The Hopelessness of Bad Bipolar Days
The first thing I thought of this morning was killing myself. Literally, as consciousness slowly overtook my brain thoughts of suicide were all that were there.
It’s a bad day.
I have bad days a lot. I don’t particularly like to admit it and I don’t like to talk about it, but I do. Life is hard. Life is very, very hard.
As I’ve mentioned I’m one of those high-functioning bipolars so I’m known for continuing to deliver to my clients in spite of swirling insanity in my lobes but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Oh, it’s there. The tears streaming down my face will confirm that it’s there.
But there is one thing that I do (and many others do) that is particularly magical: I keep going.
Is Bipolar Treatment Working?
If you know me then you know I’ve spent great portions of my life without effective treatment. Treatment works, in that I’m not dead, but it doesn’t work in that it doesn’t make life particularly worth living. And when one wakes up plagued singularly by thoughts of suicide one is likely to feel an abandonment of hope and faith in treatment. It’s normal. For whatever that’s worth.
But it’s important to compare life with treatment to life without. Life with treatment may be impossibly hard sometimes but life without treatment wouldn’t exist at all. So there’s something to be grateful for even if the thing seems terribly tiny.
Will the Bipolar Treatment Ever Work?
So I’m not dead. Fine. Let’s call that the absolute minimum that a medication can helpfully accomplish. But will it ever actually work? Will it ever actually give me a life wherein when I wake up suicide isn’t the first thing on my mind? Will it ever actually give me a life wherein I don’t cry while making breakfast? Will it ever actually give me a life?
I have to believe that it will. And while this belief could be based in hope, it isn’t, really; it’s based on past experience. Treatment has worked. It has worked for me and it has worked for others. Even after years of trying every chemical under the sun, the right combination is found and people discover their lives again.
So I must keep working my magic and keep going. It’s the only way to move forward. It’s the only way to find a better day, even if that does feel impossible and saline-drenched.
Yup, bad days breed hopelessness. But we fight back. We fight back by continuing to breathe.
Tracy, N. (2013, February 27). The Hopelessness of Bad Bipolar Days, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2013/02/hopelessness-bad-bipolar-days
Author: Natasha Tracy
I was diagnosed 12 years ago. I have had so much trouble in the workplace throughout my life that my solution was to form my own home-based business. My doctor said it was the smartest thing I ever could have done. I am nearly 40 years old and weigh 340 pounds. My weight has bounced around my whole life. In 2005, I weighed 175. That is nearly a 200-pound differential. The medication weight gain makes me out of my mind with self-pity and grief. I have a Masters Degree and started a PhD. I have accomplishments. I have worked every year since I Was 12 years old. It feels SO UNFAIR sometimes. Does anyone else feel this way? Sometimes, I want to give in and say "screw it" to the weight gain stuff. I read an article on another site and the author said something that rang so true for me. He said that people just float those two words out there to bipolar weight gain people all the time.... "diet and exercise"... with a sense of nonchalant indifference that puts all the responsibility on the individual and none on the medicine. My weight gain is metabolic. I do not stand around stuffing McDonald's in my face and do not enjoy being thought of as an ignorant pig who won't take care of himself. In fact, I have taken to getting in people's smug, skinny faces when they get all uppity and superior. We live in a fat-shaming culture right now. Beach Body, The "New You", Cross Fit, Kale-eaters.... it is all such self-serving BS and as a bipolar person, I take MASSIVE offense to being told to work out all the time. I do the gym 2 or 3 days per week for an hour and can bench press 300 lbs. I have a huge gut from metabolic syndrome due to the damn meds. And so what? There are worse things to be than fat. I get so disgusted and fed up sometimes with the way bipolar people are looked upon.... psychos, overweight depressives, dangerous to others.... my doctor is a good man and means well, but sometimes, he can be such a condescending a-hole. "You've gained weight," he said bluntly one session. This is after 3 years and spending thousands of dollars on trainers and diet plans. I have known the man for 12 years. He diagnosed me. I wanted to punch him in smug little face that day. I really did. Here's where I am at, ladies and gentlemen: People don't get what we go through. They probably never will. Mainstream American society has no interest in understanding the pain that our medications, our conditions, and all the side effects cause us every day of our lives. What do they want from us? To suffer in silence? To pump millions upon millions of dollars into the pockets of docs and hospitals that offer NO CURE? Today I am cynical and disgusted. Maybe tomorrow will be different..... who knows?
How do you get through it though. I guess I'm high functioning in the sense that I don't miss work, I have keep up with all my friends... And I only keep up because I know the mess I would have to clean up after my "bad days" will make my life even worse after. I'm sick of all this. It's like I'm good and then all of the sudden I just want to disappear. Struggling to stay above water. The only thing that keeps me here is my kids. I don't want them to have to say that there mom couldn't get through it for them. So hence the reason I'm still here. But in all honestly. This is hard. Life with bipolar sucks. Hiding it makes it harder too. People without it can't comprehend how this actually feels. Everyday. I don't really know where I'm going with this. I just need to vent. I'm tired of it all.
