The Other Side of Depression

Is that you "Mania"?

I found this piece in one of my journals from a couple of years ago and reworked it. Just because someone is diagnosed as bipolar does not mean that there aren't varying levels of the disorder. Some people can go for years without an episode of either depression or mania - but that doesn't mean they don't experience the normal ups and downs the same as everyone else. The main fear is that these would develop into an "episode". The movement to "Destigmatize Mental Illness" is just that - uninformed or mis-educated people are sometimes too easily freaked out and think that everyone with a certain mental illness reacts the same way or can be lumped into the same room because they all basically present with the same symptoms. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just overhearing that someone has a mental illness, causes people to take three steps back and make sure they never take the same elevator. Or they want to say hi and have a light conversation just to see if they can "tell" and report their findings. I've overheard these conversations, and being one of "them" I never really thought it was anyone's business if my employer knew about it and I'm not a threat to anyone.

Everyone has feelings. The worst part about being bipolar is having to ask yourself when you are upset is "am I too upset?" or if you are down "am I depressed or down" and is there another reason?" And when I'm happy, can I just be happy and excited like I've always been or does everyone have to think I'm manic? I'm tired of being analyzed if I'm anything other than pleasant. I have always been passionate in my feelings...if I am just pleasant, then something is wrong. Once your friends and family have seen you through something major, how do you get them to look at you normally again?  When do you get to feel normal again? You know it isn't their fault, but does that mean it has to be yours? When does the playground go back to being fun again?


Faces

Am I happy or Is that the Mad Hatter???

This piece was written back when I was still working. It's about being really happy but fearing that it might be mania. When you are someone who gradually goes into mania, and you don't have destructive habits like drugs or alcohol (others are just as destructive), and you are able to keep your job...you are in a full blown episode before you or anyone notices. It's scary.


Mania, is that you on the horizon or just happiness?

It’s so hard to tell and I don’t trust my own judgment anymore,

Not after the diagnosis.

What I wouldn’t give to be normal sometimes – yet what would I give?

I don’t know where I end and the disorder begins.


Life is good right now and I am feeling good

My choices have been good and I feel strong

I’ve taken on more and it was gradual, I say “was” because it is past tense

It doesn’t feel so gradual anymore now that most of what I’ve taken on has arrived.

Changes have taken place and I’m in a new space

I like the world around me, yet pieces of it still seem out of place

Not the new pieces, the old pieces

Not all of them, just some of them

But I’m beginning to get that feeling again of falling behind.


I want to succeed, to keep up the pace

I want to stay on top of my game

The old voice comes back, yet from where it emanates, I still haven’t a clue.

The one that says, “They know.”

“They know what?” You ask?

That I am unsure of myself, afraid of failing, lack confidence in my own abilities and am so afraid that you will notice that I’m not as good as you think I am.

I’m just masquerading in your world as another ordinary person.

It’s a fluke that I even got this far, someone let me in when the guards weren’t looking.


I try like hell to keep up with the crowd, I’m so afraid of being found out.

I try twice as hard as everyone else to blend in, to keep up the charade.

I don’t want to go back to feeling like nothing, to being discarded, but I also don’t want to keep working this hard.


I really want to escape when I’m on top of the game.

I want to take these wonderful feelings and accomplishments and fly away with them to a world full of gardens and eternal sunshine where the darkness can never touch me again.

I want to soar into the air on the wings of love and life and happiness and never feel worthless or like a burden again.

I want to find that magic key to the kingdom where I can live as the fairy I was – more spirit than body, not tied down by neuroses and synapses.

If only they didn’t clip my wings...


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Comments 21 comments

tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 5 years ago

I read this hub, and then had to take a couple of big deep breaths! You are a woman of great courage and I am sure there alot of people who will identify with this. I know I did! This is a powerful piece of work!


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

tnderhrt23, thank you so much for your kind words, I like to hear words like "courage" and "powerful" associated with pieces I write. It really means the world to me to know I can do something positive with something that I feel can take so much away from me. I wish that for you and everyone who suffers with anything related to these feelings, Love and Peace.


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

It is scary, Erin. I have the same diagnosis, not that two patients are ever the same. Even bipolar people (my doctor laughed at this phrase "What bipolar people? Is it a cult?") don't trust each other.

I know that mania is living hell and the depression that follows is of the same intensity as was the mania. So it is another hell. The term "roller coaster" describes the condition well enough. I find it difficult to live with this illness, but not impossible.

There are a lot for me conquer still. But fears... I became much braver after my episodes, because I saw people scared shitless over nothing. A lot of people are cowards, a lot of them have really bad judgments, a lot of them are scared of their own shadows. It is no life either to live in fear.

I remain hopeful and optimistic and I am grateful for my family, who helped me and stayed with me through it all. And I rely on my friends as well, they usually notice when the "high tide" comes, there are comments and I take them seriously. Being in control is everything.

