I think one of the most difficult things after first being diagnosed, and that continues to trouble me now, is having to be so hyper aware of my emotions.
Like, maybe that noise I heard is just a stray animal, BUT WHAT IF IT’S AN INTRUDER PLANNING TO LOCK ME IN THE BOTTOM OF MY TRUNK FOR A YEAR, STEALING MY IDENTITY, AS PART OF A PLOT TO KILL ONE OF MY STUDENTS?
No? Wrong person? Got distracted by the gif.
Same idea, though. Maybe I’m just upset. I’ve had a bad night, I just want to sit in the grumps for a while. Am I allowed to do that? Of course not. Because maybe I’m not just upset.
Maybe my bad mood is the beginnings of a depressive episode, the beginnings of cold fingertips stretching around my throat that will cease to let go for who knows how long, draining my enjoyment and eventually my life out of me until I’m an empty shell of a person begging for the release of death.
It’s a lot to have hanging over your head.
And there’s the problem. Having that over your head only makes you more stressed, worsening your bad mood and increasing the likelihood of it turning into an episode.
So why worry?
Because we have to. Not being aware means you slide straight into an episode, head first, screaming, completely out of control. And it’s not as fun as it sounds. We have to notice early warning signs so at the first sign of trouble we can get ourselves out of it, or at least try to.
And I am fortunate in that in my case, I am the only worrier. I know plenty of other people who’s loved ones, only trying to care, end up putting that pressure on the sufferer. Their loved ones treat them like a ticking time bomb of crazy, and any sign of an impending episode is treated with a bombardment of misguided “help”.
It’s a difficult field to navigate, trying to balance the right level of being aware with the right level of just going with the flow. Simply trying to find that balance can be stressful because you know what’s at stake. Because for me, and for many others, these are life of death matters.
But navigate is all we can do. In time, through trial and error and therapy, we will learn how to balance it. We will be able to mentally jot down “oh, I’m rather upset and it’s hard to snap out of it. I shall remember that in case it continues tomorrow.” without, as I so gracefully was doing last night, saying “oh god oh god oh god, this isn’t fair, I just got out of an episode, oh god oh god oh god.”
We will learn how to be gentle with ourselves. No matter how difficult it is, we will do whatever it takes to stay stable. Because that is all we can do.