It Feels Good To Feel Miserable Again.

17 Feb



Over a year ago I fell into what you might call a bog of depression.  And for a creative person like me, I may as well have been in hell.  I WAS in hell.  If you’re familiar with my story, then you know of my life-long struggle with bipolar.  Tragedy and pain are part of my psychological architecture.  But over a decade ago I decided that I was going to take this dragon by the tail and I chose to do that through intense and ongoing cognitive behavioral therapy and minimal medication.  I knew that for the rest of my life I would have to work EVERY SINGLE DAY to keep my head above water.  I guess I just got tired.  At any rate, my doctor decided to put me on a very temporary Prozac vacation a few months ago.  The dreaded SSRI.

I suppose you could say it worked.  I mean, I stopped caring.  Completely.  Now from the outside looking in, all appeared to be fine.  Was I smiling?  Heck yeah!  Who wouldn’t be?  I didn’t care!  Was there laughter?  Absolutely!  Because I didn’t care!  You don’t like me?  I don’t care.  No one reads my blog anymore?  I don’t care.  Gaining weight…okay, I care about that.  A little.  But then the lack of caring became muted.  I described it to my doctor as a feeling of being filled with cotton.  Everything was muffled and distant.  Creative projects lacked meaning and depth.  Joy was gone.  Passion was gone.  In its place was sheer and utter apathy.  So I tapered off of it and have been completely Prozac free for a couple of months now.

The hypersensitivity is back.  The lonesome alienation.  The pain.  And I care.  I deeply care about everything.  Probably to a fault.  The bottom line was I just got lazy and wanted to take the easy route of popping a pill.  I figured I was already taking enough meds…what’s one more?  Like I said.  Lazy.  It’s extraordinarily difficult for people to understand that just getting out of bed and taking care of myself is overwhelming, exhausting and depleting.  My kid running around with her underpants on her head because she “just wants to make me laugh”.

So last week I told her that sometimes it’s not possible to make someone laugh.  That doesn’t mean that you’re not funny.  Because the whole underpants on the head thing is totally hilarious.  It’s just that sometimes there’s invisible pain.  If you break your arm, there’s a cast.  People can see that.  It’s “easy” to treat.  But this?  This bipolar illness?  It’s invisible.  It makes me feel…..invisible.  And it’s an illness.  Not a frame of mind.  But you can’t really wear it on a bracelet like a diabetic.  Sure, it’s a compliment when someone says, “You don’t look sick.  I had no idea”.  I’m just trying to prevent my kid from writing a handbook on how to survive being raised by a bipolar mother.

But she IS being raised by a bipolar mother.  She’s very aware that I’m not like other moms. And I’m okay with that.  Mostly.  Because more than anything I want her to know that there’s no shame in being different.  That having a mental illness isn’t a death sentence.  It’s all about balance.  It’s about acceptance.  It’s about knowing how to live with pain without letting it define you.

And I have no doubt that 20 years from now, she’ll still be willing to run around with underpants on her head just to get me to smile.

3 Responses to “It Feels Good To Feel Miserable Again.”

  1. The C-Sweet February 17, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    I think underpants on the head is hilarious too! I used to put underpants on my head to hold my hair back when I washed my face before going to bed…my mother thought it was hysterical….I’d say, “What? They’re clean.”


  2. Michael Cargill February 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    I still read your blog!

    I also read a very interesting book about trauma and the treatment of trauma a few months ago. One of the things it talked about was the double edged sword of Prozac.

    Hope things work out for both you and your daughter.


  3. Ann February 19, 2016 at 1:08 am #

    I love the way you look at mental illness/ bipolar. It is a sickness, just like any other. People should see a doctor for it, people should take their medicine for it, and they should accept it and move on to live each day to the best of their ability. I know it took me years to come to terms with being bipolar and there are some days I cannot come to terms with anything.

    You wrote so well about this disease and how it affects you and your daughter. You are teaching her so much by talking about it with her. Keep fighting the good fight! Thanks for being willing to tell your story! You tell it so well!


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