I've never tried hide the fact that I suffer from bipolar disorder. In fact, I've been very open about it in the hopes that others suffering silently with the disease might be inclined to seek treatment. The stigma of mental illness, though lessened significantly compared to that of an earlier age, is still unfortunately present among far too many. This is why I made up my mind some years ago to not hide my condition and to use my gifts as a writer to best articulate the daily struggles of life with a chronic illness. So, once more, I write in this space and by this method I hope to inform and perhaps even to educate, using myself as a model.
One never knows when and why another episode will strike. I have been lucky to have gone two years without a period of either mania or depression, but apparently my luck has now run out. Earlier in the week, I began to notice the beginning symptoms of depression. For right now, the downturn has been treated with moderate success by increasing the dosage of a medication (Lithium) that I was already taking. Hopefully this will be sufficient to put me back to a stable state, or, at minimum, keep the depression from worsening, but there are few sure things in treating any disorder of the brain. The brain is a very complex, perplexing organ, one poorly understood by medicine, even now in the Twenty-First Century.
Depression slowly robs your body of its motivation and drive. If intense enough, it removes even your will to live. When I've been the most depressed, simply rising from my bed to make my way to the shower has been a struggle. The illness drains your body of strength, cruelly, sadistically, a little bit at a time. Fortunately, I am nowhere near that point now, else I'd be unable to write this out to you. Indeed, I may not reach a severe state this time around, but once you've had several of them in the course of one lifetime, there is a very real tendency to think, Oh-God-here-we-go-again.
Over the years, I've tried to understand why I have been tormented this way, and why this is apparently my fate. The best I can come up with now, nearly fifteen years into learning to live with bipolar, is that there simply aren't any answers. This doesn't satisfy my curiosity or my desire to know something, anything, but unlike in other stages of my life, I know I am not being punished for something I've done wrong. I believe in a loving God and I don't believe in mysterious forces that crave punitive means of retribution. Sometimes it is easy to be resentful of those who do not have these same limitations, or have never had to suffer as I have. Often I wonder what each of these episodes has to teach me, or if there is nothing to be gained or lost, merely endured.
Men are not supposed to be sickly and physically weak. And yet, as I look back on my life, I recognize that I have struggled with one major illness after another. There is no need to state all of them here, but I recognize that during the course of my childhood, into adolescence, and then into adulthood, I dealt with a variety of afflictions, most of which were purely genetic and inherited. Life has rarely been easy for me, and I state this not with self-pity, but in all honesty. I recognize that, for me at least, suffering produces wisdom and has a way of making one understand what truly matters, but neither would I ever go through what I have gone through for the sake of achieving the meaning of life itself. I may be stronger for what I have seen and experienced when stability is present, but I am rendered once again a shadow of myself when the illness strikes and strikes hard. Again, I hope this is not my fate, but one must prepare for the worst.
I will continue writing and posting here so long as I am able. As a stubborn person, I have no desire to sacrifice doing what I love based on the incessant demands of an old adversary. Yet, if I feel myself slipping into a major episode, putting new content up here will become more and more difficult. I'll certainly let everyone know well before that happens. Perhaps I have nothing to worry about, and if that's the case, and my condition is allayed by the measures already enacted, I will rejoice. You will be the first to know. But in the meantime, I felt a need to set this out there in case I am not myself in the near future.