During a “valley” in your mood are you aware that the shift in mood is a result of bipolar disorder?

During a “valley” in your mood are you aware that the shift in mood is a result of bipolar disorder?  If so, does that help you work through it?

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Peaks and Valleys are fun aren’t they! Wait, no, not really. I mean , I don’t mind a little bump in the road from time to to time, and I’m kinda a fan of the peaks, but valley’s. Oh sweet evil valleys. We are so not friends.

About 75% of the time I can tell if the culprit of these valleys is bipolar, or if it’s real life. But the other 25% can be VERY frustrating. For instance, last month my grandmother died. Who wouldn’t be in a valley during mourning, right? But was my valley my grief? Some of my actions/feelings felt a bit extreme to be grief. I was lethargic and unresponsive. I was on the verge of tears even when I wasn’t thinking about her. I was fatigued and sad and irritable and emotional.

Does everyone deal with grief that way?

What finally gave me the hint that this went beyond grieving was when it lasted for more than 2 weeks. And the feeling of nothing. I’m not sure everyone understands nothing feels like, but it sucks.

Let me take a moment to explain. Nothing feels like …

Nothing Matters

My world is nothing

I am nothing

Nothing can make me feel better

Nothing is worth my time or effort

It’s an empty hollow feeling. And then depression starts to fill the nothing and then it’s a sad, empty, hollow feeling. This is not grief. Maybe the grief propelled it, but who knows.

To answer the second question,  yes and no.

Being aware of my down spots does help keep me grounded. It doesn’t take away the pain or the hollowness, but it does keep that little bit of rationality from completely disappearing. Knowing that I’m cycling on the low end helps others from exacerbating the issue. If I can explain to my husband or friends that I’m in a low Low, they aren’t as upset with my withdrawal or sadness. (I think/hope) And once I’ve told my husband, he can remind me to keep grounded.

But it still hurts. Nothing can take that part away.

3 thoughts on “During a “valley” in your mood are you aware that the shift in mood is a result of bipolar disorder?

  1. The feelings you have shared are feelings I can assosiate with. I would say that now–not a few years back when I was in denial of my disorder–I can usually detect when I am in or approaching the low side of the BP cycle. Sometimes, though it is very painful, it is better to be low–less damaging to family, friends, finances–than to be in the high cycle of mania–BP II. I find myself tearing up or crying over things I was totally unaware were bothering me–I’m a guy and this does bother a guy to be that out of control and with no good explaination. You are blessed to have someone to keep you on anchored ground, as my wife–we are separated–will not accept or deal with this disorder whatsoever. We have grandchildren who also suffer with it and she tends to shun them as well. It is the stigma attached to mental illness–it scares people.
    I do aquaint with your nothing feelings, as in nothing is worth the effort, nothing matters, and nothing–in regards this Ground Hog Day my life & not the movie–will ever change or get truly better, but instead I will awake each morning to go through the up cycle, then the down, then the up, then the down, forever trying as Bill Murray did to change an unchangeable sequence of events.
    I actually find myself atempting to prolong the down cycle, so as to avoid the manic during which I might go from writing what I believe at the time to be a great religous article, to going out on an alcohol binge and delving into drugs all night to wake up the next day ashamed, broke, and hopeless–thoughts of death, dying, and suicide haunting me for days and weeks after an episode such as this. Then, comes the day of getting back up and attempting to believe that this time–this cycle–will be differently, will end differently–but it nevers does.

    Attempting to share these feelings with NORMAL people is a sad and tragic waste of time. BP is a language they not only do not understand, but simply do not have ears to hear. Please know that I hear you.

  2. As I hear you Thomas! I’m so sorry your wife is unable to cope with your illness. Don’t take it as something that is wrong with you as a person, but a weakness on her part for being unwilling to adapt and help you manage the illness. Stigma is a big fat B and I’m seriously sick of it. Currently trying to think of a way that I can help break it…but falling short.

    Hope things turn around for you. If you ever need to talk. Do not hesitate to contact us!

  3. Marybeth,

    thanks for the heads up. I would like to add something else though it may be straying a bit from the topic of this blog post of yours.
    My marriage has failed after 37 years, not because of my wife’s lack of understanding–though she does not understand in reality. Bi-Polar disorder did not destroy my marriage, but instead it has been my stubbornness and unwillingness to see, accept, and humble myself to seek and get help. Had I done so many years ago, things would most likely be much different now.
    This said, I share this advice with others so that perhaps they will not make all the dumb mistakes which I have made. Bi-Polar disorder affects not only you–the person ill with it–but everyone around you–wife, kids, family, friends, coworkers, etc. The selfish part of Bi-Polar disorder is to not seek and maintain treatment. I wish I had realized this years ago, but was so hell bent on not being like my mother that I refused to do so. Treatment is positive. Positive is good for everyone.

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