This post is going to be utterly incomprehensible.
My brain is running a million miles a minute, focusing on everything and nothing. My head pounds. My stomach growls. My hands shake and tremor. My feet tap an anxious rhythm, one that betrays my exterior.
I have spent the past two weeks trying to hang on despite a depression that threatened again and again to land me in the hospital once more. And now, on the flip side, my body still sluggish, my thoughts still dark, this race of energy appears. I am up at all hours of the night, thinking, writing, composing in my head. None of it makes it to paper because I am too exhausted and depressed to move my body and get my computer. I am up in the middle of the night in near panic, sure that my brain is being pulled in two, that there are no way these racing, hyperproductive thoughts can coexist with the thoughts of death and destruction.
Tired but wired.
This is a phenomena that has plagued me through school, the full extent of its meaning not hitting until yesterday afternoon when I sat in a Books A Million reading. Reading and trying to decide whether my psychiatrist’s latest diagnosis is at all valid. No family history. Fewer than three hypomanic episodes. Majority of the time spent in crippling depression. Surely, he’s wrong.
As it turns out, the symptoms still match. It’s not uncommon to spend less than 1% of the time in hypomanic episodes. Heredity plays a large part, but is by no means 100% the cause. The majority of those with bipolar II will spend more time depressed. And more and more research is showing that mixed episodes will occur not just in bipolar I, but bipolar II as well.
I tried to craft this entire post without ever mentioning the phrase “bipolar” — I have, in fact, known for years that it is a very strong possibility given my history. My therapist in college mentioned the possibility. The psychiatrist in Florida maintained a “rule-out” diagnosis on my forms for my entire stay at Renfrew. I have, on my own, mapped my moods across months and years, figured out triggers for my hypomanic episodes, found ways to maintain a sufficient level of functioning when I am at my most depressed. But I still don’t like the label.
And I know it’s just a quick way to explain how my brain is wired. It’s a way to explain to multiple doctors and therapists and whoever else the way that my brain works, why it flips so often from dreams of writingandlovingandmakingadifferenceintheworld to dark visions of razor blades and bottles and pills. It’s a starting point in figuring out what sort of cocktail of drugs I’ll need to be on for the rest of life just to maintain some grip on sanity (not to mention recovery).
My head is screaming. My body is tired. I feel like I am but an observer, watching my life spiral out of control and wondering how the heck the stop the seemingly unstoppable turn of events.
Throughout this, I am aware that my ED and moods play off each other. Nothing (historically) is more likely to send me into a hypomanic episode than starving and lacking sleep. Depression leads to loss of appetite. Prolonged starvation begins to affect my sleep, spinning it from the 12 hours a night of depression to the 3 or 4 broken hours of sleep I can manage when I am fully entrenched in my ED. Finally, my brain short-circuits and I experience the worst of both worlds – depression mixed with agitated anxiety and extreme energy mixed with a brain that is constantly plotting the next skipped meal, the next pound lost.
So when I say that I have no idea how to stop this downward spiral, that’s not entirely true.
Dinner might be a start.