Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who will I be today?

For a few weeks now my shifting moods have seem to be getting the best of me, taking control leaving me at their mercy not knowing what state I will be in from one day to the next; from one morning to the evening. I question who I'll be today.

Looking in the mirror is like looking in a funhouse mirror. You know? Those mirrors that distort your face and features at carnivals and fair funhouses. It's like looking in one of those, and just the same I get a different view each time I look.

Our world is dictated by cycles. Lunar cycles. Solar cycles. Circadian rhythms, our bodies internal clocks. Our weekly and even daily schedules are cycles to which we live by. The rythms of our lives can be played like a rapid, badum badum badum beating heart.

In bipolar, especially rapid cycling bipolar 1, rhythm is everything. Cycles both define and plague this illness, with mood cycles and body cycles and external cycles all swirling around one another, intersecting here, conflicting there, and finding harmony another place.

You'd think it would be easy to recognize the early  stages of depression; especially if you've ever been depressed before. Even more so considering my depression. I can get suicidal. In those cases I do recognize it. After all, you're not dealing with the lack of insight, the allure of mania. The truth is the signs of depression are actually more difficult to pick up on reliably, possibly because they are so broad and hard to wrap your hands around.

I've been plagued with insomnia since a child so there is no opportunity to measure any discrepancy in sleep patterns. I've never adhered to a typical diet concerning any amount. I've always carried a stoic expression on my face which only got worse with the development of Parkinson's. So looking depressed is a common feature anyway. Generally, I'm the last to know I'm depressed. And that's cruel. I pay the consequences. Wait, that's not the whole truth. My wife pays the consequences. My children pay the consequences.

My depression sneaks up on me without warning. Before I know it I'm irritable, snappy and short with people. I'm negative and there is no joy in anything I do. Suicidal thoughts run ramped through my mind. The idea of doing the most meaningless task is daunting. In its worse the "Nothing Feeling" takes over and consumes my very being where I feel absolutely nothing.

So within my last bout of depression I found myself struggling with alcohol once again. The desire to once again numb myself from the isolation I felt inside. I hadn't drank in at least a year and as long as I'm not depressed it seems I'm fine. In one night I managed to break my hand and get myself thrown in jail.

Guilt is a common weight one with bipolar carries. Not one that is easily managed, and can gets heavier as time goes on.
But not all days were depressive. Some I couldn't sit still. I couldn't work fast enough. My thoughts were too many. I was just as irritable.

Once a mental illness surfaces, there is no surgery which will take it away, no pill which will erase it permanently. It is not a flu nor a faulty heart valve fixed with antibiotics or organ replacement. Worse, it will not be ignored. I cannot be ignored. Mental illness affects your behavior. Deeper yet, it affects your attitude towards yourself and colors others. Try turning back time to before it manifests. How do you unthink a thought or correct someone else’s?

Once you’ve walked, how do you go back to crawling? You don’t. In a world where all things are possible, where miraculous inventions and miracle cures are commonplace, my mental illness, which has ruled me so completely for 36 years, remains constant. Yet mine has always been present and didn't just surface one day.  As a child it was there. There was no crawling. Only walking.

It is through my pain and mistakes that I actually retain anything. I hate this but it seems to be the only place where my arrogant and self assured self can learn. All other learning methods are doubtful or short term in nature.

But pain is a different sort of teacher. It’s very hard to forget the lessons that she teaches. She is cruel and unrelenting but at least I walk away with something that made me stronger.
And whether I liked the process or not, it sticks. Because I may not know who I will be today.

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Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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