And I am so grateful for that.
When this last depression hit me, I was devastated. I felt like I was finally on my feet after so long. Then the ground just completely and unexpectedly disappeared from beneath me. I was falling down a pit and had no idea how far down the bottom was. I have seen my rock bottom. At least what I hope to be my rock bottom. I was so afraid that that is where I was headed again, and I wasn’t sure if I could survive it for a second time.
My mom came over in the mornings and after nap time to help with my kids. I honestly have no idea what I would do without her. The blessings she pours into my life are immeasurable.
One day, after a few weeks (I think?) of suffering this depressive episode, my mom was unable to come back after the kids’ naps. I was panicked. The last time I was left on my own for the day, I ended up passing out on the couch and waking up at 5:30pm. The kids get up at 3:00-3:30. This time, I managed to stay awake, and at 3:00, I got them up from their naps. After changing their diapers, making a bottle for Rory and a snack for Laney, cleaning up, etc. I realized something pretty awesome: It was easy. I didn’t just survive it, but it was easy. I was literally excited. The next day I felt about the same, and the day after, even better. Now I’m back to the daily grind of breakfast, lunch, dinner, laundry, cleaning (well, as much as I normally do), diaper changes, reading stories, singing songs, playing pretend, bath time, cuddling, grocery shopping, keeping up with my full-time class load, and all of the other things that keep me busy
nearly every second of every day. And I absolutely love it. I’ve even managed to keep up with our new family practice: Dinner around the table together, every night. It feels amazing to feel like myself again! I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d ever feel okay. Probably dramatic for a depression that lasted a few weeks, but after such a recent depression that lasted month after month after month, I was scared. But I put my trust in God. At times, I lost my sense of hope. But He didn’t ever, ever leave my side. He kept me above the scary, suicidal, bottom and eventually pulled me out of it entirely. Even though I didn’t think it would happen. But God didn’t need me to be strong and hold on to hope. He knew I couldn’t at that point. That was okay with Him, because He knew that everything would be okay. And I’m glad I went through this most recent depression. Honestly. If you didn’t think I was crazy before, you must now.
If you would have told me during this episode that there might be a reason for it, or that I might learn something from it, I would have been extremely annoyed and maybe even hurt. It’s easy to fall into the pity-party trap. But there are indeed things that I have learned or that have been solidified for me. Here are some of the things that this most recent experience has taught me:
1. I am so blessed to have a strong support team.
This isn’t something new that I’ve learned, but it was cemented in my heart and mind even further during this time. My family is so supportive, caring, and understanding. Not everyone has this, and I never want to take it for granted. Of course, this was very apparent in the long eight months that I was very sick. But this time really hit me differently. They had all been through so much already because of my mental illness. Despite that, they were all there to help and support me the second things got bad again. I feel so secure and safe knowing that, no matter what, I have an absolutely amazing husband, mom, and other family members that are there for me, through thick and thin.
2. I need to call my psychiatrist at the first sign of things going wrong.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” This quote has been credited to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, a Chinese proverb, and probably a bunch of other inaccurate sources. I don’t really care who said it. I find it to be a stupid and annoying cliché. However, I do believe that in most cases, doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting things to change is fairly stupid as well. Other than in the instance of perseverance, of course. But when I was depressed each and every day, and kept waiting for things to get better, that wasn’t perseverance; that was stupid. I am confident that increasing my antidepressant is what helped pull me out of the rut. If I would have called earlier on, I might have saved myself a lot of time spent feeling like shit.
3. I cannot rely on medication alone.
This is a big one for me. Medication and therapy, medication and therapy, medication and therapy. My mental health has solely revolved around those two things. The most important thing I have learned is that if I continue to rely on only these things, I will always be blindsided by my mood swings and feel completely out of control. So I’m going to create a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan), or something similar to it. I’ll post my WRAP, or whatever action plan I decide to use, here on my blog within the next couple of days. Perhaps tomorrow. I don’t want to put off creating this plan any longer. I’ve come to the realization that being 100% proactive about my illness is the only way I’m going to survive it, seriously. Not 76% or 98%, but fully, completely responsible for doing everything in my power to stay as healthy as I can. Of course there will be times that, despite my best efforts, my illness will rear its ugly head full-force. But I believe that will happen every time I have an episode unless I actively take part in my own mental health. I can’t put it all on a therapist or a pill. This realization was so huge for me; it gave me back a sense of control that bipolar disorder had robbed from me. Not that I can control my illness entirely, but I can control my life and how I respond to my mood swings. Do I lay in bed and think about dying the next time I feel depressed, or do I read through my action plan and employ the things that I know help me feel a bit better? Of course I’d choose the latter. Before, I didn’t have another option; there was option 1 and that was it. But now I’m giving myself the choice. And that is quite empowering.
Okay, well, I’m tired as hell. I’ll post that action plan as soon as I create it. Please, if you have an action plan of your own, or just things that you implement in your life that help you during a depressed/manic/mixed/whatever episode, please comment below and share what helps you!