My mood’s been variable in recent weeks; rapid cycling, I guess, since over the past couple of days I have pinged from low to elated and back again. Thankfully the range of mood is narrow; every up and every down could be so, so much worse. And yet even when I feel good, feel great, feel gorgeous and that my life is full of wonderful things there is an underlying sense that I have had enough.
Life this far has been a kind of never ending ultra-marathon. At times I feel at full fitness and enjoy every metre, my energy boundless. I would do handsprings and backflips along the track if I knew how. For the majority of my life I’ve just jogged along, keeping a steady pace. That’s OK, it’s healthy to just enjoy the scenery and not really compete against myself or anyone else. Then there are the times when every step is a struggle, when I don’t know how to find the energy to put one foot in front of the other. Nothing about those times is remotely pleasurable or rewarding. I resent having to keep going and I resent other people for not realising how much pain I’m in.
Only recently I’ve passed some kind of invisible marker. I can’t enjoy being at full hypomanic fitness, because even as I buzz along there is the underlying knowledge that it won’t last. Because whatever I do, whatever drug I swallow or whatever management plan I implement, I can’t get back to just jogging contentedly along. And always there is the knowledge that at some point – maybe next year, maybe tomorrow – I will be back to the pain and suffering of pulling my unwilling body along the track.
If I’m remembering correctly, I have been engaged in this race since I was 11. After pushing every onwards for 28 years I’m tired. No, I’m more than tired. I am done. You would think there might be a lot I would still want to do; I’m not yet 40. Sure, there are places I want to see, things I want to experience, but none of them seem all that important. I achieved amazing things in 2013 and I feel that I could happily leave it at that, that I’ve done my share. Maybe I made some little bit of difference towards challenging mental health stigma, and I’m proud of that. Yet no matter what I do a tiny voice keeps nagging, “Enough. Enough, now.” No matter what my mood state, what I do with my day, the voice is still there. I don’t know how I am able have a great day with my kids and simultaneously want to pull out of the race, leaving them to go ahead with out me. I know only a terrible person could thing of inflicting that pain on their kids. It’s awful. I am awful, but it’s how I feel. And I know it’s contradictory to want to stop being when I am booking holidays and making birthday plans and trying to find a literary agent. I just don’t quite know how to stop doing the things that a normal person would do. But I’m only going through the motions. When I look forward along the course, I can only think, “No. No more. I’ve had enough.”
As I’ve already said, I am not severely depressed. I just feel that it’s logical not to want to go on living with bipolar for another 40 years. I haven’t moved on from where I was when I wrote a couple months ago about feeling resentful that there is no Dignitas clinic for people with lifelong, incurable mental illnesses. I don’t want to have to do horrible things to myself to pull out of the race, things that might forever traumatise the family member or professional who has to find me. But I can’t keep going on and on.
This post really resonated with me. Before I followed your Blog I used to wonder about a “Dignitas” for mental distress – I can empathise with your feelings exactly.
Charlotte I wish I had a magic wand I really do, you deserve so much more than this. I have never rapid cycled so never known the horrors you are currently facing, I can only imagine. I understand what you say though about being tired and not feeling able to face a life time of uncertainty with your mood, I have experienced times when I have felt similar. All I can offer is my friendship and sending some strength via cyber space. Xx
So well said – I know the cycles in BPD are different but it was around the age of 42 that I ‘stopped functioning’ – my overwhelming feeling was ‘I’m not made for this world;. It’s so helpful to know that you feel that exhaustion too with dealing with the endless cycles. I am so thankful, six years later to have come out the other side of treatment and feeling that I have been offered some hope of managing my condition. Not sure that MH services acknowledge that this tiredness of life with a chronic mental illness means that suicidal feelings are ‘understandable’ rather than dismissing them as being ‘attention seeking’ as so many with cyclical mood disorders have experienced. I know I just wanted someone to understand the emotional exhaustion and tell me that they understood why I would feel that way – thankfully a GP, CPN and my DBT therapist all managed to summon up some compassion to try to understand why I might feel this way. Thanks once again for you honesty and truth.
