Like a lot of bloggers, I often enjoy looking back over past blog entries to see what’s changed over time and evaluate my progress (or lack thereof). And what I can’t believe is how different my life is from what it was a year ago.
Back then, I was a severely depressed, anxious hot mess of a woman whose life was falling apart all around her: I’d lost my job and much of my dignity, I’d run out of unemployment benefits and had absolutely no prospects for another job, and was in the process of losing my home and the lifestyle to which I’d become accustomed. Worse, I’d come to see myself as a burden on my family and friends, and in my twisted thought processes I believed that everyone would be better off if they didn’t have to worry about me anymore. The gun in the drawer was beginning to look like a promising option, as did the 80 or so Ativan tablets in my medicine cabinet.
As always, I didn’t want to admit I was depressed. It was situational anyway, which (to me) meant it wasn’t worthy of being taken seriously. I didn’t even call Dr. Awesomesauce until the morning of Halloween, when I finally gave up and realized I wasn’t safe to be at home. It was the proverbial dark night of the soul…and if I hadn’t gone to the hospital when I did, I almost certainly wouldn’t be here today writing this post.
Now, I’m not only stable mood-wise but have been for nine months, even though the days are growing shorter and there are things going on in my life that I’m not thrilled about. Will’s cancer is progressing and he’s getting tired, as well as having trouble adjusting to his new medication. Sometimes I wake up anxious for no particular reason; fortunately it doesn’t last long and I’m easily able to talk myself down. Nevertheless, I’m planning to discuss it with Dr. A about this next week…if I learned anything from last October, it’s not to put off contacting him when I have a serious issue.
I’ve also learned that a bipolar cannot look too far into the future. We have to take things one day at a time, one crisis at a time, sometimes even one white-knuckled minute at a time. So much of my own anxiety and depression results when I forget this simple principle. Granted, one has to plan ahead for some things, like budgeting for anticipated (and unanticipated) expenses, but trying to plan one’s whole life can be overwhelming. Besides, we don’t know how we’re going to feel next week, let alone six months or a year from now!
Yes, I’ve come a long way in the past year, and the fact that I’m not in some kind of autumnal mood episode for the first time in years is a tribute to my own internal work as much as it is to my medication regimen. I know better than to think I’m done with this illness, even though this comparatively long period of remission gives rise to fantasies about going the rest of my life without ever experiencing another mood episode. That’s probably not going to happen. But while I miss my hypomania, it’s worth it not to struggle with bipolar disorder as much as I have over the past few years. Life is good.