The memory of mania has always felt fuzzy to me. The only ways I’ve learned to cope with mania is by using preventative measures. Taking my medications, and getting enough sleep at night. Staying away from caffeine and sugar.
This is what it feels like:
They tell me mania feels like being high. I’ve never been high, but if this is what feeling high feels like, I can understand why someone would want to feel this way.
This free feeling. Of wanting to dance, to sing, to paint, and most of all to write. They don’t understand the beauty, because they can’t see it. They can’t feel the words flowing through my mind. I pity them, even as I try to explain, because I must explain it to them. It’s my purpose.
It’s almost as though I’m on my own secret adventure or quest. I’ve become the most important person in the story of my life and only I know the way, only I can solve the puzzle.
The problem is when the thoughts start spinning out of control. I become lost and confused. Things suddenly don’t make sense anymore which makes me angry and irritated. The anger escalates quickly until I’m just a raging ball of fury that crumbles into sobbing depression.
Writing has kept me sane. Even when I was in the deepest of depressions, one way I made myself come out of it was by writing down everything I needed to try to do that day.
I remember keeping a small notebook on a pillow next to my bed. I’d write out the date and then a list of things to do: Get up, Shower, Get Dressed, Eat, Take a Walk, Read, Go to Therapy. Small things that I knew I could do. I didn’t expect myself to do all of them. Sometimes I didn’t do any of them besides eat. It was almost like the list was a simple reminder or suggestions of things I should try and do that day.
Setting these small goals helped. Everyday I’d wake up, roll over, and see the list next to me and I’d choose what to do. As I became stronger, I’d be able to cross off more and more off the list. I’d even start adding more things to list as I became happier, because doing the simple things became easier, so easy that I didn’t even need to write them down. I’d still write things down though so that I would wake up every morning and feel like I had a purpose.
That was the thing about my depression. The phrase that would spin around in my head was: “What’s the point?” When your life loses meaning or you lose the point of getting up out of bed, it’s really hard to find it again. It’s almost like the list became the reasons for me to get out of bed in the morning or even two in afternoon. It would remind me that there was a reason to live, that the night before I felt there were things to do the next day.
Crossing off those small things made me feel better. Even if I only managed to cross off: Get up, Eat, and Shower. Taking a shower can feel like one of the hardest things in the world when you no longer see the point to anything.
Eventually though you start to see the point again, and doing things become easier and even enjoyable again. I know when you’re in a deep depression it seems like that long dark tunnel is never ending, but slowly putting one foot in front of the other you’ll find the light again.
I know that everyone copes differently.
These are the things that have worked for me.