If nothing else, this disorder certainly keeps you on your toes. Crippling depression with bleak and foggy outlook: fast forward 24 hours to: sunny with a chance of mania.
Sleep, or lack of it, is probably the most dangerous trigger as far as I am concerned when trying to manage this
unicorn beast. For the past few months I have been lethargic, bleak and well, grey. This is probably the longest period of depression I have experienced in several years.
Friday night I did not sleep. All I can assume is that in my foggy state, I reached for regular tea as opposed to the decaf that I drink after 5pm (I know, I am too rock and roll for words.) Perhaps there was just too much on my mind. But for whatever reason, the sandman did not arrive. I tossed and turned in bed. I took myself to the spare room. No luck.
I had agreed to cover a fellow instructor’s early morning Z class so there was no chance of of trying to catch up with sleep. The class went great and the massive rush of endorphins coupled with the lack of sleep, meant that by 11am I was feeling awesome.
See, this is the thing that those uneducated about bipolar sometimes struggle to get their heads around. If a ‘normie’ gets no sleep, they’re perhaps prone to grumpiness, tiredness and general confusion. The exact opposite is true with a person who has bipolar disorder. Just one disrupted night of sleep can result in elevated mood, clarity of thinking, endless energy and hyper-productivity. Hypo-mania is perfect. You are able to achieve so many things simultaneously, all whilst displaying good humour and charming wit. It is the reason that I do not, for the most part, despise this disorder. Hypomania is the silver lining that surrounds that bitch of a cloud.
But the problem with hypo-mania is it’s the life and soul of the party and is fully aware of the fact. “Just keep going!” it screams over the stereo, swaying in the euphoria, oblivious to all that surrounds it. It is here. Right here, when you have to know when to stop. It is like hurtling along a single-track road in a convertible with your hair whipping in the wind as you pound the steering wheel along to favourite track and without warning you are faced with an amber light. You have 2 choices: change down the gears, gently pump the breaks and bring yourself to a halt, as the music continues to blast around you, leaving you feeling slightly embarrassed and out-of-sorts.
Or…floor it. Pedal to the metal, suck in your breath and brace yourself as you throw caution to the wind and go, go, GO!
It is at this point that you have to hope that there is a sliver of rationality left in amongst the hedonism. It is at this point where things can go horribly wrong. It is at this point that you become the side of yourself that you didn’t think existed; hoped didn’t exist. Didn’t think you were capable of. It is here that everything seems like a great idea and the Dr Pepper mantra, “What’s the worst that could happen?” pops into your head. But here’s the thing, no matter how caring and sensible you might be when stable, when you ask yourself that question, the truth is, you don’t give a fuck! Rationality is a long and distant memory and the consequences of your actions are a mere inconvenience to be dealt with later down the line.
But you feel so damn alive!
So the choice is yours, stop or go?