29 November 2010

BiPolar Bear

In February or March of this year, I joined a support group that would usually meet once per week; but if our facilitator {a retired psychologist} is unable to meet, we will skip one week and meet the next week. Tho we did take a six week break this summer, which was fine, cuz we all are functioning adults and it is a support group, not group therapy. Which means that we all have other means of coping and our support group is not our primary mental health regulator.

This is not to say that the group is not tremendously important~~it is. It is important for all sorts of reasons. For some of us, it gives us a place to be with others who might face some of the same difficulties we experience. For some of us, we have a great support system in place, but it's nice to be able to meet with others who are not close friends, family, spouses, or paid professionals. For some of us, it is a good place to meet with good friends. For some of us, we can speak more clearly, or think more clearly, or hear other suggestions and ideas for how to approach something that we are stuck on.

It's a group of folks who deal with depression, however, quite a few folks share my own primary diagnosis, bipolar. Each of us experiences our lives differently, yet there are common threads that allow us to identify with each other. In my own case, BiPolar I, Rapid Cycling is not a riot of fun. It's a frantic balancing act that I've been able to moderate to a certain degree. Most folks will tell you that depression is their most dangerous place to be. For me, mania is far worse. When I'm in a state of depression, I'm tired, I hurt, I withdraw, I hibernate, I slow down tremendously. But I'm in control, for the most part.

When I am manic, it feels dangerous, because I can spin too close to not having control. I can't slow down. I can't stop. I spin faster and faster, tighter and tighter. I grow tired, but am so wired that I cannot stop the dancing, the Red Shoes are an extension of my feet and my feet are bloody and I'm desperate for the end.

So the mix of meds I take is designed more to keep me from tipping into mania. Some people take meds that are designed to lift them from depression, into interacting with others in a social way and being able to function in that way. I take a mixture that helps me to avoid panic attacks, anxiety, and other excitable stresses. If I miss my meds, if I don't take my night~time doses, then I don't sleep, then I slam into overdrive, then mania is not just the other end of the spectrum, but it is the danger zone that threatens to absorb all of me, threatens my very existence.

I must take my meds. I must maintain a certain amount of sleep. It's far better for me to have too much sleep than not enough. However, too much sleep is one of the major harbingers of depression.

A major theme we discuss in group, repeatedly, is energy~levels. How to maintain them. What to do if they are way too low. I don't think that we've discussed what to do if they become too much, as that is not the case for most of the members. This time of the year can be difficult for many folks to face. Quite simply, this is the season of hibernation. Yet, our society becomes extremely festive.

There has been an ongoing joke in eMails and posts here on the net. It's about being a bear in your next life. This is one version.

If you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that. Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too. If you're a bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that. If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that. If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.
He KNOWS not to get between you and the food. Yup..... Gonna be a bear.

I'm not manic, right now. I've been very tired for a long time. I've been indulging in sleep, in quiet, in reflection, in laying in soft cushy bed with soft cozy comforters piled on me, in reading, in being. Simply being. I've not been in a festive mood. I'm ok with that. I've not been digging out decorations and dressing the rooms for the holidays. I'm ok with that. I've been tired, and I've been sleeping. I'm not entirely ok with that, but that's where I am at and how I need to be. And the main reason I am able to be as functional as I am with depression, is because I allow myself to be, to accept what I know I need.

And I'm me. Just me. That is way more than enough.


  1. Well if you hear any good tips for upping energy levels, please pass them on!

  2. Just You - is more than enough for me. You know best how to control this aspect of your life and balance with "our" life - which I greatly appreciate. Love Ya Baby!


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