I had an urge last night. I thought about killing myself.
It’s truly bizarre. I’ve been doing so well for quite a while now. My medications seem to have gotten the extreme mood swings under control. My therapy is going well. I’ve been able to focus on and overcome the personality traits and habits I’ve picked up through the years of mental illness. I have a budding relationship (Slowly…very slowly) developing into what feels healthy and safe. My work has slowed down and there’s no anxiety or stress like there has been.
It’s all good.
So where in the hell did this thought come from? I’m getting ready for bed, walked into the bath to take my evening medications, and BAM. Out of nowhere I have this overwhelming urge to die. There was no warning or sad feelings that could lead up to this at all. It had been a good day at work, I got off on time, had a pleasant drive home, and relaxing evening watching TV. I hadn’t been drinking, and the anxiety from quitting smoking is under control. I’ve been behaving myself in regards to inappropriate behavior. I felt good. And I felt just good enough; no hint of hypomania or depression. There was absolutely NO reason to suddenly have a death wish. It didn’t last but a minute, but just the fact that it happened at all is truly crazy.
The Brain is an amazing thing. Separate and apart from an illness, it is incredible how it works. It controls hundreds of body functions simultaneously. Heartbeats, breathing, hormones, chemical balances, sleep patterns, organ processes… the list goes on and on. And all this happens automatically. Add to that the subconscious mind. All of the emotions, feelings and thought processing that influence our personalities and behaviors. There is the ability to remember events, feelings, and emotions; memory is a wonderful and horrible thing. Then there’s conscious thought. All of the things we actively think about on so many levels. This is the organ that creates an entire life.
And then; there’s the bipolar brain.
In many ways it works just like any other brain when it comes to managing the physical body. There are differences too. The chemical balances that affect emotional reactions are thought to get ‘out of balance’ and lead to depression and mania. Personally, I don’t think it’s an out of balance condition; it’s just a different balance. In my opinion, it’s the way that the brain functions that causes these reactions and behaviors. For whatever reason, the chemical makeup in a bipolar person is different, not unbalanced. I believe that the physical characteristics work just like the brain intends. It’s the brain itself that is different. I don’t know if there’s any scientific proof of this, but based on what I’ve learned over the years, it’s the way I feel. But whatever the cause, there’s a powerful, underlying condition that overrides ‘normal’ (there’s that word again) thoughts and behaviors. Medications can alter the physical features that are believed to contribute to the bipolar illness. Therapy can train the natural reactions and unlearn habits that both cause and contribute to the abnormal actions. Tools and skills can be learned to counteract emotion and feelings that are experienced in a bipolar life. This is a disease that can be managed. But the illness is always there. In spite of all the treatments and no matter how successful they are, the beast lies in wait ready to exploit any opportunity to wreak its havoc. It takes a constant vigil to beat down this disease. There will be always be unexplainable bipolar moments that occur when least expected. This illness will fight to escape all efforts to contain, and try yet again to take control. I know I’ll need to maintain my treatments, faithfully take my medications, and constantly be aware of the fact that I am bipolar for the rest of my life. And, God willing, I’ll have this life for a long, long time.
Even if my brain is trying to kill me.