I have a friend with bipolar disorder. A nice girl. Fun. Charming. Intelligent. She’s lovely really. We email a lot and sometimes she makes me LOL.
But seeing her is very difficult. She has a lot of trouble sticking to any plans we might make. This is because she can never predict her mood. Even if she feels like going out the moment we make the plans, even if it seems like a fun idea then, when the time actually comes she may not feel like leaving the house.
I know how she feels.
Ideas that seem good on a Wednesday, when they actually arrive on a Friday suddenly seem like the biggest imposition in the world and seem as impossible as lifting a mountain.
So how does one make plans if one can never anticipate one’s mood?
Many people with bipolar disorder experience mood episodes that last long periods of time. Depressions, manias or hypomanias might last weeks or even months. For them, moods may be more predictable.
But for people with very rapid cycling versions of bipolar disorder (ultradian cycling particularly) we never know what our mood will be one day to the next. One day we wake up feeling fine, the next depressed, and hypomanic the day after that. And mix in an anxiety disorder, which many people have, and the combinations get ever more complex.
And what one wants to do during any particular mood episode varies. Being very outgoing and social and heading out to a party probably sounds like great fun when hypomanic but sounds like absolute torture when depressed.
In short, you can’t plan for moods; that’s the whole problem. I don’t know how I’m going to feel on Friday, it’s only Monday. (Of course this is true for everyone it just happens to be more pronounced for a person with a mental illness.) I won’t even know on Thursday. It’s kind of a thing.
But does this mean I should stop planning? I don’t think so. True, I might not plan as far out as some people or set specific, timed goals like some people, but I do still plan. And then I set my mind to follow through. In my opinion it’s a mindset. If I’ve set a reasonable plan for a reasonable activity for a reasonable time then I’m going through with it. Period. And I don’t care how I feel about it. If I waited for the right feeling to correspond with the right timing I’d never get anything done.
Because the alternative is not to plan at all. And then that means not seeing the people I care about or getting things done (on time or possibly ever). And I just don’t consider that a reasonable strategy.