Bipolar is a term bandied about these days, in the media, on tv shows, we are more often seeing mental illness shown in glaring/harsh lights. (Silver Linings Playbook comes to mind) But the term is misused and a huge percentage of men go undiagnosed with depression. And we’ve seen the tragic effects of this harsh mistress. Here’s a bit of my side of this mountain. A recovery effort I struggle with daily.
It’s sometimes called bipolar, but that term is overused. In my case I have depression and I have non-depression. And sure, my non-depression (or normal) me is a bit more energetic and creative than most people, I would argue that I have not had a manic phase since I was a teenager. I get high, yes, but its natural energy (maybe some coffee) and it’s what I consider the real me. The undepressed me. Still, you might think I was high if you met me.
And that’s a part of the problem. When I’m “energetic” I can get a little scattered and hyper. But really, that’s me. I’m usually a happy and inspired person. I’ve been this way since I was a little kid. Always engaged, always trying to lead the group into some crazy fun adventure. And as an adult, I’ve learned to turn my energy into an asset that’s engaging and successful. And if I can stay on the UPSIDE of my depression, I’m golden. When I fall off my balance, however, it’s quite dramatic. It’s scary for me and the people around me.
So this is the aspect of my condition that I’m working on in therapy. What is the trigger that sends me sliding into the darkness? Is there anything I can do as it’s happening (I can feel it, like some bad intoxication) is there therapy that can help? It’s truly my Achilles heel, this falling depression that overwhelms me and shuts down even some of my basic functions.
I’m working on it. But it still scares the crap out of me. How can a fully-functional adult drop off the face of the Earth? And I go low. I get confused and overwhelmed. And I get real quiet. I don’t speak. If I did speak the crap I would talk about is so scary, even to me, I think I would run you off. And the damage this cycle has done in my life is unexplainable. The lost days, weeks, and months I’ve spent in non-functional depression is too many for me to admit. It’s a lot.
What we know about depression these days, is it is a physical disease. After a few major depression, your brain and body begin to adapt to the situation and over time the physical properties of your brain begins to change. And this adaption is not a good thing. It’s as if the pathways towards depressive emotions are superconductive. It makes it easier for my brain to flood itself with panic chemicals. And when that happens all bets are off. It’s as if the lights go out in my eyes and I become some zombie form of myself.
Again, I’m working on it. And I’m confident in my new meds. And I’m getting a new therapist. So I’m as active in my healing and recovery as I can be. I’m still scared. I’m still worried as I’m interviewing for new jobs. How can I be confident that I can do the job if at some point I fall apart? I’m not. I’m scared. But I’m moving forward as best I can, and doing all the things I can think of to get help.
I’ve got a care team. And I’ve got a supportive and understanding family. And it’s not enough. When I drop I drop off the deep end. I can’t see or feel the love that surrounds me. I can’t feel anything but hatred for myself and my condition. And that’s a circular path that leads even further downward.
I hope you don’t know what I’m talking about. But I’m guessing you know someone in your life who has suffered from depression or bipolar illness. And if you can get a glimmer of empathy from my stories, then I’m happy with my reveal. I’m taking a big risk letting all this “depression” information out. I’m still in the prime earning years, and any employer who Googles me will come upon this blog.
Years from now I’d like to be writing about how my drug cocktail has been successful for 10 years of remission. That’s not likely. The disease raises its head at the most inconvenient times. And I will be depressed again. I’m hoping to mitigate the down. I’m hoping to have more compassion for myself while I’m going through it. And I’m hoping that through some cognitive therapy that I can reduce my cycle time. Heck, I’m hopeful that the down will be a blip and not a deathly yaw.
Either way, I’m on my way towards health. I’m optimistic. And the new job opportunities are here right now. Fear forward. Then keep going.
Take care. If there’s anything I can do to help you on your journey, let me know.
Back to Dark Days – depression stories and resources
More articles from The Whole Parent:
- The Four Simple Rules for Dads Getting Divorced
- Men and Divorce with Children: My 9-year Retrospective
- Dad’s Divorce Journey: 9-years Later I Still Feel the Loss of Kid-time
image: depression, creative commons usage