The Perils of Depression

Yes, bear with me, this is a rather lengthy Bipolar posts that can undermine everything you ever thought you knew about depression. If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness you’re typically given another name. Contrary to what many people want us to believe, it is not who you are and I honestly believe that a person’s diagnosis is a part of who they  as they struggle through the challenges of adapting to this new identity it becomes entwined with who they are. One of the greatest challenges of being bipolar is figuring out where one ends and the disorder begins.

I have written about many different topics in my blog. I have shared my opinions and thoughts. A few I have devoted to my struggles with being alienated from my children, my eating disorder, and yes my bipolar. But none like I am about to share with you now. Or even at the least if no one reads it, it is for me. I hope no one is discouraged from reading by the site of its length. Your successes, yours, or your mania’s? Your failure’s, yours, or your episodes? Are you accountable or do they owe their existence to your new identity?

Who knows how many eyeballs are landing on the following words will subconsciously begin judging me or think how I need to be “fixed.” Or worse, be completely turned off by what I am about to say.

The truth is, I am not happy. But I’m bipolar so go figure. I was recently released from yet another inpatient hospital. I had been to this one before so I new 90% of the staff and the routine. It was the hospital where I received my electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and that was what I was there for this time again. I call it the magic switch. ECT works wonders for me. Even from the first treatment.   I had four good months of recovery from my bipolar. I don’t consider my hospital stay and relapses setbacks. Instead, a learning experiencing, take what I’ve got and use it for the next go around.

It’s been about a week since I have written anything here on my blog except for some poems and a light hearted post. To be honest I haven’t had the desire for well over a month. My mind has been a whirl wind of thoughts and emotions fueled with uncontrollable feelings. As always it took some time before I had realized I had slipped into a deep and almost severe depression just short of suicidal.

Looking back onto the past weeks I can see the evidence of its presence. The irritability. Isolation. Lack of interests. Shortness. Distorted thinking. Inability to concentrate. And on into the severity….The Nothing Feeling as I refer to it. When I literally have no feelings.

It is most likely an account that you have never read before. It is my attempt to put into words the suicidal and even psychotic depressions I am tormented with that comes with my bipolar. A candid and non-watered down description. It’s a personal story of my bipolar life. It’s the “Nothing Feeling.”

I am groaning under the miseries of a diseased nervous system: a system of all others the most essential to our happiness–or the most of productive of our misery. Day follows night, and night comes after day, only to curse with life which gives no pleasure.

Mood, in the more serious depressive state of bipolar, is usually bleak, pessimistic, and despairing. A deep sense of futility is frequently accompanied, if not preceded, by the belief that the ability to experience pleasure is permanently gone.

My feelings at this moment are pitiable indeed. I am suffering under a depression of spirits that I know all too well. I have struggled in vain against the influence of this melancholy. It has always proven how much stronger it is than me.

I am almost never without putting into words what I suffer–the longing that seems to tear my heart out by the roots, the dreadful sense of being alone in an empty universe, the agonies that are thrilled through me as if the blood were running ice cold in my veins, the disgust with living, the impossibility of dying. Only the not-so-real voices that carry the possibility of bringing comfort. The annoyances of hallucinations in the form of shadows that shows up in the corners of my eyes.

Lately, I have been really struggling. One day the depression may not seem so bad while tomorrow it’s all I can do just to drag myself out of bed and fight through the day to hold my tongue to keep from snapping at everybody in anger.

Depression affects not only mood but the nature and content of thought as well. Thinking processes almost always slow down, and decisiveness is replaced by indecision and rumination. For me, anxiety rules my head. The ability to concentrate is usually greatly impaired and willful action and thought becomes difficult if not impossible. The smallest task becomes a large job. Even my work performance has begun to suffer.

On Feb 19, 2009 I wrote in my journal:

“…all these emotions just make me want to weep

kept locked up inside like my very own prison

I need to break out of this, I need to be released

Just eating me up inside, my sickness within

I say I’m okay–when I’m really stuck in a maze

Can’t find my way out of this, giving up on a rescue

Every time I think I’ve found one, I’m wrong

Why is it I depend on people who won’t pursue

But push away the good ones who come along”

It’s wrong that being sad makes you sad. It’s wrong that feeling different makes you sad. It’s wrong that wanting to be like everyone else makes you sad.

Every day I take two cocktails of meds. My handfuls of AM’s and PM’s. They try to keep me sane. They don’t work. The many trial and error combinations I have tried throughout the years have never worked. The hospitalizations, suicide attempts, arrests, blackouts, episodes, anxieties, mood swings, outrageous behaviors, bad decisions, voices and hallucinations, delusions, I could go on, they speak for themselves. But one med I can’t live without. It is my life source that for the most part keeps the suicidal thoughts at bay. Ironically too much of it can also kill me.

