I was doing well for a while when I was recently told by my psychiatrist that I am depressed. Apparently most of my symptoms were physical, like extreme tiredness and lack of motivation, oversleeping and undereating. Once I was made aware of my depression, I looked back over the past few weeks and realized that I had been experiencing some blue times, not lasting more than a few hours at a time and I’ve been unsure of myself recently. All of this was too much for me, I couldn’t believe I was depressed again! All I could see in front of me was that big fat ugly monster coming and sitting right on my face, crippling me for weeks.
I was tormenting myself with all sorts of questions, why now? How come? What triggered this? I thought I was getting better? Two days later I had coffee with a friend who also suffers from BD and she reminded me that although I am emotionally better and I’ve worked on a lot of stuff from my past and I’ve been rewiring my brain to think more constructively, there is still a randomness to BD and depressive episodes can befall us whenever our brain chemistry wants to colour outside the lines a bit. There is nothing we can do to prevent this. She said to me: “you’re taking your meds, you’re seeing your psychologist regularly and you’re doing so many other things to improve your mental health, this is not your fault!” That took a while to sink in but it finally did. When it did, I started wondering why it took my psychiatrist to tell me I’m depressed, why didn’t I notice it myself?
The answer was because I was handling the depression so much better than in the past without even knowing it that it didn’t bring my life to a halt like it usually does. I was functioning, maybe not all that great, but I was handling the depression much better than in the past. My thoughts didn’t go south for long periods as it would have, I wasn’t suicidal, nor did I feel the need to cut.
So yes, depression showed up, but you know what, the monster isn’t half as intimidating as it always was. Now that I’m being tested I can see that I have grown, gained some critical coping skills and rewired my thinking to some extent. I am never happy about being depressed but this episode has brought me great joy in showing me that I am stronger, more resilient and better equipped than I was in the past, I’ve had a software upgrade since my last depressive episode. That is the dream for us bipolars, isn’t it? We know there is no cure, but there is us, our determination to get better, our brave hearts.