We all fall down

275mg Quetiapine

I don’t understand how people write when they’re depressed. I can never write anything at all.

My mind goes blank. I become slow.  My senses are muted.

A friend said to me the other day that she could relate to ‘living in a cloud of black’. Except, that’s not what it is like.

It’s like I’m here but I’m not. The world is dull and so am I. The sun is shining brightly, but the sunlight hurts my eyes. It’s warmth on my skin makes me want to shrink away to a place where nothing, where no one, can reach me.

It’s not dark, but it’s heavy. There is pressure. It rests above me and around me, and it pushes me down.

It’s not dark, but there is a man here, with his hands around my throat. Holding me tightly, so I can just barely breath, but not too much. I am suffocating slowly. I am losing the will to fight. I am weakened.

People without a mental illness think they have some sort of idea what it is like, but they don’t. There is something disheartening about those who think they understand, those who think they have any kind of idea that they know, when really, they know nothing at all.

It is not helpful to me when an ignorant person claims some sort of understanding. You can never feel my experience. I can never feel yours.

This is a waiting game. I watch the clock, and the clock watches me. But there is always a way out. There is always hope (but that is not what depression is telling me). There will always be change. What goes up must come down. And we all fall down.

This is not abnormal. This is Bipolar. This, is me.

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18 thoughts on “We all fall down

  1. You express it so eloquently…

    I write when I’m depressed to exorcise the sadness, anxiety, and fears. Sometimes it helps me straighten out my thinking a little. I can’t go at the same pace or even write the same volume or type of stuff when I’m depressed, but continuing to write at all is therapeutic for me. We all have our own coping mechanisms.

    • Thank you. And what you have said is very true – I just can’t understand it since all I know is what I feel and what I feel is a complete inability to write. Slowly, I stop doing things. Writing, reading, working, showering…But maybe I should force myself to write next time I feel that way. If it is helpful for you, it will quite possibly be helpful for me too. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. When I’m very, very depressed I can’t do anything. But thankfully, my ability to write is one of the last things to go when the fuses start blowing. I use it as a distraction tool. It’s therapeutic. It also helps that I do it for a living, so by writing it actually helps my sense of coping because I feel like I’m still able to do my job despite feeling like I’m in a tar pit.

  3. Beautifully written! We do all fall down… and we all can get back up. The only people who have a clue of what this disorder is like… is other people who suffer. Explaining it is so difficult to the optimist who experiences barely any mental pain. I envy them… yet I don’t. I like my shifts more than I like steadiness.
    Keep writing!
    I am the opposite… when I am depressed, poetry is always easy for me to write… easy because all of my poetry comes from a sad, dark place. ♥

  4. I have been thinking about your post. It is timely because I too have been wondering why people say they understand. I agree with you–they can’t. Even if they have experience with the same condition, they have their own unique perspective, beliefs, personality, upbringing, etc. to bring to it that I cannot relate to. And therefore, they cannot relate to what I am experiencing. So when someone says they understand, I want to tell them “no… you don’t”

    There was awhile when all I wanted was for people to understand me. I felt so disconnected from everyone. I would start to explain what it is like for me and I would see that “deer in the headlights” look. Maybe I was projecting my own misunderstanding of my condition on to them. Maybe I wasn’t.

    Now, where I am in this moment, I don’t want their understanding. I want their compassion. I want their loving-kindness and their acceptance to just let me “be” as I am right now without relating to me with their own shit. I know their intentions are good. It’s just not what I need. And I am getting ready to soon begin to tell people that is the most loving way I can.

    Most of all, I want my own understanding and compassion as a reflex to my mental experiences instead of something I realize I am not giving myself when I reflect/meditate.

  5. There is something disheartening about those who think they understand, those who think they have any kind of idea that they know, when really, they know nothing at all.

    I agree wholeheartedly. One of my friends at work was like this. She didn’t understand why I couldn’t just get myself together and be tougher with myself.

    I find it extremely difficult to write when depressed- well, with anything more severe than mild depression. My mind goes all slow and I don’t even have the energy to construct sentences! Reading is impossible. My blog is packed with writing when I’ve been hyper and then weeks of nothing when I’ve been depressed!

    Take it easy.

    Rachel

  6. A lack of understanding from others is all I’ve ever encountered. My psychiatrist once told me to Never! tell anyone I had bipolarism because they would never look at me the same way again. I told no one for over ten years, and then I thought I’d test the waters. In my case, he was absolutely right, and sometimes it was beyond embarrassing. Sounds like I wanted to be a closet-case, but really my spirit is in reducing the stigma. Anyway, even my (former) best friend, upon learning my Dx, seemed to “Google Bipolar” one time AND consult her RN sister, only to come up with bizarre and ignorant assumptions about me and my condition. She never, ever looked at me the same way again. She acts like I have schizophrenia and that my depressions keep me on suicide-watch. Oh well, I’m all done announcing my Dx to anyone who is not my physician, etc. I don’t think the stigma factor has improved much at all during my 27 years with this condition.