But you CAN go on. You have done it before and survived.
This is very much how I feel at the moment. It’s not just that I’m depressed now, it’s also that I’m not sure what the point is in hoping I pull myself out of it because I know that won’t last and I’ll fall right back into depression sooner or later (and probably sooner) and it feels like such a ridiculous effort to keep slogging on through it. I’ve been depressed for almost 30 years, I’ve recognised it and been trying to learn to live with it for 5. I’ve tried antidepressants and CBT and mindfulness and light therapy and honestly, I’m not sure any of it has made the slightest bit of difference, and I am So. Bloody. Tired.
Sending you love and empathy.
So sorry you are feeling like this. I’m beginning to get to that point too. Been really up and down this week and may even have been hallucinating. All I can say is please give life chance, think of the people who admire and love you. You are a great inspiration to me and I’d love to read a book by you so try not to give up on yourself yet. Instead of thinking of the next 40 years, try taking things one day at a time. With mental illness I really believe that is thr only way to keep on keeping on. We all believe in you. Take care xxx
Sending you love and empathy. I am struggling and grappling with similar thoughts at the moment. I have the same contradictory thoughts surrounding not wanting to be here. I am making plans for the Summer and making long-term plans for my career, but at the same time I am tired of being here, and sometimes wish I wasn’t. I hope these thoughts pass, or at least that they can settle enough for you to be able to get a good nights sleep x
You wrote “I don’t know how I am able have a great day with my kids and simultaneously want to pull out of the race, leaving them to go ahead with out me. I know only a terrible person could thing of inflicting that pain on their kids. It’s awful. I am awful, but it’s how I feel.” … and every atom in me wants to reach in there somehow (knowing I cannot, not really) and say *no*, you are *not* awful, you are *not* a terrible person. What you endure is awful. That you live with illness that takes you to places where you feel like this, that is awful. But you are not a bad person for feeling this. I know I speak, and can only ever speak, from *outside*… and hearing my words won’t make any real difference to *how* or *what* you feel. It is perhaps all I can offer, but it is my gift to you today,
golly that sounds bad, hope you pick up soon, I too suffer with rapid cycling and am having a weird day, cannot get out and unable to do tasks, this too will pass, she says for me too I hope. Kind regards Poppy
Pingback: Operation Fight Back: Day 1 | My heart is set on living ...
Psych drugs cause ‘rapid cycling’
Some do (usually antidepressants). Most don’t. A) I’m on the kind that don’t and B) I’ve been on these meds for 2-3 years and I’m complaining of rapid cycling for 2-3 days.
This is why I truly think that even when people mean it in kindness it’s really generally best to leave med issues to the professionals (see https://purplepersuasion.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/listen-with-your-eyes/) C x
I’m not sure there’s anything that I can say that will help at all, but I’d like you to know that I am thinking of you and holding you in prayer, for what that is worth. I am sorry you are going through this.
Oh Charlotte I do know exactly how you feel, I’m struggling with myself right now and waking up this morning I thought……..oh no not again! Somehow we get up and go out and try and live a life that is normal on the surface but hellish underneath sometimes. I have a loving partner, an elderly Mum and lots of friends. I haven’t worked for 12 years because of severe depression and mood cycling. Some days this isn’t enough………..it just isn’t…….all I can say is I really AM thinking of you and I would really miss all your posts and blogs if you weren’t here. Good luck!! HUgs Jenny
Hey Twitter Sis, stay in the game. Even when it is not fun, we need ppl like you around here. XXX
I am new to your blog but I love your courage.
And this will sound so naive of me… but do you think it would help, in any way, to NOT make yourself/ your mind fit into ‘normal’? Because as everyone else, you are unique – with your own contribution to the world, and as much as I understand your inner voice of ‘ENOUGH’, you are one of the few authentic and genuine voices out there who should keep being a crucial guidance for those who are hopeless, and in quite the despair.
