It’s a bit of a quandary. Life has settled down in the last couple of weeks as I’ve worked to get my latest Manic Episode under control. I’ve stopped all the serial dating and casual sex, and started working on developing a meaningful relationship. I know it’s only been a short time, but after dealing with first a crippling depression and then the mania during the last six months, every day that is stable is a real blessing.
So here’s the conflict. Stability is good. Maintaining a regular schedule really helps keep me on track. Spending time alone and being with someone several times a week is healthy and healing. I’ve got a meaningful job, and have kept productive and engaged. I’m working on developing a relationship and really focusing on applying the lessons learned and building something real and sound. This is all something I’ve craved and worked towards as I’ve struggled to get my mood swings under control. It’s a ‘normal’ life.
I feel like I have no purpose and am just moving through the days.
Time is flying by. I’m so busy at work the days seem too short to keep up. I have a 45 minute commute that I do twice a day that’s complete down time. Since I’m working overtime, by the time I get home there are only a couple of hours between dinner and bedtime, and I spend it sitting in front of the computer or TV. I sleep hard in a dreamless sleep, then start it all over again. I can’t wait for the weekends, but end up spending the days lying on the couch either watching more TV or napping. Weekend nights are usually good as I spend time some really enjoyable time with my new lady friend. But they’re over in a flash, and before I know it I’m back at work, doing what I always do and waiting for the weekend.
I feel like I’m wishing my life away.
The older I get, the faster the time goes by. It doesn’t seem possible that I’m going to be 52 years old in just a couple of months. I don’t think like a 52 year old. I don’t feel like one either. My stamina isn’t what it used to be, nor am I as strong, but it’s nothing that makes me feel old. But the man who looks back at me in my mirror belies the way I feel. I see my gray hair, white goatee and plenty of wrinkles. I get senior citizens discounts without even asking. The lady I’m dating, and in fact most of the women I’ve seen lately are grandmothers. I’d never believed that I’d find a fifty-something grandma sexy; but I do. It’s just part of getting older and a natural progression of life. But every day that I see myself getting older I become more aware of my own mortality.
So why am I so anxious for time to pass?
I don’t think it’s just a matter of the days passing so quickly, I feel like I’m falling into a rut. A large part of this is probably because I’m coming out of a manic episode. When I was in the mania, life was exciting. I was throwing myself into my work and always looking for ways to surpass my own expectations. I was going out every night with a different woman. I had goals and I was achieving them. They weren’t healthy goals of course, but it was something that made each day worthwhile. I was having a lot of fun. I was having too much fun. Now without all the excess energy and over the top excitement life seems boring and mundane. I’m just going through the motions. Sure, I do get enjoyment and satisfaction from what I’m doing. And I’m happy that I seem to have my mood swings under control; at least for now. It’s the way things are supposed to be. And I don’t want to go back into a depression or another manic attack.
But I have to admit… I miss the mania.
I’ve worked really hard to get and stay healthy. Being bipolar is always something that is going to have an impact on me, but my intelligence tells me that I have to maintain the best I can. I’m being successful managing the illness at the moment, and it’s an accomplishment to be proud of. I know, things change quickly and I could be just as crazy as ever tomorrow. But here I am; level headed, calm and rational. And while I’m here, there’s going to be the void that comes from the loss of the mania. Depression doesn’t affect me as much, and when I’m coming out of one of those episodes the ‘boring and mundane’ life feels really good. But that’s not where I am, and I’m struggling just a little bit to adjust.
So what can I do?
My Therapist has been encouraging me to take a seminar on Mindfulness. It’s something I can’t afford at the moment, but I have spent some time researching it and reading resource material on the internet. “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”. (Psychology Today). I’m no expert by any means, but it certainly a sound to me like this is something I should really pursue. A lot of my therapy has been learning new tools and skills to help deal with my disease. I don’t expect this to be an end-all solution to what I’m currently going through, but it should be another weapon in my arsenal. Being bipolar is always going to be a challenge. But I’ll continue to fight this with everything I have.
Day by day, moment by moment, I’m going to beat this.