This past weekend I experienced rapid cycling (alternating depressive and manic episodes over a short period of time) for the first time since I weaned off all my meds 18 months ago. And while very uncomfortable, I managed fine. It did make me wonder about my stress level, though.
Losing weight is stressful for anyone. Making major behavioral changes is very stressful for anyone. On top of those, I’ve also eliminated two of my life-long, sure-fire methods of dealing with my bipolar disorder—TV and compulsive eating. So not only am I under a great deal of stress, but I’ve lost the two most powerful ways of coping with it. What’s left in my old bag of tricks is compulsive spending and sexual fantasy, which are both shouting for constant attention.
“Hmm,” I pondered, “perhaps I need a bit more support as I tear my life apart.”
So, today I went to my therapist. Michelle said all the things I knew she’d say, but it was so comforting to hear them out loud:
All these changes are positive and incredibly stressful.
Don’t worry too much about Captain America and The Huntsman hanging out over your shoulder—have fun with them.
Keep journaling and tracking your feelings.
Try not to be rigid—if the agitation gets too big, allow yourself some TV.
Okay, then. I’m not hallucinating when I hear Chris Hemsworth mumbling behind me. And I’m not failing when eating my supper sans distraction makes me cry with loneliness. No. It’s just me ripping my life apart and feeling the effects. Feeling, without numbing those feelings, is frightening and painful. Many days I feel like an open wound. But, I’m okay. And the hunks standing behind me are okay. However, I’m going to keep seeing Michelle for a while. She knows how to hose me down if I burst into flames. Everyone needs a buddy with flame retardant.