I love summer.
No, I need summer. The weather in the South Eastern United States is not that different from Florida. It’s hot and humid from July until mid-September. It’s not usual to go 30 days in a row at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and I remember many years where it doesn’t get below 90 degrees the entire month of August. Growing up we didn’t have air conditioning either. Sure, it was hot, but we were used to it and it wasn’t that bad. There was a big window fan that would pull the ‘cooler’ air in at night, and it was quite tolerable.
I love it.
The best part of this time of year is the sunshine. Afternoon Thunderstorms are regular, but they come and go rather quickly. The rest of the time it’s bright and cheerful. My mood always improves in the spring, anticipating the long days with warmth and sun. I spend as much time as possible outside too. I know it’s risky to be exposed that much, and I’ve certainly had more than my share of bad sunburns, but I really don’t care. Thankfully sunscreens have become very effective so I don’t burn (as often anyway). Summer is the time I recharge, and what carries me thought our gray, wet winters.
So what the hell has happened to summer this year?
We’ve had a record amount of rain this year. Where normally it’s unusual to have two days of rain in a row, this summer it’s been the sunny days that are the exception. It’s been cool as well. We’ve only had a handful of days that have been over 90 degrees, and it’s been dropping down into the low 60’s at night. It feels like we’ve skipped summer altogether and just had a long fall.
It’s killing me!
Out winter last year was exceptionally wet and gray. So to go from that into this weather has me struggling. I’ve done so well for the last couple of years, but this is really pushing my limits. And now we’re really approaching fall. Another month and I can forget about any significant warm weather.
It’s not just the heat and sun though. It seems like most of my worst experiences in my life have been between October and January. There has so much death. It seems like with the exception of my Mother (Who passed in August) it seems like every significant family member has gone during the winter. Most of my significant relationships have ended then too. My last two both ended in early September, and they are still fresh in my mind. I’ve gotten over them, but it still brings back feelings of sadness.
I’m really starting to struggle with my mood. Everything is going great. I’ve been hired as a full time employee at my job, I (finally) have medical insurance, I have a great relationship, and with my new insurance I’ve been able to follow up on health issues I need to monitor, and (so far) they’ve all been fine. There is no reason at all to be down.
And yet, I am. And it’s pissing me off.
I absolutely cannot keep going through these cycles. The more I’ve learned about the illness and myself, the more difficult it has become to face. Bipolar Personality Disorder is supposed to get better with age, and I suppose in a way it has for me. Where it has gotten worse however is in my reaction to impending and extreme moods. I really know what’s coming, and I’m almost powerless to stop it. Two years ago it almost killed me the last week in August. Not on purpose, but I was so miserable I took medication I had to help me sleep. I just needed to ‘check out’ for a little while and stop thinking. But I lost track of time and how much I had taken, and ended up with a near fatal overdose. (See: Anatomy of a Suicide) I’m not suicidal now; far from it. But I have caught myself thinking about it more. Not really about myself, but just in general. Robin Williams recent death hit me particularity hard. Just another example of no matter how good things are, no matter how much success, not even millions of adoring fans depression can take it all away. (Just as an aside: I wonder if Robin was bipolar? You can certainly make a solid case for it…)
So far, I’ve been able to draw on my coping skills fairly well, and am managing to at least maintain. Deep breathing, self relaxation, mindfulness, visualization; I’m using whatever I can to keep on top of things. Just staying focused on my mood and being aware of where I am is helpful in keeping me going. I’ve increased my dosage of my antidepressant. If that isn’t enough, I will continue to go up as high as I need to. My girlfriend has been a big help too. She’s always so positive and upbeat. I am committed to keeping up the appearance that all is well. Not in a deceitful or fake way, but by forcing myself to be up, I find that I do get to feeling better. Therapy is kind of a mixed bag when it comes to coping. My therapist is really good at helping me work though things, but for that hour every week, I’m way too focused on the negative. Facing this coming depression head on actually pushes me farther in. Just the fact that I’m headed down again is depressing. It’s the start of a bad cycle.
But Lord knows, I’ve been here before.
Yes, it’s depressing to see the pattern start to repeat. But I also have the knowledge that it can be broken. I’ve been there too, and have managed to pull myself up before completely losing control. So I know that this doesn’t have to happen. I’m better equipped to combat this change than I’ve ever been. This battle hasn’t been won by a long shot. Every day is a challenge, and some days are better than others. But I refuse to give up. There is just too much at stake. Yes, the fall is coming. Yes, it’s the beginning of my ‘bad’ season. Yes, the memories and feelings are creeping back in. And yes, I’m struggling each and every day.
But no, I’m not going to quit trying. I can beat this.
I have to.