I’ve often spoken about depression and mental health and my struggles. I’ve never spoken about my Bipolar II, possibly because depression is the majority of the experience with it. But the hypomania is a reality too, even if experienced less frequently. I am on medication and in therapy for this, and they both help immensely, because being debilitated by depression, anxiety and hypomania is not anything anyone should have to put up with.
Fuck the stigma.
Bipolar II is characterised mostly by periods of deep depression, followed by briefer periods of hypomania (different to the mania of Bipolar I and less severe and not debilitating), which is then followed by a stable state of neither.
I see hypomania as the Spring following the Winter of depression. And the older I get and the more I recognise the signs of impending depression and the more I know how to cope with the depression through self care, the depression is not as severe or debilitating as it used to be.
I no longer have a mentality of pain or victimhood. I used to and realised it’s death. That reading of my online self is not who I am.
I’ve fought to survive since I was born. I’ve always been a warrior through great difficulties, and this post and the feelings it conveys are nothing new.
I’ve had difficult external things occur over the last few months; things which, although I share my life publicly, I don’t always discuss at all or fully (but who does and can?): 4 months of unemployment (that still continues), my babydog dying, an experience where people accused me of something I didn’t do which almost ended in a lawsuit, the difficulties with the trans healthcare, and then writing my car off in an accident with an 18-wheel truck.
So I’ve been gentle with myself for being justifiably depressed. Depression makes a positive mentality difficult, but even in the midst of depressive phases, I never lose hope and am always positive. I don’t let negativity render me helpless. But I respect the depression and the lessons it teaches me. Seeing it as something I can’t control of something that’s wholly negative is not helpful to me. Seeing it as necessary selfcare time and time off to energise myself for what I know I want and need to do and become.
I want happiness bad enough to make hope a religion and make it through and take full advantage of healthy phases. And with that mentality I know those swings will even out. Even the downs are part of a progressive moving upwards.
I’m going through hypomania right now. My brain works better, I’m funnier, wittier, write more (can’t write at all when down), intellectually sharper, get stuff done. But can’t sleep until way after midnight (am usually in bed by 10), forget to eat, can’t relax – not even to watch series as I’m constantly distracted; constantly on social media. So I’m vigilant about forcing myself to eat and rest.
I’m writing more blog posts, making more self portraits (rather than just selfcare selfies) and generally just more creative and active after the last bout of depression has subsided. Hence Germaine’s Prolific Pink Phase (Spam). As a bipolar II creative person, this is my process; and I won’t problematise or apologise for my ups or downs. It’s who I am and I take advantage of both.
The in between depression and hypomania space used to be few and far between. But having learnt to expect both and how to be gentle with myself through both, and take care of myself through both, and even harness the benefits of both, I see both as less of an illness and just part of who I am, making it easier to make that in between state longer.
As my therapist says, depression and hypomania are MY normal. #sorrynotsorry #neverapologiseforyouremotions #ThePinkPhasesDontHappenWithoutTheBluePhases
For those still struggling: I used to be on a shitload of meds when I was first diagnosed. 16 years later and I’ve been more functional for 9 years. Last hospitilisation was 2007. I’m on 60mg Aropax and 100mg Lamictin.
Therapy REALLY helps; journalling really helps: meds really help (unless they’re the wrong kind) and DBT saved my life – Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. Basically just teaches you coping skills. You can find a lot of helpful stuff about it online if your therapist doesn’t use it. Lots of self care, being gentle with yourself, and of course the key: self love. As corny as it sounds its true. And exercise. And don’t be hard on yourself.
You’ll learn what you can and can’t cope with in terms of stress, and then it becomes about managing the stress without becoming afraid of getting out of your comfort zone.
Coming to terms with the diagnosis and seeing it as a characteristic you have, rather than an illnes is key. They say life doesn’t come with a manual. Mental health does. It’s called self care. And it happens to work for life as well.