All the best,


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Kallini2010,

Thank you so much for your courage and honesty in writing in. A lot of people read, but very few admit to having bipolar and managing with it. The stigmatism still exists like I said, we know all too well - and its a life long diagnosis. But you are right, there are a lot of things to be gained. You can't change who you are, so you take it and learn from it and there are jewels to be had for those brave enough to earn them. I loved that you used the word "Bravery" - to have that bravery through the darkest of times and faith in knowing that its only a part of that "rollercoaster" and a light WILL come - you just don't know when. You have to live your life the best you possibly can in spite of it with strength of will and character and learn to laugh at yourself, not out of disdain but to get past the hard times. You can't maintain control by yourself sometimes but when it counts you have to know there are people out there to help, there is a way to control it all, even if you can't do it yourself. And you are right, being in control is everything.

Fear is so prevalent, but you have to know what are rational fears - this illness doesn't help with that. Because it's different for everyone, some people do not have what it takes to fight all the time, and they may have other issues or disorders that require hospitalization - I can only send my blessings and be glad its not me. I wouldn't wish this illness on anyone but I don't know what my life would be like without it.

Without it, I wouldn't know compassion as deeply as I do for those who suffer from mental illness. I wouldn't know compassion as deeply as I do for anyone who is suffering from any kind of psychological issue nor would I understand feelings the way I do. I feel sometimes an uncanny empathy towards anyone in any situation, almost psychic in a way - like I know the whole story just by the way they hold themselves and I can listen and offer a word of hope to anyone that will help.

I don't think I would be as strong, as relentless, as courageous, as independent, as headstrong, nor would I be more comfortable being on my own that with someone else most of the time if it were not for this illness. I also don't think I would be a writer or as in tune with cycles of the earth, the moon, and feel things that are mystical/magical.

In a sense, I wouldn't be the person I am.

So, you've made me think a lot more, and made me write a lot more. Thank you for that.

I'm so happy you wrote in. I'm going to follow you and your journey. I wish you all the best in life, peace and love. Namaste'


CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

A Physician once attempted to diagnose me with "Bipolar Depression". The medicine I took for two years had such a negative effect on me. I weaned myself off of the medicine, because I felt like I was being chemically raped- these meds made me lose my original personality, and I was dull and could not respond normally to others. Thank God for my Mom who brought this to my attention. What I experienced personally caused me my mental changes. Once that I got away from the situations in my life,(failed marriage, failed jobs and lack of self esteem) and put God in my life, and found my spiritual gifts, my need for psychiatric care was gone.

The word "depression" does not even exist in my thinking.

I believe that we are all effected by what goes on in the environment, and in our lives; it is how you deal with them. I believe that God can Heal anyone from depression permanently; I know because I experience this everyday! Good hub, Erin, and great pics!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

You have written an excellent Hub and Poem on this misunderstood subject. My niece, Janet was all of these words, bipolar, mania. Depression runs in our family, more on the side of the women...Although, my father had horrible Mood Swings...My own twenties and thirties were hard for me..In my forties, and divorced...I laughed a lot more. I will always have a soft spot for Baltimore...it's there I found me.

I'm sad to say, my niece Janet did not make it...But I did, and you my friend will too, as you enrich others to understand this disease.


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Thank you, Erin, for your kind words. I will add you to my list, as well. I am open about being bipolar. Why? I am just open, maybe I hate pretense, maybe pretending to be "normal" does not give me as much anymore as admitting to be who I am. My mission in life is to understand who I am.

Bipolar illness does not define me. But for anybody who reads this "Bipolar is NOT an invention of psychiatrists!" It is no fun. My family story is the best illustration how close you can come to stare death in its ugly face. I reached the approximate age for suicides, yes, that is when it usually happens for "bipolar people" - around forty.

Erin, I have an intention to write about my "bipolar tribulations/adventures" with more humour in it. Sometimes even my doctor says "drop this comedy act", but I just laugh at myself - it eases the pain. That is another side of me - sense of humour, but this trait is quite definitive.

No matter what, I have to be able to laugh!

All the best!


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Christina, thanks for writing, I'm so glad you found your answers elsewhere and wish you all the best. But Bipolar Disorder is a real illness - sometimes it takes several tries to find the right medicine or combination of medicines before they are helpful, and I believe that it takes personal strength, courage, faith and the help of your support network to come through. Wherever you find your prescription for happiness and well being - where you can find that mental peace - its a wonderful place. A word of caution though - before accepting such a diagnosis as Bipolar Disorder - usually it takes a competent psychiatrist a while to get to know you before they would hand out a diagnosis and a label so easily knowing the repercussions of it. Light and Love.


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

b Malin, thanks so much for sharing and for your vote of confidence. You know how it is, some days I wonder...then some days I'm positive everything is going to be fine. More than fine...great in fact. Now that I'm in my forties, perhaps this is the beginning of the best times of my life too... :)

I don't spend any time in Baltimore, but I grew up north east of it. I still haven't decided where I'll end up nor where I'll find me :) Perhaps I'll find myself near you on the beach in winter :)


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Kallini2010, You always bring such a fresh perspective and I'm so glad you keep writing! Thank you for your timely statement, I've heard that from skeptics as if its something psychiatrists and suffers have made up - unfortunately the stigmatization is reinforced each time some heinous crime is committed by someone with Bipolar who is off medication, falls through the system or fails to find that strength and courage to face the worlds they must in order to find some kind of control for their disorder.

