Like a silent mantra I tell myself I am better. I tend not to think of the future in any upsetting way. I try to remember to breath and sense the air filling up my lungs, releasing magical oxygen that fights any little stress bubble there might be.
I focus on what is, what I have now, the moment. I don’t think in terms of ambitions or dreams or hopes. I make to do lists. Simple ones of course. I try to remain connected. I pick up my phone; actually I call my friends.
I am present with my children. I plan activities for them, and actively participate. I think about my whole family and remember how much they mean to me everyday. I enjoy my husband and always know that I am very lucky to be in love and to be loved by this amazing person.
Silently, like clouds gathering midday, I feel a change is coming. It is from within. I can tell that colors are not as vivid as they were a few moments ago. I repeat the mantra with hope knowing that everything shall pass. I resist seeing the faded colors and try to see them as bright as they were moments ago.
It works sometimes. The sky might meanwhile clear up, and things get back as sharp as they were. Sometimes it doesn’t though. The clouds keep on gathering and it gets darker. I remember to breath and try to send my magical oxygen around to stop these sad bubbles from forming. Sometimes it works…
When it doesn’t, I take my time. Nothing is eternal I repeat. Though I know that being active helps a lot in fighting depression, I give myself a break. I do as much as my body and my mind allow me. I don’t surrender. If a burst of energy comes, I get up and act.
Yet I also switch to energy saving mode. The mode I know best. It is what made me survive so far. I could stay still for hours, and sleep the day away. It upsets me because I feel I should know better. I remember the routine I need to follow everyday and stick to a minimum.
Like an hourglass, I feel precious particles are slipping away. Is it time passing that bothers me? Is it my lethargy building up? Is it my fear of what might be if this doesn’t change fast?
Yet, I try not to complicate things. Or do I not?
My psychiatrist told me that I should observe my cycle as it might be affecting my mood. I have been doing that and she is actually right. I had always thought of PMS as a mild passing condition that deserves no more attention than some chocolate and a hot water bottle.
I was wrong. My hormonal changes affect me big time. I don’t even know if that is PMS. I have noticed for a few cycles the following pattern. I would have a few days with a lot of energy and a decreased need for sleep. Then this would be followed by low energy and too much sleep. Mood wise, I would be up then totally down.
But now I know that these are the effects of my hormones. These almost drove me to suicide a few months ago. I had no idea they could be that powerful.
Come to think about it, it is not that strange. Hormones change us from children to adults. Without them we would not be able to reproduce, the human race as we know it would simply end. We wouldn’t even know if we are hungry or cold…
I decided to read a bit more on the subject to see if my theory is right. I remember clearly that before my illness I had suffered from severe bleeding for a few months – on and off; more on really. After a hormonal treatment, bleeding ceased and depression came in full blown.
After a basic search, that is what I found out. Hormones happen to be essential for transmitting chemical messages throughout the body. They circulate in our blood, going from one place to another. Like neurotransmitters – those chemical particles responsible for sending messages to and from our brain – hormones work closely with the hypothalamus a gland that is extremely important to our survival.
This little guy is a very powerful component of our brain. It works on so many functions but mostly its main job is to help the body achieve homeostasis- a balance where things are healthy and coordinated.
Guess what! The hypothalamus is big time related to Bodily Rhythms, and those are super responsible for setting off a bipolar episode. Our sleep cycle for one affects our mood and can be a major source of stress. Also what I learned is that the hypothalamus (with the help of hormones and neurotransmitters as well as the immune system) creates what is called Seasonal Rhythms; our reaction to the amount of daylight in each season. Many complain of having worsened depression symptoms as fall approaches; and many feel better for no logical reason as day becomes longer in spring and summer.
Both Social and Bodily Rhythms create for each individual what is called Social Rhythms. These are our routines that we build starting first thing in the morning, till we fall asleep at night. It also includes our interaction with people. How well we function socially that is.
So bipolarity is super complex. What sets off one episode varies greatly from one person to another. Biology plays a major part in all this and it is good to know that. If I could only talk to my hypothalamus; I would say Your Highness; would you be so kind to give me a break?
If only I could see my hypothalamus and all the little complex connections it receives and sends all day long, maybe I could find the faulty one and fix it.
I feel like my hypothalamus is a bomb and I need a squad to deactivate it. Pull the wrong fuse and Bam! Yes I heard this noise a time too many.
Perhaps I am not responsible for the dysfunction in my brain. I am responsible for how I choose to react to that dysfunction.
I called my psychiatrist today to make an appointment.
I will end my post with my favorite prayer; the serenity prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.