    • My ultimate goal is to be off the medication, and as much as I support alternative routes to healing, I think you should be incredibly careful about saying things like this to people. Some peoples lives literally depend on psychiatric medications. If they do not have the appropriate mood stability or supports in place, and do not engage in other management strategies then such a person taking your advice may be in great danger.

      Also, my creativity is fine on medication – medication has never dulled it down for me. Mood instability does. My creativity is completely eradicated by depression. As a result of the depression I was writing about in this post, I actually increased my medication back to 300mg – not only did my mood improve, but my creativity improved as well.

      I am interested to hear what you have to say about medication, so please do share!

      • Hi

        good response at least it gets a debate going my personal opinion is that mood stabilisers and antipyschoitics are not a solution but i agree they can help for a short time as i said by email i have to go out for a while but will certainly respond more fully later …great blog btw

        joe

  7. My writing ability is the only thing left when I’m depressed. It’s like I need to do it to get through it, if that makes any sense. It’s incredibly hard and it takes whole days to write 100 words, but I make myself do it. To try to hold onto something real, so I don’t sink.

    I agree; if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t know. Heck, even I don’t know what you’re feeling; none of us do. At least you know that there are people out there who can emphasise though, because they’ve felt very similar.

  8. Hi people! I am still pretty new to this blog, and have had bipolar one for 27 years. I’m most confused by this discussion about getting off meds. Since we all have our own unique case of bipolar, it’s sort of hard to even broach the subject — different people need different meds, obviously. But I’ve never heard of a bipolar who doesn’t need meds.I would think, by definition, if one has bipolarism, then they need a mood stabilizer for life. Fish oil (and similar natural supplements) aren’t going to do the job for a lifetime. Not everyone is reliant on anti-psychotics, but the vast majority of BP’s take them, and they have mood stabilizing properties as well, they’re not just for squashing a psychotic break. This topic reminds me of a woman I met years ago who confided in me that she had BP. We were trading notes, and when I asked her what meds she took, the answer was Xanax, period.
    If a little benzo like xanax could control her BP, I thought she must have an incredibly mild case — so mild that she sounded like she had been misdiagnosed (but I didn’t say anything). One big dividing line in BP world is whether or not a person has ever had even one psychotic episode or break. I’d love to hear how people with BP get by in the long run without any mood stabilizers, because it just sounds so very risky and dangerous. BPs in the U.S. take, on a national average, three mood stabilizers in their meds cocktail, and I’m glad I don’t have to take that many. Why would anyone risk an appreciable manic-attack (not hypomania) in order to be free of pharmaceuticals? I understand the issue of side-effects very well, but I’d love to hear more on this subject — it just doesn’t compute. Take care!

    • Sorry I haven’t written a response to you before now, I hope you catch it.

      What you say is really important and I wouldn’t advocate for people coming off medication unless it’s something they want to do themselves. Personally, I don’t see how the medication I take has helped my mood. It took my mood a long time to stabilize even after I started medications and it seemed that lifestyle factors were more important in controlling each episode. I think there is far too much emphasis on the biomedical model of mental illness, and less emphasis on psychosocial and environmental factors that contribute to illness. I’m not saying that biology doesn’t come in to it, because biology comes into everything to do with us. I simply believe that drugs are not necessarily the only thing that helps – you’re always hearing of people who are changing medications, changing dosages because they keep having mood episodes even on the drugs. I suspect that’s partly because other management strategies are taking a backseat. I’m sure there are also people who have no episodes on their drugs, and that’s fine if it works for them.

      Personally, I don’t want to be dependent on a medication that I don’t believe is responsible for anything more than ensuring I sleep. Sleep is a powerful antidote to the development of elevated mood states. As a scientist, I plan to reduce the medication responsibly, and test out whether it is possible for me to live without the need for psychiatric medication. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work and I’m prepared for that possibility. However, to say that someone has a mild case because they have found alternative ways to deal with an illness that has more than just a biological component would be inaccurate in my mind. Maybe that person you mentioned was misdiagnosed but I can assure you that I have not been. I am a classic case and my life has been severely affected by Bipolar Disorder. If I am successful in living without medication, then I will consider myself in remission – something that is possible.

      My main point is that there are other ways to stabilise brain chemistry aside from the use of medications. And all illnesses, mental and physical are far more complicated than just being “biological”. Everything we do affects our brain and our body, and that’s something that is often not given enough of a mention. The choice of other pathways to wellness are not necessarily easy – at least, not as easy as taking pills everyday – and perhaps that’s why it doesn’t seem to happen as much (and this applies to mental and physical illnesses).

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