Keep laughing, keep singing, keep writing - whatever the medicine is that gets you through with your counseling and medication and finding yourself - Its all good. With the faith in the light in different places along the path, we know that whatever the roller coaster ride...there are ups, downs and sometimes, the ride is just fine. One of my goals is to find myself (still looking at 42) and find my places in this world (there must be several for all of the faces of me) and to find that special magical place that I can finally call home. thanks so much for writing again and sharing your views so honestly.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

....I have certainly suffered low moments from 'situational' depression .....and I am trying to deal with it - when it comes and goes - I guess it's that old adage - welcome to the human race because we're all dealing with it in some sort of way - but the Hub has been a grand place for me to write and receive feedback - and have the pleasure of meeting someone like you!!!!


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Epi, you always make me smile! Just your presence here brings light to the page :) Thanks for dropping by and reminding us that regardless of our situation, we do all have more that binds us together than makes us alone in our situations. Wishing you abundant wellness my dear friend! Namaste'


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Hello again Erin,You sound as if you are finding the way.You are positive.You have that magic in your words.As we talked via email,My niece is doing really well.I pray that you will be yourself,maybe this is you,maybe this has always been you.Maybe you kept it hidden away,if you can,throw all of the fears and worry into the wind,it's a new begining.God Bless.

Cheers


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Hello Ruby, Well, I am feeling a bit better. thanks for caring :) I'm glad your neice is well! I know this is all a cycle and I know better than to just let anything just go - constant vigilance is the key to managing bipolar. But, that and always remembering to keep your sense of life and play and innocence and positive outlook - along with faith and hope, courage and strength are what makes sure you have a great life!You sound like you are doing well too. I'm still on the road to making this the year of the butterfly! Love and Peace, Erin


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Erin,Afrer reading my comment to you,i wanted to delete it but as you know ,no deleting after we post a comment,anyway,i,m trying to say that my remark was not what i should have conveyed to you.I know that BP is lasting and to just flip it off in the manner that i did was not helpful,although that was my sincere desire.I see your happiness in your writing and God grant you the year of the butterfly,

God Bless you,Love and Peace


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Ruby, no worries my friend, My wish for us all is to break free of whatever we've been holding ourselves back from and to fly free in the face of the sun, catching a ride on the wind and "always exploring" this grand world of ours both inside and out. Love and Peace to you, Erin


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Erin,I just got home,had to venture out in this snow to do some business,so happy that you understood what i was trying to say.Breaking free sounds so wonderful.There is a piece in my being that stays,although i'm freer than i've been in a long time.I feel that i found my niche in writing.Take Care my friend.

Love and Peace


vietnamvet68 profile image

vietnamvet68 5 years ago from New York State

My dear friend Erin, I had to drop by to say Hello, We all have our moments in life to deal with, some harder than others. I wish you the very best my dear friend.

God Bless you


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

vietnamvet68, so good to see you! Good luck with your book and as always I wish you the best and brightest blessings my friend! Namaste'


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

This is an awesome descriptive sentence: “I don’t know where I end and the disorder begins...”

I’m not sure where normal ends and bipolar begins. I kind of agree with kallini2010’s doctor. When the condition ‘manic depression’ was changed to ‘bipolar’, every sensitive person with a moody personality was all of a sudden labeled as bipolar.

I once knew a woman who could have been bipolar – she would not allow any doctor to diagnose her. I was afraid of her, for I never new what her mood would be the next moment. One moment she could be the nicest person just to change in a second into an aggressive, dangerous being. She lived in a world she had created in her mind – understandable, because she was sexually abused since she was a toddler – and everything she had created in that world, including an image of herself, she believed.

Will it be possible for you to write a hub in which you explain the behavior of a bipolar person - his/her reactions on certain impulses and in certain situations? I have the book-knowledge, but have never studied a real case, except the mentioned lady I once knew through her lovely, traumatized daughter.

Personally I am always a candidate for reactive depression. This also has another name now, but it merely means falling into depression because of a traumatic event/incident, or a health issue such as burnout.

Thanks for an interesting hub!


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Martie, thanks so much for reading, you bring up some great issues.I think bipolar is over diagnosed now or it is just all of the sudden more prevalent than it used to be and they have to redo their statistics.

i think there is another reason for the woman you knew...bipolar mood swings are usually not like switching a light on and off...they are more gradual which makes them harder to deal with.

Every bipolar person is different, I don't think there is a typical one. I mean, there are similar symptoms, but not all are in everyone, and some are stronger in others. Some are highly functioning and some can't live outside an institution.

I'll think about another follow up hub I can do to this one, thanks so much for writing. Namaste'

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