Lately, my bipolar has seriously got me tired. Tired more than it has ever in the years of my life. I am worn out from it. Tired physically. Tired emotionally. Tired mentally. And tired spiritually. I have grown tired of fighting it. And it is taking a toll on me. Not just this current episode but all these years of instability. I can’t remember the last time I was stable. I know it was well over seven years ago. I can’t remember what stability feels like. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t struggling with mania or depression. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t been irritable.

I’ve always embraced my bipolar while accepting its pros and cons. I’ve even shunned the so called “normal.” But here lately I’ve wondered what “normal” would be like. I want to be like most of everyone else and this makes me sad. I want to be “normal” and I think about it all day.

I hate depression, to whom life and death, are alike impossible. Most miserable at present in this, that being so miserable I have senses continued to me only that I may look forward to the worst. My thoughts are like loose dry sand, which the closer they are grasped slips the sooner away.

I have found that every act of life from the morning routine to the dinner in the evening has become an effort…hating the night. The night soon presents a new day. Hating the night when I can’t sleep and hating the day because it brings toward the night. I sleep on the heart side now because I know that the sooner I tire it out, even a little, the sooner would come the hour of nightmare which, like a catharsis, would enable me to meet the new day.

I am weary of everything, I stay because I am too weak to go. I crawl on because it is easier than to stop. I look out the window. There is nothing but the blackness and the sound of rain. Neither when I shut my eyes can I see anything. I am alone…there is nothing else in my world by my dead heart and brain within me and the rain without.

The melancholy I have all my life been subject to has become of late years not indeed more intense in its fits but rather distributed, constant, and crippling…one of my states of madness. It has proven to be unconquerable with a mind and will of its own.

The body cannot rest when it is pain, nor the mind be at peace as long as something bitter distills in it and it aches. Like David did so many times I call out to God and even my spirit feels severed from His presence.

Moods are by nature compelling, contagious, and profoundly interpersonal, and disorders of moods alter the perceptions and behaviors not only of those who have them but also of those who are related or closely associate. Depression is heavy. Almost too heavy to bear.

I don’t care about labels or stigma or biases….insane, nuts, crazy, lunatic, demented, maniac, psycho, screwy or mental. But I do want to be “normal.” Whatever it is I want it. Because I am tired. I want the mood swings gone. The ups and downs. The irrational thoughts and behaviors. The suicidal depressions. I don’t want to have them anymore. I know I can’t have it no matter how many pills I take for treatment. No matter how hard I try. It is not for me. I don’t know if I would know how to handle it.

Everyone says, “Be different.” “Stand out.” But inner turmoil is not standing out.

I see beauty all around me.

I find it in painted sunset skies and the morning rising sun. I see it the eyes of my children. I see it in the budding trees around my neighborhood.

I see beauty all around me. But I can’t see it in the mirror.

My self-image–that picture inside my heart of how I view myself, has long become distorted from a lifetime of a whirlwind of emotions. No matter how hard I’ve tried, stability or normalcy has always felt far beyond my reach.

The picture I see of myself is ironically fitting none other than a Picasso painting. Ironic because my last name is the same; shattered, distorted, disproportionate, colorful, messy, and cracked.

But no matter how unattainable “normal” is, I know my value comes from and is rooted in love. The love of a Father who, because of His great love for me, chose to come down and live as one of us, chose to die for me, chose to defeat death for me. Even though I don’t feel it.

I know He wants me to see myself as beautiful, but the reality is, it remains a daily struggle for me. Today, I don’t see the goal. All I see in my reflection is this broken, messy, ugly devastation of my life. And I can’t help but question how there can be beauty in all this rubble.

But God responds by lovingly and gently showing up in the eyes of my children and my wife. I know God doesn’t only want me to see the beauty in how He’s using me. He wants me to see the beauty in me…”normal” or not.

It’s there I see that I am enough because He is enough.

It’s there I see that I am desired, valued, and fought for.

It’s there I see that He recklessly loves the beautiful mess that is me

Bipolar undermines everything you ever thought you knew about yourself. Your successes, yours, or your mania’s? Your failure’s, yours, or your episodes? Are you accountable or do they owe their existence to your new identity?

Who knows how many eyeballs landing on the following words will subconsciously begin judging me or think how I need to be “fixed.” Or worse, be completely turned off by what I am about to say.

The truth is, I am actually happy.

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