The Challenge of Dealing With Life Changes When You Have Bipolar Disorder

For the past two years, I’ve been living in my grandparents’ old house while trying to get back on my feet after struggling with a Crohn’s disease flare up and not being able to work full time. Unfortunately, the transition from moving to a new place, not to mention doing this during a pandemic (all while being someone who is immunocompromised), threw me into a manic episode. Endless anxiety, urges to self-harm and suicidal thoughts have plagued me for months.

I’m currently living with a relative and am struggling to adjust to not only missing having my own living space, but temporarily stepping back from my job for health concerns. I was dealing with those horrible feelings, all while trying to afford the additional therapy and medications that my insurance won’t cover. Oh, and a close friend suddenly passing away didn’t help with my depressive symptoms. Especially since she was a major part of my support system and someone who truly understood mental health.

For me, even the most minor changes cause a spike in my anxiety and can push me over the edge into a manic episode. Even when I started a new job which I loved, I would wake up sweaty, heart racing and with stomach upset, which doesn’t help if you have a bowel disease. It is beyond frustrating to not even be able to enjoy the positive changes in my life. Aren’t feelings of mania and depression associated with negative experiences? I’ve learned over the years that regrettably, that is not the case.

I am a creature of habit and for me, consistency and having a schedule to adhere to helps to keep my mind at ease since I know what to expect. Also, being busy often helps to keep my negative thoughts at bay. When I have bouts of depression where I don’t leave my bed, even to shower, I get so down and think I’m not worthy of a happy, fulfilled life and that this is just how the rest of my life will be. Struggle after struggle. Medication changes, outpatient programs and bi-weekly therapy sessions make me envy my friends who are successful and hitting all the “normal” milestones in life. They have good jobs, their own homes, are married, and them having all those things make me feel like a failure and behind since I am in my 30s and have never had any of those experiences. I try to tell myself that not all people have to face the struggles I face, yet I still feel resentment, which in turn makes me feel like a terrible person and friend. It’s a vicious cycle that I have yet to get control over.

I’ve lost weight due to mania and now I fear my eating disorder will return once I start gaining weight back when I actually have an appetite post-mania. I try to hide my symptoms from my boyfriend, but when I lose weight without diet and exercise, and he hears me talking nonstop, sobbing over nothing and not getting sleep, it’s difficult to hide. I’ve started spending money I don’t have, getting irritated by the most insignificant things and have bouts of rage where I literally feel like I black out. I’m no amateur when it comes to this illness, so after I noticed these behaviors, I knew my symptoms had a tight grip over me. How many more times will this happen in my life? Would I become manic if I ended up getting married and the stress of wedding planning would ruin what should be a special day? Or what about when my 12-year-old emotional support dog passes one day… will I be so debilitated I’ll fall into the deep dark hole that is depression?

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Bipolar 1 Support group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Join the Bipolar 1 Support group to connect with others who understand what it's really like to live with hypomania, rapid-cycling, depression and more. Click to join.

While I know change is necessary in life for growth and for self-improvement, I feel nothing but fear for what lies ahead. And I don’t know if I’d prefer to live by the adage “ignorance is bliss,” or embrace my emotional intelligence that may actually be an advantage. I want so badly to be excited for my life and future, but feel like nothing will make me happy or at the very least, somewhat comfortable. I’m trying my hardest to tell myself things could be worse, but I also think things could be better. I’m hoping over time I’ll adjust to my new medications and new therapist and can eventually halt this manic episode. Until then, I’m just trying to do damage control. I try to take it one day at a time and make good choices but at the end of the day, I have a disease and I just need to learn how to manage it and not let it dictate my life.

Tags :

More blog posts