As many of you know, I had the amazing opportunity to spend two weeks in Europe and one of those weeks was a solo trip to Scotland. That was GOOD.
You may know that I scuba dive. That is GOOD.
You may know that I teach and have always been teaching something. That is GOOD.
You may know that I enjoy having small parties in my home. That is GOOD.
You may know that my husband and I do a fair amount of traveling. That is GOOD.
Did you know that I went sky diving when I turned fifty (four years ago)? That was GOOD.
Every good requires a boost of adrenaline. Every boost of adrenaline eventually drains away. For most people, this isn’t a problem. But for me, and other bipolar folks, this can send me into a wave of depression. The depth and length of the depression depends on the amount of adrenaline that must be dumped.
For example, the sky diving required a plane ride to a height of 14,000 feet. I could literally feel the adrenaline rising at the same rate as the plane. When I landed, I landed on my butt (intentionally). I could almost feel my adrenaline pool into the dirt around me. For the next three days, all I wanted to do was stay in the bed. When I was awake, I was short-tempered and negative. The GOOD then the BAD.
When I hit a depressive wave, the symptoms are almost always the same. What changes is the severity and persistence of these symptoms.
Exhaustion. Today, I have been home from our Europe trip exactly two weeks and I still feel like I could sleep for hours and hours. At first, of course, that’s jet lag. But not now. Now it’s that wave of depression.
Negativity/Self Flagellation. For example, after every dive I spend the next several hours upset that I’m not good and should quit. After every teaching day, I worry about who isn’t happy and how I can make it better next time (this leads to another bad: I end up spending too much time re-working my lessons over and over again).
Dis-engaged. For example, after every teaching day, all I want to do is tuck into my couch with a blanket and a book. It seems that every Friday (my teaching day last semester) my husband would come home wanting to go out to dinner. And every Friday, I couldn’t muster the desire to talk or listen or even pretend to listen.
Anger: My poor husband! After every scuba dive, he’s stuck next to me on the boat while I work myself into a tizzy. And, of course, he’s a good scuba diver and that makes me MAD. I decide that it’s his fault I get scared – after all, he leaves me to take pictures, etc.
Lost Interest/Routine: When I have that dump, I have a really hard time getting back into the ‘groove’. I’m back from Europe for two weeks and still I struggle to get my act back together with exercise and housekeeping and eating right.
The adrenaline leaves my system at its own rate. And since it’s not predictable, it’s hard to know if my “down” is due to the “up” or if it’s a more profound depression and I need to see my doctor. This is BAD.
When I decided to right this blog, I just wanted to share that with my bipolar, all the ‘good’ has a consequence of some ‘bad’. I was planning to explain the rise and drop in adrenaline. I was planning to explain that the troughs of depression are inevitable and variable. It wasn’t until I put fingers to keys that I recognized the symptoms. It’s a relief to itemize my symptoms because now that I see them (and my husband sees them), we will understand it’s part of my cycle. And the cycle ends. The symptoms often make me feel crazy and out-of-control. Now, right this second, I can see the symptoms are predictable and will pass.
My husband edits these blogs. I know he worries when I have unwarranted anger or exhaustion or negativity. Another benefit of this blog right now is that he too will see that these symptoms are caused by an adrenaline drop. There is cause and effect. There is a beginning and an ENDING!
Click HERE to download the Discussion Guide and follow along with the accompanying journal activity to enjoy on your own journey!
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