I’m not gonna make it into a cliche, life is short blabla, but it IS. Some moments are unbearably long, some mind tricks wont have us escape, some emotions never leave, and either we fear them coming back again or not – they may do, but at the END of it: That fraction or less of a nanosecond in time when our heart stops and we leave whatever this earth experience was – it will come fast and in the grand schale of things it’s always right around the corner, for everyone.
Would it ever, perhaps, help to acknowledge that some things never leave. As living in a house with a backyard, and the backyard is always there no matter what you do in the house. Would it help to know that being positive is just as being negative, in their very essence they’re fluctual energies, and being negative is the same as being positive? Such strange things that we can’t define exactly, like why we are here and how bizarre of an experience this is.
What in reality do you attach to your mentality, are they connected or do you sometimes feel a separation from a ‘You’ and a ‘Mind’? I hope you answer, I am curious of what you think – I ask this sincerely, and I wish you the best. You are so very brave..
Hi K, I know you’re new to my blog as you say, but I’m not sure where you get the idea that I try male myself or my mind “fit into normal”. If anything, I tend to criticised for embracing my diagnosis too fully, for seeing it as part of myself – my bipolar and my personality have developed hand in hand because it’s been around and largely untreated all the time I was going through adolescence and early adulthood. Elsewhere on the blog you will find me saying that I wouldn’t want anyone to wave a magic wand and take away my BP, even if they could, for this reason. I really think you’ve misunderstood me.
Feeling ENOUGH is not about wanting to be normal. I don’t give a stuff about normal! I’m the woman who stands up in front of audiences and talks about feeling like she’s being controlled by extra dimensional beings. I’m the woman who writes about being unable to care for her own kids. I’m the woman who draws on my experience of severe mental illness in every training event, every public speaking gig and in every interview with the media. I don’t even think the term normal means all that much, but whatever it is, my entire work life and all my activism work (https://purplepersuasion.wordpress.com/charlottes-media-and-writing-credits/) is based around NOT being normal.
It’s about not wanting to be normal at all. It’s about not wanting feel excruciating emotional pain! It’s about never knowing if feeling happy one day will last another day, whether your mood will flip back down or slide dangerously upwards tomorrow, or the next day. Quite frankly, thinking that my current state will never leave – jeez, well, that genuinely just makes me feel that suicide IS the only option. Really noy sure how that’s supposed to help me. And I literally have no idea what your last paragraph means.
I know you’re trying to help, but…now I just feel like you don’t get my situation at all. Which means my writing clearly isn’t good enough
“I just don’t quite know how to stop doing the things that a normal person would do”, is what I refered to and clearly I understood it wrongly and I’m greatly sorry for that. I was trying to convey how it might help to take a step back and find that yes, the mood will go up, and yes, it will go down. A sort of an acceptance of it being unstable rather than worrying if it will, because as you say it won’t go away. That’s all I meant. And even by that I didn’t mean it as any lecture or even an advice, it’s just something that I felt to write. There is no way I can direct you into any thought or feeling. But reading your answer, I must say I think you’ve misunderstood me quite a bit – I never meant any harm or in any way to suggest that ‘hey, stop trying to be normal’. If there’s anything to know from this blog it’s that it’s NOT about trying to squeeze oneself into fitting normality – that’s why I was suggested to come read it to begin with!
But all the same you might be very right; I may not understand your situation at all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your writing, I’m the one who got that one sentence wrong.
It’a OK. All I meant by that was I don’t feel in crisis *enough* right now to warrant not going through the motions of work, parenting, planning holidays YET I want to die. I didn’t mean “normal” was what I wanted or was striving for. I just meant there’s probably a massive disparity between how I appear and how I feel. The sentence “Would it ever, perhaps, help to acknowledge that some things never leave” really read as you wanting me to just accept my bipolar will never be any better and deal with it. Why is exactly what I am so depressed about.