When I need help, I search on line & inevitably, I find you. Every morning now, for several months, the thoughts of hopelessness, uncontrollable unrelenting fear and thoughts of ending my life, populate my preawakening consciousness. I don't know where to turn, other than inward, doing nothing, isolating, frozen. I look up & life is happening all around me. I peer inside, through my tears. I miss my old pre bipolar self so badly, as I know my husband does. So I barely push myself, if not for appearances. I pray tomorrow morning's intense anxiety won't consume my mind, consume me. I pray I can get something from my shrink to make it stop. She won't be back in town for 2 weeks. You are amazing. I don't know how you do it. I admire you & am so thankful you are there.
Yes, sometimes it seems that I'm everywhere :)
I'm so sorry you are where you are right now. I know the exact spot. I have lived there, too. All I can tell you is that things change. Everything does. From the seasons, to our medications to us, ourselves. And while it's so, so, so very hard, medications do work even if it takes seemingly forever to find the right combination.
Try to take it easy and lean on your loved ones if you can. Ride it out. It's a storm. Storms are horrible but they don't last forever.
- Natasha Tracy
I appreciate your post. I too have been feeling horrible for the past 8 months. Suicide goes through my mind everyday as well, some days I can consume myself with it. I am working on getting some therapy as I have had issues in the past with depression, anxiety and what I think is being a high functioning but was always able to keep it at bay for the past few years by pushing it further down. Any suggestions of getting past the hopelessness, this is the one emotion that I can't get my mind and body past to look at the future. I have internally destroyed how I look at myself, family and friends as well as my own isolation.
Wow! This is my very first post ever in the terms of being Bipolar as I was just recently diagnosed. I couldn't possibly describe what kind of hell these last few months have been like (and now looking back over the years, this diagnosis makes perfect sense). I don't know where to turn at this point...other than to Jesus. As much as it pains me to know that so many people suffer from this, I am so grateful to know that I am not alone. Thank you for this blog and to everyone who shares their story. You are all in my thought and prayers!
Been having a few bad days lately, crying for what seems like no apparent reason, calling in to work sick twice within the last week and sleeping the whole day through.
When I'm feeling this way I try to search through previous journal entries for evidence of better days, re read them over and over and take comfort in knowing that this too shall pass. But sometimes this can be a hindrance because when I'm depressed I tend to focus only on the negative entries
It's hard to stay positive sometimes when all I feel like I'm doing is merely existing and for what I ask myself. When I focus on the what long enough I can usually come up with something, however miniscule and I hand onto that for dear life...
Hi there, it is so comforting to find this page. I am also a high functioning but like you mentioned, and I am having one of those days where all one feels nothing but pain and wishes that they didn't exist. I often feel very alone since I am the only person who has bi-polar in my circle of friends and family. It is so refreshing to know that I am not the only one out there and has made my day so much brighter. Thank you all for you honesty and keep up the good fight.
Thanks so much for not being one of those assholes who says "just go to an emergency room if you have thoughts of suicide/self harm." I'm also high-functioning, and I'd be in the ER more days than not if I followed that advice. I know it's well-meaning, but I've always found it patronizing.
Hi Natasha -
Thanks for this article, and to all who posted comments.
I feel suicidal a lot, in fact almost daily. I just push through the day reminding myself that I made it through yesterday, and the day before, so I can make it through today too.
Being bipolar still carries enormous shame, loneliness, and isolation for me. I don't have much support from family, and friends. There is still that "stigma" for them, so it is a great relief for me to know that I am not alone in my day to day struggles, my quest for wellness, and the hope of some semblance of a normal life again.
You have reminded me that none of us are alone here, so thanks again Natasha, and please continue to share your awesome articles. They truly do help :)
Thanks for your comment. I'm honoured my words can be there for you during what I'm sure is a very difficult time.
You are definitely not alone.
I keep this article handy for when I have tough days like I'm having today. A day where I want to just sleep for the rest of my life. A day where suicide seems so sweet. I read your article and realize I'm not the only one. I've fought it before and I'll do it again today. Without my treatment I wouldn't be typing this comment, with it (and the tears) I am reading it.
I really, really wish I could hug your neck right now. Praying for you to have a GOOD day tomorrow!!
