Bipolar messes with our brains and makes us feel depressed and sad.
BUT being diagnosed with a chronic illness can CAUSE depression and sadness.
People who experience great changes in their lives including being diagnosed with an illness are at risk for depression.
I’m talking non Bipolars.
Lots of nonBipolars even experience some sadness and anger when they burn their hand on the cookie tray and realize that it will scar.
We may experience a lot of “emotions” that are given to us by our Bipolar disorder.
But we may also experience some depression and sorrow just BECAUSE we have the illness.
The dx can be a good thing for lots of us. It can be a huge relief after years of cycling and torment and suffering to have a name for it, to know that it is “treatable.” We may start to make more sense of our past and our lives in a way that can be freeing.
This can be elating for awhile
You mean this is FOREVER?
Many of us might have been fully aware before dx that we are different, that we have demons. We may have an inkling (or more) that something is “wrong with us”. We may wonder why on earth we feel and behave the way we do when there is no identifiable cause (although we will gallantly try to paste causes onto it in an attempt to normalize it somehow).
But all that said
We really might have believed that we could break free from it someday. That someday we would figure out a way to conquer it all.
To make it go away.
It is a smack across the face to realize that that will never happen.
That no matter how hard we try to give up grains or processed foods, walk the Eight Fold path, commit to Homeopathy, give our lives to Jesus, embrace the teachings of the Kabbala, go to therapy of every kind, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the shit out of ourselves, uncover every childhood root of psychological distress….
This disorder is never going to stop.
I’m not saying those things are not helpful. They can be very helpful.
They may help you strengthen you somehow and reduce triggers, which is a big deal.
I’m just saying that Bipolar doesn’t care about them.
None of it is going to stop Bipolar from walking up behind you and kicking the back of your knees.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross is well known for her stages of grief. Her focus for this was on death and dying but they are applicable to every kind of grief.
And that is what people feel when they are diagnosed with illness.
I like this site because it has this nifty little graph that shows the,
“roller-coaster ride of activity and passivity as the person wriggles and turns in their desperate efforts to avoid the change.”
Which is fitting.
It also points out that these stages are not linear. A person can bounce all round them over and over. Therefore, even if you have made it to acceptance you may still have bouts with anger or even denial.
I will list the stages here for you briefly so you can see how they apply to us,
“Shock stage*: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
Testing stage*: Seeking realistic solutions.
Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.”
Her original work did not include the shock and testing stages but the site I linked does and I think they are great additions.
So look at that list and see where you are right now.
I’m going to make a guess that some of us may feel so relieved upon receiving the dx that we hop right into the acceptance stage and then as the first attempt meds actually suck at doing anything but making us feel worse and the Bipolar crapfest continues and that forever thing starts to sink in….we Wile E. Coyote fall all the way to shock.
Yeah that is so awesome. Have we mentioned yet that Bipolar SUCKs
<<<<<<If you are a loved one of a Bipolar and are experiencing frustration with the fact that they cannot just get it together and accept it already, let this all sink in and maybe give them a little break, at least a little understanding. Perhaps, a touch a respect.
(By the way if the Wiley Coyote reference is over your super young person head I will help you out with it later. I’m that nice.)
Therapists and Pdocs don’t often address this grief and un Bipolar depression with us. They may not know exactly how to address it with us. They may not know exactly what we need. I’m not even sure that they are the ones that CAN help us….I don’t know…..stay tuned….
If you are currently struggling with this you could try telling your T and ask them to treat you like you are struggling with the reality of any other illness….not bipolar….for a moment
While asking them to hold and acknowledge that because of the nature of your illness, appropriate normal depression can brake out of the stable and quickly become Bipolar depression….so you need a spotter while working with these feelings.
What starts out as normal appropriate emotions or stressors that may knock the normies off their game can fling us right off of our rockers….this is what we usually mean by being triggered (in case anyone was confused about that word.)
So just even having Bipolar disorder gives us a double shot of depression risk.
We need to grieve, we deserve to have this validated and not written off as Bipolar crap.
“I’m feeling so so angry and upset that I have to deal with this shit forever…that it will always be a part of my life…it makes me wonder if it really is all worth it…I mean I just don’t know if I can handle this…”
“Well it sounds like that is your Bipolar depression talking to you….”
“Don’t give me that ‘it’s my depression talking’ shit! This is not Bipolar talking to me. This does not deserve a ‘reframe’. Put away that god damn CBT. This deserves a fucking HUG. I mean what the hell else can you really offer me? You don’t have a clue.”
It is a hard blow to be diagnosed with this disorder.
So give yourself some space. Give yourself the safe time and space to grieve, to cry, to rant, vent, ramble, yell, feel it all.
You don’t need permission
It is appropriate
It is normal!
It isn’t your “depression talking”
It is your broken heart