The way things have been going lately, it would be easy to be negative and down. There’s not much to be happy about. My job sucks, I’m having insurance problems, I’m having difficulty getting my medications regulated and I’m spending all my free time alone. I really just don’t have anything to look forward to.
It was really bad a year ago. My marriage ended very abruptly and I was unemployed. I was completely devastated by the separation, and had way too much time on my hands to dwell on it. And I was isolated and alone then too. I spent day after day alone in my apartment extremely depressed and hurt. I just couldn’t stop crying. But time heals all wounds, and after five or six months of hell, I started coming out of it. I found a job and started going out again with friends. From that point things quickly improved dramatically. I had realized that there were more problems than I had recognized with my marriage, and while I had my own share of responsibility for the failure, it wasn’t entirely my fault. Instead of moping about, I began to realize that my wife wasn’t who I thought she was, and that my marriage had been in trouble from the very start. So instead of focusing on what I had lost I began looking forward to what could be coming next. My friends were a great help. They had been there all along, but it wasn’t until I started feeling better that I could accept their support.
My treatment of my bipolar disorder was going really well also. I seemed to have found a good combination of medications and my mood really started to stabilize. For the first time in years, I began to feel like my old self again. Therapy was making a huge difference. I not only started to really deal with my illness honestly, but I began to realize other significant things about myself that explained a great deal about how I felt. Everything was coming together.
I began going out again. I knew I wasn’t going to get into a serious relationship, but I had met some new people who I was able to share some good times with. I had a group that got together once a week for dinner and drinks and a couple of new friends that I would hang out with. I even started going dancing again. It’s one of my favorite things to do, I just hadn’t felt well enough to make myself go. It was awesome to be back.
I had a great summer! I had started dating someone regularly, and we spent a lot of time together, going out, taking trips, and just hanging out with each other. It was a good time. I knew it wasn’t time to get serious, but it really was awesome being involved with someone again. She had some health issues of her own, and really understood my struggles with my mental illness. So my job was going well, I was spending time with good friends, and I had a girlfriend who was supportive and fun. I was feeling better than I had in years.
Then things began to change.
The job I had enjoyed so much was providing less and less to do. I had to really look hard to stay productive, and I began to worry about continued employment. I started losing touch with my friends. My new relationship was still going well, but it had gotten more intense, and we were spending so much time together there just wasn’t room for anyone else. Summer was ending, and I’ve always struggled with my mood in the Fall and Winter. My body chemistry was changing too. I was spending a lot of time away from my home, and I started skipping my hormone replacement therapy. I wasn’t eating very well either. It wasn’t until I had blood work done much later that I found out the both my testosterone and B12 levels had dropped significantly below the minimums, which can have a significant impact on mood. And I was having issues with my med therapy too. Insurance coverage had changed and forced me to start using different medications. They weren’t as affective as the ones I was on, and I was having some serious side effects, so I was making change after change.
I started getting depressed. The combination of job, hormone and vitamin deficiencies and season and medicine changes were taking their toll. I fought it as best I could, but it was taking hold more and more. My Doctor kept making changes to help me keep it under control, but it was just too much. Before long, I was in a full blown depressive episode. Then I hit the bottom. Trying on my own to deal with the depression, I had an accidental over dose and ended up in the mental ward of a hospital.
That’s when it really started coming apart. I was already worried about my job, and being out for a week and a half just made me feel even more at risk. The work really decreased, and I had too much time with nothing to do but think. The hospitalization was too much for my girlfriend, and she started pulling away from me. The only good thing was, while I was still depressed, I was strong enough to resist it more successfully.
Then I lost my insurance. I was on my estranged wife’s policy, but she changed jobs and wasn’t going to be eligible until after we reached the time of our divorce. I went to insurance company after insurance company, but with my preexisting bipolar disorder I couldn’t find a single one that would give me a policy. I knew I needed to be saving as much as I could in the event that my job went away, but I had to continue taking my medications and was paying the full amount out of pocket. That was a huge drain on my finances, and I couldn’t save a dime. Then I moved which added even more expense, both from the cost of the move and the increased rent. Then my tires failed and I had to buy a complete new set.
The final straw came with my girlfriend completely broke off our relationship. She couldn’t deal with my illness after all, and wanted to move on. So here I was. My job was almost unbearable and at risk, I barely had enough money to live and I was totally alone again. It was getting almost as bad as it was a year ago when I separated from my wife.
But there was something different.
In spite of all the bad things going on, I was determined not to let it get the best of me. I reached out to old friends to try to reconnect, and started looking for ways to make new ones. I kept pushing my doctor to come up with a workable drug therapy, and worked very closely with my Therapist for strategies to cope with the situations. I was writing every day, and used it to find ways to keep focused on the positive. The depression was still there, but I was managing to keep it at a tolerable level.
It would be easy to let circumstances dictate my life. But in spite of all the bad things going on, I will remain upbeat. I’ve learned a lot of skills over the years, and I know I that even if I can’t control all that is happening to me, I can control how I react to them. It’s not an easy fight, but it is a fight I know I can win. It’s a fight I have to win.
And I’m positive I can.