I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder only about four years ago now and it has been a difficult road. Though I have come to a place of stability and seek constantly to grow, there are times when I am going to experience bad days. No matter what steps we take to prevent it, what medications we take and how much counseling we go through, there will be times when life just sucks. While my tendency is to just slap a band-aid on the issue, grit my teeth and soldier on, sometimes I just need to acknowledge that I still have bipolar and I can still feel its effects. Bipolar disorder is not a death sentence, but a life-long battle.
The past couple of days have been bad for me. Wrath and joy are intertwined and constantly switching. In my joy I cannot laugh and in my rage I cannot cry out because I have no logical reason for either. Because it is irrational and cycles so rapidly, I cannot see in the darkness and the light is almost blinding. I can isolate a number of triggers in the forms of lack of sleep, stress, unwelcome criticism from others, and so forth, but I can also sense the irrationality of it all. What I have to remember is that normal people have bad days, and the triggers I listed above are enough to make anyone irritable or grouchy. The difference is the level to which that irritation goes. With me, it becomes rage. Instead of just being grouchy I am filled with an abhorrence of much and any other trigger becomes fuel for that rage. This is going to happen; the important thing is what I do in that situation.
Over the past few years, I have already noticed a great change in my reaction to these feelings. Instead of using this rage and an excuse to lash out, I have realized that this is irrational and though I cannot control my emotions, I can still control my actions. However, I cannot do it alone. In these times of rage I need support. I need people to come around me who know what I am feeling and have my permission to help. I need them to listen and not try to fix me. If I need to explain to them why I feel this way because they cannot fathom the bipolar mind, I will probably get even angrier.
This is another reason My Quiet Cave exists. It has been born out of the support two friends have been for each other. It is the realization that platitudes will not suffice and comes from the frustration of ignorance. I am afflicted by bipolar, which means I know very well the crippling darkness and blinding light. I am open with my rage in the hopes that others will know I have been there. We share our stories so that others may find hope. I read others’ stories to be reminded that I am not alone. We bear one another’s burdens through community. We all have bad days, and I know I will have more in the future, what matters most is what I do in the meantime. Do I build up my resolve through community and counsel? Do I take care of myself so stress and sleep will not affect me as much? Do I seek out others in the good times, or only call out in the bad? All good questions to ponder.