Everyone has bad days. That’s just part of life. And everybody, at some point or another, has felt situational depression, related to something that has gone horribly wrong in their life, or the death of a loved one, or other trauma.
That’s normal. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it is normal, and it generally passes or can be treated.
Depression in a Bipolar context is a far different beast. Generally it manifests in a few predictable ways for me. The first stage is a growing dis-ease in my own skin and an unfocused unhappiness. There’s no reason why. I’m just unhappy. My thoughts turn self accusatory, and I get stuck in mental slide shows of everything I’ve ever done that has hurt someone else.
My energy drops. It becomes a struggle to get to the bathroom, much less get dressed and go to work. I sleep too much, but it becomes broken and full of formless tension nightmares. It varies, but I’ll either gorge myself or I’ll stop eating entirely. I often lose weight when depressed or suddenly gain 15 pounds.
The inner voice turns nasty. It tells me I’m horrible, that everyone hates me, that I deserve to die, they would be happy if I were dead and out of their life. I cry for no explainable reason and am not always aware that I’ve started crying. It hurts, and I loathe myself. I stop functioning. This all sounds very dry and clinical, doesn’t it? But it’s far easier to talk about it that way in a more detached manner. Just a checklist of what’s going wrong.
A few times I’ve turned suicidal. Not because of the negative self talk particularly, but because it just hurts so much, so continuously, and I can’t see a way for it to stop hurting, and I would do anything to make it stop hurting because there is no way out. I’m trapped, and there is no escape, no hope. It is my genuine belief that the reason people kill themselves is that trapped feeling, the same reason a coyote will gnaw it’s own leg off to escape a trap.
Obviously, I’ve lived through this, and I’m much more stable now. It never goes away entirely, just cycles, but I’m doing better – don’t worry!
The other way it expresses itself is far more insidious. It’s just the slow draining of joy out of everything you do. Nothing is fun. Nothing matters. Nothing is worth doing, but it’s endlessly boring and empty. Just… empty.
It’s easier to function through this version than the other because if staying home and reading sucks and getting up and going to work sucks then it really doesn’t matter which one I do because they both suck. So I might as well go to work because that will at least make other people happy.
Terribly negative, isn’t it? But depression’s that way. Welcome to one of the darker faces of Bipolar I.