I am so thankful for your honesty. I have definitely spent more days suicidal than being stable. However, now I have the right cocktail of meds and strangely enough I have my life back. Not the life I used to have full of creativity and energy. I am getting some of the creativity back, but I still feel dead inside compared to how I was without meds. Life is very hard and we keep breathing. I hope you find peace in your heart that you are helping so many people by being so honest. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I always look forward to reading them. :) xoxo Linda
Still struggling with my "bad day" that has actually been a bad 4 days...so far. I hope it ends soon.
Sarah, not sure if you will see this post but I wanted to thank you for the advice from one of your earlier posts. It was dated 1/27/13 on the blog titled "facing the terrors of new bipolar medications".
I found it as I have been reading older posts to keep my mind from wandering to "bad" places. Started trying some of those nine things you listed. I am hopeful I can take action to make this depressive episode end soon.
Natasha, thanks for sharing your daily routine. I just wish that I had the will power to follow a set routine everyday. I have written at least 5 daily routines as assignments for my therapist, but I have never been able to follow one for more than a few weeks.
Speaking of assignments from therapists, my homework for Monday's appointment is to try and identify any triggers that caused/started this depressive episode. I am so glad that I found the blog titled "Depression: Why do people keep asking what happened?" I can't think of any trigger other than waking up 4 days ago and not wanting to get out of bed, or do anything else for that matter.
Argh, I just wish there was an instruction manual for how to deal with my illness.
Wow, I was not expecting to cry after reading this, but here I am trying not to snot on my tablet. I am in a depressive state right now, the kind that had been brewing and unfolding over several months until I recently realized, "I have not been 'right' for a while." I am high functioning, too, but lately I am starting to neglect other parts of my life to reserve my energy for work and my family. Just today, I told my husband, "I am really struggling right now, but I don't know what else to do, so I keep going." I keep going, just as you. Thank you for your honesty, courage, and compassion to share your stories...sometimes, I feel I am reading my own life in your words. Just keep going...we all need to.
Your courage in sharing your very personal experiences is of great value! Thanks for sharing this knowledge. You are making a difference in making the world a better place.
Thank you Natasha-you nailed this one!
Thank you for being so up-front & honest, especially on a very bad day. By reading others' posts I feel so comfortable knowing I'm not the only one.
I am so glad I found this blog. You have put into words exactly what I go through (frequently) with many ups and downs (and DEEP downs). Your writing is making a difference, I assure you. Thank you for sharing your struggles, and making it seem OK that other people feel this way too!
Thanks for your honesty--and providing a safe space to talk honestly. I've been down the depression road, feeling healthy right now (and trying not to feel guilty for feeling well).
Love and support to you---
Hi Natasha, sorry u have a bad day... I'm a high functioning bipolar as well, I try to never stop... I don't have the courage to say I'm bipolar so in my work they just know I have migraines, 'cause depression can slow me down, so the "migraine," give me one afternoon if I'm highly dysfunctional.
The thing is I've had not a bad day, I've had some bad months, just days keep adding, somedays I just feel I can breath, mainly I try to continue feeling bad... The thing is, what do you do when you really feel you can't keep going? I feel like this big breakdown will come soon. I'm trying, just trying, I try to remember is temporal, that I have so many things I love, and etc... but this is drowning me... so, anyway thanks, reading you made me feel not so alone in this...
Thank you so much for writing this. It is great to hear your honesty about having a 'bad day' and that I am not the only one out there who experience these days on a regular basis. I can relate to your writing so well.
Forgot to mention. I am following my safety plan today and I am not alone or around anything that I shouldn't be. It kind of makes me feel like a child. But I now accept that asking for help is not a sign of weakness on my part.
Natasha I appreciate your honesty and personal resolve. I had labeled myself as "high functioning" and so did my therapist. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 44 years old. I had successfully hidden my bipolar issues from my colleagues at work and my wife of 21 years. Sure, she knew that occasionally I would be depressed, but she also knew that I had my hypermanic moments that she truly enjoyed.
She was a little put off by my new "label" but was willing to try and learn with me what it all meant. However, I fell of the deep end one day. I wish I had found this blog before that "bad" day... ok very bad day, on which, unlike you were/are able to do... I gave in... Thankfully, not successful. I now seriously question if I was "high functioning" or just lucky for those 44 years of avoiding the temptation(s).
Very glad I am here and that I have found this community. It is really helpful and comforting to read the posts from so many people. I have felt alone with this illness since my diagnosis. I don't know anyone else who has this illness, inspite of reassurances from my therapist that I am not the only person in the world who is bipolar.
I can feel myself sliding down uncontrollably into the depths of depression...again.
I hope that this entry wasn't/isn't too dark for anyone. I am truly sorry if it causes anyone any grief. I just feel that I can't or won't share this with anyone else. I hope that I find the courage not to cancel next week's appointment like I did with yesterday's.
I don't feel so crazy or so alone when I read your posts.
Thank you for always being so honest. I'm having a bad day too.