Is this what stability feels like?

Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

I think my hypomania ground to a halt last night. The fumes I’d been running on after a 2 week long manic episode finally ran out. I also started Lithium a week ago, so maybe that’s the culprit.

After work, my husband comes home and we eat dinner together as a family. Then I head to the bathroom where I take a very long, painfully hot bath with my phone. I luxuriate in uninterrupted time where I can scroll and obsessively research in quiet. The kids get time with dad. I get time with the internet. Next comes story time and bed for the kids, and tv time and secret snacks for the adults.

After dinner last night, I walked to the couch and collapsed instead. My ‘thing’ recently has been bipolar disorder. Videos about Lithium. Articles about coping with medication weight gain. Anything bipolar-related I can devour on Medium. Writing on Medium myself. Instagram advocacy. I even posted somewhat publicly on Instagram, which you can read about here.

But I felt tired of those things. Drained. Like Bipolar Disorder has been taking up my entire mental capacity and I need a break.

Of course, this is totally valid, we all need breaks sometimes. And bipolar can be an incredibly exhausting topic to pour yourself into. But this is also how I feel before most depressive collapses. I find myself obsessed with something. Maybe homeschooling curriculum or fixing up Goodwill finds. I read books, join Facebook groups, scroll subreddits, follow Instagram tags, listen to podcasts, and talk about this new topic to anyone who will listen to me. Then, I find myself overwhelmed. I haven’t been able to think of any other topic at all. I haven’t cared for my house or myself. Now I’m left surrounded by all the things I’ve bought to pursue this habit with a trashed house and a broken body. The black tide seeps into every part of my being and ways me down. Simply existing feels like more than I can take.

I did end up taking my bath last night. And I did end up reading about the same topics. I commented on some stories that resonated with me. But I also agonized about my body. I’ve gained 30 lbs. this year, and all I’ve changed is adding Lamictal. I’m not sure what adding in Lithium might bring. I’m needing to replace a lot of my clothing, meaning I’ve grown out of things that I genuinely have loved.

I started feeling as if Medium isn’t a good place for me after all. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but is it keeping me in my head too much. I feel like I’m thinking through things more clearly as I write, and that is resulting in clarity. But perhaps I’m just trying to tie my problems up in neat little bows for the consumption of others. Maybe I’m an atrocious writer, and sharing my stories is embarrassing me in the public eye.

Photo by Lux Graves on Unsplash

Then, I slept.

I passed out around 8:30. It was a deep, heavy sleep. I woke up briefly at 3:00 to drink some water and go to the bathroom (thanks lithium) before going back to sleep until 5:00. Two and a half weeks ago, I was taking Unisom and Melatonin and spending the night shaking while staring at the ceiling. I’d stay awake all night, then sleep a few hours, then stay awake all night again. I was eventually prescribed Trazadone, which continued to afford me a few hours when topped off with melatonin. Still, I’d be up for 2–3 hours a night.

Last night was the first night I slept without medication in nearly three weeks.

This morning, I feel pretty okay. Calm. I thought my brain had been relaxed, slowed down, the past few days. But this morning, I feel as if I’m experiencing a true sense of peace. I don’t feel particularly sad. I just feel neutral. Prepared to go through my day with a sense of duty and responsibility. Time with the kids to let them know they’re loved. Homeschool to make sure they’re learning about the world beyond the confines of our home. Balanced snacks and meals to give them sustained energy. Tidying to bring a sense of calm to the whole house. And I’ll top it off with a pot of beef stew and toasted bread. I’m even finding time for write before 7 am. Because writing is something I’ve loved from an early age. I deserve to write, even when I might not want to.

I’ve only experienced one depressive episode since starting Lamictal. That was in the depths of the December when, perhaps, no combination of medication or therapy could have saved me.

I’m hopeful that this is the start of something I’ve yet to grasp: stability.

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