Pardon me if this topic is growing stale, but I continue to be astounded by how normal I’m feeling these days. With the exception of my brief step backward into the world of addiction, I’ve been stable since about mid-July, and now we’re getting into the middle of October. I think I just set a new individual record……three months without a major mood swing. It may not be much to most people, but for me it’s a triumph!
One of these days, I hope to be so used to this wonderful state of remission that there’ll no longer be a need to be amazed by it, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s like sleeping in the most luxurious bed you’ve ever been in and finding yourself waking up every couple of hours to marvel at how comfortable you are.
Although I admit I miss the energy and productivity of hypomania just a wee little bit, I DON’T miss the mania and paranoia that inevitably follow it, or the consequences to my relationships or my finances. I love waking up in the morning and NOT having to ask myself what kind of mood I’m in today. I love being able to fall asleep more easily and sleep well throughout most, if not all of the night. Most of all, I love being a reasonable human being who can move through life confidently and take its minor annoyances in stride.
The only things I can’t do are related to concentration and memory, which unfortunately compromise my ability to work for a living. I think I’m doing pretty well in my limited capacity, but the fact remains that I am limited and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do to fix that. Working a full-time schedule is out of the question—I shiver at the mere prospect of endless 40-hour weeks—and so is taking on the kind of responsibility I had in my last job. Brrrrrrrrr.
I wonder sometimes if I have PTSD from that job. Six months after it ended, I continue to have nightmares about it, and the way that my breakdown was handled still pisses me off. I’ll get over it someday, but that day has not yet arrived, and the fact remains that it essentially wrecked my career. I know that I’ll never be able to function at that level again…..I no longer have what it takes to maintain that kind of intensity. I’m also terrified of having expectations placed on me because I don’t know if I’ll always be able to meet them, even as I realize that an employer has a right to demand certain standards and I do my best to live up to mine. The fact that it scares me doesn’t stop me from trying…..it just makes me a little more nervous than the average bear.
And that, too, is essentially normal. Each of us has a few aspects of life that bother us more than they might bother someone else, but we still have to deal with them, even if that means handing them off to a friend or loved one who’s better it than we are. For example, Will is phenomenal at dealing with unpleasant situations by phone, while I much prefer doing it electronically or even in person, because my aversion to the telephone (a relatively common bipolar quirk) has not been amenable to any of my efforts to work through it. So when we have a $400 electric bill from the Christmas season, he calls the utility office to discuss it while I’ll go to the front desk and negotiate payment arrangements.
Yes, boys and girls, it’s awesome to feel normal. Heck, I’m even looking forward to the next few months without a sense of foreboding, and who knows……maybe this is really my new normal. 🙂
2 thoughts on “The New Normal”
I understand exactly where you’re coming from on the work front. My breakdown also essentially ended my career. In addition to worrying about the intensity and the expectation to perform, I worry about how to explain my 4 year absence from the job market. When I look in the newspaper and on line to see what’s out there I steer away from the high pressure (high-paying) jobs and move down to the middle-of-the-road opportunities. I’m certainly not in the place I expected to be 10 years ago, but at least I am in a place with the ability to do something.
I’m sorry you’ve gone through pretty much the same thing. The business model of 21st-century America is not kind to those of us with mental-health issues. But like you, I’m thankful to have an income and some dignity, even though this is NOT where I envisioned I’d be at this stage of life.