One of the hardest things I find myself dealing with on a daily basis, is figuring out why I feel the way I feel. The answer to this question is important, because it decides how I will deal with myself and my emotions.
The problem is: it is so damn hard to distinguish if I feel as I do because of my brain chemistry, or because there was a trigger. In other words: are the chemicals in my brain misfiring and making me feel depressed / manic without any other reason than the fact that is the way my brain is working?
It is important for me to know the answer as that will cause me to treat myself differently, depending on the reason why I feel the way I do.
Say, if it is my brain chemistry making me feel yucky and depressed, I will try to ignore the tug to stay in bed, do nothing and hibernate. I might not be able to accomplish much, but I still will try to function to the best of my ability and try to be happy with anything I will be able to accomplish that day.
However, if something triggered my depression, then I will have to figure out what exactly the trigger consists of. Is it a thought I had that made me sad and pulled me down? Is it a certain smell that brought bad memories to the surface? Did somebody say something to me that caused me to start thinking negatively about myself? Is it because I made an assumption based on a situation, a response, or a lack thereof? Is it some past trauma that is rearing its ugly head? What is IT? Sometimes I simply don’t know. But once I know what the IT is, I have to deal with IT.
If there is a good reason to feel low / depressed, I might give myself a break. For instance, right now after returning from my 3,5 week trip to Ukraine I have so many impressions to process. I am in touch with my key people, but other than that I keep a low profile and take a lot of rest. Which means I sleep a lot even during the day. But that is okay. For now. But next week I will pick up my active life, if I feel like it or not.
Why is it so important to find the answer to the question? Because if I let my feelings go, I might end up in a depressive state that will pull me deeper and deeper, which might happen slowly or very fast. Or the opposite might happen, and I end up being (hypo)manic and maybe even paranoid. Either state can, once it is full-blown, last for months and it will take hard work plus usually additional meds to get out of it. Neither is to be desired.
That is one big reason of why I am in counseling: to learn how to deal with all those IT’s that fill my life (un)aware. IT’s can be so sneaky and creep up on you when you are not looking. Even when I know what IT is playing it’s part, I still need to work out how to respond. Which is different depending on the reason behind IT.
You see, I refuse to be a victim of this so-called ‘illness’. I AM NOT! This is the way I was born, the way I have been made, and it is okay. I want to add a BIG note, though, that it has taken me quite a while (years) to come to accept the fact that I am labeled as “suffering from Bipolar Disorder”. I rebel against being labeled “mentally ill”. I hate the fact that this label causes me trouble being insured for health and for when I die (because of the chances I might end up in hospital and the higher chances of suicide).
I want to scream from the roof top: I AM ONLY DIFFERENT, I AM NOT ILL, DISABLED OR DISORDERED!!!
Yes, there will be times when I won’t be able to handle my bipolar traits very well. So what? Yes, I need some close people around me to help me deal with the fall out of my bipolar traits. So what? Yes, there will be times I will talk your head off. So what? Yes, there will be times I will hibernate and be invisible. So what? Yes, my brain functions different from yours and apparently I deal differently with emotions. So what?
I don’t know any better, for me it is normal, it’s just the way I am. SO WHAT?!?
To be continued!!!
Related post: Are you ‘normal’?
Picture courtesy of: The Franklin Institute