The following is a journal entry I wrote today on having Bipolar Disorder and being in the middle of an episode. I thought it needed to be public.
I am lost. I’m sitting at my desk with a paper next to me and a couple of books in my head and I can’t figure out how to move my brain to address any of those issues. I’ve got a sudden longing to be home, raising my kids. But I can’t trust that any of my feelings are real. I was too trustful in 2007 when I dropped everything to return to the classroom so I could be nearer my children on holidays and Margaret could attend pre-k with me every day. I came home after the first day and wept, because I knew I made a huge mistake.
It worked out ok in the end. Everything does, really. Nothing stays horrible forever. But, God, was it horrible. I don’t know why my brain goes back there so often. I re-live the regret, the fear, and the shame of trusting feelings that were so strong, but still betrayed me in the end. And I feel bad for the students who got a really bad teacher that year.
I feel like I can’t trust anything right now. I’m afraid to take any challenges. I don’t know what I want, and today I’m not really sure who I am. I’m a tangle of hormones, neurons, medications, chemistry and biology, all mixing together in a bubbling cauldron. All of them plotting to keep me alive, or possibly destroy me at any time. They say treating mental illness is a delicate balance. They don’t explain that what it really means is that there is a small window of success and otherwise a whole mess of fear, loathing, loneliness, and paralysis.
There are things I know: I am relatively healthy and successful, I have everything I could ever need and then some. I have a supportive husband and smart, beautiful, and mostly well-behaved and well-adjusted children. But still my mind stirs and whirls in a tornado of expectations and false deadlines. My brain tells me I need to do everything. It tells me I want everything. It tells me I hate my job and love my job. It tells me I need to move to New England.
However, it also tells me I am enough. I do enough. I have enough.
I’d like to trust the positive assessments, but my mind has lied to me before, in spectacular fashion. I can’t trust it. It does not have my best interest at heart. It beats me down and then flatters me like an abusive spouse. It sets up a list of obstacles, disguised as achievements that I need to accomplish so I can be whole; then it steps on my shoelaces as I try to move forward.
I think I could trust the medication if I knew it was the one handing out the script, but the hormones and neurons and past experiences that trigger responses like Pavlov’s dog are wonderful actors. Wonderful frauds like the hypocritical preachers in mega churches that ask you for money and tell you you’re going to hell and that predict the end of the world on Tuesday or that God will strike them down unless they get a new Mercedes. So convincing, but never having your best interest in mind.
Such is bipolar disorder. It is always having to look over your shoulder (inside your head) and wondering if the thoughts you have are real or just the hype of a mania, or complaints of a depression. It’s a constant worry that your medication may have betrayed you this time and you’re going to hedge a bet on false information. It’s never being able to trust yourself or find the real you. It’s being lost while knowing exactly where you are- or not…