Stability isn’t freedom

It’s not awful. It’s the thing we strive to be, the holy grail of Bipolar sufferers. It is a time when we return to our bodies, we are us again! Compared to the torture of depression and the uncontrollable mania, stability is a magical thing.

But when you compare it to the life of a healthy person, Bipolar stability is a time dictated by rules and driven by fear of the alternative.  Need me to explain?

It’s my day off. Yay! Sleep in! Woops, no, there goes my alarm at 7am because it’s important to keep sleep wake cycles regulated. Of course waking up at 7am wouldn’t be so hard if I hadn’t stayed up until 1am, when my regulated bed time is 10:30.

You’d think once you’re an adult that bed times and curfews would be a thing of the past, yeah? 

No point worrying about it. Even though I’m horribly hot and tired, I have to drag myself out of bed and go for a run. Not because I enjoy fitness – it’s just one of the things I need to do to make sure I don’t kill myself in a later episode.

Well, that was awful. I always feel judged for running as a chubby person. I used to be slim but nope, medication changed that. Not that anyone allows that as an excuse, clearly I must be over eating.

Well, I am over eating because the next task is choking down a HUGE breakfast that’s more than my little stomach can handle, so that I don’t spend half an hour bent over the toilet, painfully retching up my insides due to my harsh pills.

Not that that’s the only side effect.

I now get to cleanse myself because my once clear face, the subject of much admiration, now breaks out from the medication. Let’s not forget that I can’t hold a heavy glass for fear of dropping it from my hand tremors, and I have to visit the toilet like an old man because Lithium requires me to drink bout 4L of water a day. 

Now, how to spend the day? Besides, you know, visiting doctors and therapists and documenting my every emotion. Well I can’t go out with my friends tonight because they’re going drinking and you know, alcohol can trigger episodes

Isn’t it fun, having just turned legal drinking age, and not being allowed to drink?

After a big dinner to take my night pills, it’s nearly 10pm. Good thing, I spent the afternoon exhausted because my regulated sleep-wake cycle denied me an afternoon nap.

Better get ready for bed so I’m ready for my 7am alarm to repeat it all tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. And every single day until I die. 

I’m being dramatic of course. I fill my days with fun things and I find friends who understand my limits. Waking up at 7am is worth it if it means I’m able to get out of bed.

It’s tiring, and knowing I’ll never get a break makes it seem impossible at times, but it needs to be done.

My advice to anyone struggling to adjust to this new lifestyle is this: don’t compare your life to that of a normal person. You can’t fly, but do you allow yourself to suffer because of that? No, because you know it’s not part of your biology. Bipolar is a part of your biology, and being upset over these rules, while understandable, is senseless. Remind yourself of all you can do and be grateful. And know that with each year that goes by, it’ll be easier.

I wrote this article mainly for the non sufferers out there, those that assume that if we’re not in an episode it’s like we never had Bipolar. I’m here to tell you that Bipolar is always there and it’s important to recognise that and validate what we’re experiencing. It’s important to know because we need your support, at all times.

With the rules we have to obey, the need to be so self aware, and the haunting memories of previous episodes reminding us what’s at stake, even in stability we are not free.

4 thoughts on “Stability isn’t freedom

  1. Wow Joy, it’s like you wrote this for me. The weight gain from meds, sleep cycle… everything you said! Thanks for sharing and opening up about it, very brave. All I can say is that every step forward is a step in the right direction, no matter how great or small. Look after yourself.

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