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I am a 29 year old woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 and also suffer from general anxiety and panic attacks. I have only been recently diagnosed but have been ill since I was a teenager. I tend to have mixed-manic episodes, hence the name of my blog. I am a regular guest blogger for Black Dog Tribe. I am not a mental health professional. I am just writing from my own experiences with mental illness. If you wish to use any of my blog content please contact me at lababup@gmail.com. Visit me on twitter @lababup

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Trying to explain depression

After a brief manic episode a few weeks ago, I have returned to the first proper depressed (rather than mixed-depressive) episode. Usually when I’m depressed I can’t be bothered to do anything; I have no energy or drive. However I am going to try and push through this barrier and write something quickly on depression whilst I'm actually living it.

For anyone with bipolar, the highs seem to always come with the lows. You can feel great for a while and can’t remember what it feels like to be depressed. However, your mood inevitably crashes back down. This has always been my pattern. Stress, then mania (often mixed) and then depression. It is actually the depression which lasts the longest and what makes the highs not worth it in the end.

I guess I would describe depression to someone who has never been depressed as follows. I would ask them to imagine the last time they felt really sick with a cold or infection. I would ask them to remember how physically drained they felt. How little energy they had. How hard it is to do anything. How hard it is at the time to imagine being well again. All of these things you experience with depression. It affects your whole body and you just feel exhausted. The only difference is that there is no obvious physical cause.

On top of this are the feelings of despair usually associated with some sort of life crisis. Maybe losing your job, getting divorced, or having someone close to you die. Except with depression there is no preceding crisis and therefore no one really feels sorry for you in the same way. In addition, you feel worthless, guilty and weak. In other words, your whole sense of identity and the way you think about life are affected.

All I can say about how I feel right now is that I am really tired. Tired of doing anything. I can’t bring myself to wake up, to move, to dress, to talk. It is a huge effort to even write this down like I am doing now. I just feel so exhausted and feel like there is only despair in my heart. I know that I shouldn’t feel like this but I can’t help it. The black cloud has just shrouded my mind.

It is something to do with my brain malfunctioning temporarily. It must be to explain why I go through episodes such as these. I don’t feel like this all the time. My only comfort is that I know that my mood will probably swing back in the future. But there is always the fear that it won’t and I will be stuck like this forever.

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