I’m currently in an uphill battle to “get better.” While I’m not entirely sure what “getting better” looks like, I imagine it means living on my own, having a job, being able to handle social and public situations, being a good friend, coming to accept who I am – the good and the bad – and perhaps handling the emotional capacity to have a relationship. I have fought for this “normal” with therapy, medication, electro convulsive therapy, diets, and exercise. Sometimes I find myself with two out of six, maybe even three. It can last anywhere from two months to two weeks.
And sometimes, when I am feeling better, I panic. After all, I have spent the majority of my life on the depressive side of what I now know is bipolar II. Unaware then when I was being effective and efficient, I was most likely in a hypomanic stage. I have come to accept this disease as a part of me so much, that sometimes I worry about who I might be without it. While I understand there’s no cure, what if I found the right pairing of medication and treatments that would allow me to find my normal? Who would I be then? What would “depression” feel like when it wasn’t an anxiety-ridden full-blown agoraphobic attack? Who would I see when I looked in the mirror? To be completely honest, while I am fighting to get there, the idea of actually reaching my goals terrifies the living shit out of me.
After all, I’ve defined myself by my sadness. I find a strange comfort in my disease. It’s been my partner in crime for so long, it’s come to define who I am. And getting better means redefining who I could be, all with the fear that it might not last.
People say to take it day by day, but that’s just not how I am. I have a tendency to catastrophize a situation into a lifetime of pain and loss. I can what-if any positive situation into total disaster. And now I’ve started to worry about feeling better. I get anxious knowing I might be moving forward.
Example: I am about to embark on a three-week trip to the East Coast to see some of my closest, dearest friends. Besides unimportant worries like having to pee on the plane and somehow getting a cold, I also worry I won’t be able to be “on” the whole time, to keep up or handle situations I haven’t dealt with in years, like seeing old acquaintances, being alone for long periods of time, or going to the theatre and being around lots of people without the ability to leave. It’s a lot of interaction and self-judgment of how others are leading their lives the way I always assumed I would live mine. I know that I am going to be around people I love and that the situations that arise will be what they will be. I also know that things tend to always go better than I imagine they might, but I can’t decide what I’m more afraid of: things going poorly or things going well.
It’s that “what-if“ monster that is currently on a taunting spree – he’s a tricky little shit. Either way, I’m getting on that plane tomorrow with a couple Xanax and the hope that the love around me will get me through. And I’m excited about the adventure I have missed so much in the past years I have spent being held prisoner with my long time friend bipolar II. Either way, I will have to come home and face myself and my monster, figure out who “won” this one, and decide what future may come for both of us.
Wish me luck.