Why Must This Keep Happening?


Once again, I got cocky until my disease kicked me in the ass. I never thought I was cured of bipolar disorder, but I thought I had it all under control. This has happened many times before, yet I fall for it nearly every time.

Things had been going well for me. It’s been some time since I’ve had mania or even hypo-mania. I’ve dealt with several depressive episodes, but most were not debilitating. Everything was fine until this past weekend.

The trouble started while we were on a church retreat in the mountains. A group of us were playing “Cards Against Humanity,” and it was all fun and laughs as usual. Then I felt something. On the back of my head, at the base of my skull. It’s hard to explain, but I’d best express it as a tightness and tingling. I was feeling light headed and remembered it was a feeling I’ve had in the past when I was frequently having seizures. I started to ask Maurice to take me up to our cabin, but at 6,000 feet the oxygen was low and walking up hill to the cabin was more than I could handled at the moment. Eventually the feeling left, but I had a suspicion it wasn’t over, and I was right.

We drove home the next day and I was still feeling out of it. I thought it was the lack of sleep. I was wrong. During the trip, and after we got home, I was functioning but was having mild episodes of disassociation. As usual, there’d be moments when my surroundings were blurred and I felt out of touch with reality. I was able to function, so I went about my business, adapted and felt fine…until I took a shower. Numerous times I’ve mentioned the difficulty of showering and bathing. It’s what I was feeling that night, but, again, I was functioning…until I got in. The tub began moving. The walls were waving back and forth. Just a little bit at first and then they began to close in. I started shaking violently and the room started spinning faster. I was terrified, out of control and started screaming for Maurice to help me. I was unable to function and can’t imagine what I would have done if he wasn’t there to hold my hands to guide me out of the shower and then helped to dry me off before I climbed into bed, the feelings never going away.

When I woke up yesterday, I knew it wasn’t over. I dealt with dissociative episodes throughout the day, but nothing major. Then, I went with Maurice to the grocery store. We weren’t shopping for much, but we were there long enough for me to have another panic attack. I ran out of the store hyperventilating. The rest of the night I spent wavering in and out of reality.

So far so good this morning. I have an appointment in a couple of hours with my neurosurgeon which is unrelated to the panic attacks or dissociative episodes. I am concerned about getting there. It involves taking the bus (for only a short distance) and then a one mile walk to his office. I feel good, but am unable to enjoy the reprieve because I’m ever vigilant that the episodes may occur.

That’s my unpolished grocery list of my events over the past several days. I don’t know why I keep putting myself in the position of being hurt. Why do I keep lying to myself by believing it’s over? Despite knowing it’s likely to never end, I’m sure, in the not too distant future, that I’ll start to believe it’s all over again.

Is it just me or do you experience the same thing? Do you let your guard down only to have good ol’ bipolar smack you in the face?

20 comments on Why Must This Keep Happening?

  1. I’m thinking of going off my bipolar meds completely. Although I know I will probably have bad results, there’s another part of me that thinks I can handle it.

    1. Personally, I’m a firm believer in better living through chemistry, but everyone has the right to choose whether to take their medication or not. If you do choose to go off of them, I’d highly suggest staying in close touch with your psychiatrist during the process.

    1. There could be many reasons, but one of the common side effects of some meds is a reduction in metabolism. I’m currently working with my pdoc to adjust my meds under careful supervision, to see if we can get me off of the meds known to cause weight gain.

    2. I don’t have bipolar disorder but I do have depression/anxiety. When I increase my Lexapro to 20mg during a depression episode, I eat everything in sight. I do not ever experience a feeling of fullness or satiety. Back at 15 mg, food stuff goes back to normal. My psychiatrist explained that it’s an interruption in the serotonin/gut/brain system. She actually explained it better and made me feel understood. Maybe it’s the same mechanism
      with your meds.

  2. I too sometimes forget that I’m living with Bipolar and let my guard down. It’s unrealistic to keep your guard up all the time. To always be on the lookout for symptoms. For the other shoe to drop as it were. I’m sorry you had a rough patch. Hopefully that’s all it was, a little blip in your stability. All the best ~Hart

    1. You’re right, it is unrealistic. I’m still a bit unsteady today, but am at the library reading other people’s manuscripts for my writer’s critique group tonight. It’s pretty low key, so I hope it keeps the demons at bay.

  3. Brad I’m so sorry.

    I find myself wondering what we would do differently if we kept in the forefront of our minds that it could happen at any time. I’m wondering if I would live differently, or if it would just keep me from being happy in the time that I feel pretty okay. There’s always a horrible feeling when it comes back – I know what you are talking about – Oh no! Not again! How could I have forgotten about this.
    For me it is quickly followed by the feeling that I have always been this way, and the memories of feeling okay are as vague as my memories of the awful times when I’m feeling okay. Each state seems to leave me with almost total amnesia about what it is like to live in the other. I recall the fact of the other state, kind of like it’s from a book I read, but it always has a sense of unreality, really a disconnection from anything I know in my “real” life.

    But I’m sitting here with the question now of what I would do if I did remember all the time. I’ve been feeling pretty good for the last month or so. Should I be giving thought every day to what it would be like to be spending this time feeling awful. Should I remind myself that awful is coming back? I don’t mean this in a snarky way. I’m really wondering if I should.

    Maybe I should be practical about it and run around taking care of all the things I can’t do when it’s bad – kind of like my mom in Massachusetts taking care of all her yard work on those spring days that aren’t rainy.

    Should I write when I feel good, leaving my down self notes proving that I was okay for a while? I don’t think I’d believe them. I’d think I must have been having an anomalous good day, or even that I was in denial.

    Should I develop Oprah’s touted habit of listing what I am grateful for every night before bed, and be sure to list that I’m not in despair? Could that possibily breed even more good days?

    I don’t have an answer, but I know I’ll be thinking about this, and you for a good while.

    We’re here for you. xoxo


    1. Thankful for the good thoughts, Lora. You make some valid points. When a couple, of any age, first falls in love, we refer to it as “the puppy dog” stage. Everything seems perfect, because we haven’t seen the imperfections in our partner yet. Many people will warn them to be careful so they don’t get hurt. To that I exclaim “Bullshit!” The puppy dog stage happens only once in a relationship and I say go for it and savor it! I think I need to keep in mind that same advice and savor the moments when I feel good, rather than focus on what might occur. Sometimes for laughs I’ll say,

      “I started to feel good once, but I knew it wouldn’t last so I stopped.”

      I don’t want that to truly be me. I think I need to allow myself to enjoy the good times, yet, be vigilant of the fact that I’m likely to have some bad ones now and again. Be aware without allowing myself to be obsessive about it.

      Always here for you too, my friend.

  4. could you imagine living on guard every waking moment? It would be so exhausting! In the beginning I was like that, and I’m happy to say I am no longer. I still get slapped in the face, just recently as a matter of fact. But it was triggered by outside circumstances. Nevertheless, the slap always hurts. I’m sorry you went through all of this. I hope better days ahead for you. xoxo

    1. Thank you, Iggy. Being ever vigilant would be like a prairie dog bobbing it’s head all around looking for danger. Not the way I want to live. I’m convinced to appreciate the good times and let the bad ones come along and accept them as best I can.

  5. So..I could have written this. By that I mean, I get it.so so soooo get it. The feeling the fear, the everything about it. We want to forget we have this shit illness, and I do think sometimes, for sanity’s sake we need to. It always reminds us tho.

    Having some similar issues as you lately and I’m so grateful you have Maurice and his understanding. You’re great..thank you for sharing. I don’t feel so alone. Keep on keeping on everyday we are alive is worth living. Hugs and good vibes.

    1. Thank you, Lizzie. It’s good to know there are others out there who “get it.”

  6. I hear you, Bradley, and I’m sorry you have to go through this. I have been in a good place for a long time and then recently went through a depressive episode of varying depths for over a week and a half. I think closer to two. It was like a smack in the face. I started to worry that the rapid cycling was back again. When the episode finally passed I felt less confident that it was over. Now I live with the knowledge that more than likely it isn’t and at some point I’ll have another episode. I don’t allow myself to dwell on it. Best wishes to you.

    1. I understand. The fear of rapid cycling again would be a heavy load for me too. I’m sorry you had to deal with a depressive episode, but I’m glad it passed with no further mental anguish.

  7. It’s so easy to forget the bad when you feel good. I take it for granted that things are going to keep going well. I guess that’s the lie I tell myself so I can keep living life without dread…

    1. It’s a tough balance between enjoying the good times while being prepared to accept that there will be some rough patches ahead. We know it’s equally difficult to realize things will get better when we’re in a tough spot. It’s learned behavior and not easy.

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