You know how sometimes you read or hear something that plants a little seed in your brain that comes back to you full grown after you’ve thought it over for a while? I read something interesting on another blog this morning about stability, which is of course the Holy Grail of a bipolar’s existence. It’s the elusive treasure we all seek, and we pursue it like a dog chases a mail truck until finally, one day, we grasp it and pull it in. AHA!!! Normal at last!
There’s only one teensy problem: we don’t know what to do with it once we get it. It’s like what might happen if the aforementioned hound actually caught the mail truck. We gasp in astonishment, gazing raptly at the prize in our hands as if we don’t really believe what our eyes are seeing, and say “EUREKA!!”
And then we say, “Now what?”
So I read this essay as I sipped my cuppa, which was written by a fellow nurse who also happens to blog about bipolar disorder, and she brought up an interesting angle that I don’t believe many people ever consider. She wrote that what we call stability is merely another stage of BP that we cycle in and out of, in much the same way we do with depression and mania.
Think about that for a minute. (Well, don’t think about it if you’re going to get depressed remembering how hard you’ve had to work for the occasional break from the festivities.) Almost everyone with this cursed disease yearns for stability, doing things that we’d rather not in order to improve our health…..like taking pills and exercising and adhering to a sleep schedule that makes us feel like second-graders again. (My p-doc told me recently that I could enjoy my summer nights all I wanted, as long as I was indoors with the lights turned low by eight o’clock.)
And for what? To “cycle” into a period of normalcy that we’ll just cycle back out of sometime in the future? Almost makes me want to return to the days when getting stoned and staying up all night were as routine as washing my face and brushing my teeth.
And therein hangs a tale: being stable ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s actually pretty boring, and I wonder if that isn’t why some bipolars “accidentally forget” their meds (for days on end) or create some other stupid diversion to keep the flames stoked. Even I find myself missing my hypomania, and it’s not because I’m a little down due to the changes in the light and the things happening around me. I miss it because it brings me tremendous energy and boundless optimism—two things I’m in desperate need of right now.
I tell myself what an idiot I am for craving a dose of it. Hypomania in my case is a double-edged sword that enables me to be creative and to produce amazing amounts of work in a short time; but if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you also know that it almost always proceeds to full-on mania and becomes a destructive force that costs me jobs and strains my relationships.
I also remind myself of what happens after the fire burns out; that’s when the dark thoughts come and suddenly dying doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all. That is definitely a place I don’t want to be in, now or ever. But if I can’t keep a grip on this cycling business, I’ll surely find myself there—again—at some point.
The take-home lesson here, I think, is to understand that stability isn’t a tangible thing that will solve all my problems now that I’ve attained it; and as disappointed as I am to admit it, I know there’s really no “there” there. And there never will be…..bipolar is such a fluid thing that you can’t pin it down or make it behave consistently, not even with the best treatments available.
So I’d best make good use of this nice stretch of normal and try not to think of it as simply another type of cycle. I just wish I hadn’t read that article, because I know it’s got more than a grain of truth to it and now that seed has been planted. Damn.