Living life with bipolar 1 disorder is like riding in an elevator. When I became unhappy, I searched for happiness by leaving and moving to something new in my life. I pushed the next button in my elevator of life and moved to a higher floor, until I became unhappy again. Then I pushed the next button and the next button until I reached the top floor and felt like I was trapped. I had no where else to go. There was no escape from my pain and sorrow. There were no floors left. No place else to go, but down and that was exactly where I went. I crashed. Free falling from the top of my elevator of life and crashing head first burying myself in a tomb above ground numerous times throughout my life.
I always felt my feelings and problems were caused from external stimuli and were not caused by my own fault or doing. I thought, all I had to do was change my environment and my problems would be solved. I blamed my unhappiness on everything and everyone else, except where the problems lied, which was unknowingly within myself.
I thought I was unhappy because of the people surrounding me or my environment. At those times in my life, I had the freedom and ability to move thinking it would cure my unhappiness and my life would be good again. I thought I just needed a new start. A new beginning would make me feel happier.
When what I know now as depression set in, I would run away. I was trying to run from myself, but I could never run from myself. I left everyone and everything behind as if it didn’t exist. I didn’t look back. This strategy did not help me keep any lasting friendships, but unknowingly this is what my brain instinctively told me to do for my survival at the time. This worked for a while, but not forever.
Many times I left what was probably the best situation for me, but I couldn’t see it. Beauty and goodness were invisible to me. I was blinded my own illusions caused from my depression I didn’t even know I had for many years of my life. I knew I had anxiety, but was in denial and was trying to manage and live with it on my own. The problem with this strategy to find happiness was that I was running away from what I thought was the cause of my unhappiness, but my unhappiness eventually caught up with me. My unhappiness was always with me and followed me everywhere. I could never run from the unhappiness I felt, because it grew and lived inside me.
Of course, when I would move and leave everything behind, I could not leave my own mind. My brain was the culprit and the cause of my unhappiness and undiagnosed depression. My inner pain, darkness and unhappiness was caused from within myself, not from others around me. My happiness did not stem from other things, but was planted by the seeds inside my own brain. I would later learn, it was caused from my undiagnosed mental illnesses.
Soon after the birth of my first child 25 years ago, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, bipolar 1 disorder with rapid cycling and mixed episodes, PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder.
Living with bipolar depression is like running as fast as you can up the down escalator just to maintain. It caused me to work 100 times harder to get to the top, reach a goal or to just maintain momentum or sometimes even the ability the function. If I kept moving, I could keep going for a while. But as soon as I stopped, down the escalator I went crashing at the bottom of my life again.
Presently, I am not pushing any more buttons in my elevator of life. It is okay to move to a new floor, but I need to make sure it is for the appropriate reasons. I need to keep myself more grounded and keep my perceptions of reality in check. If I find myself going up the down escalator I need to make sure I get off and find the appropriate escalator to ride.
I hope you ride all the correct escalators, and I hope you always have enough floors in your elevator of life. If you reach the top, keep going. Keep moving. Don’t stop and enjoy the ride.
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