On Being Normal.

I’m finding it more and more difficult to find the time to write.  It’s really upsetting to me, but I have to earn a living, and my workload is just too much to leave me any time.  My job is very stressful, and I’m working many long hours these days, but I’m handling it!  I’m even finding some time to have a little bit of a social life.  A very little bit unfortunately.  In the past however, by now with this much stress I would have either been pushed down into a depression, or lashing out in a manic rage.  But not now; I come to work, I do my job and roll with the punches.  That in itself is very satisfying.

It’s not just my job that I’m handling well now.  I’m not going out dating every night of the week; in fact I don’t go out weekdays at all.  But the time alone at home isn’t a problem anymore.  I’m completely comfortable with just being by myself.  What a difference!  I might not even go out on the weekend either, and if I do, it’s just been one date.  The dates I have been on have been casual and fun too.  I don’t feel pressured to find the next ‘great romance’.  It might be enjoying a concert, or sharing a home cooked meal (always a pleasure) or just hanging out.   Not that I wouldn’t turn down something long term, but taking things slow and easy and enjoying being in the moment.

I would say that I’ve finally stabilized and gotten the mood swings under control.

Therapy is going well too.  Now that I’m not dealing with the extreme moods, we’ve turned our attention to understanding and improving certain unhealthy personality traits.  There are some negative aspects of my life that aren’t related to being bipolar, and I’m learning to recognize and deal with these appropriately.  Things like the overwhelming urge to be in a relationship.  There are some serious commitment issues that have resulted in bad decisions, both in jumping into relationships too quickly, and my new fear of commitment after being burned.  I have anxiety issues that I’m learning to manage.  It’s actually kind of nice to be dealing with something that’s not bipolar, and I feel like I’m getting to be a better person overall.

There is a downside though. I feel flat.

I’m not depressed by any means.  My mood is good, and my thoughts are positive and upbeat.  There are activities that I can enjoy, and I do.  I’ve really gotten back into music again, particularly jazz which is something I’ve not been able to enjoy for some time.  I love to dance, and have had a good time with the TV show “Dancing with the stars” which has not been holding any interest for me at all.  But there’s something missing.  While I enjoy my activities, there’s no excitement or anticipation.  I am where I am at the moment, and it’s very pleasurable while I’m there.  But the sense of adventure and joy isn’t a part of that anymore.  It almost feels apathetic.

I just don’t care.

If I have plans to do something fun; great!  I’ll have fun. And if there’s nothing to do, well that’s great too.  I’m just as happy laying on the couch napping as I am taking a day trip to someplace I’ve never been to before.  I’ve always enjoyed playing my guitar, but I just don’t feel like it now.  I’m an avid reader; now I just read a few pages of a book I’ve read many times before while I’m eating dinner.  Then I don’t touch a book again until the next meal.  When opportunities come to do something interesting, I take them.  And those things are interesting to me while I’m doing them.  There just isn’t the motivation to find interesting things to do.  I’m dependent on others to provide the ideas.  I have no motivation for much of anything.

My therapist thinks that it’s because I’ve never really been in this place before. The fleeting moments when I was between extreme cycles never lasted long enough for me to learn how to adapt.  Being even hypo manic provides a spark and excitement about everything.  And when I’m depressed, absolutely nothing matters at all, and there isn’t anything enjoyable to me.  So my latest challenge is to find ways to generate excitement and interest without being driven by an elevated mood.  Never having been in a place where I’ve had to generate enthusiasm on my own I don’t really understand how to.  Mood wise, I’m doing very well; but it feels like I’m in limbo.  I miss the energy and zest for life that I’ve been used to in my manias.  There’s a large temptation to cut back on my medications and try to trigger just a little bit of mania.  But I know that this is typical of the disease, and I’m not about to mess around with my dosages.  It’s too easy to lose control, and that’s not something I want to do ever again.

My therapist calls this living a normal life.  This is something I’ve been striving for as long as I can remember.  And now that I’m not dealing with the ups and downs I’ve always been used to, my focus is on adapting to this new reality.

But I’ve got to be honest.  Right now, normal isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.  I don’t like it.

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5 Responses to On Being Normal.

  1. sula1968 says:

    Love the honesty of your post

    Like

  2. I know exactly how you feel. I’m learning that what thoughts I put in my head help put me in a more positive frame, but I miss feeling motivated and enthused by all of life. I’ve been like this some years, so I’m more used to it, but I can remember my high days. I guess I’ll always remember them. I never, ever, ever want a psychotic episode again, though. So that’s what keeps me going.

    Like

  3. Bipolarinwonderland says:

    Hi i was diagnosed over two years ago and its taken til now for me to be put on Lithium , since starting it I’m now on it 6 months and i feel really flat and strange and not like myself anymore, don’t get me wrong i hate the lows but i am bipolar and that i have accepted that fact and i like the person that i am, yes certain times we all do crazy things but every person in the world has those moments , My CPN doesn’t like me using the term NORMAL , as i have explained to her many times that i don’t feel normal or act like a normal person i am unable to do normal every day daily things and she just doesn’t get that, when I’m low i am even afraid to open my front door, but when I’m high i would do a parachute jump I’m like two different people, i really don’t think any of these drugs work they only thing they have done for me is cause weight gain has anyone else had this problem ?

    Like

    • Normal is just Statistically average.

      In my experience I haven’t settled in on one medication if I didn’t like it or think it worked. I also had the ‘Flat’ feeling on Lithium, and changed to a different medication. After a lot of trial and error, I’m on Lamictal, and it’s working great. I would talk to my CPN and try something else. Just don’t give up… We all react to medications in our own way. It’s just a matter of trying until you find one that works.

      Like

  4. mary says:

    I hope my life experience as a bipolar helps someone out there…

    In summary: Seek therapy, take your meds and exercise, exercise, exercise – the BEST med of all.

    I’ve been bipolar most of my life and have come to describe it as “if living with a demon inside.” At least for me; we all have different “realities,” without using psychobabble. It’s living hell; it’s torture and, as I get older, much worse because, blessedly, I have achieved every goal I’ve set for myself (a bipolar creativity fringe benefit) and I’ve achieved much. Worked hard, for sure, and often traveled a lonely road but I’ve had an incredible life – one of which books are written.

    For me, relatioships have ended in disaster, by my doing; I am incapable of intimacy. I have loved and have been loved – even worshipped – by wonderful men but I drove them away. Now I understand why; I didn’t then. Same for other friends and even family. Thank God I’m a very independent and self confident person who genuinely loves – and prefers – my own company. Especially now; I’ve neither time nor patience for nonsense. I’ve “given at the office”; I don’t need to kiss up anymore.

    If you give yourself a chance and are open minded, you will see that there IS a silver lining to being bipolar: creativity; extra energy, depth of character and a uniqueness that the “normal” (who’s “normal” anyway?) do not possess. While the lows are very low, only a bipolar can experience a high (before it reaches hyper mania) that is, actually, pretty nice. Too bad we just can’t stay there… but it’s nice while its relatively safe.

    What I’m saying is, EMBRACE the good; there’s much to it. And try to ride the wave, holding onto whatever power you believe is greater than you. Mine is God. Above all, BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. And, provided you are doing everything to help yourself, just try to make the best of it. We’re all snowflakes. We all have challenges; some even worse than we do.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been around the block a time or two and, without being “preachy,” can vouch for my own experience. Above all, know that you are not alone and that the right people care. Expecially your therapist and doctor. And other bipolars. Don’t expect too much of others; it’s tough for them. My best to all.

    Like

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