasant and persuasive to a stranger.
Will any of it make a difference? No. So why bother? I’ll just go back to bed and curl up under the covers with my dogs. The dogs don’t vote; they’d rather I didn’t go to the show anyway. Stay home with us, Mom.
It’s difficult to make plans that involve the future, anything beyond right now. Will I be able to fulfill on promises I make? Why bother to be around other people who don’t understand? They’ve come to expect me to be a particular way, a competent woman, bright and inspiring and… what do they expect? I don’t have a clue. I just know for a fact that I am not who they think I am.
I recognize that look, those thoughts: “What is she doing now?”; “Did you hear what she said?”; or “That’s just an act. Who’s she trying to kid?”
I sense the disappointment, even surprise, others feel when I have not lived up to my promises. I certainly have not met their expectations. Today, it will take more courage than I have to be around other people, knowing I will let them down.
I’ll go back to bed. Tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be somebody else.
Judy McCord, Elephant Academy ApprenticeBrowse Front PageShare